August 04, 2012
Amazing. That's all there is to it. The editor has retrieved a pretty decent film from the shell of a truly bad film: something watchable and enjoyable, rather than something you might own on a "completist impulse," or out of a sense of the macabre, or for masochistic reasons, or to torment your friends and family. The original version has some good bits but overall, its just awful. Too much is played for laughs, but without being very funny or cleverly camp or even enjoyable. Cutting away the dreadful (the villain who sleeps in a baby cot, the sequence of fighting in sumo, king fu etc. etc.) and the laboured (like the villains' tiresome evil-laugh-festival), and removing the silliest (the Sousa marches, the twinkle in Doc's eye near his fortress, the sparkles on the main villain's black coat etc.) makes a big difference. The movie is shorter, but less is very clearly better. The opening newsreel makes great framing device. Of course, there are problems that the faneditor cannot fix (Monk, for example, is woefully miscast: in the pulps he is a loud, ape-like, musclebound hulk who can bend coins and straighten horse shows with his bare hands in the pulps, not an affable, portly fellow who likes to cook, as the movie suggests), but within the material available, we have an absolutely astounding piece of work.