CASE NUMBER 1975-2011
Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze – Detarnished! fanedit.
Judge imp_ardnfi presiding.
95% percent less camp?
Holy hi-jinks, Batman! Fan editor slark takes the POW’s, BOFF’s, THWAP’s, and more, out of George Pal’s 1975 movie Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze!
FACTS OF THE CASE
Doc Savage was a 1930-40′s pulp-magazine character who’s worldwide adventures were written (initially and mostly) by Lester Dent (1904-1959) under the Street And Smith Publications house pen-name of Kenneth Robeson. Even though a few other writers filled in during looming deadlines of the 16 year run for Doc Savage Magazine, the self-made super-hero Doc Savage was mostly the heart and soul of Lester Dent’s prodigious writing output.
After the pulp publications, Doc Savage continued to live on:
* Radio serials during the 1930′s
* Comic books started in the 1940′s, revived in the 1970′s, and sporadic publication today
* Bantam Book reprints of the pulp series in the 1960′s, graced by dramatic and magnificent covers by legendary artist James Bama
* A 1960′s television series that never developed
* The 1970′s George Pal movie
* And a new movie by the makers of The Dark Knight (Batman) – presently in the works
Sometime in the late 1960′s or early 1970′s, movie producer George Pal obtained the Doc Savage rights from Lester Dent’s widow to begin a film & TV franchise. The novel “The Man Of Bronze” was to be the basis of the movie, with additional elements brought in from other of the Doc Savage stories. After filming and release of Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze, it appeared the approach of the movie was inspired by the campy (“so bad it’s good”) Batman TV series. But whatever the reason, reaction of the movie-going public was similar to Daily Variety’s review: “execrable acting, dopey action sequences, and clumsy attempts at camp humor mark George Pal’s Doc Savage as the kind of kiddie film that gives the G rating a bad name”. It bombed at the box-office and any thought of making a franchise died with it.
Enter a fan editor who would not wait for Hollywood to do the George Pal movie justice. His first attempt to remove the most egregious camp elements was more like a dry run, a proof of concept. From that, he saw it needed to be taken further. With experience under his belt, he set out for a 2nd fan edit. His name? slark.
The can be no rebuttal here — Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze is a movie that involves it’s audience, with moans and groans, at every heavy-handed shot, awkward scene, and disappointing sequence. It appeared unsalvageable. Still, the movie was made from the same metal of Lester Dent’s original tales. If cleaned of camp’s tarnish, something nobler yet might shine through.
Even viewing slark’s “before and after” Detarnished! trailers, you may cringe at the “before”, yet breath amazed relief at the “after”. They reflect only some of this fan-edit’s efforts — where absurd story elements were excised, hokey effects were replaced by believable and appropriate visuals and sounds, and individual shots were moved around or eliminated for better flow. Yes, every new edit, every new effect, every newly fixed bit, compounded the overall improvement of the movie! And slark, with his fabulous crew of helpers and advisers, proved their metal (bronze)!
For this fan edit, slark didn’t stop there. The complete package includes the re-made movie, a special introduction to Doc Savage (bypass able), subtitles, in-movie text commentary, chapters (and other) menus, original teaser and trailer, original “Making The Man Of Bronze” featurette, and “Fragments from the Faneditor’s Floor” (if you like to groan and laugh at the same time). For computer users, a “DVD ROM folder” contains artwork for DVD label and case cover, browser viewable fan-edit-text crawls, and a wide assortment of pictures and articles about the Man Of Bronze (comics, posters, lobby cards, pressbook, “next movie” script, original sheet music). Supply your own bronze-colored DVD case to finish the experience.
Holy cow! Guilty on all counts! However that’s a good thing for defendant slark — it’s what he set out to do. Court dismissed!
6.I became a Doc Savage fan in 1968…seven years before the movie was released. By the time it was released I had read dozens of the books multiple times….and I was pumped to finally see my favorite hero on the big screen. I cannot fully express the disappointment and embarassment as I left the theater. Being a fan and collector….I bought a VHS copy when it came out, and watched it a few times. Then I got the idea one day to try and cut out as much of the “camp” and stupidity as I could to make a better movie. There’s only so much that can be done by cutting things out on a tape…but it made the movie more watchable, but still bad.
When I first came to this site, I was reading through the descriptions of fanedits that had been made. Imagine my feeling when I read about slark’s previous edit Doc SaLvaged: the Fanedit of Bronze. The things I read that he had done on that were mindblowing to me. It sounded like there was finally hope for Doc fans to see a decent movie of their hero. I unfortuntly was unable to watch that edit, but would actually go and read all the specifics on it many times and play it in my head.
Then slark announced he would do a new more ambitious edit of it. I was exstatic and very happy and proud to be able to help with the making of it with some suggestions that he used. He was kind enough to send me a hard copy of the finished product (for which I can not thank him enough)…and here now is my review. I’m sure there will be spoilers in here.
This edit is fantastic. The DOC SAVAGE movie has gone from an embarassment to something I am happy to show to people. Removing the majority of the John Philip Sousa soundtrack (and especially the Doc Savage song) is the biggest improvement. The music set a tone of “goofy, campy, non seriousness” for the movie. While there is still some humor left in…the overall tone of the movie has been changed for the better. From the removal of the face-palming badness of the song to the knee jerking in sync with the music death of Borden…the tone and mood of the film is now played as a more serious film.
Visual special effects were improved upon (both by inserting new better effects or the simple removal of original ones). The twinkle in Docs eye at several points in the original were cheesy beyond words. They are now gone. The subtitles of the different martial arts styles that helped turn a serious hand to hand combat scene into a joke have also been removed. In the original movie there was an airplane explosion that I saw better done in the 30’s…slark redid it and it now looks much more realistic. There are many other small things like this done to improve the movie. A very good job was done on them. But the biggest and best special effect created by slark is the opening. When I had originally said that I always imagined an old time newsreel opening to the movie…I never thought it could actually be done. But he did it, and it is marvelous. Using deleted scenes, production pictures, scenes from other old movies, and someone doing a great job of mimicking the voice over artists of the 30’s…he created a feature film worthy newsreel. This feature and the way it segues from smallscreen B/W into widescreen color is beautiful.
There were around 20 minutes of footage removed to tighten the action and remove sillyness, campyness, and just bad acting and direction. This along with the musical score change and the less amaturish FX again helps change the whole tone and mood of the movie. I know I may sound repetitive…but I can’t express it enough, the great thing about this edit is that it manages to turn a piece of crap joke into a watchable more serious film. If the purpose of fanediting a film…is to make it a better one…then this edit succeeds enormously.