Little prepares you for the print on this - it's simply extraordinary.
It's been frame-by-frame restored using the Lowry Digital Restoration Process which was used on all 20 of the Bond films, the three Godfather movies, the original Star Wars Trilogy, the Indiana Jones films and even the transfer of Avatar (all to much acclaim).
But this 2010 Blu Ray/DVD Combination pack reissue of 1968's "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" has to be a benchmark - even for them.
After the excellent 2DVD set issued a few years back, I didn't think that much more improvement could be wrenched out of the negative, but it has been. This transfer is practically faultless - BEAUTIFUL to look at for the whole duration of the movie. Directed with style and flair by Ken Hughes and filmed in 70mm Super Panavision Technicolor - it's a sumptuous feast of colours - you see their period clothes anew, the details in the inventions inside Caractacus Pott's hillside home, the uncluttered English countryside, the Scrumptious Sweet Factory, the seaside scenes, the two bumbling spies, the toy dance at the King's Birthday Party in the Palace where their love shines out and almost gets them caught - all of it - gorgeous to look at. There's old and 'New Extras' also...
Sally Ann Howes looks suitably wholesome and lovely, Dick Van Dyke is as likeable as ever (a much underrated leading man) and the songs are excellent if not a little twee in places. The quirks of Sixties movies remain intact too - the patience-sapping Overture at the beginning where a black screen sits there with only the roaring of car engines before the picture finally appears - the "Intermission" break in the middle (so you could go and buy sweets) where Chitty goes over the cliff-edge and you don't find out what happens until the film starts up again and you're back in your seats - all there - as it was in the cinema - and the original aspect retained too.
The child-catcher is still the scariest monster ever created in cinema (with Benny Hill being strangely creepy too) and the interplay between Gert Frobe and Anna Quayle as the bickering King and Queen of Vulgaria is still pricelessly funny. All this and Stanley Unwin speaking "...horribold..." English to Lionel Jeffries - which always makes me pine for The Small Faces 1967 album masterpiece 'Ogden's Nutgone Flake' (he spoke in between tracks on Side 2).
Sure it'll be too saccharine for our "Call Of Duty" teenagers to enjoy nowadays, but there's something timeless and lovely about this 'magical car' movie - and that beautifully evocative "Hushabye Mountain" melody always renders me a quivering mush whenever I hear it.
This 2010 BLU RAY of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" is a superlative reissue of a family classic. Ian Fleming would indeed be shaken - and possibly even stirred.
Recommended like a duet with the wife on "Chu-Chi Face".
PS: for other superb restorations on BLU RAY, see also my reviews for "The Italian Job", "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning", "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner", "Goldfinger", "North By Northwest", "Cool Hand Luke", "The Dambusters", "The Prisoner - The Complete (TV) Series In High Definition", "Braveheart", "Snatch", "The Ladykillers" and "The African Queen"
Our family is on a retro trip, having bought this movie, as well as The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The King and I, Willy Wonka, and Pete's Dragon.
One of the reasons is that we want our 2 year old to experience the movies we grew up with, and the other is nostalgia.
Before watching this movie again recently, I could only remember that there was a flying car, a nice title song, and something about children being kidnapped. Watching it again for the first time, I discovered that I had forgotten most of the movie.
Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) is an inventor way ahead of his time, whose inventions don't always work the way they are intended. If you think his name is weird, the female lead is Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), the daughter of a rich sweet manufacturer. This unlikely pair, along with his two kids and the wonderful car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, are the star players in a story which starts out being about pirates, and ends up as a rescue mission. With comic support from Caractacus' father, and a toy maker (Benny Hill, in an uncharacteristic G rated performance), they defeat the schemes of spies (kind of like Laurel and Hardy combined with Boris and Natasha), an evil Baron and Baroness,and a wicked childcatcher, to bring the story within a story to a predictable but entertaining end.
The scenery is breathtaking, especially the Vulgarian castle and surroundings, and since this is a 1968 movie, we can forgive the lack of finesse in the special effects, where the characters stick out like sore thumbs from the backgrounds, and wires can be seen attached to Professor Potts during a dance sequence.
It's a little harder to swallow the concept of Truly Scrumptious running around on the beach dressed in tons of white cloth and coming up spotless, and her song about needing a lovely man is way too over the top and much too long. I will admit to skipping over that one.
The sing along feature is a nice touch, and catchy songs (other than the theme song) include "Me Old Bamboo", "Toot Sweet", my personal favorite "P O S H (Posh)", and the nearly too sugary "Truly Scrumptious".
Overall, this DVD is a refreshing family movie that you will watch over and over again.
on November 25, 2003
Well...after all the waiting, it's finally landed. I wish I could say that it's truly scrumptious, but in truth, from the ashes of disaster (the previous DVD release) grow the roses of mediocrity. Like so many DVD "special editions" of late (A Christmas Story, Willy Wonka, etc), this one is a bit short on the "special".
The film itself is presented in two formats on the first disc. Both widescreen and pan & scan. The widescreen transfer is just slightly wider than the laserdisc release and the colors seem to me to be about the same, though my laserdisc is rotting and the colors are a bit compromised. It might be worth getting for the widescreen alone if you don't already have at that aspect ratio. Also on disc one is the "sing along" feature and a preview of the musical which only succeeds in demonstrating how fat Michael Ball is.
Disc two (home of the real disappointments) has a conversation type "documentary" with Dick Van Dyke (and ONLY Dick Van Dyke) where he reminisces about some of the cast. Another new feature is with Pierre Picton, owner of the nicest of the on-screen cars and it's kind of a fun look at the eccentric who owns and cares for the car. There are 3 vintage featurettes, one with designer Rowland Emett which is interesting, another which is apparently a press conference with Dick Van Dyke (boring) and the last "featuring the children" (but not really). One excellent special feature (and kudos to the person responsible!), is the inclusion of more than a dozen of the Shermans original demos for the film.
There are about 7 trailers for the film, both theatrical and television, but not the one which followed the film on the laserdisc version which, to me, seems like the genuine trailer. It is presented on the DVD in French, but not in English.
The remainder of the special features are kiddie things like digital coloring book, inventor games, etc.
I'm sure money may have been the reason for not presenting a more professional and interesting supplement. Sally Ann Howes is alive and well...I've seen her in NY. The kids, Heather Ripley and Adrian Hall, attended the premiere of the stage show in London, so they're definitely locateable. Very little is said about the locations or the production of the film. I was expecting a documentary of the caliber on MGM's Bond DVD releases given that the production company was largely the same. At least pay Dick enough to do a running commentary! Shame on you, MGM.
Perhaps what disappointed me most of all is that I feel that I could have made a better effort.
on December 11, 2002
This is one of the last big budget fantasy musicals before these films became just too expensive to produce. But Dick Van Dyke was at his zenith here and Sally Ann Howes was marvelous as well. Note that Ian Fleming wrote the original story and as a tribute there were two Bond actors in the cast. Gert Frobe as the King and Desmond Llewyn as Mr. Coggin. But I was very dissappointed to see this DVD released in the Pan and Scan format. I really don't understand why MGM/UA remastered the film in the THX process and used a clean beautiful video transfer and doesn't present the film in its original widescreen format. At one-third of the film is missing and its really difficult to watch this now considering I had owned the widescreen laserdisc of this film.
on August 22, 2000
It amazes me how both Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Willy Wonka have gotten blastings from some critics for having "forgettable" scores. How do you explain "The Candy Man?" or "Truly Scrumptious?" Almost everyone knows these songs, as they are well written and enjoyable. As is this movie.
Set in a turn-of the century small village, apparently in England (mixed accents notwithstanding-Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has a similar problem), an eccentric inventor creates a magical car for his adoring children. An evil King gets wind of the invention, and sends spies to steal the car. They instead steal Grandfather, and Van Dyke and his children take off in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to retrieve him.
Largely overlooked is the heavy World War II symbolism sprinkled throughout the film. The King who hates children represents a racist Hitler, supported by the Gestapoesque Child Catcher and spies who could easily be SS Soldiers. Watching the film with this knowledge makes for an entirely different experience, one many reviewers missed. Especially chilling is a scene near the beginning in which the spies attempt to blow up a bridge. They fail, and when the charge explodes belatedly, the smoke clears to reveal both spies frozen in a Nazi "Heil" salute.
But even without this decidedly adult take on the plot, the film is extraordinarily entertaining. Great songs like "The Old Bamboo," "Toot-Sweet," and "Truly Scrumptious" will be attractive to both parents and children, and frequent use of passable, if dated special effects enhance the feel of the film. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a great film for adults and children, one you'll enjoy watching frequently.
on June 18, 2000
A gorgeous film, perfectly restored picture and good restored 5.1 sound. BUT how dare they to cut it down to full screen. The opening is letterboxed, you can read that the film is in s u p e r panavision. After the opening the curtain closes halfway.
That "1 star" is for the fullscreen version - should be "no stars". The rest is "five stars"
on March 14, 2000
One of my favorite childhood films is ruined in this full screen DVD edition. Please release this fillm in its widescreen version as well! Why not offer both versions so that consumers have a choice?
on July 7, 2003
I remember seeing this film in the early 70's as a child and will never forget the experience. It was playing at a revival house, on a double bill with another film, and this one (not the film I was going there to see, by the way) carried me away so much that I cannot remember what film was paired with it. Since then I adored this enchanting fantasy epic. Upon seeing it again as an adult I was expecting to be disappointed (most of what we loved as children tends to pale as we get older), but I was not, in fact, I think I adore this charming concoction of tenderness, humour, fantastic situations and great musical numbers even more now than I did then.
And that leads me to my opening question: why do critics hate this film? I have never heard or read any professional critic say a good word about this film, in fact, it's on many critics' "worst films of all time" lists, and even popped up in that bible of bad cinema, Medved's "Golden Turkey Awards" book. I could never figure this out. Perhaps too many critics compare it to "Mary Poppins" and find it wanting. Surely, a temptation to do so is overwhelming, seeing as it popped up in that stream of (mostly poor) Poppins immitations that followed in the wake of Poppins' incredible box office and critical success, it stars Dick Van Dyke and features a score by the Sherman Brothers, songwriters for the Disney classic. But, while this film is certainly no Poppins, a comparison with the earlier film is unfair. Ian Fleming fans, of course, dislike the film because it bears little or no relation to the book (the screenplay by Roald Dahl was, to my own childlike imagination, however, fare more enjoyable - I found the book disappointing after viewing the film, unusual for me). But I will always cherish this film, its score, Dick Van Dyke's genius, Sally Ann Howes' charm, and Dahl's fantastic screenplay. I would recommend any parent to share this film with their children to show them what great fantasy ffamily film-making was like in the late sixties and early seventies.
However, a wide-screen issue would be most appreciated.
on September 3, 2000
I should have read the reviews first. I did not notice that it was NOT a letterboxed edition. Why go to all the trouble of restoring the sound and picture and then cutting a third of it out. This is an enjoyable and fun film for the whole family, but what a waste of a DVD.
on October 30, 2000
I was a kid when I first saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang during its first release in the cinemas, and I loved that movie ever since. My kids went through 3 Video copies over the years as they liked it a lot, and I'm glad that we have it now on DVD. The story is about that poverty-stricken inventor (Dick Van Dyke) who comes across this old car and turns it into the flying miracle car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He also has two kids and together with a female acquaintance who's concerned about the welfare of his children, they engage in a wild journey as the flying car takes them to a far-away fairy-tale country, with Schloss Schwanstein (in Bavaria) at the center. The king and the queen in this country don't like kids, so the two kids are kidnapped. Overall, this is a fantastic family movie with lots of fun, fantasy, adventure, music and family entertainment.