Friday, September 04, 2015

Tonight's Movie: The Love Bug (1968)

I'm back from my recent road trip! I expect to share a few photos in the next day or two. In the meantime, I'm also looking forward to enjoying some of the Disney Screen series at my local theater this holiday weekend!

This evening I bought a Disney Screen pass good for the next month. It's just $20, so if I see four Disney films this month I break even, and if I see more, as I hope to do, I'm ahead of the game. For more information on the Disney Screen concept, please visit my review of OLIVER & COMPANY (1988). Hopefully Disney Screen will spread to more theaters. Our local theater has announced a schedule through late October.

I don't think I'd seen tonight's film, THE LOVE BUG (1968), since I was very young, not long after its initial release. I certainly didn't remember much of it; in fact, I'd completely forgotten that David Tomlinson was in the cast.

Seeing THE LOVE BUG was a nice way to pay tribute to lead actor Dean Jones, who passed away earlier this week. His earnest demeanor is a big part of what makes the movie work, and it doesn't hurt that he was also cute!

Jones plays Jim Douglas, a struggling race car driver who becomes the owner of a very unusual car. The VW, which is dubbed Herbie by Jim's friend Tennessee (Buddy Hackett), has a mind of its own, instigating all sorts of unusual adventures.

Among other things, Herbie helps bring together Jim and Carol (Michele Lee), who initially works for rival race car driver Thorndyke (Tomlinson). Jim and Herbie duel Thorndyke in a series of races, culminating in a two-day mountain road race.

THE LOVE BUG is very much a Disney film of its era, a colorful movie with familiar faces; Joe Flynn and Iris Adrian, who were in countless Disney films of the '60s and '70s, are among those who put in appearances. Adrian is particularly funny as a cranky carhop.

Ned Glass, Herb Vigran, and Barry Kelley are also in the cast, and Benson Fong, who played Tommy Chan in the CHARLIE CHAN series in the '40s, has a good role as Jim's business partner for the final race. Gary Owens and Chick Hearn provide race commentary.

It's not a wildly funny movie, but it's pleasantly entertaining. I got an especial kick out of a little girl in the next row who was giggling gleefully when Thorndyke was oblivious to the fact he was driving with a bear as a passenger.

The movie was filmed by Edward Colman. There must be a technical reason for it, but while most of the movie has a sharp, pristine picture, the process shots always look grainy. I seem to recall other Disney films from this time frame having that same weird dual look, with the speckled process shots looking noticeably different than the rest of the movie.

THE LOVE BUG was directed by Robert Stevenson (MARY POPPINS). It runs 108 minutes.

THE LOVE BUG was preceded by the Donald Duck cartoon DONALD'S TIRE TROUBLE (1943), which was not only fun, it was also historically interesting as it alluded to wartime rubber shortages. The cartoon is available on DVD in the Walt Disney Treasures set The Chronological Donald, Vol. 2.

THE LOVE BUG has been released on DVD on multiple occasions, including a Special Edition. It can be streamed on Amazon Instant Video.

Previous Disney Screen reviews: OLIVER & COMPANY (1988) and EIGHT BELOW (2006).


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