As mentioned in the site’s Capone DVD review, one of the more interesting developments in the cult DVD field as of late is Shout! Factory’s acquisition of several 20th Century Fox titles for DVD release. Some of these have never been released on domestic disc while others were part of an Anchor Bay DVD series that has since gone of print. This two-disc package of Dirty Mary Crazy Larry and Race With The Devil falls into the latter camp. While it lacks any new features, it’s still a great bargain for those who missed out on the initial DVD releases of these titles.
The transfers used for these discs are the same ones used for the original Anchor Bay discs. This is not a problem because both are nice anamorphic transfers with crisp detail and strong colors. Each film has an appropriate but nicely mastered “vintage film” look. As far as sonics go, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry is the more impressive of the two films, offering both 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Stereo mixes. The latter has a punchier, more active mix (listen to the rear speakers during those car chases) but both are worthwhile, skillfully-mixed options. Race With The Devil sticks to the original mono mix: as you might expect, it is subdued in terms of effects but gets the job done.
Both discs also feature a handsome compliment of extras, with all the major stuff coming from the original Anchor Bay DVD’s. Dirty Mary Crazy Larry features a commentary track and a featurette entitled “Ride The Wild Side.”
The commentary pairs director John Hough with moderator Perry Martin and it is a consistently informative affair. Hough discusses the circumstances that led him to direct this film, how it allowed him to indulge his passion for Americana, how he managed the different styles of his actors and the complexities of shooting the film’s multiple stunts. He also reveals why Roddy McDowell performed unbilled in the film. Martin keeps Hough primed with plentiful but unobtrusive questions and Hough’s sharp memory ensures that they all get answered.
Martin also helmed the “Ride The Wild Side” featurette, which features Hough plus actors Peter Fonda and Susan George. It expands on a lot of topics Hough touches upon plus allows Fonda and George to offer an actor’s-eye perspective of the film’s production. Even better, it is beautifully edited by Gavin Minton, who cleverly uses clips from the film in a call-and-response style that comments on what the participants say. The extras on this disc are rounded out by trailers, radio spots & an image gallery plus a few additional trailers for upcoming Shout! Factory releases in their double feature line.
The Race With The Devil disc takes a similar approach, presenting a commentary track and a featurette for its main extras. Martin returns as moderator on this track, discussing the film with producer Paul Maslansky and star Lara Parker. It‘s a brisk affair: Maslansky vividly describes the challenges of the film’s troubled production (both he and director Jack Starrett were brought in after shooting had already begun) and how the action/stunt scenes were achieved through purely practical means. Parker fleshes out his production tales with her actor’s viewpoint, including a great tale about how she first met Fonda. Martin’s moderating is a bit busy early on but it smoothes out as the track progresses.
The featurette on Race With The Devil disc is entitled “Hell On Wheels.” It devotes itself entirely to an interview with Peter Fonda, who fondly remembers the film as a profitable lark that allowed him to have fun with like-minded individuals. He goes into nice detail about his friendship with Warren Oates and tells a number of fun production tales, including an account of what it was like to deal with a real, live rattlesnake during the film’s infamous “snake attack” scene. The end result is fun to watch because Fonda is likeably unpretentious and his enthusiasm for the film is contagious. Gavin Minton returned as editor on this piece and he deftly mixes in stills and film clips to illustrate Fonda’s stories.
Like the Dirty Mary Crazy Larry disc, the Race With The Devil disc is rounded out by trailers, radio spots & an image gallery plus trailers for additional Shout! Factory releases. All in all, this set is a good deal for fans who missed out on the initial releases of these titles and is further sweetened by a value-conscious price point.