Monday, September 07, 2009

Uh.. Breaker 1-9. This here's the Rubber Duck. Anybody got copy on me out there? Come on...

Many of my friends, colleagues, and even my wife have always had a fascination with me and the movie Convoy. WHY do I love this movie so much? WHY am I able to watch this movie over and over and over and over (I'm listening to it now in the background) and over and over and NEVER get tired of it?! To be 100% honest, I really don't know. What is it about a 31 year old movie that keeps me coming back for more? Why do I have such a fascination for a black truck with a chemical trailer on the back?

How is it I don't tire of Martin Penwald, Sheriff Lyle Wallace, Pigpen, Spider Mike, Federal Agent Hamilton, Governor Haskins, Chief Stacey Love, Bob Buckman, The Widow Woman, etc.. etc? The list goes on, but you get the point. I really don't know, but I do have a suspicion: Childhood.

So the movie was made in 1977 and released in 1978 in theaters. It actually made over 46 million, which back then was pretty good. I got to see the movie when it aired on HBO probably a year later. Keep in mind that I was born in 1973, which means I was probably 6 when I first saw the movie. I still remember back in the day when I was completely mesmerized by this movie. Because it was such a hit, there was merchandising for it (man I wish I had half of what was out there back then) and my grandmother bought me one of the felt coloring posters that were popular. I wish I had that today. It had a key part of the movie in it so I won't describe it for those that have not seen the movie and have interest.

So through the years I'm watching this movie every time it's on television and finally it's released on VHS. I'm excited and ask my grandmother to buy it. She was going to get it for me until she saw the price tag: $89.95. Why was it so much? Well back in the 80's movies weren't just $20 or $30 as a given. They were actually much more expensive. It wasn't until the late 80's when movies went down. In fact, I believe Batman was the first movie released for a cheaper price, but I could be wrong. Anyhow, she wouldn't buy it for me (I was spoiled back then and pissed), so I had to rent it and record it. This was my copy of the movie for many years. I actually hadn't seen the movie for years until 2006 when I found out the movie was FINALLY being released on DVD. There was a catch: It wasn't being released in the United States. It was being released in Europe, Japan, etc..

I read reviews of the movie from these countries and immediately bought the one from Japan. It turns out that one was 'edited' with three minutes cut. I did find the German version in 2007. That one claimed NOTHING was cut. The movie was the full 106 minute unedited 2:35:1 version. I picked it up for about $35.00 shipped to Arizona, so that's not bad at all. Around the same time, I found out they were FINALLY releasing Convoy on DVD in the US!!! I couldn't believe it. That dream didn't last very long sadly, as some stupid company called "CheezyFlicks" released it. They *claimed* it was in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio with full stereo sound (the movie was shot in mono in 1978), but it looks like someone copied a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy and the sound is atrocious!!! I don't understand HOW it was even released. There's pops and glitches, etc on it. It's in its 2:35:1 aspect ratio alright. Most-likely because someone took the Pan and Scan version and 'stretched' it, because that's exactly what it looks like sadly. Another company released it around the same time in a little better quality, but not much. My Kinowelt version (German) is fitted like it's supposed to be and for a 31 year old movie, it doesn't look bad. The sound isn't bad either. There are a couple of slight imperfections with sound as well as a few glitches with the transfer, however they're very minor and unless you're a perfectionist (which I am - LOL), you won't notice.

This sadly, is the best version there is to date and I'm happy to own it, but it still looks dated. Because of this, I ripped it to mpeg2 and 'attempted' to make it stereo and converted it to a region 1 dual layer DVD. It looks really good and does work on my players that are not region free, so I did something right. Besides, my wife was getting tired of seeing fifty versions of the movie on my computer as I just couldn't get it right.. Again, I'm a perfectionist. I did finally add more color and sharpen it. Took 11hrs to render, but it turned out the best and that's the copy I currently have. I actually thought that would be the best version of the movie I'd ever see.. BOY was I wrong:

I found out a month or so ago that MGM HD would be airing the movie in its entirety completely uncut. Well I checked their site immediately and found NOT a 106 minute cut, but a 111 minute cut?!! I figured that was probably a typo, but I'd never know for sure because COX (the provider I use) doesn't have MGM HD. It appears to only be on satellite from what I can tell. Well my buddy agreed to DVR it on satellite (Thank you!!) so I could see it. I was excited to see it, but I know it wouldn't the 2:35:1 aspect ratio and figured it would be stretched. Again BOY was I wrong. It was not only it its proper aspect ratio, but it REALLY was 111 minutes *and* it had scenes in it that I've NEVER seen. Where they got them I don't know, but I was very happy to see it like this. In fact color had been added to it and it looked MUCH better than the version I made. The sound was really good as well and I didn't notice any sound glitches. In fact I noticed sounds that were never there before. I badly want this version and I'm willing to take a bootleg of it if I have to. (I'M TALKING TO YOU MGM: It's about time to release a BD copy of this movie or lose out on fans either buying bootleg copies or downloading it or whatever). The movie is great and I really want to see it given its proper transfer on Bluray Disc.

Anyway, this was supposed to be about how much I like the movie yada yada, but I got caught up on the moment of that awesome transfer I saw the other day and I can't wait to see it again!!!

Oh well, I'll post some screencaps of the movie from the legal version I have just so people can see what it looks like, etc.. Disclaimer Time: The following screenshots are copyright 1978 Thorne EMI/MGM Films. Enjoy!!!!

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