• Special Delivery (Kino Studio Classics) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
    Released on: May 8th, 2018.
    Director: Paul Wendkos
    Bo Svenson, Cybill Shepherd, Tom Atkins, Gerrit Graham, Jeff Goldblum, Vic Tayback
    Year: 1976
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    Special Delivery - Movie Review:

    Our movie, “Special Delivery” directed by Paul Wendkos, begins with a slick bank heist being pulled off by a team of Vietnam Veterans set to a genre perfect Lalo Schifrin score. The heist is bad, all but one of the bank robbers escapes with the loot and he’s forced to stash it in a post office box. That lone noble cowboy bank robber is Jack Murdoch (Bo Svenson). He’s a good man, forced by circumstances into a corner like so many stock heroes with a Vietnam back-story, and he’s faced with a new mission. Get to the loot he dumped in the post office box before it’s unloaded, and somehow make everything right with the widows of his fallen brothers in arms, not for his crimes, but for our crimes. What follows next is an episodic lighthearted caper involving multiple different criminal parties scheming to get at the post office box for their own specific reasons.

    Jack’s quest has him team up with Mary Jane (Cybil Shepherd), a femme fatale in training and low level con-artist with a huge emphasis on the “in training part”.

    Murdoch and Mary Jane aren’t just forced to contend with other underworld figures scheming for the stolen money, they also have to deal with a roving band of street toughs lead by Gerrit Graham and Jeff Goldblum (playing more or less the same hooligan rapist character that he played in “Death Wish 2" years prior).

    "Special Delivery" is one of the final attempts of AIP to break back into the cultural consciousness in the New Hollywood Era. This time they’re trying to catch the wave of films like Dirty Harry, Shaft, Across 110th street, and anything from Ernest Tydman. The film reeks of the desire to be cool, and hip, but it can’t exactly shake the buttery, wholesome vibe of Bo Svenson’s Walking Tall sequels. Our morally grey heroes are essentially true blue moral stalwarts befitting an Alan Ladd western. No this isn’t a problem in the slightest ,it’s the film's charm. It lacks the mean, hard edge of the movies it’s competing against, and that is ultimately what makes it stand out.

    Special Delivery - Blu-ray Review:

    Kino Lorber presents Special Delivery on a single layered Blu-ray disc encoded in AVC format. The master used appears to be a late 2000’s element from Paramount/CBS archives with some lines and damage visible. The package states that it’s from a recent 4K scan and I have no cause to doubt that. There is nothing distracting or upsetting with the video presentation. I personally don’t know which authoring house does Kino’s work, but there are no viable encode problems like macroblock noise or sudden shifts to RGB PC level.

    The movie was mostly shot on sets, so lighting is always stable and there are no visual quality related problems aside from an errant line in the opening heist.

    The audio is mono presented in two channel DTS-HD Master Audio uncompressed format. It sounds full and perhaps slightly sweetened. As Per Kino’s usual offerings it is “only” 16-bit, this is not a problem. There is no hiss, our out of phase noise to muck up any matrix decoding schemes the viewer may employ.

    The primary extra is a commentary from Aussie film scholar Lee Gambin, who essentially provides an audio essay on the history of AIP in its waning days before it became apart of Filmways. He points out all the cameos and covers the fact that every AIP movie tried to have some anti-establishment theme. In this movie it’s specifically our treatment of Vietnam Veterans and their lives post war. He also points out which sequences were shot on location and what scenes were shot on sets.

    There is also a collection of trailers in high definition; the menu is static as is Kino’s usual accompaniment.
    On the whole, Kino’s Disc is a fine catalog title from their Paramount acquisitions.

    Special Delivery - The Final Word:

    This light hearted and humane Bo Svenson vehicle which features an (mostly unknown at the time) all-star cast is ripe for modern rediscovery with this Kino Lorber release. It has a very humane and forgiving core, which maintains the American Western movie distinction between outlaws and villains. Svenson’s Murdoch is an outlaw, but he will not allow the innocent or the weak to be hurt of victimized. Alan Ladd cowboys abound. Also Tom Atkins is in it, we love Tom Atkins.

    Click on the images below for full sized Special Delivery Blu-ray screen caps!