The Wild One appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie only sporadically showed its age via this fine transfer.
Very few issues with sharpness materialized. A few slightly soft shots cropped up along the way, but most of the flick seemed distinctive and concise. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained minimal.
In addition, source flaws stayed modest. I noticed a few small specks, but that was about it. The vast majority of the movie looked clean and fresh. Blacks were deep and tight, while low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. This became a very satisfying presentation.
I also thought that the monaural soundtrack of The Wild One held up well. Speech could be slightly stiff, but the lines always remained easily intelligible, and they usually displayed adequate clarity. Music was a bit on the tinny side, but not terribly so. Though the score didn’t show great range, it seemed perfectly fine for material from a 55-year-old flick. Effects also displayed reasonably good definition. Nothing here excelled, but it all appeared positive given its age.
A smattering of supplements rounds out the package. First comes an audio commentary from author/film historian Jeanine Basinger. She provides a running, screen-specific chat that looks at the flick’s origins and development, story issues and changes made due to the Production Code, cast and crew, the movie’s cultural impact, and some interpretation of the tale.
Though the commentary starts slowly, Basinger soon gets better involved in the film. She manages to cover the relevant aspects of the production as well as issues connected to the era and the movie’s social importance. After that pokey beginning, we find a fine discussion of the flick.
An Introduction from Karen Kramer provides some notes from the producer’s widow. In this 82-second clip, she discusses the real-life inspiration for Wild One and its impact. Kramer fails to tell us much, but she offers a decent opening.
Two featurettes follow. Hollister California: Bikers, Booze and the Big Picture runs 27 minutes, 50 seconds as it looks at the real-life incident that influenced the movie’s story. We meet Hollister CA residents Robert Scattini, Dotti Mae Howell, Clifford A. Cardoza, Catherine Dabo, Dave Grimsley, Joe Bravo, Johnny Lomanto, Al Butruni, Brad Pike, Gordon Machado, Jess Bravo, Charisse Tyson, Gus Deserpa and Christy Howe as well as “Top Hatters” bike organization vice-president Marcello “Shorty” Orta, Booze Fighters Motorcycle Club International Vice President Carl “Big Daddy” Spots, BFMC National Historian Jim “JQ” Quattlebaum, BFMC Charter Holder Brian “Snowman” Truman, Top Hatters – Hollister president Frank “Kiko” Sanches, BFMC National Press and Publicity Officer Bill Hayes, biker event organizer/promoter Seth Doulton, and Bike Lust author Barbara Joans.
“Picture” looks at the nature of Hollister, the history of biking groups in the area, and the “biker invasion” of 1947 that inspired The Wild One. It gives us a good view of the facts involved in the real setting and allows us to learn a little about the way the movie adapts these elements. “Picture” drags a little at times, but it usually proves satisfying and interesting.
Brando: An Icon Is Born goes for 18 minutes, 37 seconds as it presents notes from Karen Kramer, filmmakers Taylor Hackford, Dennis Hopper, and Garry Marshall, actor Elizabeth Ashley, and producer Stanley Kramer from 1978. “Icon” offers a few tidbits about the film’s creation, but it mostly acts as an appreciation for the flick with an emphasis on Brando’s performance and the movie’s legacy. It gets a little gushy at times, but it adds some decent insights connected to The Wild One.
Though it really shows its age at times, The Wild One has enough going for it to make it worthwhile. In particular, excellent performances from Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin keep our attention. The DVD presents very good picture, perfectly solid audio and a few useful extras. This release represents its movie well.
Note that you can buy this version of Wild One as part of a five-movie set called “The Stanley Kramer Film Collection”. That release retails for $59.95 and also includes Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Ship of Fools, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T and The Member of the Wedding.