Benji (1974) (Remastered) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: Joe Camp
Starring: Peter Breck, Deborah Walley, Patsy Garrett
Rated: G/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Mill Creek Entertainment
The first movie about the famous golden mutt. Benji is a stray who has nonetheless worked his way into the hearts of a number of the townspeople, who give him food and attention whenever he stops by. His particular favorites are a pair of children who feed and play with him against the wishes of their parents. When the children are kidnapped, however, the parents and the police are at a loss to find them. Only Benji can track them down, but will he be in time? If he can save the day, he may just find the permanent home he’s been longing for.
Benji is the first film in a series of five theatrical features about the golden mixed breed dog named Benji. It was written, produced, and directed by Joe Camp, and filmed in and around Denton, Texas. Released in 1974, it was a critical and box-office success. I happen to know it because when I was a kid I saw the movie a number of times, not because I was crazy about it, but because my dear mother (God rest her soul) LOVED this movie. She loved the darn dog so much she named a dog we got later after it. Mill Creek released this movie on Blu-ray and actually tossed a few extras into the mix as well. The movie is simple but harmless stuff. Benji is a stray dog and each day he makes his rounds visiting human and chasing a cat that belongs to the same lady who played Aunt Bee on the Andy Griffith Show. You see Benji wants a home basically but we have a lot of stuff going on for the dog until we get to that point of things. The movie is total fluff and nothing of a heavy nature happens but that didn’t stop the movie from becoming a franchise and making $39.6 million upon release.
Mill Creek put some real effort into this release, a pattern that seems to be a new method for them in some ways. We get a slipcase, a pretty darn good looking transfer, and we even get extras on the disc as well. You might think that’s a whole lot of effort for a movie about a stray dog that runs around town and even gets a doggie girlfriend but some people LOVE this movie, my friends. Also if you’d like to see what effects it still has on people toss it on with some kids around and see if they don’t get all about this dog really quickly. All in all, I won’t be dissing this movie for nostalgic reasons and it is solid and interesting enough for what it is. But as far as Blu-ray releases go, Mill Creek did a great job.
– Audio Commentary with Director Joe Camp and his son Brandon
– Original Theatrical Trailer
– Photo Gallery
(Extras on the DVD Only)
– The Phenomenon of Benji (TV Special)
– Benji at Work (TV Special)
Quality of Transfer: 90%
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