It’s 5:30 pm
One of the most fun parts of doing these reviews is getting a chance with different studios and distributors. As many readers already know,the cheetah and I have partnered up with Warner Brothers Archives and Wild Eye Releasing for a while now.
Last week we did our first review for Artsploitation Films and with this review today,we are happy to be working with Mill Creek Entertainment.
Mill Creek specializes in affordable films and TV shows of both the past and today. Many films which have never seen a DVD and BluRay release have found a friend in Mill Creek. For collectors like myself and others,a chance to get some long lost TV series and classic films at a low price is a great value.
What really makes Mill Creek pop in our opinion are the nice double features and collection packages that they are putting out. So it was to our delight,well okay,MY delight that our first Mill Creek review is the Born Free Collection.
Born Free was an film first released in 1966 and details the efforts of Joy and George Adamson to raise a lion cub named Elsa who was abandoned at birth. The Adamson’s raised Elsa to adulthood and then released her to the wild.
This was a British film release and starred Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as the Adamson’s. The film was a big hit in England and widely beloved by critics and animal lovers world wide. The film also won 2 Oscars for Best Song and Best Score.
“Born Free” was a huge staple of many independent TV stations back in the 1970s as it was constantly played nationwide across the United States.
Because of the success of “Born Free”,in 1972 a sequel was released called “Living Free”which featured Joy and George Adamson helping Elsa the lioness’s three cubs adjust to life on a wild game preserve after Elsa’s passing. Helping one lion was a chore in itself but three lions present a whole new set of trials. The cast was new as Susan Hampshire and Nigel Davenport (whose son,Jack,is one of my favorite actors as well) replaced McKenna and Travers as Joy and George. “Living Free”earned an Golden Globe nomination for Best English Language Foreign Film.
This film was also a big syndicated hit and was often paired with “Born Free” when shown on TV here in the States.
Due in part of the success of the first two films and their popularity in syndication,in 1974 the NBC network decided to create a family drama TV series based on the books and the films of Joy and George Adamson.
The series featured the Adamson’s ,Gary Collins as George and Diana Muldaur as Joy,living in Kenya with Elsa the lioness. There the couple face all sorts of danger,some by animal but pretty much always by man. Paladin pointed out that 44 years,nothing much had changed,sadly I have to agree.
The series was filmed in East Africa and managed to get a sprinkling of well know names to pop up…Peter Lawford,Juliet Mills,Susan Dey and Gary Collin’s wife,Mary Ann Mobley even popped in.
Unfortunately the show was on facing both “The Rookies” and while fading,still a high rated “Gunsmoke” and “Born Free” was canceled after only 13 episodes. But with this collection,you get whole series to watch and we think Mill Creek did a great job in securing the show for this set.
Hollywood decided to shake the dust off the “Born Free” franchise and in 1996,Sony Pictures produced another made for TV movie: “Born Free: A New Adventure” based on the same books but not starring the Adamson’s. In this adventure,two young people,Randolph “Rand “Thompson (Jonathan Brandis) and Valerie “Val” Porter come across a tamed lioness that some hunters have captured. Rescuing Elsa from the hunters,the two join forces to help teach Elsa how to live in the wild.
This was a bittersweet watch….Jonathan Brandis was a bright and talented young actor whose future seemed extremely bright. He was very popular and had starred in a cool show called seaQuest on NBC which was exciting to watch before NBC suits decided to muddle it up. He had worked on TV a lot including starring in “It”,”The Flash” and “Alien Nation”.
His career as a child star didn’t translate to major adult roles and in despair,he killed himself in 2003. Personally I thought he was a really good actor and while it was nice to see him in this film,it is sad knowing he died much too young.
“Born Free: A New Adventure” also featured some star power in Linda Purl and Chris Noth (Law & Order) in support roles The movie was filmed entirely in South Africa and the locations are awesome to look at. It’s a fine way to cap off this collection that is family oriented.
Born Free is rated “PG” and has a run time of 95 minutes
Living Free is rated “G” and has a run time of 90 minutes
Born Free: The Series consists of 13 episodes and would be considered “PG”
Born Free: A New Adventure is rated “G” and has a run time of 92 minutes.
There are no special features and you can buy “Born Free: The Complete Collection”
at the Mill Creek Entertainment website.
Despite there being no cheetahs in “Born Free”,the cheetah still gave it a huge paw up and I also gave this release a big thumbs up.
Comments are most welcome…..