Blu-Ray Review: Amazing Criterion Box Set of ‘America Lost and Found: The BBS Story’

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CHICAGOBBS Productions changed cinema. As the sixties were coming to a close, they jumped on the revolutionary bandwagon and took the cultural zeitgeist to the cinema. With a few other visionaries, they ushered in the most important era of film history and several of their best works have been collected in the amazing Criterion box “America Lost and Found: The BBS Story.”

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

Believe it or not, the creative freedom that exploded across movie screens in the ’70s might not have been possible without The Monkees. Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner (their first initials being BBS) had created the pop band The Monkees and used that money to found BBS Productions, a company that thrived on community and creativity. Like any production company, they weren’t all gems but a few definitely were, including some of the most influential works of the era. All seven films have been collected on six Blu-rays in the amazing “America Lost and Found.”

America Lost and Found: The BBS Story was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on November 23rd, 2010.
America Lost and Found: The BBS Story was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on November 23rd, 2010.
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

The set is worth owning just to have “Easy Rider,” “Five Easy Pieces,” and “The Last Picture Show” on Blu-ray. All three films are even better than you remember and to see them ushered into the Criterion Collection is a great day for movie fans. As for the others, “The King of Marvin Gardens” is interesting, “Head” is just weird, and “Drive, He Said” and “A Safe Place,” well, they’re not going to be anyone’s favorites in the box. The collection also includes a booklet with numerous essays about the individual films and the overall importance of BBS.

All seven films have been remastered with new, restored, high-definition digital transfers and uncompressed monaural soundtracks along with optional surround soundtracks for “Head” and “Easy Rider.” Criterion continues to set the standard for classic HD video and audio transfers.

As for special features, it’s nearly overwhelming, including commentary tracks on five of the films (with select-scene commentary on a sixth), hours of new and archival interviews and documentaries, and an amazing amount of TV spots, stills, trailers, screen tests, and more. Once again, Criterion simply doesn’t throw special features together as filler. They find the right bonus material to accompany their films instead of just offering lackluster extras. By movie:

America Lost and Found: The BBS Story was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on November 23rd, 2010.
America Lost and Found: The BBS Story was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on November 23rd, 2010.
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

“Head”
o Audio commentary featuring The Monkees
o New video interview with director Bob Rafelson
o New documentary about BBS featuring critic David Thomson and historian Douglas Brinkely
o Screen tests with The Monkees
o Trailers and TV and radio spots
o Ephemera, including behind-the-scenes photos by Henry Diltz
o Rare 1968 television interview with The Monkees

“Easy Rider”
o Two audio commentaries, one featuring actor-director-writer Dennis Hopper, the other Hopper, actor-writer Peter Fonda, and production manager Paul Lewis
o “Born to Be Wild” (1995)
o “Easy Rider: Shaking the Cage” (1999)
o Television excerpts showing Hopper and Fonda at the Cannes Film Festival
o New video interview with BBS cofounder Steve Blauner
o Theatrical trailers

“Five Easy Pieces”
o Audio commentary featuring director Bob Rafelson and interior designer Toby Rafelson
o “Soul Searching in Five Easy Pieces” (2009)
o “BBSstory” (2009)
o Audio excerpts from a 1976 AFI interview with Rafelson
o Theatrical trailers and teasers

“Drive, He Said” & “A Safe Place”
o Audio commentary on “A Safe Place” featuring director Henry Jaglom
o “A Cautionary Tale of Campus Revolution and Sexual Freedom” (2009)
o “Henry Jaglom Finds A Safe Place” (2009)
o “Notes on the New York Film Festival (1971)
o Outtakes and screen tests for “A Safe Place”
o Theatrical trailers




“The Last Picture Show”
o Two audio commentaries, one from 1991, featuring Bogdanovich and actors Cybill Shepherd, Randy Quaid, Cloris Leachman, and Frank Marshall; the other from 2009, featuring Bogdanovich
o “The Last Picture Show: A Look Back” (1999)
o “Picture This” (1990)
o “A Discussion with Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich” (2009)
o Screen tests and location footage
o Excerpts from a 1972 television interview with director Francois Truffaut about the new Hollywood
o Theatrical trailers

“The King of Marvin Gardens”
o Selected-scene commentary featuring director Bob Rafelson
o “Reflections of a Philosopher King” (2009)
o “Afterthoughts” (2002)
o Theatrical trailer

“America Lost and Found: The BBS Story” was released on Blu-ray on November 23rd, 2010.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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