Savannah Smiles Blu Ray Review (MVD Rewind Collection)
Savannah Smiles is a 1982 comedy film directed by Pierre De Moro (Hellhole & Christmas Mountain). Screenwriter Mark Miller (The Jeffersons, Diff’rent Strokes, Nothing Is Easy, The Munsters Today, & A Walk in the Clouds) wrote the lead role for his daughter Savannah but production took longer than expected so she was too old to play the part when the film was ready. She ended up with a small part as Savannah’s cousin Beth. It was distributed by Embassy Pictures & it made $10,413,730 at the box office. A girl scout cookie had the same name as this film. Pat Morita got his own show after this. Porn actress Savannah named herself after this film. At a prison work site, Boots “Bootsie” McGaffey (played by: Donovan Scott from Police Academy, Popeye, Psycho III, & Freddy’s Nightmares) thinks he is doing the right thing by breaking out his friend Alvie Gibbs (played by: Mark Miller from Dixie Dynamite, Mr. Sycamore, Christmas Mountain, & Please Don’t Eat the Daisies) from that living hell. What he didn’t know was that Alvie was finally going to be paroled that week.
So now he put his friend into a bad situation when he was about to be free after all that time. Now both are running from the police & looking over their shoulders non stop because of this crime. A six year old named Savannah Driscoll (played by: Bridgette Andersen from Nightmares, The Parent Trap II, Gun Shy, & Too much) is feeling ignored by her parents. Her father Richard (played by: Chris Robinson from Stanley, The Intruder, Catch the Black Sunshine, & Viper) is running for the United States Senate. That’s all he cares about the moment & nothing else is important to him. Savannah goes to a park & hides in the backseat of the dumb criminals car. They have no clue what they got themselves into with this. When the two discover a new passenger is riding with them they try to bring her back to the park but she doesn’t want to go. Richard & his wife Joan (played by: Barbara Stanger from The Edge of Night, Days of our Lives, & Christmas Mountain) contact the police which includes Lt. Savage (played by: Michael Parks from Twin Peaks, From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill, Tusk, & Death Wish V: The Face of Death) after they notice their daughter is missing.
They also hire a private detective Harland Dobbs (played by: Peter Graves from Airplane 1/2, Mission: Impossible, House on Haunted Hill, & The Night of the Hunter). Alvie & Bootsie see the reward for Savannah & they want to collect it themselves. They both end up enjoying the girl’s company & they start to care about her after a few days. The Driscoll Family priest Father O’Hara (played by: Pat Morita from The Karate Kid series, Bloodsport 2/3, American Ninja 5, & Desert Heat) tries to help with the problem but he ends up getting forced to go with them to keep everything civil. The hunt for the little girl causes the two criminals to be in even more danger than before. They must decide on their freedom or to keep Savannah away from people who really don’t care about her at all.
Savannah Smiles has so much heart that you can’t help yourself from getting the feels from it. Strangers that are looking to run away from their current lives form a bond that makes them want to stay around for once. Characters changing their views & how they feel based off a few days with one unique person. Redemption & wanting to a better path after a life changing experience shows you even bad people can have a good heart deep inside. Never judge a book by it’s cover because no one knows what’s really behind that mystery. Savannah Smiles flips the switch on your typical scenario. Richard & Joan only start to care after something happens. Mr. Driscoll puts his own girl at risk a few times trying to take control knowing it could be fatal for his daughter. Alvie & Bootsie are trying their best to keep Savannah safe but her father keeps making things worse. You can easily see how the usual roles are reversed in this. After going through their crazy journey & transformations you really end up caring about these characters. They were trying to make everything right & it didn’t help them much after giving up the money to protect this child. It’s something that makes you think & gives you hope about this messed up world.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation for this release from the MVD Rewind Collection. This 1080p (1.78:1) 2K transfer from a 35mm print from the Library of Congress is solid. It kinda reminds me of something that you would see at the Drive In. There’s a decent amount of print damage through out the feature. You can tell the print it was sourced from has been around the block when it comes to it’s age. It’s still the best possible version that you are going to get for this early 80s film. It’s not bad or anything, just don’t expect reference quality with this one. The English: LPCM 2.0 track is decent but it suffers the same fate as the transfer. It’s been used & abused over the years so it’s not perfect. The hiss & crackling kinda adds to the Drive In vibe the picture quality gives off so it technically works. You have be a little more opened minded with this overall quality when it comes to Savannah Smiles. It’s still a fun experience & I don’t see anyone else topping this release when it comes to this production. The music sounds good on the track!
Let’s discuss the special features on this disc! “The Making of Savannah Smiles” is almost 29 minutes. It features interviews with actor/producer/writer Mark Miller, actor Donovan Scott, Bridgette Andersen’s mom Teresa, & composer Ken Sutherland. Mark Miller talks about coming up with the feature, making it, & casting it. He mentions that he gave the director tips on how to direct the production. He mentions various actors involved in the production. He also gives some fun facts about Savannah Smiles. Teresa Andersen brings up her daughter & her experience on the film. She talks about the cast & other things to do with the production. Donovan Scott reminisces about working on this. He talks about Mark Miller & his creative input while filming together. It was different than usual because he was also the writer & producer. He says Savannah Smiles had the best premier in his entire career. He brings up some of his other work. “Memories of Bridgette” is almost 21 minutes. It features interviews with actor/producer/writer Mark Miller, actor Donovan Scott, Bridgette Andersen’s mom Teresa, & composer Ken Sutherland about the late actress. They all reminisce about Bridgette Andersen. Her mom talks about how she got into acting & her inspirations. She talks about her starting out in commercials. Donovan Scott says he only got the part because he worked good with her. Mark Miller tells a few funny stories about her. Teresa talks about her daughter’s career & balancing school at the same time. They talk about her battle with drugs & her passing away. They bring up positive memories about the actress. “Songs and Music” is a little over 16features interviews with actor/producer/writer Mark Miller, actor Donovan Scott, Bridgette Andersen’s mom Teresa, & composer/song writer Ken Sutherland. It’s good to see him get his own featurette because he’s kinda in the background for the other two. Donovan Scott mentions it’s a shame the soundtrack never got it’s own release. Ken Sutherland goes into great detail about the soundtrack & score for the film. He mentions all the musicians & talents he worked with on this. He brings up certain songs still get asked to be used in private events. This release from MVD Rewind Collections also includes a mini poster, a DVD copy, & amazing retro looking slipcover. I highly recommend to everyone. I really enjoyed this feature that brought out more than you would expect, it has definitely has replay value to it.