2D & 3D Presentation

Essay by Bob Furmanek

Screenplay Excerpts of Deleted Scenes

Trailers & Still Gallery

 

THIS WEEK'S REVIEW
Call it bad luck, bad karma or just bad timing; some folks never get the credit they deserve. Arch Oboler began his career with a breakout success on the 1936 radio program Lights Out, a weekly horror play that aired on NBC at midnight which allowed for much more edgy content. Oboler parlayed that success into a career in Hollywood and hit the jackpot again in 1952 with Bwana Devil, the first color 3D film that unleashed a tidal wave of imitators. But these accomplishments never made Oboler a household name, despite the fact that many of those inspired by his ideas and innovations (Rod Serling and Stephen King among them) did just that. Perhaps because Oboler, although quick to spot a trend, never took full advantage of the film medium. 1966’s The Bubble is a perfect example, shot with a new 3D technology that allowed for much simpler filmmaking techniques (and set the standard for every 3D film for the next 30 years), but burdened with a storyline that is a poor match for the “in-your-face” spectacle audience’s had come to expect. In fact, Oboler’s script feels like a Twilight Zone leftover, full of the socio-political commentary Serling loved to insert into his supernatural teleplays. Amidst the existential angst is a sci-fi set-up stranding a desperate trio in an isolated town with a mysteriously hypnotized populace. After a thunderstorm forces them to make an emergency landing in a small prop plane, our travelers (pregnant wife, husband and playboy pilot respectively) explore their bizarre surroundings, only to discover they are trapped beneath a huge invisible bubble that prevents anyone from escaping. To make matters worse, the year-round residents have all been turned into brainwashed robots, repeating the same motions and phrases ad nauseam. And every so often, someone is plucked out of the blue by an unseen force that studies mankind like ants under a microscope. If this sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because Stephen King’s novel and TV show Under the Dome employs the same conceit. Oboler strains to keep things literate, but caves to the demands of the 3D gimmick with forced “comin’ at ya” moments to make sure the audience get their money’s worth. There are flashes of intelligence and pulp imagination, but The Bubble is simply a bad match for the 3D presentation. An invisible barrier just doesn’t make for the most impressive otherworldly menace…whether it’s in 3D or not. And it doesn’t help that most of Oboler’s dialogue gets a bigger laugh than most sitcoms. But that was 1966. In 2014, all this plays as a remarkably entertaining retro experience, particularly in the stunning home video 3D presentation on Kino Lorber’s new blu-ray. Restored from the 35mm negative by the 3D Film Archive, The Bubble looks terrific as a flat 2D picture, but really shines in three dimensions if you have the equipment to get the job done. Even though the film’s 3D gags are ridiculously disconnected from the story, that doesn’t make them any less fun to watch! Extras include trailers, stills, screenplay excerpts from deleted scenes and an essay on the film’s production backstory.