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Blu-Ray : Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $25.49 Last Price: $34.98 Buy now! 3rd Party 12.92 In Stock
Release Date: January 30th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1978

Skateboard

Overview -

Billed as "the first feature film to depict the height of the '70s skateboard craze," this 1977 film features pro skateboarding legend Tony Alva and the era's teen idol Leif Garrett along with mainstay Alan Garfield, with the first writing credit from future "Law and Order" creator Dick Wolf. It's a 70s time capsule with no deeper message other than just that of having fun. Factory 25 brings it to Blu-Ray in a faithful presentation that doesn't try to make it look or sound any better than it was meant to. Recommended

Skateboard was the first feature film to depict the height of the 70s skateboard craze. Many refer to it as the Bad News Bears of the sport. A Hollywood agent finds himself in debt to a powerful bookie. To make a fast buck, he creates a team of exceptionally talented skateboarders and enters them in a downhill race. If they win, they will get $20,000. It’s star studded cast includes Alan Garfield, 70s teen idol Leif Garrett, skateboarding legend Tony Alva, and iconic female freestyler and member of the Skateboarding Hall of Fame Ellen O’Neal.

directed by: George Gage
starring: Alan Garfield, Leif Garrett, Tony Alva, Ellen O’Neal, Richard Van der Wyk, Steve Monahan, David Hyde, Pam Kenneally, Anthony Carbone, Patricia Hitchock, Orson Bean, Thelma Pelish
1978 / 97 min / 1.85:1 / English Dolby Digital 2.0

Additional info:

  • Region Free Blu-ray
  • 2023 Restoration of the film
  • Interview with Director George Gage
  • 2010 Commentary Track with Tony Alva and George Gage
  • Trailer
  • 24-page booklet with Tony’s Alva’s 1978 Skateboard Glossary written in 1978 and essays by Director George Gage and Jenny Gage (director of All This Panic)
  • English subtitles

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
This special limited edition spot gloss slipcover is limited to 2,000 units
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Length:
97
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English
Release Date:
January 30th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Alan Garfield plays his usual everyman character as Manny, a Hollywood talent agent who can't score much talent and has racked up some big gambling debts. On his way to the unemployment office, a gang of kids on skateboards catches his eye- one of them does a fancy jump over his car. With nothing to lose, he recruits them into a professional skateboarding team called the L.A. Wheels with promises of fame and fortune. Manny buys a beat-up school bus and carts them up and down the state of California to competitions, soon adding Millicent (Kathleen Lloyd) as an assistant when the kids' parents question Manny's competence to handle everything on his own.

The simply-titled Skateboard was conceived as a cash-in on both the skateboarding craze and the success of 1976's The Bad News Bears, putting Garfield in the Walter Matthau role. Going into this movie one often wonders what he's doing there, as he seems to know little to nothing about skateboarding and doesn't have the best management skills either. Nevertheless, the kids he recruits are hungry for what he promises them and go along, despite his inability to pay most of the expenses. When Millicent is added she serves as more of a mother figure to the team, and keeps Manny focused on his job as well.

Other than that, the plot seems to serve mainly as just an excuse to show the cast doing their stuff onscreen. One of the older kids is played by real-life skating legend Tony Alva, and teen idol Leif Garrett was acquired to give the film "star power"- and his co-stars said he surprisingly picked up skating really well. When the kids aren't skating they joke around on the bus and in motel rooms. A side-plot has Manny harassed a bit by thugs sent by the people he owes money to, but the overall tone is light-hearted and a fun trip back to the 1970s.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-Ray
Factory 25's release of Skateboard rolls in with a clear case with some 70s style cover art on the front insert and reversible with a notebook-like style keeping with the label's other releases. The single-layer disc is accompanied by a printed insert with notes from the director, his daughter (remembering meeting Leif Garrett in person after idolizing him beforehand) and a list of skateboarding terms from Tony Alva. The disc's menu system is done more like a standard DVD, going to a different background video when each section is selected.

Video Review

Ranking:

The cover boasts a "2023 restoration of the film," but thankfully they didn't overdo it. This is not a great-looking film by any means nor was it likely meant to be. There's a bit of film grain and the overall look is rather dingy by design. The colors are pretty dull and focus is a bit soft, but that's how this movie has always looked (I first saw a rather poor standard-def 4x3 transfer a few years ago on a streaming service, this presentation is miles ahead of that.) The source material is clean altogether and no compression artifacts are visible, which makes this fine in my book. There are a few shots where the aperture plate shows on the sides a bit, thankfully not even that was "corrected".

Audio Review

Ranking:

The audio was mainly an afterthought here, and likely many of the theaters that played this didn't have great sound systems either. It's encoded on this Blu-Ray in 2-channel standard Dolby Digital, but a higher-res format wouldn't have helped it much. It's a plain mono mix (which stays properly centered if your equipment is set right) with about the same audio quality as an optical film track, though at least it isn't noticably noisy. Some of the dialogue is poorly recorded but is clear enough to follow the story at least. Not a lot of money was spent on licensing popular songs of the day, most of the film is accompanied by an amusingly cheesy 70s style score by Mark Snow, who went on to mostly compose music for TV.

Special Features

Ranking:

New to this Blu-Ray is a video interview with director George Gage, who talks a bit about how the film came to be (again saying it was inspired by The Bad News Bears) and his experiences shooting it. He points out his own cameo appearance as a TV commercial director.

Carried over from the DVD released in 2010 is a commentary track with Gage and Tony Alva, who reminisce about making the film and the things that changed in the years in between. The theatrical trailer is included in high-definition. The "Safety PSA" in the extras is actually a repeat of the unique post-credits bit at the very end of the movie where an announcer gives a few safety tips over some stills ("Skate only in skateparks, and never ever on streets or public roads!") this also plays during the Extras menu.

  • Interview with Director George Gage
  • 2010 commentary track with Tony Alva and George Gage
  • Trailer
  • Skateboard safety PSA
  • 24 page booklet with Tony Alva's 1978 Skateboard Glossary and essays by Director George Gage and Jenny Gage (Director of All This Panic)

Final Thoughts

Skateboard is one of the lesser-seen 70s youth films, and practically tells you throughout its running time that it's low budget, but it's certainly a fun trip back in time and likely to leave you smiling at the end despite any of its faults. This Blu-Ray is likely the best presentation it will ever receive. Recommended

Order Your Copy of Skateboard on Blu-ray