Warner Archive continues its crusade to give fans of quirky classic television shows and movies of yesteryear what they want on-demand with the release of 1987's "The Spirit." Originally made as a pilot for a series based on Will Eisner's legendary comic book character, it ended up forever lost as a TV-movie. It wasn't until the arrival of Frank Miller's ill-received big-screen adaptation that this garnered attention once again.
Denny Colt (Sam Jones) comes to Central City to investigate the death of his good friend (Philip Baker Hall). After getting a little too close to the truth, Colt is shot and left for dead to drown in the harbor. Thought to be dead, he "raises" from the grave as the masked avenger the Spirit. He joins forces with the city's police commissioner Dolan (Garry Walberg) to find the connections between his friend's murder and a local art heist.
The Warner Archive release of "The Spirit" marks the first time it's been made available in any home entertainment format. It's printed on-demand and only available on DVD. In essence, what you're getting is a legally burned copy of the movie. Like the cover states, "It's expected to play back in DVD Video 'play only' devices, and may not play in other DVD devices, including recorders and PC drives." Has it been digitally remastered and cleaned up to the best of Warner's abilities? No, but I guarantee the picture and audio quality is better than any of the bootlegs or YouTube versions floating around out there.
The cast of "The Spirit" features some interesting actors in key roles. Sam Jones steps out of his Flash Gordon outfit and into the blue suit and fedora of the masked vigilante. Nana Visitor ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Torchwood") plays police commissioner Dolan's daughter, Ellen, who has a crush on the Spirit. Television actor Garry Walberg of "Quincy, M.E." fame portrays Commissioner Dolan.
Most fans of "The Spirit" will find this failed 1987 TV-pilot much easier to digest than Frank Miller's big-screen adaptation of the hero. Although the movie has its ups and downs, it's more accurate to the tone and visual appearance of Will Eisner's beloved comic book. It's a worthy addition for any enthusiast looking to complete their home entertainment library of super hero films.
"The Spirit" is available now on DVD.