This is the life story of Howard Hughes, as told by the man himself. Literally. Sort of. Michael Ferreri is the voice of Hughes, and he narrates his life from birth to death. This narration is intercut with interviews with Hughes’ surviving friends and widow. The visuals are a lively mix of footage and animated stills. Though the case boasts a running time of almost three hours, this is when all the extras are factored in. The actual feature is only 56 minutes long. Though the effort is alwa…s interesting, the decision to go with the fiction of Hughes telling his story is a very odd one, and one that I, personally, found very off-putting.
One doesn’t really need spectacular surround in a documentary. Hell, mono would do just fine. There is some surround music and minor effects on this 2.0 track, but the rear speaker presence is kept low key, and so is never distracting. The voice-over is never drowned out and doesn’t distort.
So much of the film is made up of old newsreels and the like, so picture quality depends greatly on the state of the archival material. The transfer itself is fine, and the colours in the new interview sequences are good.
Here is where the bulk of the disc’s running time resides. There are six newsreel/trailer compilations, according to theme: “Hughes Conquers Hollywood” (trailers for three films he produced: The Outlaw, The Conqueror and Jet Pilot), “Hughes Takes on the US Government” (testimony), “The Flying Boat: World’s Largest Plane,” “The Constellation” (the famous passenger plane), and “Hughes Aircraft Headquarters.” There is also a photo gallery. New material consists of the rest of the interview footage with widow Terry Moore (remember her from the original Mighty Joe Young?) and friends/associates George Francom, Robert Maheu and Jack Real. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored (as is its excessively long intro), while the extras screen is scored.
There’s quite a bit of material here, plenty of a neat vintage, but I can’t help but wish the documentary itself were more substantial.
Special Features List
- “Hughes Conquers Hollywood” Trailers
- “Hughes Takes on the US Government” Testimony Footage
- “The Flying Boat: World’s Largest Plane” Newsreel
- “The Constellation” Footage
- “Hughes in Flight” Footage
- “Huges Aircraft Headquarters” Footage
- Photo Gallery
- Extended Interviews