the best adaptation, to date, of Richard Matheson’s novel (on DVD and VOD)

DVD I am a legend 00

Artistic note: Red StarRed StarRed Starhalf red stargray star(3.5/5)


In 1968, Doctor Morgan, now alone in a city victim of a pandemic and whose inhabitants show all the symptoms of the vampire, leaves daily to liquidate some of them before returning to barricade himself at home at nightfall. Besieged by these vampires who only dream of executing him, Morgan encounters a dog that is alive and well…

• Original title: The last Man on Earth
• Media tested: DVD
• Genre: drama, science fiction
• Year: 1964
• Direction: Ubaldo B. Ragona and Sidney Salkow
• Cast: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Umberto Raho, Christi Courtland, Tony Corevi, Hector Ribotta
• Duration: 1 h 23 min 12
• Video format: 16:9
• Cinema format: 2.35/1 (Totalscope)
• Subtitling: French
• Soundtrack: Dolby Digital 2.0 monophonic English
• Bonuses: none
• Publisher: Artus Films

Art commentary

Entirely filmed in Italy (Rome, Lazio), I’m a legend is the first film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend” (1954), which revisits the myth of the vampire by imagining a pandemic that will decimate humanity with the exception of a certain Robert Neville, immune. This classic of science fiction literature, originally planned in 1957 to be directed by Fritz Lang at Hammer Films, will be adapted for the screen several times with The survivor (1971), with Charlton Heston, and I’m a legend (2007), starring Will Smith. Of the three filmed versions, I’m a legend (1964), starring Vincent Price, is the most faithful and ultimately the most gripping, due to its sleek black-and-white filming and partial writing collaboration with Richard Matheson himself (unsatisfied, he will be credited in the credits under an assumed name). In this film, which would have visually inspired Night of the Living Dead (1968), the actor delivers a performance to his measure of a lonely and overwhelmed scientist (renamed Robert Morgan) who tries to survive. While his concern for perfection is exemplary, he insisted, for example, on manipulating real actors when he transports corpses, his gothic acting deviates from the character design in the novel. But, although Richard Matheson was not convinced by the interpretation of Vincent Price and that Charlton Heston considered the film shoddy, I’m a legend (1964) has become a cult film among fans of the genre and easily surpasses other versions. An Italian-American co-production, the film was directed by two directors, Ublado Ragona, known above all for his documentaries, and Sidney Salkow, who specializes in the B series. Compared to the novel, the film takes some narrative liberties, transforms vampires into zombies , evades the complexity of the relationship with Ben Cortman (played by Giacomo Rossi-Stuart), modifies the narrative with Ruth Collins (Franca Bettoia) and radically transforms the end (no suicide pills brought by Ruth). And while it still lacks an ideal film version of the novel (Richard Matheson cited George Miller-directed Harrisson Ford as the perfect combination), I’m a legend (1964), despite its production to the economy, remains a good jewel of science fiction nourished by an indirect reflection on the threat in times of cold war of the 60s and its pandemic theme which we will feel all the better effectiveness of the subject in this Covid period! This reissue – the previous version dates from 2011 – is therefore a nice gift offered to movie buffs, but we regret the choice of DVD support with very average definition while an American blu-ray has been available since the summer of 2021…

DVD I am a legend

Technical Comment

Picture : SD copy, variable definition depending on the shots but correct for a DVD medium, limited sharpness, homogeneous silver texture (shooting in 35 mm), fairly clean copy but not free of white spots and scratches, good contrast not excluding fluctuations (opening shots), frank blacks, nuanced whites, well-layered grays

His : monophonic English 2.0 mix, clear voice-over and dialogue despite imperfect post-synchronization, no distortion, very good dynamics on action scenes, no major flaws or unwanted background noise

Our opinion

Picture : Red StarRed StarRed Starhalf red stargray star(3.5/5)
Sound mixing: blue Starblue Starblue Starhalf blue stargray star(3.5/5)
Bonuses: gray stargray stargray stargray stargray star(0/5)
Packaging: blue Starblue Starhalf blue stargray stargray star(2.5/5)

IMDb :

DVD available on Amazon

Other articles that may interest you on ON-mag and the rest of the web

the best adaptation, to date, of Richard Matheson’s novel (on DVD and VOD)