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DVD Reviews:  Auto Focus

The Final Say!

Feature Score:
DVD Extras Score

Reviewed by Andrew B
Distributed by:
Columbia TriStar
Running Time: 101 Minutes

Auto Focus is the compelling yet disturbing tale of Hogan's Heroes star Bob Crane that traces his rise to fame and also his fall from grace. The DVD stars the very talented Greg Kinnear as the extremely likeable Bob Crane who does a wonderful job at portraying Cane as a devoted father and actor with an insidious dark side. The story begins with Crane's rise to fame from radio announcer to star of Hogan's Heroes and how this mild mannered family man was thrown into a world of perverse sexual acts that ultimately led to his downfall as a Hollywood actor and his murder. Auto Focus also stars Oscar winner Willem Dafoe who does a remarkable job at playing John Carpenter, Bob Cranes best friend and the man responsible for Cranes downfall, provided you believe Robert Graysmith, the author of the Murder of Bob Crane that this movie is based on.

Although Auto Focus is considered a drama, it does border on comedy with some of the sexual anecdotes of Crane and Carpenter and also the re-enactments from Hogan's Heroes. Both Kinnear and Dafoe are believable as Crane and Carpenter but unfortunately certain plots within the movie are never addressed and the conclusion comes a little too rapidly. From what begins as a light hearted look on Crane's seedy life turns into a very serious movie that makes you feel remorse for the stars downfall. With exceptional acting and some brilliant directing by Paul Schrader, the movie is an in-depth look into the dark soul of Hollywood.


The video transfer of Auto Focus is crystal clear and although the movie starts with the vibrant colours of the 1960's, it slowly moves into the darker tones of the 1970's that helps portray Cranes downfall. The video is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and no errors were detected whatsoever in the viewing of this movie. The producers have also done a brilliant job at recreating the looks and feels of two completely different decades.


Auto Focus features Dolby Digital 5.1 but is rarely used throughout the entire presentation of this movie. The dialogue of the actors is extremely sharp and audible as was the soundtrack of the movie that was performed by Angelo Badalamenti.


Auto Focus features a plethora of extras that actually go hand-in-hand with the main feature. The most notable feature of the movie is the 2-part documentary entitled "Murder in Scottsdale" that shows actual footage from the police and Crane's family members after his death. This documentary tries to prove that John Carpenter was the main suspect in his death and should be watched after the movie has been viewed for a further insight into the life of Bob Crane. There is also various audio commentaries on the disc that include director Paul Schrader, the writers of the movie and Greg Kinnear and William Dafoe. As with all good DVD extras, there are various deleted scenes, a making of featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

Auto Focus is a very fascinating movie into the mysterious life of Bob Crane that contains some extremely dark adult content and some remarkable acting by Kinnear and Dafoe. Although a few of the plot lines are never resolved in the movie, it still an entertaining watch that I would recommend to all viewers who are sick of mainstream DVD.

Auto Focus Features

  • Audio Commentary (Directory)

  • Audio Commentary (Writer's & Producers)

  • Audio Commentary (Cast Commentary)

  • Murder in Scottsdale (Documentary)

  • Making of Featurette

  • Deleted Scenes

  • Theatrical Trailer


 Copyright 2003