Popeye Famous Studios Technicolor 1944 - 1945 shorts on Blu-Ray

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by indy mike, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest Thread Starter

    I received the new Popeye Famous Studios Technicolor 1944 - 1945 Blu-ray disc from Warner Archive a few days ago. It's a single disc set covering the switch at Famous Studios from B & W Popeye shorts to Technicolor cartoons (aside from the 3 Technicolor Popeye Color Features 2 reel films produced by the Fleischer Brothers in the late 1930s, Popeye shorts were produced in B & W until the transition from Max & Dave Fleischer getting the boot from their studio that made cartoons for Paramount Pictures and the studio being handed over to the folks who made up the Famous Studios production crew).

    ***For the sake of this thread reviewing this particular Popeye cartoon restoration/Blu-ray release, please don't post wondering/complaining about why the 3 Fleischer color features are NOT included in this set - those 3 were restored by Warner and released on the B & W Popeye DVD sets of Fleischer produced shorts that came out several years ago. This disc has only Famous Studios produced shorts and no bonus materials at all - perhaps the Fleischer color features will show up down the road, but they aren't on this release. In a back-door way, you do get to see parts of those Fleischer Technicolor shorts - I'll get to that later...***

    I never paid much attention to Popeye cartoons as a kid as the B & W Fleischer and Famous Studios shorts weren't on any channels we received in the mid 60s through the early 70s, and the color cartoons I did see were from the early 1960s revival with limited animation. The Famous Studios shorts weren't available, and so I didn't have a frame of reference to to draw on when they started showing up on Ted Turner's channels - to be honest, I didn't watch many of those when they started being rerun as I assumed they weren't all that they'd been built up to be from reading books about animation.

    After that long winded prelude, here's the scoop on the Blu-ray reissue: the restoration work done by Warner is beautiful. The color palette goes from vivid/popping primary colors when appropriate to muted pastels used in the backgrounds. The colors aren't cranked up to 12 on a scale of 10 in regards to their appearance - if the color is supposed to be brilliant it is, if the color is supposed to be toned down it is as well. There's a complete lack of reddish hued/faded color like the shorts that were floating around on tv for years. The earliest shorts have opening credits with the "spinning stars" that have an orange background, and then switch to blue backgrounds partway through the set - no A.A.P. credits are to be seen. Grain is fine and visible - not scrubbed clean of grain like some restorations of animated shorts have had done to them when cleaning up the source material (compared to MGM shorts where the nitrate-based sources went up in smoke while in storage well ahead of the DVD reissue of vault materials occurred, the sources used here appear to be in much better shape than the MGM shorts Warner controls).

    Whatever sources that Warner had available and used look really, really great - I was surprised at how good these cartoons look. They look much cleaner than the Superman DVD set of Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoons from the Warner release several years back. Sound is about what you'd expect from mid 1940s recordings (rolled off on both frequency extremes), although there's some surprising bass and punchy mids that sneak into the mix here and there. Famous Studios moved from Miami, Florida back to New York City just after the use of Technicolor was implemented across the board, and there was a switch from Western Electric's Noiseless Recording to RCA's Photophone Sound recording system (the Miami produced Fleischer soundtracks didn't sound as good as the New York City soundtracks, most likely due to the Miami studio being built from scratch and not having experienced techs handling the recording sessions; there was a rush to keep the flow of Fleischer's animated shorts projects on their release schedule, as well as working on their feature films like Gulliver's Travels and I'd venture a guess that the NYC techs did a better job of sound recording).

    A noticeable attribute of this set is that it's uncensored - there's a disclaimer about the content at the start of the disc letting folks know that stereotyped images are present in some of the shorts. Pop Pie ala Mode is the short that disclaimer is squarely aimed at - it's got a story based on cannibals attempting to cook up Popeye for dinner, and the cannibals are portrayed with large lips and Steppin' Fetchit/Amos and Andy type dialogue and accents. Skip that one if there are kids around - the images and dialogue are stereotyped and it's best left out of a viewing session. There's also references made to WW 2 (nothing along the lines of the B&W propaganda shorts such as You're a Sap Mr J*p - a Hitler caricature pops up briefly in one of the shorts).

    There are no bonus materials on this release - this set is stripped to the basics and presents 14 beautifully restored/uncensored Famous Studios Technicolor shorts from 1944 - 1945 at a reasonable price. I mentioned earlier that none of the 3 Flesicher Popeye Color Features are on this set (and again, please refrain from complaints about them not being included on this Blu-ray release - they are available on the B & W dvd sets and look great in 1080p - they weren't included here because they weren't made by Famous Studios, and there's no other bonus material included). ***I need to add this caveat - the Famous Studios cartoon Spinach Packin' Popeye is a cheater short that uses lengthy sequences from the Fleischer Popeye Color Features Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor and Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves - you get the opportunity to see portions of those Fleischer 2 reelers with their original soundtracks as part of the action. Perhaps we'll someday see those Technicolor 2 reelers on a Blu-ray release in the future, for now they're not in play.***

    Bottom line here is this - if you want anymore classic animation from Warner Bros you need to buy this set. Jerry Beck has been lobbying hard to get any classic animation from the Warner vaults reissued the last several years (Warner Bros/MGM/Popeye shorts from the 30s through the 60s) - this set has to sell through and make some money to justify any additional releases. The B & W Porky Pig 101 set released in 2017 was a test balloon by Warner Archives to see if people would still buy cartoons on physical media - that set only recently broke even after a year of availability. This Popeye set needs to sell through or that's all, folks from the Warner classic animation vault...
     
  2. antoniod

    antoniod Forum Resident

    The first disk of the 2007 Popeye DVD from Warner that I bought when it came out won't play anymore!
     
    melstapler likes this.
  3. PhoffiFozz

    PhoffiFozz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, 60173
    I have been waiting for them to continue the Popeye shorts, so I bought this as soon as I saw it was released. I was astounded at how great these looked, better than I could have ever expected.

    I have thought about buying multiple copies just to keep the animation department releasing these.

    I know these are not people's favorite Popeye shorts (compared to the earlier B&W shorts), but even up to the last shorts, there are ones I really enjoy and they are all part of my childhood. - Not to mention all the other cartoon series I would love to see Warner release.
     
  4. What something like this disc needs for sales is increased visibility on social media. Warner Archive isn't great at promotion and many of their more niche releases get swallowed up in the thousands of Blu-ray releases.
     
    Jazzmonkie, PhoffiFozz and longdist01 like this.
  5. PhoffiFozz

    PhoffiFozz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, 60173
    Agreed! These look so amazing too. I think if people were aware of how good these looked it might pique more interest with someone "on the fence".
     
    Jazzmonkie likes this.
  6. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    Try it in a different player. Worst comes to worst, you might be able to rip the disc on a DVD-ROM drive and make a new DVD-R out of it.
     
  7. antoniod

    antoniod Forum Resident

    Well, there's more to life! I was wondering if ALL my DVDs were going to stop playing, so I took out the first DVD I ever bought, the British TILL DEATH US DO PART(Canadian DVD)and it still played.
     
    longdist01 likes this.
  8. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    DVD playback involves several factors:

    1) the pressing quality of the disc
    2) the chemical compounds within the disc (like if there's an oxidation problem)
    3) the alignment of the optical pickup in the player
    4) the authoring software used to create the disc

    At least with the first 3, they can change over time so that if the laser "sled" in the assembly is dirty, it can have problems making the lightning-fast focus and tracking changes needed to play back a disc. We sometimes have to try playing a disc on 3 or 4 different players before finding one that works. Crap happens. It's a computer format, not a simple predictable format like a record or a tape.
     
  9. supermd

    supermd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Campbell, CA
    That's a good idea! I have one of those Disney Treasures DVD sets of the color Mickey Mouse cartoons, and one of the discs won't work. I've tried it in literally over 10 different players over the years... nothin'. I've never been able to get it to work, actually, even right out of the sealed case. Maybe this will do the trick. It's a shame, because that disc has all the Mickey, Donald, and Goofy trio cartoons on it - the fun ones!

    Sorry for the off-topic response. Let me bring it back. I just bought Vol. 1 of this Popeye series, and it looks amazing! Vol 2 came out today, and it is currently out of stock on Amazon. I sure hope that means Vol. 3 is under way. Let's keep these releases coming!

    https://www.amazon.com/Popeye-Sailo...=popeye+vol+2&qid=1560879128&s=gateway&sr=8-2

    Oh, and that Porky Pig 101 set: too bad it wasn't on blu-ray. I'd have bought it immediately if it was.
     
    longdist01 likes this.
  10. longdist01

    longdist01 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL USA
    thanks for keeping this Thread alive on these great Blu-Ray releases!
     
    supermd likes this.
  11. supermd

    supermd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Campbell, CA
    Speaking of, check out this video from Boomerang's YouTube page. It was added 2 months ago. This HD B&W Popeye cartoon clip looks amazing! Seems they have been working on remastering the B&W stuff, too. Fingers crossed for the B&W cartoons being released on blu-ray, too!

     
  12. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest Thread Starter

  13. PhoffiFozz

    PhoffiFozz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, 60173
  14. supermd

    supermd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Campbell, CA
    A Volume 3 has been confirmed to be currently in the works. :)
     
    PhoffiFozz likes this.
  15. PhoffiFozz

    PhoffiFozz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, 60173
    YAY!!! Great news. Thank you so much.
     
    supermd likes this.

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