Friday, January 20, 2012

More Public Domain Videotapes

Hey everyone, I'm back with another round of public domain videotapes. So, unlike last time when I rambled on and didn't have enough energy to get through one videotape, this time I'll just jump right into them. So here we go: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIDEOTAPES, ROUND TWO!!!!
First on our list is one of many Popeye videos I've obtained through the years. I'm really surprised at how many Popeye cartoons are available for public domain. Most of them are from the Famous Studio days, from the early WWII era well into the 1950s. Most of the Fleischer cartoons, the studio that started the animated Popeye as well as Betty Boop, weren't available on any home console until very recently when they were released on DVD. The lone exception were the three two-reel color cartoons released in 1936, 1937, and 1939. The first of which is on this tape and shown in the images below.
That's right, it's Popeye vs. Sindbad the Sailor. This animated classic was released in 1936 and it is widely regarded as the first animated feature because it was a two-reeler and lasted longer than your normal 7-minute animated short. It is also the first Popeye short to be animated in color, more specifically, Technicolor. The following year, Walt Disney would release "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and the title of "First Fully Animated Feature" would be given to that classic while Popeye and Sindbad would just become another short in the animated timeline. If you haven't seen this short, and you're a Popeye fan, I highly recommend it. It's well worth purchasing the DVD set I linked because it has a great commentary and behind the scenes featurette about the making of the Fleischer two-reelers. If you can't afford the DVD, it's widely available on YouTube because, after all, it is public domain.
Just as before, I also scanned the back of the video box. Along with the Sindbad short you have two other Popeye shorts. One a gender-reversed retelling of the Cinderella story and the other a meaningless, one of many shorts in which Popeye and Bluto fight over Olive Oyl's affection. I'm not going to review them or post images because they aren't the greatest in Popeye cartoons. They aren't bad, but compared to Sindbad the Sailor, these are just leftovers.
Finally we get to the video itself. Once again, Troy Video decided not to invest in labels and Viking Video was given the honors. As you can see, I mispelled Sindbad and put Sinbad instead. I can't give the excuse of, "Well, I was young at the time!" because the correct spelling is on the box itself. Call it laziness or maybe perhaps I just wanted to have a little play on words. Come on, Sinbad sounds like "Sin Bad." Okay, I probably only think that's funny!
Our next videotape has my favorite Popeye two-reeler, "Popeye Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Theives." Now, unfortunately, the title is wrong. Popeye does not meet Ali Baba himself but a gang of his known as the forty theives. The character that Bluto is playing is called Abu Hasan.
The above images capture my favorite moments from the short. Jack Mercer, who did the voice of Popeye, has some of his best ab-libs in this short and his showdown with Bluto/Abu Hasan, is just classic! I love this short so much, I even linked it to the title so all you have to do is click on it and enjoy that fine piece of great animation! I should mention that this was released one year after Sindbad in 1937, and the same year that Walt Disney released Snow White, though I think this was first. Anyway, moving on...
In this volume, we only get one other short besides Ali Baba. Is is even more forgotten than the ones in the previous video. It is called, "Abusement Park." I often stopped the video after Ali Baba because I never got into this short. If you want to see it, check it out on YouTube.
Now we come to the video itself. Same label as before and the same handwriting as before. I don't think I need to say anything else about this.
Here's the video that contains the third Fleischer two-reeler, "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp." This short lacks the quality of the previous two shorts for a couple of reasons. First, there's no Bluto in the short. The villian is an evil vizier who, I have to admit, still looks pretty creepy to me. Parents, if you have young kids, I would advise you not to show this short to them until they are much older. Also, this was made after the Fleischer studio moved from Brooklyn to Florida. Finally, this came out in 1939 after Walt Disney released "Snow White." So, the thrill of the two-reeler was gone. I also don't think it was that strong a story when compared to Sindbad or Ali Baba. In those shorts, you had Popeye, Olive Oyl and Wimpy on some kind of adventure. In this short, Olive is a movie writer who acts as a princess in the short, Popeye is Aladdin, and there's no Wimpy or Bluto. The chemistry of that team that made the first two shorts is gone in this one. I'd consider it the black sheep of the Fleischer shorts. If this one had been made first before Sindbad, it might have been a stronger short. It's not bad as a short itself, but compared to what we got previously, this one falls short. I will say that there are a couple great moments in this short. There's a scene in the princess quarters where Popeye, dressed as a prince, gets nervous when asking Princess Olive to merry him. Mercer does one of his many of his great ad libs and says, "Oh, I don't know what to do. I never made love in Technicolor before!" That does seem true considering the previous two color shorts does not have Popeye and Olive making out. The genie is also pretty hilarious, and not in the Robin Williams Genie-type hilarious, but hilarious in his own way. Also, the showdown between Popeye and the vizier at the end where Popeye is running up the stairs of the palace tower and the vizier sends everything down from knights to a vulture to a dragon to kill Popeye is also very memorable. Popeye responds each time by rubbing a can of spinach like a genie lamp. Great humor, but other than that, there's nothing memorable about this. I would recommend seeing it if you haven't already, or want to revisit it after not seeing it for so long. I won't post any images but I will link it from YouTube here.
If you haven't noticed by now, there's another cartoon on this tape starring Superman. No, there's not a short where the two of them are together. This is a completely different short. It is to noted however that the studio who made the Popeye shorts also did Superman, which would be Fleischer. Anyway, this short is fairly dark so I would recommend parental supervision upon viewing it. Oh, and here it is on YouTube.
Ah, notice the label is from a different company. This time Burbank Video supplied the label. I guess Viking thought they weren't getting enough of the profits and therefore, severed their relationship with Troy Video. Yeah, I didn't even bother writing the title on the label. It's my least favorite of the videos so it got the anonymous treatment.
Okay, I know this blog is getting pretty long so this will be my last videotape for this edition. It's also the last tape I have of Popeye so this should be a fitting end. Anyway, here are a collection of Popeye cartoons. They were all from the Famous Studio days and for the most part, the shorts are pretty good. The company producing this video is FunTime Video. I will say that this tape had the exact same cartoons from another video I owned previously. I also got this as part of three videotapes (all public domain) I received that year for Christmas. This would have been late 80s to early 90's. Anyway, here's the front of the box. You may notice some familiarity with the artwork, like it was from a short I talked about before. Check the next photo and you shall have your answer.
The third short listed is called "Big Bad Sindbad." It's actually a remake of "Sindbad the Sailor" and uses much of the same footage. The new footage is Popeye taking his nephews (why is it always nephews? Where are these kids' real parents? Donald Duck has the same situation with Huey, Dewey, and Louie) on a tour of a museum housing the great sailors of the world. Anyway, the dialogue is changed and it is very poor in comparison to the original Fleischer cartoon. Of course, when I was young, I thought the two shorts were made by the same company and within just a few years of each other. Looking back on them now, I can notice the big differences between the animation done by the Fleischer Studios and the animation done by Famous Studios. I should also mention that there was a remake of the Ali Baba cartoon entitled "Popeye Makes a Movie." Unlike "Big Bad Sindbad", this was not public domain. I can't see why, it's just as bad as the Sindbad remake. Oh well, his annoying nephews are in this one to. Nothing for me to really review so just check it out on YouTube. Oh, as for the other shorts on this tape, just check them out. You know where to see them.
Well, we finally come to the tape itself and look, they actually printed out the title on their label! Perhaps Troy Video should have gotten their company to print them some labels. Also notice that they tell you to adjust your tracking control to get the best quality. So, there's nothing on the tape to tell you that and of course, no FBI Warning so, it just gets right to the toons. That's something that not even DVDs do today! Well, that about does it for this edition of public domain tapes. I have two more that I want to share and many more for me to view. Keep checking back for more of my tape reviews! Peace Out!!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Public Domain Videotapes

In trying to figure out how to get over my writer's block after only two posts, I figured it was time to get some inspiration. I found some in the most unlikely of places. Just like everyone else, I always set about making New Years Resolutions and, just like everyone else, I end up breaking them too soon after starting. One of my Resolutions is to go through as much of my "stuff" (I add the quotation marks because to most of you, it probably is all nothing but junk) and see what I feel like keeping, what I feel like giving away or selling, and what I feel like throwing away. A majority of my stuff will probably end up in the latter latter category (I know there's no such word as "lattest"). So then it dawned on me. I have these old videotapes that contain nothing but cheaply produced public domain cartoons that are probably older than most of the people I know (if you were born after the late 80's, this definetly applies to you). You're probably wondering to yourself, "What are public domain videos?" Up until very recently, I had no idea what they were either. In fact, I was convinced these were really bootleg copies of cartoons. Wait, why would they be considered bootleg if you buy them at the supermarket, and for reasonably cheap prices too. Why did I think they were bootleg? When else can you get a videotape that has both Mickey Mouse, Looney Tunes, and even Fleischer (the studio that brought us the early black & white Popeye cartoons) cartoons on them? To my surprise, these are actually legally made and sold at your local store. Well, I don't know so much about that now considering we buy everything on DVD now and videotape has gone the route of laserdisc, vinyl records, and 8-track tapes. Oh yeah, and Beta too! Anyway, these tapes are not considered bootleg but instead public domain. Public domain means they are no longer licensed by a certain company and so can be bought, shipped, sold, altered in any way that seems pleasing. If they wanted to include subliminal messages in their tapes, they could. So yes, you could be watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon and suddenly Bugs starts saying, "Reagan blows Nixon out of Satan's asshole!" Pardon me, I was using references of the time because, after all, these tapes are from the late 80's. Well anyway, as far as I know, I never encountered a message of any type like that, but I do wonder why I think Daffy is responsible for our National Debt crisis... Anyway, for further information on public domain, just click here. So, what am I to do with my bootleg.....I mean, public domain videos? Well, they are pretty cheap and the quality on most of them are pretty terrible. Besides, almost every one of them you can find on YouTube because, after all, they are public domain so the companies can't do anything about you posting them....unless you alter them and say Bill Maher is a Neo-Nazi who eats baby gorillas during the full moon every month when Neptune is aligned with the doomsday device that plays "Auld Lang Syne" right before it blows our universe to smithereens. However, if you said something like that, I don't think many will disagree with you. So anyway, much of yesterday was spent watching, or trying to watch these old videos before I did away with them. So now I present to you photos from some of my old public domain videotapes. Now, before I start, keep in mind that these were made without the consent of any company and didn't have any FBI Warnings. What we got instead was either a logo from whatever cheap company was producing them or something like this:
Yes, a message saying we need to adjust our tracking control for the best results. Most of the later VCRs did the tracking for you, but I mostly had ones where you had to manually do them. By the way, I apologize for the poor cutting I did when I was capturing the image. I'm new at photo capturing so give me a break!!!! Okay, okay, screen capture, but still, CUT ME SOME SLACK!
Here's the front to our first video. Yes it's a cheap image of Mickey Mouse wearing blue pants. I guess if he was wearing red pants it would be considered copyright infringement. I bet that's not even Mickey. It's probably his long-lost cousin Monty Mouse and he's pissed off because he has to do all the work and Mickey gets all the credit. Fuck Monty Mouse! If he didn't have such an attitude problem, Walt might have put him in his cartoons. Sorry Monty, but your blue pants and pink box design don't go well with us. Oh God, a PINK BOX???? You mean he's gay too????
Next we come across the back cover. Notice the cartoons they have in this set. The first two are Mickey Mouse black and white...okay, I'm not going to say classic because if they're public domain, they weren't good enough to be considered classic. The third one is a Felix the Cat cartoon. Not much to say about Felix. He was around before Garfield, before Heathcliff and I think even before Tom from Tom and Jerry. Yeah, he's an old cat, but he demands his respect because, hey, he can do magic so if you double cross him, he'll make you disappear and re-appear at the bottom of the Dead Sea after you yourself have been whacked off! Don't mess with the Felix!!!! The fourth cartoon is a classic....err, there I go again saying classic. The fourth cartoon is from Warner Brothers. It's Tweety's first appearance. Gee, why wouldn't they want to preserve Tweety's debut? Probably because he's naked so the Warner Brothers brass denys them ever allowing a naked bird on television (my guess as to why Big Bird has never been seen without his feathers). Anyway, his two nemesis' are named Babbit and Catfellow. Yes, an obvious reference to Abbott and Costello. Give me a break, I do know my Comedy History. Anyway, Tweety wins in the end so sorry if I gave away the ending for some of you. Finally, we get an old boring Max Fleischer cartoon called Dick Whittington's cat. I don't even feel like talking about that one so if you want to see it, just click here Now you may be asking yourself, "Why are you describing the cartoons when all we can see is the back of the box? Why not show some screen images?" I don't know whey, sue me! Hey, at least the back gives you a description of each cartoon and what's on the tape so you know that I'm not lying.
Now we get to the actual videotape itself. Boy, talk about cheap! They don't even print out their labels. That handwriting you see if actually my handwriting! Also, notice that the label says "Viking Video" yet the logo on the box is "Troy Video." Guess Troy was so cheap they didn't even bother printing their own logo on their labels. Well, I had more videos to show, but since I wrote so much as it is, I'm going to have to continue this on another blog. Oh how I hope this cures my writer's block. That means more blogs more often. Stay tuned, or should I say, keep following????

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hello Everyone!

Hello, Greetings, and welcome to my blog.  My name is Brian, I am 33, and I love to write about stuff.  Anything that's to my heart's content, I like to comment on.  From sports to music to the Internet to anything that's animated, I will write about that.  As you probably noticed, my profile picture depicts the cast of many of the great Hanna Barbara universe.  I love Hanna Barbara cartoons.  I also am very fond of the old Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons, especially if they star Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny (my favorite Disney and Looney Tunes characters).  I am also very fond of movies, especially those directed by one Steven Spielberg (you guessed it, my favorite director).  Anyway, as you can see, I have a lot of interests and I hope to write about many of them in time.

So, to start off my blog, I would like to leave you with a special treat.  I said before that I am a huge cartoon fan.  The faster the pace and timing are, the more I like them.  You could probably assume that I love Tex Avery cartoons.  Well, you are correct.  So here for your enjoyment is one of my all-time favorites (and one of the funniest I've ever seen), "Symphony in Slang."  ENJOY!

PS:  I was going to embed so you can just watch it on my blog, but it wouldn't transfer which is why I linked it so you can see it on YouTube.

Mr. Magoo cartoon "Surprise Party"

I'm not ashamed to admit, I love the Mr. Magoo cartoon and I own the DVD boxed set I have pictured above.  Why do I have to say I'm not ashamed to admit it?  Well, today's politically correct world  would have nothing to do with a character like Mr. Magoo.  You would think that the UPA animation studios were prejudice against people with poor visibility, and the whole Mr. Magoo character himself is based on the fact that he has poor eyesight.  There's also another reason but I wish to show you an old cartoon first (apologies to not being able to embed the actual cartoon in the blog).

 I'm assuming you have watched the cartoon.  Did you notice the one character Charlie speaking in a broken English accent?  This accent has been used by many animated studios when portraying characters of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean descent.  It's very typical stereotyping and of course, it would never work today.  This is an old print before many of the Magoo cartoons were dubbed with Charlie's voice being spoken to an American English speaking dub.  On the DVD set, many of the cartoons had Charlie's old voice but this cartoon has his dubbed voice.  Guess either the ones making the DVDs got too lazy and decided to use the copies from the old VHS tapes or they realized halfway through the editing that the old language wouldn't go well with many customers so they instead decided to use the dubbed voiced versions the rest of the way.  Either way, this is probably the only copy of this cartoon that has Charlie's original voice track, which is what I prefer.  Better to have the original mistakes of the times than try to go back and correct the errors of the past.