HTF Review: Casper The Friendly Ghost - Best Of Casper Volume 1

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Neil Middlemiss, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    [​IMG]
    Casper The Friendly Ghost - Best Of Casper Volume 1




    Studio: Genuis Entertainment
    Year: 1950-1959
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: 72 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 4:3
    Audio: English Dolby 2.0
    Subtitles: N/A





    The Show - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    "Dear Santa, Please Bring Me A Friend For Christmas...Thank You, Casper"

    Casper the Friendly Ghost may not have the commercial popularity of the Disney or Warner Bros. characters like Mickey, Daffy, Bugs or Tweety but this semi-transparent (or is it opaque) little apparition long-searching for friends has had considerable success. Created in the early 1940’s by Seymour Reit and illustrator Joe Oriolo, Casper was originally conceived as a character for a children’s storybook. With little interest in that avenue, Oriolo sold the character rights to Paramount Pictures’ Famous Studio where he appeared in his first Noveltoon, ‘The Friendly Ghost’, in 1945.

    After his third Noveltoon, Paramount started a ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’ series in 1950, running the theatrical shorts until 1959.

    This ‘Best Of’ collection of those shorts represents a good sampling from that decade of Casper’s predictable, but cute escapades.

    Billed as original Harveytoons Classics, these theatrical Technicolor shorts were mostly created under the ownership of Paramount before Alfred Harvey, founder and publisher of Harvey Comics (who had produced Casper comics since 1952) purchased all rights to the Casper character around 1957.

    They begin in very much the same way each time, Casper slowly appears onscreen in the midst of a benign act (peeling a banana, etc) and we follow him as he searches for someone that will be his friend. Being a ghost, his choices are limited. Most are scared silly, jumping out of their clothes or having their eyes jump from their sockets before scampering off in a fright. But inevitably, Casper’s travels will bring him upon the lonely, the needy or the desperate and this friendly ghost’s kindness will help him win that soul over.

    In these ten shorts, Casper saves a sad young boy’s Christmas by dismantling household products and making fun items like a train set and a rocking horse; he saves a lazy greyhound from the pound by helping him win a race; teams up with a rejected watchdog to help him find his purpose and ingeniously, skips across the comic pages to make friends with some playful groundhogs.

    Casper has existed in these theatrical shorts, Comic books and even the 1995 live action/CGI film, as a cute character from the afterlife entertaining audiences the world over.

    While he must occasionally fend off the misdeeds of the Ghostly Trio, a low IQ band of ‘New Jersey Mob’-like troublemakers, he mostly needs to fight his unending need to find a friend and to be a friend.
    Interestingly, however, Casper’s amiable nature is subverted in one episode after the meddlesome Trio try to rid him of his kindness by force-feeding him ‘mean pills’ and the typically softhearted little ghost flirts with hints of sadism as he exacts a strange revenge upon them.




    The Episodes
    1: True Boo
    Casper pretends to be Santa and makes Billy toys out of household items.

    2: Boo Ribbon Winner
    Casper saves a greyhound race winner from the pound.

    3: Good Scream Fun
    Casper finds an Ostrich, Which eats everything.

    4: Fright from Wrong
    The Ghostly Trio force Casper to take mean pills.

    5: Zero the Hero
    Casper helps a watchdog hone his sense of smell.

    6: Ground Hog Play
    Casper befriends groundhogs in another comic strip.

    7: Boo Hoo Baby
    Casper makes friends in an orphanage.

    8: Spooking About Africa
    Casper cures a sneezing elephant in Africa.

    9: Puss ‘N Boos
    Casper rescues two unwanted kittens.

    10: Hide and Shriek
    Cousin spooky comes to stay with Casper.




    The Video - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Casper is presented in its original 4:3 ratio. There are some evident dust specs and debris, especially in the shorts from the first few years of the 1950s. The earlier shorts are darker with more grain and our friendly little ghost wasn’t quite as semi-transparent. Generally speaking, this DVD presentation of these 10 shorts is good.


    The Sound - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Casper is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 and sounds quite nice for such an old cartoon. It is generally free from hiss and the adventurous music that dominates most of the episodes is clean and warm sounding.
    Casper’s giddy young and innocent optimism comes through the speakers a little soft but fits the time it was released.



    The Extra’s - [​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Two bonus episodes “chosen by Casper himself”:
    Red, White and Boo
    Casper uses a time machine to make friends in the past

    Pig-A-Boo
    Casper saves the Three Little Pigs from the Wolf



    Final Thoughts
    Casper is a good honest, wholesome, kind-natured cartoon that revels in the earnest efforts of this dearly departed’s quest to help others and find friendship. Repetition of story aside, the animation of these shorts contains bursts of genuine originality as the illustrators play around with the conventions of a little boy ghost. Casper’s good natured soul and his innate willingness to help anyone and everyone is a lesson that could be learned in this exceedingly bitter world of ours.

    Good for those who hold fond memories of this friendly little ghost and worth your money if you seek a kinder, gentler, simpler cartoon for your rug rats.


    Overall Score - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Neil Middlemiss
    Kernersville, NC
     
  2. Drew Salzan

    Drew Salzan Second Unit

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    Have the original Paramount titles been restored?
     
  3. Xenia Stathakopoulou

    Xenia Stathakopoulou Cinematographer

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    If anyone owns the harveytoons boxset, there is no reason to buy this.It includes all of these , plus a ton more !!!
     
  4. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Well, each episode opens with the jack in the box holding the HarveyToons banner - no Paramount mountain to be found... It looks clean, but it is not the 'original' opening - mostly likely since the property was sold by Paramount - However, I am not the expert on that so I could be wrong. I consulted a great site today on the matter, http://www.cartoonresearch.com/paramount.html that I recommend taking a look at.
     

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