Max Fleischer’s Superman 1941-1942 – Very Disappointing!

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Joe Tor1, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Joe Tor1

    Joe Tor1 Second Unit

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    I don’t know if this is the proper forum for this, as I more frequently inhabit the TV Shows forum, but so far I am totally disappointed with WHV's seeming lack of effort and quality control that it was worth expressing.

    Before watching anything this set disappoints as there is NO CONTENT LISTING anywhere inside the package! One disc is on a “hinged holder” and the other disc rests on the inside back wall of the packaging! There are 17 shorts billed on the back of the box, but there is no list of titles, no order, and no indication of what disc they are on. Ditto for the features. Are these such classics that we’re already SUPPOSED TO KNOW what they are before viewing?!

    Yes, ALL DVD packaging has become cheaper of late. On the TV side, one can point to the recent Third Season PERRY MASON and Fourth Season VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA collections (to name some on my shelf) vs. prior seasons of these series – but this takes the cake! There is NO EXCUSE for having NO LISTING of the set’s contents! Period!

    I watched the first four shorts and was very disappointed in the picture quality. It hardly differed from that which I've seen on old PD tapes. Old looking with many visible flaws in the film/picture.

    "The original and the best. Remastered from superior, original vault elements." says the back of the package. "Remastered”? We must need “Super Vision” to see the difference.

    I was expecting a picture quality equal to the Fleischer Popeye color features on the first Popeye set – for which WHV did an incredible job. Given that superior effort and the package-hype, I certainly expected something similar here.

    Skipping ahead to Disc Two, I went to "The 11th Hour", as I recall that one being absolutely amazing in concept! Clark and Lois are imprisoned in WW II Japan, and every night at 11 PM Clark slips out and, as Superman, sabotages and sets back the Japanese war effort... then slips back into his barred room with no one the wiser!

    Picture quality, alas, was no better and, in two scenes in particular, was absolutely dreadful with debris and artifacts. I can't see HOW they can claim this as being remastered. Still, it's nice to have them all in one place with added features, but I feel ripped off at the billing of remastered prints.

    I watched one of the two features, and it redeems things somewhat.

    “First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series: The Origins and Influence of this Groundbreaking Cartoon Series”. (12 plus minutes long)

    Among other contributors were Max Fleischer's son Richard, animator Myron Waldman, animation historian Jerry Beck, WB DC Comics Animated Series producers Bruce Timm and Paul Dini.

    As expected, if you have any background in DC Comics, Fleischer animation, and Warner Bros. animation, there's not much new here... but there is one "big tidbit"!

    COMMENTARY SPOILER ALERT: They seem to indicate that Superman's transition from "leaping" to flying came about because of the Fleischer cartoons. Flying, in a moving visual medium, looks so much better than leaping - and, as proof, they showed a clip from "The Arctic Giant" where Superman actually does leap in animation -- and it doesn't play well at all compared with flying! So, how 'bout that!

    I’ll continue on with the set, but I do not expect my opinions to differ…
     
  2. Harpozep

    Harpozep Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks. I was thinking of upgrading from my older DVD which really looked not much better than some of my VHS copies.
    I may get this set, but you would think with the quality seen via Popeye and even some of the Woody Woodpecker sets, that these companies would be putting out better products.
    Reminds me of the Little Rascals set I recently bought. Nice to have them in one spot, but not really living up to the company hype.

    I think sometimes the whole "remastered " banner is just that, a banner they feel they can throw on because somewhere in the D/A chain someone increased the contrast.....
     
  3. Garysb

    Garysb Screenwriter

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    I believe these are the same transfers that were on the Ultimate Superman Movie collection box set from a few years ago. You just don't know what condition the negatives of these now public domain cartoons are in.
     
  4. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    That is disappointing. There have been so many releases of these cartoons, but still no good one. I suppose that's to be expected---who wants to invest money in fixing up PD cartoons that will immediately be ripped off by the Alphas and their ilk.
     
  5. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    I have these cartoons from the previous SUPERMAN feature film releases. I believe the transfers on this new collection are the same.

    I actually found these transfers to be terrific, with bold, saturated colors and far more detail than I'd ever seen before on any home video medium. There seemed to be a rough look to them, but I think a lot of this was cel dust that would fly all about the screen. The PD prints are so soft as to obscure this, and I believe even original IB TECH prints covered this up as well. Disney has been working to remove such flaws from their earlier animated features upon reissue on DVD, but I don't think any of the other companies have done this.

    As the cel dust was photographed onto the negative, and as improved printing and processing techniques are bringing out more detail from those elements, it's only natural the appearance of these flaws will stand out. Disney has sometimes gone too far in trying to remove photographed cel dust, so maybe it's best that Warner and Universal not alter what is there. After all, it's cheaper not to change it, and if you change it you open yourself up to criticism regarding how it was done.

    Again, I don't think the flying white specks and such are dirt and damage to the elements - it looks like photographed cel dust that scatters about from frame to frame. Attractive? No. Understandable? Well, yes.
     
  6. Paul Penna

    Paul Penna Supporting Actor

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    I can't believe the negative reactions expressed so far. I've been collecting various PD collections of these cartoons going back to the Beta days, through laserdiscs and DVD, and these are nothing at all like any of those - they even blow the much-vaunted Bosko versions out of the water (which, by the way, have all the earmarks of being analog transfers, exhibit combing and appear to be taken from projection prints). The WHV are sharp as a tack, have no blown-out highlights or muddy shadow areas and the colors are rich and vibrant. Obviously taken from preprint material. There's been no attempt to clean up cell dust or scratches or other specks and splotches (which in many cases are present on the Bosko transfers, but not as obvious because they're blurrier), so maybe that's what people are kvetching about. Bottom line is that these are the best they've ever looked on video, by a considerable margin. "Hardly differed from that which I've seen on old PD tapes" -har! If you believe that, I understand there's a Blu-Ray Gulliver you'll probably like.
     
  7. Mike*HTF

    Mike*HTF Supporting Actor

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    For a different perspective, see DVDTalk's review of the set.
     
  8. Eric Huffstutler

    Eric Huffstutler Screenwriter

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    I guess to settle which one we would personally choose because there seems to be pros and cons for each, is to post some sort of comparison screen captures for the Bosko and Warner releases.

    The review pointed to states the prologues on some of the shorts are pasted onto the wrong titles. And for some reason I had heard that the familiar opening for these were lopped off but are on the Bosko (may be thinking of another Superman release TV?). But to be fair, would like to see some screen grabs between the two and see just how different (or alike) they truly are.

    Anyone??

    Eric
     
  9. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Warner's transfers are still the best in terms of image quality and color. The only drawbacks are the incorrectly edited openings and the lack of dirt/scratch removal. I guess it's not worth the expense since they're all in the public domain.

    Having seen some of the cartoons from Image's DVD, there's a big leap in quality. I might be wrong, but I recall Image's disc being interlaced while Warner's are all progressive.
     
  10. WadeM

    WadeM Supporting Actor

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    Does anyone have more specific details on this, or point me to a link?

    "The prologues have been altered from their theatrical releases with mistaken openings put on the wrong shorts and an audio glitch that exists on most of them. The changes only effect the prologues."
     
  11. John Morgan

    John Morgan Supporting Actor

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    Isn't there some problem with many of the endings? At the fadeout of the picture, there seems to be an awkward fadeout of the music. My thought was that different music occasionally played out the cartoons through THE END title, and for some reason, these all had the same End Credit with the same music. I don't have any of the other versions to compare, but if the titles and end titles were missing from the masters, maybe the correct endings couldn't be found. I am sure someone here knows these things backwards and forwards!
     
  12. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    The current Superman release presents the shorts in the highest possible quality attainable (aside from the audio problems which are annoying and surprisingly lazy from Warner but nowhere near the "OMG! BASTARDIZATION!" levels some here would throw at them). I'm sure the original poster (who we'll probably never see again) would have wanted a Lowry-esque "cleaning even the dirt on the lens"-style presentation but to say this is inferior to the somewhat washed out prints Bosko had to use for their analog sourced transfer is stretching reality a bit.
     
  13. Joe Tor1

    Joe Tor1 Second Unit

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    Well, the “original poster” IS now seen again after digesting the comments of others, and avoiding any knee-jerk reactions while restating my point.

    I never said anything about “Bosko prints” or anything the like of that. I never bought anything of the sort, waiting for the day that Warner would do these shorts right. I expected something akin to the great job WHV did on Popeye and didn’t get it.

    I can’t be as “off” on this as some of the comments make it seem… can I?

    Yes, there have been some really bad, washed-out PDs over the years and the colors would compare favorably to some of those, but for specific examples of what I mean…

    Look at “The Eleventh Hour” at about 4:35 as Superman heads toward the Japanese ship, and at about 6:56 when another Japanese ship slides backwards into the water.

    Or “Japoteurs” at about 1:55 when the Japanese leader crushes a cigarette on the newspaper, and at about 5:24 when Lois emerges from the plane’s locker.

    Or “Destruction, Inc.” at about 2:46 when the “Clark Watchman” ushers Lois into the personnel office.

    Compare these with the superb job done on Popeye from the same studio and same era (Can a better comparison of “likes” exist?), and combine it with the “package hype”, and you can understand why I was expecting something of far greater beauty.

    Maybe the package’s “tooting of its own horn” raised my expectations higher than they should have been.

    I also notice that no one has commented on the lack of any content notes. List the titles somewhere on or in the packaging, for crying out loud! It’s standard practice! I shouldn’t need to pop in a disc, go to the Internet, or pick up a research book for this information! It should be right there as part of the package, as it is for Looney Tunes, Popeye, Hanna-Barbera sets, Tom and Jerry, etc.

    How is this not a huge and easily avoidable negative? Given this, I stand by my disappointment – because Warner HAS routinely done better.

    And, these masterpieces by Max and Dave deserved the best possible treatment! Even if you disagree with me, can anyone really say they got it?
     
  14. Eric Huffstutler

    Eric Huffstutler Screenwriter

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    Joe, I understand where you are coming from wanting quality control and restoration results across the board (equal). And my comment to see screen shot comparisons was in answer to others.

    Wonder if the fact that these Superman cartoons were actually Paramount holdings and not Warner would make a difference? If the original negatives even exist after being in public domain for years? And having been in PD hell if Warner wants to put money into something that, like others have said, would only be lifted by other PD companies?

    Eric
     
  15. Peter Neski

    Peter Neski Supporting Actor

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    The Main Piont for those who think these are great,is they sure could have been Better!! But Because of them being PD,Warners didn't spent anything
    too fix these!
     
  16. WadeM

    WadeM Supporting Actor

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    Agreed. It doesn't make sense. With only 17 shorts I would expect a listing of what's in it, and a one or sentence synopsis of the short.
     

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