Studio: Genuis Entertainment
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 72 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Audio: English Dolby 2.0
Note: Portions of this review were taken from my review of Volume One.
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.
Casper in some episodes lives with other ghosts; belongs to the ghost army in a military camp and in one episode serves aboard a submarine (from which he is unceremoniously expelled via the torpedo tubes). But in each episode we inevitably 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.
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.
In these ten shorts, Casper takes a little kitten into his care on ‘Frightday’ the 13th, helps a mistreated and manically depressed circus hyena find a way to laugh and helps a persistently filthy little pig avoid a trip to the sausage factory. We also get to meet Spooky, Little Bo Peep, and the magnificent Composer Franz Shubert (also in ghost form) in this fun collection.
This is a cute batch of cartoon shorts that demonstrate the friendly ghost’s unquenchable desire to connect with someone, something…anything that he can call friend.
1: Frightday the 13th
Casper plays with a black kitten on Friday the 13th.
2: Hooky Spooky
Spooky scares animals at the Zoo.
3: Little Boo Peep
Casper helps Little Bo Peep find her sheep.
4: North Pal
Casper plays games with a baby seal in the Artic.
5: Keeping Your Grin Up
Casper cheers up a gloomy circus Hyena.
6: Penguin for your Thoughts
Casper delivers a penguin to his parents at the North Pole.
7: Spook and Span
Casper tries to keep a pig clean and then saves him from becoming sausage.
8: Spook No Evil
Casper befriends a baby monkey on a tropical island.
9: Spunky Skunky
Casper befriends a skunk by pretending to only be painted white.
10: Boo Bop
Casper visits a music museum and helps Shubert finish his symphony.
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.
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.
Two bonus episodes “chosen by Casper himself”: –
To Boo or Not To Boo
Casper tries to fit in at a Halloween Dance
Spooking with a Brogue
A boy mistakes Casper for a Leprechaun with Gold
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.