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Turner and Sony To Bring 38 Classic UPA Cartoons to DVD for First Time Ever

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#1 of 5 Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 06 2012 - 06:54 AM

Turner Classic Movies and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

To Bring 38 Classic UPA Cartoons to DVD for First Time Ever

Fans of classic animation will have a lot to cheer about this spring, when Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) bring 38 timeless cartoons from the 1950’s to DVD for the first time ever.

UPA: The Jolly Frolics Collection is a treasure trove of animated shorts from United Productions of America (UPA), home to such beloved characters as Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing.  The three-disc set will be sold exclusively through TCM's online store athttp://shop.tcm.com, beginning March 15.

Featuring a video introduction by film critic, writer and historian Leonard MaltinUPA: The Jolly Frolics Collection is the perfect addition to any animation and classic movie fan’s DVD library. Each short has been digitally remastered, with audio commentaries by Maltin and animation historian Jerry Beck included on select cartoons. Extensive bonus features include a rare Pencil Test for the short, “Christopher Crumpet’s Playmate” (1955), and over 100 examples of production art, marketing materials, and more.  The beautiful gate-fold collection is accompanied by a 16 page in-depth booklet featuring historical backgrounds, animator bios, and a timeline of the studio. 

“I’m sure I’m not the only animation enthusiast who’s been longing to see these great cartoons released on DVD. It’s a privilege to be able to introduce them and provide commentary tracks,but it’s even more exciting to see them so beautifully restored.” says  Maltin.

Meticulously restored and remastered, this collection represents a milestone for cartoon fans of all ages.  “TCM is proud to add these historically important films to TCM Vault Collection series,” says Dennis Adamovich, SVP Brand Activation, Turner Entertainment Networks.  “The UPA cartoon library has not been available in this quality since the cartoons were originally theatrically presented over a half century ago.  SPHE has done incredible work in bringing this library back to life.  Many of these shorts are modern masterpieces of the animation world and can now be enjoyed again for a new generation.” 

“We are thrilled to once again work with our partners at TURNER to bring these films into the homes of those who have been waiting for their release,” says Marc Rashba, Vice President, Marketing for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.  “We hope the new bonus content, including commentaries by Leonard Maltin, will make an exciting viewing experience for fans.”

Among the highlights of UPA: The Jolly Frolics Collection is the 1949 short "The Ragtime Bear," which introduced the world to that lovably cantankerous, near-sighted millionaire Mr. Magoo, voiced by Jim Backus. The Academy AwardÒ-winning 1950 short "Gerald McBoing Boing," based on a story by Dr. Seuss, is also featured, along with "Gerald McBoing Boing's Symphony" (1953) and "Gerald McBoing! Boing! on Planet Moo" (1956).

Other highlights include the studio's first two shorts for Columbia Pictures, "Robin Hoodlum" (1948) and "The Magic Fluke" (1949); an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," narrated by James Mason; and "The Unicorn in the Garden," which was originally intended to be part of an ambitious feature-length cartoon based on the works of James Thurber.

UPA was formed in 1943 by a group of artists and animators who left Walt Disney during the 1941 animators strike. Hoping to break away from the ultra-realistic animation style Disney had been advocating, the UPA artists sought freedom to experiment with animation techniques, non-realistic colors, contemporary designs and sometimes-provocative storytelling. They began applying their concepts in wartime work for the government, later scoring their first major success with "Hell-Bent for Election," a Chuck Jones-directed short produced for FDR's 1944 re-election campaign and sponsored by the United Auto Workers (UAW).

After government contracts dried up in the late '40s, UPA forged a contract with Columbia Pictures to produce theatrical animated shorts, achieving great success casting Columbia's Fox and Crow characters in "Robin Hoodlum" and "The Magic Fluke." When those projects both garnered OscarÒ-nominations, Columbia gave UPA free reign to create its own characters. That led to the emergence of Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing, the latter earning the studio's first Academy AwardÒ for Best Animated Short. The studio went on to win two more Academy AwardsÒ for "When Magoo Flew" (1954) and "Magoo's Puddle Jumper" (1956).  UPA would continue to enjoy unprecedented critical acclaim and awards recognition in the 1950s, including collecting all three of the nominations in 1957, a feat not even achieved by Walt Disney.  

Throughout the 1950s, UPA scored several successes, despite losing several of its most talented staff members to the communist purge of the film industry in the 1950’s. After earning 15 OscarÒ nominations and three Academy AwardsÒ over 12 years, the studio stopped producing theatrical shorts in 1959. Two theatrical features followed: 1001 Arabian Nights (1959) and Gay Purr-ee (1962).

UPA artists revolutionized animation, not only through their striking design aesthetic but also through the use of limited animation, which incorporated more static backgrounds and less fluid movement. Beginning in the mid-'50s, UPA found great success on television, where lower budgets and tighter deadlines allowed limited animation to thrive. The studio produced such series as The Gerald McBoing-Boing ShowMister Magoo and The Dick Tracy Show, as well as the enormously popular 1962 holiday special, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.

The following is a complete listing of shorts in UPA: The Jolly Frolics Collection:

"Robin Hoodlum" (1948) – OscarÒ nomination

"The Magic Fluke" (1949) – OscarÒ nomination

"The Ragtime Bear" (1949)

"Punchy De Leon" (1950)

"The Miner's Daughter" (1950)

"Giddyap" (1950)

"The Popcorn Story" (1950)

"Gerald McBoing Boing" (1951) – OscarÒ winner

"The Family Circus" (1951)

"Georgie and the Dragon" (1951)

"The Wonder Gloves" (1951)

"The Oompahs" (1952)

"Rooty Toot Toot" (1952) – OscarÒ nominee

"Willie the Kid" (1952)

"Pete Hothead" (1952)

"Madeline" (1952) – OscarÒ nominee

"Little Boy with a Big Horn" (1953)

"The Emperor's New Clothes" (1953)

"Christopher Crumpet" (1953) – OscarÒ nominee

"Gerald McBoing Boing's Symphony" (1953)

"The Unicorn in the Garden" (1953)

"The Tell-Tale Heart" (1953) – OscarÒ nominee

"Bringing Up Mother" (1954)

"Ballet Oops" (1954)

"The Man on the Flying Trapeze" (1954)

"Fudget's Budget" (1954)

"How Now Boing Boing" (1954)

"Spare the Child" (1955)

"Four Wheels No Brakes" (1955)

"Baby Boogie" (1955)

"Christopher Crumpet's Playmate" (1955)

"The Rise of Duton Lang" (1955)

"Gerald McBoing Boing on Planet Moo" (1956) – OscarÒ nominee

"The Jaywalker" (1956) – OscarÒ nominee

"Trees and Jamaica Daddy" (1958) – OscarÒ nominee

"Sailing and Village Band" (1958)

"Spring and Saganaki" (1958)

"Picnics are Fun and Dino's Serenade” (1959)

“Academy Award®” and “Oscar®” are the registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

About Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) company. Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation.  SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; worldwide television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of entertainment in more than 142 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.sonypictures.com.

About Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

Turner Classic Movies is a Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world. Currently seen in more than 85 million homes, TCM features the insights of veteran primetime host Robert Osborne and weekend daytime host Ben Mankiewicz, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests. As the foremost authority in classic films, TCM offers critically acclaimed original documentaries and specials, along with regular programming events that include The Essentials, 31 Days of Oscar and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also stages special events and screenings, such as the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood; produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs; and hosts a wealth of materials at its Web site,http://tcm.com, TCM is part of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 5 ahollis



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Posted March 06 2012 - 08:41 AM

I'm also looking forward to the Mr. Magoo Theatrical Shorts Collection that comes out in June.  That and the UPA Cartoons from TCM will be great bookends for a cartoon factory that deserves re-discovery.

"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman

#3 of 5 battlebeast


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Posted March 08 2012 - 05:58 AM

I'll pick this up specifically for the Oscar Nominees.

I recently watched all 485 Best pictures (plus about 10 others films) in 365 days! www.oscarmovs.com

#4 of 5 Russell G

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Posted May 17 2012 - 04:18 AM

I've been going through this set the past week and highly recommend it. One of the best sets I've seen. The cartoons look great, the commentaries are informative and some of the cartoons are flat out amazing. This set deserves to be on store shelves and in the hands of every cartoon collector. I'm glad I ponied up the extra postage to get it. I'm currently on the last disc and have not gone through the special features, but from what I've sampled, this one puts some of the "Loony Toons Golden Collections" to shame.

#5 of 5 Brandon Conway

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Posted May 17 2012 - 04:46 PM

Good to hear. I plan on picking it up soon.

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932