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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "Mickey Mouse In Black And White" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)



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#1 of 95 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 13 2002 - 05:55 AM

Posted Image

Mickey Mouse In Black & White






Studio: Walt Disney
Year: 2002
Rated: NR
Feature Length: 250 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Subtitles: English



It's moments like this that you really come to
appreciate not only the DVD format but studios like
Walt Disney that offer you to hold such precious
history in the palm of your hand.

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Last year, Disney began releasing some of its most
prized animation under its Walt Disney Treasures
banner. Arriving in tin case packaging, these DVDs
offered consumers the opportunity to own a piece of
Disney history. Some of the initial titles that have
become my most prized possessions include Mickey
Mouse In Living Color
and Silly Symphonies,
both showcasing the incredible animation talent that
made Disney a household name.

Posted ImagePosted Image

In December, Disney is set to release its second
wave of Treasure titles. Three of them arrived
at my door today: Behind The Scenes At Walt
Disney Studios; The Complete Goofy
; and the one
that I tore open immediately, Mickey Mouse In
Black And White
.

Walt Disney was a man that will be remembered through
the decades for his imagination, creativity and the
magical worlds he provided. He is an individual who
has left a legacy of memories, joy and laughter within
the minds of people throughout the world.

Posted ImagePosted Image


His greatest creation was of course, Mickey Mouse.
Mickey Mouse was created in 1928, and his debut was
actually in a silent cartoon entitled "Plane Crazy."
The cartoon never hit the big screen due to the fact
that sound was being introduced into motion pictures.
That gave Walt quite an advantage, as he took a big
gamble and produced the first animated sound
cartoon, "Steamboat Willie," starring his lovable
Mickey Mouse. Mickey and Minnie were instant hits.
In fact, Mickey Mouse was so popular that over a
million children joined the original Mickey Mouse
Club between 1929 and 1932.

Posted ImagePosted Image

For the first time on this format, consumers have
the opportunity to own a most important piece of
Disney history. These are the original cartoons
that started it all.

Posted Image

Arriving in an attractive individually numbered tin
case, this handsome 2-disc Collection contains 34
of the original B&W Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts
starting with Steamboat Willie (1928) and
ending with Mickey's Service Station (1935).

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Inside the tin box lies the two DVD discs resting
in double-cased Nexpak housing. In the side pocket
is an 8-page collector's booklet printed on durable
paper. Through text and photos, this booklet gives
you a little bit of a brief history of how Walter Elias
Disney made "an indelible impact on the landscape
of popular culture." Also included is a poster
card from Steamboat Willie.

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Who better than to introduce this set than film
historian Leonard Maltin. Leonard appears many
times throughout this collection, most notably at
the beginning of each disc, giving historical
background to the material you are about to watch.

There's one sequence featuring Leonard Maltin that
made me stand up and applaud. It comes on Disc
One, before the short Mickey Steps Out.
In an introduction, Leonard talks about the racial
stereotypes that were common in cartoons during
the 1920s and 1930s. As he talks, we are actually
shown examples of cartoon stereotypes via film
clips from early Disney B&W films. Leonard goes
on to make this very important statement about
preserving these cartoons insisting we learn
from them instead of removing them from public
view. The fact that Disney has included these
works uncut in this collection and having someone
like Leonard Maltin offer an explanation of them,
is quite outstanding. Perhaps Warner Brothers can
learn from this before they butcher their Bugs
Bunny releases for DVD.


How is the transfer?


Despite the condition of shorts that are now
nearly 75 years old, these cartoons come across
well preserved. Sure, they have their share
of scratches and blemishes but it's amazing to
see how clear these images look after all these
years. I would expect these films look better
than they did theatrically. Sound is quite good
despite the fact that it contains a considerable
amount of background noise, something that is
to be expected when considering the age of these
cartoons. Still, audio never becomes too shrill
nor overmodulated. In all, I think this is the
best possible presentation that one would expect
of this material.


Special Features

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Let me begin by talking about the Main Menu.
I give much credit to the folks at Disney for
putting some thought into the overall presentation
of these shorts. Through the menu you can arrange
the selection of shorts either by alphabetical
or chronological listing. You also have the
option of English subtitles, which is certainly
an unexpected welcomed addition here.

Posted Image

Each disc contains a variety of Bonus Material.
Let's begin with Disc One...

Posted Image

Frank and Ollie...and Mickey introduce us
to legends Ollie Johnson and Frank Thomas. It was
President Franklin D. Roosevelt who called his
Supreme Court the "nine old men." As a joke, Walt
Disney named his earliest key animators by the same
term. Here are two of the original "Nine Old Men"
of the Walt Disney Company who talk about what
Mickey Mouse has meant to them after all these years.
Along with conversation, we get a look at some
original drawings by Ub Iwerks including some early
pencil tests. It's wonderful to spend some time
with these animators who talk about the early
animation process as well as what it was like to
work with Walt Disney.
(length: approx. 18 minutes)

Posted Image

Story Scripts for Steamboat Willie
and Mickey Steps Out clearly shows the
the meticulous planning that went into the the
production of his cartoons from the detailed
scripts to storyboards. Using your remote, you
have the opportunity to leisurely browse through
this historical collection of material.

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There are seven Story Sketch presentations
that give you an idea of how these cartoons were
previsualized before going to the final animation process.
These sketches play as full-length cartoons along with
musical accompaniment. You'll even notice some of the
artist's own personal notes scribbled within the drawings.

Posted Image

Let's move on to the Bonus Material that
appears on Disc Two...

Posted Image

Pencil Test: The Mail Pilot takes us through
the next step of the animation process after a
storyboard is completed. These were photographed
pencil test animations that were done before going on
to the ink and paint department. This is the only
test that still survives, and it's simply amazing
to watch. Aided by the film's original soundtrack,
we get to see how fluidly this cartoon animation
flowed even in its most primitive stages. It's no
wonder these tests played an important part
in Walt's aim for animation perfection.
(length: approx. 3 minutes)

Posted Image

There are a few more Story Sketch presentations
here -- twelve to be exact -- that give you an idea of
how these cartoons were previsualized before going to
the final animation process. These sketches play as
full-length cartoons along with musical accompaniment.
You'll even notice some of the artist's own personal
notes scribbled within the drawings.

Posted Image

A Poster Gallery featuring 21 original
posters can be viewed using your remote control.
Some of the work contains audio commentary by
Leonard Maltin.


Final Thoughts

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How can you put a price on something like this?
This is perhaps one of the greatest video releases
to come out of the studio since it began releasing
DVD. It's nothing less than a piece of nostalgic
history.

It belongs in every collection!

Release Date: December 3, 2002

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 95 OFFLINE   Rob Lutter

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Posted November 13 2002 - 05:58 AM

Thanks for the review Ron! Hopefully Costco will have these tins again at a reasonable price. I love 'em Posted Image

#3 of 95 OFFLINE   Jonathan Burk

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Posted November 13 2002 - 06:02 AM

Quote:
Hopefully Costco will have these tins again at a reasonable price.

Truly the words of someone who didn't spend $100+ for the laserdisc box set (which didn't even have the bonus materials)! Posted Image

#4 of 95 OFFLINE   Chad Gregory

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Posted November 13 2002 - 06:11 AM

Great review Ron.

Can't wait to hear about the "Behind the Scenes" set. Especially whether or not the complete version of "The Reluctant Dragon" is included.

I will definitely be boosting my WD Treasures collection next month.

-Chad

#5 of 95 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted November 13 2002 - 06:30 AM

Quote:
Hopefully Costco will have these tins again at a reasonable price.
I pre-ordered them from Amazon.ca, for about $15.50 apiece.

Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

 

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.

* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.


#6 of 95 OFFLINE   DavidBL

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Posted November 13 2002 - 08:43 AM

Excellent, thank you for reviewing this so quickly! Will you be reviewing Goofy soon?

#7 of 95 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted November 13 2002 - 09:06 AM

Looks fantastic....I haven't seen any B&W Mickeys save for clips of Steamboat Willie. Looks like the 3 Treasures DVDs will be my 3 Disney DVDs of 2002.

One tidbit of info... Ub Iwerks usually animated some of the cartoons entirely himself.

#8 of 95 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 13 2002 - 09:38 AM

Sure, I'll get to GOOFY sometime over the next
few days.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#9 of 95 OFFLINE   Joseph_mx

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Posted November 13 2002 - 11:32 AM

Great review Ron, I cant wait to receive it. By the way, the Tin case is gold or silver color like the first releases (it looks like gold color in the picture) but I guess its because of the flash.
Joseph


"C'mon, he's insane. Look. Right now he's probably dancing around in his
grandma's panties, yeah, rubbing himself in peanut butter." - Brad Pitt -Seven

#10 of 95 OFFLINE   Tony Kwong

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Posted November 13 2002 - 12:17 PM

I wonder how this compares to the laserdisc version, as i have a platter with rot.
--/
tkmedia

Blu-Ray, HD DVD, WMV-HD DVD-ROM, D-Theater D-VHS, D5HD, HDCAM, W-VHS, MUSE LD, HDVS LD.
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#11 of 95 OFFLINE   Steve Christou

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Posted November 13 2002 - 12:21 PM

Thanks for the review Ron, another must have for classic animation collectors.
Looking forward to your next goofy review, um I mean the next review for the complete Goofy box set thingy coming up.Posted Image

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


Lord of the Hubs


#12 of 95 OFFLINE   Guy_K

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Posted November 13 2002 - 02:09 PM

Do these have any re-watchability, or are these basically just for the collectors?

#13 of 95 OFFLINE   James L White

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Posted November 13 2002 - 02:34 PM

I can't wait for this and Goofy, I sure hope Disney puts out Donald Duck in wave 3.

and Guy yes they are rewatchablePosted Image
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#14 of 95 OFFLINE   DavidBL

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Posted November 13 2002 - 02:40 PM

Quote:
Do these have any re-watchability, or are these basically just for the collectors?


Guy, I don't know if you have children or not, but I bought MM in Living Color and Silly Symphonies last year, and my kids (7, 4, and 1) watch them over, and over, and over, just as much if not more than more "modern" animation we have on DVD. And Mom and Dad enjoy them as well.

I would expect nothing less from this year's sets. I'm getting this one, but am especially looking forward to Goofy. I love the sports parodies and similar "how to XXXX" series.

David

#15 of 95 OFFLINE   PaulP

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Posted November 13 2002 - 03:30 PM

Quote:
I love the sports parodies and similar "how to XXXX" series.


Posted Image How to what ?

#16 of 95 OFFLINE   James_Garner

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Posted November 13 2002 - 03:33 PM

Ron,
Is there any way you can do a comparison on the shows on the "Behind the Scenes" DVD with tapes of their Disney channel airings? I'm a little hesitant to buy "Behind the scenes" after their "Rights issues" butchering of the shows in "Disneyland U. S. A" without any editing notices on either the packaging or the actual DVD. That was the only DVD I had to ever ask for a refund, & I don't want to do that again.
However, I have the highest of praises for the other three "Treasures" from last year, especially The wonderful restoration of "Davy Crockett". I was only expecting the DC shows to be taken from the late-60's Early-70's airings that showed up on The Disney channel the same time the DVD was released. However, It was complete with the Walt intros, the "Next week" promos & the End-credit announcements for the original theatrical releases of "20K Leagues under the Sea." talk about surprises!

#17 of 95 OFFLINE   Lars Vermundsberget

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Posted November 13 2002 - 03:37 PM

How to play football, How to play golf, How to swim and so on.

#18 of 95 OFFLINE   Kenneth Cummings

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Posted November 13 2002 - 04:04 PM

Can't wait for this set, even so I have to admit, I never watched all of the Silly Symphonies when I got it. But I have faith in this set and Goofy as well. By the way, is this all of the cartoons or there still one more half of the black and white collection out there?
I need a new signature.

#19 of 95 OFFLINE   Jo_C

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Posted November 13 2002 - 06:42 PM

One question that I just have to ask, guys...do these cartoons on the DVD collection have the original front and end credits (as opposed to the 'modified' reissue credits we've all seen through the years)?

#20 of 95 OFFLINE   JohnDMoore

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Posted November 13 2002 - 07:15 PM

Finally... a good copy of "Steamboat Willy."
This is a set I'm dying to see. In fact, it's probably my most anticipated. And bravo to Mr. Leonard Maltin.
However, I'm still hoping we get to see a wartime shorts compilation in Wave 3 (along with Donald Duck).
I doubt it'll be on there, but one of my longtime dreams is to see "Der Furher's Face."
-John D. Moore