Robert Harris

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I was never a fan of the Popeye animated shorts. More WB fare.

But I do recall seeing them on TV.

Initially, in glorious black & white, and later in color, presumably from 16mm Eastman syndication prints.

And there was never anything special about them.

It's taken half a century, but we can finally celebrate the Popeyes in startlingly beautiful new image harvests from the original camera negatives - SE exposures - and the resultant new Warner Blu-ray release is never less than startlingly beautiful.

This is the time for a revaluation of these Izzy Sparber works. He was also responsible for the Superman animated shorts, produced by Famous Studios, and also distributed via Paramount.

For those who truly love original (theatrical version) animated shorts, this is a must own.

Gorgeous color, proper grain, as one can only achieve from original elements.

With luck there will be more to come.

Image - 5

Audio - 5

Pass / Fail - Pass

Highly Recommended

RAH

 
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Douglas R

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Upgrade from DVD - Oh, yes!



These 1940s shorts have never been available on DVD have they? At least, not officially.

I'm really looking forward to these. My introduction to Popeye was in the 1950s on Pathescope 9.5mm films. I loved the inventiveness of them and how the animators broke the usual conventions of cartoon films. Later in the early 1960s in the UK there was a twice weekly 30 minute showing on one of the TV channels for a year or two. I used to eagerly rush home from college; which involved two different trains and a bus journey, in order to just about manage to catch the programme. I don't think the Popeye shorts had had any subsequent TV showings.



 

Patrick McCart

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I'm not a huge fan of the later Popeyes, but I've only seen them via Cartoon Network (back when they used to show theatrical animation regularly several centuries ago). Seems like demand was fairly high since Amazon isn't even delivering my copy until next week.
 
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lark144

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Received the set today, as I pre-ordered from Warner Archive. These cartoons were pretty underwhelming in black & white. The stories and gags are still fairly underwhelming. But the color and the animation and the clarity. Oh, my! Absolutely gorgeous, possibly sublime. And yes, the fact that you can now see the animation and the use of color in all its stunning glory, it's really impressive. So I believe Mr. Harris is once again on the money, and these cartoons and their animators and directors, are most definitely worth a monumental re-appraisal. Just one example, as I've only had the time to watch a few. The three small Popeyes, whose place in these cartoons are pedestrian beyond belief, on the narrative level, that is, are so amazing to watch on the level of animation and color, that it lifts these cartoons into a whole other realm of achievement. Beautiful? Glorious? Sure, but also much more. Absolutely, a must own.
 

PMF

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As a kid, I loved Popeye; but never could I get into spinach.
 
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bigshot

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The problem with Famous cartoons isn't the production values. They had great animators and decent budgets. The direction was good as far as timing, but it's as if no one at the studio had a sense of humor. The gags are extreme to the point of being off putting at times and there is a strange undercurrent of sadism that wasn't present at Fleischer. The first few years of cartoons are pretty good, but the studio goes downhill rapidly, and within a decade of its formation, they were cranking out the worst cartoons of any major studio.

The New York animation scene was so influential in the 1930s, but that didn't last. By the 50s, the only interesting things going on in New York were TV commercials and industrial films. The Famous cartoons are interesting for me primarily for the animation of Jim Tyer and Bill Titla. But of all the golden age cartoon studios, it's the most wrong headed (with Mintz following a close second).
 

bobclampett

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I truly don't understand Warners logic when it comes to release choices. There are way too many Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies unrestored and unrealeased on Blu Ray. The Porky Pig set Warner released only rated a DVD release featuring old masters while Warner gives Paramount Popeyes the gold standard treatment. Still waiting for collections featuring the unreleased directorial efforts of Robert Clampett, Frank Tashlin, Arthur Davis or complete sets by the year. In complete agreement with everyone's assessment of the Famous Studio output.
 
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TJPC

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My introduction to Popeye was via the tutelage of those great nautical masters “Captain Jolly” and “Poopdeck Paul”, who broadcast in the Windsor/Detroit area in the late 50s, 7 days a week.

I was glued to the TV every night and watched Popeye cartoons over and over. Indeed, when I bought the Popeye DVD sets, I saw that I already had all the cartoons memorized. As I said elsewhere, these new colour discs will be a must buy for me. I only know the trials and tribulations of the 1940s Popeye family in black and white.
 
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Patrick McCart

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I truly don't understand Warners logic when it comes to release choices. There are way too many Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies unrestored and unrealeased on Blu Ray. The Porky Pig set Warner released only rated a DVD release featuring old masters while Warner gives Paramount Popeyes the gold standard treatment. Still waiting for collections featuring the unreleased directorial efforts of Robert Clampett, Frank Tashlin, Arthur Davis or complete sets by the year. In complete agreement with everyone's assessment of the Famous Studio output.
From what was said in the Warner Archive podcast, the Famous cartoons seem to be part of a larger preservation effort because there's pretty much nothing besides the negatives and AAP's printing masters (which are just 35mm prints).
 

bigshot

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I truly don't understand Warners logic when it comes to release choices. There are way too many Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies unrestored and unrealeased on Blu Ray. The Porky Pig set Warner released only rated a DVD release featuring old masters while Warner gives Paramount Popeyes the gold standard treatment.
They think regular people don't want B&W cartoons, and they're probably right.
 

BobO'Link

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^I'd agree with that sentiment. I don't pay attention to a product being color or BW but my grandkids do. In spite of watching lots of classic movies and TV in BW they sometimes comment about wishing a BW movie/show was in color. The 12 yo will occasionally just leave to watch something else on grandma's set if a BW movie/show is selected.
 

Lord Dalek

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I've consistently said here that a chronological Looney Tunes set is a commercial nonstarter due to the low appeal of the 1930s shorts outside of the animation historian and completionist sphere. I stand by this claim.

They think regular people don't want B&W cartoons, and they're probably right.
If the sales of the old dvd sets are to be believed (they bombed IIRC), they're definitely right.
 

bigshot

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The cartoon nerd market just isn't big enough to support comprehensive releases. I think there is a way to program the 30s B&W shorts for general audiences, but the way to do that would be to sprinkle them in for variety, not to stack them up one after another in chronological order.
 

Traveling Matt

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Another member and I, over in the other thread discussing this release, have speculated the arrangement with King Features is also playing a part. My recollection from back in the day was that we had strong indicators the plan was to release the entire catalog with Warner. And the old DVD sets were fully restored and issued pretty systematically like the Disney Treasures. But that's really guesswork, especially after so many years.

As for the Looney Tunes, roughly 1/3 of the library is already fully restored in HD. At this point the only thing that makes sense is to fully restore the remainder of it. That would allow Warner to:
  1. properly manage the asset, which is the most important thing
  2. prep the library for digital sale or license, which will require HD
  3. skip individual releases and publish a complete series set on about 25 Blu-rays for the collector
My only gripe about the new Popeye is that single disc. It could hold so much more, especially in light of sales expectations. But I'm happy it started up again and am supporting it with my dollars!
 

Lord Dalek

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I assume they scanned all the B&W Popeyes in HD for the previous box sets. That would take quite a lot off what's left to be done with those.
 

Ken_Martinez

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That implies that they're trying to target general audiences with these discs. These aren't even being sold in stores.

I'm hoping that this sells well enough for WAC to treat classic animation like they do horror, sci-fi and musicals; those hardly sell "mainstream blockbuster" numbers, but have groups that buy them reliably enough to bank future releases.
 

Traveling Matt

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There are no general audiences for this material, anywhere, which is why the debate over black-and-white vs color is essentially... well, not a particularly relevant one. Porky 101 was entirely black-and-white.

The bottom line is there are certain classic animation properties certain people still care about. Those certain people are in the extreme minority of the video-consuming public. Most of the time it's on Warner to figure out how to make these pieces fit together, but right now it's on us. I bought copies of Popeye to give away as Christmas gifts.
 

dana martin

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The cartoon nerd market just isn't big enough to support comprehensive releases. I think there is a way to program the 30s B&W shorts for general audiences, but the way to do that would be to sprinkle them in for variety, not to stack them up one after another in chronological order.
right, just like the chronological Micky Mouse, B/W vol 1 & 2, or the four volumes of Donald Duck, that Disney did for the Treasures line, look at Amazon or eBay and see what a limited run will cost you now, per two disc sets with bonus features, i don't thank its just "cartoon nerds" that made the purchases when those were originally released. But it does come down to marketing and of course exposure. Apples and oranges in this case, Disney will always market its classics animation, its the very foundation that Walt built his empire on.

WB on the other hand, is doing something completely different, that have take a character who lets be honest, has gotten how much air time on TV in the last twenty years? and restoring the original theatrical shorts for a new generation. Many that will buy this are of a certain age, and hopefully view this with their children or grandchildren. to give them an appreciation of classic hand drawn animation. Or at least i hope they get a chuckle at some of the gags.

No these are not the zenith of Popeye cartoons, that most definitive was the Fleischer's, each studio had its strengths and weaknesses, as great as each were, they all were different, the gloss of the MGM toons, Universal' s jazzy music with Woody, Disney, all you have to do is look at the work and see the genius.

We both tread this and the other forum, and i know you are familiar with Thunderbean, who does wonderful work, along with other selected boutique releases. Part of the problem is the same one that has been the programming of the last 30 years, if its animated then well it must be for kids. Thankfully that is not always so, but it doesn't mean that people are going to jump on a title of something rarely seen.

Kino is releasing the DePate/Freeling cartoons including The Complete Pink Panther, when was the last time any of these were broadcast? i can't tell you, Cartoon Network and Boomerang both have their own programming, and the next generation is going to look at Teen Titans the way older generations looked at the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner show. Do i take animation serious, well i will let the numbers speak for it's self, clicked the tag and checked my profiler, looks like i own 603 animated title, and the damn mail man still hasn't delivered this release of Popeye yet.

off the soapbox, i would kill for a Tex Avery set, a best of MGM set, and the remaining Tom and Jerry done as originally planned, will it happen, who knows? another LT set, sign me up! The Fleischer Superman's from WB restored to original theatrical presentation, released on bul would be with out hesitation an instant purchase. it may all sound like folly, but hey everyone gets a Christmas wish.
 
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