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  • Presenting Felix the Cat: The Otto Messmer Classics 1919 - 24
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Presenting Felix the Cat: The Otto Messmer Classics 1919 - 24

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Felix the Cat is a rarity--a cartoon character so classic, so beloved, that he's stayed in the public eye for more than seventy-five years. Now Image Entertainment brings you the DVD that's the cat's meow--a collection of sixteen vintage Felix cartoons from 1919-1924, restored to their original projection speed with Dave Wickerham's rich new organ scores.


Felix the Cat was the first animated superstar, and these early shorts reveal the source of the character's phenomenal popularity. Animator Otto Messmer created Felix for "Feline Follies," a one-shot cartoon designed to fill a gap in an installment of the Paramount Screen Magazine. Messmer had learned how to use mime and expressions by studying the films of Charlie Chaplin, and even in his relatively crude debut film, Felix seems alive. The characters in the "Bobby Bumps" cartoon, who appeared in the same issue of the Screen Magazine, look stiff and uninteresting by comparison. In "Felix Turns the Tide" (1922), the plucky feline volunteers to serve in a war against rats: he puffs out his chest and marches and struts in a sly parody of military demeanor. Felix encounters Gloria Swanson, Ben Turpin, Tom Mix, and Cecil B. DeMille in "Felix in Hollywood," and does an imitation of Chaplin, who accuses him of "stealing my stuff." Most of these films feature the early, blockier version of Felix: we can only hope for the release of a second disc of the even funnier later cartoons, when the character was given a more rounded and appealing form. --Charles Solomon

Special Features

  • Original organ score composed and performed by Dave Wickerham

Product Details

  • Actors: Felix the Cat, Willie Brown, Miss Kitty, Bobby Bumps, Skidoo
  • Directors: Pat Sullivan, Otto Messmer, Earl Hurd, J.R. Bray
  • Format: Animated, Black & White, Full Screen, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 20, 1999
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305340498
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,163 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 9, 2002
Verified Purchase
How great can Felix be on DVD?! Pretty great. This collection starts with the very first Felix cartoon "Feline Follies" (before he was officially Felix), and includes the other 2 shorts that shared the reel(these help show just how Felix slid into contemporary ideas behind animation). "Feline Follies" is the last, so you don't actually see Felix for about 5 minutes into the DVD. A very good sampling of Felix follows; right up to almost the end (when sound had a hand in slapping Felix's glory to dust). Another great thing is the preservation of the cartoons in their entirety. The other Felix DVD collection currently available hacks off some of the titles, which are just as interesting as the 'toons themselves.
What makes these Felix cartoons so interesting to watch is how they make the limitation of no sound into a plus. First timers may be initailly disorientated, but little by little the discovery of what made these animations work - and what keeps them working today - is the clever use of visuals and morphing of shapes. They work without sound, though the organ track definitely adds color. Try turning the sound off while watching nearly any contemporary cartoon and see how entertaining it is. In fact, don't try it; it isn't a great experience.
Another interesting facet of seeing silent animation is the discovery that animation (particuarily the short form) has not changed incredibly over the last century. You see jokes you've seen before, familiar themes, situations, and even familiar characterizations. The groundwork for a lot of twentieth century animation was laid pretty solid during the silent era. This collection can be appreciated both as animation itself and as history. Too bad Pat Sullivan gets all of the credit on the original reels.
When I show silent and early animation to friends, I almost always get the response "They don't make cartoons like this anymore."
That's a sad fact.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Eric A. Faust on January 5, 2001
I'd like to start off by saying that the other user comments on this page baffle me. The films on this disc came out between 1919 and 1924 (and this is clearly marked on the cover). It almost goes without saying that children will not be amused and that the film quality is going to be fairly poor.
This is a collection of selected Felix the Cat cartoons from the first five years of his existence. And while it would be nice if they'd release a complete set of these films (not to mention countless other pieces of silent animation that for what-ever reason are almost impossible to get a hold of), we take what we can get. This is an excellent disc for people interested in early silent studio animation in the United States. The films are interesting, especially when compared to the work of Winsor McCay or the Bray studio, because there seems to be a happy medium between Otto Messmer's personal artistic vision and the need to use assembly line techniques to release films in a timely manner. In the course of about two hours, we get to watch Felix as he evolves from a blocky character to the look we are more familiar with today. One of the only major drawbacks of this DVD is that it seems to be a re-release of two earlier VHS collections of Felix cartoons put out by Bosko Video and just transferred to DVD format. As a result, there is a noticeable lack of supplemental material to go with films that are badly in need of it. While the crude visual style and political incorrectness of the films make for an interesting watch on their own, I would highly recommend that the viewer get some reading material to go with it (Before Mickey: The Animated Film 1898-1928 by Donald Crafton is an excellent book with information on the subject). This is a great DVD for anyone interested in what the American animation studios had to offer before "Steamboat Willie".
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By woolrich2 on December 22, 2003
While I always loved cartoons as a kid, I did have one major bone of contention to pick with all of those vintage cartoonists and sounds effect men and directors over at MGM and Warner Brothers and Disney. You see, I was a regular ailurophile, meaning I always liked the company of a good rough-and-tumble tom cat as a kid. Well, you begin to see the problem: Tom gets hit by an anvil about 500 times and Sylvester takes electrical shorts about 700 times in the average 8-minute cartoon. Even early Mickey Mouse cartoons show the usually bland character being rather sadistic to black-and-white thuggish felines. Why so much animus towards the cats, Mr. Disney? I didn't understand until much later that it had probably been a competitive response--against the most popular other cartoon character in 1928(when "Steamboat Willie, " the First Mickey cartoon hit theatres),one Felix the Cat.
Now, at last, I find myself with a copy of Image Entertainment's DVD reissue of Bosko Video's just plain marvelous 2-hour compilation of silent Felix cartoons, mostly from 1922-1924, and entitled "Presenting Felix the Cat: the Otto Messmer Classics--1919-1924." I think Mr. Disney had good reason to feel insecure: the animator Otto Messmer must be one of the greatest unsung geniuses of cartooning--wild, endlessly inventive, not at all sentimental, artistically creative and unique.
I never thought much of Felix before: also in my childhood, I recall a bland, latter-day, watered-down version of the "Wonderful,Wonderful Cat," a Mickey Mouse-voiced little simpleton who was painfully nice to everyone. He carried some large gimmick bag around with him and giggled like an idiot constantly. Even worse, he even *sang* inane songs in an attempt to break up the tedium of his unimaginative cartoons.
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