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Superman: The Fleischer Cartoons: The Complete Series

4.2 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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(Apr 07, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Max Fleischer's Superman (DVD)

Cartoon impresario Max Fleischer was the among the first to bring the printed Superman comics to a wide audience in these fanciful 1940s shorts featuring the Man of Steel saving his true love, Lois Lane, battling mad scientists and overthrowing Nazis. Many of the slogans and attributes we ascribe to Superman today originated in this series, including the famous "Faster Than A Speeding Bullet" introduction. Bud Collyer performs the voice of Clark Kent/Superman, with Joan Alexander as Lois Lane.



More than just a landmark in superhero animation, Max Fleischer's Superman shorts were no less than the foundation for so many shows that succeeded it. Playing in theaters in 1941-42, only a few years after the Man of Steel made his debut in Action Comics, these 17 exciting films were produced by Fleischer (and often directed by his brother, Dave) and made famous the phrase "This looks like a job for Superman!" At 10 minutes, each film had just enough time to run the opening credits, establish the threat, let Lois Lane make a headstrong rush into peril, and allow Clark Kent to change to his alter ego and save the day. The films show a remarkably dynamic and atmospheric storytelling style that enables them to hold up for modern viewers. At first the films followed a science fiction-fantasy theme (mad scientists, giant robots), but not unexpectedly for that time soon focused on wartime concerns (e.g., "The Japoteurs" from September 18, 1942).

These cartoons have been in the public domain and thus available in inexpensive, poor-quality collections. This 2009 set from Warner Home Video is reproduced from the original film elements, and while some source damage is still visible, the improved color and clarity make previous versions nearly unwatchable. (These are the same remasterings that were released in the 2007 Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition.) Also, rather than cramming them onto a single disc, the shorts are given two discs, adding a featurette on Superman the hero and a 12-minute history of the Fleischer project, including interviews with Max's son and modern animators such as Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, who discuss the Fleischers' influence on the highly regarded Superman and Batman animated series from the 1990s. --David Horiuchi

Special Features

  • 17 animated theatrical shorts
  • First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series: the origins and influence of this groundbreaking cartoon series
  • The Man, the Myth, Superman: exploring the tradition of "superhuman" heroes on the page and screen
  • Exclusive sneak peek at DC Universe's upcoming animated feature Green Lantern

Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Animated, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009
  • Run Time: 170 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001OD8E4G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,499 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
I will not spend any time discussing the animated genius of these classic cartoon shorts since anyone visiting this page undoubtedly knows that already. However, since there have been many video releases of the Fleischer Superman shorts over the years, I feel it is necessary to clarify what is being offered with this latest edition. Having been considered part of the public domain for decades, these shorts have been issued numerous times on VHS and DVD with varying degrees of quality. The most notable DVD releases have been The Complete Superman Cartoons- Diamond Anniversary Edition released in 2000 by Bosko Video (now Image Ent.), and the Superman- The Ultimate Max Fleischer Cartoon Collection released in 2006 by VCI Video. Later that same year, Warner Bros. officially released all 17 shorts as bonus material split up between the Superman The Movie and Superman II DVD sets, which were also included as part of the 14-disc Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition and the 8-disc Christopher Reeve Superman Collection.Read more ›
5 Comments 158 of 161 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Finally, Warner Home Video has issued an official stand-alone release of the theatrical Superman cartoons from the 1940's. While it is exciting to finally have this set, it is far from perfect, and therefore you really need to take some things into consideration before you purchase this set. The title alone shows just how much homework Warner Home Video had done. Max Fleischer only produced the first 9 Superman cartoons. The remaining 8 were produced by Famous Studios after Paramount had took control of the Fleischer studio and removed the Fleischer brothers Max and Dave. Also, Famous continued producing new Superman cartons into 1943 before they decided to quit production.

For starters, the project was started by the Max Fleischer studio, a cartoon studio that originated in New York (but later moved to Miami to produce feature films). The studio head was Max Fleischer, and his brother Dave was the lead director. The Fleischers were under contract to produce theatrical cartoons for Paramount Pictures. The Fleischers had success in the 1930's producing cartoons that starred characters like Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor, the latter of which was adapted from a newspaper comicstrip started by E.C. Segar. With the growing popularity of the Superman comicstrip, Paramount had interest in making theatrical cartoons based on the series. While cartoons of this era were typically musicals and/or comedies, the Superman comicstrip was action-based. Therefore, these Superman cartoons were the first action-based animated films ever produced. The Fleischer brothers were not interested in producing the Superman cartoons, and when they were approached by Paramount, they quoted a budget so high, they were certain that Paramount would reject it.
Read more ›
2 Comments 84 of 85 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Here we go again folks! NONE of these animation masterpieces were re-mastered! Why lie on your box art???!!!
In fact, Warner's used the same generic musical closing on almost everyone of these cartoons!!!
Why is that wrong, you might be asking? Because, every one of these films had their own, unique musical closing cues at the fade out! Through their tinkering, now the same music over and over. It is obvious and annoying!
And on the image, If they took the time to clean up the frames one at a time like Disney does to their films, then we would have something to cherish. Instead, take a look at the dirt and debris left on MAGNETIC TELESCOPE for example! HORRIBLE!
If you already bought the Superman Collectors Set with all of the movies and these thrown in, you are better off not spending the extra dough.
O.k. Warner's, why not do this set right. Really re-master them and as a bonus, give us SUPER-RABBIT (Which you own!) STUPOR DUCK (Which you own) Popeye with Bluto as Superman in SHE SICK SAILORS (Which you own!) etc. etc.
Heck, contact me and I will give you more Superman parody cartoons that you could ad!
Save your hard earned cash Super-fans.
5 Comments 31 of 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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For an "authorized" release, "Max Fleischer's Superman" is a sloppy, lackadaisical effort. Animation aficionados have been waiting for a definitive collection of the 1941-43 Superman cartoons, yet Warner Home Video cannot be bothered. Apart from correcting the introduction to "The Mechanical Monsters," Warner simply reissued the same altered versions found in the special editions of "Superman" and "Superman II." Only two of the 17 cartoons were left unscathed: "The Arctic Giant" and "Electric Earthquake." Steven T. Siegert's excellent Amazon review touches on all the things wrong with this DVD set. However, the main problem lies in Warner's cynical, quick-buck attitude — they own the original film elements (which can be seen in their "TV's Best Adventures of Superman" videocassettes) yet refuse to give these animation classics the proper presentation and respect. Bosko's "Complete Superman Collection" remains superior because it offers the original theatrical versions without audio tampering. If Warner had any integrity, they would recall the DVD set and start from scratch.
5 Comments 34 of 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Warner is scaling back their releases in 2009 so we're lucky to even see this release. Maybe somewhere down the line we'll see a Blu-ray release with a full restoration, not the partial restoration of this set. The color correction looks nice but there is still too much noise and dirt.
Apr 8, 2009 by Rushead 2112-Hemispheres |  See all 2 posts
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Superman: The Fleischer Cartoons: The Complete Series
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