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ALL EDITING ASIDE.....
on November 5, 2004
First of all, I agree with many of the reviewers, posted here, that the advertising of these cartoons as unedited while presenting edited material is terrible! However, this could have been a mistake and I think we should be willing to give WB the benefit of the doubt on this one, provided they make good and get us the replacement discs as soon as possible. However, if what the other reviewer says is true and WB does NOT intend to replace the Disc with the correct material, then they open themselves up to a law suit for advertising the set as one thing but delivering something else.
Now, I would like to start by commending WB and the forces and talents behind the scenes who have worked long and hard to get this classic material out there on DVD. It is great to be able to own them in this format and the extra materials, such as the Bill and Joe Story and the Scott Bradley piece are very interesting and informative. This is true, particularly, of the Scott Bradley piece, in which Mr. Bradley regales us, in his own words, (dramatized from an article he wrote for a magazine in the 1940s) of his process and thoughts on scoring these wonderful shorts. It was very detailed and specific; intelligent and fascinating. I also enjoyed the stereo title that was very nicely presented. So let me say thank you, here, to all involved in the process of getting these cartoons released on DVD and PLEASE keep the classic titles coming! We love them, we want them and we thank you for them!
That aside, I have to say, particularly with these "Tom and Jerrys", these prints are NOT recently restored, (with the exception of the Cinemascope prints, which are gorgeous!). The majority of the prints are identical, wobble for wobble and scratch for scratch, to the ones offered on the Japanese DVD sets that have been out for some time. Yes, these shorts do appear somewhat sharper on DVD and the colors are saturated, but re-mastered, I think not. Just take a good look at "Designs on Jerry", for one, and you will be convinced. There is so much debris on that print that it appears to be snowing on screen. In fact, most all of the standard prints on this collection have emulsion scratches and scrapes and "boogars" (as they say in the industry) and that is dismaying to say the least. Compare these Tom and Jerry shorts to the ones in the Looney Tunes collections, (where they actually DID go back to the original materials and re-master the shorts) and you will easily see the difference in quality. Why, even the sound on most of the Tom and Jerry selections is garbled during the first few feet of film and that is just ridiculous.
Actually, I was surprised to read that a few of the reviewers on Amazon comment on the fact that these cartoons have "never looked and/or sounded so good". They actually look and sound very much the same as the prints on Boomerang and Cartoon Network, or in past releases of the material in different formats, (in some cases worse) and appear to be the same prints, redone around 1995. The commentary, by Jerry Beck, is very interesting and insightful, but he remains silent through a good deal of the cartoons and I would really like to hear more detail regarding the process of making these little gems and about the animators who worked on the shows. Perhaps even a comparison of the thumbnails by Joe Barbara and the finished scenes in the films. Now that would be something!
I have discussed this release with a number of friends and colleagues in the animation industry and there is a consensus there. We are so pleased and happy that WB has been talked into releasing classic animation to DVD, we only wish that they would consistently put their best foot forward and put out the very finest quality material they are able to present on EACH AND EVERY classic DVD offering. Please restore them fully and let us enjoy them in the quality they deserve. In the long run, these cartoons are not going anywhere. They will always be around and in demand and they are, indeed, a unique American art form. Down the road, as formats change, as technology improves and as new generations discover the magic of the Hollywood cartoon, I am sure immaculately restored prints will be well worth the while.