on April 13, 2007
This is it, Popeye cartoon fans! We have dreamed about it, wished for it, and hoped for it. Warner Brothers Video, by arrangement with King Features Syndicate, is issuing here the first 60 ORIGINAL Fleischer Studios Popeye cartoons. Wonderful! These fantastic cartoons are being released in chronological order of their theatrical release, FULLY RESTORED from the original negatives in beautiful black and white, UNCUT, with all Paramount titles restored. Volume 1, 1933-1938, is a 4-disc collector's edition. Also included in this release are the first two Three-Color-Technicolor two-reel specials: "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor", and "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves". If that isn't enough, 5 hours worth of bonus materials are included: Audio commentaries from Mark Kausler, Jerry Beck, Mark Evanier, and others. More features include restrospectives on Popeye and Max Fleischer, behind the toons featurettes, and bonus shorts.
So many of us remember seeing many of these vintage Popeye shorts when we were kids, and fondly remember the incredible animation from those early Fleischer Studios Popeye's. In 1933, the original Popeye voice was done by William Costello. Sometime in 1935 he was fired and The Sailor Man's voice was taken over by Jack Mercer, who kept at it for the remaining duration of these great cartoons. Remember that wonderful muttering in those early years by Popeye? That was the great Jack Mercer. Who could forget that fantastic "Is that so?" and all the other regular mutterings that Popeye would utter, more so especially during the Fleischer years. Bluto was fantastic, too, with some great back-and-forth quips between himself and his rival. His voice was delivered by William Pennell from 1933-1935, then Gus Wickie from 1935 until his death in 1938. The voice of Olive Oyl was delivered by Mae Questel.
So, all you Popeye fans... this is what we have been waiting for many a year. Throw out all your other Popeye videos and DVDs. Get rid of your VHS tapes that you made from the Cartoon Network. Destroy (with pleasure) all of those horrible colorized Popeye's made infamous by Mr. Turner. Animation historian Jerry Beck says that "your eyes will POP at the restorations. If you've never seen them you are in for a revelation." At long last...the first official release of the Max Fleischer cartoons on DVD. Without a doubt, you will be absolutely, positively delighted!!!
As a lifelong fan of classic animation, I simply could not be more THRILLED at the prospect of finally owning restored versions of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons. Other reviewers have expertly detailed the contents of this set, so I'd like to take a moment to try and convince/convert those folks who may not know and love these things as much as I do. . .
There has been, as long as I can recall, a misconception about Popeye cartoons. I recently had this discussion with a good friend, who could not understand why I was so excited about this release. She, like so many people, was raised on the color Popeye cartoons made in the 1960's. "They're all the same," she complained. "Popeye and Bluto fight over Olive Oyl, and Popeye eats spinach and beats up his rival. Big deal." And you know something? Based solely on the cartoons my friend had seen, she was right. She knew nothing of these original black & white gems made by the Fleischers beginning in the early 1930's. And while the voice of Popeye in most of those shorts is the same (Jack Mercer) as the later ones, that's where the similarities end. The early 'toons are full of creative gags, ad-libs and boundless energy. Plus, they have the inimitable Fleischer style, which can also be found in Betty Boop and, later, the first Superman cartoons.
I hope that those of you who only know Popeye from the later, bland incarnations will check out this set. Forget Poopdeck Pappy or Popeye's nephews (those these will eventually surface in the Fleischer versions); this is the REAL POPEYE in all his elastic, mumbling glory.
Essential viewing for Popeye enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the early history of animated sound cartoons.
P.S. I wish I could get back all the money I've blown on cheapskate VHS and DVD versions by Goodtimes, etc. Those things are headed for a garage sale faster than you can say "I yam what I yam!"
Well, blow me down! As a Disney writer, I didn't think I'd like these competing cartoons from the golden age of Mickey Mouse. But I was wrong! Like the best early Mickey shorts, these Popeye cartoons are truly entertaining and funny, with boundless energy and many creative gags. Whether you're a classic animation fan or just someone looking for something different, here are five reasons you should buy this set:
1. All of the cartoons are from Popeye's original Fleischer Bros. incarnation, when the series had its most cockamamie characters (including the Sailor Man in all his gruffy, mumbling glory), cockeyed plots, fluid animation and detailed backgrounds.
2. The shorts are the original, black-and-white, uncut versions, fully restored from the master negatives and never before made available to the public.
3. Unlike the more familiar 1950-1960s Popeye cartoons, these don't all have the same plot! Yes, Bluto tries to kiss Olive Oyl in a couple, but otherwise the stories on this set jump all over the place. In one ("Lost and Foundry"), Baby Swee'pea saves Popeye and Olive from being crushed.
4. Each disc comes with a full slate of extras, including documentaries, featurettes and rare bonus cartoons, most of which are early silent films and ten of which star Koko the Clown. Altogether there are more than five hours of bonus features.
5. Ten cartoons have audio commentaries, featuring film and animation experts such as Jerry Beck and Leonard Maltin.
Here's a complete rundown on what you get:
1. "Popeye the Sailor" (1933) (with commentary)'
2. "I Yam What I Yam" (1933)'
3. "Blow Me Down!" (1933)'
4. "I Eats My Spinach" (1933)'
5. "Seasin's Greetinks!" (1933)'
6. "Wild Elephinks" (1933) (with commentary)'
7. "Sock-a-Bye, Baby" (1934) (with commentary)'
8. "Let's You and Him Fight" (1934)'
9. "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" (1934)'
10. "Can You Take It" (1934) (with commentary)'
11. "Shoein' Hosses" (1934)'
12. "Strong to the Finich" (1934)'
13. "Shiver Me Timbers!" (1934)'
14. "Axe Me Another" (1934)'
15. "A Dream Walking" (1934) (with commentary)
Bonus features on Disc 1 include a feature on early animation ("Mining the Strip, Elzie Segar and Thimble Theatre"), a 43-minute documentary on Popeye's early career ("I Yam What I Yam: The Story of Popeye the Sailor") and a profile on Olive Oyl ("Me Fickle Goyl, Olive Oyl: The World's Least Likely Sex Symbol"). Bonus silent cartoons from other studios (all based on comic strips) include "Colonel Heeza Liar at the Bat" (1915), the Mutt and Jeff short "Domestic Difficulties" (1916) and "Krazy Kat Goes A-Wooing" (1916).
16. "The Two-Alarm Fire" (1934)
17. "The Dance Contest" (1934)'
18. "We Aim to Please" (1934)
19. "Beware of Barnacle Bill" (1935) (with commentary)'
20. "Be Kind to 'Aminals'" (1935)
21. "Pleased to Meet Cha!" (1935)
22. "The 'Hyp-Nut-Tist'" (1935) (with commentary)'
23. "Choose Your 'Weppins'" (1935) (with commentary)'
24. "For Better or Worser" (1935) (with commentary)'
25. "Dizzy Divers" (1935)'
26. "You Gotta Be a Football Hero" (1935)'
27. "King of the Mardi Gras" (1935)'
28. "Adventures of Popeye" (1935)'
29. "The Spinach Overture" (1935)'
30. "Vim, Vigor and Vitaliky" (1936)
Extras on Disc 2 include a 30-minute historical documentary with lots of clips, "Forging the Frame: The Roots of Animation 1900-1920," the featurette "Sailor's Hornpipes: The Voices of Popeye," a profile on Wimpy ("Wimpy the Moocher: Ode to the Burgermeister") and three more silent shorts: "Bobby Bumps Puts a Beanery on the Bum" (1918), the Felix the Cat cartoon "Feline Follies" (1919) and "The Tantalizing Fly" (1919) with Koko the Clown.
31. "A Clean Shaven Man"
32. "Brotherly Love"
33. "I Ski - Love Ski - You Ski" (with commentary)
34. "Bridge Ahoy!"
35. "What - No Spinach?"
36. "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard"
37. "Let's Get Movin'"
38. "Never Kick A Woman"
39. "Little Swee'pea"
40. "Hold the Wire"
41. "The Spinach Roadster"
42. "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor" (double-length, color, with commentary)
43. "I'm in the Army Now"
44. "The Paneless Window Washer"
45. "Organ Grinder's Swing"
Disc 3 bonus features consist of two featurettes, "Blow Me Down! The Music of Popeye" and "Popeye in Living Color: A Look at the Color Two-Reelers" and six early Out of the Inkwell shorts with Koko the Clown: "Modeling" (1921), "Invisible Ink" (1921), "Bubbles" (1922), "Jumping Beans" (1922), "Bed Time" (1923) and "Trapped" (1923).
46. "My Artistical Temperature"
48. "The Twisker Pitcher"
49. "Morning, Noon and Night Club"
50. "Lost and Foundry" (with commentary)
51. "I Never Changes My Altitude"
52. "I Likes Babies and Infinks"
53. "The Football Toucher Downer"
54. "Proteck the Weakerist" (with commentary)
55. "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves" (double-length, color, with commentary)
56. "Fowl Play"
57. "Let's Celebrake"
58. "Learn Polikeness"
59. "The House Builder Upper"
60. "Big Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh"
Bonus features on Disc 4 include profiles on Swee'pea and Bluto ("Me Lil' Swee'pea: Whose Kid is He Anyway?" and "Et Tu Bluto? Cartoondom's Heaviest Heavy"), three more Out of the Inkwell Koko shorts ("A Trip to Mars" (1924), "Koko Trains 'Em" (1925) and "Koko Back Tracks" (1927)) and a two-minute follow-the-bouncing-ball oddity "Let's Sing with Popeye" (1934).
To sum up, this set is a real treat for any cartoon buff and a must-have for any student of animation or pop culture. But beyond all that, it's just plain fun.
The original Fleischer Studios Popeye cartoons were groundbreaking. The animation had a near 3-D look to them as the backgrounds were amazingly detailed and shaded. For the Popeye animated shorts Max and Dave Fleischer created a great urban world for Popeye to live in (although they did occasionally change the locales depending on story needs). There was a reality to the concrete jungle that was seen onscreen.
Then there were the voice actors, the most recognizable being Jack Mercer as Popeye (he took over the role in 1935) and Gus Wickie as Bluto (who also took over that role in 1935). Both of these voice actors left such an indelible mark on the series that whenever a viewer watches one of the shorts made before they took over their roles (or after Wickie's death in 1938) it just doesn't sound, "right." Wickie's deep voice, in particular, was so unique to the role that the Fleischers didn't even try to replace him with a "sound-alike," but rather went in a different direction.
Included in this set are many of the best Popeye cartoons (but by no means all of the best - there were many great animated shorts to come!), including, "The Paneless Window Washer," "Let's Get Movin," "Lost and Foundry," and, of course, the classic color Popeye, "Epic," "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor!"
Warner Brothers has restored these animated works of art back to their original glory. It is said that the picture quality on these cartoons will result in, "Shock and awe," as these shorts haven't been seen in this good condition since they were first shown.
This is clearly the set that Popeye enthusiasts have been waiting for. The best news is that it is but the first in a series of releases from Warner Brothers which will eventually include ALL of the classic Popeye cartoons! Way to go Warners!
-Update: This set is even better than expected. The extra features are very good and the shorts themselves look fantastic. One of the best DVD releases of 2007.
on August 21, 2007
As a diehard fan of Popeye since I was a kid (in my late 20s now), I just couldn't pass up this set.
The 60 cartoons are remastered to a T. They look so good, you'll forget you'll even watching a set of mostly B&W cartoons. Also, the original opening/closing scenes are back. Say goodbye to A.A.P. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have the documentary on Fleischer Studios. I expect it to appear in Vol 2. Til then, get the bio "Out Of The Inkwell: Max Fleischer And The Animation Revolution" written by the late Richard Fleischer.
The rest of the special features like the 40+ minute long documentary on Popeye the Sailor is very interesting as are the 8 Popumentaries scattered thoughout this set. While the bonus silent films (including several Out of the Inkwell cartoons) are nice, they would have been better if they had music being played along.
And then there's the commentaries. While some from Jerry Beck, & Greg Ford were interesting others ain't as good with the Trio (John Eddie & Kali) being the worst, talking uttermost nonsense that has nothing to do with the cartoons itself. And what's this giving them the role of commentators on the 2-Color Two Reeler here?!
Despite the bad commentaries, this is great collection of classic cartoons & will be loved by the old & young alike. Now I'll waiting for Vol 2...
on April 17, 2007
(PREVIEW)-Finally on July 31, 2007 retailing for around $64.92. This will be a 4 disc dvd set, Vol 1 , NTSC Format,COMPLETELY REMASTERED, COMPLETELY UN-CUT (with paramont logo intros), 58 BLACK & WHITE, (Two color),Run Time 550 minutes, From 1933-1938. The first 60 original Max Fleischer animated cartoons! Popeye fans have long awaited this awesome news to finally own ,'' in my opinon'', the BEST classic animation ever created! This is a Warners Home Videos release, filled with over 5 hours of bonus material, including audio commentaries by Mark Kausler, Eric Goldberg, John k, Leslie Cabarga,Mark Evanier,etc.Also included '' I Yam What I Yam'' Story of Popeye. Bonus Popeye shorts including'' Let's sing with Popeye '' and Popular Science, making of Popeye cartoons at Fleischer Studios, and much, much more! Also one color Betty Boop ''Poor Cindrella'' cartoon. This dvd set is a Popeye fans dream come true release! So don't forget to mark your calenders JULY 31 2007!
on August 17, 2007
It's here, the release we've all been waiting for! In the early years of animation the Fleischer Studios were the best. Their smooth animation, 3D backgrounds and great musical scores were second to none, including Disney. Their crown jewel was Popeye. Now for the first time we can see these the way the movie theater audiences saw them 70 years ago. Restored from the original negatives, they are sharp and clear with great sound quality. On this 4 DVD edition are the 1st 60 Popeye cartoons in order, including 58 black and white shorts and the highlight in my opinion 2 of the 3 Technicolor 2 reelers. I've bought every release available over the years on both VHS and CD, everything from poor quality transfers (Goodtimes) to good (Thunderbean), but the one thing they didn't have was the original masters. Now fully restored in beautifull full color they are a sight to behold. You only think you've seen these before. You ain't seen nothin' yet. And for the first time since they originally aired in the theater in 1936 and 1937, the opening and closing credits are fully restored! Also include are several documentaries (popumentaries), and for the lover of early animation, 16 original early cartoons from 1915 to 1933. These include Mutt and Jeff, Krazy Kat, Bobby Bumps and the early Fleischer "From the Inkwell" shorts featuring Koko the Clown. This is a jewel of a DVD set. Expensive, yes. Worth it? Yes, and more. If you're a lover of Popeye, The Fleischer Studios or just great animation, this is a nmust have DVD!
on August 7, 2007
Here's why I love this DVD set:
1. The cartoons are UNCUT.
2. The picture quality is GORGEOUS!
3. The sound quality is STUNNING!
4. I can understand what the characters are saying!
5. The cartoons are in chronological order. I can watch them get better and better right before my very EYES!
6. The drawings are beautifully done.
7. The animation is fluid, and wildly imaginative. DelightfuL!
8. Each cartoon has a completely different story.
9. Each cartoon has its own excellent musical score.
10. The characters even sing! (Lots of great songs here)
11. The backgrounds are works of art in themselves.
12. The restorations are wonderful.
13. The bonus stuff is great fun. (It was nice to see Popeye's voice, "Jack Mercer" talk about his role--also a photo of the original old sailor who inspired Popeye--looks just like him!)
14. The packaging is cool! I dig the pictures on the discs.
15. The PC disclaimer is not a nuisance.
When I first got my DVDs, I immediately went to "Morning Noon and Night Club" (one of my favorites, I haven't seen for 50 years!) A bit of a surprise--my mistake--it just happens to be the one cartoon they didn't remaster! (Needs a lot of scratch removal...) The other 59 cartoons are just sparklingly remastered though, and I'm super duper happy with this wonderful, gorgeous, spectacular DVD SET!!!!
on August 8, 2007
I finally made it completely through all four discs and I must say that these restorations are wonderful. Finally these Popeye cartoons can be seen and heard in all their original glory...highest marks for Warner's restoration department. Some of the folks hav ecommented on the commentaries, but I cannot do so as they are not the reason I bought this box set. I cannot stress enough how wonderful these 70 year old one-reelers (and the Technicolor two-reelers) look. The 80+ year old "Out of the Inkwell" shorts look much worse, but we are lucky to have them in any form at all. If you are an animation fan, grab these ASAP!
on August 5, 2007
Packagers of vintage titles please note: The folks at Warners along with character rights holder Hearst Corp. did it right, so right that no one even comes close.Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, Vol. 1
The transfers are brilliant, even on a 1080p monitor ... though I sez they should be watched on a 19 inch B&W Emerson, each weekday around 4pm or so. With some Bosco and cookies.
The Fleischers had such detail in comparison with other B&W's of that era. Warner Bros. and Disney don't even come close, especially with the 3-D turntable backgrounds. And you can hear every memorable Mercer mumble!
I know up there in TV heaven, old "Captain" Jack McCarthy [NYC kids-tv host from 1947 up until the '70's on WPIX-11] is hoisting a pint in honor of this superb DVD set!