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November 18, 2013 posted by Jerry Beck

“The Puppetoon Movie” blu-ray Update

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This is an update on the blu-ray of The Puppetoon Movie which I announced here in August. I just received a copy of the final check discs and I’m happy to report this set is just as good as promised.

puppetoon230Please understand, this is not a complete set of Paramount’s 1940s Puppetoon shorts. It is a hi-def remastered release of Arnold Leibovit’s tribute film, The Puppetoon Movie (1987), which contained ten classic Puppetoons bracketed by a stop-motion framing story starring Art Clokey’s Gumby and Pokey (voiced by Dal McKennon), narrator Paul Frees (as Arnie the Dinosaur) and cameos by Speedy Alka Seltzer, King Kong and Spielberg’s Gremlins. This set also contains, newly remastered in HD, Pal’s 1949 feature The Great Rupert (starring Jimmy Durante), as well as standard-definition bonus material including 12 complete Puppetoons (from 35mm masters), Leibovit’s fine Pal documentary, The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal, rare interview footage with Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, Wah Chang, Roy Disney, etc. – not to mention an all-new audio commentary by Arnold Leibovit and… me!

One of the highlights of the blu-ray release is the inclusion of seven hi-def Puppetoons never released on video before – restored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and sub-licensed from Paramount Pictures. These include the two adapations of Dr. Suess – The 500 Hats Of Bartholomew Cubbins, and To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street – plus The Sky Princess, Rhapsody In Wood, A Date With Duke, Jasper and The Beanstalk and Rhythm In The Ranks.

Seeing these films restored to full Technicolor hues is a revelation. Most haven’t been seen publicly in 50 years (or more). The UM&M or NTA 16mm TV prints I grew up with have long since faded to red – removing half the beauty of these classics. My appreciation of some of these actually improved upon seeing the restored color – or in one case, the restored lack of color! For example, Pal’s version of Dr. Suess’ And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street never really impressed me before. I had always loved the Suess book – it was one of the first books I ever owned as a child.

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The faded red prints I was used to (frame above left) felt bland… Now, restored (frame above right, click to enlarge image) it turns out that the early parts of the film were originally in black and white(!) and the film gets progressively more colorful as it goes along, introducing one character at a time in vibrant hues, growing into a spectacular Technicolor parade at the climax! I now rank this one as one of the best in the series!

Only 3000 copies of this blu-ray set will be created. You can order it directly from B2MP – click here. The producer tells me he should be shipping copies within the next two weeks. Here are some more mouth-watering frame grabs I made from the blu-ray (click thumbnails below to enlarge each image):

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jasper-beanstalk500hats-titlegreat-rupert-titlerhythm-ranks-framegrab
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21 Comments

  • Fantastic stuff.

  • Why are they doing such a limited run of these? Why not make them more available and consequently less expensive?

    • The run is no doubt limited because the market is limited. Though they’re an apparent upstart, B2MP’s guesswork is probably pretty accurate. The mistake here is underestimating the DVD market, especially with new-to-disc content. Most boutique releases are split, as should be the case here. Not everyone does Blu-ray.

  • All I can say is….. WOW!

  • Just bought one. Pricey, but so worth it. It has the contents of the earlier multi-DVD set, based on the description. And all those extra Puppetoons.

    “Rosalinda needs a new pair of shoes!”

  • Sadly, they are not shipping internationally. :-(

    • Looks really nice. Just ordered a copy to Australia and the order went through ok

    • I just got my copy. Wonderfull. I live in the Netherlands so international shipping is no problem …

  • The TV station I worked for in the late ’70s/early ’80s had the Puppetoons in their library as part of an NTA cartoon package. The Puppetoons were on the station’s “do not air” list, though, so kids in the area never saw them. I was told they were shelved partly because the Jasper character figured in so many of them, and partly because management feared kids wouldn’t watch t hem because they weren’t traditional animated cartoons.

    • That’s a pathetic excuse :(

    • That’s a pathetic excuse.

      I wonder how many stations made excuses like that to Japanese cartoons?

  • These frame grabs look amazing. i saw UCLA’s restoration of Sky Princess at a film festival a few years back and it was the hit of the show! I can hardly wait!

  • Awesome. I’ve ordered mine and I can’t wait to get it!

  • ordered!

  • Has anyone ever seen a copy of Variety Girl – a late 40′s all star feature – with the color Puppetoon intact?

  • Thanks for the update. I pre ordered back when you announced it. I was just beginning to wonder what had happened since there site said it was shipping in Oct. the last time I looked. Thanks again for the update.

  • I am eagerly awaiting this collection. I still have the standard DVD, and I gather that the extra cartoons in standard definition are the same cartoons that were on that afore-mentioned disk, but I’m even more excited to catch the seven new-to-video titles. I know I’m swimming upstream on this one, but I do hope that, somehow, this sparks more interest in these cartoons and a second set containing all these terrific cartoons. There are so many titles that contain very interesting visuals! My credit card has already been charged so all I need is the good news that my disk is on its way!

  • I got mine today and it is spectacular! The colors are rich and crisp! Highly recommended!

  • It is very exciting to see these with restored color & Paramount titles.
    Like Jerry, I have been watching pink NTA prints in the past knowing that I was missing out on the full beauty of these films.
    I wish it would stay in print past the 3,000 copies but in reality that is a substantial supply for a limited market.
    Here is hoping for more Puppetoons some time in the future.

  • My favorite cartoon is “Together in the Weather”, a cute 1946 Puppetoon. Is there anywhere I can find this particular cartoon online. Apparently the internet archive did not have a copy.

    • Nate – you can find TOGETHER IN THE WEATHER on THE PUPPETOON MOVIE blu-ray mentioned in the post above.

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