What are your essential films that aren’t available on Blu-ray?
In high school, I was a ‘film purest’. That is, I remember arguing with a friend how the merits of owning a film in Super 8 or 16mm is a much better proposition than having rented and dubbed the film on VHS (I think the film was Yellow Submarine). Now, that said, I *still* love film, and if I had my druthers I’d be producing sets of cartoons on actual 16mm film instead.
The lines are blurring these days in terms of what makes a good presentation though, with video projection looking amazing compared to even six to ten years ago. Recently running some of the 2k digital cleanups we’ve been doing makes me think the best presentation format is a quicktime movie or the like, where resolution can be set by the size of the video file. I *still* would rather be running a film print all the time, but understand the times are a changin’. The old-style ‘film societies’ on collage campuses across the country really are not there anymore, and if they are they generally concentrate on just Anime films rather than a broad range. In the 60s, 70s and 80s there were all sorts of places to rent films from, and because there were so many prints (and almost everything every made had been printed in 16mm) you could find some really cool and odd things if that was your interest. Chances are even independent shorts could be found without too much trouble- not everything, but a lot of things.
I was thinking about how so many films have now vanished in a good quality presentable format, and although this list dates me in some ways, here are some animated films that I think are really essential to get a release of some kind on DVD or Blu-ray. Most of these are on the list because I think they are things that should be seen for anyone interested in the history of animation, and should be seen in as good of a presentation as possible.
As a video collection producer, there are other things I’m not listing here that are think are essential- we’re either working on or trying to get rights to some of those, so I’ll be quiet for a while on those ones!
I especially like *your* comments on posts like these, so I’ll leave the floor open and ask ‘What are your ‘essential’ films that aren’t available in a high quality release?
My LONG list would take many days to write, so here’s my short list:
1) Frank Film by Frank Mouris. This 1974 Academy Award winner is truly an innovative classic, but on standard definition video it always looks murky, and not even close to a presentable as the turning red 16mm print I’ve had for many years. Here’s a not-great copy…
2) Furies by Sarah Petty (1977). A beautiful little colored pencil short featuring very active cats in an abstract and continually moving spectacle. I’ve always thought it was a shame it isn’t seen more- but this goes with most independent animated shorts.
3) Father and Daughter by Michael Dudock de Wit (1999). I think this is one of the most beautiful little films I’ve ever seen, and I’ve never seen it look as good as it needs to, except for the first time seeing it in 35mm at the Ottawa International Film Festival. Beautiful and haunting, with wonderful acting. This film deserved the Oscar in 2000. There is an good copy available on DVD from Acme Filmworks on one of their great compilations, but I think this needs to be seen in at least HD.
4) Song of the South – Disney (1946). An essential historical piece for the studio that, as we all know, has long been out of the public view. In running a print for my students in the animation history class I teach, I was amazed at their reactions and observations of the period, but moreover their pure disbelief that the Disney company would still be worried about public reaction to a work that was produced nearly 70 years ago.
5) MGM’s Happy Harmonies cartoons (1934-38).
As you all know, these Harman-Ising produced cartoons are some of the most lavish of the animated shorts produced in the 30s.
Funny that they should never see a DVD or Blu-ray release. Happily, some of the them have been released with a feature film here or there, but not on Blu-ray as of yet. With the market being as it is, it’s hard to say if there will ever be a point that it’s feasible to Warner Bros., who now owns them.
Here’s Hey-Hey Fever (1935) starring Bosko, an early entry in the MGM series…
The Scrappy cartoon series from Columbia/ Mintz (1931-40). My favorite cartoons from the 30s. Absolutely bizarre stuff – delightfully so in the earlier Dick Huemer entries; just plain strange in the later releases. All in all, a series that deserves serious reevaluation by cartoon buffs.
I do hope that someday, someone will license these, or that perhaps Columbia will release these themselves.
Here’s one of the films, somewhat typical of the series. In The Great Experiment (1934), Scrappy is the victim of a mad scientist and is sent time traveling to a futuristic 1990 filled with inventions we still don’t have.
7) Winsor McCay’s work in HD (1911-21). There is a great DVD of these shorts, but nothing available in HD. I hope this is remedied someday!
So, now it’s your turn. Have a good weekend everyone!