Note: No DVD/blu-ray news this week – but a big announcement next week! Stay tuned!
One of the most dramatic differences between the TV prints and the original theatrical versions of a cartoon series are the Paramount Noveltoons. NTA’s red and Pinkish 16mm prints always did a disservice to the series, as is also does to the earlier Color Classics from the Fleischer Studios, but finding original 35mm materials was always a rarity in later years.
On occasion, somewhat battered 35mm prints of some of the cartoons would randomly show up on a Kiddie VHS tape, looking better than the red copies of the other films on the cassettes. When the dollar DVDs started, even more in beat up 35mm Technicolor prints showed up, though usually not the best copies.
The Famous Studios tribute that Jerry Beck organized in 1995 at The Museum Of Modern Art in New York is now the stuff of legend. For this show in those pre-digital days, rare 35mm prints in original Technicolor were gathered and shown. Among the attendees were many former Famous Studios employees, including Shamus Culhane, voice actor Sid Raymond, and Myron Waldman. It was a wonderful thing to do while some of the creators were still alive. I’ve heard the story more than once that many commented that they didn’t remember the films being as good as they were.
Here are the film notes that were distributed at MoMA for attendees of the Famous Studios screenings:
Many years later, for the Thunderbean ‘Noveltoons’ set, a handful of collectors were nice enough to lend me their 35mm prints, mostly in very good to excellent condition. We did some digital cleanup to the 20 films for the set, although only in standard definition. We had done the transfers in HD, anticipating that at some point we may want to do a blu-ray. I still hope to do a set with *all* the 1940s Noveltoons at some point… but we may just end up with a set of the Public Domain ones on Blu-ray.
Here’s Quack-A Doodle-Do, the first “Baby Huey” cartoon, from a 35mm Technicolor print. Watch it in HD if your computer is fast enough to do so.
For one of the bonus features on the set, Jerry Beck was nice enough to lend rare photostats of the storyboards from this cartoon and a few others. We put together a storyboard comparison feature for the set featuring these boards. Although the quality isn’t tops, it’s really fun to see the boards next to the finished film.