For the last ten years, well meaning friends whom I invite to my vault… err, storage garage… ask me why I still hold onto approximately ten boxes filled to the brim with VHS tapes. I never watch them any more. And don’t I have all those cartoons, animated features and TV series on DVD or blu-ray? Yes I do. In fact, I have much of the same material on 16mm film.
I’m a pack rat – I admit it. But the time has come to begin downsizing, so I’ve begun to open the boxes and start unloading. But there are ten VHS tapes I’ll never get rid of. In fact, there are probably at least 20… no, 30… sigh!
Here are ten tapes (in alphabetic order) I just can’t sell, throw out or give away. For personal reasons, they are keepsakes. For professional reasons, they are necessary. You understand, don’t you?
BUZZY THE FUNNY CROW (1986) Worldvision Home Video, Inc.
Buzzy is a somewhat politically incorrect character these days – and they will never release his complete works on DVD or Blu-ray – so this is as close as I’ll ever get to my dream archive collection come true. It features all seven of the “Harveytoon” Buzzy’s from the 1950s, with the Harveytoon titles, but also with all the screen credits intact. The Harvey box art and plastic clamshell package is pretty cool too. I can’t throw this out – and that “sounds logical” to me!
CRUSADER RABBIT vs. THE STATE OF TEXAS (1991) Rhino Home Video
Oh yeah, I can’t get rid of this one! Rhino mistakenly thought Crusader Rabbit was in public domain and put out two volumes of his serialized adventures back in 1991 (The other VHS collection was Crusader Rabbit Vs. The Pirates). It turns out that 20th Century Fox owned the character – and somehow, someone at Fox knew this and sent Rhino a cease and desist. Unable to withdraw the tapes from commercial outlets, the company required a sticker be added to the two releases. Click the image at right to enlarge.
This has been the only somewhat authorized release of this landmark series – featuring the first cartoon character ever created for television. Today, Disney owns Fox and they probably have no idea they added this historic show to their animation library. With DVD and blu-ray sales plummeting, and the chances for these to appear on Disney+ pretty slim, the case for keeping this VHS is pretty strong.
FLINTSTONES ON THE ROCKS (2001) Cartoon Network Screener
Back in 2001 I was sent the VHS press screener of Flintstones: On The Rocks, the infamous one-shot produced by Genndy Tartakovsky and co-directed by controversial Loud House creator Chris Savino – with special stop-mo animation by my pals at Screen Novelties. Only airing once on Cartoon Network, the special was buried by the network and has never been commercially released. Some people hate it – and I understand that. Personally, I loved it… and I need to transfer it to DVD. This STAYS!
GERALD McBOING BOING presents FAVORITE SING-A-LONGS (1990) Paramount Home Video
The classic UPA Columbia Pictures theatricals are owned by Sony – and they have done a great job restoring them and putting them out on DVD. But UPA produced many more animated shorts beyond those theatrical classics. They did commercials, sponsored industrials, government instructional, educational films, interstitials, animated titles – and commercial entertainment cartoons for television (Mr. Magoo, Dick Tracy, etc.). Forgotten among all of that is The Boing Boing Show – the first original network cartoon show (though not prime time) for CBS in 1956.
Hours of innovative little shorts were produced for this program – with films by animators of note including Gene Deitch, George Dunning, Rod Scribner, T.Hee, Fred Crippen, John Whitney, Rudy Larriva, Ernest Pintoff and more… Music by Mel Levin and Shorty Rogers, voices including Stan Freberg, Walter Tetley, Shep Menken, Daws Butler, Bill Scott, Thurl Ravenscroft and Edward Everret Horton!
These “Boing Boing” shorts are extremely rare. Only re-shown decades ago on the USA Network as filler. However, Paramount Home Video put out a series of six tape collections containing maybe half of these in 1990 under the “Gerald McBoing Boing Presents” banner.
As far as I’m concerned – I’m keeping these babies.
GRIM NATWICK’S 100th BIRTHDAY PARTY (1991) Bosko Video
August 18th 1990. I was there. Asifa Hollywood threw a 100th birthday party for animator Grim Natwick and everyone was there. I sat with Mae Questel. A memory I’ll never forget.
And thanks to David
Shepherd Butler I won’t – He created a keepsake video of the event… I think its on You Tube – but I don’t care, I can’t part with this VHS. An Amazing night – with speeches by Chuck Jones, Walter Lantz, Marc Davis and many others.
HOPPITY GOES TO TOWN (1989) Republic Home Video
It’s still under copyright and Paramount owns it. But they never released it on DVD or blu-ray. And although I was honored to co-host a broadcast of Mr. Bug Goes To Town on TCM, using MoMA’s Technicolor nitrate print, this VHS is the second best copy of the film I’ve seen and the only authorize release of Mr. Bug (though under its British title, Hoppity Goes To Town). It’s debatably Fleischer’s best feature and a real neglected classic (IMHO)… Proud to own a VHS copy of this.
LOONEY TUNES: THE COLLECTOR’S EDITION (1999) Columbia House
The next four on this list I must keep for personal “keepsake” reasons.
I did a lot of freelance in 1999. Totally Tooned In was in production. I was consulting to Cartoon Network’s Toon Heads show. I was also writing and producing those odd Karen & Kirby shorts for the Cat-and-Birdie, Warneroonie, Big Cartoonie Show at Warner Bros. Animation. My day job earlier in the year was as an editor for KidScreen magazine. And then this job came over the transom – Columbia House got the rights to do Looney Tunes as a subscription VHS series. Customers would receive one new VHS tape each month filled with classic Warner Bros. cartoons – curated by me!
It lasted 15 months and it was a blast. The complete list of contents is listed here. I can’t throw them out. You understand, don’t you?
MGM CARTOON MAGIC (1983)
Ladies and Gentlemen, THIS is the first video compilation I curated. It has a special place in my heart. I was working for MGM/UA non-theatrical in New York and my in-house reputation as the “go-to guy” for cartoon information brought the nascent home video division to my door.
As I have done ever since – I approached this collection as if it might be the only time I’d ever get any of these cartoons out of vault… and wanted to impress viewers with visual delights in hopes of the opportunity to curate a Volume 2.
Start with three strong Averys, add the funniest Harman-Ising cartoon (IMHO) The Lonesome Stranger, with Mel Blanc voices; a dash of Happy Harmony spectacle (The Blue Danube); A Barney Bear and a color Captain and The Kids – and violá! “MGM Cartoon Magic”! I never found out who drew the cover, though I believe I heard Art Leonardi may have done it. I dunno – I should ask him.
TOONHEADS: THE WARTIME CARTOONS (2000) Cartoon Network Screener
This was the second of two Toon Heads specials I was involved with (the first one in 1999 was Toon Heads: The Lost Cartoons). This second one aired in July 2001. I have both on VHS in special boxes that only went to the press. I can’t throw these away.
Here’s the back cover. Don’t you wish this series was still on?
WOODY WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS: The Collectors Edition (2002) Columbia House
About a year after the end of the Looney Tunes series mentioned above, Columbia House came back to me with a similar offer to do a Woody Woodpecker video tape series. While we were in production on these, DVD had emerged and this series exists on both VHS and DVD. A complete list of contents for this 15-volume series can be found here.
This one was a challenge as they had some cartoons available as individual reels – and others only available as part of the 1957 Woody Woodpecker Show. I tried hard to extract the complete cartoons but the studio was being difficult. I’m strangely pleased the way things worked out – especially as about 5 years later I had a second chance to do it my way on the two-volume Woody Woodpecker And Friends: Classic Cartoon Collection on DVD.
So you can see – sometimes its not about the cartoons on these discs… it’s the memories attached.
Those are my picks above. I have a few dozen others I feel equally akin to. But enough about me – what are some VHS tapes you’ll never part with?