THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
June 18, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Thunderbean’s “Popeye Original Classics In Technicolor”

I’m happy to report the Blu-ray of my public domain Popeye Original Classics In Technicolor set is finally done! I’m happy to have it off the plate of in-progress things and onto finishing more. I’m hoping to send three additional ‘special’ sets in the coming few weeks, as well as sending Rainbow Parade, Volume 1 off to replication.

This ‘Popeye’ project is sort of an update on the first DVD set we produced, back in 2004. That set was a ‘sort of’ update to the VHS set we put together back in 1991! Many of the bonus features from the set were provided to Warner Brothers for use on their great Popeye DVD sets.

Funny enough, getting the final films scanned for this set proved to be a huge challenge, with all the telecine places shut down here. I promised I wouldn’t let the physical films out of my hands (once someone lends me something I generally don’t let it out of my hands, ever). I ended up getting the last films scanned at a small shop near Pittsburgh, who did a very nice job. These films included Craig Davidson’s print of the Popeye ‘Soaky commercial’ and some stop motion spots, plus Thad Komorowski’s very nice print of Popeye Meets Ali Baba.

Each of these sets takes more time than I think it will, but this one started to come together really fast in more recent weeks. Our own Devon Baxter did a great job revamping the still galleries for the set, reaching out the various collectors for use of some really amazing things. What I especially like is that I had never seen many of the things he managed to gather, so it’s a nice bonus even for those of us that are really familiar with the usual things. Devon also did the digital restoration of a 35mm Technicolor print of Insect to Injury, one of the Famous Studios shorts featured on the set.

As part of the many bonus features on the set, my good friend Lenny Kohl allowed use of his interviews with Jackson Beck, Gordon Sheehan, Virginia Mercer and Dave Tendlar. These newly edited interviews range from 12 to 25 minutes for the set, and they’re a really fun and informative listen. In addition, we recorded (via zoom) an introduction to these interviews he conducted (rather informally over the phone) to provide some context. In addition, we upscaled a few short clips of Rosalie Waldman and Shamus Culhane that were included on the first set.

As we had done for the first set, we licensed the Popular Science short featuring the Fleischer Studios again, and Shield’s Pictures provided their beautifully scanned HD version of the short, full frame. It looks wonderful. I had never seen all the detail that the new scan shows on this short. I was thrilled to be able to include it.

This little project really started after I had seen a 35mm nitrate/ Technicolor print of Popeye Meets Sindbad posted by the Library of Congress. The library was wonderful in providing their 2k scan of the print in their last hours of being open in March – without that we wouldn’t be done at this point. The print has its share of wear, but it was a thrill to see what the short looked like from an original Technicolor release print. We did the best we could in cleaning up this well-loved print, and I think it looks nice despite some of the wear. I’m very happy with how the films look overall for the set, and was happy to include the quirky pilot for the series Barbecue for Two (1960). It may very well be the strangest Popeye cartoon ever made. I very much enjoy how Popeye is drawn in this short, donning his classic outfit for the only time in a TV series. At the time, King Features didn’t know if they could use the name ‘Bluto’ or if ti was now owned by NTA or Paramount, so they don’t name him in this short. They, of course, eventually settled on calling him ‘Brutus’. At one point in this short, Popeye calls him ‘Junior’, leading to an explosive response.

There’s also a small section of Chester, Illinois, Home of Popeye. I’d love to go down sometime soon and get newer footage. Mike Brooks, president of the Popeye Fan Club, did. Nice job in making a short video about Chester and the origins of the Popeye characters, included here as well.

We’re sending the pre-orders in the next few days, and the set is now available on Amazon here.

Click to enlarge each of these frames from the set:


And finally, here’s a little preview of some of the things on the set:

Have a good week everyone!

32 Comments

  • Wow!
    I knew of course, that, in addition to a print pf “Sinbad” with correct end music, we would see the usual mid ’50’s public domain Popeye shorts. But I had NO idea that it would include the first TV Popeye short BARBECUE FOR TWO! I wish that King Features would have produced the entire 220 episode series with the Fleischer=esque designs, instead of going back to the Famous type designs for the rest of the cartoons. Plus a few b/w Fleischer cartoons which I did not expect.
    I’m really excited about this set.

  • Great Steve!…Even though I pre-purchased this set long ago (bonus included). I just placed an Amazon order.

  • I have the original Popeye Original Classics DVD. Does this new Bluray version have a DVD included?

  • The first handful of KFS Popeyes from the Jack Kinney crew were quirky, as if they wanted to try and do something different with the character than what Paramount had been doing over the final decade of the theatricals. But they either got bored quickly or the crew turned most of their creative attention to trying to peddle “The Alvin Show” to CBS, and ended up producing some of the most just-going-through-the-motions cartoons in TV history.

    • The early Kinneys were good but quickly became dull (especially with all those ‘fairy’ stories). The lousy animation didn’t help although not all his Popeyes are bad. Well produced ones do exist. You just have to sit through the lackluster ones to find them.

  • I have the original Popeye Original Classics VHS.

    Should I upgrade?

    Great work, Steve – and team!

    • Upgrading to DVD or Blu-ray is a must since the transfer technology is superior to what was done for VHS since film scanning and digital video eliminates the “3/2 Pulldown” conversion necessary to change 24 fps to 29.997 for video. Therefore the images are sharper and the image response is also sharper.

  • Steve,
    Are you saying that the versions, of Sinbad and Ali Baba from the WB Home Video DVD are NOT the way they’re supposed to look? I did hear that the colors were over saturated on those releases.
    Also will all the rest of the cartoons have original titles?

    • Judging from these stills, the colors on Steve’s set are *more* saturated than Warner’s restorations of Sindbad and Ali Baba.

      I think both of those two-reelers look wonderful, color-wise, on Warner’s 2007 DVD set. The one drawback is that Ali Baba has DVNR which erases the drawn lines in a number of scenes.

    • I commented in lengthy detail about this a month ago. What everyone here is not realizing is the detail about Color Temperature balance. Technicolor prints intended for theatrical exhibition tended to lean more towards a warmer color tone to compensate for the carbon arc projection light source, which had a blue-white light. The problem when transferring a print is that the light source in the transfer to video or scanning process needs to be comparable to what the print was originally calibrated for. As I staed before, I have seen a restored print from the original negative project on a theatrical screen. The subtle “tertiary” hues such as olive green and red-brown/maroon have been electronically boosted, making them look more “electric” and secondary in the name of looking “brilliant.” Olive green became chartreuse (green-yellow) and maroon became red. This does not improve the colors, but makes the cartoon look gaudy and tacky, which does a disservice to the original Art Direction and planning.

    • Ray Pointer – That’s interesting stuff, Ray. Thanks. Fascinating to hear about how they prepared the colour balances by taking into account the specific sort of light a typical theatrical projector of that time would have. That all makes great logical sense – it would never have occurred to me that they’d take that into account; though once I’d read it then it’s of course obvious that they would do this as part of the technical (not to mention technicolor!) processes in making films (animated or otherwise).

  • Congratulations, Steve! This set looks baller! I’m sure there were many hurdles to cross and mountains to climb during this process. Looking forward to adding it to the collection~

  • This turned out looking really great! I can’t wait to get mine, and the other special sets you’re sending out!

  • Wow, has actually been 16 years since that first DVD? This looks great Steve, ordering this in the hopes it helps towards getting Rainbow Parade V.1 replicated ASAP.

  • Barbeque for two is one of my favorites!
    I really liked when Popeye are the spinach and both Swee’pea and Wimpy tipping their hats.

  • The contents of the new Popeye Blu-Ray look very good, judging from the trailer. However, WB Home Video already put out a lot of these Popeyes on their own standard and Blu-Ray DVDs. They have the original negatives to work with, so how can yours stand up alongside theirs, since you are working mainly from prints? The extras seem to be the main reason to buy this new Popeye release.

    • I agree Mark; they look dandy in HD, and it’s neat to see what an IB print of Sinbad looks like. I wanted to have a nice representation of some of the films (and some nice prints of later Famous ones that are not out in HD) but I think, for sure– the really cool thing on the set is the extras.

    • Mark, “Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves” has DVNR in Warner’s official restoration, both on their 2007 DVD set and in the HD copies available on streaming. (I’m surprised I’ve never seen anyone talk about this, because it’s REALLY noticeable.) So it will be nice at least to have an HD copy of Ali Baba without DVNR that erases parts of the animation.

    • Also, if Steve can produce a good representation of the shorts and make any money off the material, he should. That’s another perfectly good reason. The old Warners DVDs aren’t netting him anything…and the Thunderbeans and Cartoons On Films of the world can always use more proceeds.

  • Already ordered!

  • Hey, Steve! Double-check the spelling of Gus Wicki’s name on the disc or liner notes, would ya? I think – from information right here on CARTOON RESEARCH, the spelling of Gus’ last name is W-I-C-K-I without the “E” at the end. We’ve alll been spelling it the wrong way for years! At least I think so – but double check!

    I too am looking forward to the “extras” – and I hope they’ve turned out well!

    • The spelling – based on an exhaustive Cartoon Research article by E.O. Costello – is with an “E”, but no “I”. Gus Wicke. Here’s the article – Click Here.

  • Did you get a license from King Features to include “Barbecue for Two”? I thought they still own the rights to that short.

    • Barbecue for Two, the pilot short, wasn’t originally copyrighted. There was no original registration made for the short and no copyright notice on the film itself on its original showings and on the circulating 16mm prints. They’ve added a copyright in 1983, and I think the reason the color is odd on the newer release is to make it a ‘new’ version.

    • There are a couple of early Kinney unit Popeyes, including this one, that were released in1960 without copyright notices. King Features put one on using a chyron for their home video releases in recent years, but I think legally if they didn’t notice it by 1987 (when the 27-year window for copyright renewal would have expired), the films in question would have fallen into public domain.

  • To paraphrase Agnes Moorehead to Henry Fonda in “The Big Street,” show me the DVD and I’ll apologize. Or at least I’ll quit nagging you for my money back.

  • OMG! I remember begging my parents to get the Popeye Soaky toy and sure enough on my birthday there it was on the kitchen table. Mom and Dad had a good laugh when they saw me get my first glance of it!

  • Thanks, Jerry! I knew you would set me straight – one way or the other!
    The thing about the SOAKY toy commercial is that the animation is better than any episode of the KFS series and just as entertaining!

  • Steve<

    Amazon told me that my order of Popeye in Technicolor had been shipped out. June 19
    Yet they also tell me that it won't arrive until between June 29th to July 2.
    What is taking so long? You can't even call Amazon right now as they are not, repeat, NOT answering their phone right now.
    Please help me in anyway you can I really want to get this disk.

  • Well, remember there is a corona virus out there! I have AMAZON PRIME, and delivery of things is generally pretty good, but other orders can take weeks – lots of delays! So be patient. I’m waiting for my copy – and I worked on the project!

    • Oh wow!

      Someone who actually worked on the project. So I’m guess all Popeye Shorts will have original Paramount opening and closing titles. Also I’ve been told that Sinbad has it’s original closing music.. Heck the Popeye Cartoons from 1956 and ’57 have always retained their original titles. they were spared the a.a.p. retitling. But perhaps these will look more pristine than what we’ve seen on PD collection
      Please write back.
      -Chris

  • Well, there’s no question that the prints used here will look better than what will usually be seen “on a PD collection,” unless the people putting together the collection swiped material from Thunderbean, etc. – which HAS happened! I know from personal experience with Steve Stanchfield that he will search for the best looking and sounding copies of material in “P.D.” status – sometimes using multiple prints to get the best available from various collections.

    The reason the later Famous POPEYE cartoons retained their original titles is because they were still in theatrical circulation when the earlier Fleischer-Famous POPEYE cartoon library was syndicated for television in 1955 or so. I’m looking forward to the “extras” myself!

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