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:
Have a good week everyone!