1. Big Cartoon Forum

    You WIll Need To Reset Your Password!!!

    We just moved hosts on this system, and this has caused a few updates. One is the way we encode and store the encoded passwords.

    Your old passwords will NOT work. You will need to reset your password. This is normal. Just click on reset password from the log in screen. Should be smooth as silk to do...

    Sorry for the hassle.

    Dave Koch
  2. Big Cartoon Forum

    Are You Just Hanging Out?

    Just lurking? Join the club, we'd love to have you in the Big Cartoon Forum! Sign up is easy- just enter your name and password.... or join using your Facebook account!

    Membership has it's privileges... you can post and get your questions answered directly. But you can also join our community, and help other people with their questions, You can add to the discussion. And it's free! So join today!

    Dave Koch
  3. Big Cartoon Forum

    Other Side Of Maleficent

    I have been looking forward to Maleficent with equal amounts of anticipation and dread. On one hand, she is easily my favorite Disney villain, so cold and so pure, and I want desperately to see more of her and her back-story. On the other hand, she is easily my favorite Disney villain, and I would hate to see her parodied, taken lightly or ultimately destroyed in a film that does not understand this great character. The good news is that this film almost gets it right; but that is also the bad news.

  4. Big Cartoon Forum

    BCDB Hits 150K Entries

    It took a while, but we are finally here! The Big Cartoon DataBase hit the milestone of 150,000 entries earlier today with the addition of the cartoon The Polish Language. This film was added to BCDB on May 9th, 2014 at 4:23 PM.

  5. Big Cartoon Forum

    Warner Brings Back Animated Stone-Age Family

    Funnyman Will Ferrell and partner Adam McKay are working on bringing back everyone’s favorite stone-age family. The duo’s production company Gary Sanchez Productions is in development on a new Flintstones animated feature.

  6. Big Cartoon Forum

    Disney To Feast In France

    The follow up to Disney’s 2013 Academy Award Winning short Paperman has been announced, and it will premiere at France’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Titled The Feast, the short looks to be based on the same stylized CG techniques used on last years Paperman, a more natural and hand-drawn look to computer animation.

  7. Big Cartoon Forum

    Renegades of Animation: Pat Sullivan

    Pat Sullivan became famous worldwide for his creation of Felix the Cat. What most animation histories gloss over is Sullivan’s checkered past and longtime standing as a wildcat renegade. He didn’t follow the rules. And he made damn sure to fully protect his intellectual properties.

"Attack" a worthy investment

Discussion in 'The Animated Word' started by Dave Koch, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Cartoon Admin

    Oct 27, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Originally Reviewed: January 2, 2006

    B000AP31V0.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg One day during the recent holidays, while I was out reveling and making merry, I paid a brief visit to the local Virgin Megastore to see if I could find any DVD bargains. I sauntered over to the children's section, which is where Virgin dumps all their classic and contemporary animation DVD's, and indeed found a true gem.

    Mackinac Media is an obscure, independent label that has recently released a half-dozen or so DVD's containing classic Hollywood cartoons which have been restored and compiled by Thunderbean Animation.

    The disc that caught my eye is entitled, Attack of the 30's Characters. This is a valuable compilation of 16 vintage black- and-white and color cartoons from each of the major Hollywood cartoon studios that were active during the 1930's. What was most surprising to me was the inclusion of a 1933 Mickey Mouse title, The Mad Doctor. It is rare that one can find any Disney cartoon shorts in a compilation not officially sanctioned by the House of Mouse (a few of the "Alice Comedies" titles notwithstanding). They usually keep a tight rein on all of their animated shorts and features; but this particular short apparently lapsed into the Public Domain. The original opening title cards bearing the United Artists studio name are intact, although the end title looks to be one of the re-issue cards done by the Disney Studio in the 1950's for release on Television and for 16mm film rental. The print quality is a little dim with a few light scratches. This cartoon is also available in a slightly better-quality print contained in the Disney Treasures Series release, entitled Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Vol. 1.

    Approximately half of the cartoons on this DVD have been previously released in other compilations, albeit of varying quality and sometimes in badly-transferred 2nd or 3rd-generation sources. Every attempt has been made by the producers to present each of the cartoons in this compilation in its original theatrical release version with the original studio logos and title cards intact. These cartoon restorations give the viewer, in approximation, an idea of how contemporary audiences must have seen them. In some cases, however, the inclusion of original titles seems to have been accomplished by "freeze-framing" the title-card while the music cue continues playing on the soundtrack. Presumably this was done to compensate for any damage sustained (sprocket-hole tears, bad splices) in the fragile film stock. The versions presented here are taken from the best surviving nitrate 35mm and 16mm prints. There doesn't appear to be any of the excessive digital video noise-reduction (DVNR) that sometimes plagues compilations of this nature; although the visual-quality of some titles nevertheless calls for a modicum of tolerance. In most cases, the sound-quality of these cartoons is quite excellent for the period. Only one Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon from 1936, The Beachcombers, is presented with alternate title cards created by Castle Films for 8mm and 16mm distribution.

    Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was originally created by Walt Disney in the late 1920's; but Disney eventually lost control of the character through the machinations of Charles Mintz. Mintz was the husband of Margret Winkler, whose marketing company handled all of Disney's cartoon shorts at the time. Mintz soon received his comeuppance, however, from Disney's distributor, Universal Pictures, who actually owned the rights to Oswald. Walter Lantz (who would achieve lasting fame as the creator of Woody Woodpecker) and his partner, Bill Nolan, had been put in charge of Universal's new cartoon studio and were now responsible for the production of a new series of sound cartoons featuring the character. One of these early Lantz/Nolan Oswald productions, In Wonderland (1931), is an unusual take on the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk and features a somewhat more refined-looking version of the character than the design used in the Disney shorts.

    As for Mintz, he still had a fledgling studio of his own that was first based in New York but soon moved to California. During the early 1930's all of his own studio's cartoons, as well as Disney's were being distributed by Columbia Pictures. Disney left in 1933 for United Artists, leaving the Mintz studio as the sole provider of animated shorts for Columbia. One of Mintz's starring characters (beginning in 1929) was Krazy Kat, who was adapted from the earlier popular and surrealistic comic strip of the same name by George Herriman. The similarity ended there, unfortunately, and Mintz's version of Krazy Kat eventually became just another Mickey Mouse look-alike. Bars and Stripes (1931) is one of the better cartoons in the Krazy Kat series and it contains some clever sight-gags and wonderful animation. Bars and Stripes (along with Jolly Good Felons) is also one of the best-sounding of the cartoons contained on this DVD.

    Two vintage cartoons from the Fleischer Studio are included here; each one with the original Paramount opening and ending title cards. The 1933 pre-code Betty Boop short, Is My Palm Read is complete and un-cut. An excellent 1937 entry in the pre-Famous Studio "Popeye" series, The Paneless Window Washer, has been previously released on DVD in it's un-cut form. This latter cartoon features a deft use of perspective, and great comic timing.

    A true rarity is the 1932 Farmer Alfalfa cartoon, produced by Paul Terry, Noah's Outing. While the character design and animation in this short are rather repetitive and lack-luster, when compared with that of the product from the other studios, the soundtrack features some impressive musical contributions. No music director is listed in the credits, but I have to assume (with some doubt, however) that Phillip Scheib is responsible for the wonderful pastiche of themes from Wagner and Mendelssohn. I am somewhat doubtful about Scheib being the musical arranger for this short, because most of his cartoon music scores during the 40's and 50's were pretty dull. He generally never made extensive use of popular tunes or classical music themes the way that his contemporaries, Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, did; and therefore many of his music cues tend to sound alike. In addition, most of the Terrytoons produced during the early 1940's have so much hall-reverberation inherent on their soundtracks, they sound as if they had been recorded in a men's lavatory.

    The Leon Schlesinger studio at Warner Bros. (actually located just outside of the main lot) is represented by three black- and-white cartoons; two of them from the Looney Tunes series and one from the Merrie Melodies series. The earliest of these, Congo Jazz , features Bosko, the first starring Looney Tunes character. This short is a delight to watch, not least for the overall sense of fun it conveys. Part of the fun is in the child-like design of the characters. The producers were not striving for reality in any sense, unlike their rivals at Disney. The print of this cartoon used for the present DVD retains the original Looney Tunes title-card featuring Bosko surrounded by various farm animals. Other reissue prints often substitute a later Looney Tunes title card featuring "Buddy", who was Bosko's lack-luster replacement after Harman and Ising migrated to MGM and took Bosko with them.

    The very first Merrie Melodie (the series was introduced in 1931 following the success of Looney Tunes), Lady Play Your Mandolin stars Foxy and Roxy, who were essentially short-lived Mickey and Minnie Mouse rip-offs--albeit with pointed ears and bushy tails. The sole purpose, initially, of the Merrie Melodies series was to help popularize recently-composed songs that were printed and distributed by Warner Bros' music publishing concern. This was done by having the main characters sing or play the title song of the cartoon, regardless of story continuity (or lack thereof). This particular title was also included as a bonus cartoon in the "Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons" segment that was featured on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1, albeit in a slightly-edited version that nonetheless had excellent picture and sound quality.

    A later Looney Tunes entry from 1937, Porky's Railroad, is presented in a clean print with the original animated title-cards and music cues. Most people only know this title from its badly-executed colorized version that aired for years in televised syndication. How soon this early effort from animator-director Frank Tashlin will turn up in a future volume of LTGC remains to be seen, so having it here in the present compilation makes this DVD all the more valuable.
    In 1930 Ub Iwerks, who was instrumental in the early development of Mickey Mouse, left his animator's position at the Disney studio to set up his own animation shop. Initially his new sound cartoons, starring Flip the Frog, were produced by Pat Powers' Celebrity Productions and distributed by MGM. Over time the studio heads at MGM grew weary of the character and others like him that had spewed forth from the fledgling company between 1930 and 1934, and they eventually signed a new contract with independent producers Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising who had just left the Schlesinger studio at Warner Bros. (an excellent example of the color cartoons they produced for MGM is the 1936 short, To Spring). During the mid-to-late 1930's Pat Powers (whose bootleg "Cinephone" sound process was utilized in the production of these cartoons) continued to distribute Iwerks' cartoon shorts. Without the backing of a major Hollywood studio that also controlled a chain of movie theatres nationwide, however, Iwerks could not afford to continue producing his own cartoons. In 1936 he ceased production of his own cartoons, but for the next four years continued to do contractual work for the Charles Mintz studio at Columbia and for Leon Schlesinger at Warner Bros., as well as a handful of independent films which may or may not have been released theatrically. In 1940 he closed his own studio and went back to work for Disney for the next three decades as a technical advisor; in the development of photographic printing processes for many of the Disney animated and live-action feature films, and in the design of many of the featured attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

    Flip, like virtually every other cartoon character created in the Hollywoood animation studios during the 20's and 30's, was an anthropomorphized animal (in this case a frog) who could do everything that humans could do; walk upright, talk, sing, and dance. Flip's character was admittedly rather bland and undistinguished, however; and the fact that his design changed in nearly every other cartoon in his short-lived series didn't help to endear him to contemporary audiences. Still, there are a number of entries in the series (of which Funny Face is one of the best) which show some imaginative touches in their execution of gags and animation techniques. They are also known for their somewhat ribald humor, which never would have passed muster at Disney. In this entry, Flip has been spurned by his girlfriend and decides to get plastic surgery to enhance his looks. While in the waiting room of "Dr. Skinnum", Flip is taunted by a collection of masks (which apparently can be grafted onto one's existing face) that are displayed on the wall. One of them is a decidedly effeminate homosexual caricature who elicits cries of "whoops, my dear!" from the others.

    In addition to the black-and-white "Flip the Frog" series, Iwerks produced a series, beginning in 1934, which utilized the cheaper and less-sumptuous two-strip Cinecolor process. Disney, at that time, had an exclusive three-year contract with Technicolor for use of their three-strip process. Normally the Cinecolor process reproduced only a limited range of colors; but Iwerks, being the technical innovator that he was, was able to yield far better results through experimentation with the chemical dye-transfer processes used to develop the exposed film stock. All of this meant that Iwerks' "ComiColor" shorts came close to rivaling those produced at Disney using three-strip Technicolor. Unfortunately, this was the only area in which Iwerks offered any serious competition. Generally speaking, the majority of his independently-produced cartoons were lacking in terms of strong characterization and story development. Many of them feature striking visual innovations, but this alone could not bolster either weak stories or inept directing. There were exceptions, however, which still stand out today from the other cartoons produced at the Iwerks studio. Most of these benefit largely from peppy, well-crafted musical scores by another Ex-Disneyite, Carl W. Stalling (who eventually found his creative niche at Warner Bros., writing cartoon scores for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies). Two of the more successful of Iwerks' ComiColor Cartoons both date from 1934; The Little Red Hen and the short featured on the present DVD, Jack Frost. Both are equally charming and highly-imaginative. The former, in particular, is in many ways preferable to Disney's own version of the story; entitled The Wise Little Hen, that was released the same year and marked the first appearance of Donald Duck.

    Die-hard vintage animation buffs will delight in the inclusion of three shorts produced by the Van Beuren cartoon studio; whose cartoons were originally distributed theatrically by RKO Radio Pictures, but languished in relative obscurity on television and in 8mm and 16mm home-movie reissues. This was due not only to the fact that many of the earlier cartoons had been shorn of their original title sequences, but also had the names of their starring characters changed.

    Such was the case with the studio's two human characters, "Tom and Jerry". In the 1950's the characters' names were changed to "Dick and Larry" for distribution to TV stations; presumably to avoid confusion with MGM's cat-and-mouse team of the same name whose cartoons were also starting to appear in syndication on television. One of the better entries in the "Tom and Jerry" series produced at Van Beuren, In the Bag (1932), is featured in the present compilation and includes the original theatrical opening and closing credits. The two remaining cartoons on this DVD feature an adaptation of a popular newspaper comic strip and an entry from Van Beuren's later foray into full-color production. The first is an animated version of Otto Soglow's The Little King, the main character of which was an adult monarch with the mind and heart of a precocious child who always got himself involved in humourous situations. In the 1934 short, Jolly Good Fellons, the Little King visits the Royal Penitentary for an inspection with outlandish results. The two-strip Technicolor short which rounds out the program, The Merry Kittens (1935), is one of the Van Beuren "Rainbow Parade" series of color shorts that were directed by Burt Gillett (of Disney's Three Little Pigs fame). What distinguishes this series from the earlier black-and-white efforts produced by the Van Beuren Studio is their emphasis on character delineation; and they also benefit from the strong musical contributions by in-house composer Winston Sharples. In spite of all this, however, the cartoons in this series pale in comparison with the Disney product--particularly in the area of story development. Nonetheless, the cartoons featured here represent the best of what this "also-ran" studio was capable. Gillett was also responsible for a series of Black-and-White Van Beuren series, entitled, Toddle Tales.

    The extra features on the DVD include the original theatrical trailer for the Fleischer Studios' first full-length animated feature, Gulliver's Travels (1939); as well as galleries featuring original animation artwork and promotional "one-sheets" for some of the shorts presented in this compilation, and images of the packaging for their 8mm home-movie versions. A four-page, full-color booklet with excellent liner notes by Del Walker of DVDtoons.com also supplements what is truly an important anthology. Mackinac Media has already released a small number of DVD's in their "Golden Age of Cartoons" series and has some important upcoming compilations in their spring 2006 release schedule--not least a selection of Popeye shorts from the Fleischer Studio Era. All in all, this is buried treasure for the cartoon enthusiast.

    Overall Rating **** (snap this one up before it goes out of print!)
    Visual Quality ***(*) (with ever-so-slight reservations about the color shorts, which exhibit varying degrees of fading)
    Sound Quality **** (consistantly good--excellent at times!)
    Extra Features ***(*) (no audio commentary for any of the shorts is provided, but the DVD has excellent liner notes!)
    Value for the Money **** (at a retail price of $12.00 USD, this is a real bargain!)
    • Agree Agree x 1

Share This Page