Sunday, 23 November 2008
When "Disneland" and "Walt Disney Presents" were on the air, many stories (mostly from the Frontierland section) brought alive tall tales from the past, with Davy Crockett of course leaving the biggest impact. These stories in hourly installments were a trademark of the show. When the series evolved into "The Wonderful World of Color", leaving black and white behind was not the only change. Whilst new live action stories did air in the series, there's no pulling the wool over the eyes of most Disney fans in their ulterior motive. Whereas Davy Crockett and others were clearly episodes, it is almost undeniable that the 2 and 3 episode stories clearly had the ulterior motive of being stories made to work either in episode stallments, but also with an eye to combine them to make a feature film. Which is precisely what happened and more than half of the new material created during the guise of "Wonderful World of Color" ended up shown theatrically overseas, where the anthology series was not broadcast.
Therefor to split the productions up into sizeable chunks, I'm deeming a "serial" to be anything which was created to be a continuing part of a saga, and not something of 2-3 episodes which appears like a film split into portions (although don't worry we'll get to those another time). Naturally this is purely subjective on my part, and rather unsuprisingly leaves me covering material mostly from the black and white era.
Most people are familiar with the "Zorro" TV show, already released to DVD through the Disney Movie Club and some foreign releases. The half hour TV show ran for two seasons. But due to network issues, the production was halted before a 3rd series. Now naturally there are far too many episodes to ever possibly fit onto a Treasures set, and most would probably begrudge a few random episodes picked from here and there. However the story of Zorro did not end there. In order to keep public interest in "Zorro" going, four hour specials were made that aired as part of the anthology series, using the main series cast. "El Bandido" and "Adios El Cuchillo", both from 1960 and "The Postponed Wedding" and "Auld Acquaintance" both 1961, would be perfect contenders for a Treasures set. It would be lovely if the theatrical compilation feature "The Sign of Zorro" (1958) made from splicing episodes of the regular 30 minute show together could also fit nicely on the set! It would be nice if "Zorro the Avenger" (1959) (only released internationally), again made from cutting episodes of the TV show together could be included, however it would be a tight squeeze for disc space, but it's not totally unrealistic to suggest that the 4 hour episodes could fit on disc 1, and the two films on disc 2. And as for bonus features, many vintage trailers and TV spots for Zorro exist and have been uploaded to various sources online. So Disney can't deny the existance of material perfectly suited for bonus features.
Many fans (this one included) are very annoyed that Disney have left Elfego Baca and the Swamp Fox unfished. In the fifth wave 3 episode of each were brought to DVD and I for one would like the rest. The five remaing "Swamp Fox" episodes, "Day of Reckoning" (1960), "Redcoat Strategy" (1960), "A Case of Treason" (1960), "A Woman's Courage" (1961) and "Horses For Greene" (1961) could make another satisfactory set. As for "Elfego Baca", well aside from the rather annoying (and stupid) decision to put episodes, 1, 2 and 5 on the previous set (missing 3 and 4) the remaining 7 episodes "Lawman or Guman" (1958), "Law and Order, Inc" (1958), "The Griswold Murder" (1959), "Move Along, Mustangers" (1959), "Mustang Man, Mustang Maid" (1959), "Friendly Enemies at Law" (1960) and "Gus Tomlin is Dead" (1960) would make another satisfactory disc. And what about bonus features? Well the above episodes were again spliced together to make a number of features released thetrically. How about the opening and ending credits for the theatrical releases?
"The Saga of Andy Burnett" had 6 episodes in total, perfect for a Treasures 2 disc set. The episodes "Andy's Initiation" (1957), "Andy's First Chore" (1957), "Andy's Love Affair" (1957), "Land of the Enemies" (1958), "The White Man's Medicine" (1958) and "The Big Council" (1958) would undoubtedly please many a fan.
"Daniel Boone", another 4 episode serial could again fit nicely. The four stories making up the Daniel Boone story aired in the anthology series' final season in color. "The Warrior's Path" (1960), "And Chase the Buffalo" (1960), "The Wilderness Road" (1961) and "The Promised Land" (1961) could make another tidy set.
The most lengthy of all Walt's TV serials was the saga of "Texas John Slaughter" and truth be told the 17 episodes are definitely too much to fit on one Treasure set. Most will have seen already from my posts that there's a lot of stuff left, and I've got many more posts to come. Believe me we're not even half way. So, if anyone from BVHE should chance to read this, HINT start releasing classic material outside the Treasures line in sets with more discs!!! Anyway for sake of covering it, the 17 episodes of "Texas John Slaughter" are:
1958 Tales of Texas John Slaughter
1958 Ambush at Laredo
1959 Killers From Kansas
1959 Showdown at Sandoval
1959 The Man From Bitter Creek
1959 The Slaughter Trail
1959 The Robber Stallion
1959 Wild Horse Revenge
1959 Range War at Tombstone
1960 Desperado From Tombstone
1960 Apache Friendship
1960 Kentucky Gunslick
1960 Geronimo’s Revenge
1961 The End of the Trail
1961 A Holster Full of Law
1961 A Trip to Tucson
1961 Frank Clell’s in Town
Moochie (Kevin Corcoran), one of Disney's staple stars of film and TV during the 50s and 60s could logically have a set devoted to him too. Two Moochie serials, the first "Moochie of the Little League" consisted of 2 episodes "A Diamond is a Boy's Best Friend" (1959) and "Wrong Way Moochie". A follow up "Moochie of Pop Warner Football", again comprised two episodes. "The Pee Wees Versus City Hall" (1960) and "From Ticonderoga to Disneyland" (1961). Another possible set.
The final idea, is the only one coming from the "Wondeful World of Color" era. That is the Kilroy saga. The 4 episodes "Kilroy I", "Kilroy II", "Kilroy III", "Kilroy IV" all from 1965, could again make a nice set.
You know there is a market for classic material, Disney just needs to lower it's expectations! We all know, these titles are never going to shift as many copies as "Sleeping Beauty", "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Wall E", but that doesn't mean there isn't profit to be had. Disney is used to raking in big bucks. But face it, small independent DVD studios can put out DVDs of unknown, niche or public domain titles and turn a profit often with restored picture, interviews, commentaries and bonus features. There is always a market for any material, and always a profit to be had, but like I say Disney is simply too used to pulling in millions, and the profit they'd make from these titles would be nothing but small change in comparison. But I do sincerely hope Disney will release them! Or at least licence them to some other studio to release to the market.
Well, moan over! Next time I'll be looking at Disney's unreleased library of live action shorts.
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Sunday, 16 November 2008
So with that in mind, I shall proceed as best I can.
When it comes to Television content for animation, there's only two main stops. "Disneyland"(and all the other names it went by) and "The Mickey Mouse Club". "The Mickey Mouse Club didn't offer us much new animation, only a selection of Jiminy Cricket Shorts titled eiether "I'm no fool..." or "You and Your..." and there purpose was education as well as entertainment. The 12 I'm No Fool shorts (I'm No Fool... In a Car, Having Fun, With Fire, In Water, On Wheels, In Unsafe Places, In Unsafe Places II, In an emergency, As a Pedestrian, With Electricity, With a Bicycle, With Safety at School) and the 8 You and Your... shorts (You and your... Eyes, Ears, Food, Five Senses, Sense of Smell and Taste, Sense of Touch, The Living Machine, The Human Animal) saw Jiminy Cricket impart his wisdom of staying safe and teaching children about their bodies.
But 20 shorts would not fill up a set, so what could go with them? Well one option would be to round it out with some of the other educational material mentioned in my last post, such as "Steel and America". A second option would be to dedicate an entire set to Jiminy by including the anthology episodes he hosted. Four episodes had Jiminy Centre stage, "Donald's Award" (1957) saw him acting detective for Walt, interrogating members of the Disney family about their feelings towards a certain duck. "This is Your Life, Donald Duck" (1960) saw him lead a look back at Donald's career and "On Vacation" (1956) saw Jiminy running the show while Walt was away. The 4th episode "Jiminy Cricket Presents Bongo"(1955) was essentially the entire "Bongo" segment from the 1947 film "Fun and Fancy Free", with "Chicken Little"(1943) and "Figaro and Cleo"(1943) lumped in, so wouldn't perhaps be as vital an inclusion as the other three. Of course the trouble is these episodes usually featured around 15 mins of bridging animation around older shorts. On the one hand you can grumble at dedicating a release to material already released individually. However at the same time these episodes also have an undeniable charm and value all their own. Even though I love Disney cartoons, I have to admit the gags and slapstick humour never make me laugh. But there is one moment in the bridging segment of "Donald's Award" featuring Jiming interrogating Daisy Duck, that just makes me smile every time! There could be the option to simply present the bridging material alone, however that would certainly impact on the viewing since the shorts usually were interweaved into the story and having cuts every few minutes would certainly result in a very unsatisfactory viewing experience and I would argue they should be included in tact. See the bridging segments included on the Looney Tunes sets, to see just how stunted they are to watch without the bits inbetween.
Von Drake in the first color episode "An Adventure in Color"
But what to include? Surely "An Adventure in Color"(1961) is a must, being the first episode of the anthology series broadcast in color under the new title "Walt's Disney's Wonderful World of Color", but what about the others? "The Hunting Instinct" (1961), "Inside Donald Duck" (1961), "Kids is Kids" (1961), "Carnival Time" (1962), "Von Drake in Spain" (1962), "Man is His Own Worst Enemy" (1962), "Inside Outer Space" (1963), "A Square Peg in a Round Hole" (1963), "Fly With Von Drake"(1963), "Three Tall Tales" (1963), "The Truth About Mother Goose" (1963), "Mediterannean Cruise" (1964), "In Shape With Von Drake" (1964), "A Rag, A Bone, A Box of Junk" (1964), "Music For Everybody" (1966), and "A Salute to Alaska" (1967).
Now whilst some of these episodes were compilations ("Three Tall Tales" for example) some consisted of largely new material and saw the professor lecturing us on various things. Some even were given theatrical airing in parts of Europe such as "Von Drake in Spain" and in "A Rag, A Bone, A box of Junk" we see a behind the scenes look at the making of the tiles from "The Parent Trap" (1961). Surely there's more than a wealth of material for 1 if not more Treasures sets just with Ludwig?
There's no doubt that Von Drake offers the most logical choice for a set of episodes given he had episodes comprising of new material, but what of the other Disney stars?
Poor old Mickey didn't fare too well when it came to episode compilations and only "The Adventures of Mickey Mouse" (1955) and "Four Tales on a Mouse"(1957) go unreleased. Goofy however did fare better with a number of episodes featuring new bridging animation.
"The Goofy Success Story"(1955) has already found its way to DVD, which leaves us with "The Goofy Sports Story" (1956), "Goofy's Cavalcade of Sports" (1956), "The Goofy Adventure Story" (1957), "How to Relax" (1957), "A Salute to Father" (1961) and "Holiday For Henpecked Husbands" (1961). Certainly enough to fill a treasure, but would there be uproar at a Treasure containing just these?
Pluto was another character who got off lightly during the anthology series. With only "Pluto's Day" (1956) and his appearance in "The Coyote's Lament" (1961) (another episode released theatrically overseas). Chip and Dale had one episode dedicated to them "The Adventures of Chip and Dale" (1959) which consisted of some of their shorts packaged together, but also featuring some highly entertaining new animation of them dancing.
Donald undoubtedly got the most. Aside from the previously mentioned titles bearing his name, but featuring either Jiminy Cricket or Von Drake more prominently and "A Day in the Life of Donald Duck" (1956), which is already in the Treasures series as a bonus feature, we are left with: "The Donald Duck Story" (1955), "At Home With Donald Duck" (1956), "Your Host, Donald Duck" (1957), "Duck For Hire" (1957), "Donald's Weekend" (1958), "Duck Flies Coop" (1959), "Highway to Trouble" (1959), "Two Happy Amigos" (1960), "The Mad Hermit of Chimney Butte" (1960) and "Donald's Silver Anniversary" (1960).
Audoban J. Woodlore talks to the critters in "The Ranger of Brownstone" (1968)
Breaking My Own rule slightly regarding post Walt content, I also would think perhaps a set dedicated to Ranger Woodlore wouldn't be too terrible. Of his four episodes only one "The Ranger of Brownstone" (1968) used old shorts but again was bridged rather charmingly with new material and some quite nice songs. The other three "A Ranger's Guide to Nature" (1967), "Nature's Charter Tours" (1968) and "Nature's Better Built Homes" (1969) showed us the world of nature by using clips, mostly from the True Life series.
But aside from episodes that feature these known characters were there any animated eps that featured other characters that could be good choices? Well yes! "Magic Highway USA" (1957) is one that instantly leaps to mind, projecting ahead and looking into the future (from a 1950s perspective of course), this episode showed a hypothesis of what the future of travel could be like. With some wonderfull stylised scenes and clearly an imagination that had been left to run loose. "An Adventure in Art"(1958) was the episode that the "Four Artists Paint One Tree" segment, found on both incarnations of the Sleeping Beauty DVD comes from. "The Great Cat Family" (1956) showed cats through the ages with the use of animation and live action (again a portion has surfaced on the DVD for "The Aristocats". "From All of Us to All of You" (1958) is a Christmas episode that many remember fondly too. "Our Unslung Villains" (1956) took a look at the villainous characters throughout Disney history using mostly clips. "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" (1959) was an hour long, extended version of the short of the same name and "Magic and Music"(1958) took a look at how Disney films combine both music and magic to make memorable films. "An Adventure in Fantasy" (1957) took a look at how magical things can be made to happen through animation.
A Flying ambulance of tomorrow comes to the rescue on the highway of the future in "Magic Highway USA" (1957)
But also some Disneyland episodes that consisted of old theatrical stuff weren't always identical simply reused material either. Take for example the "The Liberty Story and Ben and Me" (1957). The first portion was a teaser for the live action "Johnny Tremain", whereas the 2nd half of the show was the short "Ben and Me". However this was an extended version of the short. The original version shown in theaters (and released on the Disney Rarities DVD) ran to 21 minutes. But an additional 5 mins were added to the TV version, making the anthology version 26 mins in length!
A Scene from the extended TV version of "Ben and Me" (1957)
It's a genuine conundrum when it comes to picking from what's left of the TV material. I know that I (and many others) would like all of the above material to be released. But would it be viable considering how much of the material is already available and essentially people would be buying mostly bridging material? I have to say I wouldn't bother me! Certainly only a select few pieces of what I've mentioned above would be likely to find its way into the Treasures line, if any. And perhaps the material would be better suited to being released in a different way, but that begs the questions "How? and When?"
Next time I'll take a look at live action and see what could potentially appear from the many of Walt's TV serials.
Saturday, 15 November 2008
The Jack Benny Hour was a special that aired in 1965, and the excerpt above features Jack Benny visiting Walt in the stage office that will be familiar to Disney fans as the hub where Walt introduced his anthology series.
Not only is there a brief moment of publicising the Hayley Mills film "That Darn Cat!", but some of Disneyland's animatronics are also given a brief appearance in the form of Esmerelda the bird who sits on Walt's desk.
Those interested in having this rare clip on DVD, can pick it up at Amazon
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
From FT.com via TAG. Disney and Yash Raj film's co-production 'Roadside Romeo' is officially a smash in India, with Ft.com reporting that it has taken more in 4 days than Pixar's 'The Incredibles' did in its entire run. Could this mean a sequel in the works? Or yet more animated features specifically made for the Indian or other International markets? This after all follows Disney's Chinese release of 'The Magic Guord'.
Now we have to ask ourselves. Which will be Disney's biggest earning dog picture of 2008? 'Roadside Romeo' or 'Bolt'? I guess we'll have to wait and see which will be top dog! (I apologise for that pun)
Reports are appearing over the web the comedian Russell Brand is the latest after Zac Efron to be linked to the upcoming fourth installment in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' series. Movie Web reports that he could be paid somewhere in the region of $8,000,000 for the role. Merely speculation? It's interesting to see Brand linked to Disney projects considering the scandal currently surrounding him in the UK leading to his resignation from the BBC.
Don't forget that Brand also appears in this Christmas's Disney outing Bedtime Stories. Click here to see the Bedtime Stories trailer.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Walt Disney Treasures - What's Missing? What's left? What's possible? (part 1 - Theatrical Animation)
'Casey Bats Again' has been absent from the Treasures line
As today sees the release of Wave VIII, we look at whether there's a future for the Treasures, what's been missed and what's left. For part 1 we'll look at what's left in terms of animation.
Today's release of 'The Chronological Donald 4' completes Donald's filmography right up to 1961, but most fans are probably left feeling slightly frustrated that a few shorts are missing. Since the three Figaro cartoon were included on 'Pluto Volume 2' most assumed that the three Chip 'n' Dale shorts, 'Chicken in the Rough' (1951), 'Two Chips and a Miss' (1952) and 'The Lone Chipmunks' (1954) would also be included. However they haven't. Many were also probably holding out hope that Donald's two educational shorts, 'Steel and America' (1965) and 'Donald's Fire Survival Plan' (1965) would also be included, alas they weren't. Some are probably slightly bitter that there would have been room for these, however instead shorts from the Mouseworks series were included instead of these. I'm not wanting to knock 'Mickey Mouseworks' or 'House of Mouse' it's just I'm sure most would rather those series were given there own individual releases.
However perhaps it's not such a shock the two "educational" Donald shorts were missing, after all 'Freewayphobia' (1965)'and 'Goofy's Freeway Trouble' (1965) were missing from the Goofy collection.
Two completely baffling omissions were 'Susie the Little Blue Coupe' (1952) and 'Casey Bats Again' (1954) which by all laws of common sense should have appeared on the Disney Rarities volume. These 9 shorts released during Walt's life obviously wouldn't be enough to fill a Treasures set by themselves, so what else would fill up the rest of the set? Well there are two options. The first might be unpopular to some, but die hard collectors may see it as a good idea. Many segments from the "package features" like 'Saludos Amigos' and 'Make Mine Music' were later given individual theatrical releases. As part of this these shorts had new titles and titlecards made for them. Even though most will probably own 'Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet' as part of the 'Make Mine Music' DVD, would anyone want to see the sequence wrapped in its own credits as it was for its 1954 re-release? Of course then there's the Winnie the Pooh featurettes, which were originally released separately then packaged together to form 1977's "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh'. Should 'Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree'(1966), 'Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day' (1968) and 'Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too' (1974) also be given a release in their original form? Some could see this as a great idea, others as Disney unnecessarilly trying to milk money out of people.
'How to ride a Horse' originally part of 'The Reluctant Dragon' was re-released alone, having a new titlecard made for its second outing.
The second option would be to bring the collection right up to date. It wouldn't be the first time post-Walt material has been included in the series. After all, Mickey's 80s and 90s outings were included. If Mickey's two featurettes from the 80s could be included, I'm sure most are questioning why Goofy's 80s outing in 'Sport Goofy in Soccermania' should be absent.
If however, they were to come right up to date there would be more than enough to fill a 2 disc set. Since Walt's passing the shorts produced are 'Scrooge McDuck and Money' (1967), 'It's Tough to Be a Bird' (1969), 'Dad Can I Borrow the Car'(1970),'The Small One' (1978), 'MickeyMouse Disco' (1980), 'Once Upon a Mouse' (1982), 'Vincent' (1982), 'Fun With Mr Future' (1982), 'Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore'(1983), 'Oilspot and Lipstick (1987)', 'Sport Goofy in Soccermania' (1987), 'Tummy Trouble' (1989), 'Rollercoaster Rabbit' (1990), 'Pedal to the Metal' (1992), 'Off His Rockers' (1992), 'Trail Mix Up' (1993), 'Stand By Me' (1995), 'Redux Riding Hood' (1998), 'Three Little Pigs' (1998), 'Jack and the Beanstalk' (1998), 'John Henry' (2000), 'Grievance of a Starmaker'(2002), 'Destino' (2003), 'One By One' (2004), 'Lorenzo' (2004), 'The Little Match Girl' (2006), 'How to Hook Up Your Home Theater' (2007) and 'Glasgo's Guest' (2008).
And that's not counting stuff made for TV which ended up with a theatrical showing. Also there's the specially produced bonus feature titles of 'A Dairy Tale' (2004), 'The Cat That Looked at a King' (2004) and 'The Origin of Stitch' (2005). I also haven't covered any of the outstanding Laugh-O-Grams, Alice's Wonderland or other bits made prior to Steamboat Willie either (yet).
Of course some may prefer that these newer shorts would not be included in the Treasures line up and instead be released in a manner similar to the Pixar Shorts Collection. Also it has to be pointed out that some of these titles have already cropped up as bonus features on various DVDs.2004's 'One By One' appeared as a bonus feature on the DVD for "The Lion King II: Simba's Pride"
Also there's also the unavoidable issue of that 'Destino' DVD that's been floating around for a while. Initially due to be part of the now abandoned Legacy Collection series, then scheduled to be in this year's line up of Treasures, now with an uncertain future. The set reportedly contains a new documentary chronicling the history of Destino as well as 'Destino' itself. Will this be appearing any time soon? Since Destino was completed for the abandoned third Fantasia film, perhaps 'Destino' and the three other shorts due to be in it, 'One By One', 'Lorenzo' and 'The Little Match Girl' could appear together on one set giving them some context. Or perhaps Disney is now just holding back on this release until the platinum editions of 'Fantasia' and 'Fantasia 2000'.
Which ever way they choose to resolve this, in theory there's still content to fill a wave IX of Treasures releases. Next time I'll be looking at Disney's TV library and pointing out likely or possible releases that could bring us further sets in the Treasures line.
Well there won't be many Disney fans out there that don't know that today is the day that Disney's annual dig into the vaults are released. Dr Sy. The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh is one of three titles in this years wave and reviews have begun popping up to no doubt entice those of you who are still undecided.
For 3 reviews see DVD Times, Ultimate Disney and DVD Town
Monday, 10 November 2008
Released Christmas day, I have to admit I didn't hate the look of the trailer as much as I thought I would. I don't think it will end up being one of Disney's most remembered or beloved live action films, but it certainly seems to mix a combination of magic and adventure in a 'Jumanji' meets 'Matilda' sort of way.
Carefully recreating the original backgrounds by compiling screenshots, the full backgrounds are pieced together to create some startling images that just don't shine while watching the films themselves.
One favourite of mine from his site is this wonderful background from the Bumble Boogie' section of 'Melody Time'.
The latest post looks at 'Beauty and the Beast'. I have never really considered 'Beauty and the Beast' as have the most artistic, creative or individual style of all the Disney animated films, but looking at the backgrounds from themselves they are truly insping. Soft golden, reds and browns create the whimsical, provincial feel wonderfully.
Several of the backgrounds tend to share a hint of Mary Blair too I feel. Those familiar with 'The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad' will see a certain correspondance with the style of the village, which was of course was heavilly inspired by Blair's concept art.
Any way I strongly suggest you take a look. It's site you can get lost in!
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Mundorare presents an article regarding the upcoming Pixar film NEWT, questioning whether the film has taken inspiration from 'Viva Piñata'.
Regardless of whether you agree with this suggestion or not, the site includes an interesting glimpse of concept art from the upcoming film, featuring the steps in a Newt dance.
Saturday, 8 November 2008
I have to say Pixar's 'Up' really excites. If I'm honest I was slightly underwhelmed by 'Wall-E' and 'Ratatouille' so I'm hoping that 'Up' will provide me with that Pixar goosepimply feeling again.
One criticism I have for the trailer though and that is the opening. I'm a believer that if a movie is good it should sell itself. Generally I tend to find that if a studio has to plaster the names of the actors in huge letters over the trailers/posters (see the ad camapign for 'Bolt') or they have to remind the audience about past hits they have had, then a film may not be up to scratch. I'm hoping the necessity to recap past Pixar movies in this trailer does not speak of it's quality and is just a way to attract family audiences to a film that given its elderly main character may be quite a hard sell. I'm sure we have nothing to worry about however.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Also hopefully we'll allow the live action films, shorts and theme parks to shine, as they often get buried under the hype for Disney's animated output.
Naturally things will be a bit slow to start til we get enough followers, but stick with us and hopefully we can bring you some news before other sites get their mits on it!
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