Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Walt Disney Treasures - What's Missing? What's left? What's possible? (part 1 - Theatrical Animation)

Well the Disney Treasures are the crown of Disney's release schedule, each year digging into the vaults. But as much as they are adored, their life hasn't been plain sailing, accidental cuts and omissions, some titles being unrestored and of course being cancelled and then returning from the grave.

'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.

The Mudville nine from 'Casey Bats Again' (1952)

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.

Goofy's 1987 outing in 'Sport Goofy in Soccermania'

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.

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