Max Fleischer's Superman
Superman: The Lost Episodes
WinStar Catalog WHE73010DVD and WHE73029DVD
Released: June 10, 1998 and June 1, 1999
Running Time: 100 minutes each
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround/Stereo
No region coding
|Max Fleischer's Superman:
||Superman: The Lost Episodes:
The first disc ("Max Fleischer's Superman") contains the 9 Superman cartoons produced by the Fleischer studio, while the second disc ("Superman: The Lost Episodes") contains the 8 which were produced by Famous Studios. Together they contain all of the Superman cartoons produced in the early 1940s. These discs also contain a brief summary of each cartoon, and a short essay on the history of the Superman cartoons. See the review of the Image Entertainment Superman cartoons DVD for more background on these cartoons.
These DVDs seem to use the exact same film prints as the Image DVD; even the use of still pictures at the beginning of "Terror on the Midway" is identical on both discs. But the picture quality on these DVDs is not as good as the Image disc. The Paramount logo which originally appeared at the beginning of each cartoon is edited out on these discs. Also, the picture on these discs seem softer and the colors are oversaturated. But the poor picture isn't the main reason why I'm giving these discs 1 star; the reason for that is the atrocious audio. These cartoons were made 60 years ago, when all films had mono sound. The people at WinStar who produced these DVDs felt that mono sound isn't good enough for a high-quality format like DVD, so they altered the sound for each cartoon into stereo surround sound. Normally this wouldn't be such a bad thing if the original soundtrack recordings were used; DVDs of old movies like Gone with the Wind have been remixed for surround sound and they sound pretty good. But because these cartoons are public domain, the original soundtrack recordings are not available. The people at WinStar took the original mono sound and ran it through various devices which created a fake surround sound. They then recorded new sound effects and placed them into this fake sound mix, covering up the original sound effects. The new effects sound terribly fake compared to the original sounds, and the entire soundtrack often sounds as if it's emanating from a deep cave. Simply put, this modification of the original soundtrack is hideous. But it wouldn't even bother me so much if they had only included the original mono soundtrack as an alternate audio channel, which they obviously couldn't be bothered to do. There is another problem with the first disc ("Max Fliescher's Superman"); the contents of that disc are not time encoded, so you cannot stop watching and resume later from the same place.
These DVDs do a terrible injustice to the original Superman cartoons. Avoid these discs like the plague and pick up the Image DVD instead.
"The Magnetic Telescope"
"The Mummy Strikes"
Note: These DVDs are available separately or as a two-pack. As of August 1999 Amazon.com claims that the second disc has not yet been released individually, but I know it has because I got it shortly after it's release in June 1999 (a purchase that I deeply regret!).