Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection Vols. 1 & 2
Image Entertainment Catalog ID4679DSDVD (Vol. One) and ID4680DSDVD (Vol. Two)
Released: July 27, 1999
Running Time: 236 minutes (Vol. One) and 190 minutes (Vol. Two)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
B&W and Color
No region coding
Take a look at that contents list. 58 cartoons on 2 discs. That's over 7 hours of Ub Iwerks cartoons, covering more than 75% of his studio's total output! But who is Ub Iwerks, and why would you want so many of his cartoons? Ub Iwerks was one of Walt Disney's top animators, and worked on dozens of Disney's earliest Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies cartoons. Iwerks left in the early 30s to form his own studio, and the names of some of the other people who worked there may be familiar. Names like Carl Stalling, who would become the musical director for hundreds of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies; Grim Natwick, the designer of Betty Boop and an animator on Snow White; and Frank Tashlin, who went on to direct some excellent Looney Tunes and then live-action features. The Iwerks studio started out making cartoons starring Flip the Frog, who was at first drawn somewhat realistically but later assumed a more cartoony look. The Flip cartoons were made before the Hollywood censorship code, so sexual jokes are common. Cartoons like "Room Runners" and "The Office Boy" abound in sexual gags, some of which may still be shocking to a modern audience. After the Flip cartoons, the studio created a new character called Willie Whopper. Willie also changed in appearance throughout his screen career, but the basic "tall tales" structure of his cartoons remained the same. One of his rare color appearances, a very stylish cartoon called "Hell's Fire" in which Willie visits Hades, is presented here as a series of excerpts of the only color footage known to have survived. The final series of cartoons created by the Iwerks studio were the Comi-Color cartoons, a series which tried to emulate Disney's Silly Symphonies but missed the mark more often than not. The Comi-Color cartoons were produced in Cinecolor, a cheaper and lower quality process than Technicolor, which basically means that you shouldn't expect the color of those cartoons to be very good. Overall these cartoons range from dull to extremely enjoyable, with enough variety to keep them from being too formulaic. Also important to note is that since these cartoons were made in less tolerant times, jokes about race, ethnicity and sexual orientation are common.
The text on the back of either DVD states that the source of each cartoon is "unfaded, pristine prints from original negatives". Though I wouldn't the prints "pristine", I have to say that I was very surprised at how good these films look and sound. It is very rare for any cartoons of this vintage to seen as good as they are on this DVD. If you look very close you may see some artifacts of the digital video compression used, but I only noticed it on close examination and not on regular viewing. I doubt that the video and sound quality of these discs will disappoint anyone, with the possible exception the Cinecolor cartoons (which never looked good to begin with). Also worth mentioning is that each disc is dual-layered, eliminating the need for disc flipping since all the contents fit on one side.
The content of these 2 DVDs have been available as 5 separate VHS tapes which retailed for $25 each, and as a laserdisc box set which retailed for $120! Here is an opportunity to enjoy the best presentation of these cartoons at the most affordable price ever. The quality and value of these discs make them a perfect addition to anyone's DVD library.
"The Office Boy"