Friday, October 21, 2005

Tom and Jerry and Family Entertainment

Animation historian Jerry Beck has this explanation for the inclusion of the three redubbed cartoons (see below) on the Tom and Jerry DVD set. I am posting this with his permission. This is all common knowledge anyway (it's long been known that except for the Looney Tunes Golden Collection sets, WB's animation releases fall under the "family entertainment" division). This just organizes the already-publicly-available information:

George Feltenstein and I feel as badly about this all the fans. We tried our best. The problem (and excuse me if I've explained this before) is that all cartoons at Warner Bros. fall under the "family entertainment" part of the Home Video department. George Feltenstein - the Senior VP who oversees the incredible boxed sets and library product (THIN MAN, KING KONG, WIZARD OF OZ, SUPERMAN, etc.) - has virtually no control over this material. The one piece he's fought for (and won)is the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION. The LOONEY TUNES SPOTLIGHT collections that came out in years past were the "family unit" productions. The difference between the "Spotlight" collections and the "Golden" collections is obvious.

George is fighting to release (under his guidence) a TEX AVERY complete collection - and if it ever gets cleared, a POPEYE collection. The TOM & JERRY collections are compiled, packaged and marketed by the family department. George and I are "consulted" but we have no control over what they do, or what master material they use. George fought for the re-mastered CinemaScope cartoons on the set - in particular because of the new screen ratio of HDTV, he wanted to make sure those films would read correctly.

George and I reviewed a check disc several weeks ago and were horrified by several "re-dubbed" cartoons that made their way to the set. George ordered them to make the changes - and they did, except for the three remaining problem films. Again, we have little control. There is no one who knows the product reviewing these in advance. We were lucky to catch what we did.

Have you noticed the first six cartoons on disc one look better than the prints on the rest of the set (not counting the remastered CinemaScope titles)? That's because we urged the powers-that-be to restore all the cartoons from the best available master material in the vaults. They did it only for the first six. I have no idea why they didn't do all of them - other than budgetary reasons.

The whole TOM & JERRY thing saddens us too. Personally I see the glass half full here - and am happy to have what we do. George is hoping to get control of the classic cartoons - when he does, we will probably compile a complete set with all titles, complete & uncut.

I hope you are looking forward to LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION vol. 3. A lot of effort goes into these - and #3 is as good - or better - than the first two. These (along with Disney's Treasures) are an example of what can be done with the right people in the right places.

Thanks to Mr. Beck for clarifying the situation. And yes, the difference between the few cartoons that were specially remastered for this set, and the ones that use old DVD masters, is very noticeable. Some of the early cartoons, like "Puss Gets the Boot" and "Fraidy Cat," look mind-blowingly good, which only makes it all the more sad that they didn't do this for all the cartoons.

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