Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Clutch Cargo - The Complete Series |
Actors: Richard Cotting, Margaret Kerry, Hal Smith
Director: Phil Booth
Genres: Action & Adventure, Kids & Family, Television, Animation
Similarly Requested DVDs
Clutch Cargo : Nostalgia and a Vintage Aircraft Lover's Boon
Juscz | Puerto Rico | 04/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Say what you will about its general lack of animation, repetitive story lines, politically incorrect stereotypings, and strange (perhaps even absurdly creepy) use of actual human mouth footage (complete with lips) superimposed upon an otherwise static facial image. For those of us who grew up watching the cartoon "Clutch Cargo" (henceforth referred to as CC), Brentwood Home Video's recent two volume, 6-DVD release (that's 3 DVDs/volume) of the complete 52 episodes from this 1959 creation is a nostalgic walk down the proverbial memory lane. And given that each volume is priced below $15.00, this release of a cartoon classic (I resisted calling it an animation classic!) is all the more deserving of a five-star rating.
The basic plot of each episode centers on the title character, along with a boy Spinner and the dachshund Paddlefoot, seeking adventure in all parts of the globe (and occasionally even outer space). Often there is an obvious villain or two pitted against this trio. At the same time, a good-guy is always being helped by Clutch and his pals. Stereotypes abound and many of these are politically incorrect by today's sensibilities. For example, at points throughout the episodes we see a villainous pilot with thick German accent, evil oil merchants with Middle Eastern accents, a Scotsman with the reddest of noses, a scheming vixen scientist with a Russian accent, native Americans who constantly say "How", absent-minded professors, and on and on. Despite these aspects of the cartoon (which, very understandably, will offend some folks), CC, viewed by a generation of kids who are now all middle-aged adults, is a part of American history and therefore deserves the presentation it has been given in this superb two-volume DVD set.
Let's be honest here. CC will never win honors for great contributions to the art of animation. Indeed, those of us who grew up in those geographic locals where the series aired from 1959 through the early 70s already know this, at least at an intuitive level. Indeed, the cartoon was thrown into our television viewing cage and we watched it! Up until the time we were 8 years old, we perhaps watched it with enthusiasm. Beyond that age, we likely viewed it more to ridicule its cheapness and the silliness of the generally repetitive storylines. But watch it we did! So what was the attraction?
I would argue that through use of enthusiastic narration, catchy music (played on just a bamboo flute and a bongo drum!)that could convey a number of emotions (including suspense), exotic locales, and a title character who looked like he stepped out of "Terry and the Pirates" or "The Phanthom" (you know,the sort of thing the older, "big kids" read... what Gary Larson would call "one of those "serious" comics"), CC always held promise for great drama to the young, neophyte cartoon enthusiast. As we got older, we saw through the limited animation and whatever drama we formerly experienced was replaced by our desire to mock the whole thing amongst our friends (we needn't feel guilty about this now... indeed, given that CC ran in syndication in various parts of the country for perhaps 15 years or more, the producer, Cambria Studios, was probably laughing all the way to the bank!)
So what will we see in these two 3-DVD/volume sets that warrants our acquiring them? The answer to that can be summarized in the following list:
* Excellently done colorful slip-cased box that flaunts the patented Syncro-Vox technology (this is the superimposing of actual human mouth/lip footage on a character's face); such flaunting is in keeping with the spirit of the CC cartoons, each of which lists the Syncro-Vox patent # (i.e., 2,739,505, just in case you're wondering) in the introduction
* All 52 episodes (each episode consists of five, 4-minute parts; you even get the introductions and conclusions to each such part; there were thus 260 total 5-minute segments, one for almost each week-day of the year)
* Excellent quality transfer of the color and images to the DVD format (perhaps most of us who only watched the series on black and white television during the 1960s will be surprised to find the rich and varied colors that the artists used in making the CC cartoons)
* Ten Bonus Features: Includes the history of the series, mini-biographies of the main characters, facts and trivia occuring during 1959 (the year of the cartoon's release), memorabilia comprised of items used to market the original series, a complete "Space Angel" episode (this was put out by Cambria studios after CC yet still uses the Syncro-Vox process; compared to CC,it is geared towards somewhat older kids), the secrets behind Syncro-Vox (this is especially well done, in a tongue in cheek [literally!] sort of way), 1959 movie trailers (includes those for "Anatomy of a Murder" and, get this, "Some Like it Hot"), politically incorrect segments from CC (a way of the producers letting us know that CC has many ethnic and cultural portrayals that are unacceptable by today's standards), the CC cartoon featured in Quentin Tarantino's film "Pulp Fiction", and a complete episode of "Captain Fathom" (the other Syncro-Vox employing cartoon made by the producers after after CC; this cartoon is more geared towards slightly older kids)
* A nostalgic tour-de-force
* An exposure to a wide range of absolutely classic aircraft; this is a major selling point of CC (especially for aviation buffs like me)! Amidst all of the goofiness of the characters and events portrayed in this cartoon, it seems that the writers and producers must have been huge aviation fans (perhaps even pilots). Indeed, they take many opportunities to showcase vintage aircraft (even for 1959) throughout the series. Some of the planes to be seen are as follows:
1. Bellanca C-27 Airbus (called the "flying W" because of its unusual strut/lower wing configuration); this is the title character's main airplane and thus gets him and his pals to many of their destinations; it is a rare craft indeed as only a little bit more than 20 were produced from 1929 through the 1930s; there is one plane still surviving at the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon (website: www.tillamookair.com)
2. Eastern Airlines Lockheed Super Constellation (accurate down to the thimble-shaped nose and the square windows seen on interior shots!); seen in the first episode, "The Friendly Headhunters"
3. Sikorsky S-38 Flying Boat
4. Norduyn Norseman Sea Plane (Clutch flies this plane in an Alaksa-based episode)
5. Dehavilland Beaver Sea Plane (a villain flies this plane against Clutch in the Alaska episode referred to above)
6. Boeing B-17 (used by Middle Eastern oil merchants to pour ignited oil on Clutch and company... clearly politically incorrect, but such were the times back then)
7. Gee Bee R-1 Super Sportster; same plane flown by Jimmy Doolittle to win the 1932 Thompson trophy race; a black-masked villain flies the plain against Clutch and others
8. early (around 1907 or so) Curtiss Pusher
9. Travelair Biplane
11. 4-ducted fan hovercraft
12. F9F Panther
There are numerous other aircraft, including many jets, that are featured as well. It can be affirmed with confidence that the aviation enthusiast will not be displeased with the profuse use of aircraft in this cartoon series.
It should be mentioned that part of the fun of watching CC as an adult is seeing how the producers attained animation, often in crude ways. For example, the bottom portions of bodies are often unseen. Movement is shown by having the characters bob or slide along as the scenery behind remains stationary. In an Africa-based episode, some four or so elephants are seen (from their knees up to their heads) juxtaposed in the foreground. Slightly behind and above this image is that of elephant tails, trunks, and backs. Behind this is the background. The two elephant images are made to move up and down against the still background as the camera zooms in, thus creating the crude illusion that the elephants are charging.
The point should be made that when the CC artists needed to do traditional animation to achieve an effect, they were certainly capable of it. A notable example occurs in episode # 10, "The Lost Plateau". Here, Clutch and his pals visit (via the Bellanca C-27) a 6000 foot high South American plateau where prehistoric organisms reside. The producers must have taken this episode very seriously because the Brontosaurus is shown to simultaneously move its feet, head, neck, and tail to pick up the character Spinner. It isn't the Warner Brother's or Disney 18 frames/second, but in the context of the otherwise minimal animation of a CC cartoon, this more-traditionally animated scene really jumps out at you. Later in this cartoon, we see a 2-second segment in which two Tyrannosaurs attack one another. The two beasts are depicted as still images that are simply moved side to side. But it sort of works in the short duration of this scene.
I have one question about this series. I do recall, after almost 40 years, having seen an episode of CC in which Clutch and his pals are made to crash, via a villain's doings, in their plane (which, in that episode, was a Gee Bee R-1 Super Sportster... I think). Clutch modifies the plane into a sort of helicopter type contraption and then uses it to pursue the villains. This episode is not among the 52 in this set. In addition, there are a few other scenes and/or episodes I recall that are not found in this set. Where, for example, is the episode that features the older gentleman (a professor?... it had been many years) who is obsessed with whooping cranes? I therefore question whether this set truly contains all of the episodes. Perhaps someone can comment further on this.
Considered historically, the entire CC series, along with the likes of "Colonel Bleep", "Spunky and Tadpole", "Crusader Rabbit", and various other made-for-early-television cartoons, show what could be done on a limited budget (which translates into limited animation). Viewed in that light, CC is historically very representitive of the times in which it was conceived. We are therefore fortunate to have these two new DVD sets that document both the CC cartoon series and the times in which it was made.
Brings back memories
joseph Corey | Raleigh, NC United States | 03/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I really loved this show when it appeared on the Higgins Boys and Gruber. It's truly limited animation meets a limitless sense of adventure.
Here's what's on this first set
DISC 1 (single-sided)
The Friendly Head Hunters
The Arctic Bird Giant
The Desert Queen
The Pearl Pirates
The Vanishing Gold
BONUS: The Story of Clutch Cargo - provides detailed information chronicling the history and success of this innovative cartoon series.
DISC 2 - Side A
The Race Car Mystery
The Rocket Riot
Mystery in the Northwoods
Twaddle in Africa
The Lost Plateau
BONUS: Clutch & Company - mini-biographies and details of the cast of characters from Clutch Cargo.
DISC 2 - Side B
The Ghost Ship
The Missing Train
The Devil Bird
Pipeline to Danger
BONUS: 1959 Facts and Trivia - some fun and informative trivia information from the year of Clutch's premier, 1959.
DISC 3 - Side A
Operation Moon Beam
The Haunted Castle
BONUS: Clutch Memorabilia - a slideshow of the creative and innovative marketing behind the Clutch Cargo series.
DISC 3 - Side B
The Midget Submarine
BONUS: SPACE ANGEL episode "The Ghost and Crystal Mace" (Space Angel is another cartoon series, created by Cambria Productions, which utilizes the patented Syncro-Vox technology).
OLDIES ! classic animation rocks with memories
W. Monroe | 03/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw clutch cargo on WGN ( I was 5yrs. old ) 3 - 4 years later I watched others made by the same outfit ( space angel and captain fanthom ) and I enjoyed watching them all through the years ( space angel on WFLD now fox 32 in the late 60's early 70's ) both channels, good shows all three of them. it's a piece of tv history I would give this a rating of 9.5 although it was made in the 50's it endrued into the the early 70's not seen at all now unless you find a dvd or two in a dollar store