Volume 1 of a celebration of the pioneering solo cartoon work of Ub Iwerks, Walt Disney's foremost animator/collaborator in the formative early years. The first fully animated color cartoon version of "Aladdin and the Wond... more »erful Lamp" (1934)...the legendary Flip the Frog in the slapstick masterpiece "The New Car" (1931)...the original cartoon adaptation of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," "The Headless Horseman" (1934)...the little-known animation star Willie Whopper in the surrealistic sci-fi classic "Stratos Fear" (1933)...and a famous "lost" film, a full-color cartoonization of "Don Quixote" (1934). These are just a few of the 58 cartoons captured on these two DVDs (available separately) of rediscovered masterworks from the very beginnings of the Golden Age of American Animation.« less
Lee David Glover | Plymouth, Devon United Kingdom | 01/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a collection of cartoons from the Ub Iwerks studio, created in 1930 soon after Iwerks left Disney, only for it to close in 1936, a couple of years after the loss of his MGM contract.
Iwerks's first cartoon creation was Flip the Frog. Flip was basically a Mickey Mouse-type character, a happy, dancing character with little personality. It came as no suprise when Flip was scrapped a few years later, but his cartoons are not really that bad, because all of his cartoons had musical scores written by the great Carl Stalling (who later enjoyed huge success with "Looney Tunes"), which helps to make the Flip cartoons quite enjoyable.
Iwerks next venture was Willie Whopper, a boy who would tell tall tales, such as how he can fly a plane, or saving his girlfriend from outlaws. He wasn't very successful either, and the series was perhaps the weakest of Iwerks's cartoons.
The last Iwerks cartoon series was the underrated "ComiColor" series. These cartoons were based on nursery rhymes and childern tales, with a lot of musical and dancing numbers, which seems to suggest that Iwerks was creating something a bit different rather than creating a carbon copy of Walt Disney's "Silly Symphonies", in which some studios tried to imitate. These were made in two-colour Cinecolor (as Walt Disney had the exclusive rights to use the 3-colour Technicolor process at the time), and were released independently due to MGM refusal to distribute them. The ComiColor series was not very successful too, which resulted in the closure of Iwerks's studio.
This DVD contains a whopping 32 cartoons on this DVD, from Iwerk's first cartoon "Fiddlesticks" (Flip the Frog in 2-colour Technicolor)to his last ComiColor cartoon "Happy Days".
The quality of these cartoons are generally better than any other Public Domain home video, with the ComiColor cartoons retaining their original titles. Some of the Flip the Frog cartoons have their original titles recreated, and the cartoons themselves are of near-pristine quality. Sadly, the Willie Whopper cartoons have seen better days, with most of his cartoons having a noisy picture and sound quality.
However, 32 ultra-rare cartoons in one DVD represents good value for money, and should not be ignored by fans of classic animation."
Historical collection, and quite interesting.
coasteray | 11/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Many of the other commentators of Volume 1 and Volume 2 have very nicely described the contents of these two collections. I'd like to just say that I found these cartoons to be very essential for anyone interested in the history of animation.
Flip the Frog comes across as another Mickey Mouse, Willie Whopper is somewhat interesting, while the Comicolor series is somewhat similar to Silly Symphonies. I'm not surprised at this since Ub worked at Disney, and is responsible for the early animation of Mickey Mouse and several Silly Symphonies.
I found the liner notes helpful in explaining the social context of these cartoons. Many are poking fun at the Hollywood stars of the day (Disney and Warner also have several of their own similar cartoons), others have relevant commentary about various conditions in our country at the time, and others are just interesting trips into the supernatural. Keep in mind that all these things have been pursued by Disney, Warner Brothers, etc., so there is nothing unusual here. There are plenty of sight gags and the usual exaggerations that early cartoons are especially known for.
Also, I think it would be fair to say that the characters and stories as a whole tend not to progressively develop over the short life of Ub's studio. If you treat all the cartoons simply as individual accomplishments, then it's not a big deal, but as a whole they don't really change much. This isn't necessarily a problem, just an observation.
It's kind of interesting to me that I always felt I was almost watching Disney cartoons, but at the same time there are definitely other edgier influences at work here. The fact that Ub's staff of animators largely came from the Fleischer studio, and included Betty Boop's creator, made the difference. Because of this, innuendo abounds in several of Flip's cartoons, produced from 1930-1933 (pre-Code era). One cartoon, "The Milkman" ends with Flip and the kid singing "Hail, Hail, the gang's all here", and the horse responds by singing "What the hell do we care?". The second time around, as the horse startes to sing the same response, Flip bashes him over the head with a milk bottle to stop him from using the "naughty" word. Holy cow!!! Can you imagine Disney doing this? In "The Office Boy", the sexual innuendos hit a high, especially with the secretary. I was laughing for being taken by surprise. I didn't expect this sort of content. Well, get ready for an interesting time. By the way, unless I'm mistaken, it seemed like Volume 2 was the one for the edgier cartoons. Willie Whopper's cartoons are not too bad, really. They are tall tales told by a kid. Lastly, the Comi-Color cartoons, though fairly delightful, never measure up to the quality of Disney's Silly symphonies. I'd have to say that they are probably the highest quality cartoons Ub produced.
Both DVD cases say that these cartoons are "now viewed for the first time on DVD in unfaded, pristine prints from the orginal negatives". I must protest! Many of these cartoons don't look or sound pristine at all, but are in many cases faded and dirty, with sound to match. It depends on the cartoons. Most of the Flip cartoons aren't so bad, the Willie Whopper ones are the worst of these two collections, and The Comi-Color cartoons all seem to have a softness about them (video and audio). I'd say that perhaps this is the best we can get our hands on, but, really, to say "unfaded, pristine prints" is just flat-out not the case. Overall, most of them are quite watchable, but just keep these observations in mind. I give both collections four stars due to the technical issues."
Some of Ub's best, some of Ub's worst
coasteray | 08/28/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This dvd has fantastic quality and the price is unbelievable! But sadly, some of the cartoons are not has good as Ub can get. The cartoons on this volume are:FIDDLESTICKS The very first Ub Iwerks cartoon, feuturing Flip the Frog. It's a lot like the Silly Symphony: The Skeleton Dance (that's high praise) especially where Flip chatters his teeth in front of the audience. One of the best cartoons on the disk.THE SOUP SONG Almost every Flip the Frog is great! There is only two I can think of that I don't like (one of which is on this DVD). This one is one of the worst, but I like it a lot anyway.THE LITTLE RED HEN Very good. It slightly differs from Disney's "The Wise Little Hen" the first cartoon with Donald Duck. THE VILLAGE SMITTY The best Ub Iwerks ever made! Flip's masterpiece!MARY'S LITTLE LAMB This is so stupid, it's funny! Mary and her lamb don't even walk! They just kind of stand there and the background moves! The only good gag on this was borrowed from the next cartoon. THE VILLAGE BARBER Another one of the best Ub Iwerks! It ends with a hilarious gag! (The one on Mary's Little Lamb) The dog sings so low the floor breaks, but he hits the note!OLD MOTHER HUBBARD This is OK, one of the better comicolor ones.HUMPTY DUMPTY It has a good plot and a good song, but the overall cartoon could have been better (the best part is where the villian egg cracks and a whole mess of skunks run out!)THE BREMTOWN MUSICIANS A classic. Except for the ending, but this one is also one of the best comicolor cartoons.SUMMERTIME This is average. It's not as good as the Iwerks classic "Jack Frost" but features the wonderfully drawn villain "FATHER WINTER" from Jack Frost.THE MUSIC LESSON Flip the Frog is now portrayed as a little kid but for some reason, not a tad pole. This has a cop in it like most of the Flip the Frog's though for some reason this disk only showed one of those. It represents the time. The depression.PUDDLE PRANKS One of the worst Flip the Frogs. Though his girlfriend looks more his type than his usual one! If only there were more Flip the Frogs on this collection and less Willie Whoppers and Comicolors. Funny Face and The Nurse Maid are some of the best!THE GOOD SCOUT Here's where it starts to go downhill. WILLIE WHOPPER steps into the picture and Flip steps out! HAPPY DAYS The last Ub Iwerks cartoon. One of his better ones too.TOM THUMB Absolute classic!!! This is only topped by THE VILLAGE SMITTY, JACK FROST and THE NURSE MAID!THE AIR RACE All I can say about this is it's BAD!INSULTIN' THE SULTAN Probably Willie Whoppers best appearance on this tape! Sadly, it's still not very good.SINBAD THE SAILOR Classic, but not half so good as Fleischer's: "Popeye the Sailor meets Sinbad the Sailor".RASSLIN' AROUND When Willie Whopper tells some guy a tall tale about how he beat the champ, with an annoying guy who keeps yelling "Geeve eet to heem Weelee!", the guy Willie is talking to is the champ!VIVA WILLIE This is the last Willie Whopper on the disk. Whew!DON QUIXOTE This is a lot like a Willie Whopper, but much better than any Willie Whopper I've seen!ALLADIN AND HIS WONDERFUL LAMP Very good, but it could have ended a lot better!JACK AND THE BEANSTALK This is only notable for being the first Comicolor cartoon! All it is is a glimpse reminder of classics like "Mickey and the Beanstalk" and "Beanstalk Bunny"!THE BRAVE TIN SOLDIER A tin soldier with only one leg likes this girl. Everybody makes fun of the poor soldier for having one leg. Finally the King sees his girl and tries to kiss her. The tin soldier beats the king so the king order that he be excecuted (Who picked the Groucho Marx Jack-in-the-box to be the judge?) but the girl stands in front of him like Pocahauntas (excuse my spelling) but that doesn't seem to stop them from shooting their little guns at them! Of all things the thing you would least expect is the thing that happens. Instead of something stupid like normally would happen on the cartoons (a tornado comes for instance, the soldier saves them and they love him forever more) they fall in the fire and burn! They go to Toy Heaven where the soldier has TWO legs and they live happily ever after!PUSS IN BOOTS Stupid, stupid and stupid.LITTLE BOY BLUE Interesting. That's about all you can say about it. Except the scarecrow is very neat (not as neat as the one in "JACK FROST".)THE QUEEN OF HEARTS The same as Puss and Boots: Stupid, stupid and stupid. I liked the ending though!SIMPLE SIMON One of the best Fairy Tale or Mother Goose imitation. Simple Simon sounds like Goofy and acts like him too.THE VALIANT TAILOR One of the best Ub Iwerks cartoons. Not the very best or anything, but probably top 10!THE THREE BEARS It's very boring. That's the best I can say about it!DICK WHITTINGTON'S CAT I like the drawings. That's about it."
Steven A. Bibb | New York, NY | 06/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's about time that a company focused its attention on Ub Iwerks. The Cartoons That Time Forgot, are literally just that, cartoons that have not seen the light of day from the time they were made. Ub Iwerks got his start working for Walt Disney, and animated the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons as well as some of the early Silly Symphonies.These cartoons clearly show some influences from the Disney studios, some characters look amazingly Mickey Mouseish, and many have the same charm of the Disney shorts. These cartoons are a good introduction to some cartoon characters that never quite caught on, like Flip the Frog and Willie Whopper (who?).If you are a vintage animation lover, then this DVD belongs in your library!"
Excellent work from the Thirties
Steven A. Bibb | 11/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This (and the companion volume 2 disc) constitute a fairly significant collection of high quality work from the Thirties. Ub Iwerks worked for Disney and initially developed the Mickey Mouse character before taking off to launch his own studio in 1930. Ub Iwerks spent much effort developing and promoting his own character Flip the Frog but it lacked the presence that Mickey Mouse had and as a result never quite caught on with the public. Much more interesting than Flip, however, are the many other cartoons on this disc (many in color) which are retellings of nursery rhymes or fairy tales. In many cases Ub Iwerks takes license and really becomes inventive stretching the stories and the characters: Humpty Dumpty, Sinbad the Sailor, and Puss in Boots are a few examples.Importantly, the majority of musical scores on these tracks are by Carl Stalling (of later fame with Warner Brothers Looney Tunes) whom Ub Iwerks was able to recruit. There are many examples of using music as more than a backdrop for visual storytelling and Stalling produced many scores which merged with and even led the visual action itself. Not that this is unusual by today's standards but it was probably an innovation of sorts at the time when these were produced.There is much to write about here but better that you should simply buy the disc(s) and see for yourself. Ub Iwerks created a large body of highly original work which does not fall easily into the style categories occupied by Fleischer Studios, Van Buren Studios, or even Disney. Some of his subject matter (e.g. Spooks, Masquerade Holiday, Balloon Land, et al. on volume 2) border on the bizzare.. but inventively so and always visually stimulating. Cartoons such as Summertime or Jack Frost capture a spirit of the Thirties which is fresh and delightful. Above all, Ub Iwerks' work is original, inventive, and not always in the mainstream. Because of this, it has a curious appeal that often goes beyond the straightforward humor or diversion that other studios were providing at the time.I recommend both volumes of the set. These cartoons are entertaining, fairly humorous, and provide a window into the past. Image Entertainment has provided a good set of discs that document an important visual history. I hope they release more such discs which give us access to quality animation from the Thirties."