Entertaining and revealing...
ewomack | MN USA | 02/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard to know exactly what to say about these cartoons. As far as the animation goes, it's excellent. The cartoon "Bosko the Doughboy" has some incredible and almost breathtaking scenes in it. All the toons have a look similar to the black and white Betty Boop cartoons. Compared with cartoons today, they're amazingly detailed and the characters are full of life each time they move. A lot of work used to go into the production of cartoons (pre Hanna-Barbera), which is obvious from this DVD.In addition, these were the first "Looney Toons" made by Warner Brothers. Bosko is the first character to have said "That's all folks!" at the end of a Looney Tune (Porky Pig took his place later). These cartoons plant some seeds for what would become the classic 40's Looney Tunes with Bugs Bunny and Daffy, et al. As the precursor to these classic toons, Bosko is important.On the other hand, these are definitely cartoons from the 1930s. Musicals were HUGE then, and these cartoons are mostly musical in content. Of course, so were a lot of the early Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop cartoons. That was entertainment then. Nonetheless, the animation carries a lot of the show even today. They are still entertaining in their own way. If you enjoy music from the 20s and 30s (including the usual ubiquitous Jolson hits) then you'll be doubly happy.Then there's the biggest reason we can tell they're from the 1930s: ethnic caricatures. In the first toon, "Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid", Bosko's voice is without doubt a caricature of an African-American boy. Then there's the undeniable fact, while watching "Congo Jazz", that the playful monkeys and apes have a striking resemblance to Bosko. Bosko's girlfriend is also without doubt a caricature (she also shares a lot of the characteristics of Minnie Mouse). The stereotypes of the age are painfully obvious in these toons, as they are in all toons from this era (the Betty Boop toon with Louis Armstrong, "I'll be Glad When you're Dead you Rascal You!", is painful to watch, and nothing on this DVD approaches that; as far as negative portrayal of African-Americans in movies and cartoons goes, it gets a LOT worse than Bosko). It's easy to condemn the makers of these toons today, but it's more productive to learn from rather than censor them. It's art like this that really shows how things have changed in the last 100 years (not that the struggles are complete, mind you).The quality of the toons on this DVD varies from toon to toon. The audio is typically low and sometimes a little muffled. The images sometimes bleed into the background, but overall the quality is more than viewable. There's nothing completely unwatchable.The only complaint is probably not attributable to Bosko Video. Since the titles feature Porky Pig and Daffy Duck, who Bosko outdated by years, these obviously are not the original title sequences. It would be great to see the Bosko cartoons restored with their original titles, but this may be easier said than done. It's possible that the original titles are long gone.The Bosko cartoons on this DVD are important culturally and historically. They reveal the biases of their age and are also entertaining as cartoons or as lessons in the art of animation. If you enjoy black and white animation from this period you'll enjoy this DVD."
For Animation Historians Only
howardj15 | 12/06/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This compilation of cartoons isn't going to appeal to everyone. In the early 30's, sound was still a novelty for animation, so most of these pictures could be considered musical novelties. "The Talk-ink Kid" was the pilot film Harman and Ising used to sell the series to Leon Schlesinger, and may be one of the earliest cartoons to synchronize the images to actual speech, which is of historical interest. Harman and Ising then proceeded to make Bosko seem as much like Mickey Mouse as possible (although he tends to look more like a blackface caricature, and even spoke in such a voice in "The Talk-ink Kid and "Sinkin' in the Bathtub"). If you can put them into their proper historical perspective, Bosko's cartoons are entertaining, yet derivative. As for their appeal to today's audiences, I doubt many people would make it to the end of this collection. It should also be noted that since these are public domain prints of these shorts, the picture and sound quality is not very good."
The first Looney Tunes star who refuses to be forgotten!
Lee David Glover | Plymouth, Devon United Kingdom | 07/27/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The very first Warner Brothers cartoon star has finally arrived, straight to DVD. This makes this the first "Looney Tunes" DVD, although unofficially. Although we are still waiting for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to get their own DVDs, at least we can see how it all started.
The DVD starts with a unique find: the pilot film that was made to showcase Bosko as an all-talking cartoon star and to attract distribution from movie studios. It is a short live action/animated film, co-starring Bosko's co-creator Rudolph Ising. The audio quality is VERY primitive (it was made in 1929, 2 years after talking pictures were born!), with Bosko sounding different to his latter Mickey Mouse-type voice!
The first official cartoon, Sinkin' In The Bathtub, is also included. The cartoon has a lack of a story, but is very musical (so it should be, as sound was a novelty back then!) and very Disney-esque! This was to be the trend for the forthcoming Bosko cartoons, although all of the cartoons are enjoyable.
The DVD only ranks four stars in my opinion, as the cartoons are from the public domain, with lots of grain and print damage (although they are still watchable), with the beginning and end titles being replaced to hide the Warner Brothers logo (Warner did sell them off in the 1950's, but regained them in the late 1960's). To be fair, Bosko Video is providing a service to fans of classic american animation, and the chances of Warner Brothers releasing a DVD of pristine Bosko cartoons are virtually non-existant. This is the best we are ever going to get, and it's still an essential purchase for animation addicts everywhere!"
A FORGOTTEN CHARACTER OF ANIMATION
Tim Janson | Michigan | 12/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before Bugs and Daffy there was Bosko. Not sure if uncensored is completely accurate. While many of the toons do have their racial caricatures, there certainly not as offensive as many other cartoons from the same period. As noted by another reviewer, many of these are musicals since that kind of went along hand-in-hand with early animation.
Still, there's no denying the quality and depth of detail in the animation. There were no short cuts taken back then to do them on the cheap as they would a couple of decades later. I found the quality to be average. I think little if any restoration was done on them for the DVD release which is hardly surprising considering the content. It's not "Gone with the Wind" you know.
Highlights of the set include:
"Bosko's Fox Hunt" - This is another fox hunt which comes complete with singing horses and aristocrats who are too fat to mount their steeds under their own power. A dachschund tracks down its own rear end. Bosko pulls on a tail that he thinks belongs to a fox, but which turns out to be something a little more intimidating. Let it be said that the fox is pretty safe with this group!
"Dumb Patrol" - In this deft parody of the World War I aviation movies that were the rage in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Bosko is an ace flyer who goes into battle against a menacing foe.
"Hold Anything" - Bosko and Honey are joined by a zooful of animals who are having too much fun to get any work done on a construction site. A goat's transformation into a hot-air balloon is a surreal highlight.
"Bosko the Doughboy" - It is World War I. Rockets, bombs and bullets are everywhere. A bird gets shot, leaving a huge hole -- saluting as it falls into a pool of water. An army band is hit, leaving several soldiers in their underwear. Bosko is a toughened soldier in battle who cannot eat beans without being harassed by the enemy's bombs. Bosko is bored with the war until the enemy shoots his photo of Honey -- and that is the last straw! Bosko vows to get even -- but it is not that easy. He goes into action with violent results.
While this is a strong collection I frankly find it a bit pricey at over $20 for 90 minutes."