Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Disney Treasures - Wishful Thinking

Similar to Mark Twain’s famous 1907 statement “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” it would appear the same may possibly hold true for the Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets. A recent report on The Digital Bits website indicated that BVHE claims the series is still alive and well, with future waves still penciled in on their release calendar. Dead or alive? I guess only time, and future press releases will tell.

Wade Sampson on MousePlanet recently published his own wish list for future Treasures volumes, and in a similar spirit of Pollyana thinking and Tinker Bell hand-clapping, I would like to present a few suggestions of my own.

One of the true lost treasures of Disney’s laserdisc era is the Exclusive Archives Collection of The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos. The set, along with MGM’s enormous Compleat Tex Avery compilation, are the two main reasons I still own, and meticulously care for, my decade-old Pioneer laserdisc player.

Laserdisc special editions were the real precursors to whole “special features” DVD phenomenon, and the Caballeros/Amigos set was a shining example of the best that format could produce. Beyond the films themselves, the set was filled with an overabundance of supplemental material that would make perfect contents for a Treasures or Legacy DVD. The documentary South of the Border With Disney, screen tests, radio broadcasts, storyboards, concept art, and publicity materials, are among its many highlights. But the real gems of the collection are reconstructions of two abandoned short subjects: “A Brazilian Symphony: Caxanga,” and “The Laughing Gauchito.”

Marry this material with a complete set of the studio’s “south of the border” themed shorts, such as Clown of the Jungle, Pueblo Pluto, Pluto and the Armadillo, The Pelican an the Snipe, and Contrary Condor, and even throw in the Blame It on the Samba sequence from Melody Time for good measure. Then add a healthy dose of Disney’s Latin American public service films, such as the long unseen The Amazon Awakes and the Careless Charlie series, and you have the makings of a terrific Treasures product.

My next candidate for a Treasures/Legacy release would be a mostly forgotten chapter in the Studio’s history: the People and Places series of documentary short subjects. Similar in style and format to the True-Life Adventures, these travelogues employed many of the same talented individuals and earned a number of Oscar accolades as well. People and Places began with The Alaskan Eskimo in 1953 and concluded in 1960 with the films Japan and The Danube. Studio and animation veteran Ben Sharpteen directed nearly all of the titles in the series. The most famous entry, Disneyland USA, directed by Hamilton Luske, was filmed in Cinemascope, and would today provide an amazing time capsule-view of the park in 1956.

Unlikely to ever be realized, but my own personal fanboy wish would be a Treasures set devoted to EPCOT Center. Starting with the original EPCOT film that appeared on the Treasures Tomorrowland title, the set could also include the various souvenir videos, and also many of the now long gone attraction films. It would be great to again be able to see items such as the Earth Station film, Symbiosis, The Water Engine from World of Motion, and the various original Energy films, including some type of recreation of the now famous Emil Radok designed Energy: You Make the World Go Round. Other great pieces of obscure EPCOT: the Choose Your Ending sequences from Horizons; the original Seas introductory film, the two animated vignettes also from the Living Seas--The Animated Atlas of the World and Suited for the Sea; and the animated educational short Harold and His Amazing Green Plants, that featured characters from Kitchen Kaberet. Highlights from the numerous EPCOT Educational Media films, and clips from The Disney Channel’s EPCOT Magazine program would also be great inclusions.

All in all, it would make a pretty good tie-in to Epcot’s 25th Anniversary later this year.

Beyond my suggestions, let’s hope that upcoming waves will at the very least complete the Donald Duck and Rarities collections. After that, it’s all just wishful thinking.

5 comments:

Klark Kent 007 said...

I, for one, would love to see a more complete Disneyland television series collection (including the Wonderful World of Disney, The Wonderful World of Color, & Walt Disney Presents)

My personal favorite character is Ludwig Von Drake, and his interaction with Walt would be wonderful to see. I am not sure if NBC is the reason this is curretly unavailable.

More Treasures, more often is my motto!

Richard Harrison said...

I'd love to see an Epcot release, too.

Ed South said...

Films/Videos played such a vital role in the early days of EPCOT. There were lots of great little videos in Spaceship Earth's Global Neighborhood and Communicore.

I think your idea for a EPCOT release is brilliant. It would at least be a no-brainer to produce and sell at EPCOT gift shops!

BJ said...

Quoted straight from the post:

"One of the true lost treasures of Disney’s laserdisc era is the Exclusive Archives Collection of The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos. The set, along with MGM’s enormous Compleat Tex Avery compilation, are the two main reasons I still own, and meticulously care for, my decade-old Pioneer laserdisc player.

Laserdisc special editions were the real precursors to whole “special features” DVD phenomenon, and the Caballeros/Amigos set was a shining example of the best that format could produce. Beyond the films themselves, the set was filled with an overabundance of supplemental material that would make perfect contents for a Treasures or Legacy DVD. The documentary South of the Border With Disney, screen tests, radio broadcasts, storyboards, concept art, and publicity materials, are among its many highlights. But the real gems of the collection are reconstructions of two abandoned short subjects: “A Brazilian Symphony: Caxanga,” and “The Laughing Gauchito.”

Marry this material with a complete set of the studio’s “south of the border” themed shorts, such as Clown of the Jungle, Pueblo Pluto, Pluto and the Armadillo, The Pelican an the Snipe, and Contrary Condor, and even throw in the Blame It on the Samba sequence from Melody Time for good measure. Then add a healthy dose of Disney’s Latin American public service films, such as the long unseen The Amazon Awakes and the Careless Charlie series, and you have the makings of a terrific Treasures product."

Seriously Jeff, YOU ARE THE GREATEST!!! I'll even forward that comment on to Leonard Maltin and Dick Cook!

BJ

Recca Phoenix said...

I'm starting a petition soon to send to Disney for a special edition re-release of the two Latin America features, seeing as they're both out of print. I was forced to buy my copy of The Three Caballeros from a *less-than-par* source...

(I run a blog on Disney's Latin America features.)