Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If I Created the Disney Treasures . . .

With the recent announcement of this year's wave of Disney Treasures DVDs, I thought I would revisit my own wish list of future Treasure sets and also expand on it as well. In a post from January of 2007, I outlined three potential collections; none have yet to be realized and they remain at the top of my request list. For readers of that prior post, please forgive my redundancy in repeating the details of those particular items.

One of the true lost treasures of Disney’s laserdisc era is the Exclusive Archives Collection of The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos. 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 be perfect a Treasures 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. Unfortunately, the recent mainstream release of the Caballeros Collection DVD makes a Treasures release unlikely any time in the near future.

I continue to advocate for the release of what is 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, was released as part of last year's Treasures entry Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic.

I am a huge fan of the Disneyland-themed Treasures sets, but I feel it's time the focus shifted a bit to the east. An examination of both the concepts and realization of EPCOT would be a wonderful place to start. 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.

Among the darkest moments in the history of Walt Disney Home Entertainment were the releases of Make Mine Music and Melody Time. During the company's pre-Treasures era, its primary focus was pleasing the soccer-mom demographic, resulting in some of the most outrageous and unnecessary censorship ever visited upon classic Disney animation. An entire segment, The Martins and the Coys, was removed from Make Mine Music, and the Pecos Bill sequence in Melody Time was clumsily re-edited and digitally altered to remove cigarette smoking references. A Disney Treasures restoration of these two films would go a long way to righting those earlier wrongs. There is no doubt an abundance of material residing in the archives to provide for supplemental features, especially relating to such notable segments as Peter and the Wolf, The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met, Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill. A feature profiling the various popular music personalities who participated in the films--among them the Andrews Sisters, Roy Rogers, Jerry Colonna, Nelson Eddy, Dinah Shore and Dennis Day--would also be a welcome addition. And throw in the 1954 sequel to Casey at the Bat, Casey Bats Again, for good measure.

If the Treasures series can bring us such notable Disney television-based characters as Davy Crockett, the Swamp Fox and the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, why for heavens sake not Ludwig Von Drake. He is one the studio's most entertaining personalities yet has long been terribly underrepresented on video and DVD. In his first appearance on September 24, 1961, he, along with Walt Disney, introduced Disney television programing to color, and would go on to be the shows premiere animated character during the 1960s. In addition to that first episode, An Adventure in Color/Mathmagic Land, the set could include other Von Drake tour de forces such as Carnival Time, Fly With Von Drake, Inside Outer Space, Von Drake in Spain and The Hunting Instinct. An extended profile of Von Drake's alter ego, veteran voice artist Paul Frees, would make a great supplemental feature.

Explore the 2719 Hyperion Archives:

Caxanga!
Melody Time

32 comments:

Cory Gross said...

I would add to your list a collection of all the Ranger Woodlore and Humphrey the Bear cartoons and TV specials. Most of the individual shorts have been released on either the Treasures Donald Duck or Rarities sets, but not together and not with the Ranger of Brownstone or the nature specials.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the South of the Border and Walt Disney's EPCOT one. Awesome ideas!!!

Patrick Malone said...

I like the idea of the Melody Time / Make Mine Music set. I remember back when we did the petition right after they first came out and I can't help but feel that maybe that was responsible in maybe just a little way for the restored Treasures that we've seen already. But it still vexes me that these two overlooked classics still haven't been released completely uncut.

Zach said...

Great ideas!

I highly doubt EPCOT would ever see the light of day because it is too recent, the other are certainly possible though, and would be welcome additions. After sadly canning the vault disney programming, it has been wonderful seeing preservation style releases.

Honor Hunter said...

Great post, Jeff...

I'd love to see those Treasures too. They'd be, well, a treasure. Keep it up.

Luke Manning said...

I'd love to see the Epcot disk most out of all of those, but I also think it's the least likely one to happen, as all previous Treasures & likely the idea of them is to cover what happened at the Disney Studio while Walt was alive. However I don't see why they couldn't branch away from that.

bfirrera said...

What, no Song of the South?

Jeff Pepper said...

bfirrera--

Though its animated segments were well realized and James Baskett was charming and endearing as Uncle Remus, SOTS was overall a very mediocre film and did not reflect Walt Disney at his best.

The push for it to be released as a Disney Treasure is not based on merit nor quality. A Treasures release is simply the only possible way from a public relations standpoint to release the movie on DVD, as it would come conveniently wrapped up in Leonard Maltin disclaimers.

I own a copy of an overseas edition of the film that I rarely if ever watch. A Treasures edition of SOTS would do very little to renew my interest.

I wrote a post last year that dealt very specifically with SOTS. Check it out if you get a chance--

http://www.2719hyperion.com/2007/04/
song-of-south-slightly-different.html

Anonymous said...

I'd buy all of those.

The South American set could also include Ted Thomas' new documentary on the trip that started it all "Walt and El Grupo", in the same way that Leslie Iwerks' film about her grandfather was included in the Oswald set.

Bjorn Aarhus said...

Hi,

Great suggestions - I'd buy them all. But what about adding a box about how WDW was planned & build and footage from the early years of WDW?

J.C. Loophole said...

I would love to see these- especially the Ludwig Von Drake set. And as long as we are dreaming, what I would really like to see is a Jiminy Cricket Set with all of the educational shorts like the "I'm No Fool" series!
Mr. Maltin- hope you are reading this post and comments!

Ivonne R. said...

Oh man! For a minute I thought they were actually going to release a Disney Treasures Epcot DVD. Stop toying with my emotions!

Gator Chris said...

Hi Jeff,

Great post.
I'd buy all of them, but I would especially love to see the EPCOT Center set and the Ludwig von Drake set.

Keep up the great work.

Anthony F said...

Jeff, I like your picks as well, but I do agree with some of the other commenters that SOTS should be added somewhere. I read your original blog post about the movie, and agree with most of your arguments. In the end, I would like to see it and make my own judgment, instead of having someone do it for me (censorship!). I do agree that releasing it in a Treasures set, while not it may not warrant such status, is the only way to release it without the company getting crucified. The Treasures are obviously targeted at film aficionados which should provide some buffer from raging soccer moms.

I'd love to see an Epcot disk, too. Or better yet, how about just an overall attraction graveyard DVD?

Acme Girl said...

Those are nifty ideas. Allow me to add one of my own: The Complete Goofy Volume Two! I thought of this the other night. It includes what the first volume missed and then some:
"How to Ride a Horse", a segment from 1941's "The Reluctant Dragon" which was later released as a stand-alone in 1950
"El Gaucho Goofy", a segment from "Saludos Amigos" first released in Brazil in 1942 before coming to U.S. shores a year later
"The Goofy Success Story", a "Disneyland" episode originally aired in 1955, but can be shown in color since its reairing (This was a bonus feature on "A Goofy Movie" Gold Collection DVD)
"Goofy's Cavalcade of Sports", a "Disneyland" episode originally aired in 1956, but can be shown in color since its reairing
"The Goofy Adventure Story", a "Disneyland" episode originally aired in 1957, but can be shown in color since its reairing
"Freewayphobia" released in 1965
"Goofy's Freeway Troubles" also released in 1965
"Sports Goofy in Soccermania" aired in 1986
and the most current Goofy short, 2007's "How to Hook Up Your Home Theater"
That's basically the content of the 2-disc set, but the bonus features could be separate interviews with April Winchell, voice of Peg from "Goof Troop" as well as the current voice of Clarabelle Cow and daughter of the late Paul Winchell, and Jason Marsden, current voice of Goofy's son, Max, since "A Goofy Movie". And "El Gaucho Goofy" could be among the bonus features complete and uncut, meaning the cigarette is kept in here. I can only hope that Disney would pick up on the idea of a volume two to "The Complete Goofy".

acroyear70 said...

Well, the missing Goofy cartoons I didn't know about.

For the heck of it, I would have the EPCOT set include (as an extra) the CBS grand opening show with Danny Kaye (I think excerpts of it from 3rd generation tapes are bouncing around YouTube).

The People and Places set would have been a good follow-on to the Disney Legacy series, had that gone on after the True Life Adventures, since it fits that material more. I don't see the demand for it, but then again, I didn't see the demand for a lot of the Mickey Mouse Club material they're putting out already so there you go.

On the other hand, I continue to wait for Donald in Mathemagicland and Donald and the Wheel, which seem to be taking their sweet time coming out...

Eric said...

Wow, all excellent ideas Jeff! They really should use your suggestions and release them. You've even created artwork for them! ;)

I will echo others and say that I would love to see Epcot and Ludwig von Drake.

matt lowe said...

Great post (and artwork, as usual) Jeff! I too would love to add these to my collection. I would also add "WDW - The Attraction Films" to the list. This could be a 2 disc set (broken up into multiple volumes) featuring the many films shown throughout the years at the various WDW park attractions. Another feature could be "Disney at the 1964 World's Fair" and would include ride-throughs. Great post! Thanks for allowing us to dream!

Randall said...

In the 1960s and 1970s, Jiminy Cricket appeared in two series of educational films aimed at grade-school-aged audiences. In the "I'm No Fool" series, he advised children how to steer clear of dangerous traffic, sharp objects, strangers, exposed electrical lines, and so forth. In each short, he sang the refrain:

I'm no fool, no sirree!
I'm gonna live to be 33 (then 43, 53, etc., up to 103)
I play safe for you and me
'Cause I'm no fool!

The other series was called "You", which teaches about the human body with the refrain "You are a human animal...".

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see those as a Disney Treasures DVD

Anonymous said...

FYI, Donald in Mathemagicland is available from the Disney Mvoie Club.

Anonymous said...

I'd Love the Ludwig set, and the Epcot set. I'd really love to see a set of the opening of walt Disney World, including the opening specials, in their awesome 1970s greatness.

Thad said...

>>>was overall a very mediocre film and did not reflect Walt Disney at his best.<<<

And Swamp Fox and Spin & Marty do? :-D

Jeff Pepper said...

I will without shame admit a soft spot for Spin and Marty and any other Mickey Mouse Club related sets, including the upcoming Annette. There is a pure nostalgia to them that transcends whatever shortcomings could be reasonably debated.

But, I do agree; I was generally disappointed that the Swamp Fox was given a prime release spot at the expense of so many other more desirable candidates, especially when it was necessary to pad out the set with Elfego Baca.

Thad said...

I agree SOTS is a fairly mediocre film, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be given Treasures treatment.

In your opinion, would ALICE IN WONDERLAND warrant the Disney Treasures treatment with all of the extras? The laser of that was just about the greatest release of any film in home video history.

Jeff Pepper said...

Thad--

You seem to be provoking an unnecessary argument. I wouldn't be against a SOTS release on the Treasures brand; I essentially made that statement in the post I linked back to.

My comments here were in response to biferrer's questioning of why I didn't include SOTS on my wishlist. My list is simply a reflection of my own personal and subjective tastes.

And I agree again. The Alice laser set was truly a masterpiece and would make a great Treasures set. But I'm not quite sure what that has to do with the SOTS debate.

PaulBunyan said...

I'd especially like the Melody and Music set. And "Goofy takes a Holiday" (first aired in 1961 as "Holiday for Henpecked Husbands") should be on any Goofy volume 2. Swamp Fox did not need to be padded, half the Swamp Fox episodes were not inculded. Efago Baca was similarly incomplete and so far Texas John Slughter has been skipped completely.

Fidel Santiago said...

OMG...YES!!! So glad somebody thought about the Ludwig Von Drake! I'm not sure why they haven't done one already, to be honest...the character was use to introduce the advent of color television programming, for God's sake! South of the Border and Music and Melody would be awesome, but Disney won't do it. I would also add one with the EDUCATIONAL SHORTS...I've been craving for Scrooge McDuck and Money for a long time, not to mention Captain Eo could be included in the Epcot release. We can only dream...

Fidel Santiago said...

BY THE WAY...the people wondering about Donald in Mathmagic Land...it WILL be included in November's Treasures release of the Chronological Donald Volume 4.

KINGCRAB said...

Nice suggestions.

But I have a couple of other ideas, too, such as:

Disney Rarities, Volume 2:
-A follow-up to 2005's Disney Rarities set, including every remaining "one-shot" Disney animated short or featurette that did not get released in the previous volume or in any other WDT sets (Susie the Little Blue Coupe, Chip & Dale's 3 starring shorts, Freewayphobia, Goofy's Freeway Troubles, etc.) and maybe even some rarely-seen post-Walt shorts/features (It's Tough to Be a Bird, Dad Can I Borrow the Car?, The Small One, Mickey Mouse Disco, Once Upon a Mouse, Oilspot & Lipstick, Off His Rockers, Bonkers in "Petal to the Metal", How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, etc.).

The Mouse Factory:
-This was a delightful (if somewhat oddball-ish) Ward Kimball-created TV series from the early 1970's that is rarely seen or talked about. I think that the Treasures line would be a perfect outlet for this series to be released, but of course it would have to cover several volumes (a la Mickey in Black & White, Mickey in Living Color, Chronological Donald, etc.)

Walt Disney World:
-Similar to the Disneyland USA set, this set could feature past WDW specials from the 1970s and early 1980s (ie WDW's Grand Opening, Mouseketeers at WDW, Epcot's Grand Opening, etc.) and for bonus features, they could include some of the rare theatrical WDW documentary films from the 70s and early 80s (The Magic of WDW, Follow Us to WDW, etc.).

DaVon Walker said...

I agree that it would be much better and do good for everybody if we were to have both Make Mine Music and Melody Time together on a Walt Disney Treasures set uncut. I still have the former (Gold Collection) and the latter (Masterpiece Collection) on VHS. Also, I agree that a full-length feature film like Song of the South doesn't and shouldn't become a part of this series of Disney DVD sets (although despite the controversy involved, I think it still deserves to see the light of day on some other format/future Disney DVD edition), but since few of the Disney animated features consisted of compilations of shorts during and post-WWII, I'd make exceptions in this case as they could be though. Regardless of the Disney company's routines, I'd hope and like to think those who work there will actually wise up and do so with the next wave of releases shown here anyway. But the one I'd look forward to the most is Ludwig Von Drake as he's always been one of my favorite Disney characters and I've never seen the Wonderful World of Color except for portions of the episodes An Adventure in Color and Music For Everybody on Youtube (due to it being before my time). Most of everything about EPCOT I haven't seen nor the People and Places show as well. I read a thread on a forum at Toonzone that a WDT set with Ludwig is a possible candidate for the upcoming 9th wave recently. The other WDTs here seem like great additions to the series. Here's to hoping that Disney will unleash the four others anyway, especially since I seen and own The Three Cabarellos VHS (Masterpiece Collection), but not Saludos Amigos (although I know there's a compilation DVD of both movies out now, however, WDT set seems/sounds more interesting with extras/bonus features and all). One more thing: If some people are so worried about certain content like the cigarette/smoking scenes in the Pecos Bill segment of Melody Time being a bad influence on kids and the possibility of them imitating it, then they should explain to them why they shouldn't copy/do some things that they see and warn them not to try it at home (or anywhere else for that matter). I believe, simple as that, that's all the parents really would have to do to clear up things.

Dave said...

All of your ideas are great, and I agree with them all. Thanks for this blog.

Dave

Klark Kent 007 said...

If only this would happen!