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The
Van Beuren Studio
Animated Shorts

(1929-1933)

 

Contents: Presto Chango (1929), Custard Pies (1929), The Jungle Fool (1929), The Barnyard Melody (1929), A Close Call (1929), Noah Knew His Ark (1930), A Romeo Robin (1930), The Iron Man (1931), Play Ball (1931), Cowboy Cabaret (1931), Summertime (1931), The Cat’s Canary (1932), The Ball Game (1932), Piano Tooners (1932), Bugs & Books (1932) and Happy Hoboes (1933).

This collection of cartoons from the Van Beuren studio traces a progression from earliest sound synchronization to established sound film practices, from Paul Terry’s departure to the rise of John Foster, and from Farmer Al Falfa to Tom and Jerry (not the cat and mouse of later MGM cartoons).

While not the dazzling experts of animation that were Max and Dave Fleischer or the up-and-coming Walt Disney, the Van Beuren studio animators do manage to occasionally surprise and amuse audiences. — Carl Bennett

Grapevine Video
2010 DVD edition

The Van Beuren Studio Animated Shorts (1929-1933), black & white, 110 minutes total, not rated,
including Presto Chango (1929), black & white, 6 minutes, not rated, Custard Pies (1929), black & white, 6 minutes, not rated, The Jungle Fool (1929), black & white, 6 minutes, not rated, The Barnyard Melody (1929), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated, A Close Call (1929), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated, Noah Knew His Ark (1930), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated, A Romeo Robin (1930), black & white, 6 minutes, not rated, The Iron Man (1931), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated, Play Ball (1931), black & white, 8 minutes, not rated, Cowboy Cabaret (1931), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated, Summertime (1931), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated, The Cat’s Canary (1932), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated, The Ball Game (1932), black & white, 6 minutes, not rated, Piano Tooners (1932), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated, Bugs & Books (1932), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated, and Happy Hoboes (1933), black & white, 7 minutes, not rated.

Grapevine Video, no catalog number, UPC 8-42614-10386-5.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 16 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $8.95.
DVD release date: 12 February 2010.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 5 / audio: 4 / additional content: 0 / overall: 5.

This collection has been mastered from a series of good to very-good 16mm reduction prints, which are soft of image details but also hold some light greytones in most of the brightest picture areas. Most of the framing is too tight so that some picture information is lost on all sides, with more lost to the left and bottom of the picture. The roughest print of the silent era cartoons is that for A Close Call (1929).

The films are accompanied by their original RCA Photophone soundtracks, with some distortion (not due to the audio transfer) in some of the 1929 cartoons, the beginning of Custard Pies (1929) being particularly rough.

The sound era films (1930-1933) are of similar quality to the earlier films, with a progression of sound quality and clarity. Overall, the collection is watchable without too much distraction and is worth the low cost.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition is available directly from GRAPEVINE VIDEO.
Other ANIMATION FILMS of the silent era available on home video.
 
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