Monday, February 25, 2008

The Radio & Television Packagers redrawns

During the 1960's, when B&W cartoons were beginning to have little or no commercial value (or so they think), Warner Brothers and NTA decided to commission Fred Ladd's company Color Systems to redraw their respective B&W cartoons (Porky Pig and Betty Boop) in colour. The results may have been impressive at that time, but nowadays (especially in the computer-colourising age which can give much better results in colourising cartoons) one can be appalled by the poor technical quality in the redrawn animation (not every frame is traced, momentary missing limbs etc.), psychedelic colour scheme, and poor film stock.
Of course, we all moan about these redrawns, and we hardcore animation fans prefer to see these cartoons as originally intended. But the sad truth is, these redrawns still kept the spirit of the originals in the public consciousness, and has enabled many fans to seek out the originals, resulting in a big demand to see them on DVD and other media. You could say that the redrawing process was a necessary evil at that time.
There were other companies that commissioned redrawns later on. Turner, in 1986, invited Entecolor Technologies (formerly Color Systems) to redraw their B&W Popeye and Merrie Melodies cartoons, which was a rather strange decision as they were starting to colourise their feature films using a computer process. While the technical quality and colour palette was somewhat better than the redrawn Porky's and Betty's, plenty of mistakes were still made.
But perhaps the worst-looking redrawns of them all were commissioned by Radio & Television Packagers (who I shall refer to as R&TVP). They gave Color Systems a batch of (presumably) home-movie prints of (mostly) public-domain cartoons during the early 70's. Unfortunately, what R&TVP didn't know is that many of the cartoons do exist in their original colour! Also, they failed to realise that some of them were silent versions of sound cartoons (they will later add corny music to those redrawns). On one cartoon, they had the ending redrawn to something completely different!!! The result is a series of redrawns that are sooooooooo bad, they are actually quite entertaining in their own unique way.
Here is a complete list of the 43 R&TVP cartoons, as compiled by Richard Jebe and Pietro Shakarian:

"Toy Shop" – "We're in the Money" (1933), WB
"Ain't Nature Grand?" – 1931 WB of the same name
"Barnyard Frolic" – "Moonlight for Two" (1931), WB
"Bosko's Woodland Daze" – 1932 WB of the same name
"Country Boy Rabbit" – "The Country Boy" (1935), WB (originally color)
"Magazine Rack" – "I Like Mountain Music" (1933), WB
"Off To The Races" – "Ups 'N Downs" (1931), WB
"On Duty" – "One More Time" (1931), WB
"Accidents Won't Happen" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"The Invisible Revenge" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"Where Am I?" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"Mixing In Mexico" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"Oceans Of Trouble" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"Soda Jerks" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"When Hell Froze Over" – 1926 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"The Adventures Of Mutt And Jeff And Bugoff" – "Slick Sleuths" (1926), Mutt and Jeff
"Dog Missing" – "Dog Gone" (1926), Mutt and Jeff
"Egyptian Daze" – "Mummy O' Mine" (1926), Mutt and Jeff
"The Mail Pilot" – 1927 Aesop's Film Fable of the same name
"The Under Dog" – 1929 Aesop's Film Fable of the same name
"Tuning In" – 1929 Van Beuren of the same name
"Love Bugs" – "Fly Hi" (1931), Van Beuren
"Art For Art's Sake" – 1934 Van Beuren of the same name
"The Villian Pursues Her" – "Sinister Stuff" (1934), Van Beuren
"Chinese Lanterns" – "Japanese Lanterns" (1935), Van Beuren (originally color)
"Batter Up" – "Play Ball" (1932), Terrytoons
"Spring Cleaning" – "Kiko's Cleaning Day" (1937), Terrytoons
"The Dancing Bear" – 1937 Terrytoon on the same name
"Lumberjack" - "The Saw Mill Mystery" (1937), Terrytoons
"Music And Charm" - "The Villain Still Pursued Her" (1937), Terrytoons
"The Inventor" – "Felix Turns the Tide" (1922), Sullivan
"Sunken Treasure" – "Felix Braves the Briny" (1926), Sullivan
"Misses His Swiss" – "Felix Misses His Swiss" (1926), Sullivan
"Scoots Through Scotland" – "Felix Scoots Through Scotland" (1926), Sullivan
"Mr. Do–All" – "Jack From All Trades" (1927), Sullivan
"Jack Frost" – 1934 Iwerks of the same name (originally color)
"Puss in Boots" – 1934 Iwerks of the same name (originally color)
"The Steadfast Tin Soldier" – "The Brave Tin Soldier" (1934), Iwerks (originally color)
"Cinderella" - "Once Upon a Time" (circa 1937), Audio Productions
"Big City" – 1947 UK Bubbles and Squeek cartoon of the same name
“Grampus & Scrappy” - The Big Game (1928), Aesop's Fable

"They Shall Not Pass" – Mutt and Jeff
"Double Performance" - Unknown

In these series of posts (yes, I'll be posting these, so be warned - lol),I shall be posting specially-selected redrawns, along (where possible) with their originals for comparison.
And to start off with, here's a redrawn version of Felix Misses His Swiss, starring the title character as a burgundy-coloured cat!. Unfortunately, I don't have the original to upload, but according to David Gerstein, the final scenes were missing from the original source print, so you will see a fake (clover-shaped???) iris-out before it reaches a satisfying conclusion.

Did the re-tracers really believe that Felix was grabbing his gonads at the beginning of the cartoon (lol)?
For this series, as these will mostly be public-domain cartoons, I've decided to abandon imposing a time-limit on their availability.

1 comment:

Chris Sobieniak said...

Having came by this now and then, I just felt like mention the music used in the R&TVP tripe often coming from the KPM library, the one Mutt & Jeff cartoon retitled "Egyptian Daze" practically used all of Side B to the album "Beat Incidental" (1043). I think that was the only saving grace of those horrid cartoons was introducing me and inspiring my love for production/stock library/elevator music! It was weird noticing years later how often I heard the same tracks elsewhere and not realize where they all came from.

I still don't know what station in the US even dared show the R&TVP package, it would have to be either a cheap UHF indie somewhere in Chicago or a small market ABC affiliate desperate for something to stick on to fill up whatever dead space they had in the afternoons (The Warner Bros. and NTA stuff probably had more exposure). I wouldn't be surprised if that did happen, but I'm glad I wasn't around back when this was conspiring besides seeing these released on video in the mid 80's, to unleash it's wrathful vengeance on the MTV Generation!