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DVD REVIEW: "Mr. Magoo Theatrical Collection"

Photo of Jerry Beck By Jerry Beck | Animation Scoop April 11, 2014 at 3:10AM

Sony Pictures and Shout Factory have just released the long-awaited DVD collection, Mr. Magoo: The Theatrical Collection (1949-1959), a four-disc boxed set that completes the restoration of the UPA theatrical cartoon library. It is an absolute must-have for everyone who cares about classic animation.
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The other shoe has dropped! 

Two years ago, TCM released the UPA Jolly Frolics Collection - 38 must-have Columbia theatrical cartoons from the 1950s including several Oscar winners like Gerald McBoing Boing.  Fans, collectors and historians have been chomping at the bit for the rest of the UPA theatricals - and here they are at last. Sony Pictures and Shout Factory have just released the long-awaited DVD collection, Mr. Magoo: The Theatrical Collection (1949-1959), a four-disc boxed set that completes the restoration of the UPA theatrical cartoon library. 

First the basics. This set collects 53 Mr. Magoo short cartoons (including two Oscar winners) and one theatrical animated feature (1001 Arabian Nights) originally released by Columbia Pictures from 1949 through 1959. For the first time on video, these cartoons were restored from the original negatives. Over a dozen of these were produced in wide screen CinemaScope and are presented here in letterbox format (or 16x9 2.35:1). 

Bonus features include:
Vintage documentary A Princess For Magoo: The Making Of 1001 Arabian Nights.
An interview with film critic and historian Leonard Maltin.
A Documentary on UPA & Mr. Magoo.
An Art and Photo Gallery.
14 audio commentaries by UPA animator Bob Longo, Emily Hubley, historians Adam Abraham, John Canemaker, John Culhane, Mark Evanier, Jerry Beck, Michael Schesinger and Tee Bosustow, son of UPA founder Steve Bosustow.

Second, the quailty. The picture image and sound quality of each short is superb, on par with the Jolly Frolics collection Sony released previously. Color quality varies - perhaps due to storage conditions of the original elements - but all-in-all these cartoons have never looked better. The cartoons from 1949 through 1953 (and 1959's Terror Faces Magoo) are presented 4x3 full frame - from 1954 on, the cartoons are presented in 16x9 ratio for film originally in shot in Scope or in shown 1.85. 

The worst part of the set: the unimaginative package artwork. But don't judge a book by its cover or a DVD by its box art - the contents here are incredible. I'm going to let the rest of this post do the talking with frame grabs and clips. The bottom line: Buy this set. 

At left, what this cartoon has looked like in recent years IF you could find it. At right, the same frame on the Shout Factory collection with restoration by Sony.
At left, what this cartoon has looked like in recent years IF you could find it. At right, the same frame on the Shout Factory collection with restoration by Sony.
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One of the Scope cartoons, "Trailblazer Magoo" (1956)
One of the Scope cartoons, "Trailblazer Magoo" (1956)
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This article is related to: Mr. Magoo

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