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DVD REVIEW: "Mr. Magoo Theatrical Collection"

by Jerry Beck
April 11, 2014 3:10 AM
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Magoo 1

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.
Magoo 2
One of the Scope cartoons, "Trailblazer Magoo" (1956)
One of the Scope cartoons, "Trailblazer Magoo" (1956)
1001 Arabian Magoo
Magoo Discs
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More: Mr. Magoo


  • John Johnson | April 23, 2014 11:25 AMReply

    I was wondering why the very last Magoo theatrical, "Terror Faces Magoo", is in 4x3, when everything before it, from 1954 on, was in widescreen? Was it made with television in mind?

    So glad this set is finally out!

  • Anthony D. | April 14, 2014 1:26 AMReply

    I have a question; Does Spellbound Hound have it's original pan out ending or was a re-release "Columbia Favorite" print used?

  • Chuck Fiala | April 13, 2014 2:32 PMReply

    These look fantastic! I can't wait to get my copy of this. There aren't too many cartoons funnier than these. The design work on these still looks better than almost any other theatrical from any period.

  • Tony McCarson | April 11, 2014 3:11 PMReply

    I'm ready to buy this!

  • Bryan Bortz | April 11, 2014 1:52 PMReply

    I wonder why we don't get BluRays first/only these days. These are from film sources. Is the cost of a 2k or 4k scan/restore that prohibitive?

  • William | April 11, 2014 3:56 PM

    If it has to be one format, it should be one everyone can play. DVD is accessible to everyone.

  • JP | April 11, 2014 12:04 PMReply

    I pre-ordered this theatrical set, and I'm very excited it's shipping soon. It'll go well with the Jolly Frolics set and Magoo's Christmas Carol on my shelf.

    Jerry -- would you recommend the box set of the Magoo Television Collection (or any other Magoo features)?

  • Jerry Beck | April 11, 2014 8:30 PM

    You are right - this new "Theatrical Collection" is Magoo at his best. This set PLUS (separately) "Magoo's Christmas Carol" are all you really need for this character (unless you are a rabid completist). I'm actually fond on Magoo's TV cartoons because I grew up watching them - but if you are going for the best: get this set and Magoo's Christmas Carol.

  • JP | April 11, 2014 6:34 PM

    What about just in terms of content? Are the different TV series and multiple other features funny? I'm assuming the theatrical shorts, 1001 Arabian Nights, (and Christmas Carol) are Magoo's finest showings (in terms of writing, animation, originality, etc.)?

    In other words, what's worth watching?

  • Joe | April 11, 2014 4:22 PM

    I'd hesitate. The TV Magoo transfers were handled by Classic Media meaning they're old syndicated TV masters, not near the video quality of the Jolly Frolics and presumably this Theatrical Magoo set.

    Magoo's Christmas Carol might be an exception. There shouldn't be anything wrong with it, though it won't look as good as the theatrical Magoos or 1001 Arabian Nights (which is in this set).

  • Justin | April 11, 2014 7:25 AMReply

    I'll definitely get this!

  • Tim Lones | April 16, 2014 11:34 AM

    Like Jerry, I have a fondness for the Magoo TV Cartoons because I grew up with them. If your looking for pristine quality and completely restored originals in the Mr. Magoo TV Collection, you wont get them here. though I think it's worth it to have the complete Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo all in one place. Now The Blu-Ray Magoo's Christmas Carol looks outstanding..Well worth the price (usually under $20.00). I don't remember the Magoo Theatricals as much except for 1001 Arabian Nights, which I haven't seen in years. The theatricals look like they are well worth buying though..

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