TV Felix on DVD

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I never thought I’d say this, but Classic Media’s new DVD collection Felix the Cat: The Complete 1958-1959 Series is better than it has any right to be. In fact it’s probably the best DVD Classic Media has released (unfortunetly, that’s not saying much).felixdvd1.jpg

It collects the first 31 (of 260) made for TV Felix cartoons made by Joe Oriolo in 1958-59. Jack Mercer (voice of Popeye) provides the voices (all of them) and the limited animation is provided by Fleischer/Famous and Terrytoon veterans including Al Eugster, Tom Johnson, Steve Muffatti and especially Jim Tyer (I spotted at least five Tyer tour-de-forces, The Gold Fruit Tree, Felix’s Gold Mine, Do-It-Yourself Monster Kit, Felix The Cat Suit and The Gold Car and The County Fair). The Tyer cartoons are particularly fun – lots of crazy poses and extreme reactions, as expected.

It’s really worth it for the Tyer shorts alone – but there are several nice bonus features included: Felix’s debut short from 1919, Feline Follies, a promo reel of TV Felix commercial spots, the opening theme song in Spanish and Japanese, and an interview with John Canemaker providing a concise historial overview of the character’s history. The cartoons themselves have been restored from 35mm master elements and look and sound great. Even the package design is pleasing. I guess I like these cartoons for nostalgic reasons. I grew up watching them every day. They are a far cry from the Messmer classics, but a real guilty pleasure for many of us baby boomers. It goes on sale Oct. 2nd.


  • http://www.davemackey.com Dave Mackey

    I’m with you there, Jerry. How come Hal Seeger’s “Out of the Inkwell” couldn’t have been as good?

    These cartoons are running daily on Animania, usually one per day. If they’re using the same restorations on the DVD as they do on the HD channel, then we’re in for a great treat.

    Another one of Jim Tyer’s Felixes is “The Jubilee Dime” – there are tons of great poses and herky-jerky manic movement that no one else in the industry was capable of. I don’t think it’s on this set, however.

  • Ron

    I was at the show last night. Jerry Beck you rock, even though “Buff”, (or Buffy) seemed to be contentious towards you.
    The show was stellar.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    “In fact it’s probably the best DVD Classic Media has released (unfortunetly, that’s not saying much).”

    For me, Jerry, the honor goes to their new Godzilla movie DVDs (which include both the Japanese and US versions).

    Other than that, I’d like to get this FELIX THE CAT DVD set, since I did enjoy watching the cartoon years ago! Sounds good.

  • Christopher Cook

    I watched the Oriolo “Felix” cartoons as a child as well (I lived in Riverside CA then and watched them on KCOP/ch. 13). With the present state of today’s TV cartoons, I’ll take Felix, the Professor and Rock Bottom any day.

  • http://outoftheinkwell.blogspot.com Mike Dobbs

    Joe Oriolo was quite a character. When I interviewed him he was full of stories about his Fleischer days (some will go into the Fleischer book and some will not!) and about how he created Casper the Friendly Ghost….which he didn’t. Seymour Reit did.

    I remember a fondness for these cartoons, although I’ve not seen them for years. Oriolo followed these up with his “Hercules” series, which , as a kid, I watched although I didn’t like them much. I always wanted Herc’s obnoxious sidekick Newton to die some miserable
    death!

  • Bill Field

    Let’s ask one of the stars of this series what he thinks-

    “This set is an avalanche of great entertainment!”
    —VAVOOM!

  • joecab

    You’re right I love those old TV Felixes, too. Anything that could get my mom (who spoke no English) to say “Vavoom!” just to crack us up gets 10 gold stars. Rock Bottom really looked great by Tyer with his hat and cigar jumping around!

    (But only 31 episodes? Boooo!)

  • Cyber Fox

    So, It’s not really complete?

  • http://www.myspace.com/brandontoons Brandon Pierce

    Well, Jerry, at least they’re not releasing “The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat” first. Even though that show was okay, this one was a lot better.

  • http://duck-walk.blogspot.com/ Marc Deckter

    Thanks for the heads up, Jerry! I’ve seen a few Jim Tyer Felix comics before, but seeing his animation of this famous black cat will be a real treat!

  • Paul N

    Amazing what our brains hold onto. The theme song for this show has been going through my head since I first saw this this morning.

    Guess I’ll be adding to my DVD collection

    Felix the Cat
    The wonderful wonderful cat…

  • Shmorky

    Brandon: A Twisted Tales DVD was released years ago (complete with tasteless jokes intact) but it’s not a full set. It’s not a terrible show, but they did make A LOT less of them than the 1958 series. I think I’d go mad if I had to sit through 260 low-budget Felix cartoons! Good lord!
    If you’re like Jerry though, I’d say go for this. This set looks very pleasing and despite what I said I’ll probably get it too.

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    oh, great…now you’ve got ME humming it til Tuesday!

  • Jonathan the Bellboy

    C’mon, as a kid with glasses, weren’t you harassed with the nickname “Poindexter?” You do realize it wasn’t a loving homage to these cartoons?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > I remember a fondness for these cartoons, although I’ve not seen them for years. Oriolo followed these up with his “Hercules� series, which , as a kid, I watched although I didn’t like them much. I always wanted Herc’s obnoxious sidekick Newton to die some miserable
    death!

    Didn’t we all? :-)

    Sadly I never saw any of the Oriolo stuff growing up besides in recent years, but I think I would’ve been in the same mode in getting this too for the nostalgia value. And yes, being ‘complete’ doesn’t make you a completest if you only release a small percentage of the entire series, but doing so would probably take up WAY more DVD’s than I feel like counting how many goes into each disc.

  • http://geritopiablogspot.com GeeVee

    I’ve seen all episodes but I’m still waiting to laugh so hard that my sides ache; my heart go pitter-pat. The Master Cylinder; the Magic Bag; Rock Bottom —all very psychotropic and haunting on some primal level.

  • http://toonamir.blogspot.com Amir Avni

    I remember watching that show as a kid. I liked the color styling, and line-art. I was too young to identify Jim Tyer Animation, but I was trying to imitate Felix’s walk, and found it impossible to pace continuously without allowing secondary motion on my upper body, Then I realized what limited animation was.

    I also remember Felix would over-explain the situation he’s in, like “Oh No, I’ve fallen down this underground trench with no way to escape!” They would hold on the suspense for a while, even cut to a commercial, then he would re-explain it and result to very modest means, like chewing bubblegum and using the bubble to float up, If my memory serves me right.

    Looking forward to see these again!

  • Ken Layton

    I’ll be first in line to buy this. I’m the Master Cylinder!

  • Steve Gattuso

    It was a fave of mine as a kid, too. I remember laying in front of the TV watching it on KCOP. Nice to see that they’ve done a good job with the show.

  • http://TheRight31episodes Michael J. Hayde

    I think I learned to understand roman numerals from watching these cartoons as a kid. I knew the MCMLIX ones were usually very funny, and the MCMLX and MCMLXI ones sucked. I, for one, am very glad it’s not the entire series… just the first, best, batch. It looks like someone in Classic Media understood these cartoons after all.

    Michael

  • http://escapistcartoons.blogspot.com Behonkiss

    Has anyone else ever seen that 80s Felix movie? It was seriously one of the worst (and bizarre) movies I’ve ever seen, animated or otherwise. The story made absolutely no sense, and the animation was done in some European country with no animation history and looked almost Saturday-morning quality.

  • http://www.davemackey.com Dave Mackey

    Yes, but did you ever see the MCMLVIII episodes? The titles looked a little different, the “Trans Lux Presents” and “Pat Sullivan’s” had little backgrounds behind them. And I believe it also said “Produced by Joseph Oriolo” rather than “Joe Oriolo”. I haven’t seen that ’58 title sequence in ages. I think Classic Media’s stuck the 1959 one on all episodes.

    That first episode had an unusual score. The first half had all new music, mostly an organ, xylophone and muted trumpet. (I think that was all the instruments.) May have been Sharples music. The second half had Sharples stock.

  • Alfons Moline

    Behonkiss: the animation of the Felix feature was made in Hungary. I bought it on DVD in England (I think it is still unavailable on DVD in the U.S.) and the least that you can say about it is that it is… bizarre ideed.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Alfons Moline says:
    > Behonkiss: the animation of the Felix feature was made in Hungary. I bought it on DVD in England (I think it is still unavailable on DVD in the U.S.) and the least that you can say about it is that it is… bizarre ideed.

    True, it was a film that didn’t deserve to be printed on celluloid! I never saw it as a tyke, but for whatever release, I came across a pirated DVD copy of the film that showed up for $5 at Kroger’s years ago. Noticed Amazon.com has posted on their page going for a pretty hefty price!
    http://www.amazon.com/Felix-the-Cat-Movie/dp/B00078NJYY

    While indeed the film was animated in Hungary (and from Pannonia Film no less), the film seems to have been farmed out to countless other studios in Europe like Germany, Poland and Bulgaria, rather an odd mish-mash in terms of production staff. While I don’t think the film suffers from bad animation (though a little too funky at times), the writing itself was rather sub-standard and inconsistent. Somehow I thought of the Philips CD-1 Zelda games in particular given how those cut scenes were handled. Of course it made me think of every bad animated feature I’ve seen in my lifetime I can’t watching again (like that Pound Puppies flick that looked like a made-for-TV thing ported to the big screen).

    The movie also boast a rather peculiar opening/ending sequence featuring a 3-D CGI head of Felix whom presents us with the adventure at hand (noticed a close person I know who worked on that footage). Watching it today could give kids nightmares!

    Oh, and in case people really need to see this, the whole film was stuck up on YouTube recently, that’s all I’ll have to say! Lord knows it didn’t make up for the $5 I spent on this. :-)