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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Teens > Romance > Animation > Superhero > Action > Tales Of Adventure Collection 1 (Arabian Nights (1942)/Desert Hawk (1950/both Universal)/Zarak (1956)/A Thousand And One Nights (1945/both Columbia)/Omar Khayyam (1957/Paramount)/*both Sony/ViaVision/

Gidget Film Collection (1959 - 1972/Hawaiian/Rome/Married*)/Looney Tunes Collector's Choice, Volume One (2023/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Max Fleischer's Superman 1941 - 1943 (Warner Blu-ray)/Tales Of Adventure Collection 1 (Arabian Nights (1942)/Desert Hawk (1950/both Universal)/Zarak (1956)/A Thousand And One Nights (1945/both Columbia)/Omar Khayyam (1957/Paramount)/*both Sony/ViaVision/Imprint import Blu-ray Sets)

Picture: B/B/B-/B- Sound: C+/B-/C+/B- (C+: Nights & Desert) Extras: C/D/C/B C+ D D C+ Films: C+/B-/B+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Gidget Film Collection and Tales Of Adventure Collection 1 Imprint, import Blu-ray sets are now only available from our friends at ViaVision Entertainment in Australia and will play on all 4K and Blu-ray players worldwide, while the Looney Tunes Collector's Choice, Volume One Blu-ray disc is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here are upgrades and the return of a group of old favorites on Blu-ray now...

We start with The Gidget Film Collection (1959 - 1972) which includes the original film and three sequels: Hawaiian, Rome and the Married telefilm. Between the three theatrical films and that telefilm, Sally Field played the character on a hit TV series, but was onto other things, older and going for the big screen by the time the telefilm was made. We reviewed a limited edition version of the first Gidget with Sandra Dee a few years ago on Blu-ray at this link:


Thanks to her being referenced in the 1978 megahit Grease (now out in an incredible 4K edition) et al, Dee's presence in anything makes it a curio and the film is amusing with some good moments despite its age and predictability. She did not return for either of the sequels, though co-star James Darren did, so guess Columbia Pictures did not think he aged little and they were correct enough on that count.

Before Donnie & Marie did it, Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) has Deborah Walley taking over the title role well enough as her and her friends visit the great state and its islands, though I wished for much more outdoor cinematography. Carl Reiner, Peggy Cass and Michael Callan show up in a solid supporting cast guaranteeing this is not just a rehash of the first film. Cindy Carol takes over in Gidget Goes To Rome (1963) in what is still the last theatrical film with these characters, adding the always-funny Jessie Royce Landis, Cesar Danova and Don Porter to another surprisingly solid cast. You get more Rome footage, but still, too many indoor moments.

After the Sally Field show was done and doing well in syndication, Screen Gems TV thought maybe they could modernize the character by making her a teacher (Monie Ellis) in love with a soldier (Michael Burns, who later goes after The Bionic Woman in one of the show's great two-part episodes) in Gidget Gets Married (1972) trying to combine the likes of That Girl, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and other female-led tales with melodramas claiming to show couples more realistically together and in love than ever (within TV standards and censorship guidelines) and we do get nice sequences of them being together set to not-very-memorable songs ala Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, The Graduate or Play Misty For Me.

I liked them as a couple and they had some chemistry, plus this telefilm seems to also be serving as a pilot for a hoped-for hit TV series that was not picked up (though an animated version was made). With a lower budget and no beach trips, I liked some of what they did here. This looks much better than expected and though the packaging oddly skips this, the solid supporting cast includes Don Ameche, Paul Lynde, Joan Bennett, Macdonald Carey, James [B.] Sikking, Roger Perry, Ivor Barry, Larry Gelman and Radames Pera.

Sadly, despite a feminist and counterculture edge, that was it, but at least we have a solid set here and for fans, probably one that is overdue and also overdue for the curious. Read about the extras at the ordering link and technical performance below.

Looney Tunes Collector's Choice, Volume One is the beginning of another series of Warner animation collections following several DVD sets a few decades ago and four Platinum Blu-ray sets issued from 2011 to 2014. This time, we get a single disc with no extras from Warner Archive on Blu-ray. The animated shorts here include:

  • BEANSTALK BUNNY: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck & Elmer Fudd (1954, Chuck Jones)

  • THE BEE-DEVILED BRUIN: The Three Bears (1949, Chuck Jones)

  • CATCH AS CATS CAN: Sylvester (1947, Arthur Davis)

  • CRACKED QUACK: Daffy Duck & Porky Pig (1952, Friz Freleng)

  • DAFFY DOODLES: Daffy Duck & Porky Pig (1946, Robert McKimson)

  • DOGGONE CATS: Sylvester (1947, Arthur Davis)

  • THE FOXY DUCKLING: (1947, Arthur Davis)

  • A FRACTURED LEGHORN: Foghorn Leghorn (1950, Robert McKimson)

  • GREEDY FOR TWEETY: Tweety & Sylvester (1957, Friz Freleng)

  • HIP-HIP-HURRY!: Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote (1958, Chuck Jones)

  • HIS BITTER HALF: Daffy Duck (1950, Friz Freleng)

  • HOT ROD AND REEL: Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote (1959, Chuck Jones)

  • LITTLE ORPHAN AIREDALE: Porky Pig and Charlie Dog (1947, Friz Freleng)

  • A MOUSE DIVIDED: Sylvester (1953, Friz Freleng)

  • PLOP GOES THE WEASEL: Foghorn Leghorn (1953, Robert McKimson)

  • STOOGE FOR A MOUSE: Sylvester (1950, Friz Freleng)

  • TALE OF TWO MICE: Babbit & Catstello (1945, Frank Tashlin)

  • TWO GOPHERS FROM TEXAS: Goofy Gophers (1947, Arthur Davis)

  • THE UNRULY HARE: Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd (1945, Frank Tashlin)

  • WHAT'S BREWIN' BRUIN?: The Three Bears (1947, Chuck Jones)

Not imitating or repeating an exact order from the previous sets, these particular shorts can have politically incorrect, racist, sexist or other moments that are really not for children at this point, thus the name of the set. I still like them despite such issues, with the dysfunction of The Three Bears being way ahead of its time and to many truly funny moments that have aged far better than the lesser parts. We'll see how long this series lasts, but this disc has no extras.

Max Fleischer's Superman 1941-1943 animated shorts have been issued in endless 'public domain' copies starting with VHS and Beta tapes way back in the day, to bad DVDs and even a bad Blu-ray, but Warner has decided to issue them all on Blu-ray from reportedly 4K scans of the original successive Technicolor negatives (each animated cell is photographed three times in a row, but the color filter is changed to make up the full color) and this is meant to replace the DVD set they issued years ago on DVD that we covered at this link:


Now issued with three featurettes, the shorts, esp. the ones Max and Dave Fleischer actually made, have only become more important and influential than when Warner issued that DVD set years ago.

Per the press release, they include a new featurette; Superman: Speeding Toward Tomorrow; Superman's exploits in the Fleischer series modernized the monomyth of the Greek godlike hero and expanded and romanticized the prevalent themes of sci-fi and fantasy. It was this combination of heartfelt storytelling, relatable heroes and amazing visuals that has endeared the Fleischer series to fans as one of the greatest superhero stories of all time. This featurette explores the visual storytelling as the lavish animation, with special attention paid to all the atomic age technology, pushes science fiction closer to becoming a powerful social and pop culture force.

First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series - The Origins and Influence of This Groundbreaking Cartoon Series: A gathering of contemporary animators, comic book & animation historians, and legendary Fleischer artists examine these beloved shorts, focusing on the animation and the breakthrough techniques that created it, as well as studying the title character's place in history.

And The Man, the Myth, Superman: Exploring the Tradition of Superman Heroes on the Page and Screen - A fascinating study of Superman-esque characters throughout history, in ancient myth, literature and film, that bring forth imaginative, super-human qualities, captivating audiences and enduring the test of time.

The problem is that the upgrades that should have been amazing did not totally turn out that way and you can read more about that below.

Finally we have what might be the beginning of a new series of past genre films on Blu-ray: Tales Of Adventure Collection 1 from Imprint in Australia. Though the title could refer to many cycles within adventure films, this one offers five films where the character land up in a Hollywood (or British) version of The Middle East. Dated and not aging well in many ways, the films are:

John Rawlins' Arabian Nights (1942,) the first-ever three-strip Technicolor film made by Universal Pictures with Maria Montez, Jon Hall and Sabu where two half-brothers struggle for royal power with a sexy woman in the middle of it all. Walter Wanger was on a roll producing such hits and this is one of his most successful and best know.

Frederick de Cordova's The Desert Hawk (1950) has the subversive title character tricking the daughter of a ruler into marrying him, only to have her father vow revenge, with Richard Greene, Yvonne DeCarlo, Lois Andrews, Rock Hudson, George Macready and Jackie Gleason, so this Universal release also has more humor than maybe some would like.

Terence Young's Zarak (1956) became one of the dry runs for the crew and producers that would eventually launch the James Bond film series, made by Columbia Pictures (who turned down the series!) with Victor Mature as the fun-loving title character, falling for the youngest wife of his own father and fighting ensues... at the India/Afghanistan border! Richard Maibaum wrote the screenplay, Albert R. 'Cubby' Broccoli co-produced and Syd Cain did the Production Design. Anita Ekberg, Eunice Gayson, Ander Morrell, Patrick McGoohan (!!!) and Michael Wilding lead a decent cast.

Alfred E. Greene's A Thousand And One Nights (1945) is the oldest film we are looking at here, an early (played by Cornel Wilde) Aladdin live-action adaption with Evelyn Keyes, Rex Ingram, Richard Hale, John Abbott and Phil Silvers as the comic relief, which he is here and good at it too. Its not bad, but the good moments are outweighed by too many lame and dated ones.

And lastly, we have William Dieterle's Omar Khayyam (1957) in a sort-of biopic about a man (Cornel Wilde, again, but at Paramount this time) of science in a Muslim world in the 11th Century. Shot in VistaVision and for three-strip Technicolor, it is the one large-frame format film here and despite flaws with the original film materials, he goes for a shaw's bride while fighting killers all over the place. The film is as uneven as the rest in this set, but as beautiful to look at because of the superior format it is lensed in.

I had seen all these films eons ago, barely remembered any of them and was not any more impressed decades later. Ambitious in parts and ones their respective studios counted on to be hits, they play more like time capsules now than ever and have a dark irony with recent world events considered.

Omar also stars Michael Rennie, John Derek, Debra Paget, Raymond Massey, Margaret Hayes, Yma Sumac and Joan Taylor.

Extras are listed at the link to order the set, but they are not bad at all.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the first Gidget is from a new 4K scan of the original film, but because it has to share space with the first Gidget sequel, does not surpass the still-impressive transfer on the older Twilight Time Blu-ray, even though this disc has none of its extras. The two Gidget sequels are here in 2K scans from their original camera materials on their respective 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition Blu-rays and benefit from being shot with clearer prime lenses versus the older, slightly distorted CinemaScope system. All feature Eastman Color by Pathe, with the color getting better with each film.

Though we will count it as an extras, the 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Gidget telefilm hardly shows the age of the materials used, with really good color and both definition and detail that is not bad at all for a TV movie. More outdoor shots help, all of this is shot on 35mm color film and will surprise more than a few people. All films are PCM 2.0 Mono sound, save the PCM 2.0 Stereo on the first Gidget, so Sony still has not tracked down the original 4-track magnetic stereo soundtrack for that film, still leaving us with this mixdown. However, the first film does not sound as good here as it did on the Twilight Time version and all sound older than expected, though as much restoration work has been done as possible. Just wish they sounded a little better.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the Looney Tunes Blu-ray can show the age of the materials used, but also have some unexpected soft points, sometimes in the middle of some great-looking animation. They are about as good as the first Platinum set and the shorts as they have appeared on many a Warner Blu-ray release, but this is the first Blu-ray set of these shorts to offer lossless sound, as the Platinum sets had lame, lossy Dolby Digital Mono like so many of the DVDs. We get DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless in all cases and though quality may very, it is better than you would have heard these classic before.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the Superman shorts can also sometimes show the age of the materials used, but the issue with these (allegedly?) 4K scans is not the scans or the color, but some strange digital tampering that makes every short look like you have to watch them through some ultra-thin wax paper. Why? Who decided to do this? A big disappointment, you can see some of the improvements from the old DVD set (whose shorts are also on two of the Blu-rays in the Superman 4K box, reviewed elsewhere on this site) including depth and how good the color must have looked, but the viewer should not have to imagine the difference. Also, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless sound mixes are an improvement over the weak, soft Dolby Digital from Warner's older releases, but we still have some background hiss that should have been dealt with better and some parts of the sound that seem compressed a little more than it should be. More time and money is needed to fix that sound, so like getting rid of the digital tampering on the picture, maybe a 4K release version could correct all this.

UPDATE: Turns out the HD scans in the new featurette are the older HD masters for the DVD versions, the color was further tampered with in the new Blu-ray versions, more audio errors were added, key opening and closing text was not restored, some DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) actually erased parts of the image and not enough of the room of the single Blu-ray was even utilized, meaning more unnecessary compression. What really needs to be done is new 8K scans from the original successive Technicolor negative hoping it has survived, total clean up and restoration of al the original audio, restoration of alternative descriptions of Superman in some of the shorts' openings, true full-ranging three-strip Technicolor with zero tampering and an expert (like Robert Harris) to supervise this all so these are properly saved, preserved and released without issues or exception. Fan complaints are rightly growing. Warner has a treasure trove of theatrical animated shorts from their catalog, MGM's catalog and even some classic animated feature films to go with their CGI ones and TV catalog, so getting this 100% correct the next time would be nice.

As for the Adventures box, the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Omar may be a 6K scan, but it still has color fading issues and needs some more work, as does the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Zarak and 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image on the rest of the films, all originally issued in 35mm, dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints. The rest are 2K scans and all have moments of damage, color fading (meaning EastmanColor backup that is not holding up as well) and color shifting that I have rarely seen on any Blu-ray releases, especially from major studios. Still, you can see in many places how good the color must have looked in such prints at the time.

The sound on all five films is PCM 2.0 Mono sound from the original optical monophonic theatrical sound from the films, but there is a very slim chance Zarak might have had a 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects, though U.K. films produced in CinemaScope sadly only had mono sound in all cases. Omar may be mono here, but most VistaVision films had a fake stereo sound encoding on them called Perspecta Sound, so you might want to try a few surround modes with this one if you have a home theater system and see what happens. It is one of only three films here (along with Zarak and Thousand) that sound (as in choice Looney Tunes shorts) sound as good as they likely ever will. The rest are all sonic disappointments in ways already noted, slightly to a little more problematic.

To order either of the ViaVision/Imprint Blu-ray import sets, go to these links for more information:



Tales Of Adventure 1


...and to order the Looney Tunes Warner Archive Blu-ray or even Fleischer Superman Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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