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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Action > Superhero > Max Fleischer’s Superman: 1941 - 1942 (Warner DVD)

Max Fleischer’s Superman: 1941 - 1942 (Warner DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Animated shorts: B+



After endless bad releases on VHS, Beta, LaserDisc and DVD, with very little good or memorable to speak of, but Warner Bros. and DC Comics finally has issued their set of the landmark animated Max Fleischer Superman shorts and they have not looked this good for about as long as anyone can remember.  You can read details about the shorts in one of the more ambitious DVD versions at this link:





The titles again are:


1)     The Man Scientist

2)     The Mechanical Monsters

3)     Billion Dollar Limited

4)     The Arctic Giant

5)     The Bulleteers

6)     The Magnetic Telescope

7)     Electric Earthquake

8)     Volcano

9)     Terror On The Midway

10)  The Japoteurs

11)  Showdown

12)  Eleventh Hour

13)  Destruction, Inc.

14)  The Mummy Strikes

15)  Jungle Drums

16)  The Underground World

17)  Secret Agent



The first nine are on DVD 1 with the Fleischers at the helm, then DVD 2 has the rest, which are the eight WWII propaganda shorts.  More noticeable than ever, the color is more complex and better overall than the WWII shorts when Paramount took the studio over as the Fleischers had a falling out that took the studio with it.  After so many versions with usually bad, faded, scratched and even tampered-with (recolored!) prints, this is the first timer you can not only seethe color on the screen.  Now, you can also see the money on the screen.


What cost $700,000 per short then would be millions now and the work is often stunning and a peak of the studio at its best.  Max Fleischer did not want to do it, so he told Paramount how expensive it would be and the studio (#2 in that era) agreed to foot the sky high bills.  Glad they did.


The 1.33 X 1 image is very consistent throughout.  You will see spots of damage and other slight problems here and there, while slivers on all four sides seem to be missing in some cases.  With all that, the color (especially on DVD 1) is incredible for animation and the DVD format, as all the shorts were made in three-strip dye-transfer Technicolor, some of the qualities which are pleasantly on surprise here.  You can use DVD 1 in particular as demo material despite the flaws.  The Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono is not always as clean or clear and can be compressed and limited, making one wish for 2.0 Mono instead.  Still, even the sound design on these were impressive for their time.


Extras include a sneak peak at the animated Green Lantern, trailers and two featurettes: First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series and The Man, The Myth, Superman.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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