This is topic Neptunes Nonsense ( VanBuren/Blackhawk ) in forum 8mm Print Reviews at 8mm Forum.

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Posted by Osi Osgood (Member # 424) on November 01, 2012, 01:25 PM:
I love collecting these old classic animated films, and when I find a good color print, I'm even more estatic, (as we all know, THAT can be difficult)!

Felix the Cat was the first "Mickey Mouse" ...

... in that, he was the first true cartoon star, had a lot of merchandising and the like, years before Mickey Mouse even first squeaked. However, with the advent of sound, Felix the Cat quickly died away as the public clamored for sound cartoons, and all that Feix's creators wanted to do was continue making silents and just adding non synchronized music and effects. It didn't work.

However, in 1936, something wonderful happened ...

An animation company called "Van Buren" decided to make a move to make thier films more marketable. They bought the film rights to two big cartoon/comics stars ... The Toonerville Trolley comic strips and ... Felix the Cat, (who was also in comic strips at that time, being drawn by one of the original animators of the silent classics, Otto Mesmer, or Pat Sullivan, not sure on that one!)

The Van Buren company, though small, had steadily grown in the thier quality content and with the earlier two strip technicolor, had made the best of that that they could, but when Disney's exclusive contract with technicolor ended in 1935, Van Buren went to full color and were looking for great new avenues to make the most out of this lovely color. They chose to make Felix thier prime candidate for this treatment.

For the first time, Felix was to be in color, (though a black and white cat) and Van buren did not disappoint! While many studios didn't catch onto all the potential for the use of color, Van Buren used every hue thay could think of, and these "Rainbow Parade" cartoons really showed it. Sadly, they only made three Felix cartoons, as they didn't take off, not for a great lack of effort on these three films. They were ...

Neptunes Nonsense
Bold King Cole
The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.

Now, fast forward to the days of super 8!

These Van Buren films (along with the Ub Iwerks films) went through one terrible print after another for years, but then a wonderful things happened ...

Along came Blackhawk films ...

... and they bought the rights to all the original negative material for both the Van Buren and the Iwerks cartoons. Now, for the first time since they were released, these "Rainbow Parade" cartoons would shine, where before, there were pale versions of them left and right.

However, unfortunately, Blackhawk, for thier earlier releases of these cartoons, used the "fadey" eastman stock film stock which, as we all know, is faded today. However, in 1981 or so, (not sure of the exact date) Blackhawk did a major upgrade of thier vault of negatives, and struck brand new negatives of many of thier titles, and up front were the Van Buren and Iwerks cartoons, which included all three Felix cartoons, but even better than that, they started using the then brand new low fade eastman stock (usually known as "LPP" in the sprocket area!) Now, these cartoons would shine for not just a little while, but would maintain thier color for years to come.

I was very lucky to acquire a brand new LPP print of this cartoon, in the silver box label of Blackhawk, and it's like night and day. The colors are incredibly rich, but even better, when you get to the underwater sequences where Van Buren's background artists went to town, they shine like they never had before, with an incredible display of amazingly saturated colors of every hue. This was, quite frankly Disney's domain as a general rule. (It should be noted that Van Buren's films were even being distributed by the same company as Disney at this time, so it's understandable the intense competition by Van Buren at this time to outdo Disney)

THIS is what Technicolor was meant to be, far outshining any live action films with the potential of the imagination left unfettered! Even amongst Disney's Silly Symphonies at the time, this "Neptunes Nonsense" really has an amazingly saturated full spectrum of color! The same can easily be said for "Bold King Cole". I am usually well acquainted with Disney shorts representing very "new" looking color, (doesn't look like it's old or faded), but these Blackhawk LPP Felix cartoons really are a eye full.

The only slight complaint of these shorts is that, while the backgrounds and other affects are lovely to look at, Felix can tend to almost disappear and become slightly insignificant in these cartoons. Perhaps that could be one of the reasons for thier lack of success for Van Buren, who would close shop within a year of these films being released.

There is the slightest drawback on this LPP print. The earlier prints were just the slightest bit sharper. This LPP print is certainly sharp, but not absolutely pin sharp as the earlier print was. Also, as was thier habit with these later prints, they edited out about 15 seconds of the "Rainbow Parade" title and placed the Blackhaek "Sepaitone" label, with the original intro music from the cartoon playing in the back. A cartoon connisuer would prefer the absolute complete cartoon, but I certainly won't quibble. The mono sundtrack is very sharp and clear, just like the earlier releases, and another plus to these Blackhaek Felix's is that they must have been taken from early first generation or so negative material, as they shorts do not have a "dupey" feel to the overall image. They really are outstanding. I have seen these films on low budget and otherwise DVD collections, and they just don't look as good as these super 8 LPP prints!

I would highly suggest that anyone who would like to collect this cartoon for thier collection get this release, however, make sure of this ....

That it is in the Blackhawk "Silver box" edition, which is crucial,. if you want the LPP color.

I thank you for your time and, as always ...

Posted by David Ollerearnshaw (Member # 3296) on November 01, 2012, 01:38 PM:
Bold King Cole. Got this as a freebie sample from I think Peak Films in Canada. It was just 50ft reel, but very good sound & picture. Not totally sure if it released by them complete, but I think it was.
Posted by Osi Osgood (Member # 424) on November 02, 2012, 12:47 PM:
I'm just as stunned by "Bold King Cole'" color quality! The richness of hue and saturation of the colors makes you gasp! It looks like a newly made cartoon. I'm truly not overstating that. The only other super 8 cartoons that even come close or equal these later Blackhawk Felix releases are the Derann Disney releases and even in the case of some of those films, they are not up to the color quality of these. At least when Blackhawk left super 8, they left it with a "bang" of higher quality!

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