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Sony Family Wonder presents
Felix the Cat 1958-1959: CE (1958-9)

"Ghosts! And me without a haunting license!"
- Felix the Cat

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: September 19, 2001

Stars: Felix the Cat
Other Stars: Poindexter, The Professor
Director: Joe Oriolo

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: G for (should be rated for the disturbing finale in Feline Follies)
Run Time: 01h:15m:39s
Release Date: August 07, 2001
UPC: 074645406497
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- BB-B C+

DVD Review

Felix the Cat has lived up to that old adage about having 9 lives. He was a world famous film star of the silent era (appearing in some175 shorts during the 1920s), one of the first celebrity merchandising franchises, was the first image ever transmitted via television by RCA Laboratories, had his own comic strip for decades, was the subject of comic books, story books and came out of a career slump as a beloved TV character, twice. For more on Felix' illustrious career, see The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat.

In this incarnation, Joe Oriolo, who inherited the "wonderful cat" from his creator, Otto Messmer, resurrected the industrious feline. A favorite television series for baby boomers, in my own memory he is the only cat hero, more a little man in a cat costume. Felix defeats his enemies who mostly want to steal his magic "bag of tricks" and always wins, ending every adventure with a hearty belly laugh that assures children that he is unscathed.

This disc includes 10 shorts, filmed in 1958-9. The central theme is almost invariably the same: Felix' nemesis, the Professor, spies on him, attempting to steal his magic bag. In later episodes, after Felix is hired to baby-sit for the Professor's nerdy nephew, Poindexter, the stumpy mad scientist begins to "tolerate" his enemy, as our hero and the boy become fast friends.

Felix harmlessly encounters ghosts, abominable snowmen, sharks and dinosaurs, often controlled by the Professor. The quality of Oriolo's animation improves from short to short, but is far below the quality of even other cartoons of the time. The stories, as mentioned, barely stand out from each other and are unremarkable, although I imagine there is a comforting aspect in this for young children. Felix gets into a fix, gets himself out, smiles his "Righty-o!" and comes back again for the next story.

Although Felix fearlessly delivers a string of one-liners that are aimed at adults, I can only recommend this collection to completist fans or as innocent entertainment for the kiddies. Although I was delighted to see, in a 1959 episode, a sampler-style sign that claimed, "Home is where your computer is."

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Relatively clean, but the source seems to have been low budget to begin with. Some of the episodes are better than others, with a bit of grain scattered; some are more grainy, and nicks are numerous. There is, however, no serious bleeding, and colors seem washed out, but that is likely compared to the more sophisticated animations to which we've grown accustomed. Although we may never see better, I am not convinced these are fully restored to archival quality.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The audio transfer is perfectly clear at all times, but nothing special. Of course, there is not a lot of activity in the source material, even for a cartoon. A satisfactory job.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus short: Feline Follies (1920)
  2. Felix the Cat Through the Ages interview
  3. Promo reel
  4. Trivia game and Felix sing-along
  5. DVD-ROM: screensavers, etc.
Extras Review: While the featured shorts are not visually sensational, Sony has supported them with some interesting and charming supplements.

Feline Follies(04m:04s), the first film appearance of Felix the Cat (as Master Tom), by his creator, Otto Messmer (for The Pat Sullivan Studio) is a wonderful bonus. Please note that this was originally created for adult moviegoers and the last few frames is not for younger audiences.

Felix the Cat Through the Ages (09m:19s) presents an interview with author John Canemaker. He relates a concise history of our little hero that is very informative.

An original promo reel (03:52) provides several color and black & white promotional clips in English, Spanish and what I believe is Japanese. While it is in wearied condition, it is a fun little addition.

A bouncing ball-style sing-along of the Felix theme song (28s) should be fun for the kiddies.

A trivia game includes 10 questions about the disc; 8-10 correct answers will reward you with a bonus episode, Ghostly Concert.

Parents: Beware the menus' audio loop!

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

While I am an enormous Felix fan and collector, this collection of shorts is really geared to a very young crowdˇas I was when I enjoyed themˇand I hope future generations of Felix fans will afford him many more lives.

 


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