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Fleischer's Superman Cartoons


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Fleischer's Superman Cartoons
« on: May 21, 2023, 06:55:15 PM »
When my family arrived from Nashville Tennessee, to such as strange place known as Brooklyn, my father gave me a copy of the Journal American, turned to the TV section.  It had three times as many listed stations!!!! I thought there would always be something on that I would like to see.

The first thing we turned on that Sunday night was Terrytoon Circus, hosted by Claude Kirchner. And I saw a Max Fleischer Superman cartoon, in black and white on a 10 inch Dumont TV,  for the very first time!

It was incredible.  I had seen Looney Toons, Farmer Brown and Ruff and Ready, but nothing like this.  It has “real” people and a panoramic view of the city. (Identified as Manhattan at one point.) And they showed one a week, on Sunday nights.

The first 8 of 17 Superman cartoons were produced by Fleischer and distributed by Paramount, until Paramount took over and renamed the studio “Famous.” They were produced from 1941-1943 at a cost of $50,000 a cartoon. Most cartoons costed about $18,000 then. (Superman was introduced in 1938.)

Well, these cartoons feel out of copyright, although in 1969 DC (Warner Brothers) got the original film elements.  There have been several releases of these cartoons, but, finally, DC/Warners has restored and released them on Blue Ray.

They are beautiful.  The colors are rich and the detail is outstanding.  The mono audio is clear and wonderful. Especially nice is the music and themes. The animation, for it’s time, is just outstanding.  Nothing here looks like Disney.

If you don’t know, Superman originally jumped and could not fly. He learned to fly in these cartoons. He also learned to change in a phone booth, which he had never done in the comics.  The phrase “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!" came from the cartoons as well as so much of the opening we saw in the Superman TV show.

The stories in these 8-to-9-minute cartoons are rather similar.  A major disaster or crime breaks out, Lois investigates and is caught in it and Superman rescues her. They are fun to watch, but just one or two at a time. 

There are three 13 minute shorts that are, frankly, not long enough.  They do not give as much information as I would expect. They do mention that the recent Batman animated TV show was influenced by these cartoons.

I am so glad they restored these, they deserved to be preserved. To bad they could not preserve Claude Kirchner.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2023, 12:20:17 PM by Barry »
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Re: Fleischer's Superman Cartoons
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2023, 07:18:56 AM »
Thanks for the review. I never saw the cartoon version. Ony the original black and white with real actors. Will have to check this out.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2023, 07:07:38 AM by tripplej »
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Re: Fleischer's Superman Cartoons
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2023, 12:18:41 PM »
Barry, thanks for another great history lesson. 

I have to admit, in the back of my mind I always wondered why there was a line about leaping tall buildings in a single bound, for a guy who can fly. 

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