Thursday, May 25, 2006

Even Bigger Blockhead

A Boy Named Charlie Brown. The very first Peanuts movie, released in 1969.
A few years ago I bought a technicolor print of this film on 16mm off eBay. While I was inintially perturbed that the print was not in as good a shape as had been described, when I watched it and realized maybe I didn't know this movie quite as well as I thought. Charlie Brown's struggles with the kite seemed to go on a for a lot longer than I had remembered ...and I bacame more and more sure I was looking at animation that --one way or another-- I had never seen before. After the kite sequence things seemed the same as ever...Charlie loses the Ballgame ...Snoopy dreams of fighting the Red Baron (in footage clipped from the Great Pumpkin). However the next sequence opens with Charlie Brown wandering the streets dejected with filmic direction that's almost Bakshi-esque. He winds up at Lucy's Psychiatric Stand and she shows him the slides of his faults like always... But THEN she produces a football, talks him into trying to kick it, and proceeds to show Charles he's the loser of the world by replaying his vain attempt for him on closed-circuit television --in slow motion no less! Once Chuck staggers back home, stares at his piggybank and sez "These psychiatric sessions are going to bankrupt me" the movie goes back to the familiar cut --But I was stupified. I figured since nobody else I knew had ever seen these scenes either I'd eventually have to get it transferred. A lot less of a need now since THEY'RE ALL ON THE NEW DVD! Woo-Hoo! So --the excised footage does eventually surface after all...but completely without fanfare. Nothing on the DVD says "containing extra scenes bla bla bla" But they're on here...almost 5 minutes worth! I can only assume they were cut for time because it does seem like it takes a really long time to get to the spelling bee, which is the meat of the picture. (In fact the spelling bee doesn't even come up in this version for a full 30 minutes!) I just wish I could whole-heartedly reccommend this release...Being a much nicer print that it's VHS predesessor n' all...But it does have a rather MAJOR flaw. It's "widescreen". FAKE WIDESCREEN!! --That is, Black bars slapped on the top and bottom of a TV ratio print! (AAUUGH!!) Definitely worth having for the extra scenes but a real pisser nonetheless.
Thanks anyway, You CBS Video Blockheads.


Blogger Robert Pope said...

For my money, the main aggravation still comes in the effect whatever electronic "comb fliter" they're running during almost every animation transfer these days. The minute anything goes to "ones," the line quality goes in the toilet. Especially noticeable on poor ol' Linus. That having been said, the DVD is worth it just for the score alone. When Snoopy steps onto the ice and that deep, orchestral version of "Skating" starts, well, it just don't get any better than that.

11:37 PM

Anonymous Jim Nascara said...

GET 'IM!!!!!

12:45 AM

Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

I agree a bit with what you had to say about this.

When I first watched this film in the 80's from it's TV and home video releases, I didn't know of any cut scenes at all until a few years ago when someone mentioned them on Usenet. My only assumption is that CBS went and re-edited the film at some point in time to coincide with adding more commercial time to it in broadcasts or what-not, and used that same copy for the CBS/Fox Home Video release.

I eventually landed a DVD copy a few years ago from a British Peanuts fan who scored a digital master copy that was to air on the BBC over there. The film was presented in widescreen with the footage restored.

Interesting you didn't care for the widescreen presentation of this film, since I felt it looked pretty good watching it on my end. I see a few flaws in places, but since the film was probably shown that way theatrically, it's not a biggie for me to see it outside it's full-frame ratio (like much of what's going on, in 10 years everyone would be having to use an HD set or else).

Someone else that commented brought up what I think is often referred to as "DVNR" (or else he's thinking of something else), a dreaded process of obliterating dirt and other imperfections on film that has been a menace to animation. There's hardly no way around it other than to bitch at the studios for the incompetency.

2:37 AM


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