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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I saw all of the movies in this collection when they were first broadcast
as a child and then every year until I was an adult. They were shown
from 1962 through 1970. I can now look at them both nostalgically and critically.


The titles contained are the Rankin/Bass animated versions of "Rudolph the Rednosed
Reindeer", "Frosty the Snowman", "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town", "The Little Drummer
Boy", Cricket on the Hearth" and "Frosty Returns". Also included is UPA's "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol". There's a separate CD of some of the songs contained in these
specials.


How do they rate and stand up decades later? Well first of all, none of them have been
digitally 'cleaned up'. What that means is that they don't look any worse then when they
were broadcast but don't look any better either. I screened all of them on a DLP and noticed dust, dirt, scratches, wires and other artifacts on the image. All of them could have been and should have been removed. But these shows were never meant to be exhibited on a large screen and probably weren't noticeable in 16mm on television. But they are now from original 35mm sources.


The best of the lot is "Rudolph". George Pal introduced and made popular the technology
of 'Puppetoons' which are miniature figures which are artifically moved a frame at a time along the lines of Willis O'Brien's "King Kong". Today, they are done via computer but back then it required a great deal of patience and skill to make one work. In the sixties,
the Rankin/Bass company cornered the market for television features. This movie, based on the old Gene Autry song, is a very charming expansion of the theme of a 'misfit' who
saved the day despite his anatomical defect. I could certainly relate to the concept of being a misfit and enjoyed the movie then and now. The songs and voice characterizations are all excellent. However, when watching this version I recalled a song entitled, "Fame and Fortune", which is missing from this disc. For good reason. They offer the original broadcast version from the sixties. Later editions replaced a reprise of "We're a couple of Misfits" with this new song which is not contained here, even as a suppliment.


The second movie that works quite nicely is the Mr. Magoo version of "A Christmas Carol". You wouldn't think it would play as well as is it did considering the source. Magoo was a fifties character created by the animation studio, UPA, in a series of shorts. In the sixties they adapted this character into some classic stories. Jim Backus (Thurston Howell in "Gilligan's Island") provided the voice of the near sighted comical cartoon. It's basically an early musical version of the Dicken's story and does lend itself to this adaptation. The songs are very good and catchy. They utilized a strange structure of pretending Magoo was performing this story on stage on Broadway. In later years, some stations removed the framing device. It's a very good version of the classic depsite the limited animation. The best song is "I'm all Alone in the World" which is touching and gives another dimension to the alienated Ebeneezer Scrooge. It
makes him more sympathetic than any other version.



The remaining films vary in interest. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is next in line in
terms of quality and has the voice and simulated Puppetoon of Fred Astaire to carry it.
The story about the lead character is an original one created for this special.
Next are the lesser entries, "Frosty the Snowman" (with the voice of Jimmy Durante),
"The Little Drummer Boy" (Puppetoon) along with "Cricket of the Hearth" and "Frosty
Returns" which are only mediocre and lack the charm of the rest of the series.



None of these films have been 'digitally restored' although they are all 'digitally remastered' which is advertised on the back. Of course everything distributed on DVD was digitally mastered so that's not much of an attribute. So I recommend this box set providing you realise that hopefully someday a much better one will be released of all of these titles either individually or separately.


In Summary: Picture quality B +, Sound B, Voices for the animation A,
Story and Screenplay overall B +
 

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You know what though, just from the stand point that I can now go back and watch Frosty again, is awesome. I would be nicer, if it was cleaned up better, but the memories might (maybe!!) wash it away.
Now, if I only could get the original half hour episodes of "Spiderman" from back in the day, that would be great.
 

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Senior Shackster
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Discussion Starter #5
deacongreg,

Yes, it's convenient to have all the movies in this package that you can
see without commercials but they should've done a complete restoration
like they did with Chuck Jones' "Grinch Who Stole Christmas" which looks
fantastic.
 

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Hmmm, I did not realize commerials were included. that is not good. What is the point of that. I need to get the Grinch. That is an all time favorite of mine for years. Plus, I like Boris karloff and all the great old classic horror movies. The Wolfman with Lon Chaney, being my favorite.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You misunderstood me. I meant that watching the films on this DVD
set is better than on network where commercials interupt the show.
There are no commercials on the DVD. Although, I would actually like
to see as a suppliment some day the broadcast commercials shown with
the original airing of "Rudolph". Rankin/Bass created gillette razor commercials
made especially for the network premiere which had the puppetoon elves
riding them like sleighs. They were fun.


I like the original classic horror stars of Karloff, Lugosi and Chaney.
Lon Chaney was never able to get out from the shadow of his father and
was thus a miserable and sad man. Fortunately, he was able to incorporate
that into his wolfman role and comes off like a tortured soul. A form of
type casting. He really hit rock bottom in the sixties when he ended up
appearing in grade Z exploitation movies. Lugosi was a wreck too. Only
Karloff was able to handle his fame and career successfully.
 

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Understood. Yes, I knew about Chaney and Bela, Too bad, drugs, poverty, lack of respect from his peers, very, very sad.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hollywood is a nasty town and this is a nasty business. It's tough to
survive. Some actors are able to handle it, others crash and burn.
Poor Lugosi and Chaney were among those that didn't survive.


Of course audiences and movie buffs just enjoy the final product and
don't know what went on behind the scenes. And that's the way it
should be. The more you know about the life story of some celebrities,
the less you like them in many cases or at least look at them differently
when you know what they went through. It's hard to watch Lugosi
now in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (his last great role)
without thinking about his substance abuse.
 

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Your right. I happened to catch some time ago a special on Lugosi, and it was a sad eye opener. I enjoyed the movies very much. To find this out later, well, was not what I expected. In fact, its been a while seen anyone, including the Sci-Fi channel ran any of his classic movies. From Dracula to the rest, its been a while. AMC will still occassionally show The Wolfman, House of frankenstein, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, but thats it. I probably just need to purchase the dvds.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Lugosi had no idea how to manage his affairs. He would appear in virtually
anything which wasn't appropriate for sustaining a career. If you're an "A" list player then you don't accept roles in grade Z productions as Bela often did. That wasn't how
the game was played. Karloff was very careful what he appeared in and even if it was in a supporting part like an Abbott and Costello picture, he made sure he got proper billing and respect in the role. "Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff" wasn't one of the teams better films but it still enabled him to be classified as a 'star' within
the horror spoof genre. In contrast, Lugosi appeared in the dismal imitation
Martin and Lewis exploitation picture, "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn
Gorilla" which pretty much mocked his persona and illustrated how far he
had sunk within the industry.
 

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Yeah, you are so right about that. And that was very very sad. I`m sure you remember the show Boris Karloff had, it was actually pretty good. It came on channel 9 back in the day before there was cable. The name escapes me, maybe Boris karloff presents....

But, its good to talk with someone who likes the old horror classics. My Dad started me out on this. Chiler Theater, before it came on with the hand, I used to watch every Saturday night. The Hideous Sun Demon and Attack of the 5o Foot Woman were my first two that I saw. The Hideous Sun Demon was wild!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes the show was called "Thriller" and ran from 1960-1962 and then played
in syndication. It was a pretty good anthology show but so were most of
them back then. On YouTube is the Chiller Theater intro with the six fingered
clamation hand coming out of the ground. Also there's the intro to "The Million
Dollar Movie" with shots of the Big Apple and "Gone with the Wind" theme.
My favorite B horror flick back then was "Carnival of Souls". It used to play
all the time late at night on Channel 9. Then it just disappeared so in 1989
I tracked down the director, Herk Harvey, restored it to the original running
time and lined him up to get it re-issued. Afterwards, I had the camera negative
deposited at the George Eastman House Archive under his name because he
didn't have a vault to store it in.
 

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Yes the show was called "Thriller" and ran from 1960-1962 and then played
in syndication. It was a pretty good anthology show but so were most of
them back then. On YouTube is the Chiller Theater intro with the six fingered
clamation hand coming out of the ground. Also there's the intro to "The Million
Dollar Movie" with shots of the Big Apple and "Gone with the Wind" theme.
My favorite B horror flick back then was "Carnival of Souls". It used to play
all the time late at night on Channel 9. Then it just disappeared so in 1989
I tracked down the director, Herk Harvey, restored it to the original running
time and lined him up to get it re-issued. Afterwards, I had the camera negative
deposited at the George Eastman House Archive under his name because he
didn't have a vault to store it in.



Yessssssss, I remember the Million Dollar Movie. Man, I have not thought about that in a while. Brings to memory movie for a Sunday Afternoon. And sfter Thriller was Supernatural theater, remember that? With the Crawling Eye at the beginning. I saw the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms on Supernatural.

Carnival of Souls I do remember because it came on so much, I was upset that they did not show some of the other great horror movies.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Here's the story on where they got the name...

WOR discovered a defunct distributor that had gone bust and
the bank took their assetts. They had a large collection of
movies including titles like "Laughter in Paradise", "The Weapon"
and other interesting B movies. WOR TV asked the bank how
much they wanted for the rights to broadcast the library
and they said "A Million Dollars". So the station figured it was
a good investment and it became "The Million Dollar Movie".
Somehow they licensed the "Gone with the Wind" theme for their
opening and of course later they included other movie packages
in the title include the RKO films and Abbott and Costello features
before WPIX Channel 11 re-licensed them in the seventies.
I did discover that "Laughter in Paradise" is on DVD now and will
buy a copy but no luck on "The Weapon" which was a pretty good
flick about a boy who finds a gun and accidently shoots another
kid and runs away while the police pursue him.


When I saw the re-issue of "Gone with the Wind" (in 1968 in 'widescreen')
at the Paramount in Peekskill I said to my sister, "They stole the Million
Dollar Movie theme for the credits"...

In any event if you log onto YouTube someone has posted videos of
both "Millon Dollar Movie" and "Chiller Theater" intros.
 

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Here's the story on where they got the name...

WOR discovered a defunct distributor that had gone bust and
the bank took their assetts. They had a large collection of
movies including titles like "Laughter in Paradise", "The Weapon"
and other interesting B movies. WOR TV asked the bank how
much they wanted for the rights to broadcast the library
and they said "A Million Dollars". So the station figured it was
a good investment and it became "The Million Dollar Movie".
Somehow they licensed the "Gone with the Wind" theme for their
opening and of course later they included other movie packages
in the title include the RKO films and Abbott and Costello features
before WPIX Channel 11 re-licensed them in the seventies.
I did discover that "Laughter in Paradise" is on DVD now and will
buy a copy but no luck on "The Weapon" which was a pretty good
flick about a boy who finds a gun and accidently shoots another
kid and runs away while the police pursue him.


When I saw the re-issue of "Gone with the Wind" (in 1968 in 'widescreen')
at the Paramount in Peekskill I said to my sister, "They stole the Million
Dollar Movie theme for the credits"...

In any event if you log onto YouTube someone has posted videos of
both "Millon Dollar Movie" and "Chiller Theater" intros.


Excellent, I will check those out. It would be really nice to watch the movies with the Thriller intro with the woman walking thru the darkness, this to me is better than the hand that everyone knows.
 
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