RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER /
THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (Trans-Atlantic Video, 1988)
Both mysterious and special, these rarities were found during one of my recent Ebay searches. Since T.A.V. seems to have only ever included public domain features on its tapes, I’m left to assume that A) they made an exception and paid for the licensing to distribute these two Rankin-Bass specials, or B) they wrongly assumed the specials to be in the public domain. Since the boxes list no apparent copyright info relating to 1964’s “Rudolph” or 1968’s “Drummer Boy”, I am assuming the latter scenario. These tapes were part of T.A.V.’s seven-cassette “Christmas Classics” line (all with an “HLV Inc” copyright on their back covers) which excluded both Rankin-Bass titles when reissued in the 1989 and 1994.
This is the only time I’ve seen Rankin-Bass’ “Rudolph” on a normally public domain based label, though “Drummer Boy” has appeared on three such labels’ tapes during the VHS era, and “Jack Frost” has shown up on several cassettes and DVD’s during the 2000’s. If anyone has any more info on these seemingly “grey area” releases, let me know, and I will update this entry accordingly.
JINGLE BELL FOOLIN’ (United American Video, 1987)
TOYS WILL BE TOYS (Trans-Atlantic Video, 1990)
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Burbank Video, 1993)
Here’s an assortment of public domain based tapes that each use at least one sing-along short (mainly from the Famous Studios “Screen Song” series). While the only vaguely holiday-themed “Toys Will Be Toys” has four of them, the other two each have one with the song “Jingle Bells” on it. To drive home the Christmas theme, UAV decided to change the name of its main cartoon from “Snow Foolin’” to “Jingle Bell Foolin’”.
RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY’S HOLIDAY ADVENTURE
(United American Video, 1991 and 1993 x2)
Thank goodness UAV got permission from MacMillan Inc. to release these charming and rare Chuck Jones specials from 1978 and 1979, because they seem otherwise unavailable. I have the two separate tapes, but there is a clamshell-case release (also UAV) with both specials on it.
While the 1993 tapes each have a bonus Max Fleischer cartoon, 1991’s “Holiday Adventures” has 1947’s “The Enchanted Square”, one of two Raggedy Ann shorts done by Famous Studios, as an unlisted bonus. Unlike the Jones specials, all three of the bonus cartoons are public domain.
Someone posted a transfer of the clamshell release on YouTube here, but other people have uploaded the two separate specials on YouTube as well. Here’s hoping that these get a DVD release someday. (Holiday Adventure pics: Ebay and Amazon)
Swerving off the beaten path a bit, here’s a bit of VHS-era nostalgia….
By request, here are some recent pics I took of an Ames department store (formerly Hill’s) in Elmira, NY. It closed back in the early 2000’s.
It was one of many places where I used to purchase public domain based cartoon tapes. (There was an older Ames in Painted Post that I’d frequented more often. It was formerly a Murphy’s Mart, but is now the Victory Highway Galleria of Shops.)
(Photos: August 2013)
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Part 4 of 4)
(Video Treasures, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1995 x2)
The first-ever colorized version of this film was released by Video Treasures (which put out titles under the Burbank Video and Viking Entertainment labels), starting in the late 1980’s. This was a more legitimate release than the many black and white versions flooding the market, released with the cooperation of Hal Roach Studios. (This version appeared on TV quite a bit as well. Deluxe versions of the recent DVD release have a different, improved color version.)
I owned the original “white box” version of these from 1989, but later gave it away, only keeping the Saturday Matinee Classics black and white tape (as seen in Part 2). I found the 1994 red box version at a thrift store, still sealed and with its original price tag ($14.99, possibly from Ames). Out of curiosity, I decided to check Ebay, to see how many other times they repackaged this color version. Remarkably, Video Treasures had put it out FIVE TIMES IN SIX YEARS, including two “clam shell” versions, one of which came with a free angel-shaped Christmas ornament!
There were many other VHS companies (usually public domain based) that put out this movie over the years. Do you have any of them? Which are your favorites?
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Part 3 of 4)
(Alpha Video & Exclusive Pictures, 1993)
Easily the strangest tapes of this movie in my collection, and both from the tail end of the film’s “assumed public domain” era. The Alpha Video version slaps together a few photos and calls it a night, while the Exclusive Pictures release digitally paints over some bad screen captures. Yikes.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Part 2 of 4)
(Goodtimes, 1987 / Saturday Matinee Classics, circa 1990)
I remember getting the store-exclusive SMC tape back when it came out, from our mall’s Saturday Matinee (which later combined with Record Town to become an F.Y.E.), perhaps free or cheap with a larger purchase. (The label also released “Scrooge” in similar packaging.) Comparing it now to the Goodtimes tape, Saturday Matinee’s decision to edit out one of the kids from the original photo amuses me quite a bit.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Part 1 of 4)
(Star Classics, 1986 x2 & 1987)
I remember growing up during a time when this movie, then assumed to be in public domain(*), was on nearly every channel on TV during the holiday season, not to mention all over the video shelves. Here are some of many tapes from that era, which I found at various thrift stores throughout the year….
The extra inch of width on the yellow box (with an inner piece of cardboard to keep the tape from falling out) was typical of many Star Classics releases. This made for a more eye-catching (but difficult to shelve) package when renting or buying.
(*) For more info, see Wikipedia.
A JOYFUL CHRISTMAS (update)
(Goodtimes / Kids Klassics: 1988, 1992, 1993 x2, 1998)
You may recall previous entries that I did about Goodtimes’ various repackagings of Famous Studios’ “Hector’s Hectic Life”. Since then, I have found physical copies of all four tapes, plus a fifth one, which adds an additional 30min of cartoons from “Santa’s Surprise” (a previously-released tape featuring the Famous Studios cartoon of the same name). This means that Goodtimes released “A Joyful Christmas” FIVE TIMES IN TEN YEARS.
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
(Kids Klassics/Goodtimes, 1992/1999)
Want to spruce up your old tape for a re-release, but don’t have any new artwork? JUST FLIP IT OVER!
P.S. Sorry for the delay on new entries. I’ve been working, performing improv, writing and rehearsing another play, and losing much sleep as a result. I promise to catch up within the next week.