April 5, 2008

Public Domain Drive-In: Fleischer Studios' Superman

And now, a brand new feature to the blog - with April 15th coming up, and in these rather tough economic times, it means that we all have to tighten our belts.

In that spirit, I am announcing the new, semi-regular "Public Domain Drive-In" - that is, films and other materials of interest that are in the public domain. It would be easy to find obvious trashy stuff to feature (like Plan 9 from Outer Space), but this is more about the treasures - things that might not be as well-known, but thanks to sites like Public Domain Torrents and the Internet Archive, will be released for you, the reader, to enjoy.

(When possible, I'll also try to find ways to embed the videos in the post - that way, you can watch at your leisure. Our first entry is a little tricky, but rest assured - my job is to help you gain access).

Our premiere piece focuses on Superman, whose copyright has been recent news. These are the famous Fleischer Studio cartoons from the 1940s - these are the toons that served as the basis for the art style of Bruce Timm's later work on Batman: The Animated Series, and stylistically, are extremely impressive - the plots are basic WW2-era plots (mad scientists, saboteurs, etc), but watching them just to enjoy the artwork...is a real pleasure.

So, you may be asking yourself - since DC had owned Superman, how could these cartoons be in the public domain? Wikipedia has a great explanation of the circumstances, and these cartoons have been released...repeatedly. Much of it is through cheaper editions, but higher quality (though more expensive) editions still exist. Plus, a key note to consider when watching: there are some very strong tendencies towards sexism and (more appropriately) racism - granted, it's an emblem of its time, but these are best viewed one or two cartoons at a time.

So, welcome aboard, and in future installments, we'll see a great classic of screwball comedy, a conspiracy picture 30 years ahead of its time....and a lost science fiction film that's excellent, except for its final line.

Download Information:

Superman Fleischer Cartoons on Google Video

Superman Festival - Torrent Downloads

Superman Festival - Internet Archive


Mella said...

Interesting post!
Marco M.

Ron Fortier said...

I own high quality copies of all these shorts and love them. Found this really interesting.