Beany And Cecil

Beany And Cecil (1950)
Image Entertainment
Extras: Photo Galleries, Archival material, Behind-the-scenes footage, commentary track

Created by Bob Clampett, "Beany and Cecil" are cartoon characters that have made their impression on audiences for over 50 years. Actually, the two started out as puppets in live television, as we learn from this DVD, and eventually made the transition to animated cartoons where they were undoubtedly the most successful. Now Image Entertainment has created a DVD chock-full with cartoon episodes and supplements that will make every fan of classic cartoons happy.

As the main feature, the disc contains 12 full episodes from the animated series as well as countless interstitials that were used to glue the episodes together. The episodes are in remarkable shape, given their age. They are flawed with only minor presentation problems liek the occasional jumpy registration or speckles. The sound of these cartoons has been affected a little more, I’m afraid. While the general noise level of the audio tracks is surprisingly low, distortion and an inconsistent level of quality is clearly audible. Let me tell you however that these problems are never truly distracting from the cartoons themselves or would possibly make them less enjoyable.

Animated movies are by nature hard to compress and the rather simplistic drawing style found in "Beany and Cecil" makes things an even tougher nut. Although some ringing artifacts are evident in the transfer, Image has managed to create a DVD version of the cartoons here that looks stunningly beautiful. Boldly reproducing the series’ colors – that are sometimes a little muted as part of their unique style – this DVD lets the cartoons shine like never before.
Apart from the fact that they are highly entertaining, these cartoons exemplify the word ’pun’. Constantly playing with words, their combinations and ambiguities, these cartoons will make your sides split at any age. "Beany and Cecil" have a class and sophistication that makes them appealing to various age groups from children – who probably enjoy the cutesy characters, obvious rhymes and colors the most – all the way to adults who will thoroughly enjoy the puns and innuendo found in the material. At all times did Bob Clampett and his team of animators push the envelope of political correctness and social satire with these seemingly meaningless cartoons and continually dared censors with their attempts.

If you think the main attraction of this DVD lies in the cartoons only, you are very much mistaken, though. Another huge segment of the disc contains four "Time For Beany" TV episodes. These are episodes from the puppet show ranging from 1949 to 1951. Although somewhat crude in nature, these episodes already show the eloquence and nature of humor that would later influence the animated series so much. The truly interesting aspect about these episodes is also that they not only show the early beginnings of "Beany and Cecil," but are also historic landmarks of television history – or do you remember where you had your TV set in 1949 and what you watched religiously?

You can also find a segment on the disc that is solely dedicated to Bob Clampett, the creator of "Beany and Cecil" and it is especially in this segment that we get to know more about the man behind the scenes. Somewhat shy but always friendly, Bob Clampett’s genius is evident in every piece of work he did and the DVD uncovers them all. From early footage to home movies all the way to his first attempt at a full film called "The Golf Widow", this segment is great reminder of the sense of humor and determination Bob Clampett brought to the table.
The disc also contains extensive photo galleries with over 550 still images as well as many audio snippets by Bob Clampett himself. Pieced together painstakingly from countless occasions and recordings, especially Clampett’s own words add immensely to the understanding of his materials, as he allows viewers to directly share his enthusiasm and shows, how this man used his imagination to inspire not only his colleagues, but also his viewing audiences. It comes through at any given moment just how much passion he put into his work and how thankful he was to have the opportunity to do what he was doing.

Another fantastic segment on the disc can be found under "The Lost Work." It is a great exploration of projects, ideas, and plans Bob Clampett was working on throughout his illustrious career. Especially pieces like "Mars" that was based on a character by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a great highlight, as are the various "Twig" episodes that can be found on the disc.

Image Entertainment’s release of "Beany and Cecil" is a true treasure chest of a DVD. Content rich and exceedingly interesting all the materials presented on this DVD are highly entertaining and educational.
Although the highlight of the disc is on the "Beany and Cecil" cartoons, another appropriate title for this DVD would have been "The Works Of Bob Clampett." For hours and hours you can go through material on this disc, always being reminded of the early days of television or your own childhood.
The fact that apart from this DVD there is probably no way to catch a decent looking "Beany and Cecil" cartoon anywhere only adds to the incredible value of this special edition. For all fans of animated films and cartoons, this disc is gem that you cannot afford to miss!