I’d forgot this existed… way back in prehistoric times Tom Terrific was a cartoon feature on the Captain Kangaroo TV show. I was told I watched it religiously, apparently before I formed permanent memories of what I did and didn’t watch on TV. But around 1956, on Edwards Air Force Base, our primitive B&W TV received only two or three Los Angeles stations. I was up early to see the station ID test pattern, the one with the Indian. Then came the Today Show (I think), and then definitely some channel that showed silent Farmer Alfalfa cartoons.
The B&W Tom Terrific must have been designed to be watchable with the worst reception possible. If not exactly funny it was certainly cheerful. Seeing it again was a big surprise: it’s so primitive yet I think the animation is pretty good and creative, and I love the voice of Tom’s dog, ‘Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog.’ Manfred isn’t malformed, it’s just an ‘in between’ frame, and he’s in the process of turning around.
Advisor, authority and pull-Glenn-back-from-the-edge-of-subjournalistic-disaster friend Gary Teetzel sends along a short Rapid TV News blurb about a film library changing hands. The headline reads Cinedigm acquires Films Around The World content library. The short article lacks details but says that ‘150 Feature Films’ are involved.
At first this might not appear all that significant to us disc collectors — most of film history is held by companies and corporations that distribute very few of them, fewer all the time. This news raises interest because one of the companies owned by Cinedigm is The Film Detective, a Blu-ray boutique that CineSavant watches very carefully … just last Tuesday I touted some of their future releases.
The Film Detective has confirmed on Facebook that, yes, there will be Blu-ray releases coming from the deal.
Among the horror & sci-fi titles that Films Around The World distributed are: The Brute Man, The Flying Serpent, Strangler of the Swamp, The Devil Bat’s Daughter, Two Lost Worlds, Night Caller from Outer Space and several Todd Slaughter features. They used to distribute 1948’s Unknown Island, but according to Tom Weaver, Wade Williams bought it from them.
Many of the titles appear to be from PRC (Producer’s Releasing Corporation); Films Around The World also distributed several Edgar G. Ulmer movies and a couple of early noirs from Anthony Mann — Railroaded, Strange Impersonation. Image Entertainment put out many FATW titles on DVD, but the quality ranged from decent to dupey public domain stuff. Do better quality film sources still exist?
Rumors from a long time ago, held that the early inheritors of the PRC library may have made dupe negatives for television distribution, and then junked the 35mm vault materials. It would be nice to be corrected on this point, and discover that some of these features could be fully restored. In the case of Edgar G. Ulmer, good news would be especially welcome, for Arrianne Ulmer Cipes’ sake!
We’ve also always wanted to see a good version of Frank Wisbar’s Strangler of the Swamp, even if that horror film didn’t suddenly transform into a timeless classic. ↑ I always thought that The Cannon’s Group’s film Shy People by Andrei Konchalovsky played as if it were inspired by the Wisbar film (and its German original).
Could there exist better printing elements for Cinedigm and The Film Detective can access? Crazier things have happened, and I’ll be eager to find out. We all need more reasons to stay alive.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson