"The Censored Eleven": in case you're not familiar with the term, this is a group of 11 shorts in the Looney Tunes
and Merry Melodies
lineups which have been withheld from circulation since the late '60s, due to racial depictions that are considered offensive by modern standards. Despite the nature of the material, home video collectors during the DVD era have been interested in owning these "taboo" cartoons on disc, mostly because of the artistry of the animation these shorts were produced with, and the quality of the directors behind them. Here's the list of titles in the "Censored Eleven," including the year and director name (all are Merry Melodies
, except as noted):
- 1931's Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land (Rudolf Ising)
- 1936's Sunday Go to Meetin' Time (Friz Freleng)
- 1937's Clean Pastures (Friz Freleng)
- 1937's Uncle Tom's Bungalow (Tex Avery)
- 1938's Jungle Jitters (Friz Freleng)
- 1938's The Isle of Pingo Pongo (Tex Avery)
- 1941's All This and Rabbit Stew (Tex Avery)
- 1943's Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (Bob Clampett)
- 1943's Tin Pan Alley Cats (Bob Clampett)
- 1944's Angel Puss (Chuck Jones; Looney Tunes)
- 1944's Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears (Friz Freleng)
Earlier this year, animation historian Jerry Beck posted
at the Cartoon Brew blog (which he runs along with Amid Amidi) that restored prints of these cartoons would be screened in Hollywood at an April event which included a showcase called "Removed from Circulation: A Cartoon Collection." This led to speculation that the shorts would finally see life on DVD in the not-too-distant future. Could the time for collectors to obtain these at last be at hand during 2011?
Yesterday our friends at ToonZone.net reported
from the 2010 New York Comic Con, an event which took place over the weekend (Friday through Sunday). In his write-up, Michael Lachman recounts how he "paid a visit to the Warner Archive booth," and was told by the man working there - a piece of information he double-checked to ensure he heard the gentleman correctly! - that The Censored Eleven would be made available on DVD, in "completely uncensored" form, in 2011 via the WBshop online store's manufacture-on-demand (MOD) program. The man commented to Lachman that this has been their most-requested title (no surprise there, really). No specific release date, or even a timeframe, was given: just "sometime in 2011."
Stay tuned, of course, and we'll keep you posted with updates on this, as further developments occur!
UPDATE (10/13): The New York Post reports
that they have also seen the ToonZone.net information we described above. And when they asked Warner Home Video for comment about it, the studio replied that there are "no firm plans" at this time. It wasn't an out-and-out denial either, however. Extrapolating a bit on the Post's
write-up, the indication was that neither a timeframe (not even a release year, for example) nor method of delivery have been decided upon yet. As an example, if such a release comes out it might arrive in 2012 rather than 2011; and it might come out through traditional retail channels rather than via Warner's MOD program.
Nor would we think, potentially, is the theoretical content of such an (unannounced) release necessarily limited to the above-named 11 shorts, as other shorts also became restricted later on (such as 1944's Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips
by Friz Freleng, for example), and Warner might like to include those on such a title as well. The bottom line is that things might be a bit more serious about such a release than they have been in the past, but it's still not "just around the corner" quite yet. Stay tuned and we'll keep you informed!