Over the last few weeks I worked on a little side project: fixing a few audio glitches in the Warner Bros. release of Fleischer Studios’s Superman short films.
These shorts were released in 1941-1943 and have been in the public domain for decades. You can find versions of them for free on archive.org, but most free sets I’ve found don’t look very good. The best one for a long time was a Bosko Video set from 2000 which had been made by sourcing several different releases of the shorts from over the years. In 2006, to coincide with the release of Superman Returns, Warner Bros. put out a boxed set which included new copies of the Fleischer shorts that were “remastered from superior original vault elements.” A few years later the shorts saw release as a standalone two-disc set from Warner Bros. The Warner Bros. set looks wonderful–my three-year-old noticed the color changes immediately–but there are some strange things going on with the music. Almost all of them cut out a little bit of music at the end of the prologue sequences, and do the same prior to the Paramount logo at the end. Some just outright play the wrong prologue. In the first short (which was nominated for an Oscar), the narrator says that Superman is on a never-ending quest for “true justice” instead of “truth and justice.” Often the audio during the prologue doesn’t sync to the video, and sound effects over the few title cards that have them are lost.
What I’ve done is to take the Warner Bros. releases and patch in audio from the Bosko Video versions where incorrect or shortened theme music plays. I have not done an extensive going-over of every single second of the films, but I think I’ve caught the major problems. I’m not a professional editor but do have a degree in film; I think I’ve done a pretty good job of making the cuts seamless. My hope is that you’ll be able to enjoy these shorts without ever noticing the work I’ve done. If anyone is really interested, I’d happily to get more into what changes I’ve made and which I’ve missed.
The 17 shorts are in m4v format suitable for importing into iTunes.
Please reply below for discussion of the shorts or PM me for more information.