Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Literary Toons: Famous Classic Tales (1969)

CBS was looking to fill some time after football on Sundays during the Christmas shopping season, or so the story goes. The anthology series, Famous Classic Tales, sponsored by Kenner Toys (now part of Hasbro) launched sometime around 1969 with an adaptation of Charles Dickens' oft-adapted A Christmas Carol, produced by the Australian studio Air Programs International, which later moved into the Saturday morning arena, teaming first with Hanna-Barbera for 1971's Funky Phantom, then foraging out on its own with a series based on Jules Verne's Around The World In 80 Days, which was a 1-year flop for NBC.

Understandably, API never sold another show to NBC after that failure, and all subsequent programs would end up at CBS. H-B bought API somewhere in the midst of it all, but that's another story altogether.

Famous Classic Tales also gained air berths during the week, usually around Thanksgiving, as memory serves. H-B would take over producing the cartoons after purchasing API, as I do remember some of the later productions being under the H-B imprint.

There is also a YouTube channel bearing the Famous Classic Tales name, from which we get this trailer for the special, Tales of Washington Irving, which adapted Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.......



Episodes have been released on VHS, but not on DVD, insofar as I know.

Rating: B.

11 comments:

LAGUNA´S said...

I remember watching the series here in Venezuela in the early 80's, i used to like a lot the ones based on julio verne's books

SaturdayMorningFan said...

This one is apparently unavailable on DVD, but others in the series were released on DVD back in the early to mid 2000s.

hobbyfan said...

SMF: Thanks. Is it still in print?

SaturdayMorningFan said...

Sadly no, but you can find them used. A commenter over on IMDB, jquirk-1, states:
"Other animated features from the Famous Classic Tales canon have, fortunately, been released on DVD from Delta Entertainment. Some of the titles include "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," "Treasure Island," "Swiss Family Robinson," "Legend of Robin Hood," "Robinson Crusoe," "Adventures of Sinbad," and "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

Another noteworthy title in addition to API's "A Christmas Carol" that never made it to DVD is "Tales of Washington Irving." The VHS versions of "Tales of Washington Irving" and "A Christmas Carol" have become extremely rare and you will be lucky to find them.


I searhced Amazon for the DVD titles mentioned and found most of them at reasonable prices.

SaturdayMorningFan said...

P.S. They each have their own DVD, they are not all included in a single set.

hobbyfan said...

Hmmm, methinks Amazon might have them available, and so should some reputable retailers, like Best Buy....

Jennifer Schillig said...

Was it this studio that did several animated Sherlock Holmes stories with Peter O'Toole voicing Holmes? In the late eighties, a syndication channel ran many of these "animated classics," and these Holmes stories were among them. That's how I really started getting into Sherlock Holmes.

If it is the same studio, they also did some Dickens adaptations that they showed on HBO around the same time (late eighties). I liked their version of The Old Curiosity Shop.

hobbyfan said...

I would guess, Jennifer, that it wasn't. I'll have to look into these Holmes cartoons with Peter O'Toole that you speak of for future reference.

Jennifer Schillig said...

The first one I really saw was "The Valley of Fear." They did a good job with it. I consider that particular novel an underrated gem and a perfect candidate for a big-screen adaptation. (It would be a refreshing change from yet ANOTHER adaptation of Hound.)

redwood said...

Jennifer, this was another Australian group, Burbank Films Australia. Their series has been referred to as "Animated Classics", with the same appeal as "Famous Classic Tales". The Dickens, followed by the Conan Doyle, were the first stories, broadcast in the early 80s. Many others would follow. The production schedule surpassed CBS' Hanna-Barbera, for nearly the same number were made, but within the decade, as opposed to three. Here's a link to the info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burbank_Films_Australia

hobbyfan said...

Thank you, Redwood. I'll have to remember to look into that.