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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'The Mr. Magoo Theatrical Collection' (1949-1959)

Dennis King Published: April 21, 2014
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This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“The Mr. Magoo Theatrical Collection” (1949-1959)

America’s most chipper, myopic geriatric, Mr. Magoo, has entertained generations of youngsters with his good-natured, grandfatherly bumbling, and now a long-awaited, re-mastered reserve of his most beloved big-screen outings is available in “The Mr. Magoo Theatrical Collection” (1949-1959) – due out on DVD Tuesday.

While many fans today might be familiar with the dauntless, nearsighted Magoo from his various TV incarnations (he was featured in three television series and two specials, not to mention a 1997 live-action movie starring Leslie Nielsen), for the decade of the 1950s Magoo – distinctly voiced by the great Jim Backus – appeared regularly in animated short subjects that ran in the nation’s movie houses.

All 53 of those shorts (including for the first time 12 cartoons in anamorphic widescreen format) and the 1959 full-length feature “1001 Arabian Nights” are included in this four-disc deluxe collection.

Among the set’s highlights are two cartoons that won Oscars for best short subject. They are:

“When Magoo Flew” (1954), in which Mr. Magoo sets off to go to the movies but goes to an airport by mistake and gets on a plane thinking it to be a theater.

“Magoo’s Puddle Jumper” (1956), which takes Mr. Magoo to a used car lot where he is intent on buying a car for his nephew Waldo. He is slick-talked into buying an old clunker and drives off to have many myopic misadventures.

In “1001 Arabian Nights,” Mr. Magoo’s ancestor, Abdul Aziz Magoo, is the uncle of Aladdin, and falls in love with a princess.

Extras include interviews with and commentaries by producers of the cartoons, a photo gallery with storyboards, pencil drawings and merchandise and the featurette “A Princess for Magoo: The Making of 1001 Arabian Nights.”

“The Mr. Magoo Theatrical Collection” (1949-1959) is not rated and runs 420 minutes on four discs. It’s being released by Shout! Factory.

- Dennis King