Reissued and RESTORED at Original Length.
SPECIAL! Beatles Classic to Repremiere on video AND DVD!
(note: This page dated June 1, 1999)
For the past four years, one of the hottest out-of-print laserdisc titles has been the 1968 animated treat, Yellow Submarine. Although it originally sold for $35.00, rare copies routinely change hands for hundreds. Long-withheld over a legal snag, it's often mentioned (along with the Beatles film Let it Be) as one of the most sought-after and requested titles in Home Video.
This fall, MGM Home Entertainment will be reissuing Yellow Submarine worldwide once again. Both a VHS and a DVD will surface in mid-September. Information is that the DVD will be a Special Edition with lots of extras.
A reportedly stunning remix of the Beatles songs was done in London from the original masters. The new film mix was done at POP audio in Santa Monica, in Dolby Digital 5.1. Final format for the DVD has not been decided. As the movie is a 1:66 original, if MGM follows policy the DVD will not be 16:9. An HDTV transfer has been done for future use.
But the biggest news is that this release will restore Yellow Submarine to its original English length, which by Savant's measure is three and a half minutes longer (Sources place the English at 90 minutes, and the US at 85). What will be restored, and seen for the first time by American fans, is the entire Beatles song, Hey Bulldog. The tune has been an issue since 1968: it was featured on the original soundtrack album even though it went missing in the movie itself. The best source Savant can find says Hey Bulldog was removed from the film for all non-British exhibition.
Hey Bulldog is not only one of the better new songs, its reinstatement smooths out the flow of Yellow Submarine. Like the rest of the 'fantabulous, psychedelic' feature, the footage is better seen than described. (Scoops hooray; Spoilers boo.) The scene deals with one of the four-headed dogs the Blue Meanie troops use like bloodhounds. Viewers with even casual memories of the earlier release will have no trouble spotting the new footage when it jumps out at them (and barks, too).
MGM/UA's new transfer is everything that could be hoped for. The animated Pop graphics are bright and colorful, without a trace of film dirt; a huge improvement over all earlier releases. Savant remembers Yellow Submarine from screenings where the frequent white screens showed not only film scratches but also flaws in the theater screen! The whites on the new transfer are as clean as a whistle.
One of the extras pegged for the disc is the contemporary making-of short subject The Beatles Mod Odyssey. It's an amusing time capsule that shows some really gear animators who look suspiciously like fashion models. The short has wonderful copy: "It's a truly Mod World where medium and message meld! - The New Art of the Psychedelic sixties!" It also boasts clips of the Beatles posing with their animated counterparts. The color on the short has faded badly, which helps one appreciate the sparkling hues on the feature itself. Designer Heinz Edelmann and director George Dunning are heard in voiceovers. Dunning and producer / co-writer Al Brodax are listed in the same capacities on the Beatles animated TV series from a couple of years previous. The publicity people did a good job distancing Yellow Submarine's 'spin' from that Saturday-morning 'music video' kiddie show, whose fairly insipid literalizations of the songs Savant remembers well.
Thad Driscoll's informative Beatle Movies web page includes the odd claim that the English cut had some different individual scenes, and a less sentimental ending, leaving the Chief Blue Meanie unredeemed by the Fab Four's message of Peace & Love. MGM restorer Lee Nedler says that there are couple of minor changes in dialog lines immediately before the new sequence, but otherwise the two versions are identical. And for the better: Who would want to do without the timeless comeback line, ". . . Argentina?"
Come September, MGM Home Video is going to make a lot of Beatle fans happy. Next from that huge vault of goodies, with the dropping of the Bond moratorium, will come a hopefully unbroken string of 007 hits!
Every Beatle fan on Earth is probably already aware of this, but Savant just learned that the Mop Tops did not dub their own animated voices for Yellow Submarine. Since their credits don't seem to be on the film, I include them here:
John: John Clive
Paul: Geoffrey Hughes
George: Peter Batten
Ringo: Paul Anglis
Fred: Lance Percival
and Jeremy Hilary Boob, Ph.D. (The Nowhere Man): Dick Emery
According to the IMDB, Lance Percival split the voicing chores on the earlier TV cartoon with familiar dubbing talent Paul Frees.
Text © Copyright 1999 Glenn Erickson
DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson