Best of Netflix Watch Instantly, Animation: Fleischer Studios

Mostly known these days for their terrific Superman cartoons, Fleisher Studios are well represented on Netflix streaming. As with Kubrick, this post is little more than a list of links to everything available because it's all fantastic.

The Complete Superman Collection

Still my favorite take on the Man of Steel. The animation is gorgeously appropriate to the subject, naturalistic without being pedantic about it. The storylines are in the main joyfully naive (mad scientist programs flying robots to rob a jewelry exhibition! Thugs design a flying, bulletproof car to rob trains! Frozen dinosaur thaws out at museum, runs amok!), with a few notable detours into racist stereotyping (one WWII related episode is titled JAPOTEURS!, another finds Nazis using 'jungle savages' as catspaws). Everyone was doing it, of course, but that doesn't make it any more appealing.
But aside from those missteps, a terrifically entertaining series of shorts. Highly recommended.

A fine collection of shorts demonstrating why Popeye is a cultural touchstone. As someone who grew up with mostly crummy, low-grade later Popeye cartoons these were a revelation. This Popeye is an appealingly bumbling everyman, with a secret weapon in reserve for when he's reached his limit. The animation is fluid and inventive, especially appealing in the two longer episodes, detailing Popeye's encounters with Ali Baba's 40 Thieves & Sinbad the Sailor. Recommended, especially for those like me who thought they didn't like the character.

Gulliver's Travels
A feature length film with the same smooth character animation & naturalistic color palette of the Superman cartoons. The story is a little uneven, but splendid animation carries the day. A good watch, and strangely forgotten by modern viewers.

Christmas Classics Vol 1.
A fun collection of seasonal shorts, a couple of which share the racial stereotyping issues of the Superman series. Product of the times, blah blah blah. Still a ton of fun, very Christmasy, and my toddler doesn't sweat the problematic content. Anyway, it's good not to just 'disappear' stuff like this down the memory hole- society could use a few more pointed reminders that prejudice and stereotype were once coins of the realm to be spent in broad daylight, not relegated (mostly) to the underground economy.

Anyway, all their stuff is technically advanced, artistically appealing and hugely entertaining.
If you've got Netflix and you like to stream, there's no excuse not to check out all these gems.

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