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Who has best "Jack Frost" print?

About Nothing over 6 bucks each!

Previous Entry Who has best "Jack Frost" print? Nov. 22nd, 2006 @ 03:07 am Next Entry
My question regards "Jack Frost" - the Rankin-Bass stop-motion puppet animated Chrstimas special wherein Buddy Hackett voiced the groundhog (NOT the Ub Iwerks traditional animated short from the 1930s).

I notice several folks have copies for sale on eBay - it seems to have fallen into the public domain. Does anyone know which of the budget DVD manufacturers has the best print of this show? Also, if you could please post the cover so I know what to look for, that would be great, too.

Thank you kindly!
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Date:November 22nd, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid that I don't know about the quality of any DVDs (or if it got an official DVD release like many of the other Rankin Bass titles), but I did find something interesting regarding its copyright status.

A combination search for "Jack Frost" at the Library of Congress website yielded the following:

20. Registration Number: PA-1-264-057
Title: Jack Frost / produced & directed by aArthur Rankin , Jr. & aJules Bass.
Description: Videocassette (Betacam SP)
Note: Animation.
Claimant: Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc.
Created: 1979
Published: *13Dec79
Registered: 29Dec04
Author on © Application: Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc., employer for hire.
Previous Related Version: Some sound recordings preexisting.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: all other cinematographic material.
Special Codes: 4/X/L

So if I'm reading this right, JACK FROST would've been a public domain title if not for the copyright extention act.
Date:November 22nd, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure whether you're saying it IS or ISN'T in the public domain... if it isn't, there's a whole lot of folks who could be in big trouble because I see at least 4 different covers for this thing on eBay, indicating multiple manufaturers...
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Date:November 22nd, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
As far as I can tell, it's not in the public domain and you're quite correct about a lot of people getting in trouble if Warner Brothers ever decides to take action. Sadly, I doubt they will, seeing as how they haven't gone after East West DVD and Desert Island films for their bootleg materials of THE HOBBIT (which is listed as being copyrighted on the LOC website).

I'm guessing that its "PD" status is the result of ignorance of the copyright extension act (I know there's a book of "public domain" movies floating around out there that's out of date). Well, either that or it's just a flat-out bootleg (which is sadly quite common in the world of cheap DVDs).
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Date:November 24th, 2006 01:20 pm (UTC)
Why would it be a public domain title? In 1979, it was much harder for titles to fall into the public domain than it was just a couple years before. Registration was no longer required. And the registration itself is merely prima facie evidence that it is copyrighted; there still could be a couple of reasons why it fell out of copyright, but they would be fairly unusual compared to the host of unrenewed movies made prior to 1963.
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Date:November 26th, 2006 02:16 am (UTC)
Well, I was just assuming that since it was published in 1979 and didn't get registered until 2004, it could've been on the path to becoming PD via improper registration(judging from the story of how NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD fell into the public domain and some notes from an earlier copyright related discussion). I also figured that the asterix by the publication date referred to some sort of special circumstance reguarding its copyright.

I had not heard about the PD rules getting tightened in 1979. Please tell me more/share any useful links; I can't get enough of this stuff!
Date:November 27th, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC)
The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 is not really relevant, in my opinion, to this case. If JACK FROST was published after 1-1-78 and "fixed in a tangible medium of expression," then it is NOT public domain, and never was, whether it was registered or not. It seems like what they are doing here is covering their ass by filing a formal registration, which is not required but is still available from the Copyright Office. If this is the only entry for this title, then it is possible that item was not registered in 1979, and in 2004 somebody realized this and tried to register it well after the fact, claiming a large amount of NEW MATTER to help justify the late date of the registration. Perhaps this was done after Rankin/Bass was purchased by Warner Brothers (see claimant in listing) and while reviewing the copyright status of what they had purchased, some lawyer at Warner Brothers decided to go ahead and register the sucker just in case. Anyway, that's my take on what's going on here. I am not a lawyer, merely a self-taught student of copyright law.
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Date:November 28th, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
You're correct. I looked back at the discussion I mentioned in my last post and realized that I got the dates reguarding registration mixed up. Serves me right for trying to post something in a hurry.

Your "ass-covering" theory sounds very likely. I tried to see if I could find any other listings for the Rankin-Bass version of JACK FROST, but couldn't dig up anything. However, I should note that LOC's search function is very anal. There were a couple times where I could find something by doing a combined search for the title, but yet it wouldn't show up when I did a combined search for the claimant.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, Warner Brothers got the rights to the post 1974 Rankin-Bass stuff in 1989! And it took them until 2004 to do anything about this?

As for the "NEW MATTER", my readings of LOC listings lead me to believe that anything counts as new material as long as a part (novel its based on, an audio track, screenplay, etc) existed prior to the work itself. "NEW MATTER: all other cinematographic material." and "Some sound recordings preexisting." suggest to me that the movie itself is the "new matter". However, I've only seen JACK FROST on a broadcast on the (then) "Fox Family Channel" in the late 90's, so it's entirely possible that Warner Brothers retooled elements of it for the 2004 registration. It'd be interestng to compare the various versions to see if any new material was added; I'll have to keep an eye out this December.

My research also revealed that an amazing amount of much Rankin-Bass stuff was published in the 60's and 70's, but wasn't registered until years later! I also realized that I hadn't paid close enough attention to the listing for THE HOBBIT:

34. Registration Number: PA-1-260-522
Title: The hobbit / a Rankin Bass production ; produced & directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass.
Description: Videocassette (Betacam SP) ; 1/2 in.
Note: Animated.
Claimant: Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc.
Created: 1977
Published: 27Nov77
Registered: 19Dec05
Author on © Application: Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc., employer for hire.
Previous Related Version: Novel entitled "The hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien & certain sound recordings preexisting.
Claim Limit: NEW MATTER: motion picture, incl. audio, visual and other cinematographic material.
Special Codes: 4/X/L

The only other Rankin-Bass related listing for THE HOBBIT was for a book version that was published in 1977 but wasn't registered until 1979. Funny how they were more concerned with a book than they were with their movie's registration. The trivia section for the Rankin-Bass version of THE HOBBIT on imdb.com says that the 2001 Warner Brothers DVD omitted several sound effects that were in the Sony VHS release. However, I also seem to recall that editing stuff out of a music or audo track doesn't constitute a new work.

Even if THE HOBBIT qualifies (qualified?) as a public domain movie, I'm fairly sure that the copyright on the original novel and the music (most of the songs were taken from verses in the book by Tolkien) would be enough of a hassle to deter any more "PD" releases. Especially since Tolkien material is hot stuff (and thus well-guarded) in the entertainment industry nowadays.
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Date:November 28th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)


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Date:November 23rd, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)

Jack Frost

I bought a DVD from EastWest called "Jack Frost" figuring it was the Buddy Hackett one, but it turned out to be some wicked weird Russian thing that was much like "The Neverending Story" might seem after huffing oven cleaner.

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Date:November 24th, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)

Re: Jack Frost

Ah, Морозко! I'm still on the lookout for it. I've only seen the MST3K version, but it's a delightful little fairy tale movie. The center story, about the two sisters meeting Jack Frost, has interesting similarities to both Western European and Japanese fairy tales.
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Date:November 25th, 2006 04:25 am (UTC)
I can't think of which ones look better off the top of my head, but you might want to look at the posts on this community around christmas time for the last two years, mostly last year. I usually comment if I see a print that's noticebly better than others.


Date:November 27th, 2006 11:07 am (UTC)
I hope my post will be somewhat helpful, although I wish I could comment on the visual quality of the copies of the Rankin-Bass "Jack Frost" that I know about. Unfortunately I'm totally blind so can't help you in that area. However, I know of two releases of this item that I hope are still in print. Laserlight has the special on a single DVD and it seems uncut to me. It runs about 48 minutes. I got this copy for my fiancee's Christmas music and movie collection that she brings down each year. I got for myself a three-DVD set on St. Clair Vision that's just called "The Christmas Collection." This has one disc of TV episodes, such as Beverly Hillbillies and Ozzie and Harriet and others. The second disc is all cartoons and Jack Frost is the last one in this particular set. They did cut off the beginning of it for some reason. The third DVD is Christmas-oriented movies, such as "Beyond Tomorrow" and "Scrooge" which can be found on other labels as well. These are the only two releases of this title I know of.
As for the Jack Frost movie that was on MST3K, since I don't have access to East-West DVDs, save for perhaps Ebay, I looked on CD Connection.com and found something entitled "Father Frost" which sounds like this very thing. Unfortunately, at about 23 bucks, it most definitely ain't cheap and it's on the Image label which hopefully means it's a good transfer.

As for the Rankin-Bass Hobbit being released on a label outside of Warner Brothers, I did get a VHS tape of it on Goodtimes as a gift for my fiancee's son. Never saw it on DVD outside of the stand-alone Warner release or Warners animated Tolkien box set.

Date:November 30th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
I got nothing to compair it to, but the Genius version of Jack Frost looks pretty good to me. It comes in a green envelope, as opposed to a box, and just has a still of Jack on the cover. I found mine in Vegas, off season about two years ago.

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