DirectorWilliam Hanna and Joseph Barbera
Release Date(s)1964 (May 30, 2023)
Studio(s)Hanna-Barbera Productions/Columbia Pictures (The Warner Archive Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C+
When Yogi the Bear and Boo-Boo (voiced by the great Daws Butler and Don Messick) wake up from their winter slumber only to have multiple schemes to find a tasty meal thwarted by Ranger Smith (also Messick), Yogi demands to be transferred out of Jellystone Park, then swaps places with his friend Corn Pone, who gets shipped off to the San Diego Zoo in his place. But his old pal Boo-Boo and would-be girlfriend Cindy Bear (Julie Bennett) think Yogi is really gone, so Cindy sets out on a cross-country journey to find him and soon gets lost. Meanwhile, Yogi begins stealing picnic baskets all over Jellystone posing as “The Brown Phantom,” until he learns that Cindy is missing, at which point he and Boo-Boo set out to rescue her from the clutches of the dastardly Chizzlin Brothers Circus.
Produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera with the help of former Warner Bros. Cartoons veterans Warren Foster and Fritz Freleng, Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear! became the first animated feature film based on a TV program upon its release in 1964. Featuring the additional voice talents of James Darren, Bill Lee, Jackie Ward, and Mel Blanc, music by jazz pianist and composer Marty Paich, and songs by Ray Gilbert (who wrote Zip-a Dee-Doo-Dah from Disney’s Song of the South), David Gates (of the 70s rock band Bread), and Doug Goodwin, the film was a surprising commercial success, earning $1.13 million domestically upon its original theatrical release. Standout musical numbers include Like I Like You, St. Louie, Ash Can Parade, Ven-e, Ven-o, Ven-a, and Whistle Your Way Back Home.
Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear! was shot on 35mm photochemcial film using traditional animation techniques, and the fine people at The Warner Archive Collection have scanned it in 4K from the original camera negative. The result is presented in 1080p HD in the proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio on a BD-50. Image quality is every bit as good as you’d expect from the Warner Archive, with plenty of detail and a vibrant and accurate color palette. The restoration work is expert and restrained, preserving the occasional tiny bits of lint on the animation glass, visible brush strokes on the hand-painted cels, and slight shadows between cel layers. Light photochemical grain remains in evidence at all times. Best of all, the average video bit rate here sits at a robust 35 Mbps. Which certainly begs the question: Why can’t the same be said for Warner’s recent Max Fleischer’s Superman Blu-ray release? (Inquiring minds would very much like to know the answer.) What’s more, fans will be pleased to learn that—for the first time on any home video release—the film includes the proper Columbia Pictures logo.
Though Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear! appeared theatrically with mono sound only, this release includes a new lossless English 2.0 stereo DTS-HD Master Audio mix, which was created from the original audio stems for a theatrical re-reissue by Atlantic Releasing’s Clubhouse Pictures in 1986 (though it should be noted that the film’s opening and closing music remains in mono). Clarity is pleasing, with readily discernible dialogue. The overall fidelity is high, with little in the way of hiss or age-related sound issues, while still retaining the film’s original sonic character. Optional English SDH subtitles are included.
Warner Archive’s Blu-ray release offers just one special feature:
- Yogi’s Birthday Party (1962) (HD – 22:54)
This animated short served as the finale for the syndicated The Yogi Bear Show in 1962. Like the film itself, it’s presented in excellent remastered HD quality, also with a high video bitrate (of roughly 24 Mbps). It co-stars a who’s-who of Hanna-Barbera characters, including Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, Augie Doggie, and many others.
Fans of classic Hanna-Barbera animation should be thrilled to add Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear! to their video shelves in HD. And with any luck, sales will be strong enough that all 33 episodes of the The Yogi Bear Show might one day follow it in Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection. In the meantime, this title is highly recommended for both animation connoisseurs and kids of all ages.
- Bill Hunt