Another brief one today, so I owe the Cartoon Research universe something bigger soon….
I’m usually excited about working on these various Thunderbean projects, but this week is an exception! A catastrophic computer drive crash, and failed subsequent attempts to save the contents of that drive have left me less-than enthusiastic about the infernal devices that we all use, and in technology in general- but since they’re here to stay I’ll have to just sigh and put up with it. It’s the worst technology disaster I’ve had up to this date, so I guess I was due, and at least it didn’t involve only copies of some film transfers! Happily, everything that was lost was backed up in one form or another somewhere else, so all is not lost… and the projects march on! There are some exciting announcements in the coming weeks, and those give me something to look forward to as well.
Funny enough, one of the projects was finished and just about to get output when the drive died. There were only two projects on the drive, with ‘final’ Mpegs and files to author the final Blu-ray. The only choice was to leave it alone for several days, hard to do after working around the clock to finish. In some ways though, the step away from the project is welcome. When I’m near finishing any of these projects, I often find it difficult to look at the material for its entertainment value or artistic qualities. I’ve found this to be true while working on animation for a spot or a game- really almost any project that has aspects that require technical adjustment. The step away, and step back made me smile, and actually enjoy watching rather than working.
In the coming weeks we’ll be looking at some of the in progress on various projects a little further.. but this week let’s look at some Universal animated sequences in trailers (and a title you’ve likely seen).
Of course, the most immediately recognizable sequence here, below, is from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). This Cartoon Research post from 2014 post by Jim Korkis, quotes our own Jerry Beck stating some useful information.
Dave Fleischer likely had a hand in these various Universal sequences, as well as the animation for various trailers. Jerry himself wrote about Dave’s Fleischer’s work at Universal, on titles and trailers, here. Howard Swift’s small studio was employed to do some work on trailers and titles for Universal, so there is a chance his studio was hired to do at least some if not all of these titles. They certainly seem to share similar design and production qualities.
First, here is a home-made filming of the Frankenstein title on youtube- not the best quality but somewhat watchable:
Here’s the trailer for Francis (1950) with a fun animated introduction. By the way, this is a fun movie as well if you like movies where an animal opens it’s mouth and speaks. A friend who owns a small town theatre told me movies that have that one quality do best for him. I wonder how many trailers have this little guy in them- the same character appears at the beginning of the Abbott and Costello meets the Keystone Cops trailer as well, below. I thought at first he was supposed to be Lou Costello, but I don’t think so after looking and listening closer:
Here is the trailer for Lost in Alaska (1952) (from the new A&C Rarities set, in HD). Universal seems to be the only studio that favors a lot of original animation in it’s trailers:
Here’s the trailer for Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation (1953). Some simple stuff in a similar style:
There’s a cute little bit of animation the trailer for ‘Francis in the Navy’ (1955):
And a short sequence at the beginning of the trailer for Abbott and Costello Meets the Keystone Cops (1955) in 1:85 aspect ratio – also from the new A&C Rarities set:
Does anyone else know of any other animated sequences in 50’s Universal trailers?
Have a good week everyone!