THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
June 20, 2013 posted by Steve Stanchfield

ESHBAUGH! A sneak peak at Technicolor Dreams and Black & White Nightmares

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I’ve been dying to show these for a few weeks now!

There will need to be of course a future article delving much, much deeper into this as a subject of Ted Eshbaugh, independent producer of wonderfully animated shorts, often advertisements for a product. As is the case with so many animators, he is often a footnote in the history books if mentioned at all, and really shouldn’t be.

Esbaugh is one of the pioneers of color cartoons. He was hired by Technicolor to ‘test’ the process for cartoons in both 2-strip and 3-strip processes. The first of these films, Goofy Goat (aka Goofy Goat Antics, 1931) is one of the first two-color cartoons in any process, made in two strip Technicolor. This still is from a great article available here.

It was followed by The Snowman, a surreal classic that, like Goofy Goat Antics has only been available in black and white for many years, along with his later Cap’n Cub (1945). Eshbugh’s most famous film, The Sunshine Makers (1935) was produced during the brief period Eshbaugh was at The Van Beuren Studios.

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So far, more research hasn’t revealed the complete circumstances of Eshbaugh’s follow up to these cartoons, The Wizard of Oz (‘Copyrighted’ 1933 in the titles). What is clear is that Technicolor and J.R. Booth sponsored the short, and that it never saw a theatrical release.

The film was commissioned in 1932, just after the creation of Eshbaugh’s Snowman short. It is noteworthy for quite a few reasons. It was likely in production for Technicolor at the time Disney made their exclusive three-year deal with the company, putting Disney’s studio ahead in technology, and providing the first full color films seen in theaters. The film also starts in black and white, turning to color as Dorothy falls into the land of Oz, pre-dating the MGM classic by six years. Did Disney see some of Eshbaugh’s efforts at Technicolor, and with his deal relegate the film to obscurity? Could there have been rights issues between the members of the Baum families? Did anyone at MGM see this short? Is Eshbaugh’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’ truly the first full color cartoon? Certainly the lavishness of this film show off the new full color process beautifully- could a better test of the process be produced?

Maybe some day these questions will be answered – but for now, finally, I’ve posted below some ‘sneak peak’ frame grabs from a recent HD 35mm IB Technicolor film transfer of the cartoon, along with Eshbaugh’s Tea Pot Town (1938), also 35mm Technicolor. Click thumbnails below to enlarge. It was a thrill to transfer these beautiful prints and now to share them, finally in the full quality they deserve to be in. These will be featured later this year as part of the Technicolor Dreams and Black and White Nightmares, a BluRay compilation of animation from Thunderbean.

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Also posted below are some frames from Sammy Salvage (1943), a Technicolor short made for the war effort. Besides full cartoons, Eshabaugh made slides, illustrated for children’s filmstrips, and produced short commercials for various products. I hope to have this new DVD compilation ready in September. How’s it look to you?

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26 Comments

  • It looks great Steve! Looking forward to your new compilation! :-)

  • It is obvious you will show no mercy to my household budget!

  • Absolutely stunning!

  • Will this be your first Blu-ray?

  • Fascinating! Eshbaugh’s Oz seems to have been influenced by the 1902 stage musical of the Wizard. The Wizard’s costume in the cartoon resembles one the Wizard wore onstage.

  • A quick correction- it should say J.R. Booth rather than J Arthur Rank. There is a British connection however; this film was produced with both a British and Canada’s lab’s funds in addition to Technicolor in Los Angeles. Both labs that invested were soon to be ‘Technicolor’ labs. The British lab that processed Technicolor was later owned by J Arthur Rank’s organization.

  • How’s it look?

    How’s it look???

    It looks like I’m gonna have to finally buy a BluRay player, THAT’S HOW IT LOOKS!

  • HOLY COW!
    As an Oz fan, I’d never guess I’d ever see ‘Oz’ outside of that horribly worn out copy that’s been everywhere else.
    This is going to be on top of my list of ‘To-get’.

  • The frame grabs look wonderful. It’s a shame that neither “Goofy Goat” nor “The Snowman” are around in color.

    • ‘The Snowman’ may be around before too long. This will be the first Thunderbean BluRay (along with another BluRay title). The real heros are the collectors and archives that have cared for these rare gems!

    • I’m not sure if I could handle “The Snowman” in hi-def color…

    • I’m just glad to see a far COLORFUL copy of the OZ film myself. It’s nice when collectors and others finally make these unearthed gems possible to view.

  • Mr Stanchfield, please make your upcoming Blu-ray disc region free. Pretty please!! I’m drooling!

    I’m from Europe, by the way.

    • It will be region free.

  • Wow. Just wow.

  • Beautiful!!

  • Awesome, Steve. You’ll be the first PD company to do this with high quality transfers!

  • Wow, amazing stuff! That print of The Wizard of Oz blows the new 16mm prints that someone had been listing on eBay in the recent past out of the water. I assume these are nitrate prints?

  • Steve, this is fantastic news, but is the “OZ” cartoon going to be part of the forthcoming Warner Brothers megabox (this time on blu-ray) around the 1939 film? I read that there is a cartoon on one of the disks in that set, but I’m not sure what the cartoon(s) is/are.

    Otherwise, I’m delighted that you’re embarking on blu-ray since, for the most part, I’m finding that blu-ray menus are easier to navigate than standard menus; can’t quite explain that, but it seems that, regardless, blu-ray is what’s keeping physical disks from becoming dinosaur products, and I think that the format is more durable and diverse in what it can hold than standard; am I right?

    Oh, and I can’t wait to find out what that other blu-ray project is!

  • I think it’s a shame Captain Cub was only in the one short. To think we might have had his winsome combat comedy throughout the war . . .

    • It did seem like there was plenty of potential in that one character that was never fully realized so it’s nice we had that one film at all though getting more would’ve been generous.

  • It’s interesting to see anything of quality from the Golden Age of hand drawn animation that is different in style. There was only a handful of animation houses and their products all have a sameness to them. It’s refreshing to see something new added to that mix.

  • We should petition for a Mt. Rushmore of animation heroes just so we could get Steve’s face carved on it.

  • Good Grief, you folks are a “boutique” outfit and you’re going to make these cartoons available on Blu-Ray? Amazing! I’ve been a fan of Thunderbean for years now, and all I have to say is “keep ‘em comin’!” Thank you. Will anxiously await its release.

  • It should also be noted that the music for The Wizard of Oz was composed by Carl Stalling.

  • I do not have a BluRay player, but I hope this compilation will be on youtube!!

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