For the 1949-50 season, Paramount gave Famous Studios a repeat of its previous year’s order of 30 cartoons: Eight Popeye, twelve Screen Songs and ten Noveltoons.
Strolling Thru The Park
The Big Drip
Detouring Through Maine
Win, Place Or Showboat
Jimgle Jangle Jungle
Heap Hep Injuns
Gobs Of Fun
Boos In The Night
Kneitel/Waldman do a nice stylized 1890s spoof and tour the jungle, while Kneitel/Eugster take us to Hawaii, Maine, and explore the summer season.
Sparber/Waldman do Noah’s Ark, take animals ice skating, bring a bake shop to life, and do spot gags with ghosts. Sparber/Eugster do vaudeville on a showboat, and follow a singing animal crew on a tall ship, while Sparber/Johnson explore different tribes of native American Indians.
Leprechaun’s Gold (Paddy)
Song Of The Birds (Audrey)
Land Of Lost Jewels (Red Lantern)
Quack A Doodle Doo (Huey)
Teacher’s Pest (Junior)
Tarts and Flowers (Audrey)
Ups and Downs Derby (Lightning)
Pleased To Eat You (The Hungry Lion)
Goofy Goofy Gander (Audrey)
Saved By The Bell (Herman)
The final Leprechaun romp, another Land of the Lost adventure and the first Baby Huey. Three Little Audrey cartoons, a Herman solo and a trio of tryouts – “Junior” a little owl who is wiser than he looks, “Lightning”, a race horse who’d rather sleep than run, and “The Hungry Lion”, who’s name says it all.
Barking Don’t Don’t Fite
The Fly’s Last Flight
How Green Is My Spinach
Popeye Makes A Movie
Kneitel/Sparber and Tytla keep Popeye in present day settings this season. Plots were again reworked, remade or inspired by previous cartoons such as Proteck The Weakerist and Flies Ain’t Human and as usual, one cartoon was a cheater – Popeye Makes A Movie reusing much footage from Popeye Meets Ali Baba’s Forty Theives (1937). That said, Jitterbug Jive is a lively hoot and How Green Is My Spinach has an unforgettable live action insert (with Tom Ewell!).
In lieu of a second “star” character, studio played up its musical shorts in a big way. I’ve always enjoyed looking at this black-and-white still (below) of the original Paramount Screen Songs title card in my archive. The design and lettering is gorgeous.But by 1950, even they had realized they were overdoing it. (click trade ads below to enlarge)
1949 Trade Reports
There was some good news in the trades. Motion Picture Herald recognized Paramount’s Screen Songs as one of its “Topliner Shorts” series of the year. Fame magazine had Popeye in its Top 5. Boxoffice magazine has Popeye tied with Tom & Jerry for the number 2 slot. Showman’s Trade Review had the Popeye shorts up there at number 5. Click thumbnails below to read these reports:
Though Casper was missing from the 1949-50 schedule, he wasn’t forgotten. Big plans would emerge for next season. Below left, the original drawing by Joe Oriolo for the proposed Casper story book from the early 1940s. Below center, story man Isadore Klein recalls Casper’s arrival at Famous Studios (from an issue of the New York Screen Cartoonists union newsletter, The Pegboard). Below right, St. John publishes the first issue of a Casper, The Friendly Ghost comic book in September 1949. Click to enlarge.
To Be Continued Next Week…
(Thanks To Don Yowp and Ken Layton)