I’ve been concentrating on The Rainbow Parades and a little on Flip the Frog here, so I thought I’d spend just a little time on those—and in addition switch gears and talk a little about where the *other* projects are at too..and, then, end with a Van Beuren short! I do hope to have a little less about progress and more about finished stuff as these weeks continue. Having so many irons in the fire is actually working well— there’s always something new to have freelances start on, and even though it’s still keeping me a little too busy, things are squaring away quite well.
It was nice to see many old friends at Cinevent for the little bit of time (a day) I was there this past weekend. It was especially nice to catch up with some of the collectors and fans of these collections. There was very little film there this year, and many of us old collectors (I’m a piker among most) lamented the change.
As I’ve been reviewing the earlier versions of many of the films for Rainbow Parades, I’m struck with how few copies of these films are actually accessible in a short time period. I KNOW there are lots of prints out there, especially in black and white, but the new challenge is to get enough of them here in a short time period to get what we need from them.
A big challenge now is finding the cleanest versions of soundtracks for each of the shorts that we don’t have 35mm on. I have some of them and have had prints of most of them over the years, but the elusive part is finding a soundtrack that is totally complete. Almost all of the prints are missing a little piece of music at the beginning of the film or splices that interrupt the soundtrack. Another group of prints arrived to scan on this project late last week, and I’m really loving seeing the especially nice prints. So, if anyone has an excellent 16mm black and white print of Scotty Finds a Home, The Hunting Season, The Merry Kittens, Bird Scouts or Parrotville Old Folks (need just the first note!) please let me know! I especially need the complete opening music of each.
• Flip’s are coming along just fine. The first half of the set (disc one) is nearly entirely cleaned up. Color prints of any of the other early films in the series are still elusive. One collector claimed they had Flying Fists in color, although up to this point it hasn’t materialized, sadly.
• I’m working on some fixes for Mid Century Modern 1 before it heads to Blu-ray replication. Volume 2 is off to replication now.
• The Noveltoons set is coming along fine. I’ve handed off three more films to finish, and the ones that are done I’ve very happy with. I’m always stunned by the color seeing these cartoons in better prints. We are seven films from having the set all cleaned up.
• The More Stop Motion Marvels set has all the films scanned now, with many things in cleanup. I’m somewhat hands off on this project as others get finished… but it is in good hands for now!
• More Technicolor Dreams has films in various stages of scanning.
• Cartoon Commercials is looking nice, and just waiting for me to get back to paying attention to it.
With all the things in progress, it’s hard to keep track, but the team has started to step more up to the plate with more people joining.
And, onto Grandfather’s Clock (Released June 29, 1934)…
This fun little live action/ cartoon short is the first in the series of ‘Toddle Tales’ shorts. It seems like it would have been well-suited to be in color. I wish a background would surface on this film; I always wondered on this one if the background were painted in black and white or if they were actually created in color. I also wonder if the second film, Along Came a Duck was actually made before this one. The third, A Little Bird Told Me, seems to be moving in the direction of Grandfather’s Clock but struggles for more consistent animation. My guess is that Grandfather’s Clock is actually the third film made in the series and just released first.
This short is also the first released of the cartoons released under the new directorial leadership of Burt Gillett, and his design and story influences (and increased budget) are evident throughout. It’s especially striking to look at this film and compare it to the other two Van Beuren cartoons released earlier in the same month, ending two series. Cactus King starring the Little King, and Fiddlin’ Fun starring Cubby Bear. James (Jim) Tyer gets second (director) credit here, starting a trend of having Burt Gillett’s name in much bigger type than the ‘co-director’ gets.
My good friend, animator and instructor Ken Preibe, has stated that this is one of the creepiest films he has ever seen — based on the admittedly scary live action grandfather clock. I agree. So, if this particular kind of thing scares you too, skip the live action part and just watch the animation- it will still make perfect sense.
I find much of the animation to be quite well-drawn, with some not so much; you can see the struggle to create a film with consistency and detail is new to the studio. I especially love the sequence near the end of the short; an unusual first moment of true heart in a Van Beuren short, something generally missing from previous efforts.
Winston Sharples score for this film is, as usual, well constructed and also much fun. I like the lively timing to the live action scenes, adding a fun mood to the sequence.
This is the version from the DVD we produced in 2009. We’ll be scanning two prints in 2k for the new version, including one with original titles like this one has.
Have a good week everyone!