THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
July 4, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Happy Birthday, United States! The 4th of July and animation – and a Lou Bunin pre-order

Happy 4th of July to folks here in the states! A lot of people I think will be binging on the release of the new season of ‘Stranger Things’, but we’ll be enjoying the weather (or hiding from the rain) for the holiday.

First, some Thunderbean news:

This is easily the busiest summer I’ve had in my life. I feel like I’ve been walking along a precarious cliff, but at least it seems like a familiar one! We’re still catching up with all the special discs but progress this week has been excellent in all areas, with one of my helpers handling this work exclusively. Progress remains good as growing pains subside a little more in the new space.

On the releases front, the goal this week here was to try and get four titles completely done. That didn’t quite happen, but close. The goal next week is also four more.

Angels Die Hard, (Blu-ray), a 1970 biker gang grind-house flick, is finished and released through our sister label, Snappy Video. The pre-orders are going out, and its now on Amazon if you have a taste for dirty hippies and groovy music. It’s for sale here.

Grotesqueries, (Blu-ray/ DVD combo), a collection of spooky films including animated shorts, got an approval from the co-producers today, so I’m working on some minor color tweaks right now and hope to have a master Friday. The pre-orders will be sent as soon as they’re ready, and it will be available on Amazon when the pre-orders are all out.

Commercials, Volume 2 (Blu-ray) got some more scans this week. This ‘official’ release may end up not being available beyond the pre-orders at this point.

Two ‘special’ sets were completed over this past week., and will be sent when they’re dubbed and ready as well.

We’ve started the pre-order for Lou Bunin’s Magic Puppet animation, featuring Alice in Wonderland. This Blu-ray/DVD combo has finally starting to go into production on the scanning of the feature (the shorts and a lot of bonus material has been done for several years) The pre-order will feature a disc of things that didn’t make it on the final set. Details are here.

As I was driving back from a day doing some additional finishes with the co-producers of Grotesqueries, the sky was filled with little bursts of color; nothing major, nothing huge, but small fireworks, most likely set off by individuals, celebrating the four of July a little early (hopefully— there’s always the possibility that they just like seeing fireworks!).

So— besides a few cartoons, how does the 4th of July relate to American Animation?

The United States declaration of Independence, dated July 4th (but signed later) is one of the United States most important documents, establishing both the reason for the United States to declare separation from England as well as to establish a set of ideals. It’s a wonderful and educational read that a surprisingly small number of Americans actually visit or revisit. The ideals set forward in this document, many universal, have been at times a guiding light, and at other times it is clear how far this country has strayed from those ideals, always to come back and attempt again to follow them; in this way, the experiment of this country remains.

Politics aside (since this isn’t the place for them), the unique set up of this country has led to the ability of so many people to innovate and create, often arriving in the states to continue their craft at a time where it has become much less possible to pursue those dreams and ambitions. Working with George Pal’s material these past months as well as thinking about all the film makers and animators that came here and continue to. I think of all the immigrants and children of immigrants in New York especially. The unique mix of young artists coming into the industry in the 20s and 30s, especially during the depression, is one of the things I love the most about classic cartoons, and their abilities growing through the shared experiences with each completed film.


Here are the usual 4th of July toons, and a few films that (I think) exemplify the flavor of remembered and (at the time) current American culture, and have aspects of the flavor of American ideals sprinkled in them:

Yankee Doodle Mouse (1943) I absolutely love this period of Tom and Jerry cartoons, as I’m sure many of you do. It’s so nice to see beautiful copies of them these days. I remember seeing a really beat up blue-track Technicolor print of this short many, many years back at a film show that had the reissue titles on it.

Bowery Bugs (1949) Just like several others, this wonderful Warner Brothers short takes place nearing the turn of the Century, and I’ll bet the people working at Warners heard stories from their parents and grandparents about their experiences. I’ve always loved Billy Bletcher’s performance in this film especially.

Old Glory (1940)
I always thought this film wins for the creepiest human animation in a classic short. It’s easily one of the least funny of any Warners cartoon, but it does attempt to give a somewhat solemn history of the states— and this of course is the best day to ever view this cartoon.

Patriotic Popeye (1957)
I really wish this was a better cartoon… but it does feature the 4th of July for some reason.

And, Snoopy can close this week’s post:

Have a good 4th to folks here, and a good week to everybody else!

12 Comments

  • My favorite patriotic cartoon is “Bunker Hill Bunny”, where Bugs Bunny fights against the “Hessian oppression” of (Yosemite) Sam Von Schmamm in the Revolutionary War battle of Bagel Heights. Has what is hands down the funniest powder trail gag ever.

  • Happy 4th Steve, Jerry, and all cartoon lovers!

  • Great post, Steve, as always. Ooh, you’ve certainly got me salivating for the ANIMATED COMMERCIALS, VOL. 2 disk since so many classic animated commercials have shown up on You Tube; I hope you find so many classics to put thereon as well as some rare ads that some of us might have forgotten. By the way, it is the first time I’d heard you mention the name of a current notable series (“STRANGER THINGS”, from Netflix, no doubt). I am totally unfamiliar with any aspect of the series, so the 4th of July is always getting me thinking of classic cartoons that honor or parody bits of American history, and there are plenty of those.

    There is that second TOM AND JERRY title, “SAFETY SECOND”, a short that I first saw as part of an MGM compilation, called “THE TOM AND JERRY FESTIVAL OF FUN”, which toured theaters shortly before TOM AND JERRY came to TV for the first time, the CBS show that opened with a Chuck Jones-compiled compilation of the best moments throughout the theatrical series. In fact, “SAFETY SECOND” and “ANT PASTED” could almost be put alongside each other, with the second kind of poking fun at the way far too many people see the need to make noise with their 4th of July celebration, with Elmer Fudd being the child that just won’t grow up. However, I hope that most folks do much better than he does in that cartoon or in the TOM AND JERRY cartoon.

    As for the current crop of animators mirroring the desire to share in America’s diversity, or just seeing clearly the folly of those who protest against that diversity, well, there are perhaps more than I realize, some even honoring their heritage or the day when they will be truly honored as included in that diversity. I leave that to Jerry and yourself to point out some of those names. It isn’t as if I have no interest in more recent animation; I am not as familiar with these as I am of the classic stuff which needs a boost just so we fans can enjoy these again and again and even share ’em someday on sites like this.

    Oh, one other favorite cartoon lampooning how America had seen itself in the day might be some aspects of the first “ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS” story, “Jet Fuel Formula”. In this story, we note, as it opens, that our scientists are looking up at the sky and see some sort of strange ship plummeting through the night sky toward Earth. In a panic (poking fun at the classic Orson Wells mock report on invaders that caused a similar controversy), the news media creates the larger story that these creatures could mean trouble, not knowing that the “ship” in question is really Bullwinkle’s stove, being blown back to Earth after Bullwinkle tried to create his Grandma’s fudge cake and, instead, ended up creating what the scientists dub “the world’s most powerful rocket fuel”. The “invaders” are my all-time favorite space creatures, the Moon Men, gidney and Kloid. As it turns out, they mean no real harm to the Earth, except that they want some of that fuel to take back to their planet.

    As the story goes on, the American people do not panic but embrace the two, even allowing them their own show in Las Vegas; now, there is a show I’d love to see again and again. If it came to Broadway, I’ll bet it would have a long, long run, unless Kloid accidentally scrooches the audience and, thus, ticket sales stop as abruptly!! The entire story has far too many pokes at the American way of life, as seen in those days, to list here, but my favorite is the ending twist in the plot, as the Moon Men get deported, only to have the Government official who declared the deportation as solution get his coat tails caught in the door of the space ship and, well, suddenly become the new embassador to the Moon! This merely displays how our government and its functions and harsher policies were already being joked about even in our best animation. Here’s to the new breed in hopes that they can make us see the errors of our ways.

    Happy July 4th to everyone out there.

  • My favorite is Bobby Bumps’ Fourth (1917), hands down…

  • “Bowery Bugs” is one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons. I wish Art Davis would have had a longer tenure as director at Warner Bros. A lot of his cartoons are among my favorites.

    Also looking forward to Lou Bunin and Cartoon Commercials!

  • Disney’s Ben and Me is always a good watch for the Fourth. I also like all of the Schoolhouse Rock American history episodes and Chuck Jonses’s Yankee Doodle Cricket.

  • I remember the Terrytoons series Hector Heathcote, which was usually set around the American Revolution but occasionally touched on other historical moments, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition and the early railroads. On a vacation as a kid (mid 1960s), I was surprised to see he was on British television.

  • Of course…how can we bring up “The Yankee Doodle Mouse” without mentioning the ever elusive lost scene? There must be a version of the short that has the scene…somewere.

  • Aw, nuts. If i was Popeye, I wouldn’t have tried to rescue Peepeye and Poopeye.

    Let ’em take their chances in outer space. Brats.

  • Thanks for the heads up! Just Pre Ordered the Lou Bunin Alice In Wonderland – Looking forward to it! Happy belated 4th of July too!

  • Steve, tried to get in touch with you via email to no avail. The Bonus Disc that came with Odds and Ends will not work. I have tried cleaning it but I keep on getting the same errors. Looks like some great material on there too.
    -Brian

  • The Peanuts clip is from “This is America, Charlie Brown: The Music and Heroes of America” from 1989.

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