Animation History
October 26, 2015 posted by

Paramount Cartoons 1962-63

The annual Paramount Shorts trade announcement from BOXOFFICE magazine 11/26/62

The annual Paramount Shorts trade announcement from BOXOFFICE magazine 11/26/62

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For the period from September 1962 to August 1963, Seymour Kneitel and crew kept busy producing 13 theatrical originals for Paramount, were deep into the King Features Trilogy, and were preparing and producing some new Casper cartoons for Harvey Comics and ABC. I think they were even finishing up some of the KFS Popeye cartoons at this point as well.

As for those theatricals, the stories are all over the place. Cute throwbacks to the type of stuff they used to do (Yule Laff and Ollie The Owl for example) and several that reflected modern urban travails (Drum Up a Tennant, Trash Program) – with Eddie Lawrence loaning a stronger presence to the voice and story work. Lawrence’s script and recording for Penny Pals are a pleasure to listen to (the less said about the visuals the better). Likewise, Dayton Allen elevates Irving Dressler’s clever dialogue in Trash Program making me wish Allen did more voices for Paramount than he had.

Here’s what Paramount released in the 1962-63 season. Note that they filled the release schedule with another pick-up from Gene Deitch and Rembrandt Films – and once again, the Deitch film loaned the Paramount shorts program some prestige by garnering an Academy Award nomination.

Seven (7) Noveltoons

YULE LAFF (10/62) Kneitel/Taras. Goodie tries to stop the Gremlins who are invading the North Pole and heckling Santa Claus. Eddie Lawrence does all the voices.
IT’S FOR THE BIRDIES (11/62) Kneitel/Tafuri. A gopher is collecting all the golf balls at the golf course.
FIDDLIN’ AROUND (12/62) Kneitel/Tafuri. When a musician borrows a million dollar violin, the insurance company sends their agent “Gumshoe” (Jack Mercer) to help protect it from criminal Mike the Masquerader.
OLLIE THE OWL (1/63) Kneitel/Tafuri. After Ollie gets his “Junior G-Man” detective kit in the mail, he stumbles into a bank robbery and gets kidnapped by the robber.
GOOD SNOOZE TONIGHT (2/63) Kneitel/Taras. Snoozer the sheep dog must stay awake to keep a wolf away from his flock.
A SIGHT FOR SQUAW EYES (3/63) Kneitel/Reden. A native American mother wants her daughter (Minnie Cha-Cha) to get married to a rich man.
SELF DEFENSE FOR COWARDS (4/63) Gene Deitch. In a series of vignettes, we see how to “win” a barroom fight by using such tactics as going limp, garlic breath, screaming, etc. Narrated by Arthur Treacher.


Seven (7) Modern Madcaps

PENNY PALS (10/62) Kneitel/Reden. Percy and Ralph go to a penny arcade.
ROBOT RINGER (11/62) Kneitel/Reden. Barnes Baisley, a humanoid robot who repeats everything he hears, gets loose from a Science Museum and ends up at an advertising agency.
ONE OF THE FAMILY (12/62) Kneitel/Taras. Bobo the family dog goes to a psychiatrist – who recommends to his master that he be treated as ‘one of the family’.
THE RINGADING KID (1/63) Kneitel. This film currently “lost”. Anyone have a copy of it? For clues about its plot, see the cue sheet below.
DRUM UP A TENNANT (2/63) Kneitel/Reden. Luigi regrets renting an apartment above his Glassware store to a musical beatnik.
ONE WEAK VACATION (3/63) Kneitel/Taras. Morty and his wife go on a European vacation.
TRASH PROGRAM (4/63) Kneitel/Reden. A sewer worker is told by his wife to get a better, cleaner job – as a garbage collector.

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Six (6) Comic Kings

ET TU OTTO (9/62) Kneitel/Tafuri. The Sarge wonders why none of the troops like him – so, on the advice of the Chaplin, he changes his personality.
A TREE IS A TREE IS A TREE? (10/62) Kneitel/Tafuri. Sarge decides to plant a tree in Camp Swampy.
THE METHOD AND MAW (10/62) Kneitel/Reden. Actress Beulah Bangfoot uses Loweezy as a model for her next play. Her imitation is so close Snuffy Smith can’t tell them apart!
TAKE ME TO YOUR GEN’RUL (10/62) Kneitel/Taras. Snuffy Smith is drafted into the Army by mistake.
KEEPING UP WITH KRAZY (10/62) Kneitel/Tafuri. Salesman Ignatz sells Kokonino suburbanite Kelly a house, a pool, and other things to keep up with his neighbor Krazy Kat.
MOUSE BLANCHE (11/62) Kneitel. Ignatz Mouse uses his new credit card to buy a brick launcher.

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Casper and Company / The New Casper Cartoon Show

During 1962 and most of 1963, the Harvey TV package of 1950s era Paramount cartoons were in TV syndication, sold under the title “Casper and Company” to local stations by ABC Films. Harvey Comics exploited this by starting up a new comic book anthology TV Casper and Company in 1963. They also produced several issues of “Harvey-Toons” using images (such as this from Harvey Hits Magazine #50, below – click to enlarge) featuring the newly created Harveytoon title card.

However, that was not the end of Casper for the Paramount Cartoon Studio. Plans were afoot during this season to debut a new Casper Saturday Morning series in the fall of 1963. We will discuss more about this series next week. As for now, it’s important to note the New Casper cartoons commenced production in April 1963.

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A scene from "The Bored Billionaire"

A scene from “The Bored Billionaire”

To Be Continued Next Week: Paramount Cartoons 1963-64

(Thanks, Ken Layton)

15 Comments

  • “Popeye Champions” for the 1962-63 season.
    1) “Shuteye Popeye”
    2) “Child Sockology”
    3) “Ancient Fistory”
    4) “Big Bad Sindbad”
    5) “Popeye’s Mirthday”
    6) “Baby Wants a Battle”

  • Those ten-year-old Popeye reissues must have looked positively lush compared to Paramount’s 1962-63 product.

    • It did. It was night and day obvious how much the new stuff had lost its edge in the animation dept.

    • Also to kids who had only viewed Popeye on their B&W TVs, seeing them in color on the big screen was really a big rush. I remember seeing seeing some old Terrytoons in a theater as a kid and being amazed by the rich color, sharp images and the lack of various TV interference in those pre-cable days.

    • Yup with the changes they did to Olive Oyl and renaming Bluto to Brutus as well as adding character that weren’t in the original Popeye cartoons (Sea Hag, Thor, King Blotto,Rough House and the rest) made the Popeye cartoons look a little lusher. At least they brought back Swee’Pea original outfit instead of the (uber ugh) pink attire that he wore.

    • Yes, especially with “Big Bad Sindbad” as that is mostly a 1-reel cut down of the 2-reel Max Fleischer “Popeye Meets Sindbad” cartoon from the 1930’s, with the lush 3-D backgrounds.

  • I remember the King Features trilogy well. As a kid I loved the theme songs in particular. Especially Snuffy Smith’s theme. And some of the cartoons were pretty funny but I also remember a fair amount of klinkers too.

  • You can make an argument that this was the studio’s busiest year since the Fleischers were trying to meet their short subject release schedule and complete their two movies in Miami in the late 1930s and early 40s. The quality was nowhere near as good, but given the budgets, the number of staff and the time constraints, it’s not surprising Paramount’s theatricals and their TV efforts by 1963 are barely indistinguishable.

  • I’m currently reading “King of the Comics: 100 Years of King Features”, a new coffee table book from IDW Publishing. It does contain some detail about KFS’ venture into TV animation, with some rare promotional material of the “trilogy”.

  • I remember being so excited by the promos for the upcoming Beetle Bailey/Snuffy Smith/etc. cartoons, and being SO disappointed by the results.

    • I’m sure you were not alone here.

  • Some really lovely “scenics” in some of the TV Caspers….Surprising too that Paramount didn’t add some to
    thier theatrical release schedule as it appears they originally had this in mind. They were also generally a notch
    or two above the theatricals entertainment wise and pleasant enough to look as well.

    • It’s a shame they didn’t if they wanted to make an arrangement with Harvey to issue a few of these as “Comic Kings” for the following year. It would’ve helped a bit.

  • Wow, the look and feel of these cartoons got UGLY in this period. There are occasional hints of quality–as Jerry notes, the “Honeymooners” derived dialogue in “Trash Program” is well-written… and some vestiges of Irv Spector’s character designs, but the visuals are nausea personified.

    • It’s only going to get uglier from this point onward, brace yourself, next season’s a doozy!

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