WHAT ABOUT THAD?
February 2, 2015 posted by

Paramount Sales News #36: Fleischer’s “Raggedy Ann”

March-April 1941

Not much to boast this week. The misfires were unfortunately becoming prevalent in the Popeye series. Flies Ain’t Human (released on April 4th) set a standard for appropriating Popeye for “Donald Duck stories,” pitting him against animal adversaries. The writers seemed content at lowering the bar with the concept with just about every entry, save Dan Gordon’s The Hungry Goat. (There are many contenders for “worst” Famous Popeye, but the 1949 Flies remake, The Fly’s Last Flight, is a strong contender.)

The advertised two-reeler (!) Raggedy Ann and Andy (the film was released on April 11th) started a very active trend of aiming cartoons squarely at children that would ultimately eclipse all of the cartoons bearing Paramount’s name by the end of the decade. April 23’s panel is also unintentionally ironic, because grandma funerals are generally funnier than a Gabby cartoon.

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12 Comments

  • With Pudgy but a distant memory, the studio had to give the Myron Waldman unit something to do to meet their cuteness quotient (he couldn’t have been happy doing those two Popeyes at this time, since in both cases Popeye eats his spinach, grabs the guy he’s trying to save and …. runs away. Not exactly the satisfying conclusion Popeye audiences were looking for). “Raggedy Ann” if nothing else was better than the other shorts the studio was putting out in early 1941, and we’re not dealing with the repetitious childish themes that would show up a decade later in the Casper series.

  • Both the 4-16 and 4-23 promotions involve deception–a terribly negative association to make with the Fleischer cartoons. It seems to suggest that you have to sneak around behind someone’s back to view a Fleischer of this era–which, in hindsight, may be more appropriate than anyone realized at the time. Still, in marketing it is never a good idea to associate a negative act with a product that you want to sell.

    I notice in particular with the ones promoting Gabby, I have to look them over two or three times to “get” the angle. They must have been somewhat of a hard sell. The Gabby cartoons are actually well-animated with good backgrounds and some clever ideas–the character was just too abrasive (and without any of the lovable characteristics of, say, Donald Duck) to endear himself to the public.

    It’s a real treat to see the Raggedy Ann cartoon, and a very nice colorful print. Thanks for an informative post!

  • The company whose principals sneak out to see a Gabby cartoon deserves to go out of business.

  • The medium focal length panning-with-action shots in ‘Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy’ are beset with some peculiarly heavy pantograph moves, perhaps in an experiment to liven up the proceedings. The Fleischer Studio’s head camera person Charles Schettler used pantograph plotted camera moves with greater precision and sensitivity on earlier and later Fleischer productions. One wonders just who is plotting and executing the unusual camera moves here.

    • If you’re referring to the jitteriness, that’s YouTube’s “motion detection” at work in the embedded video. Ruining one upload at a time… Compare it to this upload: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8TPqChrob4

    • That annoys me plenty. You can set it to not do that at all if you know what you’re doing, but most people never do that.

    • What this Pan cries out for is a “Multiplane” setup. The layout suggests something that would have been enhanced by levels of separation, making for a more srtiking “Establishing Shot.” Alas, it didn’t happen.

  • Is there a reason why the two-reel Raggedy Ann didn’t get recycled as a single reel? It’s not as if any incarnation of the studio had an aversion to cheaters.

    Since their Popeye deal reportedly involved paying for each character used, was a similar deal in effect for Raggedy Ann? I don’t know the books, but the two later shorts dispense with Andy & the came and set Raggedy Ann in what look to be newly created surroundings.

    For that matter, why wasn’t “The Raven” salvaged as a short? There’s really no reason for it to be a two-reeler in the first place, except to use up a ton of vacuum cleaner gags.

  • I’m guessing Grandma’s funeral would have more laughs than a Gabby cartoon.

  • I still think the Betty Boop short “Swat the Fly” is the worst than the Popeye one & it’s remake…..

  • I thought I’d seen just about every Fleischer there ever was, its nice to know I can be surprised. Jerry and Thad keep on bringing us more like this 1941 Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy to further our education.

  • Although I’m fond of the Raggedy Ann and Andy Fleischer short, there’s little to distinguish it from Famous (which DID make some good cartoons). Yes, the use, or unused of certain Fleischer cartoons are a mystery. In a television world with a voracious appetite for cartoons, it’s difficult to understand why Betty wasn’t on TV alongside Popeye. Or, as you say, the two reelers cut down to one. Maybe them being in color held them back. You obviously couldn’t sell the Color Classics in the late 50s, early 60s. I guess this argument doesn’t really hold since a lot of the early Famous cartoons, like Little Audrey, were in color but they were all over early TV.

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