I’ve been transferring more and more nitrate prints these days. Many of these films have just not been seen since their original theatrical runs- so it’s about time they made it a new audience! As a cartoon nut, very slowly some of the bigger ‘holy grails’ are actually surfacing in one form or another. I still marvel at each transfer session and can’t help but think how I’ve been lucky enough to help bring some of these films to a wider audience, and I think back to how
it all started often.
When I was first collecting films (in the waning days of Super 8mm) there were still super 8mm cartoons available to buy at Kmart in the photo department, where I would take my newly shot Super 8mm film to be processed- usually stop motion clay, but sometimes drawings done on Index cards. The first ‘real’ film I bought was a super 8mm sound reel of a piece of something called Flaming Guns with Rory Calhoon. I think at this point the 8mm films were on clearance, so westerns were the last things left on the shelf and cheap- maybe for $3 or something. I was hooked – and now needed a sound projector – The collecting bug had started.
This was right about 1980. Most of the other collectors I know still think of me as a newcomer- well, compared to their sometimes 40 years or more into it!
So, first, I owe a debt a gratitude to Castle Films and Rory Calhoon.
Now, I’m sure there is a similar story with so many folks both older and younger, but I felt (and still feel) like I was at the very end of a group of folks that were REALLY into 16mm and 8mm as I entered into the film collecting world at 13. A few years later the kids my age were mostly into collecting films on video; few cartoons could be found at that point. But cartoons were everywhere in the Big Reel, a magazine of ads by film collectors, and movie and memorabilia shows. A dealer at one of the shows (who I would later find out was famous in the collector world for various, er, things) had a whole table of cartoons in 16mm, all without reels on little plastic rolls without edges (I’d later find out these are called cores). They had various prices on them, so I picked out a few. As the dealer came over to me and informed me that all the prints were $3 each, so I could get a lot more than I had in my hands. Moreover, he would send me 100 cartoons for $2 each if I’d like. When they arrived I was treated to Van Beuren cartoons, Columbias, Terrytoons and lots of other oddities. What could be better?
So, secondly I owe a debt a gratitude to Frank, someone I thought I’d NEVER thank honestly, but it’s his fault in some way.
Now, I could write about all of the people who I’d thank (or curse!) for getting me so interested in finding the rare things, but I’ll do that later. Instead, I thought I’d briefly thank a company (and companies like it) for helping to introduce a new generation to classic cartoons, just as they were starting to vanish from the airwaves, and after many of them had been gone for years. One of my friends thought the cheap VHS tapes from the mid to late 80’s were recorded on reslit computer tape, but I’m not so sure- what I do know is they were all on SLP speed, and often were full of dropouts. The years haven’t been so kind to the following clip. Other folks may know more about why the company mascot is dressed like Michael Jackson (a failed Chipmunks ripoff?). Many of the kids who grew up watching these poor versions of Public Domain cartoons are the newer generation of diehard cartoon collectors now.
So, here’s a thank you to Amvest Video, Congress Video, Goodtimes Video and all the other little PD companies around this time.
Now, all of THAT said, this clip offers very little in the way of an actual cartoon, so as not to make this a cartoon-less TB Thursday. Here’s a short clip from a cartoon that I got in that first batch of films at that film show so many years ago. My guess is that’s it’s from a ‘Life‘ cartoon by John McCrory, but I could be wrong. Any guesses? It’s an odd clip to be sure…..