THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
November 2, 2017 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Random Thoughts on Odd Cartoons

I always like finding the oddities that show up occasion- and, happily, there are LOTS of them.

Two 16mm cartoon collectors back in the day – Jerry Beck (left) and Collin Kellogg (right) sometime in the early 1980s

Back in the mid-80s, when I was working on figuring out how to start a company that released cartoons on VHS, Collin Kellogg, who collected 16mm cartoons too, was both a friend and a rival in finding cartoons in The Big Reel, the movie collector’s paper that would come out once a month. Collin would often sell me things, but he was also willing to lend some of the strangest cartoons. He dubbed these strange films ‘Cultoons’ and suggested that a set of these Cult Toons would be a good idea.

The first two volumes of Cultoons were two VHS tapes, released in May of 1988. It remains the strangest name for any of the sets we’ve released. Another volume will rear its head in the coming year.

The very first film I borrowed from Collin for these sets was Monkey Doodle, produced by Les Elton in 1931. Of course, Collin STILL has amazing stuff – as so many collectors and friends do. He’s been wonderfully generous in sharing his collection. The name Cult-toons will forever be his fault!

Here’s the same film, with some clips that were missing from the sound release added back into the film. These extra clips are from a home movie version of part of the film, released to the Home Movie market for some unexplainable reason:

I’m hoping someday to work on at least coming close to having a complete filmography of Les Elton’s work. This and Ted Eshbaugh’s filmography (and good copies of all his films) would be a wonderful thing. Since borrowing some of these ‘out of the studio system’ shorts, I found that the less-seen things were always the most interesting things to me.

Now if I could only borrow that Esbaugh Dentist short from 1944 that a certain collector bought – and effectually buried by never lending it to anyone- for the last 11 years or so! Pretty much every studio made non-theatrical or commercial shorts in addition to their regular output. The particular films generally are harder to find then their regular output. Happily many do exist and are a lot of fun to see.

Here are three Lantz-produced commercials; one produced for Electric Auto-Lite, and the other two for Coca-Cola. The first features a rare animated appearance of Oswald the Rabbit, perhaps in his last theatrical appearance. His design here is the same as in the Lantz comics. These commercials appeared on both our Oswald/ Lantz set and Technicolor Dreams and Black and White Nightmares:

And.. here’s one more!

An absolutely beautiful restoration of The Tortoise and the Hare also produced by Lantz for Coca-Cola, from the negative held at UCLA archives:

Now – YOUR turn! Of the strange shorts you’ve seen, what do you think is the strangest?

Have a good week everyone!

14 Comments

  • Looking at the animation of Andy, Miranda and Oswald in the Auto-Lite commercial compared to what Lantz was turning out with Woody, Wally and Buzz for the theatricals in 1952, you really see how much Universal slashed the budgets when the studio reopened. The animation quality of the ad is close to the level of what the studio was turning out with their regular releases in the final pre-shutdown year with United Artists (the budgets for the Coca-Cola ads from a year later, in contrast, look more on the level of the Lantz studio’s theatrical product of the time).

    • It’s easier to do higher quality when the footage is only a couple seconds. There’s a few later Rice Krispies commercials in the ’50s that are fuller than the shorts at the time were.

  • To me, few things in life – animated or not – are as bizarre as flying penguins dropping cigarettes from the sky over metropolitan areas.

  • Probably the strangest cartoon I’ve ever seen is the Columbia cartoon MR. ELEPHANT GOES TO TOWN.

  • The Auto-Lite commercial sounds like it has announcer Bill Baldwin at the end of it.

  • As i am oooold friends to you BOTH…this is especially a grand post!! And rarrrrrre stuff! Thank YOU!!!!!

  • Some of the strangest animated shorts I have ever seen include a Japanese anime Short from the 1930 involving a Nine Tale Fox who transforms into a burglar and two Tanookis, who confronted the burglar, in a abandoned home by changing into a one leg cyclops (the small tanooki) to a triclops (both tanookies), while the soundtrack used authentic Japanese folk instruments and a western guitar.

    Other animated oddities I’ve seen were early versions of the Peanuts gang for Ford automobiles

    The animated spots for Muntz TV

    A old Soyuzmultfilm cartoon involving a retired general from the Red Army training cockroaches into his personal army.

    Those weird Quiznos commercials with those freaky looking Spongemonkeys

    The Flintstones smoking Winston cigarettes (since Winston was a early sponsor for The Flintstones) and later, Busch Beer.

    And animated cartoons from Eastern Europe using items that ranged from yarn to broken glass.

  • I think it’s SELFISH to the nth degree that collectors who have rare shorts and refuse to share them with the world. Why not bring JOY and HAPPINESS to us avid fans of all-things animation. These folks are like museums that possess a plethora of amazing artifacts which are stored in basement vaults and never see the light of day. #SMH

  • “Monkey Doodle” is actually probably the oddest cartoon I’ve ever seen. I have no idea what is going on, or what it’s supposed to be about. There is an unsettling quality about the animation…it’s just a strange cartoon!

    Another one I would nominate is “The Peanut Vendor.” It’s brief, but yikes!

  • There was a Gumby demo short, probably the first one made, that wasn’t part of the regular series and hasn’t to my knowledge ever shown up on any of the video collections released over the years. It had a very crude version of Gumby, walking around and singing “I’m a little piece of clay, my name is Gumby”. It got shown, maybe by mistake, on the Boston kid show Boomtown – saw it then, and never forgot it.

    • Is that the pilot short with sound that is including in the ’60’s volume 1 set?

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxQytue0AOM could this be what you’re looking for?

  • Out of the milk bottle/skinny and husky in a day at coney island.

    I don’t know which dairy board or dairy made it first (certianly not sheffield or national dairy council, the only copies Steve found)……..so it’s unknownness and the commercial’s weirdness is not settling for night time.

    Tea Pot Town- Like milk mentioned before, here we go with another commodity ad. A live action counterpart for weirdness is Take Tea and See commercial by Tea Council, Inc.

    Sell a brand name people, competition shouldn’t rely on a generic product! I am somewhat against commodity ads/ The only commodity ads that are fun to watch is California Raisins and Got Milk? (but only the ads produced by it’s original board , the California Milk Processor Board, and with original C.M.P.B. titles).

  • In Monkeydoodle, at around 1:18, you’ll see the words “CUT BACK” which are instructions to the film editor to cut out the previous frame(s). That’s usually done when the wrong cels or incorrect camera movement has been mistakenly photographed. That’s something I’ve never seen in a finished work.

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