I’m one of the handful of people who collects cartoons on 16mm film. Some I got for bargain prices, others I had to shell out more, and a lot more inbetween, but regardless of how much I’ve spent, I’ve built up a collection. Initially I started collecting films because the cartoons I’ve wanted to see were just not available on video format, but I eventually started buying anything I enjoy on film, just because I want to project them.
One of the things I collect on film are the Terrytoons shorts from when Gene Deitch was the creative supervisor (Jerry Beck is also an avid collector of such prints). Although Terrytoons animated almost everything in the center of the screen – so it could be easily panned-and-scanned for later television airings – I wanted to own these cartoons in their original format, and I try to track them down wherever I can. From time to time old 16mm films show up for sale in varying conditions. The great thing is that these shorts were printed in Technicolor, so all the colors are still there.
As it turned out, even Mr. Deitch himself didn’t have these cartoons in original format, so when he discovered that I had some of them on film he asked for digital transfers. I complied and had them converted to digital through Tom Stathes. I thought I’d showcase some of the cartoons I got transferred.
Dustcap Doormat (1958)
The third of the four John Doormat cartoons, and the first to use the new, more stylized designs for the characters. Al Kouzel designs and directs, and there’s a very nice stylized layouts and designs to the short. Jim Tyer animates the final scene, and he shines through as always.
I actually bought two prints of this cartoon. The first print was very beaten up, with a lot of splices in the beginning (especially the titles). About a year later, a different print was being put up for sale, which was in much better shape, so I bought that. However, this print had the very last part of the ending spliced off (the section after the sun goes down), so I went back to the other print, cut that section off, and spliced it into the new print. The first time I had to give a “Frankenstein” treatment to a film. I carefully joined the films together so that you can’t tell I made a splice, and I think I succeeded.
Signed, Sealed, and Clobbered (1958)
One of the Clint Clobber films. Clobber managed to appear in seven cartoons before Deitch was booted out from Terrytoons (there would have been eight, but that cartoon got rewritten, replacing Clobber with a new character named Howard. It was released as Hearts and Glowers in 1960), and I enjoyed them. Clobber is probably one of the most “human” characters to appear in cartoons, a big guy who runs a run-down apartment and loves it, in spite of the tenants driving him crazy.
Here he encounters a man who wants to audition for the “Happy Ed” show with a seal act, but Clobber interferes, saying that no pets are allowed. The scene where Happy Ed literally cracks a smile is one of the funniest visual gags I’ve ever seen, especially for a Terrytoons cartoon from this period. Notice that Clobber is reading a Mighty Mouse comic book. This was a recurring thing in several of the shorts.
Somebody spliced in a 20th Century Fox “CinemaScope” logo before the cartoon (note that the logo is a faded Eastman, while the cartoon itself is Technicolor). I would have cut it out myself, but I was so amused by it that I decided to leave it in. In the credits, you may notice Mike Meyer for storyboards. Mike Meyer is actually Carl Meyer, who was a regular storyman at Famous Studios, often working with Jack Mercer. I’m not sure why he was at Terrytoons during this period, but whatever’s the case he was back at Paramount not long after.
Sidney’s Family Tree (1958)
The second cartoon to star Sidney, and the only one to get an Oscar nomination. As Sidney explains in the theme song (which was cut for years in television airings), his parents joined a circus, leaving him to fend for himself.
Sidney is overjoyed with a monkey wife agrees to adopt him, much to the displeasure of her husband. So the “dad” monkey decides to get rid of him, but it’s hard to get a two-ton elephant.
The most unusual aftermath of this cartoon happened in 1990 when Tiny Toon Adventure did an episode called “Who Bopped Bugs Bunny”. That cartoon featured a character named Sappy Stanley, who held a grudge against Bugs Bunny because Stanley lost a Shloscar to him for “Knighty Knight Bugs”.
This mirrors what happened with Sidney, as this cartoon did lose the Oscar to Bugs for that very cartoon. The character Stanley was designed by John Kricfalusi himself, the only time he ever worked on this show.
Foofle’s Picnic (1960)
This was one of the characters Gene Deitch developed for Terrytoons, at the tail end of his career there. Deitch was particularly fond of this character and ended up redeveloping it as Nudnik after relocating to Prague, directing over a dozen films for release by Paramount Pictures.
This is the second of the three cartoons made with the character. This was deep into production when Gene Deitch was still at Terrytoons, but it was completed after his departure. Even though he’s not credited, Jim Tyer did some animation here; the soda bottle scene is his work.
It’s pretty obvious from watching that the narration was added after the fact. Maybe Bill Weiss wasn’t happy with the cartoon being pantomime. That’s Tom Morrison, head of the Terrytoons story department and the voice of Mighty Mouse, blabbing on through the film.