There seems to be a special place in animation fan circles for Paramount’s Noveltoons cartoons, produced by Famous Studios. One of the things that always amazed me was how much people love the Famous Studios cartoons in general. I know I’ve talked a little bit about this before..perhaps there should actually be a book on the cult following of these cartoons. These cartoons were never my favorites as a child – in fact, it’s safe to say that I didn’t become a big fan of them until I started working on the Noveltoons DVD. At some point we’ll work on another set if I can get good enough material, since there’s some great ones I just couldn’t find.
What is especially interesting to me is that the people that really seem to love them (and I’m sure many of you are included in that) do so because of the things that are really good about them (animation and slick production values) AND the things that are not so good about them (weak stories, bad puns, exceedingly violent gags and behavior).
They seem to have found a new cult following among a younger generation now, who mostly saw these films on PD VHS tapes or even DVDs. It makes me wonder if the obsession with this particular series has more to do with them being more assessable or because they are somehow designed to be especially interesting to people who like Winston Sharples scores, or some other aspect.
There’s also an obsession with original title sequences related to these films in particular. Now, a lot of us really do love to see the original titles on an old film but, with certain circles, finding original Paramount titles is nearly a full time obsession.
A few good examples are these title card re-creations, Hand drawn. Now, that’s love:
Perhaps the obsession with finding original titles is because they’re so hard to see. I can sort of relate; sometimes I think I’m really hunting things down just to see the titles.
For many years, it was nearly impossible to see very many Paramount cartoons with their original title sequences. UM&M (later, NTA) had the TV package for Noveltoons, the Talkartoons and Betty Boops, while AAP had the Popeye cartoons. Both companies did a pretty complete job in replacing the original logos on these films.
Producing one of these cartoons sets always reveals some surprises. As I was gathering prints, the thing that amazed me most is just how colorful the series was. From viewing the terrible color on NTA’s prints you get the impression that these cartoons were never so colorful in the first place.
We transferred quite a few from 35mm Technicolor prints; a few more were transferred from old UM&M 16mm printing negatives. Suddenly it’s Spring (1944) had a surprisingly beautiful negative from 1962, still containing a full spectrum of colors. My guess is that somehow this particular printing material was left out of the television package at some point, perhaps because of its racial stereotype.
Some of the ones I really wanted of course were the hardest to find, like No Mutton for Nuttin (here taped off a French TV broadcast:)
I really like the early ones the best I think…
Thad Kommorowski was kind enough to lend his 16mm Kodachrome print of Cilly Goose for the set. This is one I’d love to find in 35mm. This print also has an unusual “Paramount Champion” reissue logo.
And, finally, here is one that I’d love to see with it’s original titles and with good color:
NEXT WEEK: Some big news on upcoming Thunderbean sets!