So, I sit here well past midnight, finally getting around to writing a little. A bit earlier and for many hours today, we set up the films for the yearly Redford Theatre Cartoon Festival here. As usual, we’re running a bunch of rare 35mm prints, almost all old IB Technicolor prints, plus one in scope. Thanks to a beautiful new Christie Digital Projector, I’m also able to show some of the new cartoons we’ve been restoring at Thunderbean. The shows are this Saturday afternoon and evening if you’re local and want to see some great toons! I’ll be there as usual. Details can be found here!
On the Thunderbean front, the master for Christmas Flickers is out the door and off to a rush replication. Thanks to all who ordered it! It’s a cute little set- I’ve very much enjoyed mastering this one because I got to sit and watch some of these big, finally.
In Hardrock and Coco and Joe (1953) I still feel bad that Santa has no real need for Joe. In his first and last theatrical appearance, this smiling character is cheerfully unaware that the song accompanying him just referred to him as useless.
Being grateful is the usual theme here on Thansgiving. Without a giant list, I am grateful for the amazing luck I’ve had in helping to spiff up films from the past; I continue to rely on the kindness of the animation collector community for lending original materials, and blu-ray and DVD collectors buying all these things.
I didn’t make any of the original films in the first place, and most are public domain, so even though there’s no true ownership, I take pride in doing good service to the films and their creators by getting the best version out that I’m able to.
Briefly on the subject of ‘ownership’ and releasing public domain animated content. One of the things that makes me proudest has been to be lucky enough to release a lot of great animated shorts, making many things available that otherwise haven’t been, or in much better quality than had been available before. Of course, some of these end up on youtube, often without any credit for where the material came from. Sometimes I’ll follow up to let folks know where they can get the DVD or blu-ray by writing a comment on the youtube page, but honestly, I don’t mind them being shared there, and I don’t think it’s really costing any sales, The value of it if is that they’re being seen & enjoyed, just like I enjoyed so many cartoons growing up on various UHF stations, and just like so many kids grow up loving the cartoons they saw theatrically.
Looking at the landscape of others that do sets in a similar vein yields only a few brave souls. Tommy Stathes continues his excellent sets and serves as an inspiration to me in working on mine. I’m proud to have helped on them and am looking forward to Bobby Bumps in all his glory! Tommy’s commitment to these rare films as close to original as possible sets a high standard for anyone to follow. The Puppetoon Movie Blu-ray set from B2MP is to a level of quality that shows that special treatment of rare materials can be done with great results as well.
It does a disservice to history if the films are altered or if a company tries to prevent another company from releasing public domain material, especially if that material isn’t available anywhere else. The world, honestly, in difficult enough! This particular brand of politics is something I’m hoping not to see much more of, but I guess the more you do the more chances there are of situations arising like that! In any case, my main mission continues to be accessibility and presentation regardless of any roadblocks, and no Pups or bad luck from black cats will stop this little company from moving forward! We’ll also hope that some rag doills, Kinescopes with puppets and special mechanical stop motion dolls filmed in a community center will also come to fruition as things move forward. I’m looking forward to others following in the footsteps of what has been built as examples on how to do these things at least decently.
Jerry and I sometimes will chat a bit about how to move things forward, and how each person in this little cartoon circle (that I think most all of you are in too) takes a piece and works with it, celebrating the success of others discoveries. That’s how it *should* be, and is for the most part. One of my favorite moments this last year involved being able to look at materials that hadn’t been opened or looked at since the mid-70s. All I could think about was how great it was that someone had the foresight to save this material, when other copies existed and therefore it wasn’t completely necessary. But, because they *did* save it, we now have original titles and a series of censor logos long unseen.
Quite honestly, seeing that Popeye Meets Ali Baba opening restored says everything about why to save any of this stuff- it’s value is that it is still enjoyed- and the artist’s work in renewed for the next generation.
So, community, play it forward.
And now… THE THANKSGIVING PLAYLIST
Since it’s Thanksgiving here in the states, it’s a good time to throw aside all the things going on and enjoy some food with family and friends. However you celebrate it, as a big cartoon fan, it’s always good to have a basic play list of Thanksgiving toons at your fingertips. So, here’s the part that’s a rehash of the usual Thanksgiving toons-and some more for good measure:
Voice of the Turkey. Not a favorite of mine, but required viewing in the same way that the heat miser isn’t very good but required. I remember once seeing the “Kroft Supershow” interrupt the ending of this cartoon. That had to be somewhere around 1979:
Jerky Turkey: Since this cartoon is public domain, it was around a lot in every format and quality for many years (I had a very gamy super 8 sound print). It’s also one of the few Tex Avery cartoons that a lot of animation drawings seemed to have survived.
You can watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special in lots of different ways, but all are sans the way I remember seeing them, with lots of Dolly Madison commercials. So, in honor of those, here’s a commercial with the Peanuts gang:
If you still need more Peanuts, here is the Mayflower Voyage Episode of This is America, Charlie Brown:
The Little Orphan, a Classic Tom and Jerry, is also required watching. Even a distorted version like this:
Tom Turk and Daffy, of course:
If you’re in the mood for 80s animation, here is The Turkey Caper (1985), produced by Bill Hutton:
The Rankin Bass special The Mouse on the Mayflower (1968) is something I hadn’t seen in many years. I was amazed at just how much cheesier it is on reviewing:
..and Garfield had a thanksgiving too:
I never knew there was a Calvin and the Colonel Thanksgiving Episode, but here it is, from 1961:
And, of course, there’s the Nick Thanksgiving Feast (1989) – Technically this is the “first” Nicktoon, produced by Vanessa Coffey a few years before Ren & Stimpy, Rugrats and Doug:
I honestly was unable to watch this 2nd part of a Care Bears Episode, but it is Thanksgiving themed. If you worked on this one, I’m sorry I didn’t make it through it:
So, now, please add the ones that I missed, so that if any of us need to go to happy place and watch some of these animated treats during our family gatherings that we’ll be able to pick some we haven’t seen. Have a Great Thanksgiving everyone!