Animation History
April 6, 2013 posted by Jerry Beck

Theatrical Cartoons 1957-58

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We continue our survey of theatrical shorts with these pages from the October 12th 1957 issue of Boxoffice Magazine. Theatrical cartoons were far from dead in 1957 – but they were heading in that general direction. Cartoons made-for-television had just begun. MGM finishes releasing its Hanna Barbera backlog of CinemaScope cartoons; Famous Studios begins reflecting the UPA look (despite the trade ad below); the Gene Deitch Terrytoons were about to be released; UPA itself was simply Mr. Magoo at this point; Disney is just releasing reissues; and Lantz begins a long slide into mediocrity. Only Warners is still producing a quality product.

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Click the Thumbnails below to enlarge and read the pages. The article about Paramount’s cartoons mentions their “ally” Harvey Comics, who sold over 400,000 copies of Casper The Friendly Ghost “last month”! Columbia’s trade ad touts the “2 in 1″ Ham and Hattie cartoons as if they are the next big thing. The Terrytoons article is overly optimistic about its new slate of characters, including Clint Clobber and Flebus – particularly noting the contributions of “Jim Tyler”. I’ve included the Shorts Release Chart to give you an idea of what titles were in release at that time.

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17 Comments

  • Interesting collage of character images in that Warner ad. Besides the standard publicity poses (the leaning Bugs, pointing Sylvester) there’s Porky from “Dime to Retire,” Daffy from “His Bitter Half” and the “Two Crows from Tacos.”

  • It’s interesting that — due to the UM&M sale of their shorts prior to mid-1950 — Paramount was already re-releasing cartoons that were in some cases less than five years old. Outside of a handful of the first BR shorts, Warners usually allowed 7-8 years before re-release (and the mid-48 cutoff for the AAP package sale meant Warners could still re-release cartoons that had been on the shelf at least a little while).

  • Fantastick photo (WB!) I find it beaucoup interesting that Hubie & Bert are in there…..espesh since there are no way ANY of their films are within those years!!

  • And isn’t it interesting that Manuel & Jose get some ad time, near the bottom of the list of featured characters–and that Speedy Gonzales gets second billing, tipped only by Bugs Bunny!

    Of course, Bugs was big at that time. He even gets name-checked in a contemporary rock-and-roll song, “Sittin’ In The Balcony” (written by John D.Loudermilk, recorded by him under the name of “Johnny Dee”, and covered by Eddie Cochran).
    “We may stop lovin’ to watch Bugs Bunny
    But e can’t tale the place of my honey!”

  • I suppose the guy holding the WB characters in his arms is Edward Selzer, but who’s the girl next to him?

  • Hadn’t Famous Studios been renamed Paramount Cartoon Studios by the time of this magazine issue? Interesting that the Paramount ad still uses the old name.

  • For the inaugural release season of WB Blue Ribbon shorts that is 1943-1944, these were the first 13 cartoons reissued:
    1. A Feud There Was (9/11/1943) (orig. rel. 9/24/1938) (re-reissued 9/13/1952)
    2. The Early Worm Gets the Bird (10/2/1943) (orig. rel. 1/13/1940) (re-reissued 11/29/1952)
    3. My Little Buckaroo (11/6/1943) (orig. rel. 1/29/1938)
    4. The Fighting 69-1/2th (12/4/1943) (orig. rel. 1/18/1941) (re-reissued 7/11/1953)
    5. Cross-Country Detours (1/15/1944) (orig. rel. 3/16/1940)
    6. Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt (2/12/1944) (orig. rel. 6/7/1941)
    7. The Bear’s Tale (3/11/1944) (orig. rel. 4/13/1940)
    8. Sweet Sioux (4/8/1944) (orig. rel. 7/3/1937)
    9. Of Fox and Hounds (5/13/1944) (orig. rel. 12/7/1940) (re-reissued 2/6/1954)
    10. Thugs with Dirty Mugs (6/3/1944) (orig. rel. 5/6/1939)
    11. A Wild Hare (6/17/1944) (orig. rel. 7/27/1940)
    12. The Cat Came Back (7/15/1944) (orig. rel. 2/8/1936) (re-reissued 6/5/1954)
    13. The Isle of Pingo Pongo (8/19/1944) (orig. rel. 5/28/1938)

    So early on into the BR program, some of the cartoons reissued were actually only merely about 3 years old. I’m wondering thus if they changed the rules later on so that the cartoons to be reissued were 7-8 years old before being chosen?

    ~Ben (Portland, OR)

    • Some cartoons stayed in theaters for a while, and Warners may have gotten some complaints that people remembered seeing the ‘new’ BR cartoons just 1-2 years ago (and Warners did care enough about fooling the public on the age of the Blue Ribbons in the 1940s to go back and an repaint the magazine and calendar dates on the backgrounds of two of Tashlin’s ‘books-come-to-life’ cartoons. They wanted people to think the theater was showing ‘new’ cartoons, so putting them away for longer would mean more people would be likely to either forget them saw it to begin with, or have hazy enough memories it wouldn’t make a difference). Plus the further down the line we got, the more color cartoons there were in the archive.

  • I love how Clint Clobber appears to be sweeping up Dinky Duck.

  • In the Paramount ad:i’ve never seen the Popeye or the Noveltoon shorts with the Champion designation before.Was that for publicity purposes?

    • “Champions” were the designation for reissues (like Blue Ribbon for WB). I’ve never seen a Popeye with the Champion title, but a Champion version of “The Cilly Goose” (1944) is on YouTube.

  • Thanks for posting. It’s strangely interesting. It’s just a hair before my time. I don’t remember any short subjects outside of cartoons shown with films, even at the drive-in. Trailers, cartoons, movie. No newsreels, nothing. And yes, I remember the Disney ones were older, but then again there wasn’t anywhere to see these prints extant, in color, in those days. I do remember the Disney cartoons seemed boring, along the lines of Mickey’s Seal.

    • Personall’y, I considered “Seal” to be one of the better Mickey shorts and last one where’s he does something.

  • Strange that on the shorts chart, Bugs Bunny cartoons (“To Hare is Human”, “Ali Baba Bunny”, “Bedevilled Rabbit” and “Piker’s Peak”) are listed under town section as “Bugs Bunny Specials”, while the other Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies are listed separately.

    • It was probably listed that way sense Bugs Bunny had become so big by then. Even today he remains the best known Looney Tunes character.

    • The Bugs cartoons cost more for theaters to rent starting with the 1944 release season. So while they were listed under LT and MM on the title cards, on a cost basis they were their own series.

      (One more trivia note — this was the last season where there were no Bugs BR cartoons. Warners released two in the 1943-44 season, at the same time they jacked up the cost of the new Bugs shorts, which must have really hacked off some theater owners, since they stopped doing any re-releases from late 1944 to the 1958-59 season, by which time it had been proven that showing the old Bugs cartoons on TV in the AAP package had done nothing to overexpose the rabbit and hurt his theatrical popularity.)

  • Got a kick out of this understatement from the second page-

    “The pun obviously is an important tool of the Paramount cartoon division.”

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