THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
July 11, 2013 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Ub Iwerks “See How They Won” (1935)

Here is See How They Won from 1935:

Boots Chemists (the Boots Drug company), was a popular chain drug store in Britain, sort of a CVS or Walgreens of the day compared to a local independent drug store with a soda fountain. It was the country’s largest chain, with something around 1,000 stores by the mid 1930′s. They had this little advertising film made for them to be shown on the big screen, produced by ‘Revelator Films Limited’. It was made in 2-color Brewster color, and survives in color in at least one place.

Revelator wrote and produced the soundtrack and music, and by hiring the Ub Iwerk’s Studio to do the animation, they helped set the course for what Iwerk’s company would eventually become: a studio that produced mostly animated advertising films, and a full cartoon on occasion. At this point, the studio was still Celebrity Productions, a studio owned by Iwerks and his production and distribution partner, Pat Powers. Iwerks would break with Powers within the year of this cartoon being produced, changing the studio name to ‘Cartoon Films, Ltd.’ This is the same studio that produced How War Came (1941) for Columbia as well as Color Rhapsodies, and three ‘Gran’ Pop Monkey’ cartoons in the late 30′s, based on GB Illustrator Lawson Wood’s charming illustrations.

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Of course, the cartoon experts will recognize Iwerk’s studio style right away in this film. There is a charm to this short that is almost Devo-esque, especially near the end as the Boot’s men fight with a fervor that is usually reserved for army or gangster films, smiling and marching in unison moments later at their victory. Why is it that the bad guys are always more interesting characters than the heros?

I do feel bad for the little girl that scratched by the cat, but funny enough, the cat appears to be even more broken up at the pain he’s caused his human owner.

This cartoon has always been one of my favorites of the ‘odd’ cartoons, and chances are pretty good that we wouldn’t be seeing this (or at least as easily) if it hadn’t been for a company called Krazytoons. This mysterious outfit bootlegged cartoons from many different studios, sometimes keeping the original names of the films, sometimes not, releasing a cobbled together package of all these films in the early days of Television. They would, on occasion, even confuse titles from one film and put them on another.

see_how_they_won

This particular print had a title that didn’t match the film at all – something like The Great Battle was the name they gave it. The soundtrack is fairly hissy on the print- my guess is that because it was taken from a Brewstercolor print, and those prints had a light blue soundtrack, similar to Cinecolor’s soundtracks. When duped in b/w, they don’t reproduce the best.

There is various information that a second film was made called Leave it to John (1936). My guess is that it was also produced by Iwerks and had the same characters- and perhaps was in color as well. Was it finished? Maybe some day it will show up.

I’ve found a little more information about the first film on the ‘Hit of the Week’ Blog, posted in 2010.

This contains some great information from a Boots archivist. It appears that there was a board game (above) and posters as well as a record. There is a youtube of that record here – and the end lyrics from the song that are missing from the print are here:

I wonder if any of these are owned by some of you out there…. anyone?

I’ve also heard for many years that there is a 35mm color print in the hands of the collector here in the states, but it has yet to show its Brewstercolor glory to a wider audience- maybe some day!

17 Comments

  • As best I can tell, Celebrity Pictures was Pat Powers’ distribution company out of New York City while Iwerks’ production company was called Animated Pictures. That’s how it’s explained in the April 12, 1934 edition of ‘The Film Daily.’
    There’s a staff photo of the studio featuring Frank Tashlin and Bugs Hardaway kicking around with the company name “Animated Pictures” above them.

  • Hi Steve. I don’t know if it’s because I’m in Canada, but when I click on the film, it says that this video is private.

    • Jerry will fix it!

    • Should be fixed now. Sorry about that.

  • Yay, Drugs!… I mean, Medicine!

    Thanks Steve. Another lost (or new to me anyway) gem uncovered.

    Thunderbean Thursday never fails to impress. And educate.

  • Loved it. I remember Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stone talking about Boots Chemists. It always sounded so English.

    • Simply because the word “Chemist” to them is the same as we would say “Pharmacist” over here. It can be confusing if you’re not aware of what the word means in that context.

  • Boots isn’t a “was,” it’s an “is,” although a mega-merger with Walgreen’s may make it past tense. http://www.boots-uk.com/

  • Boots Chemists is still quite active. Their website is the obvious one: http://boots.com/

  • I’m getting this vibe that we’re looking at American animators trying their darndest to look British.

    • I’m not miffed by it, I think it was an honour!

  • How many Iwerks Films like this still exists verses how many did the studio make?

  • We have a 16mm B&W print of a Gran’ Pa cartoon called “A Busy Day” in the vaults. It has the original titles, not re-done TV titles, which indicate it should be in color. I think it came from a Medallion Pictures package of films.

    We also have a German cartoon called “Christmas Journey”.

    • Oops, our can is mis-labeled as “Gran’ Pa” but it is a “Gran’ Pop” cartoon.

  • Hi Steve. I’ve done a bit of research on this film also. The BFI have a full color copy in the UK, I don’t know about its condition. It would be nice to see one day.

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