July 10, 2014 posted by

A “Cinema Paradiso”-style Reel – with cartoon clips!

Merrie_Melodies_Jester250It’s a short one today, as time hasn’t been on my side here. I do have some good things to report though: Technicolor Dreams should be back from the replicator about another week or so, finally, and will be shipping to the advance orders as well as being available on Amazon. Whew.

I really thought that there would be LESS projects going on as the summer commenced, but as I’m looking at what is really happening, there are actually more projects then ever. While I’m told the DVD market has dried up, it’s an excellent time for tiny label products and projects in many ways; getting the logistics correct (how to get it to market, the price point, etc) may be the key to making them viable. My interest continues in producing sets of weird and rare things, but I also like the idea of expanding into more live action as well as licensing. I’m very much enjoying working on some of the new projects, though an animated commercial stopped many of them in their tracks these last few weeks. In the past week, it’s head spinning how many pieces of different projects passed through two different telecine machines.

Being a small company, it’s possible to spend many years producing a project, not worrying as much about the bottom line as its going. A Conversation with Walter Lantz was a project that benefited greatly from this production model. It allowed this unique disc to have time in incubate, and for Chris Buchman and Rex Schneider to design the program exactly how they both wanted. Without a specific deadline and without the pressures of high volume distribution, Chris wrote, designed graphics, hunted down old photographs and master tapes; he worked on creating an experience rather than just a disc of films, as would most likely be the main mandate had it been made by a bigger company. As I was watching this program over the weekend I was reminded of what a good job he did on the project; I’m especially thrilled that it is finding it’s audience.

I’m organizing the transfer sessions from the last few months finally on the hard drives, and as I’m going through them, this little gem popped up, and I remembered why I had transferred it.

There’s a wonderful scene in Cinema Paradiso (1988) when, after the projectionist dies, the child who worked at the theatre comes back and watches a whole reel of scenes cut out of movies – censored by the local priest. I recently transferred what collectors sometimes refer to as a ‘Cinema Paradiso’ reel. This is a reel of 35mm nitrate film clips, most likely gathered by a projectionist, perhaps because a print was trashed or left behind for some reason. At one time, projection booths were full of these sorts of things, kept over the years. A well known collector lent this little reel to me and was nice enough to let me transfer it.

The clips here are in both IB Technicolor and 2 Color Technicolor. We did our best to transfer the reel as close as possible to it’s original color content to give you a pretty good idea of what a 35mm Technicolor print looked like in the mid 30s. I know all these cartoons, but see if you can identify them yourself as you watch…


  • There were a few clips I’d guess were censor cuts, but certainly not all of them. I could see why a small town moralist might hack out the rum cakes and the tumescent camel, but the Bing Crosby goat?

    The “dude ranch” clips come from an MGM short available on one of the Warner Archive sets. They did several where they’d go to someplace like Cataline Island to serve up mobs of contract celebrities (Chester Conklin! Toby Wing!) and some musical numbers, inevitably including some cute but awkward chorus girls.

  • Andy Clyde in Technicolor? Who’da thunk it!

  • I don’t know my 1930’s animation well enough to be able to pinpoint the titles that you chose for this reel, but it was fantastic. I think one of ’em was a Van Buren TOM & JERRY cartoon (the “rum cookies” segment), and I remember hearing about a small segment of the BETTY BOOP cartoon, “BETTY BOOP’S MUSEUM” (as she sings the line, “Didn’t ya even try to hi-dee-hi-dee me!” But please describe to me what was objectionable to some about the clip from “SWING WEDDING”. Were there more gestures I didn’t know about? I’m only aware of an image later in the cartoon involving smashing a trumpet into the shape of a hypodermic needle and vigorously jabbing it into the character’s arm as he shouts “swing, swing, gates, swing”, leaping up and down faster and faster.

  • The rum cupcakes and old-fashioned dancing duo are from the Silly Symphony “The Cookie Carnival.”

  • The scene with the Bing Crosby goat is from Columbia’s GIFTS FROM THE AIR (1937).

  • For a minute there I got this confused with Joe Dante’s, “The Movie Orgy”. Just seamlessly works, though I believe his film had nothing animated on it, but I could be wrong.

  • Steve could you answer my PM over at

  • Who’s the pretty brunette in the “tropical” live-action sequence?

    • That’s Dorothy Lamour, with Dick Powell from Riding High (’43).

      The clips of the chorines are from the 1935 MGM shorts La Fiesta de Santa Barbara and Pirate Party on Catalina Isle.

    • I believe that’s a scene from RIDING HIGH (Paramount, 1943) with Dick Powell and Dorothy Lamour.

  • It looks like at some point that projectionist had an original print of WB’s “Little Dutch Plate.” Too bad we don’t get to see how the short opened.

  • I recognize the “Riding High” sequence. I saw the same clip in Art Clokey’s “Mandala” (1977)

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