May 9, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

A Few Cartoons To Relax By

This is a little tiny TB Thursday; I promise a much promised, much deeper dive next week into this stuff. We’re powering through the student show exhibit right now; it’s late Wednesday as I write this, and tomorrow is the deadline to get the show finished. Everything is looking quite nice. I’m going to be very happy to have completed this big, final task to wrap up the school year and even happier to dive back into Thunderbean very full time again, or, at least without the other full time job in the way for a little while. I’m really looking forward to these next few months since there’s a lot I’d like to (and need to!) accomplish.

Flip is the Frog has been moving ahead very nicely. Devon Baxter, who is currently working on the digital cleanup/ restoration of Room Runners, offered to show a clip to this week’s Tb Thursday, so I couldn’t turn him down! It’s looking pretty nice, but we have some things to even out still, as is usual. Here’s the sneak peek (make sure to tell Devon what you think so far):

Our internal ‘one big mystery’ on this cartoon is the title music. It’s not complete in any of the master music, and I haven’t been able to find a print (yet) that has part of this music over the titles. If anyone has a print that has a more complete beginning of this music in an old print, please let me know!

There’s a whole series of projects that have been announced already, and a series of ones that have been not. Some of these are for sure and in progress, others are in early development. There are several that I’m really excited about especially. More on these soon.

Since the school has been so exhausting here (and at this time of the year for so many people) I was thinking about what are good cartoons to relax by. Here’s tonight’s list. What are yours?

I know I’ve talked about this before, but BBQ for Two (1960) is a ’relax’ go to for me, although my print is redder than this one. This was the pilot film for the series, directed by Jack Kinney. I love the not-so-thought-out take on the characters here, especially Popeye. I wish there was a whole series where he looked like this!

Fleischer’s Somewhere in Dreamland seems too obvious, but I really enjoy the vocal performance of the kiddies in this cartoon, especially the straining to sing the notes just before they pull their non-existant blanket over them. It’s one of the nicest performances in any 1930s cartoons, and I love what appears to be Kneitel’s animation in this sequence. The kids removing their cloths by just moving up and down a little is also really endearing.

As for their mother, I aways wondered why they would have another character look and dress so similar to Olive Oil. Maybe it’s her older, slightly poorer older sister that she visits when she isn’t in a cartoon?

There always has to be a Scrappy. Something I found on the net last week really charmed me and reminded me of how much I liked seeing home movie prints of b/w silent cartoons when I was a kid. Here’s Scrappy in The Little Pest with subtitles under the image. I especially like the relaxing music played to it here, setting a much mellower tone..

Terrytoon’s How to Relax is never a good cartoon to mellow out your mood, but if you don’t want to mellow up and relax it’s a great one to go frame-by-frame with, especially to see Jim Tyer’s frantic drawings.

The thing that really relaxes me, honestly, isn’t a cartoon at all… is the strange Irving Berlin Alice in Wonderland musical sequence with Joan Bennett, from the feature film Puttin’ On the Ritz (1930). It was made in 2 color Technicolor; maybe someday a color version of this will become available. Maybe it’s just the music that relaxes me since all the other characters seem scarier than anything I can imagine. There’s a great post here about the film that includes the ‘Alice Musical’:

Well, that’s all for now. A more cohesive and comprehensive article a week from today!


  • For relaxing cartoons, I rely on the old standbys of “Bedtime for Sniffles” and “Good Night, Elmer”. I’m not sure I’d be able to stay away through a double-billing of those shorts.

  • Great read, I love how the flip the frog clip is in HD, it looks amazing!

  • Joe Siracusa on Popeye! Nice! I really like the timing of the gags on this one!

  • Those 1960’s Popeye’s are sad….Joe Besser 3 Stooges shorts sad. The best animation is the version of Popeye spinning out of the star in the opening credits.

    Strange use of the Paramount theme (and clumsily edited so that it plays twice). Also, the 1960’s Popeye’s done by Paramount Cartoon Studios are the best of that inferior batch.

    • So in other words, the best animation is animation that was originally done years earlier for the opening credits of Paramount’s theatrical Popeye cartoons. 😉

      I agree with you 100%, of course.

  • Scrappy saves his little friend because he thinks he’ll get the electric chair. Something I remember from showings on Captain Satellite, KTVU-2.

    I had a certain affection for the Halas and Batchelor Popeyes simply because they were recognizably different. Maybe not better, but different. And if memory serves they had different stock music as well.

    “How to Relax” is pretty good. Tempted to call it a borrowing of Goofy’s formula, but the Robert Benchley and “Joe McDoakes” live action shorts both did a lot of comic “how to” reels. I think Benchley got there first.

  • I can’t adjust to the sailor-man all of a sudden living in suburbia.

  • A few years back, I found that binging on Silent cartoons and the Woody Woodpecker colections really put me into a relaxed, alpha state. Animated Ambien.

  • Flip looks great. Can’t wait to finally get my hands on them.

  • I would love to see most (if not all) of the Terrytoons cartoons on DVD especially the 1960s characters such as James Hound, The Astronut, etc.

  • How about Tex Avery’s swansong (theatrically), SHHH,1955, Universal/Lantz, with that old LAUGHING record.,.,

    (James E.Parten, of course, would handle this theme, looking at cartoons with a given trope..)

    Others, The Bear who couldn’t sleep, MGM’, the first of Barney Bear, Relax-a-Lawn Chair, Trans-Lux/Famous, 1960, a 59-61 TV Felix that should make purists happy seeing Felix is a solo character (no Poindexter, Professor, or even magic bag, yet this is from that same series)..working with a relaxing chair..especially ingenious as it’s from the Oriol version.

    THe King Features Popeyes multi-studio coproduction (at lot of times at the same time) were just one of many interestingm, or, “Ink-eresking'(as Popeye would say it), aspects of the entire series since its 1920s inception. After all, it’s a sailor who eats spinach, as a beanpole looking girlfriend, and a foe who changed his name for the series (because no one remembered Bluto’s origin with KFS and the strip, and mistakenly assumed Paramount themselves as the owner..) so.. THans for the article..

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