November 3, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

A Little Reel of Cal Dunn Spots

Happy November all!

The weeks are flying here as the semester’s student work gets better and better. On the Thunderbean front, I’m excited to see the Stop Motion Marvels, Volume 1 title get closer to being out. The booklet is still in progress, but otherwise the set is all done and coming back from replication in a week or so. Flip will be next, and we’re hoping the last pieces come together soon so it can be hopping over to the replicator. Several special sets just got finished, along with the Snappy Video Party Disc 2. More films just got scanned for Rainbow Parades Volume 2 and some progress happened with the long-in-progress Lou Bunin set.

Both the Van Beuren Tom and Jerry and Little King sets have been getting a steady stream of material cleaned up, and I’m hoping in the coming few days to actually see how things are looking between all the requests and extra school commitments.

I was out in LA last week very briefly (a day!) and got a chance to see one of the Iwerks’ Comi-Colors (Sinbad the Sailor) getting scanned. It’s one of the few titles that only has a 35mm print master rather than the negs, but the scan (at Blackhawk Films) was looking really beautiful.

There’s a good amount of Thunderbean house cleaning to do in the digital realm. Over these past few years we’ve been on a scanning spree, doing lots of things that are on special sets as well as a lot of scans for the official ones. At this point, there’s so many things scanned and organized by the scan sessions rather than the film names that it’s going to be a real challenge to try and sort all this stuff. I’ve been sort of sorting by grabbing what I need from each session for the various projects and, well, sort of leaving everything else in the scan sessions they’re from with the hopes of digging them out someday. Part of the ‘housekeeping’ project I’m hoping to tackle is really getting a good database of all this stuff. There’s so many archive hard drives that it is going to take a while to archive them to tape as well- but that will be the next step to assure they’ll be safe. I’m already losing things to hard drive failure, but luckily most of the files have a backup. There’s also the list of balls I’ve dropped or things to send to this person or that, so if I can manage to sequester myself for a little while at the office I bet I can figure out how to at least start that….

Mid Century Modern, Volume 3 is starting to have a pretty good batch of things in the scanning hopper, and as I was looking at these last night I thought it would be fun to share the scan of a reel of commercials from Chicago-based Cal Dunn Studios. We did a post a little while back projecting these and looking at them on the projector, but it is so much nicer to see them in a good scan rather than off a screen.

One of the things I love about this reel is that they’ve done a little animation for the countdown. It goes fast so look quick.

I really like the more localized ads from the 50s out of smaller studios. I would have loved to have seen how the superimposed weekly ads looked on top of the National Food Stores end tags. I’m hoping to find more reels that have local spots. There were some on the last ‘Cartoon Commercials’ set, but we’re always looking for more.

On the watermark this week: The Thunderbean name started as a Puppet ‘Superhero’ in puppet shows my brother and I did as kids. The beginning of those shows started with ‘Thunderbean! Oh Yeah!’ ‘Thunderbean! Oh Yeah!’ ‘Thunderbean! Oh Yeah yeah yeah!’ As sort of a Batman spoof. I’ve got some recordings of this and it sounds more like “Thuderbean”- so I thought I’d out that in at least one post :).

Have a good week everyone!


  • Unrelated to this post, but I wanted to offer a brief word of thanks for the recent Stan and Ollie special set. It arrived yesterday and looks wonderful.

    • You mean that one from a few years ago? Got it too! Was let down a little, though.

  • Nice reel. Never saw a countdown like that before.

  • “Hey Pop, can I have thirty-nine cents for a bottle of H-A Hair Arranger so Brigitte Bardot will go out with me?”
    “Thirty-nine cents? What do you think I am, made of money? If you mow the lawn, clean out the gutters, put up the storm windows and wash the car, I’ll give you a dime for a haircut. Besides, that hair goop won’t get you anywhere with a French girl. You’ve got to give her nylons and Hershey bars, like we did during the war.”

    Boy, this takes me back.

    Someone at the Cal Dunn studio must have really loved Brigitte Bardot wearing the strapless black bikini in “Manina, la fille sans voiles”. Well, who wouldn’t?

  • Thanks for posting this. I love it! Can’t wait for mid Century Modern Vol 3.

  • I would love to know when the first mention of a Flip the Frog project was. I gave up desiring it a long time ago. Still, it would be fun to know how many years there were between its inception and actual commercial release. I’m on an international Rolling Stones site where a post was started on a new album. The original post was December, 2016. (There’s still no album almost six years later). I know that Flip the Frog set will be great, but I won’t believe it’s actually happened until it’s in my cold, clammy hands.

  • The voiceover artist on the Swift’s Ice Cream spot sounds like Chicago television personality Carmelita Pope.

  • Steve: I know nothing about Cal Dunn Studios. Fill me in a little. I don’t think any animators I know worked at Cal Dunn – but I sure could be wrong. Gordon Sheehan told me that he worked on THE LITTLEST ANGEL around 1950 – at his first trip to Chicago to find work. I don’t remember him telling me about Cal Arts, though!

    • Why did I type “Cal Arts”? I meant “Cal Dunn”!

  • Enjoyed this quite a bit. Even the non animated stuff is a treat to see looking so nice.

  • Does anyone have a list of studios producing cartoon ads for television in the first four decades of TV, forties through seventies?
    There are so many I remember seeing that are seemingly lost, including early McDonald’s (pre-Ronald), Burry’s snacks, Lincoln juice drinks, many more that came and went and can’t be found on YouTube.

  • H-A Hair Arranger!! Now there’s a story in itself, and not necessarily a pleasant one. The product met a bizarre fate. Its manufacturer, Boyer Laboratories, was purchased by Black businessman S.B. Fuller of Chicago. When this fact became known, white supremacists in the Southern states launched a boycott campaign that forced many stores and barbers to stop carrying the hair tonic. Boyer, and Fuller himself, were pushed into bankruptcy and liquidation.

    The campaign I remember as a kid, with a slinky blonde purring “Hey there, stranger, try Hair Arranger!” wasn’t included here; but I suspect the spots were also made by the Dunn studio. Boyer (and Fuller) being Chicago based, it makes sense that they might have used a Chicago studio. I remember the little National Food Stores girl too, and that jingle! (Though I’d forgotten her name was Natalie…)

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