November 20, 2014 posted by

A Pre-Thanksgiving Thunderbean Christmas Post

Some Christmas Cheer, early this year…


I really like dusting off the Christmas Boxes each year, and even though we haven’t done that yet this year, I hope that we can sometime in the next week or so. The best thing is pulling out the Christmas cards, especially the personalized ones from friends, and putting a few favorites up on the mantel.

I feel like pulling out the films is similar, although these days I don’t have a chance to run them at family gatherings. I hope to sometime make a new tradition of watching some of the old films here; if they’re HERE, I think they should be seen, at least sometimes!


I find that I’m really nostalgic for the old days of small UHF stations in the late 70s and early 80s running cartoons at odd hours- and during the holidays running really bad dupe prints of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life‘, with cartoons filling in the space after the feature was finished.

christmas-castle275I saw lots of things for the first time this way, including Fleischer’s Somewhere in Dreamland, Jam Handy’s Rudolph, Shanty Where Santa Claus Lives, The Little King in Christmas Night (‘Pals’) and others. Sometimes I could turn on Channel 62 (from Detroit) in the middle of the night and find them running just a block of Christmas Cartoons. The first 16mm film I bought was The Little King in Christmas Night, so maybe I had an affinity for Christmas Films early on myself.

For the coming weeks, I’m going to attempt to always have a ‘Christmas Cartoon’ alongside whatever else is here. It seems fitting to start this with a print called ‘Christmas Cartoon‘- released by Castle Films. My friend Chris Buchman, a Castle Films expert (more than the ‘experts’- really!) lent this print for transfer of this early sound Castle Films offering. Chris explained that Castle actually released TWO cartoons called ‘Christmas Cartoon‘, this being the first, in a print from the late 1930s. It’s an enjoyable little film, with a soundtrack likely put together by Castle Films.

Other than ‘Christmas Cartoon‘ the print has no title or credits. It appears to be a silent Van Beuren short – looks like later 20’s to me. Can you identify this short? Chris thought it might be Five Orphans of the Storm from 1923.


  • Very much a prototype for the later Terrytoons “The First Snow” and “Cats In A Bag” (Castle re-title “Scat, Cats!”) Paul Terry sure did like that “Way Down East” ice-floe chase idea. I also enjoyed Papa Cat’s delicate table manners…which were ignored by the other animator who did the “crowd” cycle!

  • Do you have a lot of obscure Christmas-themed cartoons? Heaven knows I’d love to see a Thunderbean Christmas disc.

  • Great memories, thanks for sharing. The Little King in Christmas Night was one of my first 8mm purchases.

  • That “CHRISTMAS CARTOON” is one of my daughter’s all-time favorites! Thanks for posting it on youtube – I’ll send her the link.

    • Hey Craig, instead of the You Tube link – send her the link to this post. Support your local animation historians!

    • I’ve recently ordered an 8mm print of an obscure Castle Films print of the same thing which was called “Christmas Cartoon”. I have not seen the 8mm version for the first time, but I would like to view it in the coming days.

    • I’ve recently got this in the mail today. I watched it for the first time and it is not the cartoon that Jerry was posted, it was later version from 1942 where it contains a live action sequence and an early Terrytoon called “Toyland” was included. There were two of them, the first one is super rare, but my copy on 8mm does not. It’s the same thing except the box itself says “Christmas Cartoon” but with a later version.

  • Back in the early 1970’s while it wasn’t necessarily animation, WJAN-TV 17 in Canton, Ohio always ran “Howdy Doody Christmas” along with some “Punch and Judy” short around Christmas ttime-This from a station that never had color much until about 1973..Epitome of a cheap UHF channel, though it had its own charm at times..

  • Yeah…what about those presents?? That Eugene castle..what an editing fiend he was. It would make sense that that was an old silent Paul terry since castle was already in bed with him anyway.

  • I miss cartoon marathons in general on local TV. Heck, I recall waking up on Christmas morning to see a grainy print of “ALIAS ST. NICK” or “THE PUPS’ CHRISTMAS” and I even managed to see the one showing of “ONE HAM’S FAMILY”; I don’t know why it was the rarest cartoon shown, but we all know it’s a good one! Of course, other wintertime cartoons were shown, like “BARNEY BEAR AND THE BEAVERS” or “THE BEAR AND THE HARE” or one of my favorites, “BARNEY BEAR’S POLAR PEST”. Then came the first TOM & JERRY show which aired the theatrical cartoons, and, this time, I was ready with my reel-to-reel tape machine to snag the soundtrack to my first time seeing “THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS” or “PEACHY COBBLER”. I know, we can all see some of these regularly on Boomarang, but, well, the airings of MGM so early in the morning, along with COURAGEOUS CAT and Q. T. HUSH was something special because the stuff was run on film, and there were less commercials! And, on Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings, there were often local TV marathons of cartoons in general, with the occasional Holiday themed cartoon thrown in there for good measure. So, when the EARLY BIRD cartoon show was done, you could switch to a spot where you’d see some early TV cartoons or pre-1948 LOONEY TUNES and MERRIE MELODIES. It was the closest thing that my generation had to actually owning your own video library!

    • “Alias St. Nick” is sort of an oddity for a Christmas cartoon, isn’t it? The mouse/child who mocks the existence of Santa is proven right in the end!

  • Another Boomer TV tradition was that any animated movie was a Holiday Special. I remember “Gay Purr-ee” would make seasonal appearances (first on network, then on local). Memory may be off, but I tend to associate “Gulliver’s Travels”, “Hoppity Goes to Town”, “Alakazam the Great”, “Daydreamer”, and “Hansel and Gretel” with cousins and holidays. That was before the sheer quantity of Rankin Bass and other modern product made them redundant.

    Don’t remember cartoon marathons, but the kiddie show hosts would usually break out a few Christmas shorts. For Thanksgiving and the day after, I recall some of the networks would run their Saturday morning shows.

  • From Motion Picture News, December 22, 1923:

    “THE FIVE ORPHANS OF THE STORM is the title of the cartoonists latest effusion, intended as a travesty on “Orphans of the Storm.” This one is particularly suited for the yuletide season, as there are many events closely allied that are very topical as well as entertaining.”

    “The Five Orphans of the Storm,” the Aesop Film Fable number, is suited to a Christmas program, featuring such Yuletide associations as Santa Claus and his reindeers, the hanging of the stocking, the great Christmas feast and general jollification proper to the season.”

    From the same issue:

    “Paul Terry, the cartoonist who creates the animated subjects, Aesop’s Film Fables, distributed by Pathe, declares that he cannot write scenarios, but “draw” them.

    In preparing a screen subject, Terry works out the germ of his theme mentally. Then, deciding upon his leading characters like Farmer Al Falfa or Henry Cat, he sketches them in the clothes they are to “wear” in their roles.

    With his “stars” at hand, he then develops a scenario in a continuity of rough free hand sketches.”

    • So John Kricfalusi is following in the footsteps of Paul Terry?

  • Absolutely agree about old stations showing cartoons at random hours. Growing up that was my introduction to so much.

    For all the greatness of restoring these cartoons, I’d love it if I stumbled onto an hour or two of ‘toons recorded off TV just as they were, with the oddball intros and everything…it’d feel like home to watch that.

  • In a similar vein, I remember ABC’s post Thanksgiving cartoons, essentially their Saturday Morning line-up run on a Friday. I still recall the promo, with a guitar-playing turkey singing “the day-after turkey day on ABC.”

  • The reworking of Silent Night into a quasi-swing secular tune at the beginning was disturbing een fot this non-believer.But let’s run it by Billo O’Reilly over at Fox News and if he is offended,then,I’m OK with it.

  • P.S.: I saw a fuller print of the 1937 version of “Christmas Cartoon” and I immediately recognized a stock Winston Sharples track at the beginning. Looks like all of the other music pieces in this one come from Sharples, I assume.

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