THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
October 22, 2015 posted by

A Spooky Diversion: “The Case of the ‘Kangeroo’ (Kangaroo) Kid” (1963)

Quick Thunderbean update: Willie Whopper continues to do well on Amazon – we’re barely keeping up with the orders here! The Thunderbean Thursday special set just got finished and will start going out in the next handful of days. Thank you all for your continuing support!


Now, a Halloween-sort of cartoon that didn’t make anyone’s list yet:

I know I’ve talked about it before, but one of my favorite things of many years back was going to the film collector’s shows and digging through boxes of cartoons. Things I wouldn’t give a second thought to often ended up in a ‘package’ of films. This cartoons (and this exact print) was dug out of a box of odd reels sometime around 1989 or 90. The print was pretty reddish, and I didn’t bother to actually watch it until a few weeks after I got it.

sam-bassett233“The Case of the Kangeroo Kid” (with this misspelling in the actual title) is part of the ‘Hound for Hire- Sam Bassett, Private Eye‘ series. They appear to have been produced in 1962 and 63 by Phil Davis, an Australian cartoon producer. I wasn’t able to uncover very much information about Davis; it appears this is the only show produced by ‘Phil Davis productions’, and the series was never properly copyrighted.

This isn’t the same Phil Davis that worked with Lee Falk on the ‘Mandrake the Magician‘ comic strip. The only information I could find on the films as the studio was a reference in various Australian film studio listings.

What is clear is that the actual animation in the series was produced by Zagreb Film. This particular cartoon doesn’t list the studio in the credits, but other films in the series do. Prints in 16mm of cartoons from the series are rare to come across, but there are some out there here and there. My guess is that the series had limited distribution in the states, most likely only shown on UHF channels. I have no idea how many were made. I’ve got about 10 of them, and know of at least one more I don’t have.

They are some of the most bizarre cartoons I’ve ever seen, with this entry being the favorite. Sam Bassett, the star of the show, is a Humphrey Bogart-esque gumshoe dog, with a pistol that comes out of his hat and shoots often near the end of the films, both destroying and solving many of the cases. He’s joined by a sidekick Chihuahua named Chapultepec. He can’t talk, but he’s able to communicate (poorly) through playing his tiny guitar. Sam is left to attempt interpreting what Chapultepec is saying.

The animation is nothing to write home over, generally – but the writing of the show is off-the-wall funny when it’s not just downright confusing.

The plot of this particular episode revolves around a Kangaroo cub’s disappearance, concluding in a graveyard where ghost rabbits sing a song. This sequence really has nothing to do with the rest of the picture, of course, but somehow it seems par for the course in this world.

Enjoy- and have a good week!

13 Comments

  • Here’s a couple of spooky SpongeBob SquarePants cartoons that should be on the list:
    Nasty Patty where SpongeBob and Mr Krabs though the Health Inspector was a phony and fed him a nasty concoction called the Nasty Patty and after they found out that they “killed” the real Health Inspector they try to get rid of his body.
    And
    Graveyard Shift where while working the Graveyard Shift Squidward tell SpongeBob the terrifying Legend of the Hash Slinging Slasher.

  • Yowp has a little bit of into on Phil Davis. He’s the father of David Davis, a producer on MTM sitcoms.

    http://tralfaz.blogspot.com/2014/10/dogs-in-spacesuits-and-trenchcoats.html

    Evidently 52 “Sam Basset” cartoons were made.

  • Ah now, here’s a terrific cartoon marathon–“SAM BASSET” and “Q. T. HUSH”. This was funny stuff, Steve. I didn’t think anyone could top Clyde Crashcup’s assistant, Leonardo, in his way of communicating, but Sam’s sidekick is amusing!

  • Must have been a Marx Brothers fan. In “Duck Soup” Groucho tells Margaret Dumont “You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.” And on various occasions Chico would ask Harpo for an object and get something that sounded like it.

    • Actually, that “vaccinated with a phonograph needle” line is even older than “Duck Soup”

      A 1925 pop song, “You Can’t Shush Katie (The Gabbiest Gal In Town)”, famously recorded by Eva Taylor with a Clarence Williams group featuring Louis Armstrong on cornet, has the line about the song’s subject. . .

      “When she was young, it’s said Doctor Beadle
      vaccinated her with a phonograph needle.'”

  • So much for those who insist that the entire Hanna-Barbera stable of cartoons produced for Saturday-morning broadcast deserve to be ranked among the worst animations ever produced: Has anyone any suggestions for Hanna-Barbera byproduct as don’t deserve to be on the “worst of” list?

    I can start by suggesting the “Golden Age” product (as in Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Yogi Bear, Top Cat, The Flintstones and The Jetsons) … and for later product, Cattanoogga Cats, Dinky Dog (howbeit in its own right) and Trollkins.

    • As a big lover of H-B product, I appreciate many of their cartoons. The early ones (Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, QuickDraw McGraw) were not actually made for Saturday morning, but for early evening telecast, and they are indeed great cartoons. The 1960s prime time cartoons were fantastic— Flintstones, Top Cat, Jonny Quest, and Jetsons. H-B’s last prime-time cartoon, Wait Till Your Father Comes Home, is really a forgotten gem, even if the animation is rough and in style it looks like no other H-B cartoon. Scooby hasn’t survived this long for nothing, either, and I find his first cartoons charming. Anyone who derides the Toth-designed Space Ghost or Herculoids will get a fight from me. A lot of later stuff may be derivative junk, but I still like Dynomutt, Hong Kong Phooey, Jabberjaw, Josie and the Pussycats, and many more. The animation quality may have gone from limited to worse, but the voice acting was almost always top quality, even when the scripts were mediocre.

  • Phil Davis would would do one more take on animation in cooperation with Zagreb Film on a TV pilot that never came to fruition called “The Astromutts”.

    While apparently M.I.A. in the states, Zagreb Film back in Croatia does have a print of the pilot in English in their vaults they only manged to get screened a few years back at one of Zagreb’s famous animation festivals.
    http://www.animafest.hr/en/2012/film/read/astromutts
    http://www.zagrebfilm.hr/katalog_film_detail.asp?sif=1041

    One of these days I’d love to see this if I can ever contact Zagreb Film about this particular cartoon.

    • Great information Chris! I wonder how the Australian production records play into the ‘Hound for Hire’ was actually from the states, and that there was funding from Australia. The ‘Cinemagic’ credits appear on some of the other shorts. There was a requirement in the early 60s for Austrian TV to have something like 45 percent Australian produced content on prime time lineups, and I wonder if the production of this show had Australian content just for that purpose, and some other shows that originated in the states did.

    • Great information Chris!

      Glad to help.

      I wonder how the Australian production records play into the ‘Hound for Hire’ was actually from the states, and that there was funding from Australia. The ‘Cinemagic’ credits appear on some of the other shorts. There was a requirement in the early 60s for Austrian TV to have something like 45 percent Australian produced content on prime time lineups, and I wonder if the production of this show had Australian content just for that purpose, and some other shows that originated in the states did.

      Maybe the stories/voices were done in Australia just to keep it within those guidelines? At least that’s how they sometimes done it up in Canada whenever co-pros are made to comply with “Canadian Content” rulings.

  • Good God!

  • Hey there Steve. That cartoon was a real hoot of bad weirdness 🙂

    I am glad to hear that the Willie Whopper set is doing well (Which reminds me, that I need to leave a review on Amazon).

    I watched mine over this last week and I have to say that I am blown away by how great the cartoons on this set look!

    I am too young to have been around when these cartoons where first shown in theaters, but I would be willing to venture that (thanks to your restoration efforts), they look as good now if not better than when they where first projected onto the a theater screen.

    Thanks for the great on work on this and I am looking forward to the next set!

    Take care

    TJ

  • Good, bad, or indifferent, the syndicated TV cartoons of the late 50’s-early 60’s were often individualistic and idiosyncratic, reflecting the tastes and sensibilities of the amazing numbers of independent producers who all tried to get in on the TV cartoon “boom.” (This goes for some of the network shows too, like Underdog, Alvin, Linus, or Beany.) Whether you like the end product or not, they don’t resemble Hanna-Barbera, or for that matter Jay Ward either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.