January 14, 2016 posted by

A Stop-Motion ‘Camel’ Cigarettes Work Print


It’s a short one this week, and hopefully I’ll have some interesting things to post this next week related to projects in production.

In Thunderbean news, several projects are picking up progress after a little break. Unrelated to animation, the Abbott and Costello Rarities set is working its way to the finish line, and coming along nicely. I’ve always been a fan of their movies, TV and Radio shows, and am very much enjoying seeing and working with this rare material. I’m helping with several other projects as well, and haven a good time ‘horse’ trading favors back and forth with one of those this past week. One of the ‘trades’ included some film transfer, so I’ll be posting some results from this likely next week.

So, onto the ‘smoking’ aspect of the program!

Back in May of 2104, I wrote a little post about other cartoons that promoted – or warned against- smoking.

Here’s another to add to the list.


I really do love the oddball things that show up, and have to admit that if I was at a film collector’s house and was lucky enough to be looking through the cans, when I hit a title that I didn’t know, that’s usually when I get excited. Some film collectors know exactly what they have, while others do not at all. Dealers often view these oddball things as less valuable, and though that may be true in terms of what most collectors want, in other ways they are the greatest thing about collecting: that somehow, by some miracle, some film otherwise meant for the dumpster has survived, alongside a collection of Hogan’s Hero’s episodes.

smoking-girlWhen we were working on Stop Motion Marvels (2010, now out of print) we were looking all over for oddball stop-motion films. I really wanted the set to stand next to the others that may be on a collector’s shelf, and *not* have the same contents, so I was always asking for the things that I hadn’t heard of. This little novelty exists because of the preservation efforts of the modestly essential Mark Kausler. Thank him below for preserving so much history and his generosity in sharing it many of these posts feature films he has saved.

It looks to be a piece of a promotional film or commercial, perhaps made for a marketing conference or some sales need. It has the name of the production company at the end, making it seem as if this reel was put together either after this films original use, or that it was used to demonstrate what the company could do for Camel. The print itself appears to be a camera original; a silent Kodachrome print, edited in order- but sort of poorly edited, as if it was a work print (it’s possible it’s duped from the camera original). Often, 16mm Kodachrome was shot and edited, with the camera original used as the master, duping another Kodachrome from from it.

Clearly this was made by people with some stop motion experience, but I would guess it that either this film was made on spec and didn’t pass muster, or that it was made to demonstrate what ‘Mortera’ productions could do.

Mortera Production? More information about this studio is being sought.

Mortera Production? More information about this studio is being sought.

We may never know it’s true history. If anyone knows anything about this production company, please contribute!

There are things about the production that don’t have a quite professional finish; good ideas here are hindered in both design and execution: much of the animation is somewhat clunky, but there is charm in the oddness of this film. I wonder if some of these folks had worked for either Bunin or George Pal. Much of the ad work at this point was coming out of New York, but it’s hard to say where this production was made.

Clearly the film was synchronized to sound- I wish the track existed. I thought back in 2010 that the Camel puppet has some resemblance to Lou Bunin’s work, but so many aspects of the production are at a much less polished level that what Bunin did through the 40s. Still, it’s a fun little oddity, and happily exists!

Mark Noticed that the words at beginning looked as if they had been edited to time to the Camel Cigarettes theme song, so when we put a soundtrack together, I synced it from old radio show music with that particular them, and he was right!

Have a good week everyone!


  • Loved the live action hand insert using a rubber glove….just like the old Gerry Anderson shows
    Supercar and Fireball XL-5

  • Loved the camel lighting her cigarette! That’s weird and hilarious!

    • And the endless live exhale.

  • Wow! There’s even some Bell & Howell diagonal splices in that print.

  • Great kodachrome color!
    Why not do some clean-up on those splices?

    • At this point I wish I knew what was being said in those scenes as well, seems like such an odd premise of a women merely getting into a frighten situation while trespassing someone’s watermelon field before seeing the billboard then the camel showing up.

  • Steve, Jerry, who added the terrific Camel radio show music to this amazing silent print? Whoever did, did an outstanding job. THIS is why I keep coming back to Cartoon Research again and again. Thanks, men!
    William Carroll
    Denham Springs, Louisiana

    • In my enthusiasm, I failed to read the last paragraph! Thanks Steve! (and thanks too, Jerry!) – W.

  • Love that 40’s-Veronica Lake-style pin-up-girl puppet!

  • Roy Bargy is best remembered as the long-time musical director for Jimmy Durante.

  • 1/18/16 Wrote:
    Back in the days when cartoon characters were allowed to smoke (including The Flintstones!), not like today when the PC Police would tell Joe The Camel he’s a bad influence for kids. Those two female models are sexy enough, but man, is Joe one ugly camel in this advertisement. Too bad Mortera Productions didn’t last too long in production. Their stop-motion work resembles either the old George Pal cartoons of the 1940’s or early Rankin-Bass, cira 1960-64 when they were still known as “Videocraft Enterprises.” and based in Toronto Canada.

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