I’m a big fan of the Columbia Rhapsodies produced by the UB Iwerks Studio. They are odd films, but then again, so many of the cartoons Columbia produced were odd.
Midnight Frollics is one of my favorites. It’s not a ‘great’ cartoon really, but still quite enjoyable. This is a transfer of an old 16mm IB Technicolor print that I’ve had in my collection since the early 80s. I’ve been told by a few collectors that the reason most of the Columbia Rhapsody prints in 16mm are so beat up is that Columbia 16mm rental prints of features started out with a cartoon, and of course the cartoon would take the lion’s share of abuse, thereby protecting the feature from less skilled projectionists. There’s a splice during one of the jokes..those of you with good ears will recognize it as a Fibber McGee and Molly joke…
There was a whole flippable scene from this cartoon at Howard Lowry’s in LA in the mid 90’s. I bought a few drawings from the scene… the last shot in the film with the mouse being scared by the ghost dust….
This cartoon was a favorite among friends that I used to show these to…and always makes an appearance on Halloween (I show 16mm cartoons on Halloween outside on a big screen to the neighborhood kids in my Mother’s neighborhood thoughout trick or treating.. a tradition that dates back to the mid- 80s).
Since it’s Halloween, you can’t forget all the great cartoons that are spooky in one form or other… here’s a few of my favorites- of course there’s so many more- feel free to add to the list!
Fraidy Cat (Tom and Jerry/ MGM, 1942)
Trick or Treat (Donald Duck/ Disney, 1952)
Betty Boop’s Halloween Party (Fleischer, 1933)
The Mad Doctor (Mickey/ Disney 1933)
Woody’s Spook-a-Nanny (Walter Lantz Productions/ TV Special, 1964)
Skeleton Frollic (Columbia (Iwerks Studio), 1937)
The Haunted House (Mickey Mouse/ Disney, 1929)
Do you have a favorite playlist of Halloween cartoons? Let us know in the comments below.
I have both Midnight AND Skeleton Frolics saved to my You Tube playlists. And no Halloween season would be complete without watching the 1939 Porky Pig cartoon Jeepers Creepers, or the 1963 cartoon Transylvania 6-5000 with Bugs Bunny.
I think that list pretty much sums most of it up with the exception of some notable Looney Tunes such as “Hare-Raising Hare”.
These are all great Halloween cartoons, and I would add some obvious choices like “Skeleton Dance”, “Swing You Sinners”, “Wot a Night”, “The Cat’s Out”, and Flip the Frog in “Spooks”. But if you want some truly scary stuff, there’s the “It’s a Good Life” segment from TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, showing the horror of being trapped in a cartoon world for real.
Dare I mention the most horrifying Halloween cartoon ever made, guaranteed to make your flesh race and your heart crawl: DAFFY DUCK AND PORKY PIG MEET THE GROOVIE GOOLIES! I still want to know who came up with this monstrosity, and how they managed to convince anyone that it was a good idea.
“Spook-a-nanny” was always my favorite Halloween (reoccurring) “Special”…as well as its catchy (& unforgettable) title song! So glad you included it!!
it’s funny….we “of a certain age” don’t actually remember the b&w segments of “Spook-a-nanny” back then….no one had a color set back in ’64, lol
While it isn’t set at Halloween, the Betty Boop cartoon “Minnie the Moocher” has the right spirit.
Seeing “Midnight Frolics” and “Skeleton Frolic” makes me wish for a Thunderbean blu-ray collection of all of Iwerks’ Color Rhapsody cartoons. So, how about it Steve?
I’d love to watch “The Mad Doctor”. Keith Scott’s Cartoon Voices of the Golden Ages speculated it’s Allan Watson as the titular character, but I can’t be sure.
Old enough to remember the premiere of the “Spook-a-nanny” episode. KTVU 2 Oakland made an event of it, combining it with a live studio party hosted by local toon-jockey Captain Satellite. They did something similar with the Yogi Bear special.
Anyway, other Halloweenish toons include “The Boogie Man” and “A Haunting We Will Go”, both on volume two of the Woody Woodpecker and Friends collection. The former is a Swing Symphony at a convention of ghosts; the latter a late Little Eightball entry. Tex Avery’s “Who Killed Who” is a good bet. So is Popeye’s “Shiver Me Timbers”.
The Puppetoons “Jasper in a Jam” and “Jasper and the Haunted House” deserve mention. Likewise the Halas & Batchelor short feature “Ruddigore”, if you can find it. It’s a Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta about a witch’s curse, fastidiously enforced by a chorus of ghostly ancestors.
A proper cartoon matinee would have some kind of featherweight feature. “Nightmare Before Christmas” or “Mad Monster Party” would be obvious candidates, but I’d go with some live action cheese. “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein”, “Blackbeard’s Ghost” or even “Munsters Go Home”.
I wouldn’t really call that Abbott and Costello film “cheese” considering that it’s been inducted into The Library of Congress’ The National Film Registry.
I’m a great fan of cinematic cheese. That is, films free of pretense and clearly designed to provide light diversion and nothing more. While the best of them can rank above many “real” movies, it’s mostly a happy accident.
Abbott and Costello were certainly masters of old school burlesque comedy, but their films were often slapdash (although blessed with major studio resources and craftsmanship).
They wouldn’t consider it “cheese” because it’s typically a derogatory descriptor. I don’t understand why anyone would use it endearingly:
“cheap, unpleasant, or blatantly inauthentic”
It’s a shame the feature version of “Frankenweenie” didn’t become a classic, but it didn’t say anything the original live action short film didn’t say better. “Corpse Bride” is more satisfying. I suppose “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is too pedantic for this crowd, but it’s the constant in our house, along with “Sweeney Todd” (the 1982 filmed performance, not the disappointing Tim Burton movie) and “Skeleton Dance” (of which “Skeleton Frolic” is a pale–if colorful–imitation). Also, the “Tell-tale Taffy” episode of Disney’s “Teacher’s Pet” has a great Halloween musical number “It’s About the Candy.” Speaking of “Tell-tale,” there’s always UPA’s “Tell-tale Heart.” And leave us not forget Casper, whom I was for Halloween in first grade. And how about “Bottles” (1936), even if you do get tired of the skull-topped poison bottle screeching “Death walks tonight”?
When “Mad Men” was all the rage, my fantasy was for the cast to do “Mad Monster Party.” Jon Hamm as the Monster, Elisabeth Moss as his Mate (I bet she could do a fair Phyllis Diller), and Christina Hendricks was made to play Francesca.
“it’s the great pumpkin, charlie brown” of course! Did the premerie include dolly madison with coca-cola or is that youtube video a repeat airing if you’re old enough to remember?
As early as ’67 or ’68, I saw it, and it seems to me Dolly Madison was already there. Anecdotal, but that was my impression as a kindergartener. The next day, we were all cracking each other up in class, trying to imitate Snoopy’s weird voice.
Betty Boop in Mysterious Moes!
A lesser known Halloween cartoon I like a great deal is the 1933 Fleischer Screen Song THE BOO BOO THEME SONG. Both the cartoon and the song segment featuring “The Funnyboners” are up on YouTube, although separately.
And nobody–including me!–thought to include “Ichabod and Mr. Toad.” The former segment, which comes second in the film, has that great Halloween party followed by Ichabod’s genuine spooky ride through the woods.
A small irony: Ichabod precedes Mr. Toad in the title, and Halloween precedes Christmas and New Year’s, the latter holidays providing the ending to Toad’s adventure. But as you note, the story of Sleepy Hollow comes second onscreen.
Guessing it was decided that the Headless Horseman was the stronger climax for the whole film, and/or they wanted Bing Crosby’s star power in the second half rather than the first.
The Devil and Daniel Mouse by Nelvana.
I attached “Skeleton Frolics” to the theatrical release of “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra,” and also included it on the original Sony DVD. The Mill Creek reissue omits it and all the other bonus features.