September 25, 2014 posted by

My Visit To Turner Classic Movies

"Sunshine Makers" (1935)

“Sunshine Makers” (1935)

I think that I’m *finally*coming to the end of the ‘extremely busy’ period here, at least for a little while. As I look around at all the things I’ve dropped, set aside, put off for the last weeks/months, I realize that there are only so many hours in the day, and I’ve been gaming the system beyond all possibilities for a while now. I hope to finally get around to all the little requests and things I’ve dropped in the last few months- a much bigger pile than usual. Hopefully I’ll learn my lesson and stop taking on all this stuff, or at least get the things done that need to get done first. Sleep is not over-rated despite what so many people say. It’s funny though- I know more people in this same place, and do hope to take my own best advice and at least catch up before starting anything else or getting caught up in the details of the on deck projects.

silvery300This brings us to what I’ve been up to the last few weeks – working on finishing touches for a block of classic animation on Turner Classic Movies! I was invited to speak about Van Beuren animation and to show some of the films for my section of the animation day. Tom Stathes is presenting a program celebrating 100 years of the Bray Studios, and John Canemaker is presenting some of the great work of Winsor McCay. Jerry has set up a Facebook page about the broadcast here.

The experience was a lot of fun. They shoot the interview segments in New York, so I was flown in a few weeks back to tape my sections. I have never had a car come pick me up at my house and take me to the airport. They treat you like gold when you’re a guest! While I was there, I was lucky enough to be able to stick around and watch both Tom Stathes and John Canemaker tape their segments.

You never get to say exactly what you’d like to when doing an interview segment; I had all sorts of things planned, and had even figured out how to segue into each subject, based on the planned questions. Funny enough, we went completely away from the plan, other than the first question. Robert Osborne is a professional in every sense of the word, and was a lot of fun to meet. The set was relaxed and happy, with the usual busy going on to make everything work well. That was the fun part of working on the show.

pastrytown-250The ‘work’ part was transferring and cleaning up the materials for the show. Some of them were all set to go (thanks to producing some of the titles for the Thunderbean Technicolor Dreams set), but many were not. In addition to the films for the Van Beuren segment, I also did a lot of the transfer, digital cleanup and restoration of the films for Tom’s Bray segments, along with David Gerstein.

These were the bigger challenge of the work to be done; happily, they all look great. I won’t spoil the details of Tom’s segments, but what I can say is the films are a lot of fun. In all, we did digital cleanup/ restoration to 17 films over the course of a handful of weeks. Gulliver took something like seven months in restoration to finish all the work; The Technicolor Dreams set was in progress over a year. I do have help now, so things are a little faster, but there’s lots of late nights in there to finish in time.

Ted Eshbaugh’s Wizard of Oz is presented, along with two films he directed at Van Beuren: Pastrytown Wedding and The Sunshine Makers. Both of these are presented in beautiful 35mm prints that date from 1940. Pastrytown was reissued as a sponsored short forCushman’s Flour; Sunshine Makers has the sponsor titles from Borden’s.

flys-250Other films from Van Beuren Studios include A Swiss Trick (1931), The Fly’s Bride (1929), A Little Bird Told Me (1934), Rough on Rats (1933) and Silvery Moon (1933).

In the end, lots of people helped make the show happen, contributing films, helping with restoration, making title cards and more. I’m especially indebted to our own Jerry Beck, David Gerstein, Mary Dixon, Mark Kausler, Chris Buchman and Rex Schneider, George Willeman and the Library of Congress (especially for the great print of Sunshine Makers and Pastrytown Wedding). I’m proud that these films are being presented as they deserve to be, alongside other great films!

The show will be broadcast on October 6th.

Moments from taping a host segment for TCM with Robert Osborne (at left). My segments will air on October 6th.

Moments from taping a host segment for TCM with Robert Osborne (at left). My segments will air on October 6th.


  • Congratulation, being on TCM is a big deal. And lucky for us to get to see all these great films. I hope this becomes a more regular event.

  • Good for you, being treated like the star you are.

    • Naw… I’m not any kind of star- I do like that I’ve been lucky enough to be able to present some of these rarer films, and it’s pretty neat to be on a show- in the end, the films are the only stars!

  • The new King Of All Media!

  • After all that work I hope you will be able to issue these on Blu-ray. So much effort deserves to be more than a one night stand, albeit, an AWESOME one night stand!

    Just got the Alpha dvd of LA CUCURACHA for CHINESE LANTERNS in color. Of course, everything is done to Apha’s standard. Makes me appreciate even more fully what you do in restoring these,

    • I think you will have to ask Tom Stathes that since most of the program will feature his rare cartoons.

      The Van Beuren stuff will likely end up on Thunderbean blu-rays in the not-too-distant future.

  • Steve Congrats! It’s so weird to see you on that network, but makes complete sense.

  • Congratulations! I’m looking forward to watching the program.

  • Congrats – Another small victory for those “other” Classic Movies!

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