THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
August 18, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Animated Segments from an Unknown Navy Short (1944)

As the summer is wrapping up and school starts is looming this next week, I’m looking back at all the cramming over the summer to get a bunch fo projects done and others close to the finish line with Thunderbean. Last week’s scan-o-rama trip really took the wind out of me, and I’ve been working to recover while doing last minute fixes on the Stop Motion Marvels set before its off to replication. Eric Grayson’s Cinema Gems collection just went to the replicators over the weekend, and the Flip the Frog set will be going there this month too. All week David Gerstein has been sending bonus feature after bonus feature along with the menus, and they’re all looking really nice. Here’s a preview of some of them:




The cleanup team is mostly working on Van Beuren Tom and Jerry cartoons right now as I help out on a colleague’s project. The Tom and Jerry have been in cleanup so long that there’s some cleanup files I’ve misplaced on the archive discs that catch all the messes made along the way. I’ve been moving so fast through these things that I have I tend to back everything up, so hopefully they’ll show up sooner than later..


And— onto the animation for the day!

One of the coolest things about collecting films is that you come across shorts sometimes you’ve never seen or heard of. This particular film was produced for the Navy, most likely by the first Motion Picture Unit, but it could also have been produced by one of the studios. The end of the short has the production number and year listed as 1944. The film runs over 800’ in 16mm, so over 20 minutes, and the animated segments are rather short. From looking at them, they remind me of the production qualities of a Columbia cartoon around this time- but also similar to what the First Motion Picture Unit’s “look”. The reasons I think it might be Columbia is that several voices in the film sound like Columbia cartoon regulars, and the soundtrack is directly lifted from the score of Mr. Bug Goes to Town. Is it possible that Dave Fleischer produced this for the First Motion Picture Unit and just swiped the sound, or did Paramount produce the live action segments and score the film using these particular cues?

The whole film is about mental health (and you can tell that by the clip here too..). It’s a pretty fun watch and also features several characters that look a lot like Dr. Suess creations (like other FMPU-produced shorts around this time). Even if the animation was produced somewhere other than the First Motion Picture Unit, nearly everything was storyboarded there after several months at attempts at gaining government approvals for individual studios proved to be too difficult.

So, cartoon experts, put on your magic caps and see if you’re able to come to any guesses as well- and enjoy this long-forgotten segment! I’m putting it on the Missing Links special Blu-ray set since it is one!

UPDATE: I usually put the films up the night before on You Tube, and this particular film has now been identified by You Tube commenter John Simpson as “The Inside Story” produced for the US Coast Guard by Paramount Pictures, rather than the Navy. This clears up how “Mr. Bug” music ended up in the film, but stills leaves a mystery as to who animated it. It certainly isn’t Famous Studios.

Have a good week all!

14 Comments

  • First of all, I’m glad to hear of the progress in all your various projects. I can’t wait to get some of these in my hand! As for the voices in the film that you attach here, I recognize immediately the voice of Billy Bletcher, But he’s not the only VoiceOver involved in this. There is one other person, and I can’t seem to identify him but I know I’ve heard his voice in cartoons before. it almost sounds like Dal MacKennon, but I just can’t be sure.

  • Saw your update; glad you were able to identify the film.
    When I saw your original post, I was going to suggest the Ted Eshbaugh studios, as the Eshbaugh was doing films for the Navy during this time period. Those I am very interested in seeing!

  • Glad to help Steve. The whole 27 minute film is available for viewing and download at the Internet Archive with titles intact.

    Just click on my name for the link.

  • Steve: When you first mentioned that it was a film made by the U.S. Navy’s animation studio during WWII, I thought that maybe Gordon Sheehan might have done some of the animation on it? But, as it was done for the Coast Guard, I don’t know. Gordon told me very little about the work he did when he was drafted into the Navy during WWII. He DID tell me that he worked on some kind of training film that actor Eddie Albert narrated and that he and Bob Little animated a sequence of what might be done during the “D-Day” battle in France. Gordon told me that he and Bob Little got into a little “hot water” because their animated depiction of the battle was closer to what actually happened then they realized. I wish I had talked more to Gordon about his WWII animation work!

  • The scene of the cop at 2:43 saying “Holy Cats, I must be losin’ mine!” and the next scene of the cop catching all the little emotional characters is Rod Scribner’s. So that means that Schlesinger probably did some of the animation for the project.

    • I agree with you mark that the animation gives of a Schlesinger cartoon vibe since the male character reminds me of an early 1940’s Chuck Jones design I believe it’s likely the layout/design was done by Art Heinemann Who was Chuck’s character designer, designing characters such as snafu and the three bears

  • Those menus for the Flip set are astounding!

  • I’m really looking forward to the Flip and Tom and Jerry Collections!

  • These segments deal specifically with the phenomenon of physical pain as a manifestation of emotional stress. I don’t know how sound the psychology is, but at least the film is reassuring and informative about an issue that the men might have to face and needn’t feel embarrassed about. As for the question of who animated what, I defer to others with a better eye for that sort of thing than I have.

  • This looks like a cross of a Columbia and a Chuck Jones short.

  • Mr. Stanchfield:

    Off and on for the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about you and your outstanding work (looking at some of my previous Thunderbean releases). Folks like you and Tommy Jose Stathes and Jerry Beck are worth your weight in gold to those of us who are interested in animated films from the past. I really admire the fact that you are so EXTREMELY PICKY! (Just a touch here, a modification there…) I hope you find those cleanup disks for the Tom & Jerrys!

    I do believe that your set of Flips will be the first-ever source of complete Flips anywhere. Not even on earlier, “prehistoric” DVD, that I know of…?

    (Uh-oh… Now I’ve gone and done it… The Flip introductory song is going through my head.)

    Dad blast it, I can’t find my old Thunderbean 2-DVD set of the Tom and Jerrys… Gotta be around here somewhere… Well, before too long, maybe it won’t matter…

    You have so much stuff on your plate! Stop-motions, the Comicolors, the rest of the Rainbow Parades, maybe more Aesop’s Fables… Yeesh! And now school is coming up again! Do you ever get any sleep?

    I wish you well! Steve Stanchfield for President!

    (Naaaahh… You don’t need that kind of grief.)

    • The Flip introductory song is going through YOUR head? How do you think WE feel? (-:

      There was an earlier “complete” Flip set, the five-volume “Complete Adventures of Flip the Frog” on VHS in 1992, from Bosko Video/Dave Butler. Teenage me and twentysomething Steve Stanchfield were package artist and print advisor on several of the volumes—and somehow, I got there by having fronted an earlier attempted Flip revival as a tween in 1987.

      The VHS set had all the cartoons, but some necessarily came from poor prints and a couple we now know to have been incomplete (commonly seen versions of CIRCUS, THE GOAL RUSH, THE MILKMAN, and PUPPY LOVE all had scenes removed by MGM domestically; GOAL, MILKMAN, and PUPPY are all restored in the new set, and CIRCUS is at least mostly restored, though a 100% complete element still eludes us).

    • (Oops—and I should add that “our” Bosko Video set was followed by another licensed set, Greg Ford’s 1993 “Cartoons That Time Forgot” on VHS and later DVD, where about half of the Flip cartoons were included. While obviously not a complete set, Ford’s series did upgrade print quality from ours on a few.)

  • The Flip menus look great!

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