THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
March 19, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Cartoons For The Confined

Hi everyone.

As these difficult days continue world-wide, it’s becoming clear to me that we’re only at the beginning of what will likely be a prolonged period of everyone trying to make sense of both the current situations and how to move forward. I’ve been thinking about the relatively small ‘cartoon community’ we have here and all those small groups formed over the years that so many of you were a part of, and what both animation and, especially, the classic cartoons have meant to us. I think back to my childhood sometimes when thinking along these lines and how wondrous these films were to me; lunch at home with my mother watching Popeye cartoons was one of the best of these memories, and on the especially hard days, those black and white Fleischers gave me something to look forward to, as did the cartoons after school. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about these old films is the ability to escape into them, even for juts a little while, and enjoy something of pure fantasy.

I think about how the Private Snafu cartoons must have been a wonderful break for the troops; something magical made just for them in the face of a terrible and unpredictable war. As a nation and as a whole world, we are very much facing a war, and it is requiring everyone to try and hold societies together through collective decision making. In the worst moments in these coming weeks, I hope that you all can find some solace in the wonderful entertainment from the past as well as more recent endeavors.

Mary and I sit here, in the south-east corner of Ann Arbor, hunkering down as you most likely are. We’re all apart, but together as a world in trying to combat this horror. If there’s anything positive about this terrible situation,maybe this solidarity and how we resolve it can, in some positive way, help to heal the various divisions in this country as well world-wide, at least a little. I have great hope for that.

I know many if not most of us are finding ourselves at home more than usual, and I thought this week might be fun to put together some thematic play lists for the coming weeks. Here’s a few ideas for mine — a sort of recipe for ‘animation nights’ in this period. What are some of your ideas or what are some of the shows you’ve curated, either for friends or bigger?

Animation program ideas:

An ‘after school’ show based on a local UHF station’s lineup in the 60s, 70s or 80s.

I haven’t done this yet, but I’d love to do a show based on a cartoon lineup I saw as a kid on Television. Getting an old TV guide is a good place to start for identifying an order to show cartoons in, maybe picking one cartoon from each show. Youtube is wonderful for finding station IDs and old ads from many local stations as well as commercials from the vintage year you pick to help add flavor for a show. Vintage Toledo TV has put up some TV guides. Here’s a page from 1977, showing the lineup I remember very well in Detorit. I would have been 9 years old at this time. What lineup do you remember well as a kid?

Other TV Guide pages are here from various years.

A show based on a specific (and maybe pivotal) year in animation. There are some years that are pretty fascinating to look at in terms of the history of the medium. The 30s are always super fun for me, but the 40s are fascinating as well when comparing. It’s fun to mix in studio shorts with independent and even some live action if you have some. I have done some shows like this before. Would love to see your lists.

A show based around a specific animator’s career. This can be especially fun if the animator worked at lots of different studios since it’s interesting to see how their worked changed through the years. Happily, there is renewed interest in this subject and in sharing reels on the internet (many by people in the small ‘family’ here) and those are sometimes great places to start. There’s of course a lot of ‘favorite’ animators that many of you have, so start with one of those, and share the show, perhaps without sharing the theme!

An animal-specific show: All cats or all dog themes are the easiest in this pursuit, but it’s fun and challenging to put together a list or a show of one particular animal that shows up as a star in many cartoons. I did a show of all Monkey cartoons years back, and of course have themed some discs a little in that direction.


Your ‘All time Favorites’ list: I think it would be impossible to do a show with all my top picks, but if I had to do just six films and a feature, this is my desert island show.

(In no particular order):

Let’s Go (1937, Columbia). A cartoon about saving the disadvantaged that you’ve ignored while building your society. Of course, this is a wonderful little short that follows the relief efforts of the United States, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that they’re ‘Bombing’ them with some sort of magic honey that completely transforms them.

Northwest Hounded Police (1946, MGM/ Avery) To me, this is one of the most perfect cartoons ever made.

The Sunshine Makers (1935 RKO/ Van Beuren) Another society destruction story that I’ve seen a too many times in recent years, but it sure is a fun little film. This left my latest animation history class baffled. What left me baffled is that no one in the class had ever seen it. Then again, they also do not know who W.C Fields is or Laurel and Hardy.

Scrappy’s Art Gallery (1934 Columbia/ Mintz) To me, there’s rarely anything better than a bunch of artists making fun of classic art. In this case, it’s a firm thumb-to-the-nose and a loving tribute to art.

Feed the Kitty (1952). There are so many things to like in a Warner Brothers cartoon, but I think the particular mix in this specific short does a pretty good job of covering many of those things in one films.

Rooty Toot Toot (1951 Columbia/ UPA). I think this is another perfect film, and perhaps, along with Gerald McBoing Boing, the finest thing the studio created. Here is a brand new HD scan of this short. I wasn’t planning on sharing this here, but we all deserve a little treat. We really *should* be seeing this IB Technicolor print in a beautiful movie theatre, surrounded by animation fans. Seeing this in HD was the closest I’ve seen the film looking as I think it should since I saw an IB tech 35mm print in a theatre years ago. It’s unlisted on youtube, here just for readers here for a little while.

Wishing the best for you and yours through this crisis, and make sure to post your lists!

18 Comments

  • A beautiful post….and in EVERY way! (Man-oh-man, that Columbia is GORGEOUS!!! TY!

  • This Saturday matinee line-up from 1950 works for me!

    sat-matinee-1950

  • Probably any animation show held today should begin with “The Enemy Bacteria” (1945), an infection control film produced for the U.S. Navy by Walter Lantz. It’s interesting historically, the animation is compelling, it gives good advice, and its message couldn’t be timelier. Stay healthy, everybody!

  • Northwest Hounded Police is one of Avery’s greatest films. The wolf’s over the top reactions are hilarious.

    When you think about it, the basic idea of Droopy’s ubiquitous nature is like a horror film.

    I’ve always wondered what made the wolf’s scream after he opens the door to Droopy saying, “peek-a-boo.”

  • Your comments once again remind me of how I was introduced to cartoons. I was just saying to someone else that I feel so privileged to have grown up when I did because what was on television was not so micro-managed and, so, we got to see generations of animation art that truly represented its time in positive and negative ways, but it is the artistry that I always enjoyed, from all the theatrical animation of the first three decades of sound filmmaking through the age of television cartoons.

    Steve, I liked your choices, here, and I guess mine wouldn’t be changing from other such lists that you’ve mentioned here. I will constantly call for more, more, more “BEANY AND CECIL” just because I feel so close to that cartoon and it brings back so many good memories…I recently was reacquainted with a show called “THE FUNNY COMPANY” which stands as one of those semi-educational shows, but it also can stand as a capsule of where we were at that time as far as doling out information. One wonders how a show like this would dole out needed information in these times, especially since the computer called the Weisenheimer (sp) mirrors those Alexa devices or “smart” appliances in our homes. How would a show like this inform kids about social distancing, for example?

    As for escaping from it all at times, nothing beats the animated cartoon. They are your best entertainment next to all kinds of music. I hope both physical media and downloads thrive, because there is room for diversity of both. Keep clean and safe and, especially, well-informed.

    • I would vouch for having grown up when I did before TV became the way it was after the 80’s. Being introduced to these classics was much easier than where it seems to be today.

  • Nice post of the Detroit TV Guide from 1977; that brings back memories of my childhood in Pontiac, Michigan.

    I think I saw this portion of the TV Guide at my Grandma Ruby’s house one time (I don’t remember what was on the front cover, though.) Channel 50 was definitely showing “The Munsters”, “Lost In Space” (both B&W 1st season and color 2nd & 3rd seasons at the time on its roster, followed by episodes of “The Monkees” and “The Brady Bunch”.) Channel 20 was showing the Filmation version of Archie in a re-package specially made in 1976 for syndication, featuring reprints of The first Archie cartoon series from 1968 to the final episodes of “The U. S. Of Archie” from 1974. Channel 9 of Windsor was showing re-runs of “I Dream Of Jeanie”, but I only remember seeing the color episodes from 1966-1970 on the roster. The 1st season from 1965-66 in B& W I didn’t catch until the 1990’s on TV Land’s cable channel.

    I did recall seeing “Rooty Toot Toot” for the first time in a high school film presentation in the 9th Grade from a vintage film projector. It was an old 16-mm film print from 1965, because I remember seeing the Screen Gems “S From Hell” logo at the very end of the cartoon, as Columbia/Screen Gems was re-issuing these films for television syndication at the time. The ragtime music by Phil Moore was catchy, and John Hubley was a very talented director/animator. I noticed “Sesame Street” mentioned on the TV Guide page by way of Channel 56 of Detroit; John Hubley and his wife Faith Hubley did some animation bits for Sesame Street in the 1970’s long after he left UPA. The animated bits “Cat & Telephone” and “A man tries to go to sleep, only to be interrupted by a fly, a chicken, and a drum-playing rabbit” were the most memorable segments the Hubleys did on that program.

    Channel 62 (a first for Detroit, being a landmark channel being originally founded by African American TV supervisors) showed “Uncle Waldo” on their roster, a show I haven’t seen for nearly 40 years. Animated by Jay Ward Studios, it involved adventures of a fox named Waldo and a frog named Hippity Hooper. The “Felix The Cat” cartoons on Channel 62 were the low budget Joe Oriole episodes from 1958-62, and the Popeyes on Channel 20 were the low-budget Al Brodax episodes from 1960-1962 with animation from a number of studios, including Gene Deitch and Format Films among others.Channel 50 had the rights to the Fleicher Brothers and The Famous Studios/Paramount Pictures Popeye episodes from 1931-1957 at the time, usually showing them at 12:30 PM for a half hour before Bill Kennedy appeared at 1:00 PM with his movie hosting.

    Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Steve. (I currently live in Oxford, Michigan, by the way.)

    • I always liked how Detroit’s channel 50 promoted its weekday half-hour of Popeye shorts with an announcer proudly asserting something to the effect of, “The BEST Popeye cartoons are only found on channel 50!”

    • Having grown up in Toledo myself, we weren’t really that lucky getting anything as 2-3 independent station to watch locally, so it must’ve bee something to have had 20, 50 and 62 in Detroit to view for you guys. I recall the only local channel that play anything animated in my childhood after school was 24 (an ABC affiliate at the time), in the early 80’s they had a block of cartoons called “The Fantastic Fun Festival” that played a mixture of WB, MGM and UA cartoons (DePatie-Freleng). I had 50 to watch on cable too, but that was about it.

  • I’d forgotten what a relatively classy read TV Guide used to be. TV itself was more fun, too. Even with a relative dearth of channels (although cable and pay-TV–remember Channel 100?–already had been around a couple of years by then), there was almost always something watchable on.

  • I don’t remember lineups but I do remember Los Angeles cartoon show hosts, for whom the theme was vocational: Engineer Bill, Sheriff John, Hobo Kelly . . . I suppose it would be cheating to include Paul Winchell as a ventriloquist. I remember seeing at least a few episodes of the Andy Devine version of Froggy the Gremlin.

    Another theme for a show would be to recreate one of the programs the Motion Picture Academy ran for the members who were going to vote on the shortlist for the animated short Oscar.

  • Kinda tough to decide. We had our choice of Wee Willie Webber, Sally Starr, Gene London and many others in Philly in the late 60s-early 70s…

    I’d probably go with something like this:

    -Rocket Robin Hood
    -Spider-Man
    -Marine Boy
    -Astro Boy
    -Speed Racer (or as Wee Willie would say, “SpEEEEEEEd Racerrrrrrrr!” 🙂
    -Popeye
    -Johnny Cypher
    -Eighth Man
    -Kimba
    And so on. 😀

  • Tex Avery’s Cellbound would be perfect.

  • Our weekday cartoon show hosts in the early 1960’s were Mayor Art (Art Finley) on KRON-San Francisco, Captain Satellite (Bob March) on KTVU-Oakland and Marshall J on KGO. Mayor Art ran Fleischer Popeyes, Captain Satellite showed Mintz and Screen Gems cartoons (mostly Krazy Kat and Scrappy with a few Color Rhapsodies, for some reason without main titles and in B&W). I have forgotten six month sections of my own life, but remember seeing Northwest Hounded Police on the Saturday morning Tom & Jerry Show on CBS and laughing out loud.

  • The “Let’s Go” short is absolutely beautiful! To think that it’s 83 years old now is just amazing. Gorgeous work, indeed.

  • For me, as “Far out” as I am, this is greatest collection of “klassik kartoonery” ever, including my personl guru., John Hubley’s breakthru classic, ROOTY TOOT TOOT, the cartoon that was my unreachable guidepost of perfection.

  • Thanks for this, Steve! I’ve been doing private streaming screenings for friends who are isolated and I’m always looking for new ideas.

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