THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
November 10, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

“Bargain Counter Attack” (1946) from a 35mm IB nitrate print

Happy November everyone!

In Thunderbean news:
Most of the Thunderbean hard drives are now upstairs in the media closet, with only several drives down here holding the current projects in progress. It’s relaxing to see a lot less visual clutter, but bigger than that its nice to know where most things are now that they’re consolidated. We’ll be concentrating on getting Flip done first, with The Little King and the Van Beuren Tom and Jerrys close behind. Stop Motion Marvels Volume 1 (Blu-ray) will be back from replication in about a week, completing that four and a half year project. We’ll be announcing our usual holiday special set within the next week or so as well. I’ll be getting back to looking at some Little Kings tonight, making final decisions on whether we’re done with cleanup on some or if they need tweaks.

There are exciting things on the horizon in these coming weeks and I’m looking forward to sharing the news as we get the current stuff out the door.

I’ve been moving things off the portable hard drives so I can put more films on those drives for the freelancers, and the ‘Little Lulu’ project has now moved to a bigger drive to be archived. Today I decide to take a look at Bargain Counter Attack (1946)- a cartoon that a lot of us are familiar with since it seemed to be on nearly every bargain public domain VHS cartoon tape. When some 35mm IB technicolor prints off Lulus became available from a collector in Europe, I was thrilled to be able to see this particular cartoon and others in Technicolor, with a much more balanced palette than the pinkish one I always think of from those well-worn 16mm UM&M prints that circulated for years. We were happy to have put this and three other 35mm prints on our Little Lulu ‘special’ set a little while back.

It’s a charming cartoon, well-designed and executed. It’s really lovely to be able to see it in better quality. Lulu’s mischief making gags are pretty fun (although there’s one unfortunate Indian gag). Layout is especially dynamic in this short looking especially nice in painted in a beautiful pastel-ish palette. The way the backgrounds are rendered reminds you of the Fleischer’s early 40s cartoons- and how lush some of the Famous Studios work still was well into the 40s. This one also makes me long for a simple stroll through a store like this, but that would require going back in time. Special thanks to Thad Komorowski for helping acquire this print.

Have a good week all!

25 Comments

  • Lulu’s mischief making gags are pretty fun (although there’s one unfortunate Indian gag).

    Don’t know why you felt the need to label a gag regarding Indians “unfortunate” – how about letting the viewer decide if it’s unfortunate?

    • Because it is?

      Why are you upset by that point?

    • I’m guessing the “unfortunate” aspect of the gag is that Lulu is jumping around doing an Indian war cry for a few seconds? Wouldn’t have occurred to me that it was problematic if Steve hadn’t mentioned it. I’m not an American, though, so maybe I’m not the best to judge.

      • It didn’t bother me personally, but she also “scalped” the mannequin.

    • Well, at least we know where you’re coming from now.

    • This is Steve’s column. You are reading him; not the other way around.

  • The mid-forties were truly Famous Studios’ golden age. There was still some of that old Fleischer creativity left over, as can be seen in this cartoon, with its clever gags and fun, sharply timed animation. Eventually, however, the studio would fall victim to formula; the stories, the gags, the timing, they would all become rote and predictable, and it would only get worse in the late fifties as the budgets fell. Occasional high points like “Dante Dreamer” and “Chew-Chew Baby” were few and far between, and would only pale in comparison to what other studios were doing at the time. Sadly, it’s these later day cartoons that got the most airtime, coloring most people’s opinion of the studio’s output.

    • This is a genuinely funjny cartoon, in addition to which it’s beautifully animated. The fluidity of movement reminds me of the best of the Fleischers’ Popeye and Superman cartoons of the early ’40s. The backgrounds are beautiful too — Robert Little’s work?

  • The department store interiors appear to be modeled on the B. Altman & Co. flagship store on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City. The building has been preserved and is now part of New York University.

  • A little disappointing that the end titles are not include in this print.

    • Frankly, it’s a deal breaker.

  • Seeing Lulu ski down the escalator handrails reminds me what a magical place a big city department store could be for a young person. I have very fond memories of J. L. Hudson’s in downtown Detroit, especially the toy department on the twelfth floor at Christmastime. For a couple of years I played in an orchestra that leased rehearsal space on one of the vacant upper floors of Hudson’s. I was still only in my teens, and during our breaks some of us used to do tricks on the escalators, riding with our hands and feet on the rails and coming off with a flip at the end. Once we found some old wheelchairs and raced them. Wild as any Zulu and just as hard to tame? Hardly! Well, maybe a little….

  • Did Lulu’s antagonist have a canonical name?

    • I always believed he was often Famous Studios’ version of Lulu’s father Mr. George Moppet, as evidenced in shorts like “I’m Just Curious”. Think of it as Homer Simpson having many jobs in many episodes.

  • I think the floorwalker’s the love child of Popeye and Bluto.

    Anyone inclined to judge the content by contemporary standards had best steer clear of the Lulu cartoons involving corporal punishment. “Bored of Education” ends–spoiler alert!–with Lulu fanning Tubby’s large rear end glowing red from beneath his short pants and saying with a chuckle “You sure stuck your neck out that time.” (Lulu herself has a rubber stamp for her diary reading “I got a spanking.”)

    Call me when you get/restore decent prints of “Lulu’s Birthday Party” and “Musica-Lulu.”

  • I cannot watch this without constantly being reminded that Little Lulu jokes were some of the dirtiest stuff invented by humankind.

    And…… is the sound this way forever? Nothing to restore?

  • Very ‘afternoon’ colors all around here– and I see your color corrections have got better. Nice print as always.

  • There’s a lot of great Tom Golden animation in this cartoon. The scene at 4:20 is interesting to me, though. It looks like William Henning’s work. Definitely does not seem like a regular animator from this unit.

  • Thanks for posting, Steve! It’s great to see a Little Lulu cartoon which is not a faded Eastmancolor 16mm print.

  • I’m a little behind on your news, but there is a Little Lulu project? It would be nice to see high quality versions of these shorts.

  • I think Bargain Counter Attack was the first Little Lulu short I had seen growing up as I owned a copy of it on VHS myself. It’s such a memorable cartoon. Nice to revisit it again. Thanks Steve!

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