December 10, 2014 posted by

Cartoon Carnival: “Christmas Frolics” with Pooch The Pup


It’s almost Christmas, and there’s no better way to celebrate it Stathes-style than with a 16mm Cartoon Carnival event. I have to say, the annual Christmas show in my series is often my favorite one out of the year…even though I wind up recycling some films from year to year!

santa_puppet200So, that’s exactly what our NYC crowd will be doing on Saturday, December 20th at 7:30pm in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The lovely Standard Toykraft is hosting Cartoon Carnival #30: Christmas Frolics for animation enthusiasts and unsuspecting, unusual event lovers alike.

race_night1_200This time we’ll also feature a favorite bonus of late: a Race Night Comedy, supplied by comedy film historian Nelson Hughes. For those of you who don’t know, the Race Night Comedies were produced in the early 1930s and were contest films shown by theaters. Guests were each given a ticket with a number, only one of which corresponded with one race winner at the end of the film. The wonderful thing about them is that the films feature silent-era comedians like Max Davidson and Snub Pollard. These films were practically forgotten until recently and are always a riot with the audience. Some lucky Carnival attendee will win a couple fun prizes at no extra charge.

Many of you simply won’t be able to attend for purely geographical reasons, which is sad, but at least we can discuss some of our favorite ancient Christmas cartoons here. What are some of yours from the 1940s and earlier? A few of my mainstream favorites are:

1. Pals (aka Christmas Night) with The Little King
2. The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives
3. Ginger Nutt’s Christmas Circus
4. Santa’s Surprise with Little Audrey
5. The Merry Dog with Pooch the Pup

Note: A couple of these usually wind up in the Christmas Carnival, since they are essentials, but I tend to show far more obscure films from the 20s to 30s as well. Here’s a look at my Walter Lantz favorite:

Hope some of you NYC locals can make it to the show. Otherwise, stay tuned for another special Cartoons On Film post here next week!


  • I’ve seen references to the “Race Night” comedies in several books about the kiddie matinee era; usually referred to as “crazy races” or “funny races.” By some accounts, they seem to have stayed in circulation even into the 1960’s; so even though I’ve never seen one, I’m surprised at their apparent rarity. Producer Andrew L. Stone went on to bigger things in Hollywood; with his wife Virginia as a frequent partner, he produced and directed over 30 feature films, everything from noir mysteries to overstuffed musicals, from the 1940’s into the 70’s. (One account I read of the “crazy races” described them as “usually won by a guy with a big mustache driving a bathtub!”)

    PS: In Krazytoon Land, “Merry Dog” is known as “Pixie Tricks” and is missing the last gag.

    • Howdy Jeff. Hopefully Nelson will chime in with a few words about the Race Night Comedies. I believe Nelson was seeing them at his local theater in Florida well into the early 80s! Most, if not all, of our usual silent and early comedy sound experts today under a certain age had never even heard of the films.

      Anyway… I thought I had the Krazytoons “Pixie Tricks” except that title was physically spliced to a Van Beuren, I think it was Noah Knew His Ark. Horrible vinegar so tossed it! I would love to find every last Krazytoon one day.

  • A total of ten RN one reelers were produced and was first released in 1933 and then three years later, Stone dusted off the films and re-released them, where the shorts continued to play in theaters until the early 80s and suddenly vanished. Each week, moviegoers was treated to a different race such as, Boat, Skate, Dog, Obstacle, Foot, etc and they were real crowd pleasers.The series was basically a showcase for the Mack Sennett, Hal Roach and the Al Christie studios, the big three comedy studios during the silent era.Such clowns appeared in these comedies including, Snub Pollard, Heinie Conklin, Jerry Mandy, Fred “Snowflake” Toones, Hank Mann, Jack Duffy, Max Davidson and many others. Today, only six of the Race Night shorts survive while the remaining four are missing.Animators, Hanna And Barbera were fans of these shorts that it served as the inspiration for the 1960s animated series THE WACKY RACES.Arguably the RN series could be among the rarest comedy shorts ever produced for the silver screen.

  • I’m lovin’ the SUNRAY FILMS logo spliced onto the start of this one!

    I had a print with the generic “hobo” Pooch title card.

    • I can only agree; man, THAT’S showmanship!

      Please tell me, Mr. Hughes; were the Race Nights ever released in 16mm during the “home movie” era, or are these prints modern-day reductions from 35mm? One might doubt the marketability of such items, yet Official Films offered their “Broadway Handicap” home movie horse racing game from the late 30’s/early 40’s into the early 80’s. Super 8 prints were eventually added to 8 and 16mm, so there must have been enough ongoing demand to make it worthwhile,

  • yup saw these at kiddie matinees in the early ’60s, thought I’d never find info about them again..

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