Last week’s show at the Redford theatre in Redford, Michigan was really fun. John Monaghan and I have put on this show for at least 10 years now, and we rarely have repeated a cartoon in that time. The first show was a mix of various studios, while the second show concentrated on the Fleischer Studios, and featured some of the restorations being done from Paramount’s materials. Both shows drew great crowds, and it was nice to see so many folks I knew. Thanks to everyone for coming out. It was nice to do a Q&A with Jane (Fleischer) Reid, Ray Pointer and Ciara Waggoner.
Since it’s the annual Thanksgiving post, I like to list at least a few of the things I’m thankful for— related to cartoony stuff. This year, as we finish many of the long-in-progress projects, I’m especially thankful for all the help we’ve had producing the Thunderbean sets over these years. I’m also incredibly thankful for the ability to participate in helping on so many projects both for Thunderbean and other producers. The films are worth all the efforts to present them as best as they can be presented.
On the night before Thanksgiving, I’ll be looking over some of the Van Beuren Tom and Jerry cartoons again for the set we’ve just completed —looking over and doing small tweaks on. Just looking at this *one* set, I’m reminded the whole time of what a group effort it was to get all these films together and clean them up. It’s just one set, but there’s a whole community that helps make all of these happen, with often the key players stepping in again and again. So, thank you all so much for helping make these things come together, for all of us to have and enjoy. Even more importantly, thanks so much to the creators of these films in the first place that have brought so much enjoyment to all of us. I hope all these efforts help to preserve their work and make it more assessable in good quality to current and future audiences.
And, onto the Thanksgiving animated selections for the year!!
Since we usually have some animated suggestions each year as well, I thought it might be fun to consider some things that may not usually be in the mix. Call this year’s list the Strange, good, bad and downright ugly!
In more recent years, there’s been a *lot* of CG Turkey Animated features. I have no idea how many children were actually parked in front of a screen and forced to watch these all the way through, but fortunately there’s trailers for the rest of us to comment on.
The Thanksgiving Movie (2020)
It’s maybe best to start with the worst one. Even without seeing this all the way through, it’s obviously pretty terrible, but remember, fellow cartoon researchers, someday soon this will be forty years old. They say every film is someone’s favorite film, but I bet this one isn’t. Terrible lighting, shot composition and animation makes this less-than a classic for sure. I’d love to hear if anyone made it through it:
Turkey Day (2020)
A completely different Thanksgiving Movie made the same year by the same producers!! They seem pretty equal in this poor production values, so at least something is consistent!
Free Birds (2013)
Now, this one actually had a better budget and at least has people who knew how to animate (I actually know a few of them). This film was made by Reel FX and didn’t do terribly in theaters. It even got an Annie Award with music. Personally, I couldn’t make it through the whole film when attempting to watch it many years back, but some of the animation is nicely done. Here’s the trailer!
Big City Greens “Thanksgiving Episode” (2018)
Disney TV’s ‘Big City Greens’ show did a pretty fun take on the craziness of after Thanksgiving Black Friday sales. Chris Houghton, the show’s co-creator (with his brother) was one of my students at CCS (College for Creative Studies). He’s also the voice of Cricket, the show’s main character. If you haven’t seen any episodes of the show, this is a good one to start with.
Gumby – Pilgrims on the Rocks (1966)
Gumby finds a wet Pilgrim laying in the middle of the road. They jump back into the “Mayflower Voyage” book, and end up in a pretty dry history lesson that feels a little more like a Davy and Goliath episode. I wish it was better, but it’s probably best viewed on this particular holiday more than any other.
The best line in the show is right at the end:
Gumby: What are you thankful for during Thanksgiving?”
Pokey: I’m thankful I’m not a Pilgrim!
Gumby: Oh No!!
Bugs Bunny’s Thanksgiving Diet (1979)
When I was a kid, I thought this was one of the oddest specials I had ever seen. Consisting mostly of classic cartoons, the wraparound animation (directed by David Detiege) doesn’t always look great- but I’m sure it didn’t have a very big budget. The list of animators includes quite a few decent animators too. Hearing Bugs saying that a deep emotional problem can cause overeating and that food can be a substitute for something we all need isn’t the sort of dialogue one would expect in a holiday special. Usually Bugs isn’t a doctor, either.
B.C. The First Thanksgiving (1973)
This well animated special (Directed by Abe Levitow and produced by Levitow/Hanson productions) is really well produced. It’s animated by a team of industry vets: George Nicholas, Hal Ambro, Phil Roman, Bob Bachman Manny Gould and Bob Bell. While not the funniest special by any means, it’s still amusing and an unusual watch for Thanksgiving.
Wishing everyone a good Thanksgiving!