Today: The last vestige of Christmas Cartoons before putting them away for the year.
Many years back, the landlord for the house we were renting stopped over just a week or so after the beginning of the year; her parting words after seeing our still lit tree were ‘The celebrating season is over!’. So, with that, since we’re just after the first of the year, here are some parting shots for the season. Maybe these will be a quick diversion from the things you’re doing while off from your regularly scheduled gig.
First, Toyland Premiere. I loved the few early color Lantz cartoons that were part of the Woody Woodpacker package as a kid, and sat through many hours of cartoons I didn’t like very much hoping they’d show this one. In a way it is very much responsible for me collecting films. I still hope that one day the seemingly edited out footage at the end will show up:
Christmas Daze. This cute little short was made for the Australian Broadcasting commission, with animation by the small Rowl Greenhalgh productions. Finding information about this small studio has been difficult, but the studio did produce commercials in Australia in the late 50’s through at least 1960. Greenhalgh also illustrated children’s books into the 70s. The infamous Krazy Toons seems to have bootlegged this one, but at least they left the original music at the beginning. Who knows if this is the original name of the film, but at least they didn’t call it Romeo Monk. My friend Jeff Missinne made a film transfer of this one for me back in 1990…and likely still has one of the few prints of this one…
Then there’s Frosty the Snowman, Suzy Snowflake, and Hardrock, Coco and Joe.
Frosty seems to be the first of the shorts made, from 1951, directed by John Hubely at UPA. These were really promotional shorts made by the then-small Hill and Range Music, who had recorded Gene Autry’s ‘Frosty’ in 1950;
They would soon become one of the largest music rights management companies in the world, largely due to their success with Elvis and country music song rights. They gave these shorts away to Television stations originally for a promised ‘plug’ of their records.
The two Wah Chang stop motion shorts produced for Hill and Range are always fun to see; The first here is Suzy Snowflake. The Snowman that appears in the film is the UPA design from Frosty – a neat sort-of connection…
Then there’s Hardrock and Coco and Joe. I always thought that the designs have a kinship to the Time for Beany puppets. Who would think this bit of mischief was created by the guy who would design the communicator for Star Trek (and with that, designing flip phones). Chang had worked at Disney earlier in his career as well.
Castle Films released these in 16mm for the home movie and rental market, making them a staple of home screenings as well as cartoon parades shown in schools from the 50’s into the 70’s.
I hope everyone is having a good holiday season!