The pandemic has slowed everything down for sure, but we’re still plugging along and getting things done.
After weeks of working to catch up with all the special orders, I’m happy to be devoting some time to the finishing touches on the More Stop Motion Marvels set. I hope to have a master by this time next week on the title- and will talk about here of course! There’s always a point on each of these projects where I’m looking for little issues only- and this project is in that stage. Then, onto the final tweaking on the Rainbow Parade V1 set. Two of the long termers down- and I couldn’t be happier.
Moving as many things forward on this break is the main goal right now. I’ll be doing some traveling in the coming month during the break, waiting outside of production houses as they scan various 35mm films since I’m unable to do them here in Michigan at the moment. There’s also lots of 16mm to do— those are in progress in Michigan on a Lasergraphics scanner. The Tom and Jerry series has been moving forward especially, and Vintage Education 2 is all scanned and in cleanup. There’s a bunch of ‘Special’ sets that are getting done at the same time.
The thing I’m most excited about is seeing the Iwerks’ Comi-Colors and the Technicolor Rainbow Parades as they’re getting scanned at Blackhawk Films in Burbank. It’s dependent on when they are able to pull them for scanning- there’s little windows that open up —and those are opportunities to get them out of the archives during this period. We’re trying at the same time to get the Lou Bunin Alice materials all finished (on the other side of the country).
Now — onto this week’s cartoon:
The holidays should always bring a few special things— so here is a good one for everyone. I think this particular film has been on everyone’s “I want to see a good print” list for many years. Film collector and animation aficionado David Locke provided a beautiful original release 35mm Technicolor print of Christmas Comes But Once a Year (1936) this year. He enough to scan it for us (even in these pandemic times) and we used the print on this year’s Christmas ‘Special’ disc, Ghosts of Christmas Cartoons. We owe him a great debt of gratatude.
One of the biggest thrills for me was not only seeing a print from the original release, but also seeing the original title sequence, missing from the film since the original release. Sadly, the print was missing a small section near the opening; we’ve put this section back in for now, but hope to scan this section from the best print we’re able to find sometime in the near future.
It’s sort of sad that this is the only Color Classic with Grampy; He’s a big favorite of many cartoon fans— and even though he’s a somewhat limited character, I think his presence is just right for a one-reel short. There’s a handful of Christmas cartoons that seem to have lived in a lot of people’s memories, and this particular film is one of them- whether you had seen it on TV as a kid or on a public domain VHS or DVD in the 80s into the 2000s.
There’s something disarming about this particular short, from the simple but sweet story to the clever ideas that Grampy comes up with to make new toys. The beautiful setback model at the end is so simple, but a wonderful ending for this charming cartoon. Sammy Timburg’s music is just right as well throughout, including the catchy theme song (reused a little later in the Fleischer Popeye Let’s Celebrake (1938).
I do hope some day that all the Color Classics are released from the negs. Until then, here is another that can join the short list of ones available from pretty decent prints. Share it with someone that has never seen it if you can.
So, as a holiday present to everyone, here is Christmas Comes but Once a Year. Enjoy- and Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.