November 10, 2016 posted by

“Christmas Flickers” pre-order – and “The Sunshine Makers” in HD!

yuletide-flickers-2016With election season over and all the special stuff finally going out here, I’ve had a little time to get back to finishing some too-long-in progress projects!

The first of these is a replicated (pressed) disc set of Christmas Yuletide Flickers set, a Blu-ray/ DVD combo featuring cartoon and live action shorts from the 20s through the 50s. You can see some of the shorts on the set from the posts last year.

We’ve had a chance to get the films cleaned up and looking nice now as well, and so it’s going off to replication just in time for the holidays. We’re offering it for pre-order this week, and hope to have it back here at the end of this month or sooner. The pre-order also features an additional disc of things that didn’t make it onto the set, not available after this special pre-order. It’s $15.95 plus postage. Take $5 off the price if you bought the BDr/DVDr version last year. Details are on the Thunderbean Website.

Here are some stills from the set:



Since it’s been a pretty exhausting election season here, I thought a little bit of Sunshine couldn’t possibly be a bad thing. Ted Eshabugh’s Classic The Sunshine Makers (1935) was a favorite of the baby boomer generation from it’s run on TV, burning a faded memory into their heads with it’s magical lands of ‘Joy’ and ‘Gloom’.

Here’s a simple breakdown of this simple story:

sunshine-bird_250The happy Sunshine Makers deliver delicious milk, made directly from the sun through a fantastical machine operated by their identical brother elves. It’s possible this machine was used at one time to eliminate evil snowmen created by accident. During a typical morning milk run, a member of the community next to theirs senses danger and launches a preventative attack on a milk cart, declaring his dissatisfaction with the competing culture, uttering “Sunshine. Bah! Joy. BAH!”.

This illegal attack prompts retaliation by the milkman. He tosses a jar of the Sunshine Milk, seemingly caustic to the members of Gloom.

This insult is met with panic by the member of Gloom, who runs as fast as he can back to his village. The sight of his back fully lit up prompts an emergency burial of the coat as the member of Gloom returns to his village. We hear the fellow villagers chant (as they walk like a pensive Felix the Cat) “We’re happy when we’re sad”. This damage to the traditional clothing of the villagers is taken as a clear act of war; this leads to a bigger retaliation.

A frame from the restored "Sunshine Makers"

A frame from the restored “Sunshine Makers”

The village of gloom gathers four of its members together to suck up caustic pond water with atomizers, presumably to spray the members of the Joy village. Joy, however, is on the side of good, and they are better fortified and prepared for war, utilizing sophisticated machinery as well as giant flying locusts (perhaps from the dustbowl).

They beat back the invading forces, but don’t stop there; they invade and eviscerate the culture of the glooms via aerial attack. They continue their well-organized assault by ground, attacking the remaining members with Sunshine Milk, forcing the liquid down their throats, it’s radioactive properties exposing their skeletons through their clothing, stripping them of their free will. They chant and sing in unison that now there is ‘sunshine everywhere’, the subtext being that the world is now better since all other competing cultures have been eliminated.

Of course it’s possible I’m reading a little too much into this charming film, so forget about all of that and enjoy the happiness of Ted Eshbaugh’s little classic, from a beautiful 35mm Cinecolor print, preserved by our film heroes at the United States Library of Congress. Here it is in HD, as presented on the Van Beuren Classics Thunderbean disc:

Have a good week everyone!


  • >>> Here it is in HD, as presented on the Van Beuren Classics Thunderbean disc: <<<

    Any news on when you'll be able to replicate/press the "Van Beuren Classics" disc?

    I bought the BDr/DVDr version of "Yuletide Flickers" last year, and am looking forward to the cleaned up versions and the bonus disc. I stumbled onto the news of the new release yesterday while visiting your Thunderbean site and already paid full price, rather than taking off the $5.00. But don't worry about it, your prices are so reasonable for discs of material that I otherwise would never get to see that I'm glad to pay full price!

    Keep up the good work!

  • I hunted down last year’s post because I couldn’t remember what was on the Yuletide Flickers set. Here’s the rundown:

    Live action shorts:
    A Visit from St. Nicholas -1922
    T’was Night Before Xmas- 1928
    The Toyshop – 1928 2 color Technicolor short
    Christmas Time in Toyland
    Merry Christmas
    The First Christmas
    Night before Christmas

    Animated shorts:
    Five Orphans of the Storm -VB/ Terrytoon
    Pals- Little King-Van Beuren
    The Shanty Where Santa Claus Lives- Harman/Ising
    Suzy Snowflake-Stop Motion
    Frosty the Snowman-UPA
    Hardrock-Coco and Joe-Stop Motion
    Toys Will Be Toys- Famous Studios
    Hector’s Hectic Life- Famous Studios
    Christmas Daze- Australian
    Santa’s Surprise- Famous Studios

    Steve — can you please tell us what’s on this new bonus disc?

  • The Sunshine Makers was one of my favorites, with the epic battle the gnome like sunshine harvesting citizens of Joy vs the long faced Gloomies. Love the scenes where a hoot owl was used as a type of air raid siren for the Gloomies and how the Gloomies chests lit up showing their rib cages like a type of X-ray. As I stated before the cartoon’s end credits says “This entertainment brought to by Borden’s” who is one of the top dairy manufacturers and what they’re saying is Vitamin D which is found in dairy products and in the rays of the sun was good for people and that was before we were informed about the dangers of UV radiation and Melanoma.

    • Funny how advances in science and health help us to see the error in our ways, still Vitamin D Milk is good for bones anyway, that’s something we can still take from this.

      At present though, Borden’s isn’t quite the same company as it once was. The name is only used as a brand by several companies like Dean Foods for their dairy products, as the company had been shut down and its IP’s divided up in recent years.

    • Vitamin D is STILL good for people, as it helps to avoid rickets.

      Especially now that we know the dangers of too much sunshine–which were not known in 1935–milk is still the best source of that oil-soluble vitamin.

      However, as is the case with its cousin Vitamin A, it is possible to overdose on it.

    • Was “Sunshine Makers” specifically produced as advertising for Borden (as “Boy Meets Dog” was for Ipana toothpaste)?
      It certainly left an impression on Leonard Maltin, who wrote of it effusively in “Of Mice and Magic.”
      Thomas “Tad” Dorgan had Joys and Glooms in his comic strip (adapted for animation in the silent era), but his Joys were female.

    • Was “Sunshine Makers” specifically produced as advertising for Borden (as “Boy Meets Dog” was for Ipana toothpaste)?

      I’m sure it was, at least I want to think it is given the way Borden’s name is displayed promptly at the start.

    • funny enough, “The Sunshine Makers” *wasn’t* originally produced as a commercial- it was first part of the ‘Rainbow Parade’ series of cartoons, and was made at the Van Beuren Studio in New York shortly after Eshbaugh moved there from LA. We’ve discovered the original titles from the original release recently as well… 🙂

    • Speaking of Eshbaugh, has anyone yet been able to locate a print of “Otto Nobetter”?

  • Do the Famous Studios Cartoons on this disc have original titles. I would like you to upload those cartoons with the original Paramount Titles.

    • I don’t want to sound like I’m picking on anybody, but really, this is part of the problem, isn’t it? “I don’t want to spend the money to buy it, so just upload the cartoons to YouTube or Daily Motion so I can see them for free.” A blu-ray full of animation priced at $15.95 is a great bargain, especially since it comes with a bonus disc. Steve isn’t getting rich off these sets, and I think it’s safe to say that Thunderbean’s profit margins aren’t great. From working in the music reissue business, I can tell you that the audience for back catalog material isn’t that big, certainly never as big as people think it is, and your potential audience gets even smaller when you factor in the reality that for every one hundred people who assure you’ll they’ll buy a set as soon as it’s available, you’re lucky if half that many actually do. People are always complaining because Warner isn’t releasing Looney Tunes, or Popeye cartoons, or a Tex Avery set, or that Universal won’t do anything with their Lantz library, or that Disney has shown no interest in putting their classic shorts out on Blu-Ray. What motivation do these companies have to release this stuff on Blu-Ray or DVD when so many people will pass on buying it, happy to wait for somebody to upload the entire contents of the set to YouTube?

    • Oh, and yes, the Famous cartoons on the disc do have their original Paramount titles.

  • Thanks for a second chance at this disk. I wanted to get this last year but failed for reasons I can’t recall now. I will definitely pre-order this.

  • This was the first time I had ever seen “The Sunshine Makers,” and I was immediately struck by the quality of the music. Who was responsible for it?

    • Yes- the music is by Winston Sharples, who created great scores for the Fleischer studios and, after that, Famous Studios.

  • The UPA Frosty Short was directed by Bobe Cannon, designed by Bill Hurtz, Written by Hurtz and Bill Scott, Animated by Ben Washam and cleaned up bt Alan Zaslove

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