December 21, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

“Christopher Mouse” (c 1952)

Merry early Christmas and holidays to everyone! I’m properly dressed for the occasion to write this week’s post.

First, news from Thunderbean world headquarters (a tiny office in a former ball bearings factory):

I’m enjoying some really busy weeks here, but it’s at least less busy than when I’m teaching. After wrapping up several projects here with Thunderbean (Van Beuren’s Tom and Jerry is in replication right now) we’ve been spending the week shipping things and finishing cleaning up the second half of the original camera material on Fleischer’s Poor Cinderella (1934). Devon Baxter is finishing the first half of the film at the same time; It’s a pretty decent way to finish things out for the year in terms of projects I think.

Mid Century Modern, Volume 3 is the next thing we’re finishing up. It’s already pretty close, but I’m hoping to add a few more things to round the set out. Rainbow Parades, Volume 2 and the Lou Bunin set are not far behind, and one other yet unannounced project will get a lot closer to finish before I chat about it here (and proper dress will be required).

Since the next time I’ll write here will be after Christmas, here are a few things that are fun to watch- and a film I bet most of you haven’t seen!

First, here is the ‘Happy Holidays’ program we put up in 2021. I imagine most of you have seen this back then. I enjoy watching these ones each year:

And, on to an interesting little film: Christopher Mouse. This fourteen minute religious short, produced by Cathedral Films, seems to have originated as a filmstrip. Sometime after that, it was turned into a film with the same soundtrack from the filmstrip and distributed in 16mm. It appears be have been shot on Kodachrome in 16mm. I had never seen this film before or even had heard about it, so it was a great surprise to find a print on Ebay not too many month’s back. We put the film on this year’s holiday special Blu-ray. This particular print was part of the 16mm rental library at Modern Sound Pictures.

The end credits list “Animation Effects by Technamation, Hollywood, CA”. In searching for the studio on-line, I found a scan of a 1969 student paper from Kansas State University called “Essentials of Producing 16mm Animated Films” It has a fascinating list of current studios at the end. It lists Technamation as being at 3445 Cahuenga (across the street from Universal and near where Hanna-Barbara would build their studio) in Los Angeles. Ray Patin’s studio was nearly next to it, at 3435 Cahuenga. Here’s the link to that paper [LINK].

The story for the filmstrip and short is by Bill Hanna, with artwork by MGM cartoon layout artist Gene Hazelton. For most of you, I’m sure you would recognize the design sensibility as being from MGM’s Hanna-Barbara unit.

The narration/voices are by Bud Stefan, longtime performer on all sorts of radio shows, including the Great Gildersleeve. Here is a fascinating interview with Stan Chambers, talking about performer and director Bud Stefan and his career [LINK].

Don Yowp wrote a nice little article back in 2015 about the filmstrip version of this film. He found that the filmstrip version of the film was made in 1949, copyrighted in 1950 [LINK].

I hope you enjoy this little animation-related film. Wishing everyone great holidays!


  • And a happy holiday to you as well, Steve. You have outdone yourself this year! I received“special“ in the mail just yesterday, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Here’s to a happy 2024, and more good things on the way. A safe and wonderful holiday to you and your conscientious staff!

  • Thanks for sharing! These are delightful! A Merry Christmas to everyone at Thunderbean!

  • Nothing better than Bill Hanna! Wonder why he never mentioned this one in A Cast of Friends.

  • I honestly agree with Christopher Mouse on the haystack situation. What’s the deal with making hay look comfortable in cartoons? Even Lois Griffin got allergies when Peter decided to put hay in their pillows.

    Where was I? Oh yeah, Merry Christmas to the people at Thunderbean HQ!

    ♬ Merry criss-cross, merry Chryser, merry chrisis, to you! ♬

  • Appropriately dressed for the occasion…. You mean you’re wearing a Santa Claus suit?

    Hazelton’s pictures and Hanna’s anapaestic couplets are delightful! Thanks for sharing this rare treasure with us. 🎵Seasin’s greetinks to youse all!🎵

  • According to “James Friedrich and Cathedral Films: The Independent Religious Cinema of the Evangelist of Hollywood, 1939-1966”, the 16mm version was released in 1963. The book also listed another similar film strip that was later converted to 16mm, “When The Littlest Camel Knelt”, which also had Bud Stefan’s narration.

    And sure enough, the 16mm version is on YouTube. The end credits doesn’t list any writer or illustrator at all, although the book claims Gene Hazelton was the artist (thoughts?) –

    • The version posted here above does show Bill Hanna as writer and Gene Hazelton as illustrator in end credits.

      Gene Hazelton, the best artist of the Flintstones comic strip!

      • It’s “When the Littlest Camel Knelt” that lacks writer and illustrator credits, going by the transfer uploaded to the YouTube link in Charles Brubaker’s comment.

  • In fact, “Christopher Mouse” being converted to 16mm caused some issues, according to the book “James Friedrich and Cathedral Films”:

    “Evidently Hanna felt that reissuing his filmstrip as a motion picture was a violation of copyright and so in 1968, two years after Friedrich’s death, both the film and the filmstrip became the subject of a lawsuit by Hanna and St. Michael and All Angels Church against Cathedral Films. Hanna and the church claimed sole ownership of Christopher Mouse and that Cathedral and not paid complete royalties on the material. Cathedral countered that the ownership of the film had never been firmly established and that they owned no money to Hanna or the church. The suit was settled by compromise in 1969 when it was agreed that the church own the film, and that Cathedral would backpay royalties for the previous two years.”

  • A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the gang at Thunderbean!

  • “I SECOND that emotion!” And that goes for all the rest of you too!

  • I’ve been looking for this for years! It’s in my book discography because of the vinyl record, but I have not been able to locate my own copy. It’s been in my eBay search and now I can enjoy it. Thanks very much!

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