THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
July 11, 2024 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Clint Clobber in “Flamboyant Arms” (1959)

First — in Thunderbean news:

We’re working on getting a batch of special sets dubbed over here in Thunderbeanland, and getting Technicolor Rainbow Parades cleaned up. We’re also working on some behind the scenes stuff and other projects…slower than I’d like, but progress is going overall well in everything. Summers are great for catching things up here if all the planets align. I love that the accessibility to classic animation is growing— in fact, it’s having a really good year. So many good things happening right now.

Thanks also to everyone that bought one of the limited edition T-shirts – it’s going a long way to helping replication costs right now! They’re available through July 15th, along with a few special sets at the Thunderbean Shop.


Annnnnd… today’s cartoon:

“What a Mouse!” declares Clint Clobber, looking at a Mighty Mouse comic book in the first line of Terrytoon’s Flamboyant Arms (1959) and it’s a wonderful little tip of the hat to their own film legacy. Even if you’ve never seen a Clint Clobber cartoon, it’s pretty clear he’s the maintenance guy within the opening minute of the film. The plot involves Clint trying to prepare an apartment complex for inspection, and hilarity ensues?

The story elements in this particular short just don’t come together very well, honestly, both in humor and overall construction. Because of that, it’s easier to just dismiss the short, but it’s worth a little closer look as an animation fan or filmmaker. The ending is quite odd, and I wish there was a better conclusion in writing and direction. The idea seems to come out of nowhere at the end, bringing an almost magic-fantasy elements to a story that had nothing along those lines otherwise.

I actually really like the animation a lot in the cartoon. If you haven’t seen it, watch it twice, and I’ll bet you’ll enjoy the animation more the second time, and it’s pretty fun in pose and timing throughout if not always the best in execution. Connie Rasinski is directing here, with vets like Manny Davis, Eddie Donnelly, Jim Tyer and Johnny Gent animation along with others. Layout is beautiful throughout the film, giving a good performance space. Still on almost any of them and look at the overall simplicity and cleverness is the design and color use.

The Gene Deitch Terrytoons are a real hit-or-miss period, and while this is far from one of the better of the series, the talent involved and really good elements makes it a worthwhile watch. The short definitely has a UPA flavor in design and story. It reminds me of Magoo Cartoons from the mid-50s.

While not a perfect print, it’s nice to see these how they were made, in scope and in Technicolor. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this short.

Have a good week all!

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6 Comments

  • Well, from the sound alone, I would consider this one of the strangest cartoons that came out of the Terrytoons studio! Alan Swift is doing the voice of Clint in this cartoon, and yes, I’m sure the premise is very strange as well and I will leave others to describe that invest detail. It is the strangeness of this cartoon that lures me to it. If I were picking titles for a possible Blu-ray collection of the best of the studio or the most curious of the studio, I would definitely pick this cartoon. Thanks for posting, and I look forward to the “special“ sets that I have pre-ordered.

  • “I was a UPA man,” was Gene Deitch’s lifelong boast. He would say so, using those exact words, in practically every interview he gave during his long lifetime. He would speak of his tenure at UPA in the same way that other men of his generation might speak of having played football for Yale or fought in World War II. So it’s not surprising that when he took the reins at Terrytoons, he immediately set about turning the studio into a sort of annex of UPA. Whether this was for the better or worse is debatable; because the Terrytoons output during this period was “hit-or-miss”, as you so aptly put it, a case can be made either way.

    The UPA influence is very strong in “The Flamboyant Arms”. One hears it distinctly in Philip Scheib’s musical score, which grossly overuses the contrabassoon just as Hoyt Curtin grossly overused it in his scores to UPA cartoons like “Trouble Indemnity”. The contrabassoon is like a 64-foot organ stop, great for lending extra depth to a bass line but of limited utility on its own. The few contrabassoon solos in the orchestral literature (e.g., “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, “Ma Mere L’Oye”) tend to be mercifully brief, and are all the more effective for their brevity. Also, the contrabassoonist in Scheib’s ensemble is playing an instrument of inferior quality, with audibly clicking keys. It definitely wouldn’t have passed Mr. Flamboyant’s inspection.

    To his credit, Deitch retained many of Terry’s talented artists, and they were able to adapt to the new aesthetic and turn out quality work despite reduced budgets. In fact, the animation here is better than the cartoon deserves. I did watch it twice, just now, at your suggestion. But a third time? No, I don’t see it in my future.

  • When the pipes and chandelier call out to Clobber, it’s actually moving.

  • “The Gene Deitch Terrytoons are a real hit-or-miss period”

    Frankly, just like UPA as a whole. In fact, compared to UPA post-Hubley, the Deitch cartoons were a huge step up. Even if not narratively put together, they’re still fun to watch, especially with the likes of Jim Tyer still around this period.

    Of course though, it’s only downhill from here for the Terrytoons, thanks to the thuggish Bill Weiss.

  • My favorite Clint Clobber cartoon is “Springtime for Clobber.” Unlike “Flamboyant Arms,” it has a satisfying conclusion, with Clobber as a hero, although a lovelorn one.

    As Paul Groh has stated, Phil Scheib’s score here is very reminiscent of some of Hoyt Curtin’s. Scheib really got to shine after Paul Terry sold the studio, and he wasn’t stuck making what sounded like the same music track in cartoon after cartoon.

  • Bleagh.

    I will mention to my hero, Steve Stanchfield:

    Thank you for offering that “Sam Bassett” DVD! I jumped on that as soon as I learned about it last week.

    Ever since I saw a couple of Sam Bassett cartoons on a couple of Jerry Beck’s “Worst Cartoons Ever Made” DVDs many years ago, I’ve been hooked. He’s a guilty pleasure. The cartoons are so stupid, they’re funny… and they’re intended to be. With that pistol hidden in his hat, and his chihuahua sidekick who “talks” by playing a guitar, I think they’re a hoot.

    Who needs UPA when you can have Sam Bassett?

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