June 25, 2015 posted by

Cool Stuff From The Thunderbean Vault

Cans of film

That’s right! Cool miscellaneous stuff that will likely never be on any official release from anyone.

It’s a post of oddities! I always thought the coolest thing about visitiing any one film or animation collector was the stuff they hauled out that you would literally *never* see anywhere else. Sometimes that’s a good thing! I saw one at a friend’s house last week that was entirely baffling but fun. Often these curios have stuck with me – and in some ways a basis for starting a video company in the first place. I was going through some of my archive discs and found some things that I thought would be fun to share, so here are a few out of dozens of little things. This could almost be a regular feature with as many of these as there are. Think of this as reaching into a box of unlabeled films and projecting these just to see what they are. I hope you enjoy them!

The first is ‘Tube Tester Operation’, produced in 1944 for the US Navy by Burton Holmes Films, Inc. I’m not putting the whole film here, just the animated segments and some footage around them. I’m not familiar with the production company at all on this film- and not sure how many films they produced for the Navy or other armed services.

The second is a bunch of fun pencil test cycles animated by Ken Southworth for a 1989 TV series called ‘Don Coyote’. These cycles were used in probably all of the episodes of the series, and represent some of the ‘full’ animation in this otherwise limited animation TV cartoon. Ken gave these to me on a tape around 1998 or so, along with an animatic or two…

The third is a reel of pencil tests from India. These look like they may have been produced for a class in animation of one sort or another. The Kodak stock is dated 1958. It was among 16mm reels that Disney animator Clair Weeks had in his collection. Note the Preston Blair run cycle swipe about halfway through the reel…..

The next is a trailer for the Mr. Bug Goes to Town reissue from the late 50s (as Hoppity Goes To Town). This was transferred from a reel of 35mm trailers belonging to Mickey Gold, a gem of a film collector who literally had a heart of gold. Mickey was a huge Disney fan, but both Gulliver and Hoppity trailers were on a reel of otherwise almost all Disney trailers. I’m really looking forward to ‘tingling with a new enjoyment’ as the narrator says I will. The almost monochrome-red color on this trailer reminds me of the first time I saw this film was in Black and White, on a night I was mandated to sending thank-you cards for Christmas gifts from relatives either earlier that day or the day before… it’s still one of my all-time favorite movies…

And, finally, this 1938 Disney trailer for Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. This transfer was done from the first piece of nitrate film I owned. I bought it form a little shop (I think it was called ‘Nostalgia Nook’) in Roseville, Michigan, around 1983. In all honesty, it really was irresponsible for them to sell a trailer made of highly flammable Nitrate to a 14 year old. He must not have known. It had water damage on it, so I think he sold it to me for $5.

Have a good week everyone!


  • Boy, that Don Coyote and Sancho Panda pencil test was a blast of nostalgia. I’m sure if I sat down to watch that series and “Yogi’s Treasure Hunt” today, I’d realize they don’t live up to my fond childhood memories, but surely they’ve got to be better than a lot of the ’70s HB dreck that’s already received DVD releases…

    • This show did came out right about the time before the Turner acquisition. They were just starting to get a clue about what they had been doing for 20 some years and were trying to shake that off (A Pup Named Scooby-Doo being one example of a show that seemed self-aware of that I think).

  • The Ken Southworth animation is lovely and is a great example of variations on walks and runs. I’ll be showing it to my students. Thanks for that, Steve.

  • That’s Don Wilson (Jack Benny’s announcer) doing the voice-over in the Snow White trailer.

  • Daily Variety obit, July 23, 1958
    Burton Holmes, 88, dean of travelog producers, died at his home here yesterday. He had been in retirement since 1950, when he halted a lifetime of globe-trotting with a camera and a career as lecturer. Services will be held tomorrow, 3:80 p.m., In Wee Kirk o’ the Heather, Forest Lawn.
    Prom 1915 to 1921, his subjects, known as “Burton Holmes Travelogs,” were distributed by Paramount as weekly releases, and in 1931 Holmea turned to the production of talking travel shorts for Metro. His career as a travel film producer extended from 1897, when he became the first travel-lecturer to illustrate his talks with motion pix until his retirement in 1950. At one time, in the early ’50’s, he entered Into a deal with Sol Lesser, putting more than 1,000,000 feet of film at Lesser’s disposal, but nothing developed.
    Surviving is his widow, Margaret, herself a photographer, who accompanied her husband on many of his world junkets.

    • Pardon the poor proof-reading. “3:30” came out at “8:80” in the OCR scan but I didn’t fix all of it.

    • Thanks much that that information!

  • The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda was a co-production of Hanna-Barbera and Italian TV network RAI (Radiotelevisone Italia now known as RAIUNO) based on the legendary story of Don Quixote featuring “funny animals” portraying the roles of Don Quixote (Don Coyote voiced by Frank Welker) and his trusty sidekick Sancho Panza (Sancho Panda voiced by the late great Don Messick) That was first broadcast on European television in 1989 and was broadcasted in 1990 here as part of the syndicated The Funtanstic World of Hanna-Barbera. What I loved in the series was the opening narration by Hector Elizondo of Chicago Hope and Last Man Standing fame and the theme music by Michael Tavera.

    • I recall the show also saw repeat airings on Cartoon Network in the 90’s (Boomerang probably showed it too).

      Reminded I have some cels and drawings from this series. While I don’t think much about it’s production or quality (there’s been a few other takes on the Don Quixote tale done before or since), I guess it was one of the few shows H-B did that had an in-house staff animate on than to simply ship it all overseas like everything else they did at the time (if they could keep people like Southworth employed here).

  • There was a Don Coyote in a 1991 episode of “Danger Mouse” as well. No relation to the HB version, obviously.

  • This is great stuff!

  • Thanks for posting the tube tester one. That is a Hickok tube tester (the best of the best and still highly sought after).

  • Uhh…….Disney put out the full 1930s Snow White trailer on their Diamond Edition Blu-ray……..I don’t know if it’s your print, because I don’t remember seeing any water damage.

    • I put this up for the novelty of the print, and do know it’s on the ‘official’ set- from excellent material.

    • Steve’s story about the guy selling him a nitrate film reminded me of the early days of “toy” movie projectors that used small rolls, 50 or 100 feet, of 35mm film, and it was nitrate! They would buy worn-out independent film prints, chop ’em up into random pieces, and sell them not only to kids, but LITTLE kids. Geeeez. A friend ran into some of those clips in an antique shop a few years back. At one time I worked with an older lady who told me she was a real tomboy as a kid. She had one of those 35mm “toys” when she was young, and told me when a film wore out, or I suppose if she grew tired of it, she’d save it for the 4th of July and blow it up with her fireworks! (And happy 4th to you too!)

  • Actually, “Don Coyote” was the first name that Chuck Jones used for Wile E. Coyote, according to an early model sheet of that character!

  • I wonder the singing at the end of the Tube Tester film is related to this.

    • Wouldn’t surprise me if the same technique/equipment was used for this film.

    • I believe what is heard at the end of the Tube Tester clip was generated with a Sonovox.

      It was demonstrated by Frances Gifford for Robert Benchley in the 1941 “behind-the-scenes” Disney Studio film, THE RELUCTANT DRAGON.

      The Sonovox also figured prominently in the finale of bandleader Kay Kyser’s 1940 RKO film, YOU’LL FIND OUT.

  • In addition to the other Don Coyotes here, I recall seeing as a kid something called “Don Coyote and Chico in HAS BEAN.” It was part of the UPA “McBoing Boing Show” package of random-length cartoons WDIO-TV used incessantly as fillers with their afternoon movies. It didn’t look or feel anything like a UPA cartoon; very conventional design, violent humor, and lots of puns. I can’t recall what kind of critter Chico was, but the two were out to collect the reward on a desperado named Juicy James. Now that I think of it (and I haven’t in years!) it reminded me of a Larry Harmon Bozo cartoon. Anybody know anything about this one?

    There sure seems to be a link between the Burton Holmes film and Matthew Koh’s video link to the Voder (later, I think, called the Vocoder.) For that matter, the voice effect in the film points toward everything from the computer that sang “Daisy, Daisy” to Cher singing “Believe!” There’s a book out about the machine, called “How To Wreck A Nice Beach.”

  • I have (on VHS) a different Snow White trailer that I assume is from the original release. It’s in B & W, and doesn’t include any clips from the finished film. It starts with the same spread of magazines seen in the trailer posted here, also accompanied by an instrumental version of “One Song”, and ends with footage of costumed characters of the Seven Dwarfs, which I assume is from the original premiere, accompanied by “Heigh Ho”. I don’t think it has any narration, just captions.

  • George Herriman, the newspaper cartoonist who drew ‘Krazy Kat’, had a coyote character in a few of the strips who was named Don Kiyote. The character wasn’t a parody of Don Quixote, he was just a coyote.

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