December 22, 2016 posted by

Coronet Films “The Littlest Angel” (1950)


Happy Holidays all! It’s been a week of non-stop catch up here, but things are settled down as of today happily.

On the Thunderbean front: The Yuletide Flickers Blu-ray/ DVD sets are ALL sent! In theory all will make it to everyone before Christmas except the ones going to other countries. There was an issue in replication with the DVD version, so some people with get the DVD trailing a day behind the Blu-ray and case. I hope everyone likes the set- it was a fun set to work on. I’m looking forward to the next projects- and a momentary break as well!

littlest-angelThe bonus disc that came with the pre-order has the Coronet Films produced animated short The Littlest Angel on it, transferred for the set from a Kodachrome print. I thought I’d share that transfer for this week’s post. Coronet distributed this film for many years in 16mm for the educational film market. Later prints have turned red, but the earlier prints are in beautiful Kodachrome.

This short was a collaboration between Hugh Harman Productions and Coronet’s in house staff. In 1990 or so, I talked with animator Gordon Sheehan, who remembered working on this film in 1949 or 50, in house at Coronet. He remembered it being in production for many months, and long hours trying to get it finished. Hugh Harman was directing from California, sending layout drawings and some limited animation on the main characters to Coronet in Chicago. It appears that all the backgrounds were painted at Coronet. I wonder if there’s a list anywhere of who worked on this short at both studios.

Littlest AngelHarman doesn’t receive any credit on this short or on the later Tom Thumb in King Authur’s Court. Gordon remembered that Hugh wasn’t with this production all the way through, and the same held true for the later film. A little while back I wrote a little about that film, Here.

I think the cel work on this film is very nice, with many colored lines and good tracing. I would have maybe guessed that cels were done at Hugh Harman’s studio since they seem so accurate to the drawings. Other sections look clearly rushed through. I wonder if the Harman Studio did some of the cels?

The animation on this film is of course very limited, and not immediately recognizable as the same studio- however, if you look at some of the war shorts that Harman did you can see some of the same techniques. I’m not completely sure of all the footage was compiled and filmed at Coronet, but that is likely. It also appears to have been shot and edited in 16mm.

The-Littlest-Angel-DVDThe film does seem a little overlong and not as well paced as it could be, but it’s an interesting curio and has some entertainment value. It feels slow to stretch footage to me. I wonder how many kids had to sit through this in grade school over the years.

A handful of years back, I did storyboards on a newer version of The Littlest Angel a CG feature. The boards were fun to do, and had to be done fast- I tried to add as many gags as I thought I could get away with. I boarded about 25% of that feature; in the end I was given an animation director credit on the film, something I didn’t do – but I think they gave the credit because I did so many poses in my boards to try to get some personality in a fairly straight forward script. The whole time working on it I thought about this little film and the fun personality and ideas in the poses. It looks like they used one of my boards for the poses on the DVD cover of the film.

I hope everyone has a great holiday season! Cheers!


  • The only version that I know of the Littlest Angel was a song preformed by Bing Crosby. It was a beautiful song but I didn’t realize that there was so many versions of The Littlest Angel that appeared on radio,animated and on live action tv

  • Thank you for posting this version of “The Littlest Angel”. Oddly enough, I was just thinking about this cartoon last night. I remember this film being shown at our annual church Christmas parties over 50 years ago. This cartoon had such limited animation and was so boring, that I always groaned whenever it was shown. However, now, after five decades, it’s nice to watch it once more. Thanks Steve.

  • I cried when I saw this on a youtube post of this (in B&W)……….

  • Wow! A Christmas Toon I had never seen. Thank you!!! Baby Weems does Christmas!

  • Growing up, “The Littlest Angel” meant the story as told by actress Loretta Young on a Decca Records LP. I still have that album. Don’t remember ever seeing the Coronet film. I do have a very, very vague memory of a TV production of the story starring the red-headed boy from the TV series “Family Affair.”

    • That was 1969. Somebody thought a short, simple story should be done as a big, cheesy, musical “spectacular”:

    • Anything to get ratings I’m sure.

    • It had Fred Gwynne in it, who had a remarkably lovely baritone singing voice.

  • My be late but Jeanne Thorpe may have been one of the checkers or painters on this film

  • Steve, thanks a million for showing this film. I remember it from second grade, in 1952, in Cleveland, and I recall especially clearly the scene of the Littlest Angel walking through the dust during his memories of Earth. What a lesson this film contains: that our small gifts add up to more than we can know. A boring, slow film? Hardly. Actually a powerful piece of magic. Thanks again for your work. Dean Brown.

  • Saw this in 1951. But im sure there was a longer version which i cant find, This is the ORIGINAL version, not the one that had live actors in it. The ELKS lodge played it every yr, for the kids Christmas party. which was open to all kids back than,After the movie we were given, candy, fruits etc,, in a basket.

  • I have searched for this little movie for a very long time. I was in the 1st. grade, our class and maybe two other classes gathered in auditorium, to see this. It was shown on a very large screen, or so I thought, never having been to a real movie theater. It was shown so large, I was in awe. Angels, Heaven, God, music and this tiny, precious little boy, new to Heaven. This all stayed in my heart forever, as I have too younger brothers very dear to me.. After having half of right lung removed because of lung cancer, I lay in the night in intensives care. This little movie came to mind. It was my first glimpse of Heaven, Angels, what it might be like there.. Very emotional for a child.Still has impact on my brain, heart, feelings, all the things a very serious, skinny big sister,, ever thought about mysteries of Heaven. Now, I am a Great- Grandmother, along with lots of other children in my family. I want very much, somehow, to buy a copy of this particular version of this movìe, to share with them. If anyone happens to know how or where I might purchase this movie, please post here. Thank you from my heart.. Thanks

  • There was also a 1997 version of TLA

  • I remember being shown this movie in church when I was a very small child in the 1950’s. It was extremely traumatizing to me and upset me so much, the teachers in the room had to take me out to calm me down because it was so scary and I couldn’t stop crying. This very little boy was dead and separated from his parents and siblings and everyone on earth forever! He was DEAD. I was maybe 3 years old. I do not have fond memories of this little film,

  • Although this was not the animated movie I saw in the early 1960’s, I am so happy to have seen this Coronet film animation. I, like another person who replied, saw an animated version of “The Littlest Angel” in the gymnasium at my public school (How times have changed!). I thought it was beautiful then, and I am of the same opinion now. So glad this has been preserved. Wish I knew what happened to the one of my memory. The 1969 musical cannot compare (although I did like Fred Gwynne).

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