THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
March 3, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Cubby Bear in “The Last Mail” (1933)

This next week is spring break here, and that means there’s a little extra time to scan some things, organize some things, and, if I’m super lucky, actually finish a title to send off the replication. I’ll reserve Thunderbean news for next week.

As I was going through various hard drives last night trying to find something cool to post today, I managed to find a few scans I had forgotten about as well as taking a little break to watch a Cubby Bear cartoon. These days its been a little rare for me to take the six or seven minutes to watch something “in the can” already, but as it was running, I started enjoying it more and more.

I’ve been working on finishing off the Aesop’s Fables set right now, and what’s pretty clear about the Cubby Bear cartoons is that they’re really trying hard to make cartoons with better personality animation and higher production values. The Last Mail (1933) is the third in the Cubby Bear series. It features Cubby and Honey Bear living probably in the Gold Rush times (possibly even Alaska) in a small town.

Mannie Davis gets the sole credit on the film. My guess is that Davis, as director, was also the lead animator. While other animators are on the film, it appears that Davis is handling Cubby and Honey through much of the film, especially in closer shots— and as one of the best animators at the studio, there’s a really nice solidity and personality to these main characters. Crowd shots are better animated than usual for the studio, as are most other things. The effects are quite nice as well. While not quite to the quality levels of the Fleischer studio at that time, Van Beuren is clearly striving to get there as Cubby leads his squirrel mushing team in scenes more extravagant and better drawn than films from six month’s earlier. The sound synchronization is nicely timed throughout. Overall a very nice production from the studio.

The Cubby Bear cartoons have always been favorites of mine, and it was nice to be able to do the Blu-ray upgrade some years back now. This cartoon is from a lovely, sharp old print lent by Tommy Stathes.

When you have a print this nice, it’s sort of a joy to clean up. We were lucky enough to have almost all the prints on the Cubby set be of similar great quality.

Enjoy the cartoon and make sure to watch in HD! Have a good week everyone!

11 Comments

  • I love Cubby Bear, what a flipping great series. One of the best and most underrated cartoon series of the Golden Age. Thank you so much, Steve & Tommy, for your labours of love. We are in your debt. But I’ll keep trying to pay that down by purchasing everything you release. 🤓

  • Some of the Cubby cartoons drag or ramble, but “The Last Mail” is quite a good one. I’m especially fond of the hoedown scene. The fiddle tune that plays during the final part of the dance, where Honey walks away in the middle of a do-si-do, is called “Devil’s Dream”. It’s very easy, but it can sound impressive if you play it fast enough. Among the crowd of animals clapping their hands in the background is one grey bear who was mistakenly painted black for one frame in the cycle — proving that the old grey bear, he ain’t what he used to be! By cracky, that’s a knee-slapper!

    When the eagle lands next to Cubby, he seems to be striking a National Recovery Administration Blue Eagle pose. We do our part!

    Did Jim Tyer animate the scene where Cubby beats up the raccoon on the tree branch? It looks like Tyer’s early style to me.

    • Yes- for sure.

  • A couple thoughts.

    1. Cubby obviously murdered one of that raccoon’s children to make his hat, so who’s the REAL villain here?

    2. They showed the squirrels’ nut sacks. Well, they did…

  • Also, Cubby’s girl’s name in this is Cuddles, not Honey — I’m still a bit mystified as to the name confusion there.

    • Oops! Got that wrong! Bosko’s Girlfriend is named Honey!

      • In all fairness, in the Harman-Ising Cubby cartoons, Cuddles is virtually indistinguishable from Honey.

    • Please, no mentions of Bosko-he hurts my head. I try to watch cartoons that make me happy, like this one.

  • A sled pulled by squirrels instead of dogs, and a raccoon living in a birdhouse. Only in Van Beuren cartoons. I happen to think that Van Beuren cartoons are charming, if a bit crude, and I love the design of their titles.

  • Never heard of these. Thanks for sharing!

  • Another fight by Jim Tyer.

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