February 2, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Dynamo Doc in “Freeloading Feline” (1960)

It’s pretty freezing here and in so many places right now- and I’ve been hunkering down reading animation history papers from my class at College for Creative Studies. We’re showing mid-to-late 30s tomorrow, one of my favorite classes. The students had some good insights on early 30s animation from the last class so I know tomorrow will be a fun showing, Who would have thought these cartoons would still find fans 85 years after they were made!

The Little King is the major project getting tweaks here- with some of the Fleischer material as well for their restoration program. I’ll keep details simple this week on these. The long and the short is progress is good. Bonus and menus are all set up now. Three additional prints are getting scanned in the next day or so to improve one title and have some selection to choose from on a pretty good print of Cactus Capers. After that there’s just one more film.

Rainbow Parades volume 2 will start being shared here as we get through these next few titles. Technicolor is an amazing process when the prints are well-made!

The Lou Bunin set cleared a hurdle last week and I’m hoping there’s more to come very soon. It’s looking like it, and not too soon! I’m hoping February will be a busy month in terms of things going out the door here and it’s off to a good start.

As for the physical media we have ready to ship – Click here.

Castle Films home movies were the only way some of us ever heard of Dynamo Doc.

And— onto our cartoon!

When I was a kid I had never seen a Dynamo Doc cartoon, nor had ever really heard of the character. There was, however, those Kiddie Cartoon booths at Kmart and the more local to Michigan Meijer stores, and they featured a picture of Doc with dollar signs in his eyes. I always wondered what that character that was as I stepped into the booth to see another Terry Bears I had never seen.

Freeloading Feline (1960) isn’t a really bad cartoon, but there’s really not much to recommend it either unless you are a diehard fan of cartoons. The series sprouted out of the ‘Hickory, Dickory and Doc’ series. There’s only three of those until the series was revamped to feature only Doc. Sadly, he’s one of the least interesting characters the studio ever created- even less interesting than Peterkin Pan, Tom Thumb or the Dumb Cluck. I wonder if the staff at Lantz felt the same way.

This image is from “Freeloading Feline”

Freeloading Feline isn’t the funniest cartoon by any means. The Lantz cartoons from this period have sometimes pretty limited animation – usually followed by a pretty fully animated shot – a strange contrast at times. What I think is really interesting in this cartoon is that the dog antagonist in this short is generally in much fuller animation than the star of the cartoon— with better posing and some really funny timing.

La Verne Harding gets top credit here as in many of the shorts from this period. You’ll recognize Dal McKennon and Paul Frees on the track as well.

Here’s a scan of this short, from an unexpected 35mm print I got a little less than a year back. I had never seen this one growing up, but have an odd love for Space Mouse– a cartoon than played as part of the Lantz TV package on Channel 50 in Detroit for many years in the 70s.

Have a good week all!


  • I quite like this cartoon, all the more in a good 35mm print. “Freeloading Feline” was the first cartoon Jack Hannah directed for Lantz, and I find it an auspicious start to his brief tenure at the studio. By and large his work raised the studio’s general standard at this time, and I don’t mean to put any backhanded spin on that compliment. I like how suggestible Champ is, readily taking on the role of doorman and completely changing the dynamic between the two principal characters.

    Please see Jim Korkis’s Animation Anecdotes column of August 6, 2021, for Jack Hannah’s account of “Freeloading Feline” and his years with Lantz.

    I only just now noticed that Doc mentions “jellied eel livers” as one of the dishes he anticipates sampling at the swank buffet. Jellied eels are traditional London cuisine — eels used to be very common in the Thames — but I don’t know if their livers lend themselves to being jellied on their own; I’ve never heard of that being done. I’ve only had eel livers grilled or in soup, and they’re delicious!

    • The first cartoon at Lantz for Hannah, as well as animator Al Coe and background painter Ray Huffine, with Raymond Jacobs leaving for Format Films after this cartoon. Roy Jenkins was also new to the staff at this time, soo.

  • The voice work of Paul Frees is quite engaging in this cartoon, as well as the voice work of Dallas McKennon. The animation is a cut above most television animation of the time period. Some of the backgrounds are quite nice, as well. I like the opening shot of the penthouse apartment. Though not for the most part laugh-out-loud funny, and also a bit predictable once the main premise gets underway, it’s still a reasonably entertaining cartoon with good production values–and first-rate talent that went into it.

  • Hannah exhibits some strong timing here. Points go to Gene Poddany for his score, making good use of a xylophone and a limited number of pieces.

    This is sure head and shoulders above the studio’s other directors.

    Harding couldn’t have stayed at Lantz much longer as she was at Hanna-Barbera in 1959.

    As this was a theatrical, I’d hope the animation was better than what was on TV.

  • This is firmly in the era where Walter was really making TV cartoons, Hanna-Barbera ones specifically, with more drawings and less design. The casts, almost always featuring Daws Butler, really underline it.

    Of the still-operating theatrical units, they’re certainly better than Paramount or Terry, but still time-wasters (years running the Lantz-O-Pedia website taught me that well). How fun of time-wasters they are really depends on how much you liked the great Lantz cartoons of the ‘40s and early ‘50s in the first place.

    Re: Doc: he’s a fun character but wasn’t really funny (the three by Lovy are better/more violent than any of Hannah’s). With Paul Frees, though, I could easily picture him as a crude side character on Rocky & Bullwinkle, and being MUCH funnier pulling scams there. Thanks for the upload, Steve. This was one that eluded cartoon collectors in the tape trading days as it never saw much broadcast. When it turned up on the Columbia House set, it had some ghastly DVNR.

  • A very nice print of an O.K. cartoon. Obviously from Great Britain. Champ uses a Goofy line at one point; “Sumpin’ Wrong Here!”.

    Verne Harding does most of the Doc dialog shots and Al Coe does Champ at the punching bag, and several of the scenes of Champ as a “Bouncer”. It’s Paul Frees as Doc, of course, and probably Dal McKennon as Champ. The best action gag is the chicken going through the hose with all the meat on, and emerging from the hose as just bones.

  • Paul Frees is a legend and makes this cartoon worthwhile. He’s a one man cartoon voice army.

  • I really hope that “Flip The Frog” is almost ready! I think that it will be really cool that the set will include an introduction by Ub Iwerks’ granddaughter, Leslie Iwerks! I wonder if the Leslie Iwerks introduction will be filmed, recorded, or presented on a title card!

  • My only remembered sighting of Dynamo Doc was a Castle Films brochure in the early 60s. There was a picture of the box with probably that same image of Doc with dollar signs in his eyes.

    Our neighborhood movie house, the Granada, would sometimes show Beary Family and Inspector Willoughby toons, but never Doc.

    This was, as noted, a decidedly odd mix of TV grade and theatrical animation. Probably wouldn’t have played well as a B&W silent 8mm.

  • I respectfully disagree with Thad that lantz shorts are “time wasters” In Joe Adamson’s book “The Walter Lantz Story”, he quotes lantz telling his staff that while we can’t animate the way we used to, we can’t do restricted animation either. They came up with a compromise that was somewhere in between high, and low quality animation.

    • Yeah. i just wish they had a replacement director for Smith as his sense of sight (and direction) was slowly failing him.

  • For all his complaints about Donald Duck’s voice limiting fun dialogue, Jack Hannah doesn’t give anyone here anything memorable to say. Paul Frees’ divine voicework makes the otherwise entirely forgettable affair punch above its weight.

  • I never heard of the Dynamo Doc character, and never saw this one before. I liked it, although the ending was rather abrupt.

  • I have the title background and the shadow part of the title

  • Random childhood memory: Whenever I saw the Walter Lantz logo, I figured there was a cartoon or comic book somewhere in which Woody was a knight astride that horse. Something equivalent to Tom and Jerry as French Musketeers, an identity used in the theatrical cartoons and, if memory serves, comic books.

  • 1960 wasn’t exactly a vintage year for cartoons anyway. DePatie-Freleng might have pulled this off later in the decade, or perhaps as a Bob Clampett cartoooooon (there’d have been less animation and punnier dialogue). The food march sequence is nicely done. And, as the other correspondents have said, Paul Frees always gives a cartoon class.

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