Since we’re talking about a ‘fair’ in this week’s edition, I think it’s only ‘fair’ to take a moment to talk about the hidden archives of the collector world. We owe much to the film collectors- and specifically in the case of the things that show up here, the cartoon collectors. They often are the ones who have the things that no one else seemed to save- and they also know what they have. That isn’t to slight any of the excellent archives around the world-they are amazing in their own right- but on this same note, often their collections are the result of receiving things from the collectors.
After last week’s Wizard of Oz and Teapot Town entries I’ve had Ted Eshbaugh’s other films on my mind. One of these that turned up was a Kodachrome color workprint of sorts in 16mm, with the worst optical soundtrack reproduction you’ve ever heard (as we transferred this the telecine guy at first swore there was no sound,period on this print, but I knew better…). There was a similar print of the Wizard of Oz that also had bad sound that showed up years earlier, and I have to wonder if they both came from the same source at some point.
These are clearly the animated segments produced for Wonder Bakers at the World’s Fair a live action and animation promotional film produced for the Wonder Bread brand by Continental Bakeries, and shown at the 1939 World’s Fair. From viewing this footage, Eshbaugh clearly continued to live in the mid-30’s animation style as other studios evolved into the late 30’s. This and ‘Tea Pot Town’ look like they could have been produced around the time of Pastry Town Wedding (1934), though both made much later.
There was quite a bit of animation produced to be shown exclusively at the World’s Fair in 1939 (as well as live action films). Many of these films have vanished entirely, like so many other promotional films. Around this time Eshbaugh also produced one and two minute theatrical ads for various products, some in a simple style as this, others more complicated.
I don’t believe another copy of any footage from this film has surfaced. If memory serves I lightened the contrast and upped the level of the sound as well as holding a little longer on the tags so they could be read, but it’s otherwise just as it is on the print.
This first appeared on Cultoons, Volume 1 from Thunderbean, distributed by Mackinac Media. You can find it super super cheap on Amazon or at Oldies.com. It’s a disc full of oddities like this, including Les Elton’s Monkey Doodle and The Hobo Hero.
Now, maybe it’s just me and collectors, but there is often nothing as thrilling to learn about one of the oddities of animation history showing up. We all owe a debt of gratitude for this week’s curiosity to the ‘essential’ Mark Kausler. His preservation efforts -and allowing access to transfer on films like this and so many others – allows us to still be able to see these less-than- marketable forgotten films, and often saves them from being lost entirely. Thank
you Mr. Kausler!
UPDATE: Reader E.O. Costello sent in this scan of The Yo-Ho Song (click thumbnails below to enlarge), which is the song that appears in the Ted Eshbaugh film for the Continental Baking Company’s World’s Fair exhibition, posted above.
Costello says, “I surmise that this was composed for a radio show circa 1929-1930 sponsored by Continental Baking, based on the 1929 copyright date on page 2, and the fact that the quartet on the cover is posing next to a vintage NBC microphone. I do not, however, have any details on what (if any) radio show used the music, other than the fact that the lyrics refer to a “happy good night,” suggesting a prime-time show.”