March 30, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Famous Studios “Much Ado About Mutton” (1947)

It’s short this week since the school’s ‘Industry Day’ is sort of owning a lot of the time right now. I have fingers and toes crossed for success on several fronts right now– so feel free to cross some fingers for Thunderbean too if you can!

The quietness of this little office is actually pretty comforting right now; it’s been a really busy year, full of all sorts of projects and extra things. I try to stay pretty positive here for Thunderbean Thursdays, but at times trying to move things forward faces a series of headwinds. I definitely enjoy some aspects of adversity, sometimes, but at other times it’s pretty challenging to not hear back about things you had great hopes for. Still, hope springs eternal, and maybe I’ll get lucky enough to move at least see of the rocks that appear to be blocking the paths! More are open than closed, honestly…..

Last week’s list of films that you all posted was really great—and has inspired me to show some of your suggestions to my class on Thursday morning. Watching them enjoy so many of these films is the really great part of teaching the class— and I especially love when they take a deeper dive into history of one aspect or more. Where else would I ever see a paper on Monkey Doodle or any of the strange things I get to show?

On the KING front:
I’m told the one missing title sequence for the Little King set will be scanned late this week, completing the entire project. It’s been lovely to work on and review the progress on the project over these past few months. Working on porting all the bonus features up to HD that Chris Buchman prepared back in 2006 has been incredibly fun – and they’re just as much at home on the Blu-ray as they were when produced for the DVD all those years back.

On the FROG front:
I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the final piece for Flip the Frog will be delivered this week as well. It exists at least and as soon as we have it the masters will be sent out. I’ve love to be able to say it’s a complete wrap by this time next week. We’re so *close*….

On the ‘Dick and Larry’ front (!):
Three more Van Beuren Tom and Jerrys were finished in cleanup this week along with some Flip the Frog tweaks. 17 of the 26 are now pretty close to being in their final Blu-ray form. We’ve been steadily working on materials for the Fleischer restoration project too. Ciara, Becca and myself have been using the workstation almost around the clock to get things ready. I’ve never seen so many things get finished in such. short period of time, and they’re looking super nice. Thanks everyone for helping make these things possible.

On the ‘waking up to a random cartoon’ front:

I was a thinking about the great music cues from the article yesterday, and some of the music from Much Ado About Mutton (1947) kept running through my head. So it’s this week’s pick. This is a pretty fun cartoon to just listen to the track on – and is a great reminder of how nicely composed the tracks are on Famous Studios films. Watching it from this upload made me think about why others don’t have a good copy available, anywhere. Maybe a project in the near future should be to finally track down the other Famous studios cartoons in 35mm just so there’s at least a decent representation of them all available – but wouldn’t it be better just having them available for streaming from the negatives? One can wish….

Have a good week everyone!


  • You are so right! This cartoon has a wonderful soundtrack to it. There are other famous cartoons like this as well, and some probably even undiscovered at this point. That whole studio needs a reviving! and yes, I am so glad that those projects that you mention are closer and closer to being finished. Thank you for all the great work that you do, as always, you and your team are the best!

  • “Ngyung ngyung ngyung!” “Are you kiddin’?”

    I’ve enjoyed the Thunderbean Noveltoons collection for years, and the two Blackie cartoons are among my very favourites in the set. I’d love to see “No Mutton fer Nuttin'” and “Sheep Shape” looking as good. I don’t suppose Blackie would make anyone’s list of Top Five Screwball Characters of the 1940s, but he might be in my top ten. I really like the little guy!

    The Ub Iwerks ComiColor cartoon “Little Boy Blue” also has three white sheep and one black sheep, but in contradistinction to “Much Ado About Mutton”, the black sheep dances but the white ones don’t.

    “The Joint Is Jumpin'”: The wolf quotes the title of a famous Fats Waller song as well as that of a musical film with an all-black cast written by Hal Seeger. Yes, THAT Hal Seeger.

    Happy Industry Day, everybody!

  • It would be awesome if someday your company will have the money to release the Noveltoons, and/or other cartoons from their negatives!

  • Anyone ever notice that Sid Raymond’s characters (Wolf, Baby Huey, Katnip) all feature the same bowl haircut?

  • Great print. Great cartoon.

  • Great cartoon! Thanks for posting!

  • Maybe I’m just “in a mood” today, but the “gags” in this Noveltoon seem exceptionally painful and cruel. Famous’ cartoons seemed to vacillate between viciously sadistic and cloyingly sentimental. (I don’t know which was worse!) But hell yes, that transfer is a beauty and it would be great if all (or at least more) of them were available in this stunning quality.

  • Winston Sharples’ music is a major contributor to whatever appeal and personality Famous cartoons have.

  • Another Famous Studios character that I’d forgotten existed. I watched these cartoons in the late ’50s/early ’60s. Thanks for posting!

  • I liked the Blackie cartoons. The banjo-playing sequence and its follow-up very Bugs Bunny-like. They almost (not quite) got away from the “soft” animation style that blunted the impact of many a Famous gag.

    Things needed to move faster and gestures broader. I mean, their standard Popeye opening, where he gives a great blast on his pipe, but then his chin slowly settles down in a a cushiony way before becoming a pose. That ain’t the Popeye we like.

    This cartoon anticipates the Ad Council’s “This is your brain on drugs” fried egg bit by a decade or tthree.

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