It’s been blizzardly and icy one than any one thing, and that’s slowed down everything around here. I know a lot of readers here here are experiencing this as well..I wish everyone well — be careful out there driving!
I had hoped to write about the Puppetoons this week, but I’m just not there in what I want to show yet… so, for this week I’ll show a little progress on Flip the Frog.
We’re scanning the final elements for the whole project now, and have the better part of the first half of the series all cleaned up. Having another batch of material to look at this week has been really exciting- especially hearing some new ‘fanfare’ music on the front of some of the films.
I very much prefer to do scans personally, but this recent batch was done in Los Angeles. The final group of films mostly consists of things that need a rescan, or a missing soundtrack from additional elements.
For all of you following the long saga of Thunderbean’s attempts at reconstructing (as much as possible) the definitive versions of the original cartoons in the Flip the Frog series, you know it’s been a long road. Being close (or at least much closer) has all of us smiling over here.
The hardest thing for me about any of these projects (especially whole series) is trying to do as complete of a job as possible. It seems that if this material exists, it should be accessible and part of the ‘official’ set if there’s a way to do it, so I’ve taken that task pretty seriously when it comes to trying to exhaust all possibilities in making each film as complete to the original version as possible.
The Flips have been difficult in this way, since sometimes there is audio missing, sometimes original title sequences missing, and sometimes small sequences edited out of various masters and prints of the films. Sometimes there are multiple versions of the same film— all with slightly different re-edits. It’s a nightmare for a film completionist, but also a fun challenge at times.
My friend David Gerstein is very much a Flip-o-holic and researcher on the Flip project. As I’ve been writing this tonight we’ve been working on comparing notes on all the elements we know of that include the fanfare music, a piece of the soundtrack that is heard under the MGM Lion on many of the original release versions. This is generally missing from nearly every reissue print of the series. I’ve really enjoyed hearing these, and enjoy trying to find them even more. The first cartoon I know of in the series that includes a fanfare is Laughing Gas (1931). The MGM Lion is heard roaring on the Master-positive element on Flip’s Lunch Room (1933) without the fanfare music, so my guess is that it had stopped either there or before that film. Almost all 16mm prints are missing the fanfare except for a few older prints.
As of last night, we’ve now heard all the elements we’ve scanned — and the hunt now continues by borrowing all the other track elements from UCLA of the cartoons that we don’t have the fanfare for. In addition to the music, here are some frames from the beginning and ending leader of the prints that are amusing to see (and of course were never intended to be seen by an audience). Click to enlarge.
Here is also a new installment of these fanfares; most have probably not been heard since their original showings. Included is the opening music from What A Life featuring an accordion in the fanfare. This music was the *only* sound on the master composite print of this title, oddly enough. I’ve also included a rare title card from Pony Express — inverted (black words on a white background) but the original title card, from the collection of Mark Kausler. I’ve put the 35mm soundtrack behind it — and it appears to be a unique recording of the theme.
Enjoy — Happy Valentines Day – and Puppetoons next week!