May 18, 2017 posted by

From “Abbott & Costello” to “Insect to Injury”

Thunderbean Thursday is back!

On these first three days that I’m officially ‘off’ for the summer from my full time job (at The College for Creative Studies) The last few weeks of school are always intense here, working nearly around the clock. I’m sure many of you are familiar with this in your own jobs. Happily, the last few days have been all about catching up, and I’m very much enjoying thew flurry of things getting to home plate right around the same time. I’ll do my best to not make every post about all the DVD/ Blu-ray stuff.. but this week it’s packed.

Here is the condensed cream of wheat version of all the things happening:

• The ‘Special’ discs continue to be dubbed and sent.

Abbott and Costello Rarities is back from replication- and all are getting packed. It’s available on Amazon as of today. The liner notes are not yet back, but we didn’t want to keep anyone waiting any longer, so we’ll be sending those along soon after.

* The Fleischer Classics featuring Gulliver’s Travels Blu-ray/ DVD is now reissued after being out of print for nearly a year. It was requested nearly daily in the last handful of months. You can now order it here.

• Our sister label, Snappy Video (a resurrection from many years past!), has released Tower of Screaming Virgins a strange but well produced Grindhouse-esque swashbuckling feature from 1968. Restored from several 35mm prints. Available here.

• The Popeye and Betty Boop set is done and getting dubbed as well. We’re working on getting all these things out to everyone.

• Also on the live action front, a new set, Hollywood Rarities, continues the Thunderbean ‘Rarities’ line. This is a really cool set comprised of all shorts, some theatrical, some for TV or Home Movie use. I love this particular kind of stuff, and have been looking for a way to put many of these shorts together for many years. Quite a few of these are from the collection of Ted Salter, a British collector who moved to Hollywood in 1950, collecting shorts and features directly related to his great interests. Sadly, many of the shorts were stored close to a furnace in his later home in Ohio- and many had already started deteriorating (sometimes called ‘Vinegar Syndrome’ by collectors). It’s a neat little set, available here at the Thunderbean Website for a few weeks:

The Abbott and Costello Rarities set was great fund to put together- although it always seemed to be the project going on the side burner while all the other stuff kept happening. The project was produced in association with Bob Furmanek and Paul Gierucki. (Click on these frames to enlarge)

My favorite things on this set include a rare 1953 Colgate Comedy Hour featuring Bud Abbott, helped out by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis when Lou was under the weather one week. While I really like all the other stuff on the set, the other big highlight for me is a 35 minute reel of Kodachrome home movie footage taken as the team crossed the US by rail. Amazingly rare and cool stuff. If you were in on the pre-order, there’s a disc included of things that ended up not being on the set- many of those I wish were on the real set since it’s all such cool stuff. It’s now available on Amazon.


This space is supposed to be about cartoons, so let’s get back to that – at least for a bit!

I’m always impressed when I see a Famous Studios cartoon in 35mm Technicolor. Of course, they ALL were originally seen in theatres, so in some ways the quality of the picture was taken for granted. Growing up in the 70s, I *never* saw any of the Famous studios cartoons in Technicolor. There was a showing of Fleischer Popeyes in 16mm at one of the University of Michigan’s film Co-ops in the early 80s- and it was a revelation to me that the black and white cartoons had that much detail. For the color shorts, it wasn’t until I was collecting films that I had any experience seeing what they looked like in Tech. So, let’s reconsider a cartoon that most people won’t want to reconsider.

I think Insect to Injury (1955) is worth taking a second look at. While not the top of the 50s Popeyes, it’s still a lot of fun. Popeye clearly now lives on Long Island, as many of the Famous Studios animators now did. He’s building a house in the country, represented in well layed out and rendered backgrounds (credited to Anton Loeb). The gold, green and blue trees give a very summery or early fall feel to this cartoon. The look especially amazing on a big screen. The animation (under Dave Tendlar’s direction) is lively as it snaps into poses. It’s really fun to watch some of the takes in this cartoon frame by frame. Winston Sharples score is one of my favorites of the 50s, featuring a memorable, humable theme for the Termites.

All of that said, I don’t like domesticated Popeye anywhere near as much as the rough and tumble sailor he should be- no wonder he’s now living alone without a friend to help him build his house. It’s likely that Tendlar designed the Termites for this film. Tendlar was one of the main designers for many Famous Studios cartoons, both ones he directed and others.

This cartoon is one of the films on the ‘Popeye/ Betty Boop set’. Be sure to watch in HD if your computer can do it! have a good week everyone!


  • Loved Insect To Injury! It’s one of a few Popeye Famous Studios where Popeye was the only character in the cartoon – minus his costars Olive, Bluto, Pappy, Wimpy, Swee’Pea or his nephews. Other Popeye cartoons that he went solo during the Famous Studios era were Gopher Spinach (1954), Shuteye Popeye (1952 with one of the mice from the Herman and Katnip cartoons as the chief antagonist) Fly’s Last Flight (1949 which was a remake on Flies Ain’t Human, 1941) the 3-D Popeye The Ace of Space (1953 – with those webfooted toga-wearing Shrek like Martians) and the rarely seen Popeye Ala Mode (1945 which is now banned from television because of its politically incorrect content. Love the score by Winston “Win” Sharples with the bassoon solo and the muted trumpets when the Termites invaded Popeye’s home

  • Are those ‘special’ discs still available for purchase?

    • I’m wondering if the second ‘bonus’ A&C disc is still available with purchase of the A&C Rarities DVD, too. Let us know, Steve! Thanks! – William

    • *crickets chirping*

  • “Insect to Injury” is one of my favorites! I’ve never seen it look as beautiful as it does here. Can’t wait to get the Popeye/Betty Boop set!

  • Wow, if all the cartoons included on the POPEYE/BETTY BOOP set are in as good a shape as this cartoon, I know I’m going to really enjoy this. Always nice to hear a restored Paramount/Famous cartoon of any decade.

    By the way, I think the same Sharples scoring for the termite invasion was used for the space invasion in “ACE OF SPACE” which I think is also public domain, but I could be wrong about that.

    I wish I knew of a directory that listed *EVERY* public domain cartoon, because there are times when I’m really surprised as to how many favorite titles have sadly fallen there, but beyond the sadness, going public domain means that any enterprising individual can take on the chore of complete restoration, and that is good for *YOU*! I look forward to receiving the few “special” disks I ordered, as well as any of the big sets whenever they get finished and, believe me, further news of restoration isn’t boring to me from week to week.

  • Tendlar, who was one of the main animators/de facto directors on the Popeye series both during the Fliescher years and the early Famous Studio years, all but disappeared from the series after 1949, as his unit was more focused on the ultra-violent Herman & Katnip, Buzzy and Baby Huey series. So “Insect to Injury” was something of a homecoming for Tendlar, and the story itself gets out of the Popeye-Olive-Bluto rut the series had fallen into by the mid-1950s (Popeye battling animals was also a staple of the Miami years of production, but he usually came out the worse for wear in those; at least here, the finish is more satisfying for the audience).

  • Thanks for the updates and all the hard work Steve!

  • Ah, the Ann Arbor film co-ops! Them were the days, weren’t they? Back then they said that only New York City was a better place to live for the film fan, but I’m not sure about that. Here is a random week in December 1978:

    Saturday, Dec 9, 1978
    Cinema II-The Man Who Loved Women, 7, 9 p.m. Aud. A, Angell
    Mediatrics-The Paper Chase, 7, 9 p.m., Natural Science Aud.
    Ann Arbor Film Co-Op-The Tall Blonde Man with One Black Shoe, 7, 10:20 p.m., The Apple War, 8:40 p.m., MLB Aud. 3
    Cinema Guild-African Queen, 7, 9:05 p.m., Old Arch. Aud.

    Sunday, Dec 10, 1978
    Cinema II-Life of Emil Zola, 7 p.m., Mrs. Miniver, 9 p.m., Aud. A, Angell.
    Cinema Guild-The Wrong Box, 7 p.m., My Man Godfrey, 9:05 p.m., Old Arch. Aud.

    Monday, Dec 11, 1978
    Ann Arbor Film Co-Op-While the City Sleeps, 7 p.m., Man Hunt, 9 p.m., Aud. A, Angell.

    Tuesday, Dec 12, 1978
    Ann Arbor Film Co-Op-Innocence Unprotected, 7 p.m., Infra Man, 8:40, 10:20, Aud. A, Angell.
    Cinema Guild-Henry V, 7 p.m., 9:20 p.m., Old Arch. Aud.

    Wednesday, Dec 13, 1978
    Cinema II-Alexander, 7, 9 p.m., Aud. 3 MLB.
    Ann Arbor Film Co-Op-That Obscure Object of Desire, 7, 9 p.m., Aud. A, Angell.
    Cinema Guild-It Happened One Night, 7, 9:05 p.m., Old Arch. Aud.

    Thursday, Dec 14, 1978
    Ann Arbor Film Co-Op-The Creatures, 7 p.m., And God Created Woman, 9 p.m., Aud. A, Angell.
    Cinema Guild-39 Steps, 7, 9:05 p.m., Old Arch Aud.

    Friday, Dec 15, 1978
    Ann Arbor Film Co-Op-Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask, 7, 10:20 p.m., Slither, 8:40 p.m., Natural Science Aud.
    Cinema Guild-It’s a Wonderful Life, 7, 9:05 p.m., Old Arch. Aud.
    Cinema II-Thunderball, 7, 9:15 p.m., Aud. A, Angell.

    I bet I saw at least three of those movies when I should have been getting ready for finals. The week before or after might have featured special nights of cartoons, comedy shorts or silents. Sometimes they showed a cartoon or short with the feature. We can see so many more films in this video / digital age, but we cannot see them on a big screen. We were lucky.

  • Sadly, as nice as the print looks, “Incect to Injury” just reminds me why I don’t like the 50s Popeye cartoons. It’s just depressing to see what a generic and dull character the sailor has become in these films, compared to the golden age of the 30s. On top of it all, NO IMPROVISED MUMBLING from Jack Mercer… clearly, the bosses of Famous at this point took themselves far too seriously for silly things like that. The personality and charm of the Popeye I love simply isn’t there.

    Of course, it doesn’t help that the plot of this whole thing is “cartoon star fights insect”, a guaranteed snooze formula for a number of Donald Duck and Pluto cartoons. The formula doesn’t fare any better here, to put it mildly.

    • Personally, I thought some of the so called “snooze formula” cartoons were some of the best Disney shorts. Here, it’s just okay.

  • Florida State University had an all-female dorm, Murphree Hall (a remnant of FSU’s days as a women’s college), that was known as “the Tower of Screaming Virgins.” Now I know whence came the reference.

  • Popeye couldn’t spell his own name correctly on his own mailbox??

    • Glen Banks: What do you mean that Popeye “couldn’t spell his name correctly”? He wrote “Popey” — the only reason he didn’t finish with the last E is that the mailbok was eaten down into the ground by the termites. You can even see him spelling the “E” in thin air as the mailbox starts to go down.

    • I’m sure that’s meant to be part of the gag Misterius.

    • Actually when Popeye was painting his name on the mailbox it was spelled POPEY and as he was painting on the last E on the mailbox he noticed that the mailbox was mysteriously shrinking! As he got out the magnifying glass he discovered that it was a Army of voracious Termites that devoured the mailbox’s post and the Termites were heading straight to Popeye’s house to destroy it.

    • Chris Sobienak: Didn’t see your reply here until now… Well, of course it’s part of the gag. I was just spelling out the gag with the E as clearly as I could, since it appears Glen Banks didn’t see it.

  • Thunderbean puts Warner to shame.

  • Steve, will you be at Cinevent this year?

  • I must have missed the post that announced the Popeye and Betty Book set….I would have been happy to buy one. If it’s still possible, please let me know.

  • Really impressed with the restoration technique being applied to these 35mm prints nowadays, especially on something like that just enhances the animation drawings, as well as the VERY layering of cells they used for certain scenes.

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