June 30, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Halas and Batchelor’s “Piping Hot” (1959)

Gas commercials are always a good way to start or end a Thursday, but first, some Thunderbean news:

This has been a week full of film friends in different ways. My friend Eric Grayson came up to Thunderbean world headquarters (!) to chat with David Grauman, Becca Smith and myself about several projects in progress, including the restoration of the “King of the Kongo” serial he’s been working on. I’ve had a hand in really cool soon-to-be released project that’s just wrapping that he’ll be announcing soon. The tiny office now has shelves with old toys on three of the four walls, so there’s lots of friendly smiling faces to greet everyone.

As I attempt to catch my breath and stay awake after many hours working, I often end up thinking about how proud I am of the small Thunderbean team. Everyone has been helping to get these projects in the can, and things are moving along so nicely. Ciara just wrapped work on cleaning up nearly a half hour of Kinex shorts, and they’re looking fantastic.

The special features are getting closer to completion on Flip the Frog, and I can’t wait to put all the pieces together and send the set to pressing. David Gerstein and Devon Baxter have turned in wonderful work- and I’m so excited to see the rest! It’s looking like the title will be replicated by the end of July now, wrapping up the longest in-progress project we’ve had. The “Party Disc 2” title is finished now too, and six of the special sets are also wrapping right now. The Tom and Jerry set is getting closer and closer too.

I’m looking forward to supervising some scanning in the coming weeks, and getting back over to UCLA to look through the last of the Rainbow Parades and the Comi-Colors to pick the best materials to scan on each. Most of the Comi-Color material exists in negs or master positives for each color record, so where those exist we’ll be using them if they’re all in good shape. So far the things I’ve looked through are in excellent condition – amazingly.

I’m really happy as to get back to the Lou Bunin materials again – especially getting the rest of “Alice in Wonderland” scanned. It’s an ambitious project- with all the other materials finished for the Blu-ray at this point. The goal is to finish this project this year so the sooner we can get on it in a more full-time way the better.

And.. as usual, today’s cartoon!

Piping Hot! (1959) Is a fun little “educational” film that’s really a commercial for the continued popularity of natural gas. I can’t help but think about the Disney educational shorts from the 50s when viewing it since it has a similar feel. It was produced by Halas and Batchelor, and has some really nice design elements and well produced animation. It’s an enjoyable little diversion – but with such basic information given that it’s hard to believe anyone would walk away from it remembering much. That said, still pretty fun. I especially like the design of the flame and the housewife, both looking like they could have come from a 50s TV commercial. Scanned from a lovely 16mm IB Technicolor print.

Have a good week all!


  • “Oh, I find much simple pleasure when I’ve had a tiring day
    In the bath, in the bath,
    Where the noise of gentle sponging seems to blend with my top A,
    In the bath, in the bath.
    To the skirl of pipes vibrating in the boiler room below,
    I sing a potpourri of all the songs I used to know,
    And the water funnels in, and gurgles down the overflow,
    In the bath, in the bath!” — Michael Flanders

    Those ruddy Englishmen do go on about their baths, don’t they!

    The music for “Piping Hot” was composed by Francis Chagrin, born Alexander Paucker in Bucharest; he adopted his French-sounding name while working in Paris before settling permanently in London in the 1930s. Earlier Halas & Batchelor cartoons, including their feature “Animal Farm”, had been scored by Matyas Seiber, who had much in common with Chagrin: both were born in 1905, were Jewish emigres from eastern Europe, were conversant in both jazz and classical idioms, were prolific composers of both concert music and film and television scores, and were co-founders of the Society for the Promotion of New Music, a composers’ advocacy group. Chagrin studied composition with Seiber after arriving in England, and it may have been on Seiber’s recommendation that he got the Halas & Batchelor gig. Seiber was killed in a car crash in South Africa in 1960; Chagrin died in 1972.

    Several years after “Piping Hot”, Chagrin collaborated with Halas & Batchelor again on the “Tales of Hoffnung” series of cartoons, based on the humorous artwork of musician Gerard Hoffnung. Chagrin had previously contributed music to his popular Hoffnung Festival concerts in the 1950s, combining classical music with comedy and featuring eminent concert artists along with big-name entertainers. As a fan of Hoffnung’s work, I greatly enjoy these cartoons; unfortunately, being a British television series, only six of them were made.

    Those “great unwashed” medieval serfs remind me of Felix’s friend Vavoom. VAVOOM!!!!!

    • Oh, I dunno Paul, us Yanks can go nuts over baths and bathrooms too. Check out the documentary “Bathtubs Over Broadway” and the soulful ballad “My Bathroom is a Private Kind of Place”:

      My bathroom, my bathroom
      Is a private kind of place –
      A very special kind of place.
      The only place where I can stay,
      Making faces at my face.

  • Oh, this should be a candidate for a new forthcoming mid century modern? Keep it in mind! I love the score to this. I look forward to any further DVDs and Blu-rays that you release, and I hope some good things are in the works for the next few weeks. Good luck.

  • Your certainly right Steve, the style of humor and showing the evolution of the bath did remind me of the Disney educational shorts. I really enjoyed seeing that, as I’d never even heard of it before! Bring on the Mid Century Moderns! V3 is still going along well, right?

    • I really love how MCM 3 is coming along. I’ve been collecting and scanning stuff for the set for years now- including some things I had never seen. It’s funny what can pop in 35mm from odd sources….

  • Great short. I’m surprised that in 1959 there would be about 10% of the UK population without running hot water. I wonder what the figure was for the US.

    • Around that time, at least in New York City, what were once referred to as cold water flats were being torn down and refitted with hot water pipes. Rents went up, of course, but a lot more people had hot water.

  • Those of us on the drought-ridden West Coast will accept water however we can get it (if only there were a transcontinental water pipeline from the newly flood-prone east to the dry west), and worry about how to heat it later. Since this very charming cartoon came out–and why is it curiously comforting to have mended film breaks in UPA-derivative ’50s cartoons?–there are alternatives to “Only gas can give you that.”

    Incidentally, a Turkish bath is not Turkish delight; the latter is a slightly disgusting confection.

  • Some really fun use of color in this one. Somewhat similar in structure to “Rhapsody of Steel” which came out the same year, though the historical accuracy is much less up to the mark. Also “Turkish Delights” are some sort of dessert if I’m not mistaken.

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