Some news on the Thunderbean video releases:
As October gets underway, I’m happy to report some projects finally wrapping up. Abbott and Costello is getting it’s spit and polish this week and will hopefully be off to replication before too long. The rest of the Flip the Frog sneak previews are being sent, along with a handful of straggler orders going overseas, some things that somehow didn’t make it to people. Most folks should have these within the week.
Some more films arrived this week for transfer, and the new batch is especially interesting stuff. I really can’t wait to post stills from these completely forgotten films.
Since it’s the season, we’ve put together a ’Special’ but really unofficial Thunderbean set of Spooky Cartoons called “Halloween Rarities”. It’s a Blu-ray (BDR) that includes Toby the Pup in Halloween, rare Felix the Cat shorts (including some you really have never seen), a Sam Bassett cartoon (!) and lots and lots of worthwhile surprises. There’s 14 films in total. Since it’s close to Halloween, it’s only available for sale for a week – and we’re only making 150 of these. We’ll be sending them next Thursday. Details can be found here on the Thunderbean Website.
OLD MANOR HOUSE (1948)
Now, onto a Haunted House themed short that’s pretty puzzling: Old Manor House (1948). For many years, I had only seen this cartoon in black and white. That print has been a mainstay of the yearly Halloween cartoon showings that I did for over 20 years at my mother’s house on often rainy Halloween nights.
It’s a “Bubble & Squeek” cartoon. There were only five cartoons made in the George Moreno series, with this one being my favorite. I’ve had a really unrunnable, brittle nitrate 35mm print of most of the cartoon for many years as well.
Moreno, an animator who worked at Lantz and Fleischer’s in the 30s and early 40s, directed the series at his small studio in London. He went on to direct commericals for British Television, produced comics and other things is his long career. He also appears to have worked back in the states on a few shows, but for the most part lived in London after the war.
I find the animation, comic timing and even the music really bizarre in these shorts. Sometimes the gags,posing and timing are really fun; at other times they’re just strange! I always wondered if Joe Oriolo based ‘The Professor’ in the Felix cartoons on Colonel Rat.
Here’s a neat little article about Moreno, on the Bear Ally Blog. If you read the comments, there’s a great note from someone who worked at the studio in the late 60s.
There were five shorts made in this series of films before financial conditions (and competition) intruded in one way or another. Three of the shorts starred ‘Bubble and Squeek’ – a taxi driver and his cab. The last few shorts starred ‘Colonel Rat and Willie the Worm’. Old Manor House is my favorite of the, and a good kick off for Halloween month. Here’s a decent color print (although at least a few VHS generations down).
British Pathe has a neat cllp that shows the making of the Bubble and Squeak cartoon Fun Fair:
Have a good week everyone!