December 31, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Happy New Year To All: “Let’s Celebrake!”

As this is posted, I’ll be over at the little Thunderbean office, packing away the last things of the year and going to the post office. At the same time, about 40 minutes away, a bunch of Van Beuren Tom and Jerrys, a few more Aesop’s Fables and other cartoons will be getting scanned for Thunderbean, along with some beautiful blue track Technicolor film. It seems a fitting way to end the year, and I’m most excited to update the internal ‘in progress’ list, knocking off a few more films and sending things to clean up.

Finishing touches are happening right now on More Stop Motion Marvels daily. I’ll be finished with the master over the weekend if all goes well. Rainbow Parades, Volume1 has all the extras and films done, and next week I’ll be working a little more on the menu design. It’s great to see it all together.

I’ve been informed that the last two Flip the Frogs are now scanned! I’m considering scanning a better print of The Village Specialist now as I’ve been looking at consistency of quality, and this film is the worst looking element of the set. There are still a bunch of little nitty gritty things to add to the project.. but a small bunch.

Finishing Flip, More Stop Motion Marvels and the first half of the Rainbow Parades represents a milestone here; a lot of the heavy lifting and years of work into these projects is finally coming to a successful finish — and finished sets!

My hope is to have 5 ‘official’ titles replicated and available early in the year if we’re able to pull it off.

It leaves a few other well-in-progress projects moving to the forefront. The upgrade to the first Stop Motion Marvels set should progress steadily and quickly- all the films I have scanned are cleaned up and I’m still waiting for the others to arrive. I’m especially excited for the Comi-Colors to start finally coming in as things reopen. As with Flip, it will be an expensive project, but a lot easier from a materials standpoint since the complete elements are all in one place and in good shape (and most of the original color separations look to be in fantastic shape). The condition is also excellent for the second half of the Rainbow Parades.

So, as I sit here, improperly dressed for the occasion, drinking one of the last Bell’s Oberons left from summer and eating a large plate of spaghetti, I want to thank all the readers of Cartoon Research and the merry band of writers. The community is a small one comparatively, but big on keeping the classic and not-so-classic films alive. Watching Thunderbean mature and start to have its own legs give me a quiet smile- you’ve all helped do that.

And now… the required cartoon!

I’ve been trying to watch a Popeye at least once a week in 16mm. We recently scanned one of my favorites- Let’s Celebrake directed by Seymour Kneitel, from 1938. I think it should be required cartoon viewing on New Years eve. So, even though it’s been here before – in fact, it was partially posted yesterday in Charles Gardner’s column – here it is again in a print you may not have seen before!

Popeye wins the award for the year (and every year) as the most considerate cartoon character- so much so that he allows Bluto to solely escort Olive on New Year’s eve, opting to bring Olive’s Granny along for some new year’s eve celebrating. It breaks my heart when Granny says “Don’t mind me it’s all right” and it clearly affects Popeye the same way.

These gestures of kindness, mixed with his own sense of justice by his own fisks at other times, is what made Popeye my favorite character by the time I was four. The little dance Olive and Popeye do in Puttin’ on the Act, the grandeur of Popeye walking through magic caves in the color specials, a crisis of identity in Hello, How Am I, and beating up everyone in sight in Sock-a-bye Baby were images burned into my head as a child, and probably more responsible for me wanting to see more and more vintage animated shorts.

There’s little things that are wonderful throughout this cartoon. Popeye’s little dances throughout (as well as Popeye and Blutos two-steppin’ to Olive’s door) bring me a big smile. There’s ad-libbing galore throughout, with a lot of it hard to understand— but somehow that’s ok. You also can’t hate those singing horses at the beginning. This seems like a fitting cartoon to show after last week’s Christmas Comes but Once a Year… and reprises and revises that title’s tune nicely.

I hope everyone has a good New Year’s eve and day, and wishing a happy 2021 to all!

Let’s Celebrake! Happy New Year All!

Let's Celebrake! Happy New Year All! from Steve Stanchfield on Vimeo.


  • Seymour Kneitel gets a bad rep on creativity from the rut Famous Studios fell into in the 1959s and 60s, but he had a really good run in the 1930s doing most of the ‘change of pace’ cartoons in the Popeye series like this one, “Lost and Foundry” “The Jeep” and several others that didn’t conform to the normal Popeye-Olive-Bluto template (his ones that did weren’t bad, but they weren’t as strong in general as the Willard Bowsky ones, where Bluto’s such a psychotic misogynist he just as soon would choke Olive as kiss her, which made the punishment Popeye dished out at the end of the cartoon all the more satisfying).

    That the Fleischers had a Bowsky (or a Tendlar) doing the cartoons the series was noted for, but had Kneitel occasionally taking things in a different direction is what kept the series from becoming too fomulistic under the Fleischers (and something the studio would mostly forget during the later Famous years).

  • If Popeye really were “the most considerate cartoon character”, he’d have remembered to close the front door behind him instead of leaving poor Grammaw to stand there freezing in the open doorway. You wouldn’t catch the Goofy Gophers making a faux pas like that.

    I wonder if that gorgeous Art Deco ballroom was based on a real venue. At this point in my life I’d rather join Grammaw in front of the fireplace than go out to a nightclub, even one with an orchestra made up of identical octuplets. Celebrake? I can’t even stay awake! Good night, folks!

  • I believe this is the next-to-last performance by Gus Wicke as Bluto, and his next-but-last overall for Fleischer. A wonderfully cheery cartoon (and in a nice print — has a stash of British prints been found, recently?) that deserves to be a favourite. And oh, is Granmaw gonna feel that in the morning…

    (As for what could have been the model for the dance hall, an obvious candidate would have been the now-demolished Roseland Ballroom on West 52nd Street; it was literally just three blocks from the Fleischer studio at 1600 Broadway. Google “Roseland Ballroom 1930s” and while the results aren’t, of course, identical, they are suggestive. Another strong candidate would be Harlem’s famous Savoy Ballroom far uptown, now also demolished.)

  • It’s weird hearing Happy Days Are Here Again in a Fleischer cartoon instead of an MGM cartoon.

  • Long one of my favorite cartoons — and I certainly agree about Popeye! He is a great man — one of my favorite animated people!

    Happy New Year to everyone, and here is to a great 2021!

  • Pure fun to watch. My feet were tapping and I was smiling all the way through. Popeye’s and Bluto’s synchronized dance entrance to Grandma’s was just great. Yes…I totally enjoyed watching this toon on New Year’s Eve….totally. Thank you!

  • Thank you for a posting a wonderful cartoon. It’s too bad that Gus Wicke couldn’t have stayed on longer. He, Jack Mercer, and Mae Questel were my favorite Popeye trio. Happy New Year all!

  • To Juilet Noonan:
    And WB’s original Bosko and Honey also sing it. Plus many Warners songs like Pretty Baby and Baby Face get used in a few..T&J’s!

  • You mean You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby. Pretty Baby was never used in Tom and Jerry.

  • Interesting cartoons. Thanks.

  • After a year like this, who wouldn’t want to “(w)ring out the old”.

    That poster captures Flip pretty well, the most foul-mouthed of Golden Age characters, though that amount of grawlixes suggests he may even be saying something stronger than “Damn!” I eagerly await seeing his cartoons on Blu-ray in 2021.

    Happy New Year.

  • I didn’t notice, for years, Popeye also ate some spinach prior to dancing!

  • Thanks, Steve and Happy New Year – I love that cartoon!

  • I like how the Flip poster won’t spell the word “damn” but he says it in his cartoons.

  • It also helped that after last week’s entry in this column (Christmas Comes But Once a Year), Kneitel worked solely on Popeyes, not venturing into other series, which was unique among the animation crews.

  • The song at 04:30 sounds like “Stop! You’re Breakin’ My Heart” (1937).

  • The Fleischer Popeye dance cartoons are unsurpassed and unequalled. Pure delight each and every one. Every New Year’s Eve when I could invite people in I showed this first in 16mm and then in digital. It is no wonder people once loved going to the movies.

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