THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
March 17, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Happy St. Patrick’s Day with “The Wee Men” (1948)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

But — before we watch “Another Random Cartoon” as my friend “Paramount Cartoons” says, Here is the promised “Cartoons Most Wanted” survey, finally working. I’ll post the results next week here on Cartoon Research.

CLICK HERE:


And, onto the cartoon!

I was wondering if we had shown this before near St. Patrick’s day, but I guess we didn’t before.

Getting to see a scan of a 35mm print of a Noveltoon is a little easier these days. There’s just not that many prints of these things around, and it’s really hard to say when Paramount will actually release some of the shorts from the negs, if ever. We owe a debt of gratitude to film collector Paul Mular for this week’s film. Oh, yeah– it appears on the Thunderbean Noveltoons Blu-ray set too!

One of the most enjoyable things for me about this film is hearing Jackson Beck’s attempt at keeping his Irish accent going, and slipping sort of half into radio-announcer mode as he goes. It’s an especially good looking Famous Studio’s short. Sharples’ score for this particular cartoon is especially nice, and the song (by Buddy Kaye and Dick Manning) of course was used for many years as the Screen Song theme.

At nearly 10 minutes, this particular film was pretty extravagant as several of the Noveltoons are in this period- even at a time when other shorts from Famous were being produced in Polacolor.

When I was growing up in the 70s and into the early 80s, the Noveltoons were nowhere to be seen around Detroit, Windsor (Canada) or Toledo, Ohio- the three areas we got stations from here in Ann Arbor. So, it wasn’t until I was collecting cartoons that I actually saw any of them— and, soon after, VHS tapes started appearing full of Public Domain cartoons. The first PD VHS tapes I bought were expensive at the time- $10- and that seemed like a lot since I was earning minimum wage and trying to save for college. One of those first tapes I bought did have this cartoon on it, but I honestly can’t remember what the version of the film looked like. I was likely a reddish NTA print, as most of the VHS tapes had.

When was or what are your first memories of seeing a Noveltoon?

Have a good week everyone!

14 Comments

  • Faith and begob, I had completely forgotten it was St. Patrick’s Day! Today (the third Thursday in March) is also National Close the Gap Day, dedicated to improving healthcare outcomes for Indigenous Australians. In view of this, it would be the height of bad taste to show a cartoon like “Bushy Hare” or “Kongo-Roo”. But I’ll probably watch them later just the same.

    “Start the Day with a Song” is a great way to annoy people early in the morning, especially if they’re hung over. About the only better one for that is “Goody Good Morning” from “Pinocchio in Outer Space”.

    The first Noveltoons I ever saw would have been the early Casper shorts, which aired pretty regularly on Detroit TV (probably before your time). I also remember being freaked out by the scene in a Baby Huey cartoon where the fox gets the skin ripped off his skull. When I was little I had the Wonder Book “Buzzy, the Funny Crow” (with washable covers, of course), so I was familiar with the character from that if not from his cartoons. To tell the truth, when I got the Thunderbean Noveltoons collection, most of them were completely new to me.

    I look forward to seeing the results of your survey. Have a magically delicious Thunderbean Thursday, everybody!

    • Kongo-Roo is amazing

      • “Kongo-Roo” is amazing all right, but “Bushy Hare” is a masterpiece!

    • It was a wonderful testament to the intelligence of the children of the Detroit, and indeed, other areas, that they very quickly realised which of the myriad cartoon programmes suited their taste and offered value for time spent watching….. there seemed to be an unofficial pecking order, ie since Tom and Jerry were not very often seen and the Disneys only got an airing on as part of the Mouse House empire ( when they started re showing MMClub in the mid 60s, I revelled in the chance to see a fair amount of the colour output), it seems WBs were the most desired, with really old TerryToons, revamped for TV, seemed to be near the bottom, though to be fair, almost everything had their fans…..on the second point, every kid I knew absolutely hated any show where the host, albeit Bozo or the nautical purveyors of various Popeye packages, cowboys or train drivers, all the way down to the local Hercules,surely the nadir of kid hosting, took so much time rattling on about nothing that sometimes, they couldn’t even fit in a third cartoon in a half hour slot( if we wanted a show with all talk and no cartoons, we’d watch Romper Room)….luckily there was a great deal of choice, usually starting very early in the morning, all the way through if you knew where to look, until early evening…. and even though the shows were often generically titled(Cartoon Carnival or some such)it didn’t take long to work out who was showing what…..and you never knew what gem might accidentally turn up, maybe for a single showing before being labelled “unacceptable for broadcast “…..

  • Noveltoons and various Fleischer/Famous cartoons were highly visible when I was growing up, as were Terrytoons (and I hope some examples of the latter are chosen for the “most wanted” disk. I have submitted my suggestions, although I have a lot more, but I’m sure that the resulting disk will be of benefit to all toon fans of the theatrical golden age, and here’s to further animation restoration throughout the year. Love the NOVELTOONS bluray!

  • While The Casper Show was finishing its Saturday morning run on ABC, during the mid 60s, it was shortly afterwards that The Garfield Goose Show, in Chicago, picked up the Casper and Noveltoons.

  • Just filled out the survey, thanks Steve, and apologies if my list is a little demanding haha

    The Wee Men is likable, but I think it could be much better. None of the jokes land for me, but other than that, this would make a good fairytale cartoon if it was played more straight. Something about Tytla’s Noveltoons always strike that way to me, that they needed to be more funny or played more straight to work. In comparison, his Popeyes are FANTASTIC

  • Being such a faithful “Harvey-holic.” this is a true joy. Thank YOU!!!!!!!

  • Ahhh yes, I remember THE CASPER SHOW fondly from my youth! I was just young enough that I was totally charmed by the show and couldn’t wait for it to appear next week! “Good bye, from Wendy!” … “Good bye from Nightmare!”, etc.

    As I religiously watched GARFIELD GOOSE after school in Chicago, I must have seen the NOVELTOONS, etc. on that show! I never much cared for the MODERN MADCAP series – the manic music from Winston Sharples was just too much – but, I can hear every note in my head if I care to remember it!

  • The Noveltoons DVD includes this and “Leprechaun’s Gold”, which recycles chunks of animation. Is it possible they were considering a Casper-type series?

    Famous, Paramount and Harveytoons tend to blur together in my boomer memory. I don’t recall them appearing on hosted kid shows; they’d just get a local title card like “Cartoon Carnival”.

    The NTA logo became scarce when I was still a kid; it always got my hopes up for a vintage Fleischer or even “Hoppity Goes to Town”.

  • The Famous Studios cartoons in the Harvey package were more common on New York TV than the ones in the UM&M/NTA package. Although I remember seeing Lulu and Casper from the former, it was much more common to see Baby Huey and Herman and Katnip from the latter. I enjoyed neither the Hueys nor the Hermans, as they were formulaic and unfunny.

    Early Noveltoons like this one are good to see. I don’t recall ever seeing this one or “Leprechaun’s Gold” on TV, or one of my favorite Famous cartoons, “The Enchanted Square.” I recall seeing Screen Songs, but I don’t remember if they were Fleischer or Famous.

  • The first Noveltoon that I saw was likely in the early to mid 1960s. I had only been familiar with the Harveytoons on TV, and wondered why the movie cartoons didn’t have the same name.

  • Our local independent station had, for many years, an early-morning program titled, simply, “Cartoon Time.” No host. Just cartoons, mainly theatricals, so no made-for-TV Popeye’s, only the Fleischer and Famous ones. They had both the Color Classics/Noveltoons from NTA as well as the Harveytoons package, and I remember being a little confused about those, since they obviously originated from a common source.

    “Cartoon Time” had several packages they drew from, in addition to those mentioned above: the Warner pre-48s, a post-48 package from Warner that was heavy on Bugs Bunny’s, the MGM pre-48s (no Tom and Jerry, though), and the Terrytoons. The only made-for-TV cartoons that stayed in regular rotation in “Cartoon Time” were the Beany and Cecil’s.

    The station’s program director obviously had a prejudice in favor of theatrical cartoons. All in all, a nice line-up of cartoons to get you going before leaving for school.

  • The Animation is Al Euguster here

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