THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
November 26, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Mel Blanc: “Wanna Buy a Record?” (1951)

I’m sitting up at the tiny Thunderbean office right now, waiting for each of my students to check in. Inbetween that, I’m dubbing and typing this week’s post. I didn’t get much work done on new sets in the last handful of days– instead, we’ve all tried to do some really heavy lifting here this week in sending things, and so far it’s worked out very well. We’re hoping by the weekend to have this big batch of special sets sent — then back to work on even more of them. It’s really enjoyable to watch this many things go out so fast and so much better organized than I had been able to do it before, owed to all of the help from Dave and Becky Grauman, Becca Smith and everyone else that has helped get these things done in these past few weeks.

We’re working on getting an additional seven special discs finished and sent this year. In addition to those, we’re just finishing two ‘official’ sets, Rainbow Parades Volume 1 and More Stop Motion Marvels — hoping to have those sent this year as well if we can manage to figure out the replication costs for them. Both have been long in progress- but we’ve had terrific luck in finding so many things for each that I can’t complain. A recent stash of rare original model sheets from the Rainbow Parades became available, just in time — making a wonderful selection for the galleries on the set.

We’re also just finishing our somewhat annual Christmas Special set. There’s some really cool things on it, including a cartoon I’ve been wanting to find a good copy of forever. I bet you have too. It looks great, from a 35mm Technicolor nitrate print. The new set will be sent next week, available along with the previous Christmas sets at the Thunderbean shop here.

If you are in the mood for some Thanksgiving-related animation, make sure to watch the ‘new’ animation from the Daffy Duck’s Thanks-for-giving Special (1980), Directed by Chuck Jones, to help round out your holiday experience today- if you’re in the states or otherwise. Here is the easiest way to see all the ‘new’ segments, 40 years later!

You should probably watch at least one other classic Thanksgiving related cartoon as well, as is the requirement. There’s just not that many of them I think, but for my money, The Tom and Jerry Oscar winner, The Little Orphan is always right.

Here is a link to all my previous Thunderbean Thanksgiving posts.

The coolest thing I’ve seen on the internet this season is actually a pretty old thing – but if I missed this, maybe you did too! So I’m passing it forward… consider this my Thanksgiving Gift to you:

Wanna Buy a Record (1951) is a bizarre and entertaining promotional film for Capitol Records. While there’s no animation in it, it’s pretty cartoony in design, and has none other than Mel Blanc starring, along with Billy May. Blanc, oddly enough, plays record salesman who ends up learning how records are pressed in more ways than one. It was filmed in 16mm Kodachrome.

I have to wonder why they just didn’t have Blanc play himself – that would have also been really entertaining – and he could have knocked out some character voices along the way. If wishes were fishes….

It was clearly made fast with a fairly low budget, with much of the film post-synced, and other scenes with sync sound. I find it sort of funny that a promotional film for a major recording company has so much bad recording in it! It’s easy to dismiss these issues since, in return, it’s full of beautiful shots of record manufacturing. It also has some really fun shots of old Hollywood, including an extended scene right on Hollywood and Vine! If you love this sort of thing as I do it’s a real treat. Captiol’s record pressing facility was in Scranton, PA. This site has some neat information on the plant, including how you can tell what factory your Capitol Record was pressed at:

The usual sexism that shows up in this sort of film of course is here, although minor comparatively. I think they probably thought this was a way to keep folks interested at the trade shows. At one point, Blanc hawks a Bugs Bunny record (that he of course did the voices on). It’s a pretty cute moment that I’m sure most of the audience that saw the film didn’t get. The ending, of course, is something right out of a cartoon, but it’s bizarrely grotesque as a live action moment. It’s perhaps the closest Blanc appeared as an almost living cartoon in live action.

So, have some Turkey or other good meal, relax and watch the most bizarre record pressing ever filmed.

Have a good week everyone!

5 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing this! Hard to believe that Capitol would approve this film! Did it make people scream in terror in 1951?

  • I didn’t even know this film existed until clips of it showed up in “Mel Blanc: Man of a Thousand Voices.” Always a rush to fund something like this as if it was new, so to speak.

  • Yogi Yogurson – “I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas”. My dad had a 78 of this song he use to play when I was young,

  • The guy who meets Blanc and May in the Capitol Records lobby and takes them on the tour is none other than Alan Livingston, who produced Capitol’s series of children’s records for which May provided the music. Among other things, Livingston created the Bozo the Clown character for the series. Later on he was responsible for signing Frank Sinatra and the Beatles to Capitol and eventually became president of the company.

    whose accomplishments at Capitol include signing Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. He went on to become president of Capitolwriting, with Billy May and Warren Foster “ Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat,”

  • Too bad I can’t edit that better.

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