August 14, 2014 posted by

Hector the Pup in 35mm!


Yesterday was a film transfer day, taking up the late morning into early afternoon. They’re some of my favorite experiences in putting together the DVD (and now Blu-ray) sets because you never know what you’re going to see really- at least I don’t!

I’ve made it a habit to never run a print of any borrowed for transfer film on a projector, usually. With nitrate prints of course that’s a given, but I usually will borrow something with the idea that when I first see the film it’s in the actual transfer session. There were things that made me smile all the way through the session- and three hours of smiling is never a bad thing these days.

One of the projects I’ve been working on for over three years, and there’s almost ALWAYS some element I’m transferring from this specific series. We’ve been getting materials from around the world on that project; sometimes two or more prints are used to make a complete version. Sometimes the film looks better projected, other times you can do some adjustments and get a much nicer transfer than the print actually was. This time around I didn’t get to the reels with this on them, but will try next week. That project is in a holding pattern, at least for the moment. All the nitrate is at least transferred that needed to be and it can go happily home- where it belongs!

A bit of hand-drawn cartoon animation from HECTOR THE PUP (1935)

A bit of hand-drawn cartoon animation from HECTOR THE PUP (1935)

Today’s films for transfer were mostly Black and White and silent, with a few exceptions. This film, Hector the Pup, was one of the exceptions. It’s a recent find in 35mm nitrate, and I was thrilled to be able to borrow it- since it will be a while before it shows up on any Thunderbean release, I thought I’d share it here, still hot from the transfer session (I’m actually GLAD the Telecine room is cool since we’re doing nitrate films).

I won a fairly beat up 16mm print of this on Ebay many years back. I remember showing this at Cinevent in Columbus Ohio, and watching that very warped 16mm print barely make it through the projector, curling up behind the projector as it came out, creating a huge mess! That print was so warped that I used another’s collector’s copy for the body of the film on Stop Motion Marvels. The set features many of the somewhat rare silent ‘Kinex films’ shorts, produced in Hollywood from 1928 through 1930.

This film was made in 1935 and appears to be the last of the stop motion shorts that John Burton animated. It shares a kinship with the earlier films he worked on at Kinex as well as having basically the same character in it that his earlier film, Pepper the Pup (1931) has. His animation and techniques were improving as evidenced in this short. Burton was hired as a production manager at Schlesinger’s in 1936, eventually rising to head of production at Warner Brothers. This and other independent animated shorts were distributed by the small Screen Attractions Corporation, including Les Elton’s Monkey Doodle and the lesser seen Hobo Hero.

Years back, Seamus Walsh and Mark Cabellero of the Stop Motion Studio Screen Novelties were kind enough to do a commentary for this short on the DVD. I can’t wait to hear what they think of this better print….

Compare this frame (at Left) of earlier known version of HECTOR THE PUP to the new transfer (on Right).

Compare this frame of my earlier print (at Left) to my new transfer (on Right).

Seeing a now at least decent print of the film allows us to see just how good Burton’s Stop Motion animation was, and how nice many of the techniques are as well. Had he continued, I think he would have started to master better posing, weight and timing even more- it’s sort of a hint as to what this particular animator could be capable of.

If you look at the credits, you’ll notice the music is by Arch B. Fritz. The score is really by Carl Stalling, who used this same identity in at least one other cartoon..

It was great seeing it today in such better quality- look closely (and make sure to turn on the HD in the settings on youtube!) to get some indication of how Burton accomplished some of the tricks – many of them holdovers from the Kinex ways of doing things, now improved. Enjoy.


  • Wow! That’s cool! It’s strange to think that a man like Carl Stalling, the most famous music director of Warners’ cartoons, would actually do music scores for such unknown studios like Ted Eshbaugh and this one.

    • At the time this cartoon was made, Stalling would not yet have joined Warners. After leaving Disney, he would work mostly for Ub Iwerks for about the next five years; projects like the Eshbaugh films and this one were undoubtedly work done “on the side,” which may account for the use of an alias in the credits here. (PS to Craig; not only did they try scratching out the copyright date, but it also looks like they tried to cover it up with either India or “blooping” ink!)

    • Yeah, it looks like they gave up on the scratching about half-way through!

    • Yeah, it looks like they gave up on the scratching about half-way through!

      Really lazy there. These days it would probably be a Sharpie.

  • That was rather entertaining! Good video quality,too! Thanks for sharing it,Steve!

  • Someone tried to block out the the “1935” in the copyright notice buy scratching out out? I wonder why?

    Thanks, as always, for sharing, Steve!

  • Thanks, Steve! I’ve never seen this cartoon!

  • Stalling was also credited as “Arch Fritz” in NO FARE (1931), with GOOFY GUS and his OMNIBUS.

  • Thanks Steve. Always a surprise on Thunderbean Thursday.

    I didn’t know Burton did any hands-on animation prior to landing at WB.

  • Ingenious. How interesting. Too bad they didn’t think to mix things up back then and make a stop motion Fleischer Popeye and really have 3-D.

  • Damn! Quite gorgeous! Thank YOU!!

  • The mail delivery bird has some serious “rear exhaust” issues.

  • 1) I am quite impressed with the steadiness of the character animation. Before they invented video assisted stop-motion, it was tough to animate smooth movements – you had to guess how much to move an arm or leg while trying not to bump anything. Since guessing isn’t an exact science, the result on the screen tended to be uneven,

    But look at the scene where the bullets are skipping along – the arms and legs move but the bodies don’t jitter all over the place. I suddenly figured out that they used a sheet of glass, which you could attach a character’s body to and keep it pinned to one place, with a moving background. Dang! Why didn’t I think of that?

    2) Wasn’t very funny , was it?

  • (Affecting the Darth Vader voice) IMPRESSIVE!

  • “Tha’s All!” (folks!)

  • How can you call this a cartoon? it’s stop motion / puppet / figure film.
    Not animated.

    • Seriously? You are joking, right?

  • No, not joking. I just believe that stop motion films / more or less ‘trick photograpy’, is not animated.
    This is not hand drawn, nor on a cel, correct? I just belive they have their place apart from hand drawn animation, that’s all.

    • Yes, stop motion films have their place apart from “hand-drawn animation” – but stop motion films are still animated films. Do you even know the definition of the word animation? Hand-drawn and stop-motion are two different techniques within the animated medium.

  • No, i haven’t looked up the definition

    • Then I suggest you do before throwing out comments saying that stop motion films are “not animated”. Wrong in every possible way.

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