December 23, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Hey! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays All – with a Small Holiday Cartoon Program!

I think that 2021 won’t be a year that’s missed too much, honestly. As I sit here helping to check steadying for a series of beautiful nitrate films from a colleague’s project, I’m heartened to think about how the ball continues to roll on making classic animation available. I’m really looking forward to seeing the things that end up happening over these next years, and especially this coming year.

It’s the first week off from an incredibly busy semester, and having some days to just sit down and concentrate on Thunderbean projects has been wonderful. Flip is taking up most of that time here as the year wraps, and soon *won’t* be since it will finally be done!

Each of the Flip cartoons are now going through a final technical pass, looking at each of them again, double checking each aspect. Out of the process has come only a few big things we missed, but there’s lots of tiny things we’ve cleaned up that makes it look just that much better. I really am enjoying the process of working on these little details just before we final. Our own Devon Baxter’s list of little things to fix has been really helpful— and it’s made me scrutinize technical things even more honestly— trying to get it a final pass everyone is happy with.

What I’ve been most impressed by in this project is seeing how amazingly good the studio’s animation is on many of the films, and how carefully synced most of the action is. There’s a lot of (at the time) mastery of the craft of animation through the early films, and it hasn’t been noted as much as it should be. It’s really caused me to re-evaluate the series after spending so much time with them.

There’s so many possibilities in the coming year as well as projects already in the hopper. A couple Van Beuren Tom and Jerrys just got finished in cleanup, and another tomorrow, and Aesop’s Fables are all getting finished too, so as soon as I’m less *Flipped* I’m looking forward to diving into those.

And, since its Christmas time.. onto some Christmas cartoons!

We’ve done ‘special’ Christmas / Holidays sets for years, scanning all kinds of things. Here’s a few of things we’ve had scanned for your holiday enjoyment:

The first is Christmas Cartoon– a 16mm release from Castle Films. Castle and Official Films released a lot of Holiday films in 16mm and 8mm over a 25 year period, some featuring old cartoons, some new productions. This one is unusual is that it features a 30s Terrytoon wrapped in a new (in the 40s) live action opening and closing. There’s another earlier Castle short that features a silent Terry/Van Beuren short as well. They’ve called this cartoon ‘Toyland’- but I’m not sure what short it is. It seems like it is from around 1932… someone here knows!

The second is the Fleischer Classic Christmas Comes But Once a Year (1936). We’re still working on cleaning this short up to be on an official release, but for now here’s the really nice scan from a rare 35mm nitrate print. It’s one of my favorites each year. Film collector David Locke was wonderful in providing this rare print. We’re all able to see this how it should look thanks to him!

Next is The Bon Bon Parade, and 1935 Columbia Color Rhapsody. This scan is from my really, really beat up 16mm Kodachrome print. I got this print many years ago from Jerry Nelson, and it looks like it’s been lovingly enjoyed until it was tattered beyond belief.

I hope you enjoy the Holidays and hopefully these old, little cartoons will bring you some cheer!

Have a good week all – and Season’s Greetings!


  • That Christmas Cartoon is the Terrytoon “Toyland”, released, as you surmised, in 1932. I have a feeling it was inspired, or at least strongly influenced, by the 1930 Broadway revival of Victor Herbert’s “Babes in Toyland”, with its parade of marching wooden soldiers and nursery rhyme characters.

    Sorry to see that Sunday’s Greatest Cartoons Ever presentation has been cancelled. I hope it can be rescheduled at a more propitious time. In the meantime, as Popeye says, Seasin’s Greetinks to youse all!

  • “Toyland” is the real title. It was released 11/27/32. I’ve owned a silent print of this Castle release for years, but never heard the soundtrack complete until now, It was interesting how Castle felt the cartoon itself was too short to release all by itself, and decided to create the live-action wraparound to pad out the reel. They did the same thing on another reel including “Ye Olde Toy Shop” from 1935. Yet I have no idea if there was ever a release of “Jingle Bells” (10/18/31). There was at least one “Christmas Cartoon” release which I’ve only seen as a silent, which seemed to have to do with a pup hunting up a Christmas feast for his many brothers, which at least one blogger speculated was the silent, “Five Orphans of the Storm”. Yet, it would have been odd for Castle to issue a silent, especially when these packages were usually in the hands of other distributors. Does anyone know if this third cartoon could have been the mysterious unknown “Jingle Bells” without its track? Or what the real “Jingle Bells” was about? It doesn’t seem to have been part of the CBS manifest, and the one possible clue that the Castle release might not be it is that I noticed nothing objectionable in the cartoon that would have been likely to attract the eye of a CBS censor.

    One other word of note on “Toyland” is that CBS’s print cut the ending short, not showing the montage of stills within the wreath. This would appear within normal practice for CBS, cutting out the black native stereotype that appears among the depicted carolers. But the abruptness of Castle’s cut to its own “The End” card, now combined with hearing the soundtrack which appears uncut, suggests by lack of a fade or iris out that the original release had a custom ending instead of Educational’s stock card. Does anyone have any clues as to how this special ending was presented?

    • The montage at the end of “Toyland” seems to be created by Castle for their release, as it contains references to shorts that wouldn’t be released until a season later. It’s likely they did this to help promote their Terrytoon prints, but that still leaves the mystery of what’s supposed to be there, though it’s likely it’s just more singing between Santa Alfalfa and the Reindeer

    • The “Christmas Cartoon” subject you mention, which uses a silent Fable, was released with a track. I just ran my print at a recent holiday screening.

  • Also a thought on “Bon Bon Parade”. I thought perhaps this print would finally solve the mystery of the finale shot, since it did not use the “Columbia Favorite” opening or closing. The opening was so brief, I couldn’t tell if it was created by a home movie distributor or purported to be from the original, but the font of the credits looked suspicious, being in much smaller, finer type than I’m used to Mintz using in other cartoons. The ending also appears to be a mere splice-on of a Color Rhapsody card from a later cartoon (the ending music does not match the original soundtrack on existing prints). Not only that, but it would have made no sense for the image to be the standard slate gray card, (which probably hadn’t as yet been created, this being Columbia’s first three-strip release), since the last frames of animation depict the sparks from the last explosion descending toward the camera – suggesting the closing lettering was animated, and written in sparks. My question has been that the number of sparks on the screen doesn’t seem to match the necessary letters to spell out the usual end-credit lettering depicted on the later card. So what letters, then, did appear from the animation? The transition to letters is also exceptionally brief as measured by the soundtrack on other surviving prints, so that there would have been little time to register a “read: of the letters after the transition was through, also suggesting that less than the usual end credit might have appeared – and especially intriguing is how the Columbia logo might have figured into the spark transition, if at all. Does anyone have any solid clues as to the details of this lost ending?

    • I’ve actually been able to find a print with it’s lost ending: the fireworks burst to form into the words “The End” as they fade into the Columbia end title card. The opening is not the original (it uses titles which I assume are used for television, evidenced by this print of a Three Stooges short: ), and yes, they’re the same as Stanchfield’s print, but at least it’s not the generic Columbia reissue! It’s not exactly in the best shape since the opening has some of it’s sprockets missing, making it difficult to project. The opening was from a good looking Kodakchrome print from ’52, although it seems to have been spliced onto another Kokakchrome print from ’53 with more faded colors (maybe that print originally had the original titles). It originally came from an eBay listing with an bonus print of a 1978 Thumbelina adaptation for about $35 (there was another print on eBay with the same titles and nicer colors, but costed about $200 so I didn’t bother). Here’s the titles projected from a silent projector (I sold it to hopefully get another that plays sound):

  • Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Steve! That print of Bon Bon Parade, while beat, seems to come from a print with original titles, those look like the original credits at the beginning, and it has the original ending that was later cut from the neg

  • Please release another christmas compilation for purchase on Amazon or maybe keep the Christmas BD-Rs on sale for those that wish to buy them in the new year (including Bear-Nan-Za!)

  • “Next is The Bon Bon Parade, and 1935 Columbia Color Rhapsody. This scan is from my really, really beat up 16mm Kodachrome print. I got this print many years ago from Jerry Nelson, and it looks like it’s been lovingly enjoyed until it was tattered beyond belief.”

    Are you referring to Jerry Nelson, the late great Muppet performer (The Count, Emmett Otter, Gobo Fraggle, Robin, The Ghost of Christmas Present, etc.) or was this a different Jerry Nelson?

    • In an earlier post, Jerry Nelson was described as having been in his late seventies when Steve started collecting films in the 1980s. Jerry Nelson the puppeteer died in 2012 at the age of 78. So it appears they were two different individuals with the same name.

  • Correct, Paul – at least as far as I know! You never knew what Jerry would show up with at one of Veto S.’s “Hollywood Collectibles” show in the Chicagoland area back then, He might have a complete set of CLUTCH CARGO cartoon episodes one month and who know’s what – the next!

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