Kausler's Closet
July 15, 2019 posted by Jerry Beck

Hugh Harman Rareties

Once again we are back in Mark Kausler’s film closet – digging through decades of accumulated film prints acquired through a lifetime of collecting, going back to an era when no one else cared. Luckily Mark did – and saved much material that, in some cases, even the studios themselves no longer have.

Today a look at some obscure Hugh Harman reels. First up, Aladdin’s Vamp, an “Arabian Nights” cartoon that Hugh and Rudy produced on their own in between employment stints at Disney and George Winkler in the late 1920s. Says’ Kausler: “The track was added some time later. I think Hugh and Rudy made more than one “Arabian Nights” cartoon, but this is the only one I’ve ever seen.”

Mischievious Mice is a repeat for us at Cartoon Research. Steve Stanchfield posted about this film here in 2016. This was the third Cubby Bear that Hugh and Rudy did for Van Beuren release in 1933 (the first two were The Gay Gaucho and Cubby’s World Flight). According to Mark, “In Hugh’s papers, I found documents that assigned the “remaining interests” in Mischievious Mice to Bill Hanna, who was in charge of the Harman-Ising ink and paint department in ’33. Mischievious Mice was only finished “to picture”, the sound track was not recorded, which suggests that the Cubbys that Harman-Ising produced were post-recorded.”

DOWN THE DRAIN and THE HOT STOGIE are spliced together on the same reel. “They are demos that Hugh put together to sell a live action/animation optical printing process for intricate combination stuff, like the fat man in the bath tub with all the soap bubbles. The cat’s voice in Down The Drain was supplied by Harry Lang. These are around 1945 or 1946 I think.”

NEXT WEEK: Some Disney Rareties.


  • I can’t help but imagine Aladdin and his Vamp singing “A Whole New World”.

  • So then that means that at some point in time both Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera worked on the Cubby the Bear series. Not at the same time because separate studios, but wow………….

  • I can’t respond to the visuals, here, but it sounded to me as if Hugh cobbled together soundtrack bits from other cartoons for “HOT STOOGIE”, including a small section of “LI’L OL’ BOSKO AND THE PIRATES”.

  • Anyone else notice that “Aladdin’s Vamp” shares some score with “Mischievous Mice”?

  • At this point in 1933, Harman-Ising looked like itself, Disney looked like Disney rather than Harman-Ising, and Ub Iwerks looked like Ub Iwerks rather than Harman-Ising.
    The only thing the three studios artistically shared by then was the tendency to draw eyes without outlines!

  • 4 Hugh Harman films I haven’t seen – thank you, Mark! I’d like to see more of Hugh’s films from the time when he produced WINKY THE WATCHMAN and EASY DOES IT, the epic 30 minute advertising film for Stokely Van Camp.

  • According to Barrier’s “Hollywood Cartoons”, Harman, Rudy Ising and Carmen Maxwell made an Arabian Nights Cartoon earlier in 1924, called SINBAD THE SAILOR in Kansas City. Their film was only shown for three nights at the Isis theater, evidently as a test without an exhibition for general audiences.

  • I forgot to point out that the actor playing “Herman”, the plumber in “Down The Drain” is famed storyman, Cal Howard.
    Thanks, Jerry, for doing the film chaining and final notes for this post,

    • And thank you Mark for sharing these! Those last two films I especially enjoyed for what Hugh attempted there! I would’ve loved to see more of that type!

  • Very interesting,

    Without stating the obvious, it looks like that Aladdin’s Vamp was re-released as part of Crazytoons probably in the 1950s (going by the UPA-esque drawings on those title card, which might explain the soundtrack being added later on).
    It’s also very appropriate to revisit that Cubby short, in regards to all the recent social media posting marking the birthday of William ‘Bill’ Hanna. You can see elements of Hanna’s later works in Mischievous Mice, but that could be me just joining some obvious dots.
    The demo reel of Down the Drain and Hot Stoogie seemed like a good idea at the time, particularly with the live-action actors interacting with the animated effects, and the polished character animation on that cat character. Peculiar that the human acting harked back to the early silent comedies rather than the comedies of the decade (the striking of the match in Hot Stoogie very reminiscent of Way Out West, of course.)
    Thanks for sharing these finds.

  • Down the Drain and The Hot Stogie have an intriguing premise, making a live-action cartoon by adding animated effects and characters. It’s intriguing, although probably too cost prohibitive in the long run.

    There is hardly any information available on Harman and Ising’s careers after WWII. Articles like these help fill in the blanks. Keep up the great work.

  • You got to love how Aladdin’s Vamp is called Aladdin’s Battle in the reissue print.

  • What is/are/were “Krazytoons”? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cartoon with that series title on it before.

    • It was a title used by a film distributor in rounding up numerous cartoons in a package to sell to TV stations, the cartoons themselves varied from where they came from, but they were all illegal copies being sold by a pirate company.

    • Krazytoons was a New York based company that was in existence by 1963.They made 150 cartoons available. The company disappeared by the 1970’s.

  • Did the documents indicate who were the animators on the Mischievious Mice Cartoon?

  • I find the song that the man in the bathtub was singing, near the end of “Down The Drain”, rather interesting. It is reminiscent of both “Singing In The Bathtub” and some incidental music from some Hal Roach films (Both ‘Laurel & Hardy’ and ‘Our Gang’ two-reelers from the late 20’s/early 30’s). Does anyone else hear a similarity?

  • The gags in “Hot Stogie” are throwbacks to the 20’s and 30’s. The ‘Thumb/Cigarette Lighter’ bit was copied from Stan Laurel and the human actor looks much like Snub Pollard, albeit without the crossed eyes. Maybe this is part of the reason that these films didn’t catch on as they were ‘Old-Hat’ and studios/distributers wanted more modern “Up To Date” fare in the 40’s? Perhaps it was ahead of it’s time. I bet that this would have done better in the early 60’s when there was a bit of resurgence of interest in old films. Think “Fractured Flickers” for example.

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