Today’s cartoon is an animated extravaganza by Hugh Harman Productions. Easy Does It (1946-released in ’48?) is a half hour film made to show to small grocery store owners. It’s a sales film to show how branding can help move product from their shelves-specifically, Stokely Van Camp’s products. I imagine the film was shown at trade show and other grocery-store events, or perhaps even to small chains traveling with a sales-person. It’s amazingly well-produced for this particular kind of film, beautifully animated, and features a well-produced soundtrack as well (by Clarence Wheeler, who scored the Lantz. cartoons from 1950 into the late 60s. The credits are clearly not complete, but it credits Carl Urbano and Arnold Gillespie with sequence direction. Urbano went on to work for John Sutherland productions for many years.
Clearly many animators, background artists and cel painters were involved in the project as well. Walter Tetley is the Voice of ‘Easy’ himself, who is probably most familiar as the voice of Sherman in the Jay Ward Peabody and Sherman cartoons, but did voices in so many other cartoons, including Andy Panda in the late 40s cartoons.
It’s been a favorite of mine since I first saw it in the early 80s at a film show. The print I saw back then was Kodachrome, as they all seem to be on this title. It looks like it was originally shot in 16mm Kodachrome, a reversal film stock- you can see the edits done on the 16mm material. Another Harman short made around the same time, Winky the Watchman (1946) appears to have been shot in 35mm, though I could be wrong. I think Mark Kausler in his commentary on Winky (for Cultoons Volume 2) actually mentioned that ‘Winky’ was shot in 35mm.
It seemed like there were a lot of prints of this film around for a little while in the early 80s- perhaps a stock of them were acquired by one film dealer – but of course now it’s harder to get. This transfer is from a 1948 Kodachrome print that had started to shrink a little, but was otherwise in excellent shape. Even though it appears to have been produced in 1946, the first reference I can find to it’s existence (in print) is in 1948, so I’m not sure what year the film made its first appearance. If anyone knows, I’d love to have that information.
We transferred this print for inclusion on Cultoons, Volume 1. It would be nice to do a 2k on this film and make a neg for preservation, as many of the few remaining Kodachrome prints on this film are really starting to shrink.
So, if you haven’t seen it, I hope you like ‘Easy Does It’- but no need to go out and buy a delicious can of corn right now. Have a good weekend everyone!
BONUS MATERIAL: Courtesy of writer/pop-culture historian Warren Dotz, these images below of “Easy” as an advertising print icon (left) and as a ceramic figure (right, probably created to reward Stokley-Van Camp salesmen and vendors). They appeared in Dotz’s books’ What A Character (1996) and Meet Mr. Product (2015), which we highly recommend.