I really wish Hugh Harman had made a feature film instead of the educational films his studio produced over the years. The production values in their mid-40s productions are quite beautiful, looking far better than one
would expect for the message.
Winky the Watchman is one of my favorite oddities. Many years back I bought an old black and white Pictoreel print of the film, knowing full -well it was really in color (because it looked like it would have to have been produced in color from the tonal range in the film). A handful of years later I finally saw the film in color. Many of the prints of the film are actually in Ansco color or Kodachrome. There’s a really nice Ansco print sitting in my basement, soaking for many years in an attempt to make it less warped. I think it’s’ a losing battle! The film appears on Thunderbean Cultoons, Volume 2.
Winky seems to have some kinship to Gabby from Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels. Maybe it’s Gabby’s younger, better looking but just-as-dumb brother.
It’s fun to see B-movie actor Ralph Byrd (Dick Tracy) as the dentist in the film, and Janet Burston (from MGM’s Our Gang) as “Mary”. Can anyone ID the rest of the cast?
Winky, it turns out, IS a colorful little film, and it has a very colorful (and somewhat hidden) history. Mark Kausler was kind enough to do an excellent commentary for it. Mark consulted Hugh Harman’s papers on the production of the film, offering a well constructed and informative mini-history of this educational short. He was the perfect person to ask; I find it to be a fascinating little look into how behind the scenes negotiations happened, and how Hugh really tired to make the most of this particular production.
As Mark notes, the film was shot in Technicolor. I really hope that someday a 35mm Technicolor print shows up on the film… I love to see it looking as good as it can. There’s some really fun animation of the ‘Bad-uns’ characters, with their floppy little arms and giant mouths. I especially like the little scene where Winky changes his own ‘gears’ mid-air- really cute poses and timing here and throughout the film. There’s a hint of Famous Studio-style designs throughout the film…. what studios do the designs remind you of?
Thunderbean has been lucky to have some really great commentaries over the years- I have to admit that I usually watch the cartoon and only sometimes get around to listening to the commentaries myself, so I always want the ones on the discs we do to be interesting in some way. Mark does a great one in that it isn’t married to the film itself, but rather makes a nice and informative listening experience with the film as a side reminder. Here’s the film, and the film again with Mark’s commentary. Enjoy!