September 21, 2017 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Is “Nonsense Newsreel” the Strangest Terrytoon Ever?

This is a simple one this week since time has been crunched. I’ve been working on organizing things over here, and attempting to get all sorts of things either back to people, send something promised, or organize so I can find things to do any of those things. I can see the light at the proverbial end of the tunnel right now on many fronts, and am looking forward to having less stuff going on and concentrating on just a few things at a time. First world problems that I don’t deserve to complain about!

On the Thunderbean front: Flip the Frog is humming right along, as are some of the smaller and ‘special’ sets. I edited together finals on six more of the shorts in the last week, and they look outstanding; I’m so happy there is such good material on a majority of the shorts. Fleischer Rarities is basically done and getting ready for mastering save a few bonus features. ‘Explorers of the World’, a 1931 Documentary, was finished early this week, with its handful of pre-orders in the process of being finished. I’m working this week on the Blu-ray version of ’Grotesqueries’ produced in coordination with the Blue Mouse Studios. Chances are it will be ready for an early October release. A new volume of ‘Cultoons’ is in the works as well. Some of the other ‘special’ stuff is getting finished as well, and I’m excited to help some of my good friends bring other projects to mastering.

As I was looking through archives here looking for Little King original title scans, came across some older standard definition transfers, and one of them was a transfer of an old IB technicolor 16mm print of Nonsense Newsreel, a 1954 Terrytoon.

In watching this short again, it is, as expected, a bit of a ‘cheater’ for the studio, and a bizarre one at that. At first glance, it doesn’t really look like a Terrytoon in it’s design, humor and even backgrounds, but, sadly, these unusual aspects do not make the production terribly interesting in any way. There is some fun animation in the short at least; one really fun shot involves a dancing women who’s just had her figure improved (can anyone identify the animator on this scene?) I do like some of the Jim Tyer scenes as well.

This may be the last appearance of cannibals in a Terrytoon, or at least close to the last. The backgrounds in the volcano scene might be the nicest of the layout/ background work in this film. Quite honestly, the films falls pretty flat in comic timing across the board, even with some decent gag that would have worked well at other studios. Oddest of all is a running gag based on someone being hypnotized; it’s clear what they’re trying for here, but almost astonishing that they never quite get any of the gags or timing quite right.

I kept wishing that one of the gags would be funnier, but in some ways it’s at least an interesting experiment to break the otherwise set formats in the other Terry series. It seems to be a little harder one to see, so here it is in it’s standard definition glory. Have a good week everyone!


  • Terrytoons, around the arrival of CinemaScope, seemed to take the time to do 1-2 things a little differently, with slightly more angular and abstract characters and less fluid movement than what the studio had been doing for the previous 15-16 years, mainly in the widescreen and one-shot cartoons (the toe-dipping into UPA-land was nowhere near what Gene Deitch would do after CBS took over, but you do start to see some stylistic choices that also served as animation shortcuts — given Paul Terry’s tightness on budgets, it’s easy to see him going this way on his own, if he hadn’t sold the studio when he did).

  • My vote for the strangest Terrytoon is “The Last Indian.”

  • Terrytoons really don’t get technically interesting until their later stylized days, as far as I remember, but I used to like the earlier theatrical films a lot, especially those earliest titles in the sound era. And no one did the “newsreel” type parodies like Warner Brothers, no matter what the era. Sure, Tex Avery’s such parodies were the best, but even Harman/Ising’s mock-ups were interesting, a la “BOSKO’S PICTURE SHOW”. It is interesting to see the Terry Studio take a stab at it, though, and there were some interesting animators moving through the studio. I always wonder what their restrictions were, beyond choices of music for scoring. Terry didn’t want to obtain the rights to anyone else’s music library and, so, never bothered to expand on the way it scored its cartoons; such a shame since there were opportunities there as well, even when they were stealing gag ideas from all or most of the more “advanced” studios and their techniques. I think, however, as I said before, Terrytoons are important because now, they are seldom sen anywhere, and it is probably very, very hard to see Terrytoons titles anywhere near restoration quality. So keep plugging there…Glad to hear that the FLIP THE FROG set is near completion. Oh, I’ve wanted that one for a long, long time.

  • My vote for strangest Terrytoon is Dinky Duck’s last cartoon “It’s a Living” & “The Mysterious Package” with Mighty Mouse.

  • I cannot say if this is the strangest Terrytoon ever. But it is unusual for them, considering the time it was made.

    Although the newsreel-spoof was a hoary old chestnut, used frequently by both Warners and by Fleischer (especially in the later “bouncing ball” cartoons–the ones that featured dance bands rather than vocal personalities).

    And isn’t it interesting to note that they did NOT give the narration to Tommy Morrison–as one might have expected. It’s a lighter voice, without the baritonal quality found in Morrison’s usual reads.
    If it were not so light, I’d wonder if it was Roy Halee, taking a break from singing “Heeeere I come to save the dayyyyy”.

    Yet there are things that identify it as a Terrytoon, including some of he sound effects used here, such as the machine-gun produced by an overactive drummer.

  • “…one really fun shot involves a dancing women who’s just had her figure improved (can anyone identify the animator on this scene?)…”

    That would be Carlo Vinci, Steve.

  • What happened with the Noveltoons DVD Set. I ordered that and the Screen Songs disc but they have not came

    • The Noveltoons DVD was out in 2010. The Blu-ray for both this and Screen Songs is still in progress.

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