A short one this week, but a few fun cartoons to tide us over!
Japanese Lanterns (1935) is maybe the hardest to see of the Van Beuren ‘Rainbow Parade‘ cartoons. Ted Eshbaugh directs, as in Pastry Town Wedding & The Sunshine Makers, but this cartoon in some ways is odder, especially the somewhat bizarre ending with the children riding a lantern in the air. It features simple but appealing characters, especially the mischievous Siberian Crane, who steals the show throughout, and may very well be the most interesting and entertaining character to appear in any of the series. This little film shows similar direction and style to Eshbaugh’s other efforts, even bearing some resemblance to Goofy Goat’s accordion sequence.
Interestingly, Japanese Lanterns was released the same year Max Fleischer’s A Language All My Own, a Betty Boop cartoon that similarly glorifies Japanese culture. You’ll notice the title on this print is “Chinese Lanterns” as it was sold to the public as an “Official Films” home movie during the World War II years, when we were at war with the Japanese.
I’ve been looking for a good color copy of the original for many years, and truly hope I’m able to find one at some point. There are a few floating around, but so far actually being able to use them has been elusive. One of them in more recent years has even been restored from a 35mm Technicolor Nitrate print! The other is a 16mm Cinecolor print owned by a private collector.
The ‘essential‘ Mark Kausler told me that animator Bill Littlejohn remembered working on this short early in this career…Mark, can you elaborate?
Perhaps some day I’ll be able borrow one of these and but it on a Blu-ray of the Rainbow Parade cartoons. For now, we have this Black and White version (from the Thunderbean DVD) and a several generations-down copy in color available on a DVD of early color films from Alpha Video.
Our second cartoon this week is The Three Bears (1939), a rare to see Terrytoon in color. I never knew that the Three Bears were actually first generation Italian Americans residing in New York. I guess you learn something every day. It seems to me that this cartoon is particularly disjointed and bizarre, but I hope you enjoy it. It’s from my somewhat battered 16mm print.
Back in 2010, Ted Watts did a nice little article on this cartoons for his fun and informative Cartoons of 1939 blog, showing the original title card:
Here is an original background that Howard Lowery auctioned back in June:
Back to some news next week!