January 30, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

“Lesser-Known” Films You Might Have Missed

Discovering something you haven’t seen (or, you showing something we haven’t)!

It’s been a really good week so far at Thunderbean in terms of projects moving forward as well as things getting finished and sets getting sent. The catch up continues, but in a less frantic way.

To complicate things in a good way on the Rainbow Parade set, my friend Del Walker lent me a really good print of Bird Scouts in Cinecolor that improves on what we have; I’m super excited but also now am back to being one film short of being done! I had a session that was supposed to happen this morning, but it got postponed due to an equipment problem. Another good friend I work with did get a chance to scan some things today though, so I hope to come back in the coming week or so and get a bunch of things done, especially some of the new special sets including a beautiful pile of Technicolor 35mm films from our own Jerry Beck.

Because of the catch up and that there is a little staff at Thunderbean that has all but taken over dubbing and shipping, we’re offering the older finished ‘special’ sets for a handful of days (it was going to be until the last day of the month – but we’ll keep it open through February 5th). Details are here.

Onto today’s things to look at!

From “The Fox Hunt” (1934) – see below!

I was showing a well-known animator one of the Willie Whopper restorations a little while back, and he made the comment ‘I forgot how much I really didn’t like these cartoons’. I think, in that particular film, if you were watching for the animation quality, you would be a little disappointed- but in terms of the color and other qualities, it is a gem.

I think it’s possible to go into watching animation from the golden era (or even recently) and like or not like a film based on your usual reasons for liking an animated film based on certain merits rather than watching the film for its particular merits. That’s understandable in some ways, but it also at times limits us from discovering really cool things.

I was at Ottawa one year and had a conversation with someone that admitted (rather pretentiously) that they didn’t like animation at all, but went to the festival to make ‘connections’. It would be hard to try and live in the world of animation without liking this stuff- but clearly that’s possible— unless, of course, that person was just too cool to watch cartoons.

That said, I thought it would be fun this week to point out some less-seen things that I’ve discovered in one way or another over the years that I think are pretty cool. I’m sure you have a list too of less-seen things that are in the ‘why had I not seen this’ category. Some of you will see this stuff and say ‘yeah.. yeah… old news’.. but if you do, then you have a new obligation to find something that you think folks here haven’t seen. Either way, it’s a good excuse to find some cool things and to visit some that are less seen. Here’s a few:

The Little Duck (2019)

I just saw this lovely little commercial for Disneyland Paris. I do wonder if a duck with a human brain but the body of a real duck would related and react this way to a duck with a sort of duck and human combined body’s antics:

Crispy Critters commercials “the-ONE-and-only-CER-E-AL-that-COMES-IN-THE-SHAPE-OF ANIMALS!”

I’ve been seeing a *lot* of these lately, for some unknown reason :). I especially love the animation and voice work in these- and would have been addicted to this cereal had I been a kid in the 60s (I was born in 68). I think the second one here is just a little too sexy to be appropriate to children.

Screen Play (1993)
I’m always amazed at how this particular short isn’t more known. Barry Purves, the brilliant stop motion animator, made this amazing short in 1993. If you haven’t seen it and love stop motion, now is as good of a time as ever.

Choco Bolo Commericial (1991)

I love seeing pencil tests from commercials. Here’s one from 1991, posted by ‘Sweattbox Animation’

LA Joie De Vivre (The Joy of Life) (1934)

American artist Eric Hoppin and UK artist Anthony Gross combined their talents and created this interesting and creative animated ‘art’ film in the early 30s. The ending train sequence seems to be the inspiration for design for parts of Dumbo’s ‘Pink Elephant’ sequence as well as the surreal ending of Der Fuehrer’s Face This particular copy is the nicest I’ve seen on the film. Click to see it here.

I’ve included their later Fox Hunt here as well. Milton Knight wrote an article in 2014 with further details here.

The ABCs of Hand Tools (1945)

Tool abuse is no joking matter (well, it sort of is here). This short was produced for GM by Disney just after the war, and I have to admit that, even though I owned a print for many years, I never really sat down and watched the whole thing. You could live the rest of your life and not see this one, honestly, but it’s interesting – and actually still pretty informative. I’m guessing they had a lot of the B team or newer folks working on these types of shorts as well as the things produced during the war. Maybe this is best for learning tools rather than enjoying the animation, as quite a few of the educational shorts are:

More about the General Motors A.B.C. animated educational films was posted previously on Cartoon Research by Jonathan Boschen – click here.

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World Stop Motion animation (1963)

The stop Motion animation for this film was produced by Willis O’ Brien. One of the stop motion puppets showed up a handful of years ago at auction. I wonder if there’s more of these out there…

Pencil Test from ‘Me and My Shadow’ (Dreamworks, shelved project)

Here’s a brief, fun pencil test from the combination drawn/ CG animated Dreamworks feature that never was. I’m really not sure how far this project actually made it, but I think a lot of us knew people that were working on some years back now:

Have a good week all!


  • That’s a fine print of “La Joie de Vivre”. I’ll always be grateful to you for including it on the Thunderbean “The Strangest Cartoons Ever Made!” collection, for it introduced me to the music of Tibor Harsanyi (1898-1954). I was so taken with his balletic musical score to the film that I resolved to find out more about him. Although he was a prominent and respected figure in the cultural life of Paris during the thirty years he lived there, his music has unfortunately fallen into obscurity. Most of it has gone out of print and has never been recorded. However, I managed to get my hands on an old edition of his very last work, his Sonata for Viola and Piano, which I have performed several times in three countries — and what a magnificent piece of music it is! And I never would have found out about this wonderful viola sonata if I didn’t spend so much time watching old cartoons!

    Too bad you missed out on Crispy Critters. They really were good — especially when they introduced the Orange Moose!

  • I remember being shown Primitive Pete cartoons in shop class in the mid to late 1960’s, and have been surprised that there hasn’t been any mention of them on any animation site over the years, at least that I have seen. There have to be others in this series because I remember Pete being a lot more front and center about misusing tools all through the cartoon. Those were a little more humorous than this one. As a 8-10 year old remembers anyway.

  • Had no idea that scene on “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” was done with stop-motion, much less by the man who did King Kong. On a related note, the Saul Bass-designed title sequence is one of my favorites. And you gotta love that Alex North score.

    • Alex North is, indeed, a genius, but Ernest Gold wrote the score (featuring a most memorable waltz) for *It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World*.

  • I loved “Screen Play”. One of my favorites of all time is also by Barry Purves – “Next”. Beautiful detail in his work.

  • I’d say The Fox Hunt had a bit of an influence on Yellow Submarine.

  • This is the first time I’ve seen ‘La Joe De Vivre’. Animated surrealism at its best.

  • “The Fox Hunt”?-Only Proves That The Rich Have Better Drugs!

  • I Would Also Add: The Lead Of The Hunt Is Riding a Plowhorse! (But One That Went To Ballet School!)

  • In regards to It’s a Mad, Mad, World, Willis O’brien had been hired to head up the animation effects work, but sad to say he died before he did any work on the film. Jim Danforth was actually then employed to accomplish the stop motion work for the film. According to Danforth, O’brien had storyboarded scenes that could have been used, such as the main characters clinging to a wrecking ball that was in the process of demolishing a building. I think that Marcel Delgado made some of the animation models, if not all that were used for the firetruck ladder sequence.

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