May 28, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Let’s Watch a Cal Dunn Commercial Reel

Greetings from Thunderbean land… here’s the report from the ground:

This week so far has been good in some ways and frustrating in others!

My giant goal for the summer is to have as many of the almost finished projects done — and move forward greatly with others. In the world of the special sets that’s a much easier task since a majority of material is scanned for a lot of them and they don’t require the amount of work that an official set does. Moat are missing *something*- and those somethings have become way, way harder to do since the usual resources have all changed for my usual production stuff, and the archives are closed for now as well. It continues.

Since my usual telecine (film scanning) place is on hold for the duration (or forever possibly- whatever comes first!) and since I can’t make it to Toronto with the boarder still closed, I’ve been looking into other options. I still do some things on the east and west coast as well, but a majority of the things (and *all* the special sets) were being scanned right here.

Sadly, the *other* telecine place here (that has had a batch of things I desperately needed scanned these last 4 weeks) has finally given up getting my things done for the time being. I was told I could pick them up, finished, today.. but old machines are old machines, and it just wasn’t happening. I’m grabbing my reels back and doing a journey either to Pittsburgh (east) or Chicago (west) in the next few days. I’ll wait outside while these last films get scanned for the long-in-production Popeye set. Nearly all other aspects of that project are now finished (down to the package and disc face) except for liner notes and a brief segment I’ll be recording with my friend Leonard Kohl, who did a series of interviews with Fleischer and Famous studios animators and voice artists from the late 80s forward. I’m hoping he’ll also contribute to the liner notes if we can get them done in time! I’m still pushing to have this set done within the week, against all odds!

On the not quite Thunderbean front, I didn’t quite get the last of the Puppetoon stuff finished (for Arnold Leibovit) before handing it all back, but somewhere around midnight tonight I should have it in the can. Thad Komorowski was a great hand in helping several of the shorts looked the best they can. Then, back to a project I’m working on with Tommy Stathes – then helping to finish off some material I’m working on with my Eric Grayson. I very much enjoy working with such dedicated people on all these projects. Although the last year has been pretty rough waters, it’s very gratifying to see these things finally coming to fruition, both Thunderbean and the other projects we’ve been involved with.

Animating is now a nice little break. The Rainbow Parade titles are looking really cute. I’m excited to devote some time to this the rest of the week and next. It’s one of the last things for the set.

And now, A…

For today’s film, I thought it would be fun to put something up that came in the mail today. Here’s part of a reel of commercials that showed up today, produced by Cal Dunn studios. I’m guessing this reel will be from the late 50s. I won the reel on Ebay a few weeks back and am so happy it’s here. In addition, there is a Cal Dunn produced instructional or advertising short I won with it as well. Fleischer animator Gordon Sheehan did some work for this studio – and I imagine a lot of Chicago animators had lent a hand over the years as freelancers or full-time there. I’m watching the commercials for the first time, below! Let’s hope it’s a good reel!

Have a good week everyone!


  • The “French movie queen” in the H-A commercial is clearly meant to be Brigitte Bardot. One of her earliest roles, when she was just seventeen, was in the 1952 film “Manina, la fille sans voiles”, which was released in the USA in 1958 as “Manina, the Girl in the Bikini”. Bardot plays a lighthouse keeper’s daughter and spends most of the movie in a black bikini with a strapless top, exactly like the girl in the commercial.

  • A guy named Art Springer was Cal Dunn’s chief animator in the late ’50s. The company must have had a contract with the National Safety Council as it produced a number of safety shorts during that period.
    Business Screen magazine of February 1959 mentions “You Can Handle It” and the Evinrude and Montgomery Ward spots in its roundup of the company’s recent work.
    The opening music for “You Can Handle It” is Komic Kapers by Roger Roger from the Valentino library.

  • That safety film really spoke to me because I had trouble lifting a water jug from the store yesterday

  • It’s crazy how a single style just DOMINATES a decade, both the animation, and the clothes. The Ward outfits looked like props from a period piece today.

  • The voice over on the Swift ice-cream ad — the one with the “smokey, husky voice” — sounds like it could be Barbara Billingsley of “Leave it to Beaver” fame (better known today as the Jive Lady in “Airplane!” and Nanny on the original “Muppet Babies”).

  • I loved that industrial film.
    By the way Steve, that’s a cool little screen you have there.

  • Those ads have a style that reminds me of a mid-60s ad for McDonalds, and one for Burry’s Scooter Pies, featuring Betsy Burry. There’s always a kid with an elongated oval for a head, and dots for eyes.

  • Oh, I loved the reel of ads that you ran, here, especially the safety film that capped it all off. Yes, I hope that does end up on the next proposed volume of MID-CENTURY MODERN series. I love the first two–and I still look forward to receiving the “special” disks that were supposed to go along with those two blu-ray disks. I’m glad to hear about the projects that are coming along, albeit at a slightly slower rate. Hey, with the world in shutdown, I’m glad to hear that anything is accomplished. Stay safe, and thanks for entertaining little moments like this.

  • All I can say is, where’s Oscar the cat? I liked the orange tabby at the end of your video, does that cat have a name? Thanks for your post, Steve.

    • That kitty is Boba, or Mr. Bouburs.. or Boba Kitty depending on when he’s being addressed. Bobee is probably the most common thing he’s called. He won’t leave me along really, and is a wonderful friend when he isn’t insisting on hitting keys on the keyboard or trying to knock over a hard drive. He has no bad intentions ever…

  • Didn’t realized that Wilkins Coffee had an animated ad shortly before their famous ad campaign with puppets by a certain bearded puppeteer.

  • Kinescope!

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