THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
September 30, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

LOST AND FOUND: Sam Singer’s “Little Dan’l Boom” (1959)

Sometimes Missing Links should stay missing. To wit: Little Dan’l Boom in ‘Trips Th’ Trapper” (1959)

Happy Thursday everyone! Thunderbean Thursday is back!

Over these past weeks I’ve been helping prepare a show for TCM. Last week’s article described it in detail – here.

Tune into TCM this Saturday, October 2nd, to watch CARTOON CARNIVAL at 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern – followed by a two-hour tribute to Fleischer Studios.

I’m happy to say I’m back working on scanning and finishing touches this week on more than several projects at the same time. There’s a few more things to scan in the next week or so as well. While rest is nice, watching each project wrapping is pretty satisfying.

One of the most enjoyable things in scanning films (for me at least!) is when the collector you are borrowing something from offers something you’ve never seen or heard of before. Longtime Cartoonologist Jeff Missinne was kind enough to lend some prints for both the upcoming Aesop’s Fables and Tom and Jerry sets–and while he was at it, in true Missinne fashion, he included a few gems that probably should have been left at the contaminated film mine. This honestly wasn’t too much of a surprise; this is the same person who once sent me a 45 minute audio tape of ‘Jingle Bells’ in every possible version you can imagine, claiming the tape was the cure (or cause of?) “Santa Claustraphopia”. Jeff was kind enough to borrow this print from another long-time Cartoonologist, Dave Kirwin. Thanks to both of you. Hopefully no one will want their five minutes back after seeing this!

Lil’ Dan’l Boom in “Trips the Trapper” (1959) lives up to its title if there is such a thing. It has all the marks of being produced by Sam Singer Productions. Jeff guessed this might be a pilot for a possible series, and I think he’s probably right too. It may very well have dated before its 1959 copyright date. It’s likely Sam Singer, if he was indeed the producer, either made or sold this pilot to Sterling Films. Of course, it is meant to capitalize on the popularity of Disney’s Davy Crockett Disneyland TV episodes (and it was five years before NBC’s Fess Parker Daniel Boone TV series). Singer was no doubt worried about using the actual name of the folk hero to avoid any possible lawsuit for an attempt to connect the cartoon with Disney’s show.

In terms of the actual film, ignore my joke above about the quality — I’ll let you decide. I’ve always enjoyed some aspects to Singer studio’s work. In this case, maybe I should consult with Jerry to see if he’s interested in putting this particular golden film classic into a certain show he does from time to time. (Editor’s Note: I am indeed interested! – Jerry).

Animator Ken Southworth worked on quite a few of Singer’s productions over the years, at least some of it moonlighting while at another studio during the day. He told me he sort of enjoyed working on Singer’s efforts since they were always simple and there were never any corrections or changes. No corrections or changes always spells quality!

I hope you enjoy this never-really-seen short, presented here from a super-rare Kodachrome print. As Jerry has said, the collectors do the Lord’s work saving things that otherwise probably wouldn’t be. This, is a shiny example. There’s another bizarre short Jeff sent as well that was scanned, but when I watched it tonight my brain broke. I’ll give you all at least a week of normal animation before unleashing it.

Have a great week everyone, and make sure to check your Coonskin cap before putting it on!

Thanks again Dave and Jeff.

19 Comments

  • One of my orchestration textbooks says that the xylophone “is of such outstanding effect that it must be used with extreme economy.” Whoever composed the musical score to this xylophone concerto of a cartoon must have read a different book. It’s not just that the Dan’l Boom leitmotif on its own is one of the most irritating musical themes I’ve ever come across, but the relentless tap-tap-tapping of mallets on rosewood throughout the cartoon goes right through my head like a dentist’s drill! It’s so distracting, in fact, that I had trouble following the story. How did the wolf get back to Pine Tree Island after drilling the hole in Dan’l’s canoe? Did Dan’l just leave the wolf in that hole to die? What does roasted beaver tail taste like? Does Dan’l wear raccoon underwear? I’d watch it again in the hopes of finding some answers, but that damned xylophone is pounding so hard in my head that I may need to move into a room with padded walls just to muffle it.

    Can’t wait to see what you have in store for next week!

  • Interestingly, Dal McKinnon, who does the voices of this unsuccessful pilot, later was part of the cast of Fress Parker’s Danial Boone series

  • Not hard to imagine why this wasn’t picked up. It’s every bit as bad as its “pedigree” (putting it nicely here) would suggest. Say what you will about Hanna-Barbera, but at least Bill and Joe, having nearly two decades of Tom and Jerry shorts under their belt, were able to bring in talented writers like Michael Maltese and Warren Foster to make up for the TV schedule induced limitation. Singer’s writing was always every bit as cheap and flat as the animation.

    I will say though, the print here is excellent (as I’d expect from you, Steve), though admittedly it does sort of highlight the visual deficiencies. Really, I don’t know if it’d look better or worse if it came from an SD videotape print…

  • This has the tell-tale signs of Sam Singer all over it:

    Music from Bucky and Pepito……. CHECK

    Voices by Dal McKennon……… CHECK

    Sound out of sync…….. CHECK

    Hokey story……… CHECK

    So it looks to me to be definitely a Sam Singer production.

  • Interesting effect of having the sound effects in sync but not the voices. Don’t think I’ve seen that used before. And the elegant simplicity of naming the wolf character “Mr. Wolf” is a refreshing touch.

  • Yup, a favorite! Don’t ya love how collectors can get so excited about a really good print of a really bad film? We also thrill to the one-of-a-kind status of stuff like this without drilling down too deep on why nobody bothered to make any more in the first place. Jeff and I pegged this as a Singer production even though it does lack some of the more egregious technical trademarks (you don’t see any identifying production numbers scrawled onto the top or bottom of any of the backgrounds for instance.)

  • The title cards are the same ones that Sterling used for it’s package of Cap’n Sailorbird cartoons. I often thought that the Cap’n Sailorbird wraparound animation looked like it was done by Sam Singer’s studio, but I never could find any verification.

  • Some scenes (the cave scenes, the cute closeup at the end) look like Paul Sommer animation.
    Singer put a lot of stock in “quality”, Disney wannabe backgrounds to back up the bare bones animation.

  • Craptastic. No animation in a cartoon until 44 seconds in. That might be a record.

  • Why is it that some of the most mediocre or just plain bad cartoons look so good? Because they’ve been buried and no one has gone out of their way to dig them up – they just kind of float to the surface after time.

    As Milton says, the backgrounds do look nice.

    Next thing you know, someone will find a mint 35mm print of THE APE MAN (1943) or MURDER BY TELEVISION (1935). For me, that might be a sign that “the end” is coming!

  • A trait of the bad TV cartoons was to hold at discomfiting, embarrassing moments, like the bear’s leg in the trap at the end. Why??

  • How come the film quality of this is better than the prints for the later “Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse” shorts?

  • I definitely remember seeing this as a kid, mainly because of the live raccoon cap. For years l didn’t know the title and assumed l was thinking of Davy Cricket from Beany & Cecil.

  • I definitely remember seeing this as a kid. For years I could not recall the name, but assumed I was thinking of Davy Cricket from Beany & Cecil!

  • At least bodies are animated as a whole, instead of being sliced up into a legs cel, an arms cel, a head cel, and a body cel, and there’s some decent basic multiplane.

  • This might be the first time I’ve ever seen a feature from Singer Studios outside of Courageous Cat And Minute Mouse and the occasional Mel-O-Toon. Just a guess here, but the fact that the voices often being out of sync with the animation of the characters’ mouths might be a hint that, had the success of the pilot led to a full-fledged series, the distributor would have considered selling licenses for distributors and broadcasters in other countries. So perhaps the characters’ mouth movements were intentionally animated in a less uniform way with the purpose of facilitating the dubbing of dialogue into other languages.

    • I have however seen the Bucky And Pepito shorts. Sometimes WPIX in New York would air one short after their late Sunday morning movie feature, which usually was an Abbott and Costello movie, or after a special holiday feature such as Babes In Toyland (or March Of The Wooden Soldiers, as it was alternately titled for television).

  • A lot of these comments sound like the type of put downs people usually hurl at Van Beuren and Ub Iwerks cartoons. I seem to recall many of those soundtracks featuring quite a bit of xylophone.

  • Watched this without sound, so I can’t comment on the music or lip-sync.

    Backgrounds & character designs were nice enough. The general concept was decent. It’s not developed well enough to be either dramatic or funny, but it’s also not long enough to be a complete waste of time. Timing on that last gag, with the wolf falling in the hole, was off, making a potentially funny scene unfunny. Beavers making smoke signals were a bit funny.

    I dunno; it’s not the worst thing in the world. It reminds me of some episodes of Pokémon, like “The Problem With Paras” or :”March of the Executor Squad.” Cute enough for little kids, but perhaps not good enough for adults.

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