As you all know, when Warner Bros. re-released their cartoons to theaters, years after their original release, they re-sold them to theaters as “Blue Ribbon” reissues – and promptly cut off the original opening titles and replaced them with updated but generic title art – sans the director/animator credits. Unfortunately they had cut these credits off the original film negatives! During the last 18 years I devoted my efforts to restoring these credits to the broadcast masters used on DVD and blu ray. Recently more original titles have been added by Warner Bros. for use on HBO-Max and Me-TV. Most of the original titles that we could find were luckily preserved on the studio’s nitrate vault prints – prints struck at the time of the cartoons original release, and stored either at the UCLA Film Archives or The Library of Congress.Sadly, not every original Warner Bros. cartoon title can be found. Some of these do exist on rare 16mm prints struck at the time of release for showings on military bases. Other 16mm prints were made for loaning to other studios or an occasional non-theatrical booking at that time. But the sad truth is that, unless some nitrate release prints emerge, some of the original title cards and credits may be lost forever.
Several weeks ago, I was alerted to check the Michael Maltese Papers at the University of Wyoming. Apparently there is a cache of Title and Credit Cels held there that Maltese kept from his days at Termite Terrace. Upon examination of the inventory listed on the website I called the Archive and requested scans of certain titles – cartoons that, at present, have no original 35mm film element for restoration. Here’s what I received.
Below are 13 cartoons which the original opening titles and credits are currently lost. These photographs and scans show that the original art is in very fragile shape. Cel paint is chipping off and the archive (or Maltese himself) sometimes mis-matched the credits and the background art. That said, I find it a miracle we can view any of these today. Here, feast your eyes on these:
The Cat’s Tale (1941)
Here is an example of the rough condition this material is in. Some of my requests were turned down because the condition of the celluloid and the chipping paint made these pieces untouchable.
Rhapsody In Rivets (1941)
The title cel was probably filmed over the same background used below for the credits. Note the credit for the “Vitaphone Symphony Orchestra”!
Double Chaser (1942)
The Squawkin’ Hawk (1942)
This material is in very poor shape…
The Sheepish Wolf (1942)
I’m not sure what this drawing – in the file for The Sheepish Wolf – was intended for. Any ideas?
My Favorite Duck (1942)
Here is the credits cel for My Favorite Duck – mis-matched with the original background art from the titles of Baseball Bugs
Pigs In A Polka (1943)
These Pigs In A Polka credits are in poor condition…
Flop Goes The Weasel (1943)
The Unbearable Bear (1943)
Hiss and Make Up (1943)
Fin ‘N’ Catty (1943)
From Hand To Mouse (1944)
Here is a true discovery: note the animation credit given to Ray Patin (!!!). This is Patin’s only credit during his brief time at Warner Bros. and the copyright catalog got it wrong! Perhaps Warner Bros. provided the wrong information in the first place, but copyright entry lists Robert Cannon for animation – and that was transposed into my book, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies (1989). Cannon did animate on the film – the opening and closing shots in particular – so him being credited isn’t a mistake. But poor Ray Patin’s been denied his WB acknowledgement for almost 80 years.
These titles are placed on that cloth doily (upside-down) used on the titles of Clampett’s Russian Rhapsody. Was this doily pattern used in both cartoons – or did Maltese or the Archive mis-match them?
Peck Up Your Troubles (1945)
The Paul Julian background art under the Freleng director credit was probably used under the title and credits cels as well.
These remaining Maltese scans were enclosed by mistake – but I’ll post them anyway. This first one is from The Wabbit Who Came To Supper (1942), the one below that is from Baseball Bugs (1945) – note how horribly faded the color is on the lettering on this one. All the more reason we continue to prioritize film preservation.
(Super-Thanks to Austin Kelly and Derek S. for bringing the Maltese Archive to my attention; extra-special thanks to both Andrea Ippoliti for help in identifying certain cels – and to Devon Baxter for additional research)