THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
February 24, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Mighty Mouse in “Hansel and Gretel”

We’ll talk about Thunderbean stuff next week since progress continues, and it’s nice to take a little break from the who’s and what’s for a week. Things are going really well as we finish several projects, and we’ll be giving updates in the coming weeks. As we move forward, we’ll also be taking many of the special sets off the site, so visit the Thunderbean shop if there’s any special discs you’d still like.

Now — onto our cartoon!

I always thought it was funny that the Terrytoons were appreciated by a seemingly small group of people- and, like Famous studios, never with much attention to the art of the films. The internet age has, somehow, started to change the overall opinion of the shorts the studio produced, largely from various people posting copies of many of the films the studio produced.

I see the studio as having sort of five periods. Each partially spreads into another, and their timing is unusual compared to some other studios in terms of design eras. The longest of these eras seems to be from about 1941 through 1956, stopping as the studio was purchased by CBS. This later 50s period is especially appreciated these days, and rightly so— but the really nice qualities of early 50s cartoons are often ignored.

During this era, there is some variance in the product the studio produced, but it’s also sort surprising how many years the look and feel of the films stays amazingly similar, down to the layout’s color design, musical scores and sound effects. Watching films from the early 50s can be strange, especially when viewing cartoons from *any* other studio made during he same period (Even Famous Studio’s shorts show more changes in art direction and writing). That said, there’s still lots of really fun Terrytoon cartoons through all those years.

Growing up watching the Terrytoons, I was surprised to see new ones almost every time I saw them. For many years they were on TV in Detroit, broadcast on channel 20 (WXON). This particular one I was many times, and was always happy when it showed up. Some of the gags were chatted about on the grade school playground by my friends and I, especially the witch riding a Vacuum cleaner instead of a broom.

While Hansel and Gretel is pretty standard Terrytoons stuff, watching this film shows off some of the best qualities of the studio around this time: some beautiful backgrounds and entertaining animation by many of your favorite Terrytoons animators. You can understand why the films continued to be made for so many years. They are always enjoyable to a point, looking especially good on a big screen.

While this one isn’t from a Technicolor print, this 16mm print was pretty decent at least. I especially like the backgrounds in the beginning of the film and with our heroes in the woods and coming up to the witch’s house. I hope you enjoy it too! Have a good week everyone!

17 Comments

  • I’m one of those people whose opinion of Terrytoons has taken a turn for the better in recent years, and it’s always a pleasure to see one in a good print. Because the Terrytoons strike of 1947-8 had a such profound effect on the studio and the quality of its output, I would divide its history into six periods, rather than five:

    1) Silent era, c. 1916-1928.
    2) Frank Moser era, 1929-1937.
    3) Golden Age, 1938-1948.
    4) Tyer era, 1948-1956.
    5) Deitch era, 1957-1959.
    6) Post-Deitch era, 1960-1972.

    Nevertheless there was a degree of consistency over the years due to the long tenure of certain key personnel, notably composer Philip Scheib, who scored every single Terrytoons short from the beginning of the sound era through to 1968.

    Terry had produced an earlier “Hansel and Gretel” cartoon in 1933, starring Puddy the Pup as Hansel. Like many of the early sound Terrytoons, it incorporates a number of traditional German folk songs such as “Es waren zwei Koenigskinder” (There were two royal children), about a little prince and princess who drown while swimming. When a fisherman brings their bodies up to the surface in his net, their mother the queen rewards him handsomely before jumping in and drowning herself. Like the fairy tales, German folk songs can be very morbid.

    I’m a little surprised that Scheib didn’t use any tunes from the famous Engelbert Humperdinck opera in either “Hansel and Gretel” cartoon, the way he always quoted “The Flying Dutchman” during any storm at sea. But then, it might still have been under copyright.

    I notice that the children run straight into their stepmother’s arms at the end of the cartoon as their father shakes hands with Mighty Mouse. She’s supposed to be dead by then. Which just goes to show that Disney wasn’t the only studio to bowdlerise classic folktales.

    • PAUL, Jim Timmens, a man whose music was used on my 60s Columbia 33-121/3 record Story tellers, is main music composer in the 1960s, NOT Philip Scheib! (Leonard Maltin, 1980/87, OF MICE & MAGIC: “Scheib retired about this time (early 60s) and was replaced by a man named Jim Timmens.”)

      Plus, find some Sad Cat cartoon credits.

  • Jim Tyer’s work is all over this one.

    • Yeah, it is…then took his unqiue style to Paramount and off-shoots Hal Seeger & Joe Oriolo..

      • Tyer was at Paramount/Famous BEFORE he joined Terrytoons, not after.

  • I was hoping for some Flip The Frog news this week.
    Maybe next week, huh?

  • I know that the DVD market has seriously declined but is there any chance the Terrytoons will ever see the light of day. What corporation even owns them?

    • The corporation that owns them is Paramount (aka ViacomCBS)… and as of today there is NO chance of seeing them on physical media.

      • I just don’t understand why these companies would rather just leave things rotting away in a vault. They’re not making any money off of them just sitting there. All of these streaming channels are looking for content. I guess us animation lovers are a dying breed.

        • That’s the $64,000 question, and keeps the bootleggers in business. The same stupidity the studios showed decades ago by selling the cartoons outright for peanuts, instead of leasing them and making much more money in the long run, is now shown by the current holders who’d rather sit on the product than put it out for a fair price. Of course restoring prints to the picture quality expected today, as the Thunderbean folks can–and do–tell you, is an expensive, arduous process. Maybe as restoration technology advances we’ll start to see some action. If we live long enough.

      • Who in their right mind would have guessed that CBS would put out “Spencer’s Pilots” – a failed 11 episode live action show from 1976 – on DVD in 2019?

        They were not expected to put out The Andy Griffith Show entire series on Blu Ray – and the other day Amazon said it was No. 575 of best sellers.

        Strange things do happen at CBS Entertainment (or whatever they call themselves these days) –

        (And CBS don’t have many superheroes in their franchises)

  • Although not generally a fan of Terrytoons, I think Gandy Goose and Sourpuss are greatly overlooked. I could go for a collection of that pair on DVD.

  • As always, Steve, another terrific classic cartoon, although I have to agree with an earlier comment about GANDY GOOSE AND SOUR PUSS. I’ve found those to be consistently interesting, especially in how they use “cartoon license”. This means that you never know what to expect from those particular cartoons, although HECKLE AND JECKLE are not far behind in that area either – and it is always fun to check out the LITTLE ROQUEFORT titles, even if so many just compare ’em to TOM AND JERRY and HERMAN AND KATNIP; “Katnip” spelled with a “K”!

    As for their being six separate periods or eras of TERRYTOONS, well, sadly, I can’t really comment too much on the silent era, but I beieve those were seen on local TV when I was growing up with soundtracks added by the station that ran ’em, although I can’t quite recall what samples they used.

    I am glad that so many 1930’s TERRYTOONS titles are showing up on You Tube, because they grew harder and harder to find, even in the golden days when all the major studios on both coasts were as able to be seen as the handful that you now get on ME T.V., Boomerang or what little is left on Cartoon Network.

    Here’s to resurrecting the entire lot someday, along with all those black and white titles that you used to see on “LATE NIGHT BLACK AND WHITE” (which, unfortunately, did not include TERRYTOONS)!

  • I never understood why people hate TT so much. Cartoons were just commercial entertainment at the time, not art. And basing cartoons on being “formulated” and “repetitive” is a bit strange, since all are.

  • Hansel and Gretel must have some Japanese heritage. The resemblance to Hashimoto is unmistakable.

  • Is this a Kodachrome print

  • I’ve always loved Mighty Mouse and this cartoon was one of the best Mighty Mouse cartoons made in Hollywood’s golden age! Thanks!

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