Another busy week here, but things are looking up. Likely next week we’ll have a little photo essay about the Cubby Bear project, now well into cleanup. It’s a sordid tale of Vinegar Syndrome gone amuck, visits to indian grocery stores, gloves and caustic film cleaners, Old English Lemon Oil, and a cautionary tale to never store 2 reels containing 16 of the series in a single can together! Our little team is doing a great job on the set, though as usual progress is slower than I wish it was. Collector and animation aficionado Scott Christy came by today, doing an excellent job working on the final cleanup on Opening Night. Perhaps the hardest thing about finishing a new set is being satisfied that you’ve done the best service you can to the films.
Here are a few animated theatrical commercials dating from 1939 and 1940. I’m especially fond of the beautiful background work in these little shorts. I first saw these prints while visiting a collector-friend in New York in the late 80s, and borrowed the prints to use on ‘Cultoons, Volume 1’ in 2005.
By mid-1939, The former Ub Iwerks Studio had changed its name and had started to produce theatrical commercials alongside producing films for Columbia. Iwerks officially left his former company sometime in 1940. Through the late 30s, director Paul Fennell took a major role in the little company, directing much of the studio’s output.
Iwerks renamed his company Cartoon Films, Ltd, in 1936 after the split with Pat Powers. Powers maintained ownership of the Comi-Color cartoons, while MGM held onto theatrical rights to the Flip and Willie Whopper shorts, eventually turning them over to Powers (likely contractual). The company was renamed Animated Cartoons Incorporated sometime in 1941. The continued their output of well-produced shorts and commercials, including the Oscar-Nominated How War Came (1941). Interestingly, the early 40s Columbia shorts don’t list the name of the production company at all – instead, it lists the films only as ‘A Lawson Haris Production’, with Paul Fennell listed as director.
This post by Jerry from a few years ago gives an excellent background on this period, with several of the notable shorts they produced.
Included here below are five of their theatrical commercials. A Date With Kate (1939) for Brookfleld, Mini-Toons presents Pebble Punch (1940) for Coca Cola, and three shorts for Shell Oil.
Here is a great photo shot during the production of the Shell Oil spots. We can at least get an idea of some of the people involved in the production here- Rudy Zamora, Bucky Bug artist Carl Buettner, Tom McKimson, Paul Fennell and Charles Byrne. (Special thanks to Jeff Missinne)
Have a good week everyone!