THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
May 20, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Mountains of Scanning and “The Seapreme Court” (1954)

It’s Wednesday night, late, as it often is when I get around to writing here. I’m looking at bunch of reels I’ve been assembling for scanning. It’s an exciting time in that there’s a bunch of things I’ve wanted to scan for a while that are on these reels now, and others are waiting to be put on the 1600’ and 2000’ reels. As soon as the truck is back on the road, driving nine hours to do two full days of scanning. It will be the most film I’ve scanned in a two-day period, ever. I wish the trip was more glamorous, but hopefully doesn’t include any deers beyond what is on the films! There are something like 9 projects we’re scanning films for right now, and many of those will have all the scanning in the can when the trip is over.

Flip the Frog took some giant hops this week toward the finish line. The plucky Thunderbean staff is hammering away on cleanup, doing a really good job making sure the films are looking their best. Vikki Tubie, a CCS alum (just graduated) started at the studio this week, working on finishing touches on some of the Flip the Frogs. At the same time, our own Devon Baxter has been finishing Jailbirds, while Becca Smith has been sprucing up Laughing Gas (and I hear it’s almost done). I don’t think three have been in progress at the same time before from the series, but they’re all looking fantastic. We’re going through all the finished ones and fixing any little things that are bugging us. I hope to have all the materials we have here spiffed and ready by the end of next week, then waiting on the last few scans to get cleaned up and we’re done with the films. The films on disc 2 are almost done, while disc one is still waiting for a few key things.

Since we’re getting so many things for the sets scanned right now and moving forward nicely, we’ve put some of the special sets (and a few official ones) up for pre-order at the Thunderbean shop, and will be taking many off the sale list as things move forward. Thanks to everyone for your patience and for supporting these sets – they’ve made it possible to get more things done and keep this little company producing.

I pulled back the master on Rainbow Parades (it would have replicated this week) to add a dedication to Bob Koester at the beginning. It was almost too late to do so, but we made it. I think he’d like that. I hope that he’s skinny dipping somewhere in the clouds. This set will be sent early this next month.

Getting two of the longest in progress projects out the door is gratifying-and as that happens I can stop talking about them all the time! There’s quite a few Van Beuren Aesop’s Fables and Tom and Jerrys in this next batch as well and it’s really fun to see them in HD as they get scanned. Honestly, all this stuff is fun. I can’t wait to dive into some of the announced and a few of the unannounced sets. Then, maybe even back to Felix the Cat after a long hiatus. That little black cat is full of tricks.

The IB Technicolor Garage Scan set (one of the ‘Unofficial’ sets) was a lot of fun to put together. In looking at the final set, I really didn’t make the colors as vibrant as I would like, so I’m revising the set along with ’Top Shelf Scans’ if you ordered it, expect a replacement sometime soon with even brighter colors.

One of the films on the set I’ve had a print of for many years, but had never seen (or heard it) in 35mm before. It’s funny how much a good print makes a difference sometimes.

The Seapreme Court (1954) is a pretty typical entry in the Little Audrey series, but still displays the Famous Studio’s decent budget and quality. The direction and timing is really solid on this film, and there’s some beautiful animation throughout. The coolest thing about seeing a 35mm Technicolor print of these films is all the detail and brightness of the soundtrack. And while a majority of the gags are pretty corny, it’s still a pretty little film with nice production values, and enjoyable, even with a few splices.

Enjoy the cartoon and have a good week all!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Christian Bajusz created this frame comparison using the standard Harveytoon TV print of this cartoon (on left), matching shots to Steve’s Technicolor original (on the right). Wow.

Right there. Here it is. The difference between what we grew up with versus what originally was. It’s why we do what we do. I simply want to world to understand how great these films were… how great they still are or can be. Yes, I know Famous Studios is not Disney or Warner Bros. but the neglect by the copyright holders, and the dismissal by some elitists in animation circles, is almost criminal. This says it all.

20 Comments

  • Yes! Seapreme Court with original Paramount titles!

  • Thank you wonderful Steve to make a Paramount cartoon the featured film. Allthough there are some good Sharples scores like “The Sunshine Makers” and those Rainbow Parade Felix the Cat shorts (Man I wish Steve would start on Vol 2 already), there’s no denying his tenure at Paramount is:

    Famous Studios>Van Bueren

    Great theme songs, fun music to go with the action that still in my head (Steve Bierely can relate), and the most triumphant Paramount logo end title fanfares. Sharples really mostly filled the void of Timberg and Lou Fleischer,

    Famous’ production quality is amazing, it just needs to work on pacing, some stories, timing and jokes in some cartoons, but that’s mostly executive meddling and the credited directors doing their job.

  • Nice HD print, Steve, although the splices annoy me the most on this.

  • Were you appropriately dressed ?

  • Thanks for the redo you’ll be sending for the Garage Scans and Top Shelf special sets, Steve. I noticed the subdued color on the first versions.

  • Despite Steve’s print’s age (and the occasional lines and spliced cuts), this version of the Audrey cartoon looks as colorful and sharp (and even sounds sharp) as any classic short that otherwise should also be seen on the big screen.

    And yes, one of those “bad dream” cartoons…it’s ending reminds me of the classic Laurel and Hardy short “The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case”, as well as the Daffy Duck short “Great Piggy Bank Robbery”.

    For the record, Universal Television/Classic Media owns the rights to this cartoon via its Harvey holdings. They also hold rights to the character.

    But regardless of the copyright holder, this is another example of the great animation studio Paramount once was.

  • A question on the Rainbow Parades. I’ve never heard you mention anything about :The Foxy Terrior”, which Leonard Maltin lists as released on May 31, 1935. Is this a totally lost film? Was it ever included in the 16mm catalogues, or was it already lost when the contracts were made? Is there any artwork or poster work extant from it, and did it feature the same Scotch terrier from “Scottie Finds a Home”?

    • That’s been a mystery for years. It looks like the name ‘Foxy Terrier’ was only used as a working title. This cartoon was put ‘in notice’ with the Library of Congress. Since it has the same production number as ‘The Rag Dog’ and because no print has ever surfaced, it’s safe to assume it’s just the working title.

  • This one was shown on television quite often. Seeing it in Technicolor gives it more value considering how distorted its color had been before.

  • I tried to get in to comment, but I wasn’t able to do so! You and Jerry did a very good job – I hope you guys continue to do this once in awhile!

  • Ah yes, Little Audrey, a character that isn’t really given her due. In fact, the premise of “SEAPREME COURT” seems to loom large throughout the theatrical cartoon studios. Remember the PORKY PIG version of this story? We watch as a fish prepares to roast Porky in an oven, and our favorite 1930’s characters have been on trial for their cruelties to other nature’s creatures. I’m thinking of ‘BUDDY’S BUG HUNT”, one of those surreal dream sequences in which the bugs perform a production number, listing their injuries at the hands of our “hero” (?). Even in live action, our favorite onscreen personalities have had to pay dearly for their crimes. I’m thinking of little Wheezer in the OUR GANG series from Hal Roach in a silent short (with soundtrack) called “CAT, DOG AND COMPANY”. Thanks for the LITTLE AUDREY cartoon, though. You know I like that series a lot.

    • I still occasionally have nightmares about Porky in “Fish Tales,” primarily because of the big eyes and smiles on the fish, and the dancing flames. (Note to horror makers: horror is particularly effective in a matter-of-fact, even deceptively merry atmosphere–no thunder or shadows–with the perpetrators utterly enjoying whatever they’re doing to their victims.) When I first learned of the Holocaust as a child, that was the first image that came to mind, God help me.

      • Actually, I felt like the plot was “borrowed” from “Pluto’s Judgement Day” (1935). Matter of fact, I felt like the series got some of their ideas from Disney.

  • Famous Studios films from this era have some pretty nice color distribution theory and character placement theory… a diamond in the rough.

    • God knows where Famous got its color sense because the Fleischers sure didn’t know how to handle color.

      • Not a fan of Betty’s red hair in “Poor Cinderella”, I’m guessing. I would disagree there as they seemed to have good handle on color by the end of the studio’s run.

  • It was a shame that Paramount demanded that the Paramount and Famous Studios mountain logos were cut for TV distribution by NTA/U M&M and Harvey. If it wasn’t for the work of Steve (Thanks) and maybe on You Tube, we might not be able to see the original films’ artwork…example on some of the Casper cartoons there is some wonderful drawings of him and the Famous Studios lettering, did see a Herman and Katnip once with great artwork with the Famous Studios lettering. Yes Famous had some great quality until it was re-named Paramount Cartoon Studios toward the late 1950’s and the budgets were slashed.

    • THE SEAPREME COURT went to TV via Harvey Films; not UM&M/NTA. Harvey was just as notorious for removing the mountain logos and original copyright notices. They also worked from secondary material which was not transferred very well for making negatives and new prints. I had this title in 16, and it did not look too swift, as is evident in the display above.
      These 35mm originals really show off the beautiful palettes used by Famous. These also come to life in the Warner Archive restorations of the Famous Studios Popeye sets!

      • in the Harvey sale, Harvey only got the TV (an ancillary) rights to the shorts. Paramount retained thetrical distribution rights to the shorts in question for re release purposes (this particular short was re released in 1959-60). Harvey owns the TV rights and the characters. But Viacom owns the negatives and the theatrical distrbution rights.

  • This was pretty good. Nice job on the remastering.

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