August 25, 2016 posted by

My Favorite Original Title Cards – and an Abbott & Costello Update #2

abbottcostellocomedies-boxIt’s been a whirlwind week here, from sending orders, doing film transfers, then going to LA for three days of non-stop meetings. I’m happily starting to catch up here as I send out the last of the Cubby Bears with the special extra disc, late but finally all going. The coming few weeks are pretty full as well… but no complaints… end of summer first world problems.

First, a little about the Abbott and Costello Rarities project. The set is a collaboration between myself and two other collector/ producers. Collaboratively, we’re collected/transferred/ restored a variety of materials, from radio shows to TV and bloopers.

Here, as promised, are a few shorts clips. The first is from a rare reel of color home movie intros that Lou did for his own home movies. The footage was shot in color it appeared in the final home movie reel only in Black and White- this is a short piece of a longer reel.

The second thing here is a piece of a 1953 Colgate Comedy Hour (Kinescope) that featured a skit shot in England while the two were on tour; Next, a few Bloopers from the feature film Little Giant. The last clip is a small piece from a Christmas Seals theatrical promo film with Charles Laughton.

As the first non-cartoon release, I’m happy say that this set is the sort of thing I personally love – rare film for the real diehard collectors. Thunderbean continues to be a small company, but I have to thank all of you – the die-hard collectors – for helping make all of these happen. I know I say that a lot….

I Love Vintage Original Titles

On my recent LA trip, I found several original sequences from cartoons that I’ve never seen before. Very nice original prints that I’m very excited to share when they’re transferred, but for now, here is a little hint – I found the complete title sequence from this cartoon – this is only one of the cards:


To me, there’s nothing better than seeing a film how it was made originally, with the original titles at the beginning and end. A little earlier today Jerry and I were talking about “Holy Grail” original titles – as well as seeing complete films as originally intended. I thought this would be a good day to put a few of my favorites up here.

The original titles to Popeye Meets Ali Baba may very well be my favorite of the (so far) long unseen titles:

I especially love that NRA title on the front of “I Eats Me Spinach’, restored on the Official Popeye DVD:

For many years, I hoped Disney would restore the RKO titles to their features. They have now, though I have to say I’d prefer the actual film running rather than the sequence being recreated from stills, but that’s the restoration look now I guess:

Someone out a lot of the RKO title sequences together, in good overall quality. A fun watch. Love the Melody Time and So Dear to My Heart ones the best:

So, there’s a few of mine What are some of yours? Have a good week everyone…


  • It would have been nice if they could have found the correct opening music for “Ali Baba” instead of having to go with snippets from other parts of the cartoon, but having the full stereoptical cave opening to the titles certainly is better than how it was presented on TV for years with the aap opening.

    (And on a similar theme, the remaining Warner’s Blue Ribbon titles that haven’t been restored remain the Holy Grail of opening titles, because unlike the refiled Disney or MGM efforts, Warners also clipped off Carl Stalling’s opening music on the cartoons they re-released from 1936 to ’48. So it’s both the titles and the music the accompanies them that are missing here.)

  • It;’s great to see these — thanks for sharing them, Steve! I’m also a fan of title cards, especially those created by that great, mysterious, all-but-totally-unknown Fleischer/Famous artist Arthur Greenbaum, whose work is depicted here.

    As for the RKO/Disney cards: I’ve long wondered why Disney, especially in its feature-length cartoons, didn’t employ the traditional RKO spinning globe and radio tower at the beginning of each film. Can anyone give a reason for this?

    • The RKO logo preceded films that were produced by RKO. In the case of Disney, my understanding is that RKO was the distributor, but the films were being released as Disney films, not as RKO films. I do know that Walt Disney wanted his audiences to know when they were watching a Disney production, and his name had to be prominently featured in the credits.

      (Sometimes studios would impose their own logo over an acquired property. For example, many prints of the RKO film “Roberta” open with the MGM lion roaring–because MGM at some point acquired the rights so that they could remake it in the 50’s as “Lovely to Look At”.)

      Later, when the Disney organization developed its own distribution company, the “Buena Vista” logo preceded the Disney films.

      But none of Disney’s films was ever actually an RKO production, so the RKO logo was not employed.

    • RKO used this approach when they distributed foreign films, too. When I first saw RASHOMON in the early 1980s, it was a 16 MM print that began with the static RKO logo over the opening shot in the rain. No globe.

    • A great example of plastering over acquired property is MGM putting their logos on United Artists films (sans UA logo). Also, WB had the tendency to plaster their recent logos over the original Seven Arts, Kinney National, and Saul Bass logos. Ironically, some recent films such as Magic Mike and The Nice Guys decided to instead use the Saul Bass logo to really add to the nostalgia.

  • Great post, as always, Steve. All I can add is that finding the closest thing to a film print of a cartoon struck at the time the cartoon was first run in theaters is truly a Holy Grail, not only for its original opening credits but because there are so many instances where you’d find that little sections of the cartoon were cut for whatever reason. “HARE-RIBBIN'”, a BUGS BUNNY cartoon, is a perfect example. Not only are we amazed and absolutely surprised by the alternate ending, we note at least three other additions to gags in the cartoon. I keep longing for the day that we find more and more of these…and by “we”, I only wish I meant me as well, but I know that you and Jerry and others are doing the archeological dig; now, if the studios would only cooperate…

  • Well, one reason why the Disney studio failed to embrace the traditional RKO globe/radio tower opening is that, to my knowledge, RKO never created a true Technicolor version of the opening. RKO’s own color productions would feature a grainy, slightly tinted version of the famous opening. Even Frank Tashlin’s gorgeously eye-popping Technicolor 1954 SUSAN SLEPT HERE has a grimy, oddly pink and blue tinted radio tower opening; the studio’s subsequent SuperScope and CinemaScope films often featured the old opening severely cropped and tinted a slightly bilious green. Disney may have simply preferred to adapt RKO’s well-known two-dimensional logo in creative ways that made clear from the first moment of a given film, “This is Technicolor!”

    • I recall one RKO picture, possibly “Sinbad the Sailor” with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Maureen O’Hara, where they ‘broke down’ the RKO transmitter logo into a number of different color mattes, and the results were very impressive. Don’t know if they used it on any other pictures, or why they didn’t.

  • Steve:
    I definitely agree with you on original titles! It gives the impression of actually experiencing what the average movie goer saw when that particular short or feature came out.I feel more satisfied when I see what the original titles on any cartoon or feature looks like! Thank you so very much for doing a yeoman’s job of restoration! It’s very enjoyable!

  • What I want to see are the original title cards of the Warner Bros Looney Toons/Merry Melodies cartoons that has become the “Blue Ribbon” releases.

    Some of my favorite title cards are
    The Donald Duck WWII ones including Commando Duck
    A rare 1915 National Board of Censors title card for the cartoon When Knights Were Bold
    The entire Meme (Mimi) y El Sr. Bobo title series
    Several of the Dexter’s Labratory titles from series one including Dexter Dodgeball,Snowdown,That Crazy Robot,dream machine,Golden Diskette,Mock 5,Mom and Jerry,Chubby Cheese,Quackor the Fowl, Sister’s Got A Brand New Bag,Filet of Soul and from series three, The Scrying Game,Eye Sore,Dexter’s Wacky Races, Plush Animal House, School Girl Crushed,
    And the “lost” Dexter’s Labratory episode Rude Removal.

    Surprisingly I didn’t care about the title cards from the second series run of Dexter’s Labratory due to its “generic feel” unlike the series one title cards of Dexter’s Laabratory luckily they ditched the generic title cards and brought back the title cards for series three of Dexter’s Labratory.

    • I’d have to say “Mom and Jerry” and “Rude Removal” are some of the most memorable from the series. And speaking of Cartoon Network, how about those abstract Ed, Edd N Eddy title cards?

  • I’m a huge fan of title cards, and I’m always happy when title cards are rediscovered. I think my favorite title cards are the black and white Mickey Mouse title cards David Gerstein unearthed a few years ago on his blog. They were employed from 1933-1935, but Disney never used them for their Treasures series for whatever reason. Maybe it’s just due to the rarity, but I found them appealing.

  • In terms of my favorite title treatments I’m a big fan of the art-deco syled titles that were designed for the live action films made by the Hal Roach Studios, Educational Pictures, and the Jam Handy Organization. For animation the list is much larger:
    -The parchment styled Color Classics Titles
    -The other titles designed by Fletcher studios
    -The Van Beuren Rainbow Parade titles (Have mix feelings on Van Beuren’s other titles, however the Rainbow over the pond (and now Rainbow in the sky) was always a gorgeous treatment! Can’t wait to see which cartoon it is you found at LA!

    -Warner Brothers Cartoon titles
    -Walter Lantz Cartune Titles
    -Opening titles to Jam Handy’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

    By the way Steve, just out of curiosity what are your least favorite title treatments?

  • Thanks Steve!

    I’ve obsessed over title footage for decades.

    Guess I’m not the only one.

  • I also wish the full title sequences to the non-Popeye Fleischer cartoons could be restored. Many of the color ones still have their original titles and logos, but the black-and-white ones do not. t I’ve stumbled across a few rare Betty Boop prints (in the rare 9.5mm format) on YouTube that have the Paramount logo dissolving into the proscenium arch with mountain, and there are a scant few Screen Songs with the animated bubbles intact. Many of the cartoons that feature performers have the performer in live action at the very end of the film, with a small, white Paramount logo appearing in one corner, or superimposed over the performer. (“Aint She Sweet”, featuring Lillian Roth, still has this sequence intact, and there’s a 9.5mm one of Cab Calloway at the end of “Old Man Of The Mountain”, but the Louis Armstrong picture portion appears to be lost for “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You!”)

  • Perhaps we might see those beautiful original Fleischer titles on this page really soon? It’s a tragedy to see what NTA did to those title sequences. And speaking of lost material, might we also see gags cut out from WB and MGM cartoons? Steve’s nitrate compilation featuring the lost Clark Gable ending from “Hollywood Steps Out” is such a huge step in finding precious material.

  • Steve I for sure jump for joy when I see a cartoon with the original title cards and music…Disney, Warners, Paramount, Terrytoons, RKO and Columbia. What I read though that most all of the MGM cartoon original film elements were destroyed in the vault fire of 1967. In other words keep on being the great film detective that you are. BTW looking forward to the Flip the Frog set. Thanks

  • I can only guess what that Van Beuren title card belongs to, but I may be off……

  • All original Betty Boop titles had some amazing projection work. I wish I could see the full titles to Crazy Town but I guess that relies only in the nitrate clutches of wealthy, random and reluctant collectors.

    • So, I think that would be the best title for a set of some of the stuff I’ve been trying to pry out of the hands of various collectors that don’t share for the most part. We could have a closeup of each to start each menu, then they could fade as a shadow before their film showed, with a written description of what was required to get that particular film.

      ” Wealthy, random reluctant collectors, Volume 1:”

  • My favorite original titles:
    -Audio Cinema Terrytoons titles
    -numerous Warners cartoons
    -the Toddle Tale title cards
    -the Fleischer stuff (especially the parchment, the Popeye two-reelers and the Miami-era stuff)

  • My hope is that they can find & restore the title cards and bridging material from The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Show someday. If for no other reason than to relive those moments with Bugs singing ‘Re Whiz Willigans Golly Gee’, battling with Penelope and Penbrook, and that wonderfully flight music in the title cards, and….well so much more! It’s got to be around somewhere. And I’d bet money I don’t have that a lot of collectors would love to see those old shows given their own collection.

  • If there’s one thing that makes my soul soar it’s talking about rediscovered title sequences!

    I think it is worth noting for the Disney features that while they have indeed restored the cards that feature the RKO lightning bolt logo (which were subsequently covered up by the Buena Vista name), for several of those features (up through Fun & Fancy Free I’m surmising) there would have been a second reference on the title slate with the film’s copyright date that stated “Distributed by R.K.O. Radio Pictures, Inc.” Note how eventually the distribution notice and logo were eventually put on the same slate. Indeed, this reference is still present on the contemporary shorts that were never reissued.

    I suppose it’s a nitpick when Disney has gone to the trouble of removing the Buena Vista cards, but to truly restore the films to their original configuration, those second distribution notices would have to be restored as well. I believe they did do it for Dumbo.

    For my part, I’m still waiting for Disney to release Bambi with its original RKO logo again.

  • Nothing blows my mind more than all these long lost original MGM titles. It’s like discovering the shorts again. The Midnight Snack may not have any new artwork but it’s still my favorite of the lot. One big shoutout to David Gerstein and Thad Komorowski for this.
    And what to say of the faux multiplane titles such as Milk and Money and Wabbit Twouble or the Art Deco titles from Pooch the Pup and early Fleischer shorts, or moderne titles from UPA and the Scope Terrytoons?
    Or the two Fleischer features?

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