January 20, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Nitrate Technicolor Cartoons are Beautiful: Little Lulu in “Loose in the Caboose”

The Week in Thunderbean:

With the college starting up with classes and committees, I’ve found myself sneaking time before and after classes to get this and that done on various projects, burning a lot of midnight oil on these chilly nights here. I’ve been trying hard to get five of the special discs out the door at the same time *this week* and finally they are nearly ready- and, once they’re out to everyone, onto the rest!

The Flip The Frog Blu-ray took a major ‘leap’ forward again yesterday as little pieces to fix a few issues on two of the films were scanned yesterday. I’ll know this week about a few additional elements that could improve some small things. Almost ready to master. Several other Thunderbean projects are rounding the corner too and I’ve been helping on three projects with colleagues that are also both wrapping up.

As I was finishing up one of the special sets yesterday, I thought it would be nice to share one of the prints that was scanned for it here. Through several other collectors and one seller, we were able to get four 35mm nitrate Technicolor prints of Famous Studio Little Lulu cartoons. Although they’re a little worn, they scanned great and are wonderful additions to the Little Lulu special set that was finished this week. Here’s a link to the set at the Thunderbean shop, available for a limited time:


And, onto our cartoon!

Sometimes I’ve amazed at how many cartoons from the golden age I hadn’t seen. This week’s cartoon is one I don’t remember seeing, but then discovered I had a print of it (in Black and White) 30-some years ago – so I must had seen it back then!

Famous Studios’ work really shines in 35mm prints, and this last decade has seen the 40s Famous Studio-produced Popeye all become available on Blu-ray, showing off their wonderful production qualities. Sadly, as with many of the Noveltoons, NTA’s ownership of the Little Lulu cartoons left us with most of the films being seen in not-so-great 16mm prints. Earlier UM&M prints of the some of the titles have circulated in Kodachrome prints, and at least those show off some of the really nice production qualities of the shorts. Sadly, the dull reddish and pinkish NTA prints were the main versions seen by several generations of kids (and most of us too!) on VHS tapes and dollar DVDs. There are some copies that are a little better here and there, but you’d get the impression from watching them that they had a limited palette of color.

Loose In The Caboose (1947) is one that generally isn’t seen as much – although its typical of the Lulus from the period with our hero up to her usual mischief. The slick production design and color scheme and seeings is a nice representation of what it must have felt like to travel across country is those days. The beautifully painted backgrounds look wonderful in Technicolor, and the timing, gags with a jazzy score keep the cartoon moving right along. On the downside, several unfortunate Stereotypes abound in this entry, with both a Steppin’ Fetchit porter at the train station and, later, even Lulu in blackface for a brief moment.

The print on this one was missing part of the theme song in the title, so I’ve put the theme song from one of the other shorts at the front. Because of that, the credits are not right on this particular presentation.

As I was watching this cartoon tonight, Mary pointed out that Little Lulu has shown up on The Simpsons from time to time, with one of them even making a reference to the Famous Studio’s series. Here’s a few examples.

And, here is Loose in the Caboose. Make sure to watch in HD. Have a good week everyone!


  • Article trouble! UM&M prints of this cartoon give its title as “Loose in A Caboose”, as do online sources and every Famous Studios filmography I’ve ever seen. However, the title card in this 35mm nitrate print clearly gives the title as “Loose in THE Caboose”. Obviously the definite article is the correct one, and the title was incorrectly transcribed for the TV prints. The discrepancy isn’t likely to confuse anybody, but reference materials should really be as accurate as possible.

    There are a couple of references to old radio ads in this cartoon: the locomotive intoning “Bromo-Seltzer”, and the Indian advising against refrigerating bananas. Animated Chiquita banana ads made by the John Sutherland studio were shown in cinemas at the same time as “Loose in the Caboose”.

    • Yes! It’s clearly not been seen with the original title in many, many years. The UM&M print has been the only one around. I have to wonder if they just made the mistake in the name or if ‘Loose in the Caboose’ was considered derogatory in some way by that time… it’s possible but speculative. The Lulu set is unrestored- just scans of some of these cartoons with some from 35mm Technicolor prints. Let’s hope at *some* point all become available….

    • Thanks for pointing that out, Paul. I’m happy to say the Famous Studios filmography in Of Mice and Magic always had the title correct.


      Believe me, this isn’t the only changed title (or typo) by the title-makers at U.M.& M.

      • They might have changed it to “A” to fit the size of their lettering. However, alternatively, they could have used the diagonal typography that they used in their reissue of EGGS DON’T BOUNCE, which would have fit the frame perfectly.

        • I doubt that aesthetic considerations were the problem. More likely that they were banging out these refilmed title cards as fast as they could and no one noticed, or cared, that they got this one wrong.

      • You’re right Jerry. The UM&M print of the second Casper cartoon, There’s Good Boos Tonight has the title correct, but then says featuring Casper’s Friendly Ghost, instead of Casper The Friendly Ghost.

  • Tech problems with that LULU order link. Will not let me complete purchase!

  • Steve,
    Your Right about this cartoon being a rarity, it’s about the only Little Lulu cartoon I never heard of.
    Nice looking copy, but why is the closing Paramount logo cut off?
    Anyhow, can’t wait to get this disk.

  • Steve mate, Ever considered selling the Little Lulu DVD via Amazon?
    I’m sure people will definitely jump at the chance to own the definitive versions of the Famous Studios Little Lulu cartoons if it being sold on a more public scale

    • Hey James,

      The problem really is that I can’t get enough good prints of the ones that are in the Public Domain. If I could get *all* of those or almost all of the PD ones in 35mm Technicolor it would be a great collection…

  • I guess it depends on which public domain cartoon collections you had, because I’m very familiar with this one.

    The Little Lulu cartoons ran locally on television in the 1970s, and I remember the “wild as any zulu” line being edited out of the station’s air prints, along with any and all blackface gags, like the ones in “Caboose.”

    I don’t remember the prints of the 1940s Famous cartoons that I saw on television back then looking as bad as those prints generally do now. Not as brilliant as this Technicolor print, but certainly not reddish-purple. Maybe whatever color process NTA used to manufacture their prints wasn’t very stable.

    I also remember the Famous cartoons I saw on TV back then having a mix of titles. Some original Paramount titles, some refilmed NTA titles, some mostly original but with the NTA logo replacing the Paramount logo.

  • I have seen very few LITTLE LULU cartoons ever – and this was a nice surprise – despite the black stereotyped character and the “blackface” gag. I’ve never seen a cartoon that gives credit to “Woody Gellman.” Didn’t he create and draw those infamous BAZOOKA JOE cartoons those of us “Baby Boomers” probably remember that came with the hunk of either stale or fresh Bazooka gum? Isn’t he also the guy who did the NOSTALGIA REPRINT books, etc. in the ’70s?

    • The same! Woody Gelman was an inbetweener, assistant animator and story man at Famous through 1947. He subsequently worked in comics and trading cards and never returned to animation. Ah, Bazooka Joe bubble gum, the last thing in America you could buy for a penny! But it only came in the one flavour: stale!

  • Steve: Is this a new special Lulu BD-R or the same “Famous Studio’s ‘Little Lulu’ cartoons” special set I ordered in March 2020? Thanks.

  • Shades of “Foofle’s Train Ride!”

    Imagine seeing this on a giant screen back in 1947..!

  • It seems this site blocks peoples IPs when they say something they don’t like? I can’t even remember the last time I commented either. Can’t open any of the posts but I can on the vpn……… there some reason I was blocked? THANKS!

  • Great upload!

  • Steve, FYI here is a link to a Lulu that has the Paramount beginning and end logos. Don’t know if you can adapt it to scanning but anyway here it is at least for reference. Again thanks for your tireless work on cartoon/film preservation.

    • Nice!

  • Why is buying from your outfit always a pain in the you know what? I can’t remember my Thunderbean password, and I don’t remember if I ever had one. I just wanted to buy the product, everything was set with PayPal and then it kept saying someone was already logged in with my email. Who cares? Just let me buy the darn Little Lulu special disc. I always have trouble just making a straight buy. I usually give up and never buy the product, even though I want to.

    • Alas, Robert Barker is right, Steve. The link neither recognizes my password nor allows me to change the password, thus I can not order. Frustrating but I don’t remember having this difficulty in the past.

    • Dave Grauman is going to take the whole site down and start over. We have no idea why these glitches are happening but we’ll get them fixed.

  • Prime example of the meanness in Famous Studios shorts.

    At the end… the conductor throwing a child off a fast moving train? Just… wow.

  • The conductor must be a relative of Bluto – they seem to have similar voices!

    • I’m thinking it is Jackson Beck as the conductor

      • I think it would be safe to say that you are absolutely correct!

  • Which of the cartoons are from the technicolor prints. I just wanted to ask because I wanted to know which shorts had original titles.

  • I’m trying to determine how much of the opening credits are tacked on as I’m hoping to sort out who wrote this cartoon. Was it Woody Gelman and Larry Riley as per this video or Bill Turner and Larry Riley per online sources?

    • IMDB is now (likely erroneously) crediting this cartoon to Gelman and Riley, which is a recent development.

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