THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
September 10, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

On Various Projects and “Crop Chasers” (1939)

It’s been a week of classes, classes, film transfers, freelance animation, dealing with sensitive freelancers and doing various things to move Thunderbean forward. We’re in the middle of launching a Thunderbean shop, and orders are all but out of my hands and in the much more capable hands of my shipping folks. In the new shop, we’ll be keeping much better track of all orders, in and out, and you’ll find a list of all the ‘in progress’ Thunderbean titles as well. It’s here on the new site:

https://www.thunderbeanshop.com/thunderbean-status/

We’re dubbing and shipping seven titles together this month for those that pre-ordered, including ‘Toon Club’ ‘All Censored’ and ‘Steve’s Closet. To help get these out the door faster, We’re offering a new special disc, “Cartoon Animals”. Details and shop link are available here.

The Rainbow Parade V1 set is nearly done mastering, waiting now for a redo of some animation for the title menu- then out the door to replication.

We’re able to scan 16mm near here on the Lasergraphics scanner, but 35mm currently isn’t available. Both other scanning places remain closed/ unable to do scans- so I’m left with a series of possibilities. I’m debating taking a trip to DC this week to get Jailbirds, the last Nitrate for the Flip The Frog set here in Michigan, scanned. This would leave 3 more Flips to get scanned; one in LA, two elsewhere, as well as various small pieces at archives. I hope to commence on the bonus materials for Flip by the end of this month after the other titles are out the door.


And.. onto this week’s cartoon!

I’ve always had a fondness for the Columbia Color Rhapsodies that were produced at the Iwerks Studio; they are a somewhat odd lot of films- but well produced and animated. The best of them (Merry Mannequins, Horse on the Merry Go Round) are among my favorite late 30s cartoons as well as some of the best of the whole series. There’s 15 of them- 16 if you count The Carpenters. This last films seems to have been made by Cartoon Films Ltd, the renamed Iwerks Studio, for independent release, but Columbia picked it up.

There are a few not-so-great ones as well, but I really like them too, honestly — and the not as good ones of the batch are, honestly, better than the worst of the output from Columbia’s own studio — including this one, Crop Chasers.

Crop Chasers is a bit of a cheater in some ways, reusing a good amount of footage, backwards, as the crows “Put back all the stuff”. It also reuses a bit of Mel Blanc’s ghost screaming from Midnight Frolics (1938). Despite not being a top cartoon, I really enjoy the losing the head gag in this film, even though it isn’t so original to cartoons or the Iwerks studio (a similar gag appears in Little Boy Blue (1936)).

This print was on a reel of four beat up prints of the Columbia Color Rhapsodies I bought from an ad in ‘The Big Reel’ back in the early 80s. They were probably among the first Rhapsodies I ever saw. Even though the prints were all super beat up, I really enjoyed them, and remember taking the reel to my high school and running them in the lunch room. Since then, I’ve re-added some footage from an equally beat up print, making it at least a little less splicy. I’ve been told by other collectors that the reason so many Columbia Rhapsody prints are so beat up is that they were frequently on the heads of Columbia Feature film rental prints, leaving the cartoon to take the brunt of abuse when projected. I have no idea how true or untrue that is, but from the condition of many of the Technicolor prints I’ve seen of them, it’s completely possible. I look forward to a day when the Columbia Rhapsodies are all available on Blu-ray ray, with original titles. Here’s hoping!

Have a good week all!

8 Comments

  • Did Iwerks’ animation crew include the animators who worked on the 1937 WB cartoons he was involved in? Or did he work with some of the Screen Gems staff? I’ve always been confused with the Iwerks timeline after the ComiColor era

  • The cigar chomping crow leader is spoken by Dave Weber, and Mel Blanc is the henchman type crow who says, You said it., plus he did the scarecrows and the farmer.
    Blanc and Weber were a duo heard on quite a few Lantz and Columbias in this 1938-39 era.

  • It was a shame how Columbia treated their cartoons, both prints and negatives through the Screen Gems years. Some of the Technicolors now exist only as black and white, some are missing footage, some seem to have vanished and almost all have re-released titles. Black and white toons had about the same fate. I’m with you Steve, let’s hope someday they can be restored.

  • As Steve does, I like this series a great deal, even the lesser entries. Sounds like Mel Blanc did several characters on CROP CHASERS. Were Danny Webb and Dave Barry voice artists on Ub’s Columbia series?

    From such ComiColors as BALLOON LAND up through the first few Columbias, up to THE FROG POND, the Iwerks Studio produced some wonderful, wonderfully odd and sometimes downright psychedelic-looking cartoons.

  • Of the cartoons made by Iwerks at Columbia, a favorite of mine is “Skeleton Frolic,” a color remake of the first Silly Symphony “The Skeleton Dance,” which Iwerks made at Disney. Of course it has a “losing its head” gag in it.

    I wish more of the Color Rhapsodies were available with their original opening titles.

  • So…………what’s on the Cartoon Animals special disc? There’s no description of any kind.

    • Yeah. We need at least a hint!

  • HI Steve,

    I looked at the project status list. When will the completed discs ship?

    H. Schmidt

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