June 1, 2017 posted by

Oswald Rabbit in “The Keeper of the Lions” (1937)

Thunderbean Update: First, thanks for everyone’s patience on *all* the stuff coming up from Thunderbean that has been ordered. I’ve been truly enjoying working on these sets, and am happy that the bottleneck of dubbing and sending is almost over for at least the first batches of things. It’s still quite busy, but knowing that the pile is getting smaller is gratifying.

It was nice to attend Cinevent in Columbus, Ohio- I was only there a day, but I enjoyed seeing many of you that read these posts. Thanks to all for saying hi!

The coolest thing I got was from my friend Stewart McKissick. ‘Constrained Caricatures’. It’s full of beautiful, fun illustrations. It’s a great little mini-coffee table book that is fun to pick up over and over- it’s available on Amazon.

After a few years, I’ve finally finished fixing up my mother’s old house- it’s going to be rented to one of my colleagues. It’s been an incredible process in some ways, and as it was happening I’ve been working on a personal animated/live action film, ‘Where I found Her’. I’ve been enjoying getting back to animating a little more in recent days, and haven’t shown anyone *any* of the work on this film as of yet.

After last week’s post I got a lot of emails asking to do a Little King Blu-ray. I decided to do something small, really only available for a week, but I’ll extend it a few days in case anyone here would like the offer. You can find it on the IAD forum here.

It’s interesting to me that the late 30s Lantz cartoons are so hard to see. When I first started collecting 16mm in the early 80s, it seemed like there was no one else my age collecting- it was all older collectors, and some of them would get the Big Reel sent express mail, beating me EVERY time to certain cartoons. One of these collectors was Collin Kellogg, who became a friend after many late night conversations about what cartoons are good and what isn’t. When I would tell him as a teenager what cartoons I just bought, he’d go done the list of why each of them was either ‘common’ or ‘lame’. heck, they were new viewing to me and exciting- and I especially loved the 30s cartoons, so finding a ‘common’ Castle print of a Lantz cartoon in my teenage price range was still a wonderful discovery. What films were exciting to you when you first saw them?

Keeper of the Lions is one of the more ‘common’ prints that collectors used to to come across..and like many others it must have been a staple of rental libraries big and small. There were Castle16mm prints of a particular group of Lantz Oswald cartoons from 1936 and 37 that they cold for many years- and so, these became the most common ones to see from the series.

I must have owned five or six prints of this one over the years.

Keeper of the Lions is still a little hard to see. I’ve always liked this cartoon, from the opening (where somehow Oswald’s lip-sync didn’t manage to get on the exposure sheets- or for some other reason wasn’t animated) to the team relationship between Oswald and the ‘The Dumb Cluck’. Stop Motion animator and designer Charlie Bowers had joined the Lantz staff, contributing this particular character. Although ‘Dumb Cluck’ didn’t take off, it does appear that this character is an inspiration of sorts for Woody Woodpecker in design.You’ll also never find another cartoon that has a sign that says ‘Beware Patagonian Wild Crabs’ in it. Although there’s a few splices at this point on this print, my favorite shot is near the end of the picture where the lions are ‘boxed’.

Although the animation quality varies throughout the film, I think it’s a lot of fun and overall pretty nicely animated. It’s a real action picture, What did you folks think of this one?

Have a good week everybody!


  • That box suddenly and powerfully took me back. I remember seeing it as a kid in a photography shop that had a rack of 8mm films. In those pre-Internet days I slowly became aware of Disney’s Oswald, but never knew that Lantz eventually redesigned him to that extent. I just figured it was one more inaccurate film box, and it IS still pretty far from the Oswald onscreen. (To be fair, it was the AAP and Ken Films boxes that were most disconnected from the actual films.)

    I’m guessing the title cards are the theatrical release. Did the silent versions have the full-screen inter titles, or subtitles?

    • The title cards you see here are custom ones made at Castle Films themselves.

      The original theatrical negatives were left unharmed by this process, but a restoration of said negative for the public? Maybe when pigs will fly…

    • *intertitles

  • As a child, my dad had a hand cranked 16mm projector that used an ordinary house bulb for illumination. In the early 1950s I, a 4-year-old kid, would beg my dad to run any one of the four or five prints that survived. My favorite was a cartoon that had a shot in it featuring a high angle show looking down onto a street as a piano was being lifted up by a rope and two rabbits were using it as a seesaw. It’s an image that has stayed with me and one that wouldn’t surprise me to be the last thing I think of on my death bed. In later years, I’ve always assumed it was an Oswald cartoon. Anyone have an idea as to its possible title?

    Needless to say I love this site and Thunderbean’s efforts at sharing.

    • Well, I don’t know — and have never seen — that cartoon, but the image you describe is going to stay in my head for a long time! Will someone kindly identify it?

    • The cartoon is actually Columbia’s Krazy Kat in PIANO MOVER (1932). It’s been uploaded here:

      The (amazing!) scene you remember is at 5:15. The characters might have registered as rabbits because they’re not very catlike cats…

    • Thanks, DAVID GERSTEIN. It was great to see it again sixty years later…

  • Ah, Castle Films. Seeing an an ad/sign “Cartoons for Sale!” and finding a stack of B/W of color Lantz and Terrytoons is the equivalent of “Comics for Sale” and finding a few crates of ’70s Whitman and Archies. Sometimes you’re glad your mother threw stuff out.

    • Yeah, it’s annoying when clueless eBay sellers will offer well-used Castle films and label them “RARE” – when to the collector, they’re common as dirt (e.g., excerpts from W.C. Fields or Abbott & Costello films). Equally nettlesome are the sellers who cut up individual frames from movies and call them “cels.”

  • I can relate to this a little bit. Recently, I’ve started getting into 16mm collecting myself, and like you, I’m lucky to stumble upon whatever I can get. I did manage to find some decent prints of Cubby Bear’s “The Gay Gaucho” and my favorite Willie Whopper cartoon “The Cave Man.” I’m new to this, and hoping I can amass a modest, varied collection of some 16mm gems.

    I hope we will someday get to see “Where I Found Her”…

  • I’ve never seen this cartoon. I had an old 16mm Kodascope silent projector in my childhood and had many Castle Films from a camera shop. I always wanted to see an Oswald cartoon, but never saw one during that era. Thanks to the internet and the Woody Woodpecker DVD’s I’ve at least seen a few. I’d like to see more from this period, but they seem to be the hardest to come across. Like you, I especially enjoy 1930’s cartoons. I like this one, even though the sound track seems odd sometimes compared to the visuals. I’d like to see a collection of these.

    • It’s a shame that most articles on Oswald the Rabbit list the 1970-1990’s period as a lean one. There are the comic books, they say, although no one has much detailed info on the comic books published outside the U.S. Well, they weren’t really lean years as, of course, Oswald was still in the public’s eye by way of 16mm and 8mm films! Happy to have found this web page!

  • The Castle Film’s version of Oswald on their 16mm reel film cover, looks a little too creepy – unlike the actual Walt Disney and Walter Lantz versions.

  • I think this was the sole cartoon we had in 8mm as a kid. Remember running it forward and backwards! Lots of fun.

  • The 8MM OSWALD cartoon I remember owning as a silent version back when I was a kid was one in which Oswald was being hunted by a droopy-eared dog; not incredibly memorable as it contained oft used gags, like Oswald finally being captured by the dog and pulling out the little photograph of his mother and the family, bringing tears to the dog’s eyes. It was almost the same gag used in an MGM cartoon starring BARNEY BEAR in which old Bruin was out to trap a little snow bunny. That cartoon was animated by Preston Blair and was definitely more memorable than the OSWALD cartoon, but I walways wanted to hunt down the Lantz cartoon just to hear the soundtrack now. I was not aware, Steve, that you were working on your own animated cartoon. Is this a short or a feature film? If a short, it sounds as if you’re paying homage to the KOKO THE CLOWN Fleischer cartoons. At any rate, I can’t wait to receive some of those disks I ordered as well as the sets that were part of the pre-orders. I know that, whenever I receive ’em, they all will be worth the wait!

  • The design of the “Dumb Cluck” closely resembles the stop-motion “Metal Eating Bird” that Charlie Bowers animated in his 1930 short “It’s A Bird”.

  • You think you can do Silly Seals (1938) for next Thursday?

  • And before Castle Films had Oswald cartoons, Hollywood Film Enterprises had ’em; though to my knowledge only in silent toy-projector lengths.

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