September 3, 2015 posted by

Pooch the Pup in “The Lumber Champ” (1933)

First, for those folks in Los Angeles, Cinecon will be showing a Thunderbean animation program at the Egyptian Theatre, Saturday morning at 10am. The show includes films we’ve been working on recently as well as rare 35mm IB technicolor prints (Jerry mentioned some of them yesterday).

Things are continuing to be busy here on the Thunderbean front. Willie Whopper is officially being replicated now, and Snafu will be following very soon… perhaps even later this week if all goes well. As those projects wind down, my vision widens looking at all the other started stuff that has been a little bit ‘on hold’ as the other get finished. This stack includes revisiting a big project that we started a while back that has been on hold for a little while – and is hopefully going to see the light of day sooner than later. We’re working on a presentation involving that material, so I’ve been looking at both the films we’ve already cleaned up and the ones that still need clean up. There’s also a box of borrowed stop motion shorts here, many in IB Technicolor – I’ve very much looking forward to finding the time to start looking through these. One of the non-Stop-Motion reels in the box is a reel of mostly IB-Techicolor Nitrate cartoon clips-most of these clips date from 1936 through 38… I can’t wait to transfer this reel!

Now, onto the cartoon:


This week’s film is The Lumber Champ starring Pooch the Pup!

When I first saw the filmography of the Lantz cartoons (in the first edition of Of Mice and Magic), I wondered why I had never seen a single image of Pooch before; as a character, he’s easily as forgotten as Beans the Cat, Cubby Bear and Wiffle Piffle. It’s understandable, I suppose. Poor Pooch doesn’t have anything especially memorable about his personality or stories to make the cartoons terribly memorable, Pooch is basically a furry version of Lantz’s Oswald – it would be easy to think of him being in place of Pooch in this cartoon.

lumber-champ230That isn’t to say the films don’t have their merits. The music in this short is especially fun, and this film is as full of odd visual gags as any early 30s cartoon; maybe the continually surprising thing about them is the timing of the scenes and gags. I always feel like this period at the studio feel like the looseness of the earlier films evolving into what would be a much slower, personality and character focuses approach. The mid-30s Lantz shorts are beautifully animated, but I really miss the zaniness of these earlier films.

This particular film has a really great series of bizarre and outlandish gags. My favorites are the tree getting ‘stabbed’, the Squirrels jumping out of the falling tree’s mouth, Pooch reaching into a gun pointing right at him and removing the bullets, and the great ending gag (I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t seen this one). One collector friend told me he thought this is one of the greatest and funniest Lantz cartoons, and has the best gags. I’ll let you folks be the judge.

This is an HD transfer from an old 16mm rental print of the short. It’s a little beat up, but still very enjoyable. Make sure to watch in HD if it lets you on your internet connection!


  • By giving Pooch and most of the other characters only three fingers, Lantz was able to save a fortune in finger paint.

  • It has always appeared to me that Lantz put more effort into the Pooch series than into the Oswalds of the same vintage. The Pooch cartoons run longer, have better story construction, better gags (especially this one.. the beaver/paddlewheel gag is like something Buster Keaton wold have devised if he were writing for cartoons), consistent vocal work, and the songs are always top tier. “Cute Little Things you Do” is actually from a 1931 Fox picture, “Young As You Feel”, starring Will Rogers, so I guess it’s possible that Lantz was going out of his way to secure the songs on his own without resorting to the use of the Universal catalog. Pooch’s dog-like whimpers and yelps also suggest the studio was putting some real thought into differentiating him from other early 30s cartoon stars.. Oswald, at least.

    • The music in these shorts is always fascinating. Novelty songs, stock tunes (what is that tune that plays under the lumberjack gags and later leading up to the climax with the train? I’ve heard it before in live action shorts), and a passage of “Blue Danube” that comes out of nowhere.

    • To DAVID: The song is called “Nola,” it was written by Felix Arndt, and was the theme song of then-popular bandleader Vincent Lopez. Here’s a link to a record of Lopez’ performance.

      Whether by James Dietrich in the 30’s, Darrell Calker in the 40’s, or Clarence Wheeler in the 50’s, Walter Lantz cartoons for years had dependably fine music scores.

  • The more I listen to these 1930 Lantz cartoons, the more I like ’em. I’ve liked the OSWALD cartoons that have shown up on the WOOD WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS collections put together by Jerry Beck and Universal Home Video, and you nailed it when you mentioned the music. Great stuff, as always!

  • “That isn’t to say the films don’t have their merits.”

    That’s entirely true! Even if the character failed to have a good descriptive personality to pull the viewer in, the bizarre/innovated gags always make up for it.

  • Hi Steve,

    Have you already shipped the Thunderbean Thursday DVDs?

    Best regards

    • The special set is in progress, and should be ready in a few more weeks- I’ll keep everyone posted here!

  • Hey Steve,

    when will you ship the Thunderbean Thursday pre-orders

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