With things wrapping on many projects here and pieces falling into place for others, I find some comfort in archiving things and organizing the files from the finished things. As the pieces neatly (or if I’m honest only semi-messy) are put in the archive, it’s easier to turn to look at all the possible projects that have *some* pieces but not all yet. In a dirtier corner, there are *other* possible projects or ideas; things that I’d really like to tackle at some point, if only some of the other things would show up or some of the other issues didn’t exist!
It isn’t for lack of looking. There have been many months full of iterations and concentrating on looking for this or that, often cut shorter because of budgets or the many other projects that were calling. If it could be managed, it would be great to concentrate on just a few things at a time and have help doing all the other stuff related to this tiny business. Perhaps there will be an ability to have less of a giant net approach, at least for long enough to reel in the things we want to get done this year.
If we’re able to do a somewhat complete job on a series, I’m pretty happy. Willie Whopper wasn’t going to happen unless I was able to get all of them, and it somehow worked out. Flip is the same, but I’m now at that point where I just need to be happy with how good the whole thing looks and not concentrate on the things that are not perfect.
There sure were a lot of cartoons made over the years! I’m not easily deterred, clearly— but these are possible projects where the towel is currently not thrown, but not in play. So, here is a list of things that would be wonderful to get more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to tackle, in no particular order. (I’m leaving out some on purpose):
1) The “Hook” cartoons and other shorts produced by the Navy:
Something that always amazed me is how complete the National Archives holdings are of the films produced for the Army by FMPU and their contracted studios. It’s a big list, repeated many places and well documented if you’re willing to look through a bunch of things.
But what about the Navy??!?!?!
The short story is that a good amount of what was produced for the Navy was never sent to the National Archives. So, where did they go?
At this point, I may have found out, but it’s a more complicated task to actually go through them. It would require many weeks and other considerations to do- including dealing with those that hold them that are less-than-excited to allow access, but at least will. More on this situation in the future, but the long story short is that this one is hard.
2) Lantz’s Coca Cola shorts.
Lantz produced quite a few commercials over the years, including a whole bunch of theatrical ‘Fairy Tales’ for Coca Cola in the late 40s into the 50s. We scanned some of them for a DVD set years back. In more recent times, more have shown up in excellent materials, but gathering *all* of them from various sources is another one of those big tasks. Someone really needs to do it, if not us at some point, but this is a brain and labor negotiation as much as anything.
3) Steve the Horse cartoons.
We did an article a little while back about the six ‘Steve the Horse’ Cartoons, here.
They’re wonderful little shorts, and I really would love to see a set with excellent copies of all of them on it at some point. Perhaps some day we can (or someone can) license these from Renown Pictures, and work to get the best 35mm that exists on these. I’m thinking this should probably be a Brit rather than a Yank like me doing it, but someone needs to, and perhaps round out the set with other 30s British magic. Several of our readers noted in comments that one of the uploaders, 9.5mm Film forever, has sadly passed from Covid. I was very kind of him to share Steve’s adventures, and I was quite sad to have heard the news.
4) Colonel Bleep
I’d really love for all of these to definitively show up, and do really good scans and clean up on them. They’re really fun- and deserve to be seen as complete and as good as possible. Maybe some day. Here’s one I really love, “The Invisible Gorilla”:
5) All the John Sutherland Harding College shorts together:
I think its safe to say that Sutherland did the most beautifully animated propaganda films of the late 40s into the 50s. There’s 35mm on many of the shorts, and almost any I’ve found over the years were in IB Technicolor. This isn’t as much of a missing piece project and more of a *lot* of pieces one, scattered all over. This is actually a doable project since I think we’d be able to track down prints of all of them. It’s rather a matter of time an where to put the resources. There are DVD sets of these- and I’ve even bought some, but they’re never to the quality I’d like to see.
6) Soviet-produced WW2 animated propaganda films:
A really good set of Russian propaganda materials would be every kind of amazing. Film by Jove came close. They had a set (with very odd subtitling) of Soviet propaganda shorts available in 2006, but since then the rights have been yanked back— and now in the hands of an oligarch. Here is a BBC news story about this.
And, if you’re really into reading something chunky, here’s the text/complaint lawsuit against Films by Jove. They won here in the states and lost in Russia, and eventually this resulted in them losing the rights, fair or not.
Ok. Your turn. What projects do you see as greatly deterred by one thing or another- and what would you prioritize?
Have a good week everyone!