September 6, 2018 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Pulling Your Heart Strings: Famous Studios “Suddenly it’s Spring” (1944)

A short one today, although lots of things happening. These are pretty long days over at the school, so I’m going to try and get in the habit of writing earlier in the week so it isn’t such a late night to get this post together!

In Thunderbean news: progress continues on various things. We hope to have everything done sent in the next few days. The rest of the Mid-Century Moderns are going out, including the special bonus disc. Grotesqueries nears completion in assets but no master yet. Cartoon Paradise mastered and joins Award Winners and the Snappy Video Party disc in dubbing. We’re still catching our breath as things catch up. Thanks for everyone’s patience!

Flip The Frog continues to be priority as things get closer to being all cleaned up. The set is looking so nice, but once of the new arrivals, The New Car has to be redone from something other than the master positive- it has a giant scratch on the edge all the way through the film! There are other materials on the short—but this master positive looked cleanest—I guess it really wasn’t!

Suddenly It’s Spring (1944) was one of the Noveltoons that I had never seen when I was young. I did catch the last moments of the cartoon once running on WGPR, channel 62 in Detroit, when it was followed by a showing of Gulliver’s Travels and wondered for years what it was. The two Famous Studios Raggedy Ann cartoons were especially hard to see in copies with decent color for many years. Thanks to a lucky Ebay find, I managed to obtain an NTA negative on this one, and borrowed a beautiful 35mm IB Technicolor print on The Enchanted Square (1948).

In talking with other collectors and animation fans, I was always surprised at the divide in opinion on both of the Raggedy Ann shorts that Famous did. It seems that people either love them or hate them. I can understand why some think of both of these shorts as sentimental and sappy, but I enjoy both of them.

This particular short is one of the most ambitious of the Famous Studios cartoons in layout and overall design. Judging by its length and the quality of the background and camera work, I would guess this film had a much bigger budget than most of the other shorts during this period. Perhaps the budget on Enchanted Square was originally higher when it was first in production as well.

What do you think of this short—and what are your favorite (or least favorite) cartoons that try to pull your heart strings?

I like the working together theme of this short; I think the story works well with the character, although there is the unfortunate Stepin Fetchet (Lincoln Perry) stereotype. I also think Raggedy Ann semi-flirting with Mr. Zero is a little strange.

Here is one of the more common NTA print that was around for years, with the expected reddish color:

Here is the print from an NTA TV negative that I was lucky enough to win on Ebay. At one point the negative belonged to Something Weird video, who got it from a defunct lab. This is in standard def here, with a recreated title card. The HD version will appear on the new Noveltoons Blu-ray.

Captain Bijou (aka Earl Blair) has uploaded the version we did for the Noveltoons DVD:

Have a good week everyone!


  • I like this short! I try to watch it every year when spring arrives.

  • It’s nice to finally see all the wonderful cloud and ice cavern backgrounds by Shane Miller thanks to a good print. 🙂

  • Famous never went 100% in on the Warner Brothers-style of cartoon — there was always a little lingering of the Color Classics and trying to do stories that were more Disneyesque, all the way up to “Pedro and Lorenzo” in 1956. That could be the reason for some of the negativity here, dating from the days when the NTA package was in regular use at TV stations. If you wanted a slapstick 1940s cartoon to come on, and one of the Raggedy Ann shorts (or one of the Red Lanter shorts, or “Leprechaun’s Gold”) showed up, Famous may have spent more time and effort in making those shorts. But they weren’t the gag-filled shorts that most kids preferred.

  • The 2 Raggedy Anns are animation gold & the quality of the Thunderbean versions are outstanding ( as well as for all your other skills thanks for personally collecting/borrowing such fine prints, Steve ).

    As an overall cartoon ‘The Enchanted Square’ is particularly good ( on Thunderbean ‘Noveltoons’ DVD ) – an absolute favourite; colour as fresh & vibrant as paint, & the story is poignant & very moving; sentimental done right is right – & this is certainly done right !

    Proper sentimentality grounded in empathy & compassion can be very profound – it’s in films when it crosses the line & becomes schmaltz that the problems start & generally ruin such works!

    Just kidding,. 🙂
    Love the still of The Flipster motoring along in his little car.

  • Ooh, as always, I look forward to receiving my copies of the MID-CENTURY MODERN disks (or set?), and I’m sorry to hear of the continuing problems with the FLIP THE FROG set, but it certainly will be well worth all this truggle once the project is finished, as good as you can possibly get it…I’d seen this RAGGEDY ANN AND ANDY cartoon on other PD collections, but never as devoid of splices as you’ve found it here. This is an interesting Fleischer experiment and always well worth another look. One was never sure how invested in sentimental story-telling the other animation studios were, but I’d always felt that some could have really excelled in it if they’d only believed more in their own work, but I’m glad they even tried. I’d said it once or twice on this site in comments, but imagine if the MGM cartoons studio actually produced a feature film!

  • True, “The Enchanted Square” and “Suddenly It’s Spring” are sentimental as all heck, but they boast some nice animation and beautiful color, and “The Enchanted Square” at least stays on the good side of the sentimental/schmaltz dividing line. I’ve always liked them both, even if I couldn’t argue either one is a classic.

    As for other cartoons that attempt to jerk my tears, I’ve always been oddly touched by the Fleischers’ “Song of the Birds”; it’s primitive and overwrought, but dangit that bird choir is haunting. MGM’s “The Hungry Wolf” and pretty much any cartoon that threatens to separate Mickey and Pluto also successfully tug at my heartstrings. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve found nearly ever Casper cartoon I’ve seen to be tiresome glurge; and as beautiful as MGM’s “The Little Mole” is, I can’t stand how it depicts believing a pleasing lie as being better than knowing an ugly truth.

    But then again, I enjoy “Molly Moo-Cow and the Butterflies” and nearly half the Hunky & Spunky cartoons, so what do I know?

    • They’re both gems & to my mind “The Enchanted Square” is a classic – though I’m not quite sure how exactly I would define a classic;
      maybe in this case that I would hazard a guess it will still be genuinely moving & aesthetically pleasing even in centuries to come (especially if they have the Thunderbean version available!) –
      though I’m not saying cartoon classics in general need to neccessarily meet such a criteria to be bona fide classics ( ie other criteria can also apply ).

      Not so keen on the Hunky & Spunky cartoons ( though I’ve only seen a handful – maybe the wrong handful ) – but I’m with you on “Molly Moo-Cow and the Butterflies” !

    • Tim:

      I won’t argue against you that “The Enchanted Square” is a classic; I just don’t feel strongly enough about it to argue for it, if that makes any sense. “Suddenly It’s Spring” tips a little too far into the “schmaltz” side of the sentimental/schmaltz dividing line for my tastes, admittedly, but it’s got enough in its favor that I can’t say anyone’s wrong for loving it.

      As for Hunky & Spunky, I’d say that “Snubbed by a Snob” is a genuinely good cartoon, and one that causes me to wonder if the Fleischer crew were not-so-subtly commenting on the racist attitudes of many of the citizens of their new hometown. I’m also fond of “The Barnyard Brat” and “Vitamin Hay”, though it’d be harder for me to mount an objective defense of those two.

    • You’re right Jody that “Suddenly…” tips over into schmaltz; however despite the big diminishing of it’s emotional connection because of that, imho it has enough merits due to othet factors to still be a really good cartoon –
      ie though sufficient schmaltz can very often ruin a film, this ones still a good un’ !

      I’m not sure if I’ve seen “Snubbed By A Snob” (I’ve got a feeling I have seen the other two) – I’ll check it out on the internet, as I’m guessing it’ll be there.

      Also re H & S; I remember a friend telling me when he went to Austalia to visit relatives they were on the TV a lot there ( probably in the 80’s or 90’s ) –
      he quite liked them, or at least found them acceptable.

  • Climbing up onto Zero’s lap as she seductively sings “The World is Waiting For the Sunshine,” Raggedy Ann is playing a dangerous game.

    “Enchanted Square” is even better, although typically the Famous crew completely misses the dramatic possibilities (despite the strong opening of Raggedy being tossed into a trash can under the credits) of a little blind girl stumbling around her shabby street imagining it to be a magic theme park, or even that it happens on Halloween. (And why do the other kids shout “Halloween”? “Trick or treat” was commonly used in 1946.) And those final notes of “You Can See With Your Heart” could break glass.

  • I can agree with some of the others here that they favor “The Enchanted Square” over “Suddenly It’s Spring.” Don’t get me wrong, “Suddenly It’s Spring” was a wonderful short, but ever since I discovered both cartoons on a Digiview DVD more than a decade ago, it was “The Enchanted Square” that won me over a lot more. How all the elements come together to execute this beautiful story always makes me choke up. (In a good way, of course.)

    Despite the very shabby print I saw back then, it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. And you would never know how grateful I was to Thunderbean for restoring both cartoons on the Noveltoons DVD. It truly felt like seeing them for the first time all over again, along with all the other Noveltoon treasures on that disc.

    And Steve, I do hope that sometime in the near future, maybe you can write down your thoughts on “The Enchanted Square,” because I would love to hear what you think of it.

    • I have that same Digiview DVD Eric, & was likewise introduced to, & won over, by the 2 Raggedys on it.
      As you say, it would be fascinating to hear Steve’s thoughts on “The Enchanted Sqare” :
      Although, as my memory’s not always great, maybe he’s already done that at some point here at TT !?

      As you’ll probably recall that Digiview disc also includes the Orson Welles narrated “Freedom River” – a mighty piece of work indeed (produced by Stephen Bosustow).

      Another of the Digiview discs (as you may be aware) includes the sublime “Once Upon A Time There Was A Dot” (directed by Mladec Pejokovic, 1964) – probably my favourite from the ones I’ve seen from the Zagreb school;
      which is a reasonable amount, mainly due to the 5 “Zagreb Film” DVD releases from Rembrandt Films – including the two more obscure final DVD-r releases, which are probably the best in the series ( or at least my copies were in that format ) – ie. “Dusan Vukotic On DVD” & “Lost Classics From Zagreb”.
      Though I’d imagine there’s more Zagreb stuff on youtube, which I don’t use that often, in part because I use the internet mostly via a mobile phone.

    • Ps.
      Spelt the name of the director of
      “Once Upon A Time There Was A Dot” wrong –
      It should be :

      Mladen Pejakovic

      Also; on the Digiview DVD I think the title maybe is
      “Once Upon A Time There Was A Point”
      on the sleeve at least, but
      “…Dot” is either written on-screen or at least it is referred to as that elsewhere (ie on the internet).

  • I hope you guys do an entry for “The Enchanted Square”

  • Does anyone know the name of the song at the end, where men sing “The world is longing for the sunshine”? Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *