February 29, 2024 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Scrappy In “Showing Off” (1931)

In Thunderbean news:

I really didn’t think that Thunderbean would be doing cartoon sets for 20 years, but here we are.

Today, February 29th, is 20 years to the day that I built my first DVD test for a reboot of sorts of the Snappy Video company, but now under the little animation company I was running called Thunderbean. I was cheerfully naive of what the technology could do at that point, but I had a ton of 3/4” and 1” tape masters I had made between 1987 and 1994 full of cartoons when I was running Snappy. In that time, I had scanned a ton of films, but of course didn’t have any kind of software to clean anything up. All the editing was done using an ‘insert edit ‘ method between Sony Umatic 3/4” tape decks.

I hadn’t missed doing those sets too much between those years, but the new technology was exciting to me, especially figuring out that DVDs could run at 23.976 frames per second progressively, without fields— just like a film! Running the scans I had done 10 years earlier and more and recombining progressive frames was super exciting at the time— I remember writing about it back then on the “Golden Age Cartoons” forums. I felt like we were at least a little closer to film on video.

All these years later, the focus of the little company is shockingly similar— but the abilities have definitely improved with technology and really wanting to do a good job on these things. I’m still excited for the things coming up and being able to share things I’ve never seen before- and especially things I’ve always wanted to see and I never thought would show up.

As we’re wrapping up Mid Century Modern 3, we’ve decided to do a sneak preview disc of things from upcoming sets, including Buster the Bear, who didn’t quite Get a star on the walk of fame. It also includes some rare Felix cartoons and a Toby the Pup you’ve never seen. There’s 12 films on the set all together. It’s at the Thunderbean shop through Monday only, and will never be available again. Proceeds will help with scanning and production on the nearly done sets.

And.. onto the cartoon: Showing Off (1931)

Scrappy cartoons are clearly some of my favorites. Showing Off (1931) is a simple and sweet cartoon in some ways, except for Scrappy setting Margie on fire. Oh, yeah, and spending about half the film smoking. It’s one of my favorites of the series and reminds me of the live action ‘kid comedies’ like Our Gang and the Mickey McGuire shorts from the same period. Like those early sound live action shorts, Scrappy and Margie have a little world of their own, with Scrappy trying to impress Margie with his worldly adult ways of smoking and dancing. It’s an especially well animated short – and like the other Scrappys from this period it has a series of pre-code surreal little gags. When Scrappy calls for a fireman in the audience, one shows up without another word, promptly ending the cartoon. I’m left to wonder if there’s a scene missing from the end of the film since that seems likely.

I don’t remember if this one is from my own print or someone else’s, but we scanned it not too long back. I’m getting older for sure.

Have a good week everyone!


  • I love these “scrappy“ cartoons. This one is the best yet! Yikes! Also, I ordered the special disc. You are advertising here and cannot wait to check this out. Glad to hear progress on mid century, modern, volume three. I look forward to that as well. Thank you, as always, for everything you do.

  • “A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.” — Kipling

    That’s a funny cartoon, enlivened by Dick Huemer’s distinctive animation. I liked it when Scrappy lit his cigar on the drunk’s glowing schnozz. Did not see that coming!

    When Scrappy puts on the bowler hat and dances to “The Darktown Strutter’s Ball”, is he meant to be anyone in particular? Those big round eyes of his remind me of Eddie Cantor’s, except that Cantor didn’t really dance like that; he just sort of bounded around all over the place like an idiot. I know that Eddie Cantor had his own brand of cigars at that time (my grandfather collected cigar bands and boxes). Two for a nickel — high class!

    • Scrappy imitates Joe Frisco in that sequence. There are a couple of clips of him on YouTube.

      • That’s him, all right — same theme song and everything! Thanks!

      • Oh, yeah, Scrappy is definitely doing Joe Frisco… Frisco did his eccentric steps with his derby shoved far over his forehead, smoking an oversized cigar. And he didn’t just waggled the cigar ala Groucho or George Burns. He puffed mightily while dancing creating great clouds of smoke.

    • In fact, the gag about the character using another’s nose as a cigarette lighter had already been used in the Krazy Kat cartoon “Alaskan Knights” released in early 1930.

  • I think the most surreal thing about that short was how you had a city street on the left and a house out in the middle of the country on the right!

  • Is it me, or does Buster Bear’s bow tie look like teeth?

  • I love these Scrappy cartoons! Fingers crossed that they’ll be next in the docket.

  • ‘Twas my print of Showing Off, you picked it up last summer. I don’t have many Scrappys on film— those Samba prints were particularly susceptible to vinegar syndrome. But I’ve managed to get a couple of favorites from the first two seasons. Congrats on unleashing the unskilled Buster Bear to the masses, are you sure everyone is OK with you, the guy who preserved it, releasing it? Nice to see life in Toby again, too.

  • Remember this one from Captain Satellite, KTVU-2 Oakland, in the early 60s. The good captain had Columbias that spanned from the early 30s to almost the UPA era; never saw them anywhere else for decades.

    Weird how eyes go from big black buttons to whites with pupils and back again. It would happen with the occasional closeup of Olive Oyl, but don’t remember anybody else flipping between models in the same cartoon.

  • Surprisingly, Scrappy is quite likeable in this cartoon because he’s not as aggressive and insufferable as in his usual cartoons, unfortunately the same can’t be said for Margie. I think the series would have been much more enjoyable to watch if Scrappy had behaved more often in this way.
    However, I’d still prefer the adorable Toby a thousand times over, and it’s really fantastic to know that one of his cartoons has been rediscovered.

  • It’s great to know that some rarities, perhaps the rarest films released by Thunderbean yet, are getting a chance to shine on the new Blu-Ray! If I had to guess what Toby cartoon would be on the Blu-Ray, it would be “The Brown Derby” (1931) since that’s the only other Toby cartoon (not available on the internet) that has a known surviving element (I 𝙒𝙊𝙉’𝙏 be uploading the cartoons publicly without proper consent, that is, if I’ll get the Blu-Ray before the deadline).

    With this many Scrappy cartoons that have been scanned, you’ll likely be able to pull off a fully complete Scrappy Blu-Ray set! (if Columbia gave you the rights to and bothered to care about releasing their B&W cartoons) The ending made me think that something was cut, as the scene fades out instead of an iris out like most Columbia cartoons, and the music came in as if something was spliced around there (it could be just the print and not the cartoon itself).

  • Love cartoons made by the crew led by Dick Huemer, Sid Marcus and Art Davis at Mintz. Yes, Scrappy is impersonating cigar-smoking Joe Frisco, seen in the following clip (IIRC from the “Vaudeville” documentary).

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