Michigan is pretty frozen right now, making it perfect weather to clean up old films. So, in this way, when I have a break from teaching, I’m very happy to have some hot chocolate to warm me up as cartoons get some care.
At the end of last week, the wonderful folks at Blackhawk sent The Village Specialist this way from two very nice 35mm prints, both missing their titles and end title. Between these two prints and Mark Kausler’s excellent 16mm print, a complete edit of the short all together is looking really nice. I’ve been cleaning it up over this week as my somewhat sore arms will allow. By the end of this weekend I think we’ll have all the Flips in final, ready for Blu-ray versions. They’re really looking lovely. I’m thinking back about all the work over these years and all the people that contributed to making this set as good as we can. Thanks to everyone- we’re almost there on this one, finally.
When I’ve been taking breaks from working on Flip, I’ve been helping with several other projects and reviewing cleanup from the in-progress and getting closer to finished Van Beuren Aesops Fables and Tom and Jerry sets. The whole cleanup team are working on these sets right now. Int he world of finished things, a batch of four special sets are being dubbed and getting ready to send as this week ends. As January wraps, I’m super happy that the progress on so many things is going so well. February looks to be a really busy month!
Now, onto a cartoon I’ve had on the shelves here for 40 years!
I was thinking about about how different it is to actually see vintage cartoons now. When I was first collecting, there was *no way* to see most of the Scrappys without either going to a film collector’s house or buying them yourself. Since Michigan was an island in terms of any other cartoon collectors, I’d find myself often buying Van Beurens, Columbias and other cartoons just to see them… joining a somewhat small world of cartoon collectors- many who I would end up knowing in the years to come.
One of my favorite Scrappy cartoons is, admittedly, not one of the best ones. The Concert Kid (1934) is from the period just after Dick Huemer had left Columbia, and Sid Marcus became the main director of the series.
It is one of the first ones I managed to get as a teenager, bought directly from Collin Kellogg, a film collector in New York. Collin must have had an ad in The Big Reel, or perhaps I had an ad and he bought something from this (at the time) 14 or 15 year old kid in Michigan. Anyway, he sold me three Scrappy cartoons for pretty cheap since these three prints didn’t have their titles (I’m pretty sure he sold them to me for $15 each). I still have two of the three. The third (a print of Dizzy Ducks) is MIA. I honestly don’t know what happened to it — and I think I’d remember trading it off. I was a really fun one. It’s possible it was swiped years back when I used to show cartoons at coffee shops and other venues in the late 80s.
While not one of the best of the series, The Concert Kid is still a pretty fun cartoon. I have a feeling it had a little smaller of a budget than some of the others in the series since it reuses footage from other cartoons and is has a limited amount of backgrounds compared to others in the series. There are other examples through these years of lower budget Mintz shorts- perhaps the new expense of making color films made this necessary. Still, it has a lot of fun character moments with funny poses and some beautiful animation. There’s basically a setup rather than much of a plot. Scrappy attempts to settle down Oopy, the child prodigy, who parks himself behind the stage for the majority of the cartoon. The big ‘gag’ at the end is that, once he actually settles down and performs, he isn’t quite as brilliant as advertised.
I always thought one of the oddest things about the film was the all human crowd in one shot, then several minutes later an all animal crowd for the end shots (from a Columbia Krazy Kat).
One of the first backgrounds in the film has really fun illustrations of theatre patrons in all their flavors. I sometimes would still that part on my Kalart-Victor projector. I’m sort of surprised I didn’t hurt the print doing that.
As a teenager, I remember watching this print over and over, and showing it to friends as well. It actually wasn’t until today (at 54) that I actually saw the title card from the film, uploaded by an unknown Scrappy fan on YouTube.
I hope you enjoy The Concert Kid even without titles. Have a good week everyone!