THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
January 27, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Scrappy in “The Concert Kid” (1934)

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!

8 Comments

  • Now you know why music teachers hate it when their students chew gum.

    I’ve long believed that the hardest thing in the world to animate must be a person playing the violin. Perhaps that explains why there’s so little violin playing in “The Concert Kid”. Columbia made a much better cartoon about a musical wunderkind just a few years later as part of their Color Rhapsody series, “The Kangaroo Kid”. Little Elmer wants to be a great violinist, but his father is determined to make a prizefighter out of him; so he takes the boy to an arena, under the pretext of making his concert debut, but then puts him in the ring with a boxer called the Killer. When the Killer damages Elmer’s violin, the kid beats the living daylights out of him. Now there’s a kangaroo after my own heart.

    I’m sure most of us are aware that the second half of Flip’s debut “Fiddlesticks” consists of a violin recital, as Flip plays the piano accompaniment for an unnamed mouse in red shorts and white gloves. I daresay we all look forward to revisiting that landmark cartoon and its successors with the keenest anticipation.

    Best animation of a violinist in cartoon history: Bluto in “The Spinach Overture”. Though Popeye’s no slouch at playing ragtime piano with his feet….

  • The best thing about this one is that certain scenes look like they may have been animated by Sid Marcus himself, or at least closely reflect his drawing style, such as the shot of Scrappy giving Vontzy* the gum, and Vontzy playing the violin near the end of the cartoon. This is an exceptional misfire for its time. There are some really good ones surrounding it by Marcus and/or Davis such as The Great Experiment, The Happy Butterfly, and The Gloom Chasers that rival anything done with Huemer’s involvement in their own way. (When can we see HD scans of *those*, Steve?) It could be that the proximity of this one’s release to the initial Color Rhapsodies isn’t coincidental and the artists were being stretched a bit too thin trying to handle everything.

    * Given that this was Huemer’s intended name for the character according to Mark Kausler [link], none of the accessible early- through mid-’30s cartoons after the character was developed specify his name to the contrary (or at all), and even Emery Hawkins, for instance, remembered that as what he was called, this nerd chooses to use the “correct” name contrary to what’s common. 🙂

  • In the 1960s, the Captain Satellite show on KTVU 2, Oakland, ran Columbia cartoons. Scrappy, the Mintz Krazy Kat, Li’l Abner, Fox and Crow … pretty much all the pre-UPA titles. Don’t remember seeing them anywhere else. Any other boomers out there remember seeing Columbia toons?

    The only Scrappy I’ve seen on DVD inhabited a bonus disc in the complete Three Stooges box. It was a color cartoon of Scrappy and Oopy sailing model boats, but most of the toon was the caricatured celebrities (including the Stooges) manning the craft. One of the Thunderbean collections has a lone Krazy Kat. Before that, there was a VHS tape with some of the Li’l Abners.

    • I recall seeing Scrappy cartoons on TV in New York, but rarely. I don’t remember the channel or the host (if any). I don’t recall seeing any other pre-UPA Columbias on TV.

    • The cartoon you are thinking of is “The Merry Mutineers” which was also included in the “Totally Tooned In” package (episode 36, to be exact).

  • I remember seeing the Scrappy and Krazy Kat cartoons on KFBC-TV CH 5 out of Chayenne Wyo in the late 1950’s. Never saw them again where I live since then. And yes, they were the Samba TV prints.

  • hope there us some scappy cartoon dvds one day.

  • A few years back I owned a couple of used 16mm “rental reels,” each with six or seven cartoons. Mostly Warner stuff. What I thought was odd about both reels is that the main and end titles had been spliced out of all the cartoons, with the exception of the first cartoon on each reel, which retained its opening titles, and the last cartoon, which had its end titles.I guess the thinking was that the juvenile audiences to whom these reels were shown would get restless and noisy unless the cartoons went directly into the story, without such niceties as knowing the name of what they were watching or who made it.

    The first cartoon on each reel was pretty splicy in the first couple of minutes, though I suppose “splicy” is redundant once I’ve told you they were old rental reels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.