THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
August 15, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Scrappy in “The Gold Getters” (1935)

In the land of Thunderbean:

At this writing, I’m finding I’m overall excited for these coming weeks. So many thing happening in a short period of time, but they all have been moving there at the same times, off and on, as they . I think this many balls need to be juggled to make each of these projects happened, I just wish I had more continuous hands to help make the whole operation smoother. My freelancers have been wonderful and has the support team of collectors and collaborators. Still, being able to connect all the dots and get *more* things going faster is the bigger goal, but the whole business needs to grow to be able to accommodate that. Each day there’s things I’d like to get to that have to wait for the other stuff to get finished.

That isn’t to say things aren’t getting done. August has easily become the most crowded month of the year in attempts and moving things forward. No less than 7 projects are either getting completely done this weekend or getting really close- both ‘Official’ and ‘Special’ sets. Noveltoons will be off to replication in another day or so. The set looks really nice- for the first time I was able to sit down and watch the whole thing cleaned up in HD. The two other heavy current lifts (Rainbow Parades and Flip The Frog) are front and center on the plate. Each new stage on those feels right— and I’m feeling confident they will be the best we could possible make them. We’ve had the advantage of being a small company and working our way through things each at a time, but it’s been too long of a road already on so many of these. Getting it as right as possible has been really important to me on these ones.

Internally, there are additional projects we’re either involved with or working on securing, but we’ll leave that to another day. The behind the scenes holding pattern on some of these things is at time easy, and other times not so much.

I know I said I wouldn’t write any more about this set, but as of this morning I’m all set on scans for the first Rainbow Parade set. The last film arrived Monday, couriered from the collector’s house via bike and then Fedex. Having The Rag Dog all scanned is a big moment here! All the other films are finished basically, except he sent prints along of a few of the others that will improve some sections, so I’ve scanned those as well and now need to muddle through things.


Now, onto this weeks cartoon — The Gold Getters (1935).

Perhaps the ‘pot boilers’ in the Scrappy series are, sadly, many— but I really enjoy all of them — just don’t show too many of the Scrappy cartoons from this period together. As Jerry Beck and I were talking about earlier today, variety is the key in a good show of films. I once made the mistake of running a whole night of Scrappys — and made guests mad by almost falling asleep myself while showing them!

The Gold Getters is far from a highlight of the series, and a really good example of how sometimes Columbia cartoons are not cohesive. There are funny ideas throughout this short, but pacing and execution often defeat the ideas. It does have one of my favorite scenes in any Scrappy cartoon though — Scrappy is celebrating while a ne’er do well tries to steal his gold. There must be 150 inbetweens of his hand slowwwwly reaching for Scrappy’s unguarded gold.

I have to wonder if the frequent disconnection of ideas and timing of them is related to the organization of the studio. There seems to be a short period just after Dick Huemer left where the films have good cohesiveness; sometime in 1935 they get a little more erratic depending on the film. This particular one feels very compartmentalized in its different sequences. I find the transitions in this cartoon to be strange and sometimes inappropriate for the continuity of the short, an issue a lot of Columbia cartoons have from the mid to late 30s. They use every type of wipe for no decreeable reason.

Scrappy’s personality traits devolve over these few years as well. You can chart the best Scrappy cartoons by whether or not he’s mad in them at some point, with the exception of Let’s Ring Doorbells (1936). In the very early ones, he’s either mad or really scared though most of them. It’s perhaps being too critical to bring up any of these things; after all, the point wasn’t to make a brilliant film here, but rather an enjoyable bit of ephemeral entertainment. They succeeded in that mission.

There’s a lot of things from the golden age of cartoons I’d like to see released, with Mr. Bug and Scrappy at the top of that list. Krazy Kat not withstanding.

Have a good week everyone!

5 Comments

  • This is the first Scrappy cartoon I’ve ever seen, and, contrary to what Leonard Maltin’s assessment of the Columbia cartoons led me to expect, I was quite impressed. If this one is “far from a highlight of the series”, then I hope a complete Thunderbean collection will be in the offing someday. For me the best gag was when the musician uses the flutist’s belly to squeeze his banjo into a fiddle, and then starts to bow it with his peg leg! He really deserves doubling pay for that maneuver!

  • Oddly, there is very little I remember about the SCRAPPY cartoons, although I’m sure that they were shown somewhere on local New York TV, or they could have found their way into the swinging door that was something called either “TOMMY 7” or “THE EARLY BIRD CARTOON SHOW”, shortly before the WABC affiliate here in New York started having animation produced specially for its Saturday morning lineup. I often talk about that show, which featured “COURAGEOUS CAT” or “Q. T. HUSH”, along with anything from FLIP THE FROG to classic MGM cartoons, to Van Buren and probably even Columbia shorts…or our WOR-TV, channel 9 which was as local as a television station could get.

    In fact, on Sunday afternoon, you could actually see the same movie run over and over again throughout the afternoon. I can only speak for the animation compilation shows that came to replace the live broadcasts of kiddie shows like “PINKY LEE”, and GUMBY was creeping in there. Ultimately, there were late afternoon/early evening shows like “CLAUDE KIRSHNER’S LOONEY TUNES CIRCUS”, which morphed, as I remember it, into “CLAUDE KIRSHNER’S TERRYTOONS CIRCUS”. So SCRAPPY should be a far more familiar character to me, but I have this feeling that the appearance of these shorts was all too brief. I recognize this short, therefore, from cartoon collections that I’d either noticed at a theater or on a VHS compilation that I used to have. So yes, Steve, I also would love to hear about a complete restoration of some kind with the SCRAPPY shorts. Perhaps something will jog my memory.

    Am I safe to assume that SCRAPPY was Columbia’s answer to BOSKO at Warner Brothers and MGM, or BUDDY, replacing BOSKO at Warner Brothers? Often, 1930’s cartoons were filled with bizarre imagery, especially pre-Code. One can just imagine what artists would have tried to get away with if the Code were not unfairly enacted, but we do discuss some instances where the animators did try to slip in inuendo gags that are so quick, if you sneeze, you miss them. I don’t have to remind anyone that there was no home video back then, so no one was able to scrutinize any such films, frame by frame.

    If, for example, the hypodermic gag in “SWING WEDDING” was easily caught at one viewing, it might leave the viewer stunned and wondering whether he or she really did see that or whether they were just tired. Regardless, those are the things that keep animation history alive and keep us folks wanting to see more and more of this period fully restored for some kind of release to the public. Thanks, as always, Steve, for what you and your revolving staff do to preserve classic cartoons. It may not always feel like it, but we do really appreciate the efforts, and I keep hoping each week that those efforts bear fruit!

    I eagerly anticipate all three of your top drawer projects, even the RAINBOW PARADE, since those are the most familiar to me because of actual multiple viewings on local TV, as I pointed out above…Oh, and I left out the possibility that some Columbia shorts may have shown up at local theaters around here, since I do recall occasional Saturday matinees, and in those days, kids could spend afternoons at the theater, staying for second or third viewings without anyone chasing us out, as long as we purchased goodies from the snack bar! Ooh, my stomach rumbles just thinking about the quantities consumed! Cartoons and treats just go together, I guess. Keep up the good work.

  • ‘Gold Getters’ might be an acquired taste but it’s always been among my personal favourites: from the borderline scatalogical gags which open the cartoon (let’s face it, we all have to sift through the crap from time to time) to the eminently annoying, but totally infectious, title song. Sure, not all the hilarity may be intentional (though a lot of it is) but what difference? It ranks reasonably high (upwards of the middle anyway) on my list of Scrappy cartoons. A year later the series would go down the drain and stay there until 1940 so ‘Gold Getters’ is a bit of a last hurrah as I see it. As with any screening it’s always good to be judicious in the choices of cartoons. Scrappy’s personality was never adequately nailed down and that might be part of the challenge. In some cartoons he’s presented as a wholesome character while in others he’s presented as a kind of a twisted little kid. What do you say about a character who is comfortable turning his unconscious baby brother in a human marionette … in two separate cartoons! Future Hannibal Lecter? I think audiences today prefer their Scrappy cartoons twisted but I love ‘em all in that ‘golden’ 1931-35 period. Especially with a side of ‘put-put-put’.

  • It was a fine short (especially the song), but I also noticed that Columbia seemed to have an noncohesive story department during most of their existence. I could never understand why that kept it that way (with some exceptions such as Tashlin’s unfortunately brief but memorable stay there).

  • Steve, could you make a list of 10/12 Scrappy shorts you consider the best ones? I’d love to make a compilation of them.

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