Animation History
August 12, 2013 posted by

Screening Cartoons in 35mm


I’ve advocated and endorsed screening classic cartoons in 35mm Technicolor for years. Though most of us grew up seeing these on TV (and the younger among us, through You Tube or DVD), the great cartoons from Disney, Warners, MGM, Paramount, etc. were made to be seen in movie theaters on big screens. Seeing them this way increases your appreciation of the work – the images, the color, the sound in 35mm reinforce how great these shorts are. With film projection coming closer to its inevitable end, this experience will become rarer and rarer.

One of my film collector friends, Jim Tucker, just sent me this note – with the photos below (click to enlarge) – which I just had to share. There is no way to recreate the feeling of watching cartoons in 35mm, but Jim’s thoughts (and images) sum it up as well as can be.

“This summer I’ve had the opportunity and fun of viewing (private) some of my 35mm at the 1915 Paramount Theater in Austin. Wow, what a way-back machine. I screened cartoons, trailers plus some terrific 50’s Dr. Pepper concession ads from my Keitz & Herndon collection. Yup, just good ‘ol 2D and mono sound! In this saturated electronic era of cellphones, internet and 24 hour news, it dawned on me there is a wonderful sort of purity about the old 35’s.

“Consider: no cropping to 1:85, no over enhancement, no censoring and best of all no Whoopi warning. Sitting in this giant opulent old theater with it’s immersive big screen has a way of making you feel part of the action. This is the way movies were ment to be seen. The house lights dim as the curtain slowly parts to reveal that beautiful classic Warner shield. I have long realized the physical environment has much impact on my experience of watching a film. Gene Kelly once said, “I can remember a time when where we went to the movies was just as important as the movies we went to see….From the moment moviegoers arrived to buy their tickets, there was a sense of something special, a feeling that to step inside was to enter another time and place”. Well I drove over 3-hours to enter this other time and place and to be with Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Charles Mintz, Bill Justice, Dave Tendlar and Jim Tyer. All this while being enticed by vintage animated ads to purchase a cold Dr. Pepper at the refreshment stand. I was in cartoon heaven.”

Jim Tucker

Ahhh… sounds good to me! Wouldn’t you like to have joined Jim in the balcony watching these classics:



  • Jerry:
    I would have given my right arm to be there! You’re absolutely right;there’s nothing that can compare to seeing these toons as they were meant to be seen.

  • I adamantly, agree and I hope this site will inform us when a similar opportunity presents itself in the NY/NJ area. I definitely feel this area is “dissed” when it comes to screening the classic animation. I know I’m repeating myself.

  • You know what’s even better? Seeing those cartoons projected with carbon arc light instead of xenon!

  • Jim-

    If you decide to do this again, how about a special “Friends-of-Cartoon Research” screening? I would have also gladly made the trek to Austin.

  • Wow! I live in Austin and have been to the Paramount many times. This would be a great show!

  • Wonderful.

  • As much as I like home video and YouTube to an extent; there’s just no substitute for the real thing.

  • Wow, just love it. I remember going to the Great Lakes Theater in Detroit on Saturday afternoons back in the ’60s for their “Cartoon Carnival.” For 50 cents you’d see about two hours of cartoons and comedies. I specifically remember seeing TEST PILOT DONALD, THE ZOOT CAT, ROBIN HOOD DAFFY, and FLAGPOLE JITTERS with The Three Stooges. I also remember seeing some latter Road Runner and Chuck Jones Tom and Jerry cartoons. Great times now gone forever…

  • Gene Kelly was right; it really was like stepping into another world when walking into that movie theater, and that especially goes for anything animated!! It used to feel to me, walking down that slanted aisle, as if I were eventually going to walk into the animated picture. So imagine my feeling when I was seeing things on the screen like vintage MGM cartoons or even something as minor as “THE SWORD AND THE STONE” which was my first time seeing a Disney picture upon its official release. The colors even in a TOM & JERRY cartoon like “SALT WATER TABBY” or “HIS MOUSE FRIDAY” were electric to my one good eye. There is no other way to see great old toons. I only wish I’d had the chance to see some of the HAPPY HARMONIES that I often talk about, just to see some of the busier images without any need to pan and scan.

  • This reminds me of a 35mm theater show we did 5 or so years ago in San Francisco, a tribute to Chuck Jones in 35mm with Chuck’s family in the audience. The show sold out and we had to add extra showings that night.

  • The only time I’ve seen cartoons in 35mm like this was a night of classic WB cartoons (including “The Ducksters” and “Holiday for Drumsticks”) at the Oaks Theater in Pennsylvania. It was such a great night. The prints weren’t in the best condition, but I didn’t care. Just to hear Stalling’s music blasting out of theater speakers and these character larger than life was worth it.

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