THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
August 1, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Showing Cartoons from Your Collection To Others

On The Thunderbean:

It’s been both a busy a quiet week here at Thunderbean; Lots happening but I’ve been still scuttled away, suffering a small cold and semi-sleepless, trying to get key things to the finish line while the summer is still granting me these free days. I’d like to think I’m winning that battle, sinus issues and all. Did Famous Studios do a cartoon called ‘Not Going Down Without a Fright?”.

The Noveltoons Blu-ray is on the plate all the time right now, and rounding the corner to being finished. Tomorrow I think I’ll have all elements ready now (except that one straggler). Maybe Jerry has the solution! Let’s ask him!

I had meant this week to talk further about Grotesqueries; I will soon. Rainbow Parades 1 is the other major project we’re giving a lot of care to at the moment, and Flip is flipping too. I’m trying really hard to get all the scans for some of the special sets done this month with some luck, and can’t wait for the Comi-Color scans to start happening. I’m traveling to LA for those to personally supervise when it’s time. Another great fan of these films will likely join for that.

Hardest lesson this year: supervise all scans. You never know what a Telecine place will do with original materials, regardless of what you ask them to do (or often beg them to NOT do!). As I’m re-requesting various films to scan for different reasons, it’s clear that one of the scan places both sharpened *and* upped the contrast pretty drastically for many of the scans, increasing grain and changing the overall look of the print materials. With some of this print material in my actual hands now, I’m forced to pull other things and rescan them since I know they look much, much better. There’s always some adjusting done for a final output, but in this case, things are altered really far from what the prints and negs looked like, to a point where I feel they need a redo.

I took a company to court years back that had done well over $1000 worth of Private Snafu scans- ALL really out of focus! I drove out to DC and ended up losing the case because I didn’t have a film scanning ‘expert’ with me to say they’re out of focus. I’m happy that the redo job yielded beautiful results, done by a company that cared deeply about making sure the quality was excellent since the original material was. They had to rescan things pretty often that the other company had did less than acceptable jobs.


Now, onto this week’s participatory conversation:

“What is especially lovely about a favorite cartoon showing – or showing cartoons to others from your collection”

Earlier today a freelancer told me the unabashed truth about her newfound love of Clark Gable. Her comment reminded me of a small group of college students coming out of a showing of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ years ago, giggling about how wonderful and cute the Beatles are- not ‘was’ but ‘are’. To me one of the most wonderful things about film is that it seems to have the ability to remain both ageless and dated at the same time; the escape into the fantasy world of a film is sometimes as much an escape into the world when that particular entertainment was made as much as enjoying the still-present qualities. Animation has an additional special ability of not having the actors age at all for comparison in later years.

“Teacher’s Pest”

In some ways, a large part of the continued life of the films from the golden age depends on people discovering them, often by someone that loves them. Those college campus showings that taught me all about film were presented by film co-ops that consisted of students that volunteered to help because of their love of film. I enjoyed programming some showings as soon as I was old enough to as well. When putting together the various sets of films, I think about the presentation of them more than any one thing. I really wish there was a way to just make all of them a bucket of 16mm films; honestly, that would make me happy. If we can get to the point where we’re able to do that, I might just do it. I love the idea of film presentation continuing through the collectors brave enough to share their rare prints with an audience. In some ways, those that have prints HAVE to show them now since you never know when the ravages of acetate decomposition will start to make your precious print into a film vinaigrette.

So, you collectors out there, I applaud you for lending and showing your prints to others. You’re making a lot of people you’ll never meet happy in allowing the wonderful work on those films to be seen and enjoyed by new audiences as well as a revisit to those that have already had the pleasure of meeting those images.

Of course, there’s also a lot of films that don’t get shared at all, even as they slowly work their way back into the soil. To me the biggest shame is there is the ability to show so much more without great expense, especially things in some of the large archives. Some of this material is physically and/or rights-wise owned by large companies, but some are even owned by small companies. Some of these contain great, even classic voice performances that have been scuttled away. If there kept scuttled too long, we’ll all be peering at them from underground, brushing aside dirt to get a clearer picture!

I actually prefer to hand over the microphone to you folks since I feel like I talk a little too much about what I’m doing here anyway, so let’s have an open topic on cartoon showings. Write a short note about a favorite showing you went to, or a time you showed an audience something that they really enjoyed. I’ll throw some of mine below in the comments as well.

Have a great week everyone!

16 Comments

  • Just this year, I started work on a YouTube series where I show classic TV to young streamers. I warmed up with the first Betty Boop and the first Superman, then I showed them the first Astro Boy. They were appropriately astonished.

  • When Bugs impulsively shoots a coughing audience member in a recent uncensored screening of Freleng’s “Rhapsody Rabbit” (’46), the shocked laughter from the mostly young audience was priceless.

    • I’m glad to hear that they show such cartoons at theatrical screenings: the ones with gags that are wasted on television such as the famous “audience member” silhouette that turns up in so many cartoons. There should be, if there hasn’t been already, at least one showing of nothing but cartoons with gags that assume a large screen and an auditorium.

  • I love it when I get an opportunity to bring in my 16mm projector into the school I teach at. Typically, my fourth grade students haven’t seen many of the classic cartoons from Disney, Warner Bros., etc. It’s fun to show the kids something they haven’t seen on a format that they haven’t experienced. I even was able to get an annual movie night for the entire school, showing classic animated shorts and films in 16mm.

    As far as presentations I have personally attended, it’s hard to beat the annual cartoon festival at the Redford Theatre in Detroit!

    • Where were you at my school? My fourth grade self (and by extension, my present self) would have killed for some screenings of golden age cartoons at school!

  • In my History of Animation class I ask students to select their three favorite films from class (and explain their choice). Here are the top 20 in declining order from the past 4 or 5 years:

    Spirited Away
    Neighbors
    What’s Opera Doc?
    Rejected
    Tango
    Jumping
    The Cat Came Back
    Balance
    Gertie
    Sisyphus
    Big Snit
    The Hand
    Akira
    Creature Comforts
    I Married a Strange Person
    Moonbird
    Red Hot Riding Hood
    The Street
    Feed the Kitty
    Gerald McBoing Boing

    I’m encouraged how diverse the choices are.
    It’s not on this list, but I noticed that consistently the biggest laugh is the Clampett cartoon A Corny Concerto, when Porky removes the crossed hands from a seemingly dead Bugs.

  • As we’re always saying, here, there is nothing like enjoying a classic cartoon with an audience. I could hardly hear what is going on onscreen when there was a packed house for a Tex Avery show. “SCREWBALL SQUIRREL” always brought the house down, and people couldn’t believe their eyes when checking out the “red” cartoons for the first time. When I first reacquainted myself with the theatrical cartoons that I’d grown up watching again and again, it was amazing how much of it became so rare. I bought a copy of Leonard Maltin’s OF MICE AND MAGIC, and when I’d had the filmographies of cartoons in the rear of the book read off to me, I’d learned that so much of the lists were cartoons I cherished way back when and recognized as guilty pleasures; from 1930’s titles like “A WAIF’S WELCOME” through the HAPPY HARMONIES and earliest LOONEY TUNES, there were gems I wanted to enjoy, and often, I did! It always amazed an audience that there could be “naughty” bits in some of these cartoons that made it past the censors; I’m referring to little jokes in BETTY BOOP cartoons or the hypodermic needle gag in MGM’s “SWING WEDDING”.

    I can only imagine what it all looks like running the cartoon frame by frame on home video to see the mili-seconds long taboo moment, but I’m sure it was the talk of college campuses as much as the weekly airings of “ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS” back in the day. It took those theatrical showings to get people talking about classic cartoons with their friends, and then lines would form at local theaters…and then people wanted to see the stuff restored and released to home video so they could enjoy collecting them. Folks are constantly still working toward that goal today, but it took local matinees or midnight showings to amp up the interest. I had only seen the MGM cartoon, “MOUSE IN THE HOUSE” at a toon festival. It clearly was a title that was not shown regularly on the first TOM AND JERRY SHOW broadcast that featured sometimes altered versions of the theatrical cartoons, but knowing about it had me searching out someone who had a print or nudging those who might want to work toward allowing fans to own the “robidden” cartoons on some sort of home video.

    And, as we are discussing each week on this weblog, there are always still amazing films to be discovered, some that never even made it to TV, although I can attest that New York TV allowed for some amazing things to be shown, even if only shown once!!

  • I’m not a shower, I’m a goer. Memorable showings started with a Betty Boop being projected on a sheet in a garage where they were showing model houses to keeps kids entertained, circa 1960. It was the first time I saw Boop, and the last time I saw a Boop Cartoon again until 1978. The Second was a traveling road show to theaters where they showed a mix of international cartoons, Will Vinton Claymation, and the topper, Fleischer’s Superman vs. The Mechanical Monsters. It really excited my interest in Fleischer.

    When I moved to Los Angeles in the summer of ’86 I caught a one time showing at the Nuart in Santa Monica of the entire Fleischer Superman output, in newly restored, newly struck prints. In the early 90s I went to LACMA and saw a collection of cartoons, including a newly restored mint print of Poor Cinderella. Sometime in the late 90s I went to some little storefront ASIFA called home in Burbank, and Jerry Beck would run some classic cartoons on a projector for a small group of us. The last great one was when John Krifcalusi hosted an animation showing at the Egyptian in the 2000s. They unveiled a newly restored Popeye Meets Sindbad the Sailor. It popped off the screen and my jaw literally dropped. (Honorable mention, Jerry Beck showed a collection of UPA cartoons a couple years back …at Cal Arts?)

  • The Ohio Theatre just did their second of two annual “Cartoon Capers” screening that are shown during their “Summer Movie” screenings last week. The screenings are always packed usually with a lot of children and there’s a lot of big laughs during the beginning and end of the screening.

  • My thanks go to you Steve as you supplied me with one of the biggest hits with friends and audiences of all my cartoons-“Pecos Pest”! I had always searched for that until you helped me at Cinevent years ago and I remain in your debt old friend!!! By the way I’m still waiting for the Flips to come out!
    Friends always
    Bruce from Cincy

  • Living in Los Angeles is cheating.

    There are 2 screenings in the 60’s which are burned into my memory.

    The Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented 12 Tex Avery cartoons in 35mm. After the show about a dozen of us met with Tex in the lobby and he talked about his work (this was before the audience Q&A became a thing).

    The other screening were several episodes of Beany & Cecil in 35mm broadcast prints shown in the basement theater of Lytton Savings on Sunset Boulevard near Crescent Heights. Upstairs, outside, were animators, working, from several studios (including Jay Ward which was a couple of hundred feet to the West). This was all part of some sort of animation festival Bart Lytton was throwing.

    Does anyone else remember this? Mark Kausler, were you there?

    • Hi David,
      I went to the Tex Avery show and heard him talk about the cartoons, but the only Lytton Savings screening I attended was a showing of one of Frank Tashlin’s last live action features with Phyllis Diller and Bob Hope; “The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell”.
      That was in 1968, I think, the first summer I was in Los Angeles. It turned out to be Tashlin’s last feature film, and considering the utter lack of quality, it was for the best. I didn’t get invited to Bob Clampett’s 35mm “Time For Beany” screening, too bad I missed it. Those 35mm kinescopes are currently going vinegar, from the rumors I hear. It’s unfortunate that they aren’t being preserved, I really love the puppet version of Beany. Stan Freberg as Cecil and Daws Butler as Beany; perfect casting. Thanks for the memories!

  • The only genuine cartoon screening I’ve attended was at the historic Oaks theater in Oakmont, Pennsylvania (outside Pittsburgh) more than 10 years ago. It followed an anniversary screening of Three Stooges shorts (including ‘Men in Black’ and ‘You Nazty Spy!’) and included about six WB shorts strung together.

    I remember specifically ‘A Star is Bored’, ‘Stupor Duck’ and ‘Holiday for Drumsticks’. The experience of hearing that Looney Tunes theme (and particularly the credits music for ‘Drumsticks’) coming out of huge speakers in a vintage theater was an unforgettable experience.

    I think it was once a semi-regular thing at this theater, but abruptly stopped as the studio stopped providing physical prints.

    • Those three were part of a 6-cartoon pack WB offered (they still offer the same few dozen 6-packs or so) out as 35mm rentals. The other three in that Daffy-themed pack were “The Ducksters”, “Duck Dodgers”, and “Robin Hood Daffy”.

  • When I worked at my local library I played 16mm Popeyes a lot to the kids and adults. They loved them. The kids who were introduced to him for the 1st time wanted to see more.

  • I can’t wait to see what you bring to the Redford this year. Hopefully a Willie Whopper cartoon is scheduled? Last years was fantastic!

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