September 28, 2017 posted by Steve Stanchfield

STOP-MOTION MARVELS: “George Washington Modeled in Clay (1927) and “Red Riding Hood” (1926)

First, the usual weekly Thunderbean news:

It’s a slow week here progress-wise on the Thunderbean front for various reasons, but we’re still attempting to wrap up lots of loose ends, do some new film scans and send lots of things back. The Little King set continues progress, some screen songs arrived here for scanning, and more Flip the Frog’s are on their way here for scanning along with other films. In addition, I’m helping work on several other blu-ray projects with friends and associates.

We’ve been working on the sequel to the out of print DVD Stop Motion Marvels, featuring a whole series of rare shorts. Stills coming soon! This special set is available for pre-order this week on the forums at the Animation Internet Database (IAD forum). At some point, we’ll reissue the original Stop Motion Marvels, likely on blu-ray as well. Information is here.

Since it’s been a stop motion sort of week here, I thought I’d pull out a few things from the first Stop Motion Marvels disc. It was a fun project to put together, and I’m happy to report that we now have located nearly *all* the Kinex films shorts that were produced.

One of my favorite oddities is this little film made by artist/ animator Virginia May called George Washington modeled in Clay. It appears to have been produced in 1927. May’s career is fairly undocumented; it would be interesting to learn much more about this artist. Does anyone have information on other films she produced or other work she made in her career?

A member of Asifa-Central was interested in writing more about this artist years back, but I haven’t been able to find out if additional research was done. This film features beautifully done recreations of famous paintings featuring George Washington, either made or destroyed frame by frame befog your very eyes! This particular little film was likely created for home movie/non-theatrical rental market, but I’ve never seen another print around on this title. Special thanks to Chris Buchman for the lend:

It turns out that there is more than one film featuring Virginia May’s work. We get to see her actually at work and at least a little of her animation in this short, titled “Stop motion Dinosaurs and their Sculptor, Virginia May”. My guess is that it was made around the same time. Here’s a well protected but watchable copy, on youtube:

One of the other especially bizarre pieces was a film produced in 1925 by “Cinema Novelty Productions”. It appears to be a predecessor to the later ‘Kinex’ Shorts produced for Kodak’s Cinegraph series in Santa Monica from 1928 through 1930. Both Frank Webb and John Burton worked at Kinex later on, playing major roles in the tiny stop motion studio. Burton also created the later sound stop motion shorts Pepper the Pup (1931), Horse Laffs (1934) and Hector the Pup (1935) before trading his stop motion ambitions in for a management role at Warner Brothers. As with the later ‘Kinex films’ shorts, this film also appears to have been produced specifically for the home movie market.

And, as posted before, here’s the really fun ’Hector the Pup’ from 1935, from a beautiful 35mm print:


  • Just in case you need more info on Virginia May (since we must all help each other in our animation archeology work), I found plenty of material on her in old online scans of FILM DAILY and MOTION PICTURE NEWS.

    In the notes that I used for the Turner Classic Film messageboard, her dinosaur material was featured in “Pathé Review Series 28, Number 5” (© January 2, 1928) in a segment titled “Monsters of the Past”. Now… I do not know if this was the first theatrical release of this material, but it is the one registered for copyright.

    She also worked with Alex Hall for “Hall Studios” and provided claymation work for a few entries in the “American Holidays” series produced by James FitzPatrick of “Traveltalks” fame. The titles that I am aware of, based on FILM DAILY references, are:

    -“Columbus Day” (September 21, 1929)
    -“Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln’s Birthday)” (February 12, 1930, FILM DAILY states claymation done week of December 23, 1929)
    -“George Washington (Washington’s Birthday)” (February 22, 1930). Not sure if the material is the same as what is dated 1927 above.
    -“Independence Day” (June 15, 1930, date listed as completion)
    -“Armistice Day” (October 16, 1930, date completed per FILM DAILY although Alex Hall & Virginia May had started work in November 1929)

    • This is great…. I’ll see if I can follow up with some of these in looking for materials. The 1927 date on ‘Washington’ is based on when the 16mm series featured a particular style title card, so it’s completely possible it was actually made later.

    • Ha ha! No doubt you will make corrections to my notes above since you are actually SEEING the movies themselves (those you stumble upon, that is) while the rest of us poor folk are only READING about them. This raises another question: were others in this series also animated, but the vintage magazines fail to mention it? I did round up all of the titles for that series from three different periodicals here, but only indicated the ones I was certain of claymation work:

      The Internet Archive has definitely made life easier for us movie geeks. After some trial and error, you just find magazines of the vintage era you want and “search inside book” for “virginia-may”: and

  • Also curious how many of Lyman H. Howe Films/Educational Pictures series “Hodge Podge” (mostly directed by Robert Gilliaum and written by James F. Clemenger) survive with their animated and claymation segments. The series started in 1922 and, at least by the 8th entry, “Shooting the Earth” (May 13, 1923), they were including animation. “Capers in Clay” (August 9, 1933) is a claymation heavy entry included as an extra on the Alpha DVD “Fantastic World of William Cameron Menzies”.

  • Steve, do you have an ETA for Flip or any of the other sets in preorder? We’re coming up to the end of the year and it sounds like they’re all far from complete.

    • Many sets are in production right now; Flip is perhaps the hardest of these to complete because of expense. The other sets are moving along, and purposely so; they have helped/ continue to help cover the costs of the 4k and digital cleanup on Flip. We’re working to get all done as soon as possible. Thanks to all for helping make all these things happen.

  • Neat to see Virginia May working. Looked like she sculpted the characters out of clay.

    The Hector short if funny, on par with traditionally animated shorts of the period. Too bad there weren’t more. (Were there?)

  • The dinosaur footage is fantastic! This might be one of the first of the iconic T. rex vs Triceratops fights ever depicted. The leaping motion on the T. rex was actually en vogue with paleontologists for a while.

    Seeing this reminded me a bit of another 1920’s stop-motion dinosaur segment from Buster Keaton’s “The Three Ages” a parody of D W Griffith’s “Intolerance”. The first age has a caveman Buster Keaton riding a brontosaurus; see around the 2:00 minute mark:

    Any idea who animated this segment?

  • It’s weird that the stop-motion human figures look like Muppets and Jim wasn’t even born yet!

  • What happened with the Noveltoons and can you please upload one of the rare shorts to see that they are still in productions and no problems are happening.

    • They’re in progress!!

  • So when will the Blu-Ray Reissue of Stop Motion Marvels be coming out ???

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