THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
June 13, 2019 posted by Devon Baxter

Super Puppetooned: “Wilbur The Lion” (1946)

Hey, Cartoon Research readers! It’s me Devon Baxter, filling in for Steve Stanchfield this Thursday, since he has been busy doing some film-related research over at the Library of Congress in Culpeper, Virginia.

George Pal’s stop-motion films, which include the Puppetoons, are the top priority at the moment over at Thunderbean, with just about nine films finished. This is your money at work! We are restoring several incredible Puppetoon rarities for Vol. 2 of Arnold Leibovit’s Puppetoon Movie project. Please help us complete the job – Lebovit’s crowdfunding information is HERE.

One of the films I’m working on is almost a rarity — Wilbur the Lion (1947), one of the last in the Puppetoons series. The source originates from a 35mm nitrate Technicolor print from the collection of Mark Kausler — one of classic animation’s true heroes. Evidently, the original successive negatives are missing and Paramount does not have any other 35mm materials of Wilbur in their archives. Digital clean-up and fixes are in progress as of this writing.

Here are a few screen grabs from Wilbur the Lion—these are from the raw scan (slightly tweaked for contrast and color adjustments for the post)…



Puppetoon producer Arnold Lebovit posted this small, unrestored clip from Mark’s print – so you can see what we are starting with.

I am also working on the 1933 Flip the Frog cartoon Techno-Cracked, sourced from a 35mm preservation element—another rarity considering many of the circulating copies (namely, Cartoons That Time Forgot video releases) are from 16mm prints. Each film in itself is quite a challenge. Admittedly, the Flips take a little more time to look as great as possible, but Wilbur is just a little easier since the print is in pretty good condition. The trials and tribulations of digital clean-up and restoration warrants its own past, but maybe I’ll save that for another time.

As a bonus, I’m including info on Steve’s latest special set, “Missing Links,” which could be the last! I hear tell many of the films are from 35mm IB Technicolor prints…

7 Comments

  • Incredible the negatives are missing since they’re listed on UCLA Archives’ online catalogue:
    https://cinema.library.ucla.edu/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=133570

    I guess, as what Steve has found with the Flip project, what’s listed in the inventory isn’t always what’s actually in the can?

    • Thanks Iman for the research

      Just to be clear while there are 3-Strip Successive Negatives (SEN) at UCLA for many of the Puppetoons, no existing 35mm IB Technicolor Nitrate print had ever existed for “Wilbur” – at least to my knowledge – as I have been searching for over 35 years! But low and behold, super hero collector Mark Kausler astonishingly had one and graciously loaned it to me for use in “The Puppetoon Movie Volume 2” project!!

      So readers of Cartoon Research can grasp the overwhelming task at hand, just to access, scan AND restore a single 3-Strip Technicolor (SEN) successive negative at UCLA it would cost well over $25,000 for a single subject!! And there are some 45 of them. Not including the dozens I have found in Europe. The cost for that method would exceed 2 MILLION DOLLARS!

      Fortunately, due to Mark and other archival finds 35mm Nitrate Technicolor prints (just as good in most cases as the 3-Strip) have been discovered, so we could get to work on a subject like “Wilbur” and many others immediately and for far less the cost.

      The GOOD NEWS is Paramount Pictures has restored a number of the 3-Strip (SEN) negatives and the studio with the assistance of its Chairman Jim Gianopulos (whom I am indebted) is allowing me access for the first time in history to the entire Puppetoon collection. And all of the remaining restorations will appear on future Volumes.

      Plus, I have located MINT 35mm Nitrate Prints via the Library of Congress for many of the subjects where Paramount has also granted me permission to use. So hope springs eternal!!

      Stay tuned for more news!

      And thanks to ALL for your still much needed continuing support and contributions.

      Please Donate Here:
      https://www.scifistation.com/puppetoon2.html

      All the best,

      Arnie Leibovit
      director@scifistation.com
      talkring@yahoo.com

  • What a lovely print of Wilbur.
    I’d like to make just a small donation to Mr Lebovit’s Puppetoons project, say 15 or 20 dollars (no pdf etc acknowledgement needed of course, & would buy the set later separately for whatever the full amount is when officially released) –
    but the paypal donation link only seems to accept set payments of $100 & more.
    Would gladly chip in the small amount as mentioned if there is a way.

    • Looks like the drop-down menu allows for a minimum $50 gift. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Thanks Craig, I didn’t notice the $50 option. Though that’s still probably a bit too much for me at the moment.

  • I’ll participate. I loves me some Puppetoons.

    Jasper Goes Hunting – and the Bugs cameo therein – were the perfect bait for me.

  • Very understandable that this is an expensive set to produce as a fantastic blu ray/dvd set, I already did my $ 105+ pledge/contribution as soon as Steve and Arnold announced production of this set in March 2019. I already bought the Vol 1 many years ago.

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