August 24, 2016 posted by

Terrytoon’s “Club Sandwich” (1931)


Club Sandwich, the 25th Terrytoon, released January 25, 1931, harks back to the silent Aesop’s Fables which Paul Terry produced, in that an army of mice retaliate against Farmer Al Falfa and his cat. It’s amusing that this war is instigated by the cat’s repeated blows towards the girl mouse, as she continues to harangue him for disrupting the festivities in their nightclub. The final scenes in the film, where Farmer Al Falfa endures the “gauntlet” – tied by a rope and pulled by a mule throughout different areas of his home – might have been used in earlier Fables. Terry’s films could have influenced Chuck Jones, too; Hubie and Bertie use a similar tactic to eradicate the neurotic Claude Cat in Mouse Wreckers (1949).

ClubSandwich-1The animators on this film include Frank Moser, Jerry Shields, Art Babbitt and Paul Terry, credited for a small number of scenes. Moser’s assistants are Connie Rasinski, Jose Carreon and Paul Sommer, credited as “Sommers” in scene 29A. (The assistant credited “Sarka” is still unconfirmed.) Though Art Babbitt is assigned his own animation, he is credited alongside Moser in scene 40A. The film boasts a few remarkable scene layouts, particularly the low angle shots in scenes 21, as the mice march over to Farmer Al Falfa amidst a cheering crowd, and a spiraling staircase in scene 28—both animated by Moser.

Paul Sommer’s first job in animation was animating for Terry’s studio from its inception in 1929. He stayed until the summer of 1937, when he migrated to the West Coast at MGM. (Examples of his animation can be seen in The Field Mouse and The Bear and the Beavers.) Sommer left MGM to work at Screen Gems, and later became a director, partnering with John Hubley. He arrived back to Paul Terry’s studio as an animator after Screen Gems dissolved in the late ‘40s.

This film is one of the rare instances in which a Terrytoon incorporates a licensed commercial song. The 1930 tune “Good Evening” (Tot Seymour/O’Flynn/ Al Hoffman) is sung in the opening by a mouse holding a megaphone into his mouth, imitating popular crooner Rudy Vallee. Musical composer Phil Scheib also uses classical music during the battle—in this case, Franz von Suppe’s “Light Cavalry Overture” and the overture from “Fra Diavolo” by Daniel Francois Espirit Auber.


The working title for this cartoon was “Dancing Mice”; it was re-titled such when CBS aired this title with its syndication package in the ’50s. CBS censored the scene when the mouse shoots a mule with a cannon, reducing him into a skeleton as he gallops. They also excised a few frames in the final shot, as Farmer Al Falfa is dragged away. This breakdown video is sourced from a British 35mm nitrate print, with the CBS version used for the first two shots in the cartoon. On a perplexing note, scene 4 uses different backgrounds as the mice lovers are escorted to the nightclub; in the 35mm print, they are seen outside of the house, but in the CBS version, they are seen inside of the house. The reason for these changes are unclear.




(Thanks to Charlie Judkins, Mark Kausler and Steve Stanchfield for their help.)


  • What’s the girl mouse babbling, over and over, in French? “How dare you, we never did anything, if you continue I’ll tell my mom, you’ll see”… Something close to that.

  • It would be interesting to know what original material survives on these cartoons in the CBS vaults.

  • Who is the assistant marked “Godron”? Dan Gordon, perhaps?

    • George Gordon, later an animator and director for MGM. It’s also noted in the video.

  • I have to also ask the question “what is the girl mouse saying in French?” It seems as if the voice is sampled in fragments, but I wonder if complete sentences are included there. There was a lot of that kind of stuff in 1930’s cartoons, and we used to think that the animators were sneaking in “rude” words via other languages. Van Buren did this, too, but then I thought that some of that kind of dialogue was lifted from bits of live action film respliced either in other languages or in reverse. Even Warner Brothers did the latter.

    Great cartoon, again, Devon! I keep hoping for the day when someone decides to do restoration on Terrytoons, if that is at all easy anymore.

    • Doesn’t sound to me like the babbling was taken from some other source – the words do make sense given the situation. Someone at the studio might have known a woman (or it might be a young boy) who could talk really fast, in French, and had her repeat the lines, since it sounds like different takes. You are right, there’s some cutting, maybe to get rid of some pauses or just to make it go faster.

  • Given that, here in the real world, most people consider mice filthy vermin and don’t want them in their houses, it’s fascinating that they are usually the heroes in cartoons they appear in.

  • I notice most of these early Terrytoons had food titles (Club Sandwich, Popcorn, Indian Pudding, Caviar).

    • That’s my favorite cartoon TV series – one of the segments in Farmer Alfalfa cartoon show as seen in the Philippines during the 1960’s era – it aired on ABS-CBN Channel 9 until the early 1970’s. Classic cartoons of all time!

  • Another Terrytoons article! Fantastic!

    Speaking of early 30’s Terrytoons, I’m most curious about the crowd scenes in Spanish Onions. For example, in the scene where the brave mice hero pounds his chest and goes off to fight the bull… The characters in the background in that scene are all so wrong and nothing like any Terrytoon design.

    If you could identify them that would be helpful.

    • Let’s see, left to right, that’s Pedro, Jose, Luis, Miguel, Ricardo, Juan… and Sheldon!

    • Peter Mork: Ha! I was talking about identifying the animator, but those work too!

    • That particular scene is animated and laid out by Paul Terry himself.

    • Charlie Judkins: Really? Interesting. His design of the mice and cats on that scene look very and sporadically different than his later/older attempts to animate them!

  • I’ve got my doubts that the “Sarka” is Charles Sarka. I did some digging around on, and here’s what I found:

    (1) A passport application from 1916, where he lists his birthdate as 12/6/1880, but his father (who swore an affidavit) lists it as 12/6/1879. A note on the application indicates that Sarka can’t recall, and his father may be correct. Lives at 39 Gramercy Park, illustrator and artist, and he was going with his wife to the West Indies to sketch.
    (2) 1917 directory, listing his address as 692 Madison Avenue.
    (3) 1918 draft card, listing his address as 692 Madison Avenue, occupation poster artist and illustrator.
    (4) 1920 census (sloppy writing by census taker). Occupation listed as artist, address 692 Madison Avenue.
    (5) 1930 census, occupation listed as painter, address 692 Madison Avenue.
    (6) I was not able to locate a 1940 census record.
    (7) 1942 draft card, listing his address as 139 E 52nd Street, occupation WPA Poster Project.

    Now, it’s not impossible he could have commuted from Manhattan to New Rochelle, though that seems expensive and a long trip to be an assistant animator, when he seems to have had a consistent career as a poster artist and illustrator. The 1930 census record is the closest one in time to the Terrytoons period, and it doesn’t reference him as an animator.

    Sarka is a fairly rarish name, but no searches turned up anyone by that name living in New York State in 1930 and occupied as an artist other than Charles.

    • The Terry studio wasn’t in New Rochelle in 1930, was it?
      None of the other Sarkas in the 1930 Census for New York have occupations resembling anything close to working in art.

    • According to Charlie Judkins, these early Terrytoons in the 1930-31 were produced in the Bronx. Terry’s studio moved to New Rochelle in 1934.

    • Don M. Yowp, Eric O. Costello:

      You’re getting the studio location history wrong. The original Terrytoon studio location in 1930 was Long Island City, the location for the Fables Pictures/Studios building that Paul Terry had established and got fired from.

      According to research documents, after 10 months since the partnership of Terry and Frank Moser, the studio then moved to the Bronx around August 1930. In early 1932, the studio then moved again to Harlem, which resulted in complaints about the decrease in the quality of the Terrytoons. In late 1934 however, they moved to New Rochelle, which is what Wikipedia states.

      The Wikipedia article is very, very inaccurate, full of [citation needed] and references from biased sources, so take it with a grain of salt.

      Thanks to the very extensive research by Wynn Gerald Hamonic. I would have not known this without his college report on Terry himself. It’s a very great read actually, you should check it out.

  • I sit corrected. I guess all he would have had to do is take the IRT uptown to the Bronx. I wonder if there’s any vintage group photographs of the Terry studio; there is one 1916 photo of Sarka that I know of, his passport photo, which could be used to compare.

  • Okay, I’m three months too late with this, but I discovered another difference between the theatrical version of this cartoon and the TV version – in the scene where Farmer Al is whacking mice running around on the floor with a fly swatter, the TV version has many more mice – I can imagine the Boss commanding more mice to be added, because more mice is the Terry Way.

    Trivial pursuit, no doubt. My real purpose here is to invite you to enjoy this cartoon on YouTube, but run backwards. Why did I do it? Because I can.

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