THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
August 12, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Terrytoons “Foofle’s Train Ride” (1959)

In Thunderbean news: I’ve been pretty much *only* doing a few things: Flip the Frog cleanup, helping out the little Thunderbean team in sending Rainbow Parades Volume 1 and, prepping films for scans. I’m doing the film scan road trip most of the dayThursday, and when I arrive I’ll be scanning about 6 hours of 16mm and 35mm stuff. It’s a mix of things, but mostly Van Beuren Tom and Jerrys and Aesop’s Fables borrowed from some very kind collectors, the last films for Vintage Education, Volume 2 and a bunch of things for special discs. There’s also a print of the Flip the Frog cartoon The Village Specialist to scan, and 21 missing frames from the fine grain of Puppy Love. We’re dotting every “i” we can with Flip, including any known missing tail wags!

Speaking of that, Flip is officially down to 5 films left to fix this-or-that on… the rest have actual ‘final’ versions now! There’s some heavy work left on a few – but mostly tweaking a bunch of little things on the last of them. The Milkman may have been finished for the *second* time today, with the new scan really improving on the fine grain we cleaned up the first time. One of the hardest things about the project has been discovering the scan you just got is better than the one you’ve already cleaned up. It’s at the point where I’m pretty sure we’ve got the best material in existence for each film on the set. Can’t wait to release them and get onto all those other things!


And – of course, today’s cartoon!

Jerry was kind enough to lend some films from his garage to scan a little over a year back, so of course we went through the Terrytoons and Famous studios stuff. What could be more important?

Here’s one of the prints we scanned: Foofle’s Train Ride (59). Since I hadn’t seen a pretty good chunk of the late 50s Terrytoons in their original scope format, each time I’ve seen one finally in scope it’s been a new education. We showed this this one as part of our yearly show at the Redford Theatre, but it was a while before we were able to scan it.

Brilliant designer and animator Dave Tendlar directed this short, but you can see right away the influences of Gene Deitch. Tendlar’s many years at Fleischer’s and Famous must have seemed world’s past compared to what was happening at Terrytoons in this period. As the creative producer behind the productions, Deitch’s time at Terrytoons yielded some really fun, often surprising results- and, oddly, the complete picture of these shorts hasn’t ever been available in its original form, unless you collected prints and were lucky enough to find a lot of these in scope.

I think Deitch was really amazing to take Terrytoons in this creative direction at this particular studio. It seems he was directly influenced by the way UPA handled the way of thinking about a studio’s output. Instead of a concentration on only *his* sensibilities, the studio experimented a lot in this period- yielding all sorts of results.

This particular short is much closer to a silent comedy or pantomime stage performance. There’s a wonderfulness to the risk this film takes in allowing the character animation to completely carry it in a time where animation for both television and theatrical cartoons were very talky and nearly always dialogue driven (including other Terrytoons).

There were only three Foofle shorts made. From watching the second one after this first one, it’s pretty clear that it was made in a similar way, with the action and performance carrying the story. Perhaps it was the producers that decided this experiment wasn’t working; in the final version of the second short there’s a narrator talking basically through the whole film, even ruining a few moments that really didn’t need so much explaining. My favorite ruined moment in the second one is Foofle on the phone asking his love interest to have a picnic and being turned down, leaving it to us to understand what had happened as Foofle sadly packs his picnic just for himself. In the final release, they *have* to explain that his girlfriend is off to an ‘air-conditioned movie’, even mentioning it later in the film. I wish there was a version of this second film without the annoying narration.

Anyway-here’s the first one, as well as the second on youtube from what looks like a scope 16mm print. Have a Foofle day and a good weekend, and make sure to have a beverage out of your Foofle collector’s cup from Arby’s. Thanks to Jerry for this nice 35mm print in beautiful IB Technicolor.

7 Comments

  • Love this one ❤️❤️❤️

    Hope all goes well with the scanning! I hope you have a safe trip!

  • Great find! I do know that some of the CinemaScope Terrytoons shorts were lost, yet partially found despite being rare, I hope you find some more.

  • Bern Bennett was a staff announcer at CBS. He was the announcer for such shows as “Beat The Clock” and “To Tell The Truth.”

  • Actually had memories of this from boomer-era television — the music, the waterfall between cars, and the ending. What I didn’t remember was how much Foofle seems to be an early version of Nudnik.

    Also noteworthy: Jules Feiffer is credited with design.

  • I’d never seen this one before. Reminded me of Deitch’s Nudnik cartoons.

  • I’m getting a Harry Langdon vibe.

  • Wonderful! Thank for sharing

    That 2nd short you saw from a 16mm transfer came from my copy, btw! Still have the print

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