October 21, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Terrytoons “What a Night” (1935)

It’s been a good week here at Thunderbean. We’ve been getting more efficient in terms of how the company runs over this past year, largely through the efforts of Dave, Becky and Becca who have been holding down the ship most of the time at the office while I get things scanned and put together. I ran over on Monday night and Tuesday morning to see a humming machine, with the crew making orders for Amazon as well as getting all the special sets that just got finished dubbed and in packages. As of Thursday, we’ll have out all the copies of Spook-O-Rama, Missing in Action, Mostly Technicolor and Cinemascope and Vintage Education Volume 2 with more on their way to being finalized. My job in this whole operation is to put all the pieces of the sets together and getting them to the finish line. I’m very much enjoying that- especially as some of the longer-term projects wrap up.

With a small, part time, solid team, I’m happy to see the company further establishing sea legs, but it’s still a tiny company. No one is full time as of yet, but I can see that changing now within the year. The big trick is to figure out what the right size is right now and what we do to support all the aspects of the business. It’s still very much a labor of love sort of business as I continue to make the choices to do the sets we want. That often involves some more obscure things that will never be great sellers, but I’m glad we’re able to do as we have. I know we’ll have to make choices to help grow the business, but we’ll still keep trying to hunt down the cool and forgotten things. You’ve all helped support these things over these years in both the pre-orders of official sets and the special sets; I’m very grateful to everyone for that help through these years.

Over the last handful of days Dave and I have been working on the Thunderbean shop. We’ve got all the individual cartoon titles listed for all the available finished special discs for the first time. We’ll have them up there for a little while, then likely permanently retire many of these special sets.

We’ve also got a new set called Cartoon Most Wanted. We’ll be having a survey to have you pick the most wanted cartoons we’re able to get and scan — and that will be the contents of the set. It’s available for pre-order here at the Thunderbean Shop.

And now, onto the cartoon! It’s Halloween season so here’s a spooky one!

Terrytoons will likely always be underrated. In more recent times, as many of the black and white cartoons from the early to mid-30s have been a little more available on-line, a new generation of viewers have been able to see a lot of the Terrytoons output and judge them on their own merits, rather than always reviewing them based on only a few films.

Some of the less-seen Terrytoons are easily some of the best, and this little gem, What A Night (1935), is a new favorite of mine. I had never seen it before, and was thrilled when Tommy Stathes was kind enough to lend it to me.

Poor Farmer Al is having a pretty scary night. A trio of pig singers happily warn of the impending doom the night brings. A Simon-Legree-ish announcer informs us that this is just an elaborate commercial for sleeping powder, angering Farmer Al enough for him to throw his radio out the window. He really picked the wrong night be so short tempered. The rest of the cartoon is literally a nightmare, culminating in a sequence involving Farmer Al being chased underwater by a cow-looking fish serpent! It’s an enjoying little diversion, and perfect for the Halloween season.

So, enjoy this little short and be sure to watch in HD.

Have a good week everyone!


  • What are the contents of Cartoons Most Wanted? I need to know.

  • During the 1930s, all animation studios released a number of nightmarish, macabre cartoons, and Terrytoons was no exception. “What a Night” has elements in common with earlier shorts like “Bluebeard’s Brother”, “A Mad House”, and “Beanstalk Jack”, all of which feature some wonderfully creepy character animation by Bill Tytla. Tytla didn’t have a hand in “What a Night” — he had already departed for Disney by then — but his influence had a legacy within the studio through Connie Rasinski and, ultimately, Jim Tyer. If the Terrytoons continue to be underrated, as they always have been, we can attribute that to the poor quality and/or incompleteness of so many of the available prints. Nevertheless, I’m a big fan of the studio’s output. It’s not all just cats and mice, you know!

  • Always a good day when a Terrytoon is in HD, I hope SOMEDAY a blu ray of the best of Terry would come out, maybe one day Viacom would let you do that (though at this rate it ain’t likely…)

    This one reminds me of the mystery of another 1935 Terry short, Amateur Night, which I’ve seen listed and a review for in The Film Daily but nobody’s ever seen it! I’d love to see that one pop up one day and figure out why it never got to TV, UCLA holds a nitrate and dupe negs of both image and sound. I wonder if it’s as fun as this one

  • Thanks for posting that with the intros!

    This reminded me of a Farmer Alfalfa cartoon I’ve been trying to find since I saw it as a kid. Pretty sure it was one of the silent ones and FA is trying to go to sleep but there’s all kinds of distractions preventing it. The scene I remember with the most clarity is he tosses a bucket of water out the window, then quickly laughs before the same stream of water comes back in through the window to hit him in the face.

    Anyone remember that one?

  • This one was fun. I haven’t seen a lot of the early Terrytoons, but I quite liked this one. It has the anarchic tone of the Fleischer cartoons of the day. The design work and animation isn’t quite up to that of the Fleischer Studios, but that doesn’t matter. I was entertained from beginning to end.

    By the length, I’m assuming that some of this was edited out for TV, but does anyone know exactly what was cut besides the original titles?

  • The TV bumpers are pretty neat. They match the original cartoons pretty well.

  • Thanks Steve!

    Yes, Terry sports a higher-than-average number of clunkers, but any studio than can create a Dingbat is all right by me.

  • I don’t remember ever seeing the interstitials. When I was a kid, Terrytoons were shown on Ch. 9 in New York, hosted by Claude Kirchner and his sidekick “Clownie.” They plugged “Cocoa Marsh” syrup live. The show was called “Terrytoon Circus.”

    Terrytoons may be overly criticized, but I like them. Especially Farmer Al.

  • I am so glad to hear that Thunderbean Animation is still working toward “a force to be reckoned with” status, and from what you’ve said here, you are that much closer.

    I look forward to receiving my copies of these rare disks, although I can’t keep up with them; I’ll have to check to see if I ordered the cinemascope disk, because it sounds intriguing, especially since I know that there were some unique Terrytoons created around that time, and believe me, I’ll get onto that CARTOONS MOST WANTED disk and, hopefully, will be able to suggest some titles, there, but I’m afraid my suggestions will probably be considered too mainstream by most. I look forward to your later call for these suggestions just so I can see others’ entries.

    Even though I can’t appreciate the visuals or so vividly remember them, I know I liked FARMER ALFALFA cartoons and thought that, in some cases, these were among some of the most scarey cartoons out there. Heck, in some cases, I thought that some aspects of the BOSKO trilogy for MGM had some strange and scarey moments when viewed as a small child. I didn’t know anything of popular culture at that time, so those cartoons, at least two out of three of them, remain etched in my mind, and I only saw grainy black and white TV airings.

    I know there were one or two black and white MERRIE MELODIES of the mid-to-late 1930’s that would also be perfectly chilling, but I can’t remember exact titles now. Perhaps “THE PHANTOM SHIP” or “THE HAUNTED MOUSE” (a later one, but I thought I’d suggest it later); another dizzily scarey cartoon came from “THE BEANY AND CECIL SHOW”, called “The Phantom of the Horse Opera” or “The Boo Birds”, both up on You Tube, but I wonder if any private collectors have material in color on these two films.

    Again thanks for the Halloweeny haunt, and I wish Thunderbean much, much long life. You all deserve great success!

  • I’ve never really been a big fan of TERRYTOON cartoons as a group of films. If you’d compare them with a film studio from the time the earlier ones were made – I’d call them the PRC of animation studios! That being said, PRC – once in awhile – came out with something more than half-way decent – THE DEVIL BAT, STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP, BLUEBEARD, DETOUR, the MICHAEL SHAYNE mysteries (surprisingly), so when I do see a pretty good TERRYTOON, I’m overjoyed. I kind of liked this one and I’d love to see the MIGHTY MOUSE series be restored and available some day. Despite their cheapness, that series had a good spirit of fun about it!

  • 2:10; The Farmer and the radio are by Jim Tyer, in his brief (though not the first) period at Terry’s between Van Beuren and Jam Handy.

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