July 27, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

“The Bully’s End” (1933)

In Thunderbean news:

As you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be either driving or scanning films– I’m taking a quick jaunt out east with a carload of 35mm films to deliver as well as a bunch of things to scan. I’m hoping to be back in Michigan on the weekend, so it’s a whirlwind trip. Sort of usual here. I’m excited because I’m scanning a lot of things I haven’t seen at all yet as well as some things I’m looking forward to finishing for various Thunderbean sets.

The Van Beuren Tom and Jerry Blu-ray set is nearly done, with the last film finishing cleanup today. Menus and extras are all set, and I’m hoping it will be headed to replication in another week or two at most. Even though the set was a big project, it was small compared to the challenges of the Flip the Frog collection.

The Rainbow Parades, Volume 2 set is now on the plate, and starting to get fast tracked towards the finish line along with several other titles. Working with all Technicolor prints for the set is a joy. As we get things further we’ll be posting some stills— so more in the coming weeks!

Now — this week’s cartoon!

The Bully’s End (1933) directed by Harry Bailey, is near the tail end of the series of Van Beuren Aesop’s Fables, a series that Cubby Bear takes over entirely not long after this entry. The studio’s animation, layout and inking are showing great improvements by this point in the series.

It’s established at the beginning of the cartoon (with a real rooster crow) that the rooster is a bully, first, busting one of his hens and punishing a peacock, then stealing Runty Ducky’s girlfriend. In a Fleischer-esque sequence, a street-wise dog convinces Runty to fight the rooster. The expected ensues with our hero of course coming out on top.

With a cast of hundreds of staring straight forward animals, it’s a fun one reel of entertainment. I especially like the unusual inking and painting use in this film, with characters in lighter inked linework at times and streamlined backgrounds. I think I might like the 1933 Fables the most of any.

This nice old 16mm printdown was cleaned up for the Aesop’s Fables, Volume 1 Blu-ray.

Have a great rest of the week everyone!


  • “The duck is bold,
    But he hasn’t got a chance.
    We’ll knock him cold!
    The rooster’s not a Nance!”

    I take it that’s short for “Nancy boy”; I’ve never heard the expression thus abbreviated. I wonder if anyone ever gave then-Vice President Garner a hard time about his middle name.

    You’re absolutely right about the ink and paint work in this cartoon. It really helps convey a sense of depth, especially in the scenes of the crowd in the bleachers. Overall I have to compare “The Bully’s End” favourably to the Flip the Frog cartoon “The Bully” released the previous year, in which the spectators at the boxing match are so frenetically over-animated that it’s difficult to follow what’s happening in the foreground.

    Do I detect some Jim Tyer animation in the fight scene?

    • The term was seemingly commonplace enough to show up in a few internal documents at Disney. The script for Disney’s “Who Killed Cock Robin” (1935) describes the Cupid character as having “…the hand-on-hip, I’ll-slap-your-wrist attitude of a nance”. and the animator draft for “King Neptune” (1932) has Dick Lundy assigned to animate a “nance pirate”.

      Not sure about the fight, but 0:45 – 0:51 and 3:13 – 3:43 are definitely Tyer. The Art Deco-style streamlining of the Little King shorts seems to have been influencing the designs for the Aesop’s Fables by this point.

  • Runty Duck seems like a midpoint between the tall, effeminate bird (goose? cuckoo?) of earlier Van Beuren shorts and the later Gandy Goose at Terry.

    In the long scene at 3:27, keep your eye on the cow and the large bird at upper left. Over the course of the scene, the bird evolves from a turkey into a chicken and then a goose!

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