It’s really Jerry Beck’s fault that I think about things the way I do sometimes. When Jerry wrote an article for Film Collector’s World on missing pieces and rare things in cartoons in 1981, he sent this then-13 year old kid in a direction of trying to find rare cartoon-related things, including title cards and missing shorts. If anything, I guess I’m still trying to do that- sometimes with amazing help, and sometimes with scant resources.
I’ve found that the first thing to know when looking is that these things are generally *not* really lost. Someone has them already, and, often, that someone already knows about the rarity of that particular thing. Particular people — a small group — often have these things, and not by accident. They were looking for them all for years and years too— and shared them in different ways over the years. So, in a very real way, I’m late to dinner on finding ANY of these things – but choose to, if able, to share the meal with as big of an audience as possible.
Now, that said, the folks in this small group that have shared their information or allowed their materials to be shared have done an amazing service to animation history. First, they saved them to begin with. Then, many of them have been kind enough to share what they’ve found. Now these things are known more, and are shared more. I have to be honest and express my annoyance, at times, with the cultish aspects of things like animation identification, original titles, hidden messages, and even Flip the Frog fanfares. If I have to hear any more about Charlie Brown original versions I may explode. But, that said, I have a split mind on all of it in this. If I were born later, I’d probably be in this new group of people interested and following developments rather than spearheading some things.
It’s funny to watch these things grow in interest and spout a life of their own in the internet age. I know many people want to be involved in the process of revitalizing these things too- but often don’t have the resources or know where to start. I’m hoping that we are all collectively at least creating a trail of information that will help future fans be able to piece together the things that didn’t get the attention yet- and a possible approach to not only finding things but how to make them available to the larger animation production and fan community. The discovery of cool things shouldn’t be limited to a few people, but rather by those that continue to pursue them and collectively work to find and share things.
All of that said, I tend to get obsessive on details for a little while on each project. When they’re finished, I’m really not that way at all, and only come back to revisit them occasionally. Now the Cinecolor Rainbow Parades are pretty much in the can, I’m working a lot of the little details on the Flip the Frog project.
Over the last handful of days, I’ve been listening to all the scanned tracks we did for the project, specifically to ID the ones with the opening music ‘fanfares’ and to figure out what was missing, and if it could possibly exist in any of the material with the masters. I started out thinking I had possibly missed scanning a track that *could* have something we’re missing along the way, but on reviewing the list, I realized that we have covered everything from the nitrate masters at UCLA, but that there were a few things from the academy that possibly could have something we haven’t heard.
So, after listening to every track and comparing them to all the other tracks for best version, here is the current list of that little piece of music that happens just before Flip ‘glugs’ in each film. I’ve written ‘We’ll never know’ on the ones that there doesn’t seem to be *any* master or print materials that have shown up with the fanfare on a particular title.
The fanfares *did* stop at some point during the series, but it’s a guess as to what film they stopped at since the films directly after The Goal Rush are missing a master positive or neg track from MGM (or the fanfare was clipped off a track and used a a new master by Celebrity after the initial MGM run). Flip’s Lunch Room is the first one we know of that has the MGM lion just roaring with no musical background, and I think it’s safe to assume that the films after that point at least all started that way, although you can never be 100% sure. Here’s my current internal list:
So- look at this list, and if you have any prints with the missing fanfares of course I’ve love to borrow them! I think at this point we have what seems to exist, sadly— but you never know when something shows up.
I’m hoping in the coming weeks to have every element needed for the set; it’s pretty close at this point, and nearly everything has been cleaned up as well.
So, for those that love these fanfares, here’s a few more- including a pretty battered one from Puddle Pranks . Some are from cleaned up versions of the films, some not. One of the scans of the Stormy Seas track has a baton hit for tempo before the music – a pretty cool thing to hear. That track is first here.
Have a good week everyone and don’t get too stuck on the details!