THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
June 17, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

The Little Remaining Pieces of Flip – and Mark’s print of “Coo Coo the Magician”

Thunderbean Land, part 2:

Jerry wanted me to share some other things we just got scanned this week, but I will next week instead. This will give me a little time to combine some sections and maybe get a lot more in-depth about the technical details of combining color elements.

Being able to devote a big chunk of the summer to getting projects done this year has been honestly amazing, and I’ve been really enjoying jumping from one thing to another, knocking each thing off the list. Seeing the list of projects gets shorter and being able to devote a lot of time now to the big projects is a dream. I couldn’t be happier with how things are going right now — it’s just never as fast as I’d like.

I’ve barely been over to the Thunderbean office over the past two weeks, instead working on editing, color correction and getting final details on various sets. In the next few days, I’m working hard to get masters done for a bunch of the “special” sets. I’ll be over there to get a few things out myself to friends and things I’ve promised tomorrow, finally.

Many things got scanned a few weeks back, including some rare scope cartoons in 35mm Technicolor. Another batch of 35mm Technicolor cartoons landed in my lap a few days back, and these prints are just too good to not scan. The scope cartoons we just scanned will go nicely with these other 35mm 50s cartoons, so we’ve got a new preorder for a special set up, Mostly Scope and Technicolor, today at the Thunderbean shop for a limited time.

Back at the office, The four Thunderbean folks that work there have been owning that space. Dave and Becky are handling all of the Amazon orders and special discs that are all finished. Becca has been diligently handling the dubbing and combining of all the pre-order things about to ship, including dubbing everything as soon as the masters are delivered to her. She’s set up all the envelopes ready for those dubs, organized by groups of things going out in three different shipments. I’ve promised not to touch them and mess up her organization. That’s ok since I really need to get these special sets done. As the plate is getting cleared of these projects, I’ll be ready for the Flip the Frog finishing storm that’s about to land (or, honestly, already has started)

Vikki Tubie, a talented animation graduate from CCS, has been busy doing lots of finishing touches on the Flip project, steadying and doing additional dust-busting. Becca Smith, a two year Thunderbean veteren, finished a film today as well, and our own Devon Baxter is putting the finishing touches on Jailbirds. The last Flip elements from the European archives are showing up Friday, some elements from fellow Blu-ray producer Tommy Stathes are showing up this week,The Library of Congress is scanning a few soundtracks and a title from a German print of Bulloney and yesterday I scanned a very special print of Coo Coo the Magician.

This particular print is, honestly, unique as far as I can tell. Mark Kausler was kind enough to lend it for the project, and it contains footage that no other print we’ve found seems to have. It looks like its a combination of at least three different prints, with the body of the film being from a pretty good original print down from the 40s. We’ve now scanned more prints of this one cartoon than any other- a total of five prints: one 35mm from Denmark and four 16mm. All of them are missing something that the others have, except Mark’s print, having everything. The things missing, honstly, make it a better film, and are all really fun gags.

This film will be the most difficult to assemble for sure, but I’m excited to finally have all the material laying on the table ready to make the finished Flip cloth.

The Flip the Frog cartoons have more versions of them than *any* other series I’ve ever seen. MGM made cuts, Pat Powers made different cuts, Exclusive, Commonwealth, Tele-prompter and Blackhawk all seem to have made some cuts as well, and we’re not even talking about what was cut from versions going out of the US. MGM’s master positives are the best source for the most complete versions of the films- if only they existed on everything.

It was so much fun to watch this scan today that I thought I’d share it with everyone today. Be sure to watch it in 2k if it lets you!

12 Comments

  • I never knew commonwealth had got flip the frog (at the end of the video).

  • Many thanks to Mark Kausler for lending this fascinating print. Whoever assembled it clearly wanted to recreate the complete cartoon with no omissions, however small. The disparate elements allow us to determine what was cut from the original good-quality print, and why.

    Obviously expectoration gags were a no-no. The scenes at the beginning and end of the man spitting on his hands before striking the gong, and Flip’s climactic loogie that knocks over the last wobbling guard, were all replaced with clips from an inferior element. On the other hand, the censor had no problem with sneezing, even the really gross one when the Sultan sneezes all over Flip so hard that it blows off his harem costume. Gesundheit, Your Majesty, and cover your mouth next time.

    The entire scene in the crypt was cut from the main print, possibly because the statue of the queen thumbs her nose at Flip. That gesture may have been too rude to pass muster in 1933, though it’s certainly no worse than St. Peter giving Willie Whopper the finger. It doesn’t explain why the whole scene was cut; maybe someone thought it slowed down the cartoon.

    Where the main print cuts to an inferior element for only a few frames, like at 4:23 where Flip’s girlfriend is skidding to a stop, this was clearly done to repair an earlier splice. I really admire the painstaking attention to detail here.

    Evidently no self-appointed censors had any problem with Flip sharing a bed, however briefly, with nine women, or with the elephant’s mahout reaching way down into his loincloth and pulling out his, um, crank.

    Can’t wait to see the other things you have in store next week!

    • Your comment recalls to my mind the grasshopper from one of Freleng’s early 40s efforts, who has to spit off-camera, since expectoratin’ is forbidden. Though I can think of some gags that survived.

      • “Hop, Skip and a Chump” (1942). The character animation in that cartoon is superb.

    • You’re Welcome, Paul! It took many years to assemble this print of Coo-Coo The Magician. Note that the title is a parody of the radio program “Chandu, The Magician” originally aired 1931-1936. In 1932, Chandu was made into a live-actioh film with Edmund Lowe as Chandu. The Nubian slave at the beginning and end striking the old washtub is a parody of the J. Arthur Rank British Film Logo, with a strong man hitting a giant gong with a mallet. The footage of the slave hitting the gong looks like it was originally done in some kind of color process to me. Steve did a good job in increasing the contrast on the scenes I added in from a Commonwealth Pictures dupe print, these are much clearer in appearance now than in the film itself. I slugged in missing frames into the original print from the Commonwealth dupe as well. I’m glad you enjoyed watching it.

      • The gong was a signature motif of the Chandu radio series, opening and closing each episode. I think similarities to the Rank logo are probably incidental.

        • Great Comment, Aaron! I didn’t think about the gong sound in the Chandu radio programs, but it makes sense!

      • Also, the Rank Organisation (or rather its predecessor, General Film Distributors) first used the gong logo in 1935, two years after “Coo Coo the Magician”.

        By the way, any orchestral percussionist will tell you that the instrument in question is a tam-tam, not a gong. A gong has a definite pitch like a bell, while the tam-tam is of indeterminate pitch like a cymbal. But why pick nits? Coo Coo’s turban is full of them!

  • I wonder if any polliwogs were later found in that pool..?

  • Steve I always wonder if the Flip original negatives were part of the inventory that were destroyed in the infamous MGM film vault fire in the mid 1960’s. Did read of many original release Tom and Jerry and Tex Avery cartoons ….among others ….were in there, along with the only known copy of Lon Chaney’s LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT. Doubt if we will ever kind out about the exact inventory. Happy that we have what we have now.

  • The scene of the slave striking the gong does indeed appear in Cinecolor at the beginning of the Iwerks ComiColor cartoon “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp”, but there are some notable differences between that footage and “Coo Coo the Magician”. In the former, the slave does not spit on his hands, he wears a hat and bracelets on his ankles, the gong is a proper instrument and not a washtub, the design of the castle in the background is slightly different, etc.

  • Who’s Flip’s girlfriend? Looks like Betty Boop’s kid sister. Sometimes siblings of stars will try for their own bit of spotlight, like Joey Travolta or Kevin Dillon (Matt’s brother). Anyway, this is one of the livelier Flip outings.

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