THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
October 1, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

The “On Hold” Blu-ray Is Done

I’ve managed to get my ‘On Hold’ set all set and tweaked this last week, and am happy to have it help actually finish some of the other sets that are right on the cusp on being done.

Thunderbean Presents On Hold: Cool Things from Unfinished Projects started as a special set – available for pre-orders a little while back. It took a while to finally get all the ducks in a row for the set, and since these particular sets are still in Blu-ray purgatory for a little longer at least, it made some sense to have this set available a little wider.

Here’s a quick rundown of contents and some reasons why they’re on the set:

2 half-hour Linus the Lionhearted episodes: Linus is a bigger project that we hope to get to before *too* long. It will require quite a bit of work, and a few more tangled licensing things that these two episodes appear to be free of. We have a handful of B/W negs from the show’s ABC run (with commercials – like the Bugs Bunny Kool-Aid spot pictured below) that we’re planning to use in some form (although we’ll use color episodes on the final sets). Film and animation archeologist Jeff Missinne sent me a note explaining the likely origin of these negs: “If this was a 16mm print, ABC made those for “secondary affiliates” in smaller markets without a full-time ABC station; like WDSM-TV and KDAL-TV in Duluth, NBC and CBS affiliates respectively, who made a boodle carrying ABC shows on a delayed basis in whatever time slots were open. Film shows were b/w prints, tape shows like “Hollywood Palace” were kinescopes. The shows were circulated from station to station by mail or other delivery services like REA Express, then back to the network.” He followed up with “We would see ABC shows here two to three weeks after they ran on the main network, and in the damnedest time slots, like Sunday afternoons (the networks did not offer as much weekend sports programming as later.) WDSM used to slot a “checkerboard” of ABC Saturday cartoons Mon-Fri after the local Bozo the Clown show, to allow Bozo time to get his makeup and costume off and get ready to do the weather.” I especially love that last part- it reminds me so much of how fun it was to have ‘local’ programming- something that literally doesn’t exist anymore save news shows.

It’s been fun to see the Linus shows, and I’m looking forward to seeing more in nice prints.

Toby in the Museum (1930): last week’s article was about this particular title. I’d love for there to be a more complete collection of Tobys than we currently have. I tend to look to the ends of the earth for these things (along with my co-producers and friends)— so maybe Toby will have a brilliant comeback, and maybe I can trademark the word ‘Song’ or ‘Ink’ for use in all home video formats just for a kick! Wonder if that would stick legally, or if I’d need to be properly dressed to accomplish such a goal.

Grampy’s Indoor Outing (1937): One of Jerry Beck’s all-time favorites! We’re working hard on getting a lot of Boops scanned, but it’s slow going since the pandemic. Here’s one we’ve had scanned already, and we’re including an additional mystery Boop as well. This PD Betty set will eventually have 20 cartoons on it-and we hope to finish it early next year.

Jolly Fish (1932) The Van Beuren Tom and Jerry set is moving right along, and we’re doing as we did with the Cubby Bear set: looking for the best prints we can find and the original titles. This one is one of the ones we haven’t found original titles on as of yet, but we’re looking hard!

The Littlest Giant (1957) This two reel Technicolor ‘Educational’ short by John Sutherland is as you would expect: well designed and animated and with an extra large helping of political messaging! We hope to put together a whole Sutherland set at some point, but for now this short will at least get seen. It’s one of the harder ones to view since prints are pretty rare.

Lou Bunin’s Rabbit on the Perry Como show (early 50s): We’ve shown this before on Cartoon Research, but since the rest of the reels from Bunin’s Alice are not yet available, we’ll have this at least on this set if you missed it.

Felix the Cat shorts! The Felix the Cat project is a complicated one- and that’s putting it mildly! I’ll give the litigation-free and friendly version here:

David Gerstein and I started working with Felix the Cat Productions in 2011. We signed a contract to uncover as many Felix the Cat cartoons as possible, so the search was on! The goal was to match the amount of films held traditionally by the company, and then release the whole set of stuff together. Almost any profit from Thunderbean was going into this project for *years*. Three years and well over 50k later, we had a bunch of them, having uncovered films from archives around the world and lots of private collections. We have more from 35mm sources than exist anywhere else- and many shorts had their last-chance scans before completely falling apart. We’ve scanned over 90 shorts at this point, often from the only extant print- and many improving the material the company has itself. The Felix character (along with the copyright to the films that are renewed) ended up changing hands during our deal, first to Dreamworks, then to Universal— leaving negotiation complications in all directions. After working out a tentative deal with Universal, things stalled because of a high advance residual amount that wouldn’t budge. Currently we have all the films, and I’m putting five of the ones in the Public Domain on this collection: Felix at the Fair, Felix Kept on Walking, Arrest Cures (!) and Romeow — plus a mystery short!

The ‘On Hold’ set will be going in the coming week to folks who pre-ordered, and its available here on Amazon for a limited time.

Thanks all and have a good weekend!

6 Comments

  • Sorry to hear about the problems with Universal on the Felix set. To be honest, your Felix project is the one that’s most interesting to me. I’m especially curious to see how the “guest” animators affected the look of the series.

  • Ooooh!!! I’m so excited! More Felix shorts!

  • I’m glad you managed to find that much Felix shorts and to scan them, congrats to you both, that’s already a worthwhile achievement. It’s a shame that the project is now stuck in an administrative limbo but since the content is now preserved, I don’t mind waiting a bit longer ! And thank you for the insights, I have to admit I’ve been curious about it.

  • Re: TV prints showing up on a station long after their original showing. I remember the Disneyland show was shown in Miami about a week after the network showing, including Christmas episodes. Disney promoted Sleeping Beauty by having a radio station play the other half of a stereo soundtrack, on the network showing, but I missed the stereo until a 70mm re-release a few decades ago..

  • I am happy to hear about the inclusion of “LINUS THE LION-HEARTED” on this ON HOLD DVD (or is it blu-ray?), and I would imagine that this is the version with the entire opening and closing themes? There is a clean example of this clearly put up on You Tube, and I remember it well, but I guess that the clearer memory is of the syndicated or truncated versions of those openings and closings. I hope that more people will enjoy them, despite the entire program coming off as a half hour advertisement for Post cereals. No doubt the commercials intact will also drive that point home, but I enjoyed it for what it is. As for memories of cartoons often being shown on TV at odd times, I really noticed this when traveling to visit relatives in more remote places where you got less local programming. It was a weekend, and I recall that one network in another location was showing one of the Total Television shows late on Saturday afternoon, along with episodes of “TOP CAT”. Back hee in Valley Stream and other locations in the New York area, some network shows were indeed pushed to very, very early on Sunday morning. Yup, folks, back in the day, we had to sometimes go hunting for those more rarely shown cartoons as we did not have a “Cartoon Network”, but there was still quite an array of titles to be found, and it was worth traveling to other locales just to see what classic cartoon shows were still airing while New York stations got rid of certain cartoons to make room for recent entries that became more popular. I, of course, preferred the days before there were cartoons specially designed for the kid market and before networks started becoming concerned about the content! Golden days like that are what started the possibilities of cartoon festivals beginning in the 1970’s and lasting through the 1990’s at specialty theaters in your area! I still feel that home video did not kill that enjoyment, because there is nothing like checking out film being shown in a theater and being enjoyed with a live audience. Good luck on sales of this new disk. I’m sure it is amazing.

  • Cool! Looking forward to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *