October 18, 2018 posted by Steve Stanchfield

‘The Puppet Murder Case’ (1935)

In Thunderbean Land:
Besides being really layed up with the flu this past week, I managed to finish the ‘Grotesqueries’ master, just very late! We’ll be sending out a DVD-R version to everyone who pre-ordered to be followed by the replicated one; we hope the replication will be ready within a month. because of this, Grotesqueries won’t be available on Amazon just yet, but will eventually!

The set was a lot of fun to put together (again, but this time in HD), and one of my favorite things about the project was just working with Chris Buchman and Rex Schneider of the Blue Mouse Studio. I’ll post stills next week.

All sorts of other sets are in the process of getting finished right now; we’re trying to get as many of the ‘special’ sets out the door in the coming weeks. I was glad to have help in getting things out, but it’s still far behind.

Being nearly completely layed up gave me a chance to just stare at printed out list of various things related to Thunderbean. These lists are mostly the minutiae involved in all this, from who’s doing what bonus stuff, to what archive or collector has this or that, to what I’m trying to borrow from who. I spent the first few days organizing what cleanup freelancer gets what film for seven different sets that are in some sort of progress. From there, I figured out the rest of the scanning order for two other sets coming from a few archives. After feeling quite accomplished, I came downstairs, and, in reviewing emails, was sad to hear something I requested (in Nitrate) was found to be more of a brick than a piece of film now. At least there’s a usable (safety) version of the title…

One of the techs at the college I teach at has set up and calibrated the monitors in one of the edit bays with a large screen monitor mounted in the room; I’ll be testing this system out for color grading some of the Cinecolor Rainbow Parades this next week should my health be fully back. Having nearly all of the first half cleaned up now is wonderful, but they’re all over the place in terms of color ‘look’. Watching Sunshine Makers edited with all its original titles and end back was wonderful late last week, along with several others.

Even though we have no new release to talk about, if you didn’t purchase this last year, be sure to check out Tommy Stathes’ Cartoons on Film release: Cartoon Roots Halloween Haunts – available on Amazon.

AND.. onto this week’s cartoon – The Puppet Murder Case!

While not exactly a Halloween cartoon, this Scrappy entry is at least, well, pretty spooky. The Puppet Murder Case (1935) is one of the more stylish of the series, and has an especially cinematic interrogation sequence. The story here is pretty simple: Scrappy is running a puppet show for the neighborhood kids. Scrappy won’t let his little brother see the show, socking him in the face repeatedly every time her tries. Oopy sneaks in anyway and, using a pee shooter, kills a stageful of puppets by breaking their strings. After Scrappy beats Oopy again, then has the ‘puppets’ put him on trial. This concludes with a puppet jury deciding Oopy is guilty, sentencing him to more abuse.

While hardly the happiest of the series, it’s an enjoyable, musical outing featuring some really fun animation, if not the cheeriest of stories. Of of the other ’mean’ gags in the short involves a child falling into a spittoon full of cigar butts. I think Sid Marcus and staff must have hated children to make a film like this, or maybe they were just tired of Scrappy. I always felt especially bad for Oopy in this cartoon since he really did very little harm compared to the pounding he takes.

I’ve never had a great print of this one – like so many of the Samba TV prints, mine is a little soft on focus. I’ve always wanted one of the better ‘Official’ films prints of this title, but all the copies I’ve found have quite a few splices. So, to kick off the cartoons of Halloween, here’s Scrappy! Have a great week everyone!


  • Definitely one of the darker Scrappy’s. You can’t help but feeling sorry for the poor kid even if he has deliberately sabotaged the show.

  • Um…”pea shooter” not “pee shooter.” Though the logistics of the latter do make you think.

  • Yikes, and as a result, Oopie is sentenced to *BE* a puppet, hanging upside down (if I got the lyrics correct); I have to agree that this is one of the darkest cartoons I’d ever seen from the golden era…but I’d still like, someday, to check out the entire SCRAPPPPY series, fully restored, if at all possible after all these years. And I’m always looking forward to the big sets whenever they can be made available. Here’s to fruitful efforts and success on finding just the right elements to make the possibilities a lot easier on you, Steve, and I hope your staff grows to the point where you’re not endangering your health over all this!! Thanks for these posts each week, and here, again, to future possibilities with real results!

  • Get well soon, Mr. Steve. Little Lulu is on her way with the Kleenex! Best regards, Mark and Itza

  • Steve, you sent me scurrying to screen my 16mm Official print… had not run it in years! Good news, no major wear, few splices. Not so good news, I caught a tiny whiff of something I didn’t want to smell! A dunk in Vitafilm and hope for the best…

  • While I was at Sony, I made 35mm prints of a number of Columbia cartoons, this being one of them. If they haven’t junked it, you might inquire about borrowing it.

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