March 21, 2024 posted by Steve Stanchfield

The Technicolor Rainbow Parades: A Progress Report

First, in Thunderbean news!

It’s busy over at Thunderbean central– and will be even busier tomorrow! We’re working right now on dubbing and sending out seven of the ‘special’ BDR sets this week, including the new ‘Sneak Preview’ disc. The goal in these next weeks is to finish production on several more of these special sets to have as many out the door in March as we can. Additionally, we’re hoping to send the Mid Century Modern, Volume 3 Blu-ray master out to replication in the coming week after some additional tweaks. There’s also a new special set, Vintage Cartoon Seasons, available for a limited time at

And now some things I’ve been wanting to show for a while, but just a little peek!

“Molly Moo Cow And The Indians”

One of the best things about Thunderbean is that I get to see things I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. Sometimes they’re things I’ve never seen at all–and sometimes those things are already familiar, but still excigting since the new version is an upgrade in quality. In this case, back to the quality of their original releases. Once of the three major projects we’re cranking on right now are the second half of the Rainbow Parade cartoon series, produced in 1935 and 36.

Out of all the ‘major’ cartoon studios, the Van Beuren cartoons have the poorest master survival rate by a long shot- there’s only a handful left that have a negative, and really a small collection of ones that survive in 35mm around the world verses 16mm prints. It’s pretty lucky that nearly all the Rainbow Parades have survived in good condition 35mm prints. Sadly, only prints survive on them, with some of the Technicolor ones having single surviving color separations, and sometimes two of the color layers, but none with complete color separations.

Molly Moo Cow and the Butterflies”

I’ve gone over the history of the material just a little before here (and maybe on the Blu-ray forum at some point). After Van Beuren went out of business, the entire cartoon series seems to have been sold to Walter Gutlohn, a small mostly non-theatrical 16mm distributor. Gutlohn himself died the same year as his company bought the films, and it was a little while before they were released on 16mm. The earliest Gutlohn 16mm prints seem to date from the late 30s, with color prints of some of the Cinecolor Rainbow Parades being distributed for 16mm rental in the early 40s. Gutlohn sold the Technicolor Rainbow Parades to Commonwealth films, and Commonwealth released 16mm Kodachrome prints of those entries. They seem to have made 35mm Technicolor master prints and used those for reductions to 16mm, either making a print down right from the 35 for each print, or making one master 16mm that could be used as a reversal (most likely). later, this material was sold to Teleprompter, then eventually to Eastin-Phelan, who marketed them under their Blackhawk films name.

What I’ve been really liking about this project is getting nearly all the technical stuff out of the way at the beginning. Other than a few issues with titles and beginnings of films, the 35mm materials are in remarkably good shape. A little bit of physical cleaning (!) and good scanning (all on a Lasergraphics director) yielded beautiful results. The high resolution of the scans plus the excellent digital restoration tools in Diamant have been making the process incredibly smooth so far. The goal is to have the set finished in the next month or so— so we’re close already!

Having all of the materials coming together this efficiently is unusual for one of these projects, but I’m enjoying working on them as well as having the freelancers tackle some of their favorites. Here’s a few sneak preview frames from the set to give you an idea of what they’re looking like.

Don’t worry, you’ll be seeing them in motion soon!

“Bold King Cole”

“Molly Moo Cow and Rip Van Winkle”

Have a good week everyone!


  • Your screenshot from “Molly Moo Cow and Rip Van Winkle” looks miles above the one they released on the Cartoons That Time Forgot DVD. These screenshots look really impressive. We’re all looking forward to the set.

  • Those are some beautiful images. I hope to see Molly Moo Cow and her butterflies in all their animated glory very soon!

  • Thank you! Soon, “Molly Moo-Cow and the Butterflies” will be available in its full glory for the entire world to rediscover! This will make its 50th anniversary edition look feeble in comparison!

  • NOW’s the time for that 10,000-word essay on Molly Moo-Cow! 🙂

    Yes, I’m looking forward to the set, too. When I received the Flip the Frog DVD set a few months ago, the first thing I did was watch “Fiddlesticks” from the “Cartoons that Time Forgot” – Ub Iwerks Vol. 1 to the one in the Thunderbean set. No comparison, not surprisingly – the Thunderbean one is far superior.

    I’m definitely looking forward to the Felixes on that DVD, too.

    How about a 20,000-word essay on the cartoon “Rough on Rats”?

  • Those scans from 35mm are stunning. Can’t wait!

  • I remember clips from ‘Bold King Cole’ being used in a few music videos shown in the Picture Machine on ‘Shining Time Station’ when I was small. Years later I saw the original version on an all-Public Domain cartoon show on a low-rent local channel. I remember how murky those prints were, so it’ll be a treat to see it as it was meant to be seen!

  • It makes me really happy to see Felix the Cat and the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg here! It’s the only Rainbow Parades Felix short I’ve never actually seen before

  • Tommy Stathes shows these flicks in his Cartoon Carnivals, and I’m always joyously surprised at the INCREDIBLY gorgeous colors they sport! I’m just blown away. And he’s showing 16mm films of them! I can’t even imagine these cartoons looking any better than Tommy’s prints! I think I better be sitting down when I watch the restored versions. Otherwise I may injure myself.

  • Excellent work as always, Steve! Those screen shots look absolutely breathtaking! Did you actually end up using the colour separation masters on some of the cartoons or will these be strictly from the prints?

  • Funny you should ask. From Steve’s 3/24 post on the Thunderbean thread on

    Amazing news. I made a shocking and great discovery late last night:

    For the Rainbow Parade volume 2 set, on the second batch of scans, we pulled literally *all* the elements on most of the titles from the master stuff stored at UCLA, hoping to find the best material, and since some things have been mislabled in the past (and no one had looked at them since the 70s) it made some sense to just confirm they were what they said. I hadn’t asked them to scan all the individual elements (especially the single color records) but they decided to anyway. They scanned the material and sent me an additional 8 tb hard drive, but didn’t tell me what was on it entirely….

    It turns out that when they pulled one of the elements and scanned it wasn’t a single color record at all– but the complete successive exposure negative! what that means it that it contains all three color records. So, we now have one of the cartoons from the original neg for the series- and it’s a pretty good one too. So, what we know of the history of the material and what survives has changed for the better on one element. I told Devon last night just after I made the discovery. I’ll keep it a secret for a bit, but not *too* long

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