Animation History
December 7, 2015 posted by Jerry Beck

The Top Ten Greatest Famous Studios – Paramount Cartoons (IMHO)



Now, it’s your turn.

But first – I have been frequently asked to compile a “top ten” of favorite Paramount cartoons. My problem is I like many more than ten – it would probably be easier to break my choices into three lists: top ten 40s Famous, top ten 50s Harveytoon and top ten 60s Paramount.

I have actually embed video of many of my favorites over the past six months – but for fun, I’ll take on the challenge of creating a top ten, re-running some of those I’d already highlighted before.

These sort of lists are highly subjective. One man’s Noveltoon is another man’s Go-Go Toon. How do you compare a 60s Shamus Culhane to a 40s Bill Tytla Popeye? You can’t.

Here’s my Top Ten in chronologic order – my ‘desert island’ picks, so to speak – though somewhat randomly selected off the top of my head, listed for the fun of it and for debate amongst you in the comments section below. There are another 50 or so I could substitute here without any problem. I most likely forgot a major one I really meant to include. That all said – here’s my list:

She-Sick Sailors (1944)

I flipped a few coins pitting this and Cartoons Ain’t Human, Scrap The Japs, Puppet Love and a dozen other early 40s Popeye cartoons. Could have been any of them, but there’s no denying this one’s a classic – combining the classic Popeye-Olive-Bluto love triangle with the added twist of a Superman tie-in (under license from National Perodical Publications). Sammy Timberg’s Superman theme, Jim Tyer animation, and those great Shane Miller “scenics” make this one a super-duper masterpiece.

Sheep Shape (1946)

Sheep Shape is the closest Famous got to combining the chase-gag aesthetic at Warner Bros. with the Red Hot Riding Hood sensibility of Tex Avery at MGM. Unfortunately it fails on both counts – but nonetheless I find it hilarious fun. Violent and sexy (if your thing is male sheep in drag), Sid Raymond doing a Bert Lahr-esque “Wolfie” with an urgent need for ten thousand bucks; Arnold Stang as wise-guy “Blackie” (“Stop it, Stop it… you’re breakin’ my heart!”); and a load of lecherous wolf gags done in hideously bad taste. Famous Studios at its height.


Butterscotch and Soda (1948)

The first of the Little Audrey series (not counting her role as part of an ensemble in Santa’s Surprise) sets the tone for the rest of the shorts. Essentially a knock-off of the Little Lulu films, Audrey feels like an improvement in character – a Lulu 2.0 – with a lot more charm and a real mischievous side. They pull out the stops to make her appealing here – with a wonderful fantasy-dream sequence and that one-time “swing version” of the Little Audrey theme song – all adding up to make this one of my favorites.


Jitterbug Jive (1950)

I love this one – for all the right and wrong reasons. Popeye comes over to Olive’s with party favors from 1905 (a turn-of-the century taffy pull, a pin-the-tail on the donkey game, classical music 78 rpm records, etc). But Olive is stuck in a similar time-warp: she’s suddenly a 1940s bobby-soxer, and Bluto arrives as a zoot-suited hipster. Luckily his spinach gets Popeye ‘hep to the jive’ (I could swear Popeye kicks Bluto in the nuts at 5:50). Bill Tytla’s great direction/animation and character designs; Jack Mercer skat singing… will stop and watch this one anytime.

Herman The Catoonist (1953)

It’s hard for me to select a “best” Herman and Katnip cartoon. Sometimes it comes down to which one has the most outrageously violent gags. Clearly the studio observed that the ‘hurt gags’ in MGM’s Tom & Jerry cartoons got the big laughs – and Famous was game to out-do them. The problem is that they removed the context those gags appeared in MGM cartoons – and ignored the funny drawings that made the ‘hurt’ more funny and less painful. The slicing, dicing, punching and pounding Katnip endures can be felt – and audiences often react to Herman & Katnip with shock, not laughter. Herman The Catoonist takes a meta-approch to the series – here the characters are pen and ink comic strip characters who “come to life” at night, and what ensues is a wall-to-wall blood fest – Katnip biting his own tongue, Herman amputating (erasing) Katnip’s foot and then beheading him with a pair of scissors – and of course, the cat’s demise, balled up in rubber cement, and drowning in Max Fleischer’s inkwell (where we can assume Koko and Fitz will further abuse him). Ahhh… good clean fun.


Ghost Of Honor (1957)

Love this one for many reasons. First off, its set at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for the “World Premiere” of a new Casper cartoon. Wishful thinking, perhaps… but even more fantastic is the depiction of the luxurious “Paramount Cartoon Studios” in Hollywood! There, in spacious settings not unlike the fabled UPA headquarters in Burbank, Casper observes the various steps involved in creating a cartoon. Keep in mind the actual Paramount cartoons were created in cramped office space in a skyscraper off sleazy Times Square in Manhattan. The art direction is particularly lovely in this film, the character designs of the studio staff are fun, and its a rare Paramount cartoon with crossover appearances by Baby Huey, Herman, Katnip, Spunky, Wolfie, Tommy Tortoise and Moe Hare. Gotta admit it – this one always puts a smile on my face.


Chew Chew Baby (1958)

Political incorrectness aside, this one is a classic. There have been cartoons about pygmy cannibals before – as Donald Duck and George & Junior will attest – but here the joke is really on the “ugly American”, Harry, in urban Cincinnati. And it all works. Again, the modern art direction here is first rate and the animation, character design and – unique for Famous – the timing is just fine. And the voice track by Jackson Beck is perhaps his best. Funn-ny, Funn-ny!


La Petite Parade (1959)

As stated in my earlier post devoted solely to this cartoon, this one remains particularly memorable due to its repetition of Monsieur Renior’s “Grand Procession” song (Ra-ta-ta-ta-tum Army, Ra-ta-ta-ta-tum Navy, Ra-ta-ta-ta-tum, Department Sanitaire…”). It’s also a matter of the limited animation matching perfectly to the style and story of the film. A unique, fun idea well executed. If an original path for the Kneitel Modern Madcaps ever emerged, this film would be the template for it. It’s a shame so few followed up on this potential.


Les Boys (1965)

Howard Post’s reign at the helm of Paramount did yield a few notable films. Of them, I’m particularly fond of Posts ultimate Swifty and Shorty cartoon, Les Boys. Saddled with one more short to fulfill the contract with Paramount, Post wrote and directed this one, sans dialogue, drawn in modern abstract style. Perhaps if anyone was watching, this could have been a way to continue the series. But alas, no one was watching. An interesting experiment – a quintessential 60s cartoon in some ways. All I can say is: I like it.


Marvin Digs (1967)

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this Bakshi short is our first glimpse of Ralph as social commentator – addressing the counter-culture of 1967 in a way few other animated films did during that era. A snapshot of the ‘generation gap’ issues of the day, the kind of thing All In The Family would do four years later. Beyond that, its funny. Dayton Allen and Corrine Orr do voices, a psychedelic rock bank does the music, a trippy dream sequence introduces the character. It blows my mind every time I see it.

Honorary Mentions: We’re On Our Way To Rio, because it looks like they crammed a two-reeler into nine minutes with all the production bells and whistles (and in gorgeous Technicolor); All the child-drawing films by Jack Mendelsohn and Shamus Culhane; The first five Little Lulu cartoons; Bouncing Benny for its innovative cut-out technique; Herman and Katnip’s Mouseum for the eyeball gag; No If’s And Or Butts for the smoking; Modern Madcaps In The Nicotine and The Plot Sickens – both politically incorrect even in their own day; Howard Post’s The Itch; Howard Beckerman’s The Trip, Shamus Culhane’s The Plumber – and practically everything released in 1957 for the design and modern art direction.

Footnotes: What!? No Baby Huey, No Screen Songs, No Tommy Tortoise and Moe Hare? I love ’em all, but one has to make sacrifices when one does such a list. There are no Superman cartoons listed either because, let’s face it, the Famous ones can’t hold a candle to the Fleischer masterpieces. That said, I rather like Showdown and The Eleventh Hour – as close to ‘film noir’ as the series ever got.

The many ‘firsts’ in the series – Casper’s The Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey’s Quack-A-Doodle-Do for example – are not great cartoons but are historically significant, so to speak.

That’s it from me – and now its your turn. Please send in your own list – I’m curious to see how you’d rank the Paramount cartoons.


NEXT MONDAY: The first of a new weekly column by animation historian Harvey Deneroff.


  • Here’s my Top 10 Famous Studios Popeye cartoons, mostly from the 40’s:
    The Hungry Goat (Paramount’s response to Bugs Bunny’s surging popularity)
    Seein’ Red, White, N Blue (Popeye and Bluto team up to fight the Axis)
    Me Musical Nephews (a simple plot, but done in a clever musical manner)
    Cartoons Ain’t Human (Popeye’s version of Porky’s Preview)
    We’re On Our Way To Rio (the “fourth” Color Reeler)
    She-Sick Sailors (the closest we got to a Popeye-Superman crossover)
    Peep In The Deep (Popeye encounters a topless mermaid, though breasts are not fully drawn)
    Popeye Meets Hercules (Popeye appears in drag as a Venus in this one)
    A Balmy Swami (I believe Popeye says “jackass” in this one)
    Popeye The Ace Of Space (3D, a technical innovation that harkens back to the Fleischer era)

  • Unfortunately I can’t quite come up with a top ten list, however here are ten that appeal to me the most: (My favorite one of all time would have to be Hep Cat Symphony. It’s the fist Famous Studios cartoon I ever saw as a child and even now as an adult I still find it very clever.)

    1943 – “Spinach Fer Britain”
    1944 – “Yankee Doodle Donkey”
    1944 – “We’re On Our Way To Rio”
    1945 – “The Friendly Ghost”
    1949 – “Hep Cat Symphony”
    1950 – “Tarts And Flowers”
    1950 – “Quack A Doodle Doo”
    1956 – “Insect To Injury”
    1957 – “Ghost of Honor”
    1958 – “Chew Chew Baby”

    • I watched all the classic cartoons when I was six years old at the time in the Philippines since the 1960’s era my favorites like Popeye Casper Gumby Sinbad Jr. Beany & Cecil Three Stooges Tales of the Genie Dick Tracy Roger Ramjet & et al as seen in the Philippines on RBS/GMA 7 in The Uncle Bob Show hosted by Robert L.Stewart owner of GMA Network & DZBB AM in 1950 & Channel 7 in 1961 68 years ago in television history.

  • Here’s my list.

    As there hasn’t yet been a comprehensive release of the Famous cartoons, I’m going just by what I have in my personal collection–there are others I don’t have that I would put on this list otherwise.

    But I agree–it’s extremely hard to narrow down the field to just 10!

    Yes, I admit to being a sucker for the unbearably cute–here goes, not in any particular order:

    “Suddenly It’s Spring”
    “The Enchanted Square”
    “Toys Will Be Toys”
    “Snow Foolin'”
    “Ancient Fistory”
    “Popeye’s 20th Anniversary”
    “Tarts and Flowers”
    “Ghost of the Town”
    “Santa’s Surprise”

    Just re-watched a couple of them to confirm. “Santa’s Surprise” may be considered un-PC today, but to me it’s a shorthand for showing that these kids came from all over the world. It’s so well-animated and the kids are so well intention-ed, I don’t see how anyone could be offended.

  • Jerry first off THANK YOU for these fine series of posts on the Famous cartoons. Combined with Thad K’s posts of the Fleischer studios we can appreciate the history of the Paramount movie cartoon era.

    Here’s my top 10 list of Famous favs
    1 WE’RE ON OUR WAY TO RIO 1944 Fun Popeye with great Jim Tyer animation
    2.SHAPE AHOY 1945 Another Popeye with Jim Tyer animation and Mae Questel doing the voice of Popeye
    3.MESS PRODUCTION 1945 Using story elements of A DREAM WALKING 1934 and LOST AND FOUNDRY 1937, this one can stand on it’s own. Superb timing on this one.
    4 CHEESE BURGLAR 1946 Early Herman the Mouse. Jim Tyer again here
    5 SERVICE WITH A GUILE 1946 Fun Popeye with Jim Tyer developing his wilder animation style here
    6 THE ENCHANTED SQUARE 1947 Well done Famous production values here
    7.JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE 1950 Could be considered like a Censored 11 cartoon but it does uses a modern song Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo) and does have nice pacing and artwork on the sing-a-long.
    8. HOW GREEN IS MY SPINACH 1950 The live action cut-in at the end and the distress call IS THERE A CAN OF SPINACH IN THE HOUSE? makes this cartoon a treat
    9. RIOT IN RHYTHM 1950 Remake of ME MUSICAL NEPHEWS 1942. Hope one day could see the ending on both cartoons involving the Paramount logo.
    10. BOO MOON 1953 Casper in 3-D Would love to see the original opening title cards

    Of course ANY Famous cartoon with the original opening/closing title cards and music in original Technicolor would be wonderful!
    Thanks again Jerry

  • My ten favorite Paramount/Famous Studio catoons are:
    Santa Surprise (Little Audrey’s first appearance)
    Boo Bop
    Her Honor the Mare (note there was a very funny gag involving the mare as a window washer and painted on the mare’s overall was the drawing of the now fallen German Dictator Adolph Hitler)
    Chew Chew Baby
    Bopping Hood
    Popeye the Ace of Space (with those Shrek like space aliens)
    Pedro and Lorenzo
    We’re On Our Way To Rio
    Doing Whats Fright
    Casper’s Birthday Party
    Honorable mentions
    Spree Lunch
    Gopher Spinach
    Tots of Fun
    Toys Will Be Toys
    Ghost of the Town
    Hillbilling and Cooing
    Hep Cat Symphony

  • Okay, in no particular order off the top of my head:
    5. WAY TO RIO

    All long time faves of mine… think UNDERGROUND WORLD is by far the best of the Famous Superman shorts, making the best use of the slow build-up, no-action front end with a terrific pay-off in the second half. Do not think Audrey was an improvement over Lulu, but there are a couple of mid-fifties episodes like DIZZY DISHES that are right up there!

  • Yikes! I forgot ME MUSICAL NEPHEWS? May be right on top of my list! Thanks, Hernandez2014 for reminding me! And, yes, thanks, Jerry for this wonderful series on Famous. An absolute treat!

  • I just wanted to say thanks to Jerry for his extraordinary effort in his weekly posts — and for editing the site overall. I learn something new every day, and I really have fun reading / watching the site’s rotation of content.

    This Paramount series has probably been my favorite to read so far. It’s been like getting a chapter from a great book each and every Monday!

    Thanks again, Jerry! Keep up the excellent work…

  • gee are you leaving out the Superman cartoons??

    • Well, yeah. Please re-read my footnotes at the bottom of the post.

  • Great post, Jerry! I would love to see more top ten lists like this devoted to other studios. Here’s my top ten, although I’m probably forgetting some good ones:

    1) ME MUSICAL NEPHEWS (1942)
    2) THE HUNGRY GOAT (1943)
    3) SHE-SICK SAILORS (1944)
    4) THE FRIENDLY GHOST (1944)
    5) CHEESE BURGLAR (1946)
    6) SHEEP SHAPE (1946)
    7) ROCKET TO MARS (1946)
    8) MUSICA-LULU (1947)
    9) CHEW CHEW BABY (1958)
    10) MARVIN DIGS (1967)

  • And just to give you a big send off, here are my 10 best Famous cartoons.

    1. Suddenly, It’s Spring (Raggedy Ann)
    2. Butterscotch & Soda (Little Audrey)
    3. Tarts & Flowers (Little Audrey)
    4. Audrey, The Rainmaker (Little Audrey)
    5. Land of the Lost (Noveltoon)
    6. The Lost Dream (Little Audrey)
    7. Abusement Park (Popeye)
    8. Song of the Birds (Little Audrey)
    9. Cartoons Ain’t Human (Popeye) (Final B&W Cartoon)
    10. The Enchanted Square (Raggedy Ann)

    In addition, here are the lists that we should’ve brought up. My 10 KFS cartoons

    1. Popeye’s Car Wash (Popeye)
    2. Zero’s Dizzy Double Date (Beetle Bailey)
    3. The Shipwreckers (Snuffy Smith)
    4. Turkey Shoot (Snuffy Smith)
    5. Spinach Greetings (Popeye)
    6. Pilgrim’s Regress (Krazy Kat)
    7. The Sergeant’s Master (Beetle Bailey)
    8. Dog Catcher Popeye (Popeye)
    9. Hits & Missiles (Popeye)
    10. Popeye’s Amusement Park (Popeye)

    And also my honorable mentions, the Beatles cartoons from KFS. The show was from King Features from 1965 through 1967 after two seasons and “Cool McCool” from 1966 through 1969. Both are from King Features. But there were lots of lists of Beatles and Cool McCool cartoons from KFS that I might throw it in on a later post.

    • For the record – King Features Syndicate cartoons were not all produced by the Paramount Cartoon Studios. The Beatles cartoons and Cool McCool were produced at TVC in London. Some of your KFS Top Ten are not Paramount – for example Pilgrims Regress was produced by Gene Deitch in Prague, Popeye’s Car Wash was made by Jack Kinney in Hollywood, among others.

      Let’s stay on topic here. Only list Paramount cartoons on this thread.

  • I apologize on that, Jerry, I’ll stick to Famous cartoons, but not just the King Features, if I can find any cartoon studio outside of Paramount or any division, I will put it somewhere.

  • Well, here’s my list.

    1) The Plot Sickens (delicious twisted, cynical fun)
    2) Popeye Meets Hercules
    3) The Hungry Goat
    4) Happy Birthdaze
    5) Crazytown
    6) Chew Chew Baby
    7) How Green is My Spinach
    8) Pop Pie a la Mode
    9) Destruction Inc.
    10) A Tree is a Tree is a Tree? (Yeah, I’m a Beetle Bailey fan)

  • “Ace of Space” always intrigued me. As a kid I’d think “If only they did sci-fi cartoons like this without kidding!” Like the Superman shorts but a little broader.

    Still remember the march they played for the martians.

    • Yes! When you think of Martians, you always think of some kind of scary march music, and this may be my favorite bit, brief though it is.

  • My favorites

    Cartoons Ain’t Human (1943) – The last black and white film Famous ever produced and a great attempt at abstract animation, as if Popeye himself had made the cartoon.
    W’ere On Our Way To Rio (1944) – Tha’ts an impressive one as well. 🙂
    Mess Production (1945) – Just a fantastic film all the way around.
    Rocket To Mars (1946) – one of the better early Popeyes, with probably the best voice work by a fill-in Popeye (Harry Welch, who takes over for Jack Mercer about halfway through). Great soundtrack!
    Sky Scrappers (1957) – I’m a little more forgiving of H&K than you, Jerry. This is likely Dave Tendlar’s greatest moment as a Paramount director, with outstanding gags, animation, design, voice work and music direction. I think it was about here that the studio’s downturn began, because these heights were never reached again.
    Cool Cat Blues (1961) – an Irv Spector concept… the Cat solves a mystery involving talk show host Ed Solvent. As pop culture as Paramount cartoons ever got.
    Abner The Baseball (1961) – Eddie Lawrence wrote and starred in the only two-reel Paramount cartoon, about the adventures of a home run ball. The only Paramount cartoon to not be scored by either Sammy Timberg or Winston Sharples; Bernie Wayne drew the assignment.
    Mouse Blanche (1962) – One of Paramount’s two pilots for Krazy Kat, featuring a different design, written in house (unlike others by Hollywood comedy writers hired by Brodax), and voiced by Penny Phillips, Paul Frees and Howard Morris, with a stripped down Sharples orchestra.
    The Trip (1967) – Howard Beckerman and Winston Sharples, pretty much. I think there was one other designer credited, but this was a two-man job.
    The Mini Squirts (1967) – What might have been if Bakshi had made more than the four cartoons that got released was impossible to predict, but I think Ralph did four very unique films, of which this was the best.

  • I think my top 10 Famous Studios cartoons would be

    1. She-Sick Sailors
    2. The Stupidsticious Cat
    3. Bride and Gloom
    4. Insect to Injury
    5. Popeye the Ace of Space
    6. Kitty Kornered
    7. Ancient Fistory
    8. Greek Mirthology
    9. The Wee Men
    10. Hysterical History

  • As I started, I find It’s really hard to make a list of my top favorites- but some came to mind before others. I find my list is pretty similar…

    1) We’re on Our Way to Rio (Childhood favorite.. and nice to see finally with nice color and original titles…)
    2) Sheep Shape (If Avery worked at Famous..)
    3) Chew Chew Baby (they’re not afraid to hurt or kill just about anyone, and it’s proven perfectly here).
    4) There’s Good Boos Tonight (Ferdy! See above note- it’s even ok to tug on yo0ur heartstrings and then… boom!)
    5) Moving Aweigh (Really like the score on this cartoon too)
    6) Shape Ahoy (“lady- it’s got the same old taste!”
    7) Me Musical Nephews (I just really like how important their butts are in nearly every shot)
    8) Happy Birthdaze (he really does deserve to be shot, but still… I wonder if there’s a lost storyboard somewhere with Popeye feeling bad about killing the little guy, dragging his lifeless body out of the boiler).
    9) Enchanted Square (The mom with the blackened eyes at the end really creeps me out, but other than that…)
    10) No Ifs, ands or Butts (“you have just about 2 seconds left to live- unless!”)

    • Steve you mentioned Avery…can’t we just imagine also if Bob Clampett and/ or Frank Tashlin spent just a little time at Famous in the late 1940’s. Famous might have fared better with their expertise.

  • My mother’s childhood nickname for me after hours of cartoon watching – T.V. Fuddlehead (1959).

  • I’m surprised no one entered “Olive Oyl For President” (a remake of the Fleischer’s “Betty Boop For President”) or “Not Ghoulty”, a rare ‘Casper’ cartoon wherein the friendly ghost is actually well-liked by a city full of humans who, for once, don’t shout or utter “A GHOOOOOOOST!! ” even once! “The Marry-Go-Round”, with Popeye & Shorty, is a VERY funny cartoon!

  • Here are ten more Famous Studio faves
    Insect to Injury
    You’re a Sap Mr Jap
    Seeing Red White and Blue
    Me Musical Nephews
    Pest Pupil
    The Mighty Navy
    Alona on the Sarong Seas
    The Marry-Go-Round (final appearance of Margie Hinds as the voice of Olive Oyl)
    Pop-Eye a la Mode

    And several more honorable mentions
    Possum Pearl
    Dante Dreamer
    Riot in Rhythm
    Pilgrim Popeye
    Cock A Doodle Dino
    Japotuers (Superman)
    One Funny Knight

  • Jeepers Jerry! (could be a new column name) 10 is cutting it a bit fine. Spent about two minutes jotting down the
    first films that came to mind and when I counted they came to 13 but I managed to squeeze them in…
    Then More came flooding into my mind good thing there was a lifeboat close by!

    These are the ones which came to me instantly and they’re ones I always look forward to seeing again and
    sharing with other people whenever possible. Oh how I’d love these on Blu-Ray !!

    1-The Enchanted Square
    2-We’re On Our Way To Rio
    3-Bargain Counter Attack
    4-Ghost of the Town
    5-Possom Pearl
    6-Chew Chew Baby
    7-Dante Dreamer
    8-The Plot Sickens
    9-The Itch
    10-Marvin Digs

    10 1/4-Dizzy Dishes
    10 1/2-Henpecked Rooster
    10 3/4-Song of the Birds

    BeeP…BeeP… FLASH! We Momentarily Interrupt This Column to Report a Massive Heatwave Scorching it’s Way
    Through Melbourne—Send Little Audrey The Rainmaker Immediately…BurP…I Mean BeeP. Hmm Speaking of the
    Weather, um Tish Tash where was I…Oh Yes! I mean Speaking of Blu-Ray’s…

    Congratulations Steve on the Santa Set. Some Famous Cartoons finally on Blu-Ray I’m So Excited by this and I
    guess it will be towards the end of next year before they are available for delivery to OZ but I will be very much
    looking forwards to playing them.

  • Here’s my ten.

    1. Happy Birthdaze (Popeye)
    2. Cartoons Ain’t Human (Popeye)
    3. Bargain Counter Attack (Little Lulu)
    4. The Enchanted Square (Noveltoon featuring Raggedy Ann)
    5. Butterscotch and Soda (Noveltoon featuring Little Audrey)
    6. Finnegan’s Flea (Noveltoon)
    7. Penny Pals (Modern Madcap)
    8. The Itch (Modern Madcap)
    9. Think or Sink (Merrymaker)
    10. The Plumber (Go-Go Toon)

  • My Top 10 Famous/Paramount list, where a few cartoons will always be on it, while others could change, depending on what shorts I may have just recently re-watched after a long period of time.

    Popeye (1940s) — “Me Musical Nephews”. A reworking of Kneitel’s “Kids in the Shoe” from the Color Classics, it’s one of the early Famous shorts that showed the studio had learned the lessons of how to to faster timing/speed gags like the West Coast studios.

    Popeye (1950s) — “Taxi Turvy”. One of Irv Spector’s few Popeye scripts, you wonder how someone at the Fleischer studios, with their grimy B&W New York feel, didn’t think to make Popeye (or, at least, Bluto) taxi drivers in one of the 1930s shorts. Bluto breaking the fourth wall with “You ain’t eatin’ no spinach in this picture,” puts it over the top.

    Little Lulu — “Bargain Counter Attack”:. The best of the Lulus managed to combine cuteness with violent cartoon slapstick, usually pitting her against an adult male authority figure. This was the best of the bunch.

    Noveltoons (1940s) — “Cilly Goose”. Not the funniest of the Noveltoons, but probably the one with the best personality animation (the Fleischer studio was always good at doing ‘menace’ when needed, and it carries over here to the mob chasing Cilly out of the theater).

    Noveltoons (1950s) — “Chew Chew Baby”. See Jerry’s review above. As with “Cilly Goose”, they manage to put a little bit of menace into the whole chomping down bit, even with the limited 1958 animation (lord knows what this would have looked like or how unnerving it would have been if they had made it 4-5 years earlier with the bigger animation budgets).

    Modern Madcaps — “La Petite Parade” See Jerry’s review above. All three of Spector’s matchmaker cartoon are very funny, but M. Renoir’s performance before the ministers here puts it over the top (and is actually a pretty good satire on the pass-the-buck, no progress nature of government bureaucracies. Wonder if Irv had some kind of problem with the Wagner Administration in NYC in 1958?)

    Casper — “Boo Bop”. Another semi-remake, this story borrowed from “Sock-A-Bye Baby” and “Quiet Pleaze!” from the Popeye series. But also from a time when the studio finally decided to get away from the formula cartoons that made it hard to remember one Caper plot from the next.

    Herman & Katnip — “Frighty Cat”. The late 50s limited animation hurts a little here, but as with the late 50s Caspers, they broke formula here a little and made Herman’s cousins a little more central to the plot (Plus, you can’t do a Top 10 Famous list without at least one cartoon featuring a vocal rendition of “It’s A Hap, Hap Happy Day“….)

    Non-comedy — “The Enchanted Square”. Famous tried longer than any other non-Disney studio to still do ‘cute/serious’ cartoons, and this was probably the best of them. Shane Miller gets co-story credit and it really is his cartoon — Miller’s backgrounds as seen on the restored Thunderbean print are spectacular.

    1960-67 — “The Plumber”. Just repeating what I said two weeks ago, while this borrows the basic story from Chuck Jones’ 1961 “Nellie’s Folly” and doesn’t have near the lush animation, the story is nowhere near as cloying as satisfied with itself as Jones’ effort, and it finds a totally upbeat way to end the cartoon, as opposed to having to create an imaginary ending because you’ve got your title character jumping off a bridge and committing suicide.

    The fact that there are at least a few dozen more that could be on the list is a credit to where Famous/Paramount could have been. The downside is they squandered so many chances in the 1949-55 period due to the repetitive stories in the continuing series.

  • The Wee Men
    Symphony In Spinach
    Ancient Fistory
    How Green is My Spinach
    Boo Moon
    Rocket To Mars
    You’re a Sap Mr. Jap
    The Case of the Cock-Eyed Canary
    W’ere On Our Way To Rio
    A Wolf In Sheik’s Clothing

  • My favorite Paramount cartoon shorts,

    POPEYE: Hill-Billin & Cooin
    CASPER: Spooking ABput AFrica
    LITTLE AUDREY: The Seapreme Court
    HERMAN & KATNIP: Mice Paradise
    BUZZY: As The Crow Lies
    BABY HUEY: Clown on the Farm
    SING ALONG: Snooze Reel (Jingle Jangle Jingle)

    La Petite Parade
    L’Amour The Merier
    Jolly The Clown
    Possum Pearl (YAHOO! A MAHHNNN!!!)

  • Interesting story –

    In the late 1980s, I used to work at KUTP Channel 45 in Phoenix as a film editor. Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday one year and I was asked to put together a nice one hour cartoon package for that night’s primetime. I don’t remember some of the choices but “BOO BOP”, “SEASON’S GREETINKS” and “LE PETIT PARADE” were among them. The ratings were “through the roof” and we received a huge amount of phone calls and letters in favor of that broadcast. The bosses could not believe the high ratings. So those three cartoons are among my very favorites.

  • Thank you Jerry for all you do to keep Famous alive!!!

    • Thank you Ginny for all your help, your being ‘keeper of the flame’ – and for your generosity in assisting and enlightening all of us. We truly appreciate what your family has done, and the pivotal role they played in the history of animation. We will never forget them.

  • Popeye’s “We’re on Our Way to Rio” turns up a lot of lists. I think it’s one of the best Popeye cartoons that Famous ever did. It’s unfortunate that prints of that title that have been in circulation for many years are so awful. If you ever get the chance to see a decent copy of this, like Steve Stanchfield’s transfer, grab it! You’ll probably never see one from Warner Home Video.

  • Okay, here’s mine.

    “Cartoon Ain’t Human”
    “Suddenly It’s Spring”
    “We’re on Our Way to Rio”
    “Bargain Counter Attack”
    “Mice-Capades” (Rather dark Herman and Katnip cartoon)
    “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” (mainly(pun not intended) for the ending)
    “Pedro and Lorenzo”
    “Le Petite Parade”
    “The Trip”
    “Think or Sink”

    5 BOO MOON
    10 THE WEE MAN

  • 1. Scrappily Married (Herman/Noveltoon)
    2. The Enchanted Square (Raggedy Ann/Noveltoon)
    3. Patriotic Popeye (Popeye the Sailor)
    4. The Friendly Ghost (Casper/Noveltoon)
    5. Suddenly It’s Spring (Raggedy Ann/Noveltoon)
    6. A Bout With a Trout (Little Lulu)
    7. Much Ado About Mutton (Blackie/Noveltoon)
    8. Shortening Bread (Screen Song)
    9. The Dog Show Off (Little Lulu)
    10. Land of the Lost (Noveltoon)

  • I did love to see, post about top ten worst Paramount cartoons according to Jerry Beck if that was possible. 🙂

    • They are the best classic cartoons by Famous Studios now defunct animation studio now acquired by Dreamworks Animation Studios & NBC/Universal Media Group.

  • MY DADDY THE ASTRONAUT. (1967) Shamus Culhane. I brought Shamus to Toronto the year before his book TALKING ANIMALS was printed. We did a week long event that covered his career from the start in silent films right up to the present (1986). There is always in every community a brigade of folks who can best be classified as snooty. They walked in on THE NIGHT THE ANIMALS SPOKE and dismissed Shamus on the basis of that. I broke with the program and ran MY DADDY THE ASTRONAUT. They went from dismissal to awe. They said, “How did you do that? People have tried to do that.” Thanks for the list. You’ve introduced me to new titles.

  • My top ten Famous cartoons:
    1. W’ere on Our Way to Rio
    2. The Royal Four-Flusher
    3. Symphony in Spinach
    4. Rocket to Mars
    5. Olive Oyl for President
    6. Win Place and Showboat (Screen Song)
    7. Beau Ties (Little Lulu)
    8. The Babysitter (Little Lulu)
    9. Land of Lost Watches
    10. The Planet Mouseola

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