July 8, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

The Unique Mighty Mouse Theme Song in “The Perils of Pearl Pureheart” (1949)

First, a little Thunderbean update:

Short again here as I battle persnickety programs, many projects and heat! I’m working on next week’s post already; I was going to present that one this week but it’s just not together enough — so it’s Mighty Mouse to the rescue!

After a long period of needling through all the last minute fixes and adjustments on the Rainbow Parade set as I was working on the final master, I’ve been greatly relieved to spend some time working on the (mostly) black and white Flip the Frog mastering. Both of these projects have had more elements, more reconsideration, more issues than any others we’ve done so far. Rainbow, volume 1 will likely be back within a week or so, and we hope to send the final discs for Flip out sometime in July. All the films for the second part of the series were basically wrapped up last week, and we’re getting close on the last few left on the first disc. It’s been years since these two projects weren’t near the front of the line, so being actually finished with them seemed impossible at times. As Flip is getting closer to having everything in a final state, the next things I’m handing to the freelancers and working on myself are, oddly, way easier to figure out, and therefore, much faster to get through.

As the Comi-Color negatives are scanned, the most wonderful thing is seeing how beautiful of condition most of the material is in. Having both Comi-Colors and the rest of the Rainbow Parades all complete, in good condition and together in one archive seems like a dream. Let’s see if I’m still saying that in six months! As we move through projects, newer projects are staying a little quieter, but don’t worry – there’s still plenty of things to show and chat about – plus I need to get through the current list of already announced stuff. I’m still working on being properly dressed however.

Since we’re super-close to finishing the whole Flip set, we’ve decided to put up a pre-order for it at the Thunderbean Shop. Since there’s been many requests, the pre-order includes a special Blu-ray (BDR) set called ‘Flip’s Secret Vault’ with two discs of the raw scans and alternative versions of the films, all used in the production of the set. If you pre-ordered a while back, we’ll also include this extra set, free- then never again. Thanks to everyone for supporting these projects- we couldn’t do them without you.

Now, onto a Mighty Mouse!

We did a scan a while back from a pretty decent 16mm print of The Perils of Pearl Pureheart. I ended up with another print of the film with original titles a while back (I honestly can’t say when I got it) and only got around to actually watching it when I was looking through other films to scan. After listening to the beginning of the print, I was super excited. I had never seen the original titles for this film, and while those are not so exciting, the *song* that plays during the opening made the whole experience of watching the film a little more fun. This particular print appears to be a reduction from a 35mm print, probably made in the 70s.

Editor’s Note: Steve, this is an amazing find! In 1949, Terry was all in on Mighty Mouse being their “star”. The formula using the old-time serial format and the operetta style dates back to those “Fanny and Strongheart” serialized films the studio made in the 1930s. Matching it to Mighty Mouse was a brilliant idea. “A Cold Romance” released a few months before this tries a different theme song; the one here is even better (“Mighty Mouse, A mass of muscle”). The extra effort to seek out a theme song for Mighty was on the agenda (Famous Studios and Disney were doing it – maybe there was some money in selling sheet music? I’m sure this was on Paul Terry’s mind). Sorry to butt into your post this week – but I had to tell you this made me smile. – Jerry Beck

I’ve always enjoyed these little Mighty Mouse melodramas, and of course, growing up in the 70s, never really understood the original source being referenced. I always wished there had been a musical Mighty Mouse feature that was almost like chapters of a serial without knowing that the inspiration was inspired by a serial. I wonder how a serialized story in animation would have played in the 40s? This particular idea didn’t show up until TV animation- and of course was used over and over in lots of different shows.

I’m not sure how rare this particular piece of music was/is, but it was new to me, and was as exciting to hear as hearing all the little Flip the Frog overtures the first time. Seeing a print of Gulliver’s Travels with the scene of Gabby and crew going on top of Gulliver was exciting for me as well as a kid- the scene was missing from most NTA prints.

So, now, here’s the interactive part of this week’s post! What missing piece of a cartoon was particularly exciting for you to see or hear— and, if possible, put a link to share it!

Have a good week everyone!


  • Missing pieces of a cartoon that are particularly exciting for me also have to do with Mighty Mouse, though not the same one many here know and love. Filmation’s “Mighty Mouse in the Great Space Chase” serial was eventually cut into a movie in 1982, and as a consequence lots of little scenes were cut. So it’s always a treat whenever I manage to find one of the individual parts, especially since the cut scenes are generally the best – even funniest – ones. (Even if some of them are pure filler!)
    There’s of course also the deal with the tiny things that got lost in syndication in television animation like short 30-second tags or bumpers…

  • Couple of thoughts on the Mighty Mouse:

    1. Interesting to hear the “Here I come to save the day” riff that became the centerpiece of the theme for the TV series….right down to the same melody.

    2. Oil Can Harry’s scheme with Pearl has a lot in common with the fate of the unnamed mouse in “Svengali’s Cat” from years earlier.

  • I doubt that sheet music sales of Mighty Mouse songs were ever on Paul Terry’s mind, as the studio didn’t have an affiliated music publisher like Paramount and Warners. This is a good song, but it’s very similar to the one used in “A Cold Romance”, both being based on the “Mighty Mouse” leitmotif (a descending major triad, which can be extended symmetrically into “Here I come to save the day!”), and both are even in the same key of B-flat. I’m sure they were both written specifically for the cartoons and were not attempts to create a theme song that could be used interchangeably for all Mighty Mouse cartoons. One of the strengths of Scheib’s opening titles is that they segue organically into the action of the cartoon. A hard-and-fast, all-purpose theme song would tend to work against that. It’s a pity that so many Terrytoons titles have been lost — but keep looking!

    As for your question, it was when I first went to Japan and discovered what a sexy cartoon Pokemon is.

  • What an interesting theme song, unfortunately cut from the TV prints – always fun to see Terrytoons with original titles!!

  • “Perils” share some ideas with “Svengali’s cat” (1946), one of the most impressive applications of the concept of sexual innuendo between animals of extremely different proportions. The scene with the cat dressing the mouse “a la Vertigo” always gave me chills…

    • Note that in “Svengali’s Cat” the girl mouse sings, “Sweet Alice” as was sung in the original 1931 movie, “Svengali.”

      • The song’s actual title is “Ben Bolt” (“Don’t you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt?”). It was sung by the title heroine, under the hypnotic influence of Svengali, in the original 1894 novel TRILBY by George du Maurier.

  • A major discovery… and a very entertaining cartoon for a dreary Thursday!

    • Is the offshoot of the classic cliffhanger Perils of Pauline featuring Pearl Pureheart the fiancée of Mighty Mouse against his lecherous evil cat antagonist Oil Can Harry inspired from the animated cartoon TV series.

  • I was thinking about the Flip set already, but with the bonus discs…SOLD! It’s been far too long since I’ve seen Flip the Frog.

  • WOW! WOW WOW! I probably haven’t seen this cartoon in over 50 years! Thanks for putting it out, Steve!
    Although Terry-Toons falls into the “PRC or Monogram class” of animated cartons from the ’30s to the ’60s – I always loved watching MIGHTY MOUSE! Thanks!

  • Somehow I’ve always had a hard time imagining Terrytoons being shown in a theater before a movie. Perhaps it’s because we never saw them on TV with theatrical titles, or because so many of them seemed to be aimed at a little kid audience.

    The color Terrytoons and the pre-UPA Columbias rank as the last major unreleased theatricals. I’m growing pessimistic about DVD sets.

  • Just looked at the Thinderbean shop and saw Tom and Jerry was available for purchase. When was this released? I preordered it years ago and never received it.

    • It’s still in progress. Pre-orders were re-opened recently on the Thunderbean Shop, as completion is anticipated in the near future. (Perhaps the shop listing should be labeled as such.)

  • Did anyone else ever wonder why Oil Can Harry wore a skirt?

    • Well, it’s a long formal coat, standard-issue for late-nineteenth-century music hall melodrama villains.

      • Skirt, indeed! Once again, cultural history is learned from cartoons. Once upon a time men wore long coats because of cold weather.

  • This would have nipped Andy Kaufman’s career right in the bud.

  • Much has been written, and deservedly so, about Roy Halee Sr. who was the singing voice of Mighty Mouse in these cartoons — a powerful and beautiful tenor. (I hadn’t known until recently that he wasn’t a professional singer, but worked in the Terrytoons studio!)

    I may be completely wrong on this, but as I listened yesterday to the chorus in PERILS OF PEARL PUREHEART, it seemed to me that I could hear another tenor voice that sounded like the speaking voice of the longtime Terry animator Tom Morrison, who did the speaking role of Mighty Mouse in the late ’50s Deitch cartoons. Does anyone know whether Morrison did any singing as well?

    • Much more needs to be written about all the key Terrytoons personnel, especially Tom Morrison. He certainly held many roles at the studio, and as the credited composer of the Tom Terrific theme song he clearly had some musical ability, so it’s not unreasonable to suppose that he might have lent his singing voice to the soundtrack. I can’t tell just by listening whether it’s him. However, he was a story man, not an animator, and the three cartoons in which he voiced Mighty Mouse were all made after Gene Deitch had left Terrytoons.

  • Haven’t watched an MM cartoon in many decades, and it was much more fun than I remembered. (As a child in the 1960s, I would watch anything superhero related so even though I was a dedicated Mighty Mouse viewer, truth be told I even then I found them rather dull.)

    Am I the only one who found the animation of Pauline singing onstage in her trance — completely still with only her mouth animated — to be rather creepy?

  • The three “Mighty Mouse” notes form an early 30s foxtrot:

  • Oil Can Harry: “Don’t be too sure…you’re only half safe.”

    “Don’t be half-safe—use Arrid to be sure” was the tag-line for Arrid anti-perspirant advertisements in this era.

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