April 12, 2018 posted by Steve Stanchfield

‘The Wizard’s Apprentice’ (1930)

Happy Thursday everyone! Here’s a few shorts for your Thursday viewing… but first, some brief Thunderbean news:

Fleischer Rarities should be back from replication at this time next week or thereabouts. Next week’s article will be all about this particular set, including its contents and bonus materials. I’m finishing the ‘bonus’ disc that goes with the set tonight and checking the master on a non-animated film, “Missle to the Moon”, being finished for the pre-orders as well.

Mid-Century Modern 1 and 2 are all done master-wise; we hope to replicate these soon.

Cartoons to the Rescue are finally going out in droves to everyone after a duplication breakdown here that’s happily now fixed. I’m hoping in these next few weeks to catch up again with all the extra and ‘special’ sets now that a few major hurdles are finished. Although behind, they are looking really nice.

More scans on the Rainbow Parades were done this week, with more happening in the coming week. I’m especially looking forward to seeing what some of these look like in 2k/ HD.

Over the summer, I’ll be working on finishing up the blu-ray version of Grotesqeries with my friends Chris Buchman and Rex Schneider. This set is a collection of Halloween and nightmarish-themed shorts, some live action, some animated. One of the films that is still waiting to be upgraded on the set is The Wizard’s Apprentice (1930), a fun and surreal little track film produced in the early days of sound. It was directed by Sidney Leveem and stars Herbert Bunston, Fritz Feld and Greta Granstedt.

Just as in the much more famous Disney segment from Fantasia, this short features Paul Dukas Brothers Grimm-based classic ‘L’apprenti sorcier’ as its primary inspiration. Dukas died in 1935, so of course he never was able to see the Disney visualization of his music, but I wonder if he had a chance to see this little film, or the classic Oskar Fishinger Studie Number 8; a short segment of this short was featured on Mark Mayerson’s blog last year:

This little trick film, although not animated, may have been seen by Disney and his staff at some point during the production of Fantasia or before. I’ve managed to track down a 35mm print of the film and hope to gain access scanning it for the new set. For now, here’s the more common 1970’s 16mm print, either from Morcraft films or Thunderbird. We did a little digital cleanup on this version back then. I really enjoy the interpretation of the music in the film, and especially some of the more surreal looking designs and shot compositions. If you haven’t seen it, it’s an interesting little curio, following the story closely and, even in its simplicity, is really fun and entertaining, 88 years later.

Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the 2006 reenactment of the classic Disney short, featuring Forest Jr (7 years old) and Ava (4 years old). My favorite moment I think is at 2:33. It’s wonderful to see kids enjoying the film so much that they reenact it. I wonder if anyone has done a Parrotville Post Office reenactment?

Have a good week everyone!


  • A quite fascinating post. Thank you very much!!!

  • I really enjoyed the frantic cutting of the short. It was very unusual to have that kind of pacing back then. So excited to hear about upcoming projects getting completed.

  • This is amazing! The music piece, “THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE” is among my favorites from FANTASIA, and this version allows me to really hear the piece as it was originally conceived. I can’t imagine this as live action, though, as I’m so used to the surreal Disney imagery. So glad, otherwise, to hear that so many projects are nearing completion, and I’m still trying to remember whether I ordered the FLEISCHER RARETIES set; I hope I did, but if I don’t receive one when the sets are sent out, I’ll know and order my copy immediately! Can’t wait to hear the results of the MID-CENTURY MODERN volumes on blu-ray, hopefully sounding even better than the standard DVD. The shorts you chose for that set are very entertaining, judging from thoses standard DVD sets. Good luck in the coming weeks!

  • In “The Great Movie Shorts”, Maltin reports that William Cameron Menzies did a series of these one-reelers. I’ve only seen one DVD collection, an Alpha that included four weak prints (including Wizard’s Apprentice) and a few random period novelties. The others Menzies shorts were little period stories, silents cut to a musical score with occasionally striking art direction.

    • Love that DVD, largely because of the extras.Among them is a Van Beuren Vagabond Adventure, FALLEN EMPIRE, which is a vintage travelogue in Haiti from 1931, complete with topless ladies fishing. No problem with the Production Code as long they weren’t light-skinned, I guess? It would be worth the effort to do a sampler DVD of some of the more interesting Van Beuren live-action shorts as soon as all of the cartoons are taken care of, Parrotville included.

  • Does anybody know the actors in that Sorcerers Apprentice short are? The actress looks vaguely familiar

    • I’ve listed them in the article above….

  • I wonder if anyone has done a Parrotville Post Office reenactment?

    Lord knows I’d love to hear stories of kids reenacting that part with the pants dropping constantly!

  • Always interesting to see how they pioneered effects.
    What was that flipping between archways when the wizard walked through? Was that to emulate a squash & stretch as if the castle were alive bouncing to the music?

  • Very interesting!!

  • ‘Brother Grimm-based classic’? Don’t you mean Goethe? It was Goethe that wrote the poem of Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Leave a Reply

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