Cartoon/film land has enveloped me, again, these last few weeks. Years? It’s spring break here from my full time teaching job; Mary and I usually travel down to DC, but things are too busy this year to do so. I’m working on finishing various things that all are screaming like hungry babies. The break from the school is nice in that I was able to sit down for a good amount of time each day and concentrate pretty steadily on aspects of various projects. My day was made earlier when one of the 38 Flip the Frog’s was handed off for me to evaluate cleanup. It looked just great.
Thunderbean DVD / blu-ray progress continues- slower than I had hoped, but pretty close to being where I’d like things to be. Some of the stuff going on:• After many tweaks to lots of pieces of lots of films, the Fleischer Rarities set is wrapping up- and is finally off to the replicators at the end of this week. The two Mid Century Modern volumes are done now too, and hopefully will be off to the replicators soon.
• A bunch of ‘Rainbow Parades’ are off to be scanned this week, and I’m excited to see what the scans look like. I’m happy that so many have shown up with their original titles; one of the films from last week’s list actually showed up in 35mm.. so one more down!
• Friday brings more scans here, with four of the ‘special’ sets wrapping up (in scanning anyway). There’s actually material that will be on *6* sets being scanned, some live action, some animation. The sessions are fun in that it’s always really varied stuff, and often it’s borrowed material that I’ve never screened myself. Screen Songs is still waiting for a few films that will hopefully help fill the set out. I’ll also be running a scan on the recently acquired Parrotville Fire Department (1934) . This is the thing I’m really excited to see.
• As you read this, I’ll be working with my friends Chris Buchman and Rex Schneider on the long-in-progress Blu-ray edition of Grotesqueries. I’m also going to attempt to twist their arms in getting their Dantini the Magician blu-ray further long on its way. We’ve produced four sets together, including Yuletide Flickers, and they are always fun to work with.
• I hope to make it over to the Jam Handy building in the next week as well to work with a collector who has a collection of Handy films now stored there; for years I’ve been helping a little to go through thousands of reels of film there, cataloging and dating the materials. This is mostly 50s through mid-70s stuff, but so many things there are fascinating, including quite a few things made specifically for presentations at Auto shows, and even some things from the 1964 World’s Fair. I’m really hoping more animated films show up, but so far nothing entirely animated has peeked out.
Enough of work. It’s probably a good time to get on with this week’s cartoon…
I was surprised to find that I never did a post on Big Tim a UPA-produced short made for Timkins Ball Bearings.
As is the case with many sponsored shorts, Big Tim (spoofing ‘Big Time’) is more cartoon than advertisement in some ways. This fully animated short bears some resemblance to UPA’s earlier Hell Bent for Election in both theme and design ideas, but is slicker and even more striking in design. Clearly, this decently budgeted endeavor has an unusual message for theatre-goers, and I have to wonder if the point of the film was to raise ’soft’ public awareness more than any one thing. The style and design here are easily as strong as the work produced for their Columbia theatrical shorts, but perhaps just a little less budget on the animation (although still clearly not made on a shoestring). Many of the ideas (especially the colorful surreal montage) serve as a sort of pre-curser to similar sequences in Gerald Mc Boing Boing and other early 50s UPA shorts.
There are no directing credits; I would guess from the direction style that Bob Cannon may have, but I’m unsure. Certainly a good amount of the animation is by Cannon. What animators’ work do you recognize? Stan Freberg provides the spirited our hero train throughout.
The film appeared on the DVD Mid Century Modern Animation, Volume 1, which is now out of print. The blu-ray version will be coming soon as mentioned above. For now, here’s the SD version, from a 35mm IB Technicolor print I was lucky enough to find on eBay years back. Compare it to what was previously available (Mike Kazaleh posted his own 16mm print here in 2010):
Have a good week everyone!