April 25, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Thunderbean Ramblings and Updates

As I’m writing this, late on a Wednesday night, I’m trying to get back into classic animation mode after viewing student work all day. I saw some really beautiful things, and I hope that some of these things will have an effect on the direction of the industry and animation in the coming years. I often think about how working on animation and filmmaking as a career is, like any, a way to pay the bills, but as entertainment it has the ability to live much brighter, entertaining people and having meaning well beyond the time and generation they were created for. It’s been said often, but the creators of the old animated shorts would probably be amazed that so many still have a following and are rediscovered.

I feel like the bigger mission of this blog is as a sort of ‘reader’ for further information on creators and films, for the brave few willing to take that deeper dive. I feel like there’s really just a few of us, in the bigger population, that love these old films enough to want to know this information. In a way, we’re all like the masons of the animated film industry, the few that are champions of the keeping the secrets of history’s past to preserve it, both in researching information and making sure the films are seen.

Sometimes I feel a little like a monk working on these things, scrubbing or repairing films both physically and digitally, then onto the next. Earlier today I got up early to spend just a little time looking at the cleanup we did years ago on Pastrytown Wedding and fixing a whole series of little things I wished we had gotten better on the Classics from Van Beuren Blu-ray. A little after, I was working on physically cleaning Spinning Mice. It’s wonderful to see an old print go from being super dirty to shining again; I’m hoping to get a really nice, clean scan out of it. Only the very beginning is rough on that print, then it’s in great shape with absolutely beautiful color. I can’t wait to see what that one looks and sounds like. While not my favorite, some of the animation is really nice – and getting the set to some consistency of quality is the biggest goal right now. I honestly can’t believe how many we’ve got now in 35mm with original titles- a true dream come true for these films.

Recently, I’ve learned that someone or someplace may have just ended up with 35mm nitrate soundtracks on many of the Rainbow Parades I don’t have in 35mm. I’m fascinated by this since it could be a great upgrade to the material I already have- and maybe a lot of other Van Beuren cartoons. Keep your fingers crossed for that! All of the material we have scanned on this project is cleaned up, leaving us now with only the new ones that just arrived and a few others that are getting upgraded.

Rainbow Parades is a little more difficult to get to the finish line that thought it would be. One of the tasks (I think) may involve me flying to Florida, moving a bunch of things out of the way in a storage unit to get to one or two films to borrow. Sigh! In one way I’m glad the set isn’t done since a great find of rare material just happened, but getting access to it is always another story!

It’s been a crazy time in Thunderbean land. I’m going through a bunch of reels of commercials this week as well, for the new Cartoon Commercials set. This particular material is really exciting to me since I haven’t seen almost *all* of the spots on the reels I’ve been through so far. Great stuff. My two other machines are cranking away on cleanups for the Puppetoon set. Those will all be out of our hands within a month or so. Tomorrow I’m skyping to look at master materials on another new project I’m helping with. There’s so many things going on!

I’m very much looking forward to the last few weeks here for the semester; next week are reviews, and then the student show – and that will be followed by a heavy dive into finishing so many things I’ve been planning on. The biggest thing right now is still dubbing and shipping the finished pre-orders. It’s taking forever to get everything out the door, but I hope to catch up with a lot of that this weekend again. It seems (and is) pretty much never ending right now. Thanks for everyone’s patience.

The closest to being all done right now is the Grotesqueries Blu-ray. That project really only requires getting the ‘Ghosts of High Noon’ sequence to pass muster in HD with the associate producer.

Then, there’s Noveltoons! We did manage to get all the films we have here cleaned up for that set as well, but I still wanted to add an extra title. I’m still waiting on that to get here, but in the meantime I tried to go back and thing about what other cartoons I had seen pop up in 35mm. I remembered a cheapo VHS set from years back that had Hep Cat Symphony on it, and I always wondered if I’d see the print they got it from again, Someone has posted that print on Youtube, so here it is!

It’s one of my favorites of the late 40s Noveltoons. Not only does it have a great soundtrack, but lots of the kinds of cat abuse you’ve come to expect from any famous studio short. Plus, some scatting— something you probably won’t see in any other Famous short. I also wonder if this is the only short where Jackson Beck does the voice of the cat albeit one line. The mice in this short are just as persistent as Popeye’s nephews The print itself is pretty battered but watchable here. I do wish it would have shown up for the project in 35mm.

Have a good week everyone!


  • Steve:

    I sent money( 19:50) for THE SCREEN SONGS Special Set.

    Please tell me you got it. When will I receive the set?
    Please reply

  • I wish you would let us know which sets have shipped and which are still in process. I don’t mind waiting however long it takes, but I hate worrying that I haven’t gotten something I should have gotten because of a glitch somewhere in the shipping process.

    The sets I have paid for, through PayPal, and am still waiting on are:

    Screen Songs (2017)
    Noveltoons (2017)
    Popeye in Technicolor (2018)
    Terry/Lantz/Famous (2018)
    All Censored (2018)
    Toon Club (2018)

    Like I said, if these are all still being worked on (which you mentioned above was true of the Noveltoons set), that’s fine, but if any of them have already shipped and I haven’t gotten my disc, I’d llike to know about it

    • Sets that are done right now (and dubbing and shipping) are:
      Screen Songs
      Odds and Ends
      Cartoon Paradise
      and Kipling’s Women (on the Snappy Video side.

      Noveltoons is getting closer to being done right now

      All others are in progress but getting there! You can also follow progress on these sets on There’s also offers for special sets there sometimes….

    • Thanks, Steve!

  • I like the way this cartoon covers all the usual classical bases here. We not only get the ultimate chaos accompaniment music, the “Poet and the Peasant” piece, but we also get the excellent “William Tell Overture”, although no one did this better than Carl W. Stalling who used it more than once, my favorite being in “BALLOT BOX BUNNY” as the ants devour and steal the lunch offered by Yosemite Sam as his political come-on for re-election, and that version was sped up–always cracked me up when I was a kid, and I still like it today. I have to admit that I like the use of “Poet and Peasant” a little better in the POPEYE cartoon, “SPINACH OVERTURE”, and MGM used it twice that I can recall, once so perfectly in the BOSKO cartoon, “CIRCUS DAZE”, and the other example in the CAPTAIN AND THE KIDS cartoon, “POULTRY PIRATES”, as Cap is being beaten up by a rather large and muscular rooster that shakes the earth as he enters the picture.

    Oh, you keep teasing me with all these bits of news on forthcoming projects near completion. Can’t wait to check out the second volume of animated commercials, and I hope that some are those that we remember as well as obscurities, and they don’t always have to be 2-D types. I’m sure there are some great bits of humanoid “reanimation” using live action humans as stop motion figures, similar to the famous film “NEIGHBORS”.

    As always, thanks for all you do!! I’d love to hear more about what you’re doing on “PUPPETOONS” as well, if you can talk further about that. Perhaps Arnold Leibovit might consider being a guest poster, alongside you, for one of these THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY postings?

  • Well, in the cartoon Top 40 we got two of the three leaders, anyway. Sorry, Franz.

  • How much longer until the completion of the Flip the Frog Set, Cartoon Commercials Vol.2 and the Blu-Ray Reissue of Stop Motion Marvels ????

    • Flip the Frog has easily been the hardest set to complete. It will be out this summer at some point. So will Cartoon Commercials and both Stop Motion Marvels, and other stuff too!

  • That cartoon makes no sense. Cats can’t sight-read and they don’t make instruments small enough for mice to play. Also, I sent you some money once for something and when will I get it.

  • I enjoy reading and learning about all these old cartoons very much.

  • Can you let us know which classic cartoons will be on the Noveltoons set?

  • Hi Steve, great article!
    Can you elaborate on why film archives are willing to ship you (and others) these rare prints?
    I can’t imagine an archive letting go of a rare one of a kind master, and shipping it FedEx for someone else to clean and repair and scan and ultimately release for sale.

    If the film is very rare, what would happen if an accident occurred, either while shipping, or during the clean up?
    It would be lost forever.
    Also – How does the film archive know who can receive these films?
    Would Joe Six Pack be able to borrow a rare nitrate master from the Paramount Studios archive?
    Doubtful (lol)

    Of course, I’m glad they let you.
    I’m just curious how and why they are willing to part with their precious assets for awhile?

    Thanks for the info – and the great Blu releases!

    • These are great questions.

      In general, if the depositor of the materials grants permission and the material is able to be lent, it can be sent to a hasmat licensed receiver, overnight. This cost as much as the scans do (hundreds and hundreds of dollars to send them overnight with the hasmat service). In this case, the copyright holder (Film Preservation Associates) has allowed access to the material to me and perform basic care while handling the materials. I won’t snip a frame out or alter the film in any way, only carefully clean and do some basic splice repairs with archival splice tape. I’ll also be handing them back the 4k digital scan masters and cleanups as well so that there is a digital preservation of this material that can be used in the future. It’s much easier to have the material sent via courier to a lab, and many labs are close to archives. These presented an unusual case is that I wanted to make sure they were cleaned to get the best possible scan out of them.

      Getting *just anything* sent is completely impossible, although having a good reputation and track record with each archive does help. Sometimes an archive can scan things internally as well. I’ve borrowed quite a bit of film for this project, all returned and handled carefully while here. I like being able to do these short videos because even seeing this much of the process is super rare, but I’ll generally not show the process since it’s usually not so public for these types of things.

      My own 30 years experience handling film includes six years working in a film library and a film archive of a major university. I’ve borrowed things from other archives and collectors, so folks can vouch for me. Of course, my experience pales in comparison to some of the long-time collectors. They’re *much* more responsible for saving things than I’ll ever be!

      Being very careful and gentle with the materials and doing professional cleaning and repairs are important. Often materials are shipped directly to the place that will scan them; in this case, that had already happened with some of these, and they needed more TLC before scanning over again. I take the responsibility very seriously. What they won’t let me do is borrow any of the preservation masters, but I managed to work out a way to scan some of this material where it was needed, and I’m very grateful.

    • Fascinating info – Thanks very much!!
      That’s awesome to hear that you give them back a 4K scan as well, preserved for all time.
      I shudder to think much of these older animation titles are sitting in cans somewhere, untouched and rotting away.

      I’m very excited to get your Flip the Frog collection, but why does that set need so much work?
      Weren’t they already released on laser as part of the “Cartoons That Time Forgot” collection?
      (Was it Blackhawk or Kino? I can’t remember off hand)
      Wouldn’t the prints already have been repaired and cleaned by someone?
      Or are you using different prints?

      I know your super busy, so my last question:
      How could you possibly choose which titles to put on a set?
      Say you had access to the MGM Harmon and Ising cartoons, and you wanted to put out a set.
      Ideally you’d release them all, chronologically on one Blu ray set (Hint Hint lol!!)
      But if you only put out 15 – 20 cartoons on one disc, how do you choose which titles to do?

      Thanks again for your wonderful releases – and for your candor, allowing us a peek behind the scenes.
      As well as all your new BluRay titles, I’d look forward to any of your older Thunderbean releases upgraded to BluRay as well if you ever had the chance to revisit them.

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