June 26, 2014 posted by

Thunderbean Thursday Triple-Play

This week: Three (somewhat) related to animation distractions for this mid-summer Thursday:


Nitrate film isn’t our friend (or is it?)

I think everyone reading this already knows that Nitrate film stock is what most of the classic films produced in the first half of the 20th Century were printed on. Nitrate of course is highly flammable and very dangerous under the wrong conditions. Nitrate also decomposes, depending on the condition it is kept in (or how it had been kept in the past) as well as the year that the stock was produced. That said, often 35mm Nitrate prints are incredibly beautiful picture-wise.

If you’re dealing with preservation of classic films, you will deal with Nitrate. Of course, almost all cartoons were produced on Nitrate film. Interestingly, the National Archives informed me that the original negatives on the Army/Navy Screen Magazine were actually made on Safety film, and were shipped to Washington on completion. So, the Snafu cartoons were actually filmed on Safety stock. Other than films made in smaller formats (that used Safety Film) I wonder if any other series were shot on safety?

Here is reason enough to never set a Nitrate fire, since it’s pretty darn hard to put one out. I once had to go over to a collector’s house to evaluate the rest of a collection of Nitrate and Safety films after one of the sheds holding the films burned…

How a 1000′ of Nitrate turns into a tall inferno:

..and why it’s so hard to put out Nitrate once it’s on fire:

Nitrate fires have been portrayed in films over the years…

This is a heartbreaking scene from Cinema Paridiso (1988) where the
projectionist loses his sight:

Here’s the Nitrate fire scene from Inglorious Bastards (2009). Note: Very violent!

Pencil Tests

I think I’d sometimes rather watch pencil tests than finished versions. Here’s a few places to see great pencil tests, some old, some newer, some famous, others not so much.

A great one: The Pencil Test Depot:

My favorite: The Living Lines Library.

Another Quick Visit to Hanna-Barbara Land: Enchanted Voyage


King’s Island in the 70s was Hanna-Barbara-ized, and seems to have stayed that way into the 90s.

Clearly inspired by ‘It’s a Small World’, the Enchanted Voyage ride was huge in scale, taking you a a boat ride into a giant building with animatronic characters from Hanna-Barbara shows you knew and others that I’m sure were a mystery to most people. I need to haul out the photos my mother took while enduring the ride at least four or five times. Later this ride was turned into an all-Smurfs adventure rides.

I have to admit that I absolutely loved this as a 7 year-old, and was fascinated by the ‘Enchanted Voyage’ ride and ‘Gulliver’s Rub-A-Dub’. Here is a home movie from the early 70s. It looks like they were using their super 8 home movie light on the top of the camera..While not great quality (and not really the ‘full’ ride through) it does give you some idea of the scale of this thing:

Here are some photo tributes with some of the great animatronics.

This blog has some great pictures from the H/B related rides, including some
great ones from Gulliver’s ‘Rub-a-Dub’.

Here’s what the ride looked like once it had been ‘Smurfed’- a much better looking version from someone’s home video:

..And even later, it turned into a It’s a Small World from Hell:


  • The Smurfs video has me asking a lot of questions about that kid… I know everyone has unusual fears, but, still…

    • I was afraid to go on the Mark Twain at Disneyland. Long story.

    • That was a very whiny kid during the middle of that clip. I’m surprised someone in another boat wasn’t telling the parents to shut their kid up. It’s nice we got some footage to see of it and all, yet sad it has to be slightly ruined by it.

  • Was there a time when the Hillbilly Bears and Squidly Diddly were that well known, or were the ride designers just looking for characters to build scenes around?

    I remember the Gulliver series being one of only two new Saturday Morning shows on ABC that season — always wondered about that. There are photos of a “Gulliver’s Galley” at Cedar Fair. Maybe that was keyed to his presence in the ride, or maybe they thought Gulliver was going to be a long-running franchise.

    Way back when they were licensing HB characters, Great America in Santa Clara had flat rides themed to Mr. Peeble, Officer Dibble and Granny Sweet — built long after their respective shows (Magilla Gorilla, Top Cat, and whichever show had Precious Pup) were barely in syndication, and lingering many years after that.

  • Regarding that scared little guy on the Smurfs ride, that’s pretty much how I reacted at age 3 when my dad made the mistake of taking me to see An American Tail. When those demonic monstrosities the film would have you believe are “cats” came on, forget it. I was freaking out just like that other kid and yelling “DADDY, GET ME OUTTA HEEEERE!!!!” I’m sure it was a lot of fun for him and everyone else in the theater. X)

    • I don’t remember ever being scared to see a G-rated film like that personally (of course I was already 9 when that movie came out). I suppose when I was scared, the best memory I have was a haunted house-type carnival attraction that would come by a local high school every summer I went to. I recall that creep me out a bit though I bothered to go through it eventually and liked the dark, glow-in-the-dark, strobic nature of it all.

  • I remember going to the King’s Dominion park outside DC in the late ’90s when the chain was still owned by Paramount and being surprised at the heavy amounts of Hanna-Barbara “B product” on sale in the gift shops. Like, I’m remembering a lot of “Pup Named Scooby-Doo” merch?

    Theme parks are weird.

  • Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!|

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