THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
May 5, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Tom & Jerry in “Hook and Ladder Hokum” (1932)

These last weeks of school own nearly all of my time, and since both Jerry and myself were busy with school commitments until late today, it’s a pretty simple Thunderbean Thursday this week.

In brief Thunderbean news: Both “Aesop’s Fables, Volume 1” and “The Other Betty Boops” special set are now finished. The Stop Motion Marvels set (long in progress) is getting close to having everything cleaned up for it too. I’m excited to be able to sit down with the hard drives and go through what’s mastered already for the set and start to work on getting it one closer to finish along with other stuff. As soon as the school commitments are done (in about a week) it’s off to the races, with the small Thunderbean team gathering at the office to help organize me and the chaos of all the material in progress.

Other news will remain a mystery at the moment. I very much enjoy talking about what’s going on weekly in this spot-but I’m doing my best to keep my mouth closed until some of these current things are finished and a few other pieces are in place before talking too much. More soon!

A while back I had talked a little about trying to find the best prints of the Van Beuren Tom and Jerry cartoons, especially the ones that Official Films released. They made so many different prints over many, many years— so you never know what you’re going to get. A lot of the time you end top with pretty nice originals, but with this one I still haven’t found a print I’m perfectly happy with. Since we’re trying to do this set with the best possible prints in earnest, it’s been worth scanning more than one print for many of them- sort of like playing “Go Fish!” Except with films. There are now several that are starting to have a stack of different scans. Fire! Fire! (Original title “Hook and Ladder Hokum”) is one of those.

For the new set, this cartoon has had four scans from four different prints so far-with this being the best print. The first print I scanned was my own- and the same print we used 12 years back or so on the DVD set. It’s a pretty grainy copy but otherwise fine. The second print looked a bit better projected, but really was a lot grainier than some of the better original prints on other Official Films releases. The third print is lent from another collector, but sadly it has advanced vinegar syndrome and didn’t scan well. This print (from the collection of film hero Dennis Atkinson) was really nice, except for a pretty consistent line throughout! We’ll see if we can do anything about that line, but if we’re able to find another clean print before too long we’ll scan it again.

A notable thing about this particular cartoon is that the director credit goes to the team of George Stallings and Tish Tash. The later is of course Frank Tashlin. This appears to be his first directorial credit (and the only one at Van Beuren) and now all we need to do is find a print that has those original credits since all credits are missing from Official Films prints. You never know what is out there, but so far I’ve been unable to locate original titles for this short.

Anyway, here’s a pretty nice scan of a decent print *except* for that persistent scratch. Oh, the joys of film collecting! Have a good week everyone and enjoy this quirky little Tom and Jerry.

9 Comments

  • I love the cartoon! By the way, is the first voice we actually hear in the cartoon the same voice that is given to Gandy goose? It certainly sounds like him, but of course he is not a Van Buren property.

    • my uneducated guess would be no; they’re only the same in the sense that they both are imitations of Ed Wynn’s Fire Chief character from his popular radio show of the time.

    • The voice of the “Chief” in the portrait is an impression of comedian Ed Wynn who was famous at the time as the “Texaco Fire Chief” on radio. The voice actor uses a couple of Wynn’s catchphrases, the long, drawn-out “soooo-o-o-o-o!”, and a reference to the firehouse being “different” (Ed’s actual catchphrase was “The show is going to be different tonight!”, which it never was). Gandy Goose’s voice is, of course, another Wynn impression. What I never understood about this cartoon is why they used the Wynn voice without making the Chief a caricature of Wynn.

  • “Hook and Ladder Hokum” is one of the few Tom and Jerry cartoons that I tend to skip over, and seeing it again now, I remember why. It’s probably the worst VB T&J that doesn’t have the annoying baby in it. One searches in vain for any nascent signs of Frank Tashlin’s future greatness. About the best I can say of it is that it proves Gene Rodemich could compose good dramatic music when the occasion called for it.

    There is a South Korean cartoon series called “Tish Tash”, dubbed into English by the BBC; it airs on the ABC every morning here in Australia. Tish is a little girl bear, and Tash is her imaginary best friend, also a bear, who accompanies her on various fanciful adventures. Tish and her family are pink because they’re real, and Tash is blue because she’s imaginary. After all, whoever heard of a blue bear? (Wait — didn’t Yogi use to date one?) It’s strictly for the preschool set, and I strongly doubt that any of its creators has ever heard of Frank Tashlin or seen “Hook and Ladder Hokum”.

  • One of my all time favorite cartoons, Steve! I saw this in heavy rotation on St. Louis television in the 1950s. I love Rodemich’s use of “Rhythm” (I think that’s what it’s called) on the main title and a big hunk of the action. That tune follows me where ever I go, always. The orchestra intro to “Rhythm” actually gives me chills, as the music rises in sync with the “Help”, “Hurry” and “Help” spelled out in the flames, The old farmer looks like a Tashlin design to me, with the big hands and feet. The flapper may have been a Tash design as well. The gag with the nervous horse and his false teeth, seems to have the Tashlin touch. I don’t know who did the wonderful perspective background animation on the last shot, but it’s terrific. I also like the surprise at the end as the boiler top comes off to reveal Tom, Jerry and the Flapper all dancing in a circle. We should treasure this cartoon for many reasons, not the least of which is that it makes firefighters into heroes, inept though they may be.

    • The shots of the farmer shouting from the window and then being blown back through the house by the firehose look like they might have been animated by Tashlin. They certainly bear a lot of stylistic similarities with animation attributed to Tashlin in other Van Beuren cartoons.

  • And by the way, the first voice in the cartoon, the portrait of “Our Chief”, is an imitation of Ed Wynn, who played the part of the Texaco Fire Chief on the radio in the 1930s. Gandy Goose’s voice was also a Wynn impersonation, so maybe that’s why there’s a similarity.

  • The very rubbery animation of Jerry hopping in and out of his uniform and the farmer yelling as flames slide down his own is Taslin.
    Very good work on the drapery when Tom hops into bed,
    The song that finishes is “Corn Fed Cal”.

  • Fun fact: this was posted on the 50th anniversary of Frank Tashlin’s death (which seems to have gone unnoticed otherwise in the animation community), and also a day after International Firefighters’ Day (May 4th), so it’s doubly appropriate. Many thanks for this!

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