June 8, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Update: Sending “Flip” to Mastering!
Cartoon: “Jolly Fish” (1932)

Our fearless Cartoon Research leader, Jerry Beck, is in France this week— so I’m writing earlier than my usual last minute today, but will keep it simple since he has to set the article up!

In Thunderbean news:
The work at the office is centered on getting The Little King all out the door, and when that isn’t happening it’s centered around the final mastering of the Flip the Frog cartoons. After several weeks of small tweaks, we’re working on a final review of the films and the bonus materials and doing our last round. I hope to have both masters out the door to the brain trust folks over the weekend or just after to make final suggestions and catch any issues.

Today, Gary Jones, a CCS animation student, is joining the tiny Thunderbean staff to help with looking over and tweaking some things, including a final look at Fiddlesticks and other titles. I’ve found animators do a pretty great job at identifying small issues, from dust to alignment and all the other details. I’m so happy we’ve had so much excellent help on the set.

Since it’s a short article today I’ll leave things there, and instead show a Van Beuren Tom and Jerry for this week’s cartoon!

Jolly Fish (1932) has been one of the most problematic films so far on the incoming Tom and Jerry set, and the last to go through cleanup since we’ve been unable to find a really great print.

I love the freewheeling nature of this particular short; Tom and Jerry meander from one gag to the next without any motivating plot to help guide this particular cartoon. I especially enjoy the scene where Tom, underwater, plucks the ducks by their feet from the surface of the water and puts them in a basket, their eyes turning to xx as he goes. The gags are fun throughout and travel at an underwater pace, matching the slow shuffle of the music. There’s something so comfortable about watching a cartoon that isn’t trying to impress you in any way but rather just give you a chuckle. While it will never be noted as an outstanding film, it’s still pretty enjoyable and won’t make you want your six minutes of time back.

This particular cartoon is somewhat common to find in 16mm since it was one of the ones distributed by Official Films for decades. While there’s a lot of prints of some of these, the oldest prints are usually best since they’re printed down from 35mm negatives- and harder to find in good condition. This particular print is a later one, and while it’s splice-free, it’s grainier and not as sharp as the print downs. I’ve love to see a non-Official films print of this particular title since the Official Films copies are much shorter than other cartoons in the series. I have to wonder if there’s additional footage that is now missing from the film. Let’s hope a print with original titles shows up at some point sooner than later!

Dave Grauman cleaned up the best copy we have for now, and we’ll keep searching until we’re out of time in the next few weeks. When we get to the final stage, we’ll steady and tweak contrast as well. We’re still hoping to find an older print in great shape if we’re lucky enough!

Have a great week everyone and wish us luck getting that frog out the door!


  • As with all the Vanburen Tom and Jerry cartoons, I like the music throughout this one. I hope you do find a very, very good print on this one. Of course I wish that for all of these cartoons, once that Blu-ray begins being compiled. I await my copy of the “ Little King“ collection, and I wish you luck in getting things together for “flip the frog“.

    • Gene Rodemich saved Van Beuren some music licensing fees on this because there are only three cues in the cartoon: “By the Beautiful Sea” over the opening titles, “By a Rippling Stream (Waiting For You)” and “There’s Oceans of Love By the Beautiful Sea.”

  • Always a pleasure to watch a VB T&J that doesn’t have a baby in it. There’s a glitch in the soundtrack just after the gag where Jerry catches a fish on a line made of “woims” knotted together. The same glitch occurs in other prints of the cartoon, so if there’s any missing footage, that would be where it belongs.

    The piano-playing sea creature with twelve arms would have to be a… dodecapus?

    A year later, Popeye would follow Tom’s example and wade across the bottom of a pond to gather an armload of ducks in his second cartoon, “I Yam What I Yam” (Wimpy having invited him to “Come on in for a duck dinner. You bring the ducks!”). He could have saved himself the trouble, as the ducks are perfectly willing to follow him around just so they can inhale the smoke from his pipe. I wonder if that would affect the way they taste.

    • Haven’t you heard of smoked duck?

  • Good luck in finding a better copy Steve! I don’t have any print on this one, but I’m sure many here do, possibly the nice sharp original you’re looking for! In the meantime, I’m looking forward to receiving The Little King soon!

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