June 8, 2017 posted by

Updates, “Flip” Animated Kickstarter and “Rainbow Parade” Pre-Order!

Summer has me longingly looking outside and taking little breaks as I attempt to catch up with everything here! I’ve been lucky to have a good crew the last handful of days- helping dub, pack and clean up various films. It’s been the busiest early summer ever- literally dawn to late into the night attempting to make all these projects move forward as well as keeping with the orders. The swirl of activity is really fun in some ways, stressful in others- but the good news is that all things are working out pretty well. The ‘Fleischer Rarities’ set is now in full swing, with ‘Grand Old Toons’ and ‘Betty and Popeye’ all being out the door now. The pre-orders of ‘Abbott and Costello Rarities’ are all sent now, and new nitrate to transfer showed up Monday. The rest of the ‘Special’ discs are in the process and being dubbed as well.

With the last of the films being finished for one of my colleagues this week, it means that Flip and ‘Fleischer Rarities’ are the films getting the polish right now. Hurry Doctor is in progress now, and it’s fun to see that one looking so nice.

We’ve launched a Kickstarter to produce to help a little to finish the ‘Flip the Frog’ Blu-ray set, but the main purpose is to help with production on a special feature for the set- a two minute animated short featuring Flip (or any other Iwerks studio character) It’s a musical, traditionally animated short with different animators taking on 8 to 15 seconds set to a continuous piece of music. Each animator’s scene is unrelated to the others, so it will be a really fun little jam session of animation. It’s a short kickstarter (just 16 days left to go!). We can really use the help in getting the project to fruition! You can see the kickstarter here:

The other news is directly related to the nitrate that showed up here a few days back; some of them are Flip the Frogs, the others are stunning Technicolor materials on ‘Rainbow Parade’ cartoons! It looks so good that I couldn’t help but want to do a ‘sneak’ preview disc of the set.

A pre-order for the two disc Rainbow Parade Blu-ray set is available as of this week at Thunderbean’s Website. It comes with a ‘Sneak Preview’ disc that we’re trying to send within a month or so.

Pastrytown Wedding

Last summer, David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates arranged for me to look at materials at UCLA Film and Television Archives. This trip was mostly about looking at the separations on the Comi-Color Cartoons, but when I was talking with David about the Comi-Colors I had asked a little about the Rainbow Parade materials. He talked a little about what the materials had looked like coming from Commonwealth (a 16mm distributor), and briefly explained how Eastin/Phelan had acquired the library that included both the Iwerks and Van Beuren Rainbow Parade Cartoons. He spent a little time explaining how he had organized the various reels of scraps and outs that were assembled in small rolls as part of the collection, and how some of this material was on 1000’ 35mm reels. He described a few of this reels, and so I made sure to pull one of them on this particular trip. I’m glad I did- it was easily the coolest reel of the day.

I only pulled a handful of things for comparison on the Rainbow Parade materials, and a few only-prints of things.

While the complete history of the print materials isn’t entirely clear, in a conversation I had with Mr Shepard after this visit, he confirmed what I had deduced about the materials that were still there. It seems that Commonwealth had made brand new 35mm prints of many of these shorts with the express purpose of using them as master materials. These included multiple prints of many of the Comi-Color shorts and Rainbow Parade Cartoons. Some of these have wear, while others are pretty mint, lab new. Just stunning, with no print-over problems or issues related to storage over the years. Among these materials were a mint print of Japanese Lantern in 35mm 2-color Technicolor (with all original music and titles intact), an incomplete print of The Sunshine Makers that includes the complete music and original titles, 35mm prints of other early episodes in the series in varied condition as well as at least one work print of one of the cartoons.

Sunshine Makers

The color on one of the Technicolor prints of the Felix title Bold King Cole looked better than any copy I’ve ever seen – and, funny enough, was way better than other Technicolor prints of the same title that I pulled. It’s possible that was a British print of that particular cartoon, so it could be that somehow that earlier print had made it into the collection of master material somehow. I can’t wait to do a 4k scan on that print. There were also prints of some of these films that had their titles removed and replaced by Eastman Color Commonwealth titles. I may scan a few of this just to show them. It appears that they were putting together a package of cartoons for television that lumped the Comi-Colors and Rainbow Parades together as one ‘Fairy Tale’ series.

After reviewing all of these, I’ve been starting to check around to the archives to see who may have other things we haven’t got for the set. I’m as excited about this title now as I am with Flip the Frog. I think David would be happy seeing all these things happening. I can’t wait to get this particular set finished, and the sneak preview disc will get some of these seen even sooner. More updates next week- have a great week everyone!


  • I love the idea of a new Flip short!

  • I like what I see so far! But I will be disappointed if the Flip and Rainbow Parade sets don’t come with a DVD.

  • COLOR “JAPANESE LANTERNS”?!!! Words cannot describe how grateful I am for you for finding this.

  • Can’t wait to see Van Buren’s Rainbow Parade and Comí-Color return to DVD! The only time I’ve ever seen them on DVD is when they came out on the complication DVDs such as $1 Cartoon Craze series that were sold at Walmart and the dollar stores which included Molly Moo Cow,Toonerville Folks,Parrotville Parrots The Sunshine Makers & Balloonland (The Pincushion Man)

  • Each entry that I read whets my appetite to own my copy of these sets. I’m so glad that the FLIP THE FROG set is that much closer to being in my hands, and I look forward to the day when I’m enjoying it in my home as you are discovering the various parts in restoration.

  • Japanese Lanterns was reissued as Chinese Lanterns. I wonder why they changed the title?

    • It was probably released as a home movie in the 1940s – when we were at war with the Japanese.

  • Pre-ordered the Rainbow Parades. It’s amazing that you’re able to piece these films back together, Steve. Especially given how often they’ve been chopped up, sold and resold, etc. over the decades.

    Seeing Japanese Lanterns and the Felix the Cats restored will be treats. And hopefully, any MIA original title sequences will come forward for the final set.

    • I’ve seen Japanese Lanterns (1935) (re titled as Chinese Lanterns) in both colored (Radio and Television Packagers version dated 1973 – with a newly done musical soundtrack) and in monotone (Official Films, possibly from the 1940’s-50’s) and I think its one of the most beautifully animated films ever done by the Van Bueren studios.

      The Japanese family characters were beautifully done without the typical stereotypes that were popular in animated cartoons at the time. But it must’ve been confusing to the viewers including the children watching this animated gem with the title “Chinese Lanterns” replacing “Japanese Lanterns” and the family dressed in traditional Japanese Kimonos instead of the Traditional Chinese clothing like in the MGM Happy Harmonies cartoon The Chinese Nightingale (1935).

    • BIGG3469, I read a trade article that Ted Eshbaugh actually brought in Japanese artists to design the backgrounds for this cartoon.

  • I read an interesting interview once with David Shepard talking about the Van Buren film library and how he arranged for Blackhawk Films, for whom he was working at the time, to buy it because Van Buren had wound up owning a dozen Charlie Chaplin two-reelers, and Shepard wanted to get his hands on the Van Buren-owned Chaplin negatives and pre-print materials that survived in the vaults. He mentioned the rest of the Van Buren films only in passing, mainly commenting that the deal involved a lot of cartoons he (and Blackhawk) didn’t want, but that the owners of the Van Buren library wouldn’t sell it piecemeal. It was all or nothing, for which I think we can all be grateful. I got the impression in the interview that Shepard didn’t have anything against the cartoons. Just that the Chaplin material was all he was really interested in. The Chaplin Blu-ray/DVD collections he put together for Flicker Alley are truly exemplary.

  • Steve: Have the Rainbow Parade “Sneak Preview” discs been shipped yet?
    Can’t wait to see ’em!

    thanks from John R

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