October 26, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Van Beuren’s “Midnight” (1930)

Here’s another simple Thunderbean Thursday for this week, written between packing for a trip to the Lightbox Expo, an animation conference in Pasadena. The school is sponsoring the trip, and it will be nice to see a lot of friends and Alumni from CCS while I’m there. I’ll also be looking over some films while on the trip that will be on some of the upcoming sets. If you’re there too and see me say hi!

In Thunderbean News:
The “Halloween Cartoon Party” special set is on its way to everyone now, and we’ve listed the Holiday one— this year titled “Cartoon Christmas Present”. The pre-order is at the Thunderbean Shop for a few weeks. Thanks to everyone for supporting all these things through the years.

After the whirlwind that is the next handful of days, I’m looking forward to sitting down and reviewing/updating the Felix the Cat digital scan archive here- and adding the additional films we’ve scanned in the last handful of years. Right now, it’s the largest gathering of 35mm elements on Felix, and they really deserve to be seen.

Onto this week’s cartoon: Midnight (1930)

This entry in the Aesop’s Fables series is a little lesser seen than some of the other titles. Any cartoon with this many cats in it deserves at least a listen since you’re likely to really funny meows on the soundtrack. While it isn’t an outstanding cartoon, it’s still fun. My favorite shot may very well be the cats on a fence in shadow, dancing in unison with a single female kitty also in silhouette in the window. Before too long there’s a massive cat and dog brawl that’s right at some with the silent Aesop’s cartoons. A pretty average cartoon for this period— but the one real oddity is a strangely designed Jewish stereotype dog in the picture, who appears as double in his first shot. It’s perhaps the strangest design of any character I’ve seen in a Van Beuren Cartoon- and that’s really saying something.

The print didn’t have a great time tracking on the scanner over this last weekend, so this scan in a bit of a bumpy ride to watch. Still, I hope you enjoy it!

Have a good week everyone!


  • I have just pre-ordered this Christmas present compilation, and I very much look forward to receiving it. As for the cartoon, I like any cartoons that feature cats. Thanks for this gem. Hopefully, it can be completely restored and released as part of a series.

  • “Midnight” isn’t the only cartoon in which stray animals in an alley sing the famous sextet from Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor”, but it might have been the first. Amusingly, over the opening credits (and nowhere else in the cartoon) we hear a couple of melodies by Wagner, who despised Donizetti and considered him a hack composer.

    That Jewish pup with the prominent pupik is weird, all right, but if you ask me the strangest-looking characters in Van Beuren cartoons are the animals Waffles and Don encounter in “Jungle Jazz”. The sea creatures in “The Haunted Ship” are pretty bizarre, too.

    • Arguably the best-known example of animals singing the “Sextette” would be the 1950 Terrytoon, “If Cats Could Sing.”

      And this may also be the first appearance of the gag “throws something out window at yowling cats, and more stuff is thrown back.”

      • Either that, or Freleng’s “Back Alley Oproar” (1948).

        • I think Sylvester was singing “Largo al Factotum” from “The Barber of Seville” in that one (“Figaro! Figaro!”)

          • The Lucia Sextette supports the closing gag in Back Alley Oproar.

      • Laurel and Hardy in “Night Owls”, 1930, beginning around the 9:25 mark:

  • It’s Van Beuren week on Cartoon Research! Should I submit my 15,000-word essay on the enduring legacy of Molly Moo-Cow for Friday’s post?

    “Midnight” may not be an undiscovered classic, but it’s a fun bit of nonsense from the silent-to-sound transition era. I agree with Steve that the shot of the four foregrounded fence-frolicking felines with the silhouetted female cat in the background is quite nicely done.

    Here’s to hoping that your growing collection of Felix scans pays off sooner rather than later!

    • Be careful what you say.

      Based on Jerry’s past comments re having difficulty finding posters, he may take you up on that Molly Moo-Cow offer.

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