October 15, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Van Beuren’s “Silvery Moon” (1933)

Even though this is Thunderbean Thursday, the cats are ruling the roost today today here.

I’ll save an update for next week; I’ve spent the better part of the last month helping finish other sets and working on my own stuff in the spaces between. As work moves from the drawing board to reality, I’m looking forward to the next cans of woims that these projects seen to uncover. I’m helping Tommy Stathes a little in the next few days, and he’ll have some exciting news soon as well! For today, there’s just a good ol’ fashioned cartoon with some music that has nothing to do with politics!

Since I haven’t talked as much about Felix as I’d like to this year, here’s a little ‘possible’ visit from a pre-Felix relative in 1917’s The Love Affair of Ima Knut. They liked their black cats. Tireless animation researcher David Gerstein tracked down disintegrating nitrate material from the Library of Congress, who lent the poor beat up thing for scanning some years back now. Dave as well as the folks at the LOC are truly film heroes.

This trade advertisement via Don Yowp’s Trafaz blog – and his great post on Silvery Moon

I’ve been writing this blog a while now, and as I was mulling over something for today that isn’t part of the surprises ahead I’ve been working on, I started thinking about cartoons with a halloween theme. This one doesn’t- but it DOES have candy and bellyaches, and a little horror, and isn’t that Halloween in a nutshell? Silvery Moon is fun the hundredth time I’ve seen it. This Van Beuren short has always been one of my favorites, and one of the first 16mm prints I ever had -from good ol’ Clifford Thomas, who would run these huge multi-page ads in The Big Reel with hundreds of films. You’d have to use your finger to scan through the list and call him fast since all the other cartoon collectors were after the same thing you were! I know all those collectors these days, or most of ‘em anyway, and some are even friends now. I think I got the print for $12, and I subjected all my friends in high school to multiple viewings of this as well as other Van Beuren shorts. That print was well-loved before getting scanned for the Snappy Video sets we did in the late 80s.

When we had a chance to do a show with TCM, I wanted to include this particular cartoon because I’ve always found it enjoyable. I think its a really good ‘go to’ cartoon as an example of what the Van Beuren Studio was doing in the early 30s. The music track is one of my favorites of any of the Van Beuren cartoons, and its hard not to like Margie Hines exuberant singing in this cartoon as well as other shorts like The Farmerette and The Wild Goose Chase. Animator Sally Cruikshank has credited this particular short as an inspiration for her surreal, 30s-inspired shorts.

For the DVD Aesop’s Fables, Volume 1 co-producer Chris Buchman had the wonderful idea to do a side-by-side comparison of one of the sequences in Toy Time (1931) and the reuse (adaptation) of the animation sequence in Silvery Moon. I’m looking forward to getting back to an HD version of this title. Chris and Rex Schneider (collectively, The Blue Mouse Studio) also created wonderful little title cards for the Turner Classic Movies Broadcast, so I’ve included their art with the film today.

Here’s the article from way back in 2013…

…and here is Silvery Moon. This copy is from a nice silent ‘Official Films’ 16mm print that was a little sharper than my sound print. It was fun to clean this one up from a good element. I think the sound is from the same print I’ve had all these years. Titles are faked here, but maybe some day the real ones will actually show up. Have a good week all, and make sure to watch the two sweet tooth kitties in HD.


  • The fairy with butterfly wings that greets the cats when they get to the moon reminds me of the one in the Silly Symphony “The Flying Mouse”, which came out the following year. Was it just a common design back then, or did Disney copied another studio for a change? I’m more inclined to believe the former.

  • Steve, I am not an animation professional, or an expert, or even that knowledgeable a fan — just someone who’s enjoyed animation since childhood and l Iove your posts. I’ve only ever ordered 2 Thunderbean discs before, but I just treated myself to a whopping 7 disc order and I can’t wait to enjoy all the rare and beautiful cartoon goodness!

    I’m glad there are people like you preserving the nooks & crannies & byways of our cultural heritage for the sheer love of it, much the same way the late Mike Vraney did with Something Weird Video (though his interests were far, far afield from the relative innocence of cartoons). Keep up the good work and thanks again.

  • What a wonderful cartoon!!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Well someone way-back-when screwed up on this cartoon’s title!

    The song being sung is “Moonlight Bay”, not “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”!

    So rightfully, the cartoon’s title should have been “Moonlight Bay”!

  • Van Beuren’s intended Christmas 1932 release, though it wasn’t officially distributed until January 1933.

  • Maybe they should have called it “Sugary Moon”. But under any title, it’s probably the second-best cartoon to feature “Moonlight Bay” (after “Porky’s Duck Hunt”).

    I’ve spent many happy hours watching that Aesop’s Fables DVD. Waffles and Don are the greatest!

  • Someone please help if you can! When I was a little girl I remember a cartoon featuring a song called by the light of the silvery moon. There was a housewife and a husband who was drunk and coming home after a long night of drinking (or whatever I’m not sure) and the wife was chasing him with a rolling pin. does this sound familiar to anyone? If so please provide the title and link for me. it reminds me so much of my grandma who has been gone for 40 plus years. thanks so much. God bless!

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