THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
February 27, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Van Beuren’s “Tom and Jerry” Blu-ray, part 1: Gathering Materials.

On each one of these projects I’ve found that, at some point, I get pretty obsessed on the *little* details getting each film done, and then, once that is all taken care of, then onto the little details of the bonus materials. There are now four titles in that phase here, so I’m really chompin’ at the bit on each in some ways, but am looking forward to getting through it as well.

One of the few remaining things to figure out on the ‘Rainbow Parade’ cartoons is the actual production code number of each film. One particular reader here has been keeping me honest in making sure this is done with care; the problem at this point is there doesn’t seem to be a good database to make sure these exact production code numbers are followed. If anyone knows how to find them these MPAA numbers, please contact me.

Otherwise, it’s the usual catchup here as the team handles most of the shipping as I’m off working on finishing sets. While various things render or are handed off, I’m spending a little time exploring the next things on desk.

The Van Beuren cartoons have been a mainstay at Thunderbean for a while; I do hope that each of these sets puts each of these series in at least a decent enough place, at least until the occasional better material shows up.

The Cubby Bear cartoons were more than an obsession for a while here, and getting that particular set done decently has sort of set the stage of direction for the other series from the studio. We did a ‘special’ set of the Little Kings on Blu-ray, but not from the best material at times. I do hope to get back to the King at some point, but Tom and Jerry are well into production at this point.

The biggest heartbreak for me personally was discovered as I started to go through my own personal prints of some of these films. Back in 2013, I got some scans done from my prints at a very small outfit in California. The price was good and I was overall happy with the scans that were done with a liquid gate. I hadn’t gone back and looked at any of the films again I had done on that session until a few weeks ago. Sadly, somehow all of my films from that session came back heavily scratched on the base side. I’ve never seen film damaged so badly from projection or any kind of telecine work, and was heartbroken to see my prints of In the Park and The Magic Mummy with heavy lines on one side. I had been debating on a rescan of In the Parkhere and may do it if I can get the lines hidden well enough.

Each of these projects has its ups and downs, and since the best materials for this series doesn’t exist in one place, I really rely on the village of collectors and archives to help. There are several collectors who have been absolutely essential in helping get these projects looking their best, and so I try to only ask for things from them when I’ve gone through all options. Happily, a lot of the Tom and Jerry series has multiple prints available, so that makes things much easier. I really do wish 35mm would show up on more of them, but I think we’ll just have to be happy that 16mm is at least around on all of them.

Here’s a pretty good breakdown, in chronological order, of where we’re at on the Van Beuren Tom and Jerry cartoons at this time. Trying to find original title sequences is always high on my list for these films, so one of the first things I like to catalog is what I know to exist and who has is. I’m very much hoping to do a deep dive into them in the coming few months and will update here as they progress. I think this gives a pretty good idea of the basic complications of a set like this:

Wot a Night – We got very lucky and found an excellent original 16mm print many years back. Digital clean up was first done for the ‘Van Beuren Classics’ Blu-ray. No print has shown up with all original titles as of yet. Mark Kaulser did manage to find a print with the original credits, so we used those on the DVD and VB classics Blu-ray before.
Polar Pals – nice scan from an very good 16mm print, in cleanup currently. An archive outside of the states has a 35mm nitrate on this title that I would absolutely love to get.
Trouble – no final scan as of yet
Jungle Jam – several prints scanned, but still looking for better material. Soundtrack from 1991 scan of a nitrate print. We have one print with original titles here.
A Swiss Trick – scan from an excellent 35mm nitrate has been all cleaned up for years.
Rocketeers – there’s No final scan yet
Rabid Hunters – Scan from 16mm print with original titles. In cleanup
In the Bag – no final scan as of yet. Soundtrack from a 35mm nitrate print scanned in 1991.
Joint Wipers -scan from Reg Hartt’s excellent 16mm print, sold to me years back. Thanks Reg! In cleanup
Pots and Pans – scan from Tommy Stathes’ excellent 16mm print with original titles
The Tuba Tooter – no HD scan as of yet. Original titles exist
Plane Dumb – One scan completed, but no final HD scan as of yet
Redskin Blues – hoping to borrow an excellent original print again from a good friend
Jolly Fish – scan from Chris Buchman’s very good 16mm print. No original titles have surfaced on this title as of yet. In cleanup
Barnyard Bunk – scan from Official Films 16mm print. No original titles have surfaced on this title as of yet. In cleanup
A Spanish Twist – scan of 16mm print with splices. Hope to improve. Original titles exist
Piano Tooners – original camera negative in excellent shape has surfaced!
Pencil Mania -in cleanup from a nice 16mm print
Tight Rope Tricks – Several 16mm scans completed. No original titles have surfaced on this title as of yet. In cleanup
Magic Mummy – scanned/ cleaned up from excellent 16mm print. No original titles have surfaced on this title as of yet
Happy Hoboes – Scan from good 16mm Official Films print. No original titles have surfaced on this title as of yet
Puzzled Pals – Scan from good 16mm Official Films print. No original titles have surfaced on this title as of yet
Hook and Ladder Hokum -Scan from good 16mm Official Films print. No original titles have surfaced on this title as of yet
In the Park – Scan from good 16mm Gutlohn print. Original titles exist.
Dough Nuts -Scan from good 16mm Gutlohn print. No original titles have surfaced on this title as of yet
The Phantom Rocket – have one scan. Original titles exist- although I had to rely on my ancient ‘Loonic Video’ VHS for the DVD version of them back in 2009.

So, now, if you need a Tom and Jerry fix, here’s David Gerstein’s filmography. And if that isn’t enough, YouTube channel ‘metermet’ has all 26 of the films uploaded, mostly from the Thunderbean DVD (and one from a previous Thunderbean Thursday post). That’s dedication!! I liked this set back then and am looking forward to the Blu-ray upgrade being all in the can. Have a great week everyone!

11 Comments

  • The Tom & Jerry DVD set is one of my favourite Thunderbean collections. My only complaint is that the top of of the frame has been cut off; I know it’s because of the unusual aspect ratio of the original film, and there’s nothing that can be done about it now, but it still bothers me. Sometimes it’s not much of a problem, as here in “Jolly Fish”; it doesn’t really matter if you can only see the tails of the fish dancing on the pianos in the rear while the octopus is tickling the ivories of multiple keyboards. But in “Rabid Hunters”, when the rabbit climbs the tree and starts playing his face like a trombone, you can see little more than his feet. A visual gag isn’t funny if you can’t see it — but “Rabid Hunters” is still a hilarious cartoon!

    I often sing songs from the VB T&J cartoons while I’m driving. My favourite is “The Cop on the Beat, the Man in the Moon and Me” from “Magic Mummy”. It’s great to hear Harry Warren’s “Nagasaki” (in “Polar Pals”) with the original risque lyrics.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Steve:
    What’s the latest on FLIP THE FROG? THAT’S the set I’m most eager for. Please tell us it’s still coming. I am looking forward to RAINBOW PARADE too, though.

  • Has there been any inquires made with Multicom regarding whether they still have the Official Films cartoon library?

  • One of the enjoyable things about the Tom and Jerry DVD were the Don and Waffles cartoons Gypped in Egypt and The Haunted Ship. I like them better than many of the Tom and Jerrys. How can anyone hate a Sphinx coming to life or drunk turtles with zooming heads?

    • I’m with you on Waffles and Don, Don!

  • Are still the Flip the Frog project in your calendar?. What ever happened with my paid specials?..Never got’ em…

    • Flip is VERY much in progress and really looking amazing; I just hate to talk a ton about it since I have already! Stand by– it won’t be too much longer….

      Paul- the top (and sometimes bottom) of the frame being cut off has everything to do with the printing of the original 16mm prints from 35mm materials. These cartoons were made in Movietone aspect ratio- and when the newer, smaller picture frame of 1:33 became the standard set by the academy, the equipment used to print down to 16mm would lob off picture at the top and bottom of the frame! The Van Beuren cartoons are especially affected by this since they have action so close to the top and bottom frequently. I wish that picture area existed on those prints— because I’d make sure it was on the disc!

      Mark- I always wondered about Jolly Fish too- but I don’t see where any edits would be. It’s easily the shortest one of them. I wish an old nitrate would show up (or an old print with original titles) to answer that question on that one.
      Piano Tooners might be my favorite. Let’s hope we get to see if from that original negative! Magic Mummy is juts so bizarre and fun. I like the animation of all the skeletons running in fear in the theatre. Dancing with the mermaids and fish in Rocketeers is also a favorite moment (and the moon saying ‘Uh ohhhh’ at the beginning) I like a lot of the gags in ‘Puzzled Pals’, especially the blank look on the little kid’s face as he destroys their lives.

      I put some of the Waffles and Dons on the first set; will probably put at least one on as a bonus.

      Kat- getting the scans all in one place this past week was really nice- it reminded me of why like these cartoons so much.
      Still working on getting special sets done and out the door here!

  • I’ve wondered for years why “Jolly Fish” is so short compared with the other Tom and Jerrys? Maybe Official edited this one and the edits have never been restored. At the 5 minute 28 second length, it’s very funny and very tightly cut. I think the last scene where Tom and Jerry walk along and the fish fall off the hook is hilarious! The perfect amount of fish falling off, like a Russian “nesting doll”, and that great arrangement of “There’s Oceans of Love By the Beautiful Sea”.

    • A pretty good Van Beuren cartoon. They’re sure haphazardly made things, but that’s part of why I like them so much. They made absolutely no effort to keep the design of that worm consistent between scenes. Still, even if these were “B” cartoons, Gene Rodemich always did some of the best cartoon soundtracks of the period.

      There’s a splice at about 2:29 in the cartoon, with a pretty noticeable jump in the soundtrack. Perhaps a scene was excised there, although that still leaves more questions than answers. Add another mysterious missing scene to the annals of animation history.

  • I’m a Van Beuren fan, and the Tom & Jerry DVD set remains one of my favorite Thunderbean DVD sets. It’ll be great revisiting these whimsical shorts in 1080p–duh-rool, duh-rool!

    One question: have any better materials surfaced on the Waffles & Don cartoons besides “The Haunted Ship” (which has been released on Tommy Jose’s delightful Halloween Haunts Blu-Ray)? Do you plan on including those shorts as extras like you did with the DVD set?

    Don’t mean to sound pushy. Keep up the great work! I’ll be keeping my money on standby…

  • Contact me when all this virus business calms down.

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