A few things happening in the Thunderbean office:
I have my head pretty close to finishing just a few projects here right now, but we also managed to get three of the ‘special’ sets all finished as well, and almost finished the Thunderbean Thursday 2018 edition. Terry/ Lantz/ Famous and one other will also be done and dubbing hopefully next week. We’re in an August push to get as many things done as possible, and will be sending the ones that are done and the Grotesqueries pre-orders at the same time.
In other news:
Some beautiful material for the Bunin set showed up here this week.
I’m needling through the last elements of the Noveltoons Blu-ray. It has a good working master, and if all tests out, it is looking like the set will be heading out to replication this week. It’s been in progress well over two years.
Rag Dog and Japanese Lanterns just made it through clean up. All the film for the first volume to Rainbow Parade have finished versions. We’re probably going to go back and update The Hunting Season and Scotty Finds a Home since better material on some scene were just scanned.
The Cartoon Commercials volume 2 project, in progress for a while has been moving along nicely. There’s a handful of things to add to the set that we’ll be doing in the coming week or so. More Stop Motion Marvels is as well. Stop Motion marvels 1 also will be having a big scan session in the coming week or so.
To help move things forward faster, we’re doing a special set, available for one week, called On Hold – Cool Things from Unfinished Projects. They’re all pieces of projects that, for one reason or another, we can’t make an ‘official’ release of right now. This disc includes some black and white cartoons I dearly love, two episodes of a beloved 60s TV cartoon (from the original network negatives including commercials), some cartoons starring a famous character, and other rarities. Proceeds will be used to move the current green light projects forward- and all the shipping! Details are here at Blu-ray.com.
On to today’s cartoon: House of Magic (1937)
It’s understandable why the Meany, Miny and Moe cartoons are less seen than most of the other series that the Lantz studio produced. While there’s quite a few of them, there’s not enough to support a whole tv package. Some were part of the Oswald b/w package.
Something rarely mentioned is the use of the old rhyme was used both innocently and with a racist connotation (in the states) at times. I heard this myself as a child, even before I knew what the ’N’ word meant. This combined with the characters being Monkeys seems like it might be enough to make some later showings a little more infrequent. I have to wonder when that may have become a concern. One company (Modern Sound Picture’s Keith Smith) told me in the 80s they removed these films from their rental catalog in the 60s.
The characters themselves are not portrayed as any particular race in any of the shorts I’ve seen. If anything, they seem like New York Kids from the 20s or 30s. They first show up as supporting characters in the mid-30s Oswald cartoons, graduating to their own series by late 1936.
In some ways the flavor of these shorts remind me of both the live action ‘Three Stooges’ shorts from the 30s as well as the Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoons from the mid to late 30s. My guess is that both series had some influence on the direction of them.
House of Magic (1937) is the only one of these shorts in the public domain. Luckily, it’s a pretty fun one. Our heroes enter a ‘magic store’ that seems haunted in addition to magic accessories.
Since the characters don’t do a lot of talking, the majority of the cartoon is spent with character acting/ pantomime gags. I think parts of the ‘player piano’ sequence are particularly well timed and animated. I also really enjoy the live action rain composited into the early scenes of the film.
I feel like, for the interested fan or viewer, the films in this period in the history of the Lantz studio have always been difficult to see. I do hope that changes someday. What you do you think of this one?