THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
June 10, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

What Would ‘Raggedy Ann and Andy’ Look Like If Joe Oriolo Productions Made It?

Here in Thunderbeanland:
I’ve been really busy just trying to catch up after the second scanning trip. This one was mostly 16mm prints, and involved more reels than I’ve ever scanned in a short period of time. They’re looking good, and the adventure continues! Since I was trying to do so much scanning in just a few days, I came back with raw files that needed to be output in a specific program that wouldn’t work in full resolution on our older machines. We ended up upgrading equipment to be able to output them! When we output them we’ll have many, many hours of cartoons to sort into their various sets- and studs to show here too! I hope to be able to start that process later tonight. This month, between the official and special sets, we’ll have more things finished and out the door than any month in this company’s history. I’m happy to see so many things getting done, but it’s a little dizzying!


The Weekly Flip report!
This week, the final 35mm master scans for Flip are arriving. We’ve also been informed that the last two elements we need from the Library of Congress are on deck to be scanned. These are a 35mm soundtrack from Puppy Love and the German titles for Flip in Bulloney, featuring the original title art missing from all other prints we’ve seen. The icing on this week’s cake was two prints lent by Mark Kausler, both with footage not in *any* other print we’ve found. Coo-Coo the Magician has an opening and closing that is missing from all other 16mm and 35mm materials we know of, and The Bully, in a 16mm auto-positive print, has the introduction music. I haven’t heard it yet, but excited to record it later tonight.


A pencil drawing from the Oriolo Raggedy Ann test sequence

Now – onto this week’s oddity:

Did you ever wonder what Raggedy Ann and Andy (1977) would have looked like had it been made by Joe Oriolo productions? This feature film has an incredibly complicated and strange history in many aspects—so we’ll try to not get stuck on too many details- but here’s a few things to put this demo in context.

When ITT needed to find a studio to produce the Raggedy Ann and Andy feature, they did a search all over New York by tapping on lots of different studio doors. Several studios spent some time trying to budget the film for ITT, and several produced demo animation to try and convince the company to send the work entirely their way. Shamus Culhane was hired and paid to complete a production outline, including a budget, sometime in mid 1974, with a production solution that involved studios in New York, California and overseas to complete the film by March 1976, for release in the summer. Culhane had made many suggestions on sources to use that had various production capabilities- with many of those suggestions being awarded the final work.

Raggedy Ann and Andy as seen in Chuck Jones’ “Great Santa Claus Caper” 1978

Producers from Los Angeles bid on making the entire production, but ITT insisted that New York be the main ‘base’ of the film to make it easier for them to supervise as decision making of the physical production. Veteran animator Abe Levitow agreed to helm the production. Abe had worked at Warners and UPA, and was at the time working with Dick Williams, doing freelance animation for spots as well as on Williams ‘Theif and the Cobbler’ feature. Levitow helped in organizing a small studio in New York to work on story and storyboards, while much of the animation production would be split between several studios, including Williams in London, Tower 12 in California and two spot studios. One of those studios eventually became ‘Raggedy Ann west’, taking on a good amount of footage, hiring freelancers in Los Angeles and across the US. In the end of course, Tower 12 bowed out, and Williams would be fired from directing, but continued to work on the film, animating the credits and some animation as the production finished. Williams name was kept as director.

ITT’s heavy-hand in decision making has been documented scantly, but was a subject this writer learned many interesting things about while briefly chatting several times with Dick Williams, who was hired after Abe Levitow died suddenly at 52 years old.

Raggedy Ann and Andy on the CBS Saturday morning series in 1988

This demo seems to fit into the timeline *before* Levitow was hired, as ITT was looking for possible studios. It’s a pencil test of several scenarios from the film. My guess is that they were asked to visualize a few key moments from the script.

It’s a pretty short test, but interesting to see. It appears to have been animated by New York veterans Myron Waldman and Bill Sturm. I’m not sure who else worked on it, if anyone, but it was produced as a demo to show ITT.

I like the Camel design a lot in the demo, looking much closer to Gruelle’s original storybook designs as well as the Fleischer version. While this is only a little demo, it’s a really interesting, almost unknown sidenote to this film’s history.

Collector/ Historian Ira Gallen sent me a bunch of reels, and among these were a bunch of this pencil test and a demo reel from Don Oriolo Productions. A small scrap of paper was attached to one of the prints with the words ‘Pencil Test- Sturm/ Waldman. A complete spliced together 16mm print was labeled ‘Myron’ and another ‘Sturm’. I wonder if these were meant to be given back to these two animators.

Although I can’t output at full resolution (yet!) here is this little test in half resolution.

Have a good week all!

7 Comments

  • Ira Gallen! “Attention, Baby Boomers!” I used to watch his show on an independent station in Cincinnati in the early ’90s. He was always asking viewers to send him their old home movies, which he promised to transfer to videotape for free if he could keep the original film. He showed a lot of films from the early days of television — nothing animated, mostly local New York programs that didn’t mean anything to me. But man, did he ever have a lot of cool toys! I remember he had a set of Alvin and the Chipmunks bubble bath dispensers in the background of his set. But one of them had the wrong head on the wrong body, and it drove me crazy! Glad to know he’s still around and keeping up the good work.

    A big thank-you to Ira for preserving this rare Sturm/Waldman pencil test, and a thank-you of equal magnitude to Steve for sharing it with us!

  • Fun. Fleischer’s Raggedy Ann and Andy has been restored, as has The Raven. Be great to have them included on some commercial release.

  • Although the animation in this test reel isn’t bad, I sure am glad that the final product was mostly Richard Williams’ highly-detailed and 100% bonkers animation. The script was kind of bland, but the animation and design work put it over the edge into “flawed classic” territory for me. It’s a shame that a restored release doesn’t seem to ever be in the cards.

  • Wait. There was such as thing as a Joe Oriolo animation studio post-Mighty Hercules?

    • I’m surprised by that too. Also, there was still a “Tower 12” studio? I thought that was completely integrated or dissolved into MGM Visual Arts,and then closed down.

      (Also, Wikipedia says Oriolo actually worked on the Fleischer version of Raggedy Ann. Perhaps everyone else knew that, but it would show a connection between the two versions).

  • Shamus wrote about his involvement with the Raggedy feature and Dick Williams in a 1988 letter to me involving him possibly reviewing WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? for Animato. Here’s his account, which has Williams being the one who hired Culhane to do financial planning for the movie:

    “I do want to review the film, because Williams and I had a very serious falling-out over Raggedy Anne [sic]. He made the mistake of asking me to write up a budget, and acting as comptroller on the film. I made the incredible blunder of accepting the offer. We haven’t spoken since the first production meeting. He wrote some bitter letters about Raggedy, blaming everybody but himself for the debacle. I decided to get the record straight, so we managed to get pretty acrimonious.

    Now I’d like to write the favorable review this film merits, if for no other reason then [sic] to show Dick that I am not some kind of mortal enemy. So if you can hold off until I see the film, or you don’t mind a second review with a personal slant, I’ll send you my interpretation when it’s finished.”

    Of course, I would have loved to have published such a review, not to have mentioned brokering a truce between Dick Williams and Shamus Chulhane. Sadly, it didn’t happen.

    Note that Shamus both says that ROGER RABBIT deserves a favorable review and that he hasn’t seen it; now I’m wondering all over again what he thought of the movie, assuming he did get around to watching it.

    • Culhane seems to have been involved with the production before any studio was involved. I wonder if Culhane was hired by Williams because of his initial work with ITT on a basic production budget and schedule. Since there were other, more powerful entities above both Williams and ITT involved in Raggedy Ann and Andy, records on much of the history of the film are documented at the US National Archives. They’re $17 a page, and thanks to the freedom of information act, you can find out some of the things I have (the first four pages are free!). As Williams said to me “Those were the guys!!”

      On Roger Rabbit:
      From Culhane’s Animation from Script to Screen: “When he (Williams) was offered the opportunity to direct the animation in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, he jumped at it. The result is that this feature is easily the best use of combined animation and live action to date” . He continues with praise of the film. So, it looks like he liked it!

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