Work in progresses sometimes seem like they will never end, but if there’s progress all the time *eventually* things get to the point of being done, or as done as they can be. Right now, the Flip the Frog set is steadily approaching that point. It’s now often a matter of what material to use. The master positives from the 30s look fine enough, and are beautifully complete. Then you scan the original negative and it’s even better quality-wise, but sometimes missing a scene or the beginning or frames. Interestingly, one film (Techno-Cracked) actually looks *better* in the surviving 16mm material than the 35mm material so far- but I’m hoping still to transfer one more print.
Less *real* news and history this week, to be made up next week with a vengeance.
In all the hunting around the last few weeks, I’ve started to think about how only once in a while do you find the things you *really* didn’t know were out there. There’s also the things you *know* are out there and just can’t get.
There’s a handful of folks who especially go after the real Holy Grails of course. One of my good friends I consider to be the ‘Indiana Jones’ of the Cartoon Researching world, with a long list of films to his credit – and, often, various politics that prevent him from always getting the credit he deserves! Maybe ‘Indiana Jones’ is a little too strong. Maybe among Cartoon Research people he would inevitably be the winning contestant on the find the cartoon version of The Amazing Race.
That said, I thought it would be fun to think about the dream-goal films-to-find in a Amazing Race-type contest between die-hard Cartoon fans. Here’s my ’Six-step’ list, with what I would want find more than anything else. Please note – this is fiction. Any resemblance to real events is purely co-incidental.
1) The first stop is in the mohave desert, digging between 7 piles of Walter Lantz cels buried there i throughout the years. There’s a IB Tech Nitrate print of The Amazing Recovery of Inbad the Aller but it’s hidden in a pile of what appear to be multiple prints of Jam Handy’s A Ride for Cinderella.
2) The second stop involves covert action; waiting for a professor to leave his Brooklyn Apartment, grabbing the key to his storage facility though the window, and going through his storage locker full of Milk Crates to locate 3 key films that need to be found in a specific order: First, ‘Cool Penguins’ in the only known print with original titles, second, a reel with pencil tests from Harman-Ising’s failed TV Pilot, and third, drilling a hole from this locker into the locker next to it that contains a nitrate Technicolor print of ‘The Snowman’ that used to belong to Ted Eshbaugh, but was kept by the lab who made the preservation separations for the Library of Congress. Bonus points if you manage to get the Nitrate neg for ‘The General’ and Lang’s ‘Spies’.
3) The third goal involves flying in a plane to a small house in Texas. The owner of the house owns a Laundromat in the Philippines, and is there now. Your goal is to open the garage behind the house and find the nitrate Snow White Trailer that’s backwards on a reel labeled ‘Force 5’. Your second goal is to also recover a nice 35mm IB print with original ending or No ifs, ands or Butts and, most importantly, a 16mm print of the lost cartoon Felix Fans the Flames, in rough but runnable condition. These films have reportedly ended up here as the result of a bad trade made by a Teenage animation collector from Michigan.
4) The trip involves flying to the Toho Archives. Using your astute powers of persuasion, you need to convince the staff you actually are a Japanese citizen, allowing access to the World War Two material that they otherwise will not let you release, er, see. Bonus points for flying to Italy the same days and swiping a 35mm Doctor Churkill from the Italian Archives, just for an hour.
5) Your travels have you land in Arizona, visiting a suburb you’ve found from an address provided by a bunch of Ebay sellers. After a pleasant conversation , you’re allowed access to a bunker-like compound in the basement. You travel through a series of small hallways, grabbing a plastic slide page with single frame nitrate title cards from 30s Warner Shorts directed by Tex Avery. This was once the property of Avery himself. You second goal is to find a 16mm print of the animated dental short made by Ted Eshbaugh.
6) This is the most difficult trip. Using the provided time traveller, you go back in time and visit a stock footage library in New Jersey. There you find more nitrate film that you have ever seen, in varying condition. Again using your powers of persuasion, you convince the owner to allow everyone to use this rare material rather than charging $185 a second for it. This goal buys you a permanent seat in the hero’s gallery of film preservation.
So, now, it’s your turn. What are your ‘Amazing Race’ finding missions? Looking forward to seeing yours! Have a good week everyone!