March 23, 2017 posted by

What Would Your ‘Amazing Race’ as a Cartoon Researcher Be?

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!


  • Here’s mine….

    (1) Spain to a film archives searching for a rare print of a animated feature film from the 1930’s called Feliz Viajes (Happy Vacations) which was Spain’s first animated feature film along with a pristine copy of the 1966 animated classic El Mago De Los Sueños.

    (2) Argentina to search for surviving prints of Billiken Animation 1970’s version of El Mono Relojero that are rumored to be lost.

    (3) Eastern Europe search in the film archive of the major animation studios of Eastern Germany and the former Eastern Bloc country for some of the unusual animated shorts ever produced.

    (4) Belgium to go to the Belvision studios to search for a rare copy of The Fake Smurf (1965) animated by Belvision as well as the pilot episode of Oum Pah Pam the Savage.

    (5) Germany to search for a rare copy of TinTin and the Temple of the Sun in German where it’s rumored that Paul Frees did the voice of Captain Haddock in German.

    (6) Japan and onward to Mexico, France and Germany to search for a rare animated commercials featuring well known US animated icons (Flintstones, Looney Toons,Smurfs and others)

    (7) return to Japan to find a rare print of Japanese animated shorts from the 1930’s including a animated ghost tale whose soundtrack uses vintage traditional musical instruments from Japan.

  • In Hollywood, you visit a mansion once owned by an eccentric rock star. The new owner is preparing to convert the screening room into an indoor target range for his antique Gattling guns, and allows you to poke around the projection booth for a few minutes. You’re hoping for lost Terrytoons, but behind a fake wall you discover the original two-hour roadshow cut of “Dumbo”, unseen since a disastrous preview in Pasadena. Maddingly, the final two reels are missing and this version ends with comical Jewish crows singing about swimming.

    • I’m confused. Are you saying there was a two hour version of Dumbo? Or are you just wishing there was?

      My hope is we can find prints of lost films, lost Dr. Who episodes, lost Broadway musical scripts and scores — probably in landfills — and if they are not in good shape then use modern, and not yet invented technology, to restore them. They’ve recently come up with a way to read severely damaged scrolls that are thousands of years old by using modern scanning technology and new computer programs to “piece” them back together. Restoring things that have been thrown away is probably the only way we’ll ever get to see old art that’s been lost.

  • “Fiction,” eh? 😉

  • 1). Searching a particular museum’s attic for a color print of Ted Eshbaugh’s Goofy Goat…
    2). Finding the 1941 Elsie Cow cartoon that turned up on Ebay a few years ago. At least try making friends with the owner of it and persuade him to release it on DVD.
    3). Exploring old school buildings and factory buildings for Jam Handy filmstrip sets and films.
    4). Venturing into the archives of several different long defunct railroads and finding a prints of “Otto Nobetter” and the original 1944 version of Jerry Fairbanks’ “Potatoes Unlimited”.
    5). Scuba diving in the Hudson around New York City to find any old negatives or prints of Audio-Cinema’s (mainly Frank Goldman’s work) films and films produced by the Ted Eshaugh studios. (Hopefully there sealed up well and don’t have water damage…)

    In terms of my own research, digging through some of the landfills here in New England to find old press photos and insurance photos of some of the old movie theatres I’ve been researching.

    • If you find the DuMont archive while you’re down there…

  • Well, I can tell you what I would consider my Holy Grails, but as to where I would find them, if they exist at all (and I never say “never”; that is what cartoon collecting is all about), well, I’m at a loss, but here are some things, both animated and live action, for animation or film archeologists to consider:

    . I’ve imagined that I finally found the footage so often considered “missing” or “non-existent” from the BUGS BUNNY cartoon, “THE HECKLING HARE”. Yes, I don’t have to tell you what that is, but if you’re totally unaware of the cartoon–the closing gag where Bugs and the hunting dog (voiced by Kent Rogers) are falling through a hole to the ground and screaming all the way until they come to a halt just before hitting the ground. Bugs looks at the camera and says “Nyaaah, fooled ya, didn’t we?” The dog proceeds to say something, but the cartoon fades quickly to black, not even an iris out, and the closing Warner Bros. theme takes us out. I’ve wondered what finding that footage would really mean to the animation community at large! Hey, it would certainly jump start the enthusiasm in and outside of Warner Brothers to continue the GOLDEN COLLECTION sets again for at least four more volumes…at least, I’d like to think so!

    . I imagine that a friend tells me that a local film collector had just passed away and willed his collection into his hands and, in that collection, my friend finds this very, very rare print of the BUGS BUNNY cartoon, “A-LAD-IN A LAMP” which is nice on its own, but this print actually contains the wondered about missing dialogue after the evil character gets the lamp and cries “I got de lamp! I got de lamp!…” There is missing dialogue after that cry of excitement, but it is excised from just about all prints, and I keep hoping that there is indeed a complete print out there just so I can hear that missing dialogue…somewhere…somehow!!

    . My one live action short here that I long to hear more about, even if I cannot any longer appreciate the visual aspect is a lost OUR GANG short that I believe is called “HOLY TERROR” and features Mary Ann Jackson in the title role, of a little girl who wreaks havoc around the neighborhood. Richard W. Ban and Leonard Maltin couldn’t even find a copy to review for their impressive book on the history of the OUR GANG series, but it sure sounds like an interesting premise. There have been similar upgrades in the plot line once the gang talked in their films, but sometimes, those fast-paced Roach gags worked better in the silent era. I’d love to know the full plot description of this one, and it sure would be nice if, one day, I got that call, telling me that a film collecting friend actually *HAS* a complete print.

    . When Tex Avery happened upon the scene at MGM, he manipulated just about every frame of his cartoons, including the opening credits. Yet, his second and third cartoons for the studio got new title sequences, much slicker and more like the later MGM cartoons of the cinemascope era than the dazzling early 1940’s, when Avery characters were smashing through the Harman/Ising glamour while actually retaining that lavish look. So what could “THE EARLY BIRD DOOD IT” have seemed like, following close on the heels of “THE BLITZ WOLF”, or the first DROOPY cartoon, “DUMB HOUNDED”? We know how Petunia Pig was introduced to the world in “PORKY’S ROMANCE”. I just keep thinking that there had to be a similar unexpected gag there, even though you can find an imagined recreation of it on You Tube. I’ve many times dreampt that I’d seen it on TV, or I remember seeing MGM cartoons on TV and remember images that are so familiar, yet none of these match what has appeared on TV or home video lately.

    . And, lastly, I’ve often wished that a film collector lived nearby. I’m afraid that film collectors don’t take refuge in Valley Stream, although this might be a good place for a film collector to live merely *BECAUSE* no one would think to seek that Holy Grail here! Keep up the good work, Steve, and, believe me, I do hope you find those Holy Grails and release ’em on home video somehow…or just display ’em here.

  • Flying to Bangkok, traveling by boat up the Chao Praya river for about an hour into the jungle village of Nonthaburi and then by tuk-tuk to an ink & paint/camera service (with no known address) run by the Chinese and then discover on some rewinds, the original 35mm workprint and temp mixed soundtrack of Richard Williams’s “The Thief and the Cobbler.”

    …oh wait, that actually happened.

  • Manuel Moreno was a key supervising animator and uncredited director at Universal in the 30s. Then he started a Mexican animation studio, and from 1943 to 1946, Caricolor Films produced cartoons starring Pelon, including a Technicolor short titled Me Voy de Caceria. Presumed lost or destroyed! Are they? Animazing Racers, will Moreno’s films ever turn up? That’s my Holy Grail. And, of course, Blue Notes, the vanished 1928 hybrid live action/animated film starring Pinto Colvig and Bolivar the Talking Ostrich.

  • * We start in Burbank in the back of the Disney archives we find a complete animatic of Kingdom of the Sun.
    * That leads us southeast to Silverlake in a garage near the site of the original Disney California studio. Here we find film of Walt performing all the characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
    * Now to central Hollywood to uncover a print of UPA’s The Tell-tale Heart, and in the same warehouse a print for the OTHER eye, making a complete 3-D print.
    * We then jet to Buenos Aires, Argentina where at the site of the burned down film warehouse we uncover the first sound animated feature Peludópolis. The film can has an address listed for another burned down film warehouse in Buenos Aires, there we find the oldest animated feature El apóstol, both made by Quirino Cristiani.
    * Then to Richmond, Va where I find every little scrap of test film and every commercial or title that I made and never bothered to commit to video.

    • Steve – yours is my favorite.

      I would add:

      • At trip to an abandoned studio on Santa Monica Blvd near Western Ave, in Hollywood where we seek – and find – the negatives for John Sutherland’s DAFFY DITTIES which include a short that United Artists failed to release.

      • Then hop a flight to Miami Florida where we excavate the courtyard at the former Fleischer Studio where we find evidence of a proposed series of Batman Technicolor cartoons – as well as the negs for WAY BACK WHEN A TRIANGLE HAD ITS POINTS (The first STONE AGE cartoon) and BUZZY BOOP AT THE CONCERT.

      • And finally zip back to Studio City, California and exhume Stage 4 at CBS-Radford Studios (aka Republic Pictures) to locate the master film elements for Bob Clampett’s IT’S A GRAND OLD NAG and the JERKY JOURNEYS cartoons.

  • So……no ‘Fleischer Rarities’ for March?

    • Still very much in progress- behind on it but in progress…

    • Thank you for replying. I know whatever time it takes you will end up in a good product. Looking forward to it, and Flip, and Mr. Bug and others I’ve forgotten.

  • Here’s more :

    Go to Televisa in Mexico City to look for the opening credits of the final season of El Chavo do Ocho done in Stop Motion Animation

    Then to Japan to find the original scripts of Samurai Pizza Cats, translated into English and keep the original score intact

    Then to Armenia to search for animated films and shorts during the Soviet occupation of Armenia

    And to search for the Van Buren’s Tom and Jerry cartoons that were renamed Dick and Harry and give them back thier original title.

  • This is my favorite list of comments ever!!! Love the creative answers!!!

  • More:

    (1) return to Japan to the TBS Tokyo Network to search for the 1984 anime series Sam Eagle which was based on the mascot of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games Sam the Eagle.

    (2) continuing in Japan to search for the animated adventures of Topo Gigo

    (3) still in Japan to search for the lost copies of the South Korea’s first animated feature Hong Gil Dong which was considered lost.

    (4) go to Sweden to search for the animated short Bill and Bunny which was the first animated short that deals with the subject of Autism

    (5) return to Japan again to search for the Maquette sculptures for Gulliver Travel’s Beyond the Moon,Jack and the Witch,Magic Boy, Little Norse Prince and Panda and the Magic Serpent

  • Using a sonar device, search former site of UPA for fabled “dirty” voice tracks of Jim Backus as Mr. Magoo.

  • I’d try to find the footage of Walt recording his lines for “The Pointer” (1939).

  • “….. And finally zip back to Studio City, California and exhume Stage 4 at CBS-Radford Studios (aka Republic Pictures)…”

    Before Republic, the Mack Sennet Studios. It was building his studio in this area that the area became known as Studio City.

  • My ultimate use of the “wayback machine” would be to return to 1949 (think that was the year) and pay a visit to Margaret Winkler to discuss taking those dusty decaying old nitrate materials off her hands. Felix, Alice, Oswald ( including the singular 1929-1930 season ) Failing that I’d skip ahead a bit and try to liberate as much as I could before the dustmen disposed of or incinerated them. Could be the single largest loss of animation films / history ever to occur at one time. 🙁

    Well maybe the MGM fire, but most of the films still survive even if their negatives don’t.

  • Okay, I know I’m late to this game, but here’s mine:
    I’ve always wanted to jimmy open the basement bathroom window of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and go find the original letters from Walt Disney and Max Fleischer — the ones that granted permission to Emperor Hirohito to use Bluto and Mickey as leading men in his proposed Pearl Harbor documentary.
    We know those letters have to exist. There are rules even in war.

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