This week: into the weeds, again – and the agony of finding an original title *after* the set is done!
It’s the second to last week at the school here, and I’ve been busy building masters before and after classes and getting more things scanned. So far, it’s six special and one ‘Official’ that have come completely together within the last week and a half— and another put together in the next few days. Since Rainbow Parades is now off to replication, we’ve added it to the pre-orders at the Thunderbean Shop. It will be back within a month, and finally released.After a few more special sets are put together this week, dubbing and sending things will be taking over everything a the office, and happily so. I’ll be devoting most of my time to Flip the Frog, and Aesop’s Fables, Volume 1 as scans from other special sets are processed and finished.
While I was putting together the long-in-progress Thunderbean Thursday 2018 special disc, I decided to add a favorite cartoon of mine that just got scanned. It was a debate between this short and the first Little King, The Fatal Note that also just got scanned from a nice 16mm print. I hope to revisit the Little Kings before too long since we now have good prints of most of them in HD scanned now.
The thing that is really fun about collecting cartoons and doing sets is that things KEEP showing up that you’d never expect to. I’m not going to disparage that, but you always hope that all the original titles will show up well before you do the set with all the films on it.
We tried *really* hard to find all the original titles for Van Beuren’s Cubby Bear cartoons between 2015 and 2018 and honestly did pretty well I think. Still, no matter what, there were still quite a few of the original titles that never showed up – and I honestly, at this point, expected them to *never* show up. At the last minute though, one still did! The set was done except for an original title sequence that Ralph Celentano had, but had to hunt down in his film collection. When he found his print of Gay Gaucho, I was pretty sure it would be the last original title we’d find for many, many years. Now, a handful of years later, two more have shown up. One (Mild Cargo) I’ve seen a still of online but haven’t been able to track down the print, and the other, Goode Knight, was generously lent to me by film collector and animation fan Kyle Ashby. He’s lent a handful of Van Beuren shorts, but this one is especially cool. It features the NRA logo (National Recovery Act, thank you very much!) and a special opening card listing the cast featured in the cartoon. Now we know who plays the sheriff in the cartoon (Heeza Dog) and the King (Heeza Ditto). Neither can hold a candle to the illustrious career of Colonel Heeza Liar, or Itza Cat, but they are both close contenders.
I’m pretty sure this is the first Cubby Bear I ever saw, and one of the first Van Beuren shorts too. Every other print I’ve ever seen of this is an Official Films one, and all are retitled “Robin Hood Rides Again”. I played an already well-worn 16mm print of this to any friend that would watch it back in the early 80s, and I’m now thrilled to see the original titles after all these years. Even though it’s too late to get it on the Cubby set, I’ll put it as a bonus on the Aesop’s Fables set since it’s a Fable as well.
Now — about the cartoon itself. Honestly, it’s not the strongest in the series, but fun never the less! The opening is a favorite of mine, casting poor Maid Marion (played by Cuddles) into the tower within the first minute. Cubby is drawn (in most shots) pretty cute in this short, and the musical score (by Winston Sharples) is one of my favorites as well. The fidelity on this print is a little better than the Official Films prints, and another added attraction is the first musical notes of the title music are present as well. I love geeking out on this kind of stuff of course.
There is noticeable improvement in cel inking through 1933 and 34 at the studio, and some especially nice animation. Some of the better shots here appear to be the work of lead animator Steve Muffatti. A favorite of mine is Cubby jumping in and out of the carriage, giving a quick stomach poke to a royal goat, who acts embarrassed (or is he flattered?). The shot of the merry men atop the carriage always makes me laugh, with everyone’s doll-like eyes staring vacantly into the distance.
Make sure to watch in HD, and make sure to act as you should, or Mr. Robin Hood will make you sorry. “That’s That!”
Have a good week all!