THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
April 23, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Your Top Five Essential Films from Five Series

As we’re all still limited in our activities, I’ve found that things here continue to be busy as ever, just busy with different things! I’m sure many of you are finding this to be true as well.

I’m working a lot on a few things right now, but have been concentrating on the Rainbow Parade set, a special set of Popeyes and Stop Motion Marvels 2. Some really amazing material that showed up today. I was so excited that one of these was almost the article this week, but, under advisement from friends, I’ll wait just a little longer to talk about that or show pictures- I’ve learned my lesson in the past!

Things have honestly been busier than ever as we try to get some sets completely in the can. The pieces for each of these projects are varied and come from all over the place. This week, I picked up some nitrate (with social distance), worked with three freelances on various covers, started to compile DPX versions of films into quicktime movies, color graded and cleaned 7 films (between the freelancers), got some more films from Europe via Google drive. In addition, I’ve been trying to get some projects I’ve helped friends with off the Thunderbean plate.They’re all sticky though and take time, but I need to get them out the door. Luckily, they’re looking swell.

The hope is to have as many projects in the can as possible that don’t require as many outside resources to finish right now. As we finish each, I’l devote Thunderbean Thursday to talking a little about one rather than the usual pieces here. The next few weeks will be pretty interesting here, with some things you’ve never seen, so watch this space!


What are *your* essential films from each series?

I’ve been organizing my film collection while waiting for students between meetings here, and found myself working well into the night a few days back to finally get things in better order. I started thinking about what cartoons are essential from each series/ studio, and thought it might be fun to pic 5 characters or series and name your ‘essential’ film in each series. It’s a little hard in that sometimes there’s lots of cartoons in that series that are. When picking films for the animation history class I teach, I often try to think of what may be the best example to show of this or that particular genre…including some not-so-great films to represent some not-so-great series!

Here, in no particular order, are 5 ‘essential’ films from various series. Would love to see five of yours, and why!

1) Popeye (1960 series) Barbecue for Two (1960) The pilot/ demo for the 60s series, and easily the strangest of them. Popeye gets to wear his old duds rather than his white sailor suit, and Bluto doesn’t have a name (Popeye refers to him as ‘Junior’ much to his protest. I really wish the whole series looked more like this, but instead we’re just left with this as a document to the confusion starting the series. The voice acting is the real star here, along with some funny poses and animation by lots of cartoon vets.


2) Scrappy: The Dog Snatcher (1931) Now, if it were up to me, Scrappy would get a few complimentary films as part of this list, but if it Had to be just one (and it does) it’s this. Fleischer-esqe sensibilities in story and design, along with a largely New York crew help set the tone for the films to follow. Plus, who doesn’t love a film were a little boy skins a dog to uses it’s skin as a costume?


3) He-Man: Star Child. A dreadfully saccharine entry in a fairly dreadful but iconic series. Anything you need to say about He-Man (except for Skeletor) can be found here in large doses.


4) Pooch the Pup: The Lumber Champ (1933) There’s a lot to like here. Non-stop gags with the usual (to this period) Lantz swimmy-ness in execution and timing, a catchy song, and two trees inexplicably looking like Groucho and Harpo. What happened to Chico? There’s also a vaguely homophobic joke and two characters split it two upright. My own favorite moment though may be Pooch reaching into a gun pointed at him and removing the bullets! You really couldn’t ask for anything more from the Lantz outfit at this point. I rate this cartoon as the best of this series.


5) The Pink Panther: Pink-A-Boo (1966) Even though this film recycles some gags from Freleng Warner Brothers cartoons, it’s a really fun entry, and that mouse reminds me enough of Ignatz to keep things interesting. I really enjoy a lot of the Pink Pathers, but it seems too obvious to pick the first one, so here’s my second.

Ok, so now it’s your turn. Make sure to include your ‘whys’! have a good week all!

28 Comments

  • Mine Essantial Films Will Be
    Buster Bear And The Spring Carnival (1930)
    Hot Toe Mollie (1930)
    Felix The Cat In Tee Time (1930)
    Oswald The Lucky Rabbit In Arpine Antics (1929)
    Mutt And Jeff : Western Woah (1926)
    I Choose All Of These Because These Films Are NOT On Blu-Ray Yet Or On The Internet Yet Some Are But In Bad Condition So I Want These Films Restored And I Want These Essential Film Prints 35mm Or 16mm Master Negitives.

  • It’s hard to keep a list like this down to five. But here are five of my favorites:

    1. “The Chain Gang” (Mickey Mouse) It’s a role reversal to see Mickey on the wrong side of the law for a change, and Pete as a prison guard on the side of law and order–though of course characteristically cruel. The two bloodhounds are fun to watch, although personally I don’t see much resemblance to the later character of Pluto. And the “happy ending” with Mickey back in his prison cell singing about “Home Sweet Home” is priceless.

    2. “Goddess of Spring” (Silly Symphonies) This is probably not the favorite Silly Symphony for very many, but I like the rubbery animation of Persephone as the Disney animators try to get a handle on animating a human figure. I also love the story with its resolution that explains the change of seasons. Disney’s alternate Pluto character, in this instance the God of the Underworld, is portrayed interestingly as menacing at first, but he later relents and shows he has a heart. The original myth of “Demeter and Persephone” is one of my all-time favorite Greek myths, and this Silly Symphony illustrates the story very well.

    3. “Out of Scale” (Donald Duck) This entry in the DD series is highly unusual. First off, we get the miniature train, similar to the one that Walt installed in his own back yard, and the miniature village that Donald has built. Donald doesn’t remove Chip ‘n’ Dale’s tree out of meanness, only because it doesn’t fit his scale. And it’s a real kick to see Chip ‘n’ Dale move into one of the miniature houses. Disney’s interest in miniatures is also reflected in this cartoon. But what I like best is the ending–for once Donald and Chip ‘n’ Dale finish up on a friendly note when the chipmunks label their tree as a Giant Redwood so it will fit the scale. I believe this is the only time one of their conflicts ended up happily for all.

    4. “LIttle Nobody” (Betty Boop) This one tugs at my heartstrings. Poor Pudgy is told he is a nobody by the neighbor lady and the little girl dog he likes. Then Pudgy has to do some deciding when the girl pup gets in trouble in the river. I like his thought processes. But the highlight is when Betty sings to Pudgy to comfort him. Another happy ending, too.

    5. “Barbecue Hound” (Huckleberry Hound) One of the best in the series. The spot gags about trying to do a back yard barbecue are very funny. I love the irony of an anthropomorphic canine being troubled by a more dog-like dog. I also enjoy the irony of Huck’s getting pulled over for speeding on a barbecue grill, which the officer mistakes for a foreign car. I also like the scene with Huck in jail at the end, where he and his adversary are reconciled. So he turns a misfortune into a happy ending.

  • Barbecue for two! One of my favorites!
    Sweet Pea tipping his hat always cracks me up.
    I wish they would have kept this style.

  • Limiting it to cartoons in my film collection and eliminating the most obvious “essential” picks, these are the “most projected” from the “most populated” series in the inventory…

    Popeye – MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT CLUB
    Daffy – HIS BITTER HALF
    Bugs – HARE CONDITIONED
    Tex – HAPPY-GO-NUTTY
    Tom & Jerry – OLD ROCKIN’ CHAIR TOM

  • 1) “Mickey’s Circus” (Mickey Mouse): First time I saw this cartoon I laughed so hard. Most of the cartoon deals with Donald Duck dealing with his stubborn trained seals (especially the baby one who keeps stealing the fish), but it’s the ending, with the orphans taking over and firing Mickey and Donald out of a cannon and into the high wire, that takes it to the upper levels of hilarity. Everyone talks about how fast paced the Looney Tunes shorts are, but late ’30s Disney shorts like this one can give Warners a run for their money.
    2) “Operation: Rabbit” (Bugs Bunny): Bugs usually deals with adversaries who are low on brains; here, he is faced with self-proclaimed “Super Genius” Wile E. Coyote. Bugs still comes out on top by playing to Wile E.’s arrogance — Wile E. is too smart to fall for the old “dynamite stick for a pen” trick, but is too busy bragging about it to notice the second wick on the other end. It’s refreshing to put Bugs in a battle of wits with someone on a more equal plane.
    3) “Stimpy’s Inventnion” (The Ren and Stimpy Show): This is the quintessential R&S episode to me. It takes a simple, ordinary cartoon premise (Stimpy tries his inventions out on Ren) and takes it into more disturbing territory, as Stimpy tries to “cure” Ren of his unhappiness. It takes all the best aspects of the series – clever animation, absurdist humor – with little of its infamous gross-out humor and tendency for getting too dark for its own good.
    4) “Hall Monitor” (SpongeBob SquarePants): SpongeBob’s well-intentioned but ill-considered attempts to extend his hall monitor duties to the streets lead to chaos, especially with Patrick as his deputy. This is vintage SpongeBob, cleverly plotted and hilarious from beginning to end,
    5) “El Misterioso Viaje de Nuestro Homer” (The Simpsons): It’s the one where Homer eats Guatemalan insanity peppers and hallucinates a talking coyote voiced by Johnny Cash. The hallucination scenes are great fun, but like all great Simpsons episodes, it’s all built on a strong emotional core, as Homer questions whether Marge is his true soulmate, building up to a heartwarming yet funny conclusion.

  • Pink Panther – SHERLOCK PINK (1976). Surreal “crazy house” gags show the most imagination this series has had in years.
    Woody Woodpecker – INTERNATIONAL WOODPECKER (1957). Crams so many jokes into seven minutes (including TWO running gags!), it almost makes up for the weak, tepid direction.
    Popeye, 1960s – PLUMBER’S PIPE DREAM. Animation director Hal Ambro veers away from the usual non-ending or cutesy ending – and gives us a “here we go again”, typical of the better theatricals. Ends with a close-up of Popeye’s woebegone face as Olive proclaims his doom.
    Sabrina the Teenage Witch – MORTAL TERROR (1971). For once, Sabrina’s goody-two-shoes “Casper” characterisation is downplayed, allowing her some selfish, jealous tendencies.

    • Tom and Jerry – PET PEEVE (1954). Lively, fast-paced variation on the Tom vs. Spike dynamic, with the two competing to catch Jerry. Capped off with two funny end gags.

  • My top 5? Nuts, that’s tough. But if I had to choose It’d be as follows….

    1. I Wanna Be A Sailor (Merrie Melodies, 1937) – It was either this or “Daffy Duck and Egghead.” I always found “Sailor” unique as a child cause it featured none of the classic Warner Bros. stable (The pre-Bugs era was strange to say the least.) I first discovered this delightful little short on a VHS sandwiched between two black-and-white Porky Pig shorts from the same era. The dad guzzling down beer is priceless.

    2. Porky’s Party (Looney Tunes, 1939) – Everything in this cartoon is pure insanity (especially the scene where the penguin has a hat in his skull and they try to take it out), and I love it. While ’39 was a lacking year for the b/w shorts (at least in my opinion,) this one is the best of the bunch for that season. The ill-tempered penguin reminds me of myself when I was younger.

    3. Africa Before Dark (Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, 1928) – We go way back with this one. It’s probably my favorite Disney Oswald short so far. It also goes to show how erratic and weird 1920s cartoons can be—Oswald literally *rips off his face* to scare away a baby tiger! The new music score by Mark Watters adds to the enjoyment.

    4. Hawaiian Holiday (Mickey Mouse, 1937) – I have very fond memories of watching this one when I was little. The true highlight of the cartoon is watching Goofy attempt to surf, and the song Mickey plays on his steel guitar is pretty rad (Mickey’s fingers are quite flexible, folks!)

    5. Hell’s Bells (Silly Symphony, 1929) – I love how strange and creepy the atmosphere here is. I didn’t know watching devils dance around could be so amusing, but here we are. The dragon-cow never fails to make me giggle.

  • For me my top 5 would be:
    1. Bimbo’s Initiation (Fleischer, 1931) wanna be a member?
    2. Red Hot Riding Hood (MGM, 1943) “what’s your answer to that, babe?”.
    3. The Wrong Trousers (Wallace and Gromit 1993) “cracking toast, Gromit!”
    4. Dicky Moe (Gene Deitch, MGM 1961) probably my all time fave of Deitch’s Tom And Jerry’s even down to the hokey sound effects …..grumble, mumble…DICKY MOE!
    5. Rooty Toot Toot (UPA 1951) – we need more lawyers like Honest John (The Crook)!

  • Fun post, Steve. Okay, I’ll play…

    Now, you are not asking for absolute essentials for teaching an animation history class. If you are, I just wrote an article about that for Animation Magazine: [click here].

    I think you are asking to name an essential film from five randomly chosen series – so here are five I show in my classes, not mentioned in the article I just wrote:

    1. Pre-Code Flip The Frog: ROOM RUNNERS (1932). Here’s a question for you all: what cartoon has the most “Pre-Code” elements in it? My choice is this one: diaphanous gowns, spittoons, female nudity, voyerism, an “injury-to-the-eye” gag, etc. I think Flip “flips” off the cop at the end… All that, and it helps me explain what Iwerks did after leaving Disney. A must-show!

    2. MGM Happy Harmonies: PEACE ON EARTH (1939). Yeah, I know, not technically a Happy Harmony. It’s Hugh Harman’s classic anti-war cartoon. An unusual film, and yet the “Peaceville” sequences are quite representative of the Harman-Ising output of the era.

    3. Disney Cartoon Specials (Wartime-era): Okay – I’m cheating – three cartoons that MUST be shown: REASON AND EMOTION (1943), and EDUCATION FOR DEATH (1943) and DER FUERHER’S FACE (1942). Wartime propaganda – but unfortunately becoming timely in today’s heated political atmosphere. All three need to be shown to the younger generation – or anyone currently being brainwashed by certain world leaders.

    4. Hubley UPA cartoon: ROOTY TOOT TOOT (1953). Somewhere between 1952 and 1958 the theatrical cartoon was secretly being reinvented – right in plain sight. While there were a few misfires, the UPA-ization of the Hollywood cartoon brought some incredible shorts into being. ROOTY is a perfect example, as it breaks established rules, invents new ones, feels both independent and personal – and yet uses the full force of a studio’s resources. So much to talk about here. Magoo brought them popularity, McBoing Boing transformed the industry – but Rooty Toot Toot is probably UPA’s masterpiece; and Hubley’s.

    5. Deitch-era Terrytoon: FLEBUS (1957, Ernest Pintoff). I’ve never hidden my love for the Deitch-era Terrytoons. Deitch was onto something here. An experiment shot-down in mid flight. But several films show what might have been, FLEBUS chief among them. This film plays one way to kids, another way to adults. My students go crazy for it. It’s a classic.

  • 1. Donald Duck – Bellboy Donald
    2. Tom and Jerry – Yankee Doodle Mouse
    3. Pink Panther – Dial “P” for Pink
    4. Daffy Duck – Duck Amuck
    5. Droopy – The Shooting of Dan McGoo

  • 1) Huckleberry Hound – Spud Dud. Me and my brother loved it when the potato-with-a-brain started started thinking, with a “meep meep” sound.
    2) Woody Woodpecker – The Dippy Diplomat. “Eh, pardon me, but I think my ping pong ball landed in your hard-boiled eggs. (smack smack) Nope, this one’s an egg (smack smack) that’s an egg too (smack smack nope (smack smack) nope…”
    3) Tom Terrific – Isotope Feeney’s Foolish Fog. Feeney is basically a beard with arms and legs sticking out. He has this asthmatic laugh that I can’t duplicate without going into coughing fits. You think doing Donald Duck is hard, try that.
    4) Merrie Melodies – Boulevardier from the Bronx – Another one with a great horse-laugh. People in the Thirties could do stuff like that.
    5) Popeye – Don’t know the title – it’s the one where Popeye pretends to be gravely ill, and the surgeons try to revive him while pulling their beards and chanting “heepa-soffa-soffa-soffa”. It’s things like this that make an individual cartoon stand out from the pack.

    • I think the Popeye you’re referring to is “I Yam Lovesick.”

    • Oh yeah, and they x-ray Popeye and his ribcage turns out to be an anchor – of course.

    • They’re chanting “ephasafa, lafasafa,” a nonsense phrase originated by the minstrel comedians Frank Williamson and Ed Stone in the 1890s. After serving as the source for “Ephasafa Dill,” a 1903 minstrel song by Harry Von Tilzer, Andrew Sterling, and Barley Costello, the phrase was used for scat-singing within other ragtime and early jazz tunes, most famously Gene Greene’s recorded version of “King of the Bungaloos.” Beyond Popeye’s I YAM LOVE SICK, another animated use can be found in Krazy Kat’s THE BANDMASTER (1930).

      The phrase gave rise to both the term “eephing” (or “eefing”) for scatting in general, and the “Ephs,” the term for students and sportsmen at Williams College—ostensibly named for founder Ephraim Williams, but derived and popularized immediately after Greene.

      There’s an excellent history of “Ephasafa” in its various formulations here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/americanmusic.35.3.0343?seq=1

      (And as a Williams grad and Eph myself, I was obviously interested in this…)

    • Man! And they say cartoons ain’t educational.

  • This is a TOUGH one, Steve! I MAY change my mind later!
    1.) A DREAM WALKING (1935): Essential POPEYE!
    2.) THE BAND CONCERT (1935): One of the greatest MICKEY MOUSE cartoons ever!
    3.) THE WRONG TROUSERS (1993): Possibly the best WALLACE AND GROMMIT short, but almost a tie with their first!
    4.) MOUSE IN MANHATTAN (c. 1940s): Just about my favorite TOM AND JERRY cartoon!
    5.) BUGS BUNNY RIDES AGAIN (1948?): I may change my mind on this later, but I always enjoy seeing this great BUGS BUNNY cartoon!

  • Above so far I think is a list pretty essential shorts! I love these lists!

  • I’ll avoid any from Jerry’s 50 Greatest Cartoons, because those are always my favorites.
    There are many I love to watch, but I can’t limit it to 5:

    Betty Boop – Betty Boop M.D.
    Popeye – Goonland
    Mickey, Donald, Goofy – Moving Day
    Donald Duck – Duck Pimples
    Woody Woodpecker – Woody Dines Out
    Tom & Jerry – Dr Jeckyll & Mr Mouse
    Harman Ising – Little Buck Cheeser
    WB – Porky’s Picnic
    Heckle and Jeckle – The Power of Thought

  • So good to hear that you’re making progress somehow, despite social distancing. I’d be curious as to how all films are restored and digitized by groups that now have to remain apart. Even with the Warner Archive, I thought that people had to all be gathered in one place so spot checking can be done throughout the film’s or group of films’ restorative efforts, but the results will prove interesting and possibly usher in a whole new alternative to doing so once orders to remain apart have been lifted and we can be assured that we will remain in good health.

    Now, on to my picks for “best of” for favorite series throughout animation’s rich history. Like others on the list, I’m not really all that focused enough to be able to only pick five, so my favorites of the moment are, in no particular order:

    “CECIL’S HERO, RIN TIN CAN”, an episode of “THE BEANY AND CECIL SHOW” that doesn’t even feature Beany or Cecil. Instead, it is a spoof of television. It’s central character is one around whom Bob Clampett might have had intentions of creating a spin-off series of cartoons. There are so many great verbal puns here, some of which wouldn’t be as funny on the printed page as they are when spoken. I also wonder what Clampett would have done with a premise like this if it came out of the full animation of the theatrical golden age at Warner Brothers.

    “THOSE BEAUTIFUL DOLLS” (Merrie Melodies): Now, here’s a cartoon that I’d love to see a genuine restoration on if such a project were still doable. I dipped back into the first of two BUSBY BERKELEY COLLECTION sets, yesterday, choosing “DAMES” to listen to, and I find that this cartoon, tacked onto the disk as special feature, is a delight to listen to. It is also this whole period of Warner Brothers cartoons that feature such wonderful musical interludes or just terrific bits of scoring during action or suspenseful sequences. Not to take away from Carl Stalling’s terrific work, but Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies often had terrific scores even before he became the Lone Arranger (to borrow a verbal pun from another Bob Clampett BEANY AND CECIL short, of the musical accompaniment to what you’re seeing onscreen. As the title indicates, this is a cartoon doll revue, perhaps to further promote the Busby Berkeley musical or just remind folks of all those wonderful songs heard throughout those visually stunning musicals, and the music gets more and more interesting as we slowly approach that later era when all our favorite characters are in top form. Like the live action pictures, the cartoon is just a joy to listen to.

    “BUDDY’S LOST WORLD” (Looney Tunes): I’ve said it before and I’ll say it briefly again–I like the BUDDY cartoons and this is one of the most surreal, with eerie musical accompaniment. Unrestored copies, as heard once on Nickelodeon’s LOONEY TUNES SHOW were never that clean to the ears, but at least we could enjoy these offbeat titles over and over again. Here’s to hoping that we will someday see restorations, and it is just nice to hear this effort again and again…and I’ll also cheat a little here and add “BUDDY STEPS OUT” as a cartoon, like “THOSE BEAUTIFUL DOLLS” above, that is just a musical joy overall, featuring the popular tune, “About a Quarter to Nine”, discussed on this website’s “Needle Drop Notes” examinations of Warner Brothers cartoons through the age. Forgive me if I dont’ have all my facts right as I cannot read credits on these cartoons or neatly describe the visuals, but I am guessing that those visuals are as enjoyable in both these cartoons as the musical score is to listen to.

    “CIRCUS DAZE” (Bosko, Happy Harmonies): Okay, okay, it remains a vivid memory, slowly dimming over the years, but it is a cartoon that surprises if all you think you’re going to see is a circus revue with singing clowns and dancing animals. Oh, the animals dance, all right, but not quite the way you might think. Let’s face it, I’ve described this one in detail, as I remember it, before, but I’ll just bet this would look good if it ever came out in a future MGM cartoons collection. All I will say further about this title, if I hadn’t already said it, is that a whole chapter could be created on this cartoon alone with all its chaotic detail. The pace churns up to dizzying proportions and, if any scenes ended up on the cutting room floor, I’d love to know what those were. Unlike Bob Clampett’s “AN ITCH IN TIME”, we don’t get to see this mayhem from the fleas’ point of view, and that might have added more comedy to the premise, but it is all so neatly “choreographed” to the score that I can never listen to this piece without thinking of the visuals here.

    “MORE PEP” (Betty Boop and Pudgy, Max Fleischer Studios): What can I say? I enjoyed cartoons that toyed with the visuals, adding live action to the madness, almost making the live action world a distinct part of the cartoon, and the Fleischers had been doing that for the entire decade of the 1930’s. Poor Pudgy is not performing well, so this antidote is created, a kind of powder that, when ingested, excelerates one’s energy level to supernatural levels. Somehow, the powder wafts out over all of Manhattan, and people are seen along the streets rushing about like colonies of insects. I just remember this one as a terrific visual overall.

    “THE CASE OF THE SHOO-SHOO FLY” (COURAGEOUS CAT AND MINUTE MOUSE episode, Sam Singer/Bob Kane): Now here is a series that was created on a shoestring budget still begging for a skilled reboot. I realize that I’m walking dangerous territory when I suggest such things, but since domesticated cats really cannot be trained like dogs, I’m sure that such reboots would not end up like the UNDERDOG movie; they’d have to do an animated reimagining, and nothing is more fun than a super hero spoof, right? I liked the original series, such as it is. It is entertaining nonsense to me, and as I’ve said before, I like a hero whose gun does everything but kill! And, in this case, ya gotta love the nemesis, a termite-like insect that eats anything in its path, including the clothes off your body if you’re not careful! There is no back story as to where the Frog discovered this bug, but he is seen in two episodes and is nearly vanquished by Courageous Cat’s cement mixer gun.

    You know, there are a lot more, but since five is all that was asked for, I’ll stop here. Besides, I’m not sure of the exact titles of some of my other favorites from other studios. It is always nice to rediscover old cartoons, and I hope we all can do that in our future again, either while isolated or when all this is somehow brought under control, and an immediate end seems to be a sad pipe dream at this time. Stay safe, sheltered and animatedly entertained, all.

  • Here are mine. And, like Steve Segal, I’ll do more, maybe 10-12?

    1. MOUSE IN MANHATTAN, MGM, 1945, the unofficial “solo Jerry” cartoon, just beuatiful fun “Manhattan Serenade” rendition and animaiton of Jerry, who after 7 or 8 minutes decides it’;s time to return..

    2. OF CLAY AND CRITTERS, Art Clokey, 1967, an odd Gumby (with pony Pokey and recurring dog Nopey) in a pantomime story, in the desert, till they run into a strange box and “Cousin Itt”(from the Addams Family) monster who emerged from it, and send our three friends into the sky, transformed as um brellas, till they land nearby, meet a giant painter and giant hjuman-I kid you not here-thumb come to life. Nopey scares them aware, only for a Martian worm to lead them to an enchanted forest.. lotts lof familiar Capitol and Sam Fox stock cues. In the end, they wind up in a garden made into coffee cans..

    3. RELAX-A LAWN CHAIR, JOr Oriolo/Trans-Lux, 1960. Felix the Cat, in his big hit 1960s tv series, is for once with out his supporting case (Albert Einstein evil twin The Professor, canine good Rock Bottom, Professor’s nephew Poindexter, Master Cylinder,etc.) or even his magic bag, as he struggles with a lawn chair in his home by the beach. The lawn chair has a mind of its own, rebels, and gets Felix into some crazy situations (and this is the underrated 1960 series, a logntime favorite)..in the typical cliffhanger ending typical not only of this but of sme other low budget cartoons, Felix is actually STRANDED over the waterfront. ) Uses some Win Sharples.Scroll music (opens with one from “Owly to Bed”, then has a reccuring use of “Be Mice to Cats’s’ chase piece”, a few near the end from “Fiddle Faddle”, and that pleasant piece (when the cat reads the long,long, instructions) from Casper’s “Ice Scream”, Audrey’s “Dawg Gawn”, & Casper’s “Good Scream Fun”.) At the end all ends well.

    4. FELIX THE CAT SUIT, Oriolo/T-L, 1959, the other FtC here, this is a string of chases wtih The Professor trying to grab Felix’;s bag, first in a suit (thus making this one of several rather misnamed episodes,just of this series), then thru various parts of the cats house. We see revovoling doors amazingly,in the house. With Famous/Paramount stock cues largely from the then recent FELINEOUS ASSAULT, with a few from OWLY TO BED, FROM MAD TO WORSE, ICE SCREAM, PEEK A BOO, COCK-A DOODLE-DINO, and finally HUEY’s FATHER DAY.This was one of the very first of this incarnation ever produced, and it originally had Felix just in the familiar TV graphic waving, not saying “Right-ee-O” as he’d do a few episodes later. He does, however, utter this catchphrase in these early ones. The HUEY short also gave us the “:Righty O theme”.)

    5. NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ, Hanna-Barbera/Columbia-SG, 1965. The Flintstones’s strange “toddler Pebbles and Bamm Bamm sing that song” episode starts off innocently enough, with Fred and Barney wanting to watch football (and the wives with rolling pins in hands, waiting to see the cheerleaders there, so the husbands..just kidding!), only to hear..TEEN DANCE SHOWS. Scores of them. (One singing then-HB contractee, later Three Dog Night founder/crooner Danny Hutton’s ROSES AND RAINBOWS, a song that HB was enjoying some success on the Billboard hot 100 chats.) After Barney leavesa, Fred falls asleep tbhem.”Mommy told me something, a little kid should know”, and you should the rest The two fathers go outside to see the tots performing, and at first can;t get Wilma and Betty to find out till the promoter thjey watched, Brian Epstein-ish Eppy Brianstone, joins them. Soon it’s big success, till the end on the golf course, when Fred and Barney decide they’ve kidded themselves enough about NOT being miserable about this and Fred takes Barney home, only to see the kids, Eppy, and the girls..then they take off to the HOLLYWOOD-I mean HOLLYROCK PALACE TV of show. Disguised as a spy, Fred manages toget the kids quiet so he and bestie Barney can steal away with them. Trouble, Beatle/Insect manager Eppy, the women and even the cops ca nsteal away,too, after them. after a crazy chase, well..Fred then gets arrested..oh..ca I give the ending..:)

    6.PAGE MISS GLORY, Schlesinger/WB/Vitaphone, 1936. This was one of the very first WB cartoon releases in three color Technicolor, though not the first, but an uncredited Tex Avery’s first, with “Leadora Congdon “‘s design and songwriters Warren and Dubin, then douing the studio’s muscials, creadited to the exclusion of Tex or anyone. Teenage Abner the bellhop dreams his way ntp an Art Deco New York City to meet Miss Glory, done like a 30s musical.. The whole cartoon ha everyone rushing to meet M ss Glory till the woman of the hour shows, but Abner has to keep going through the different elevators to find one that works..remember THOSE BELLHOPS would operate the elevators way back when..you didn’t have to operate them yourselves..eventually one takes Abner down to the New York streets, where he wakes up in his midwestern or Southern town, only to find a Shirley Temple (Bereniece Hanselle) lookalike! Only to faint..to find out it’s not what he dreamt.”Play Don”.

    Here’s another…

    7. BOTTLES, H-I/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1936. “Well, bless mah soul!” A druggist falls asleep and gets shrunked in his store, by a nasty skeleton who takes the guy behind shelves..the baffled pharmacist runs away and enters a 10 minute long fantasy world of weird baby, mediciine, pop, milk, and lother bottles.”Little Brown Jug’ gets used a lot, as well as original num,ber sangby the baby bottles ‘Diapies..Wahh Wahh Wahh….Martha Wentworth, the first major voice of cartoon witches, does the almost similiar skeleton and Witch Hazel (aha!) bottles..has same ending as the Flintstones one (okay, It was all a dream like the Flintstone one from 65) MGM started even earlier than WB.

  • The UPA look, mid-century suburban setting, and limited animation didn’t suit Popeye, but the credits for “Barbecue for Two” are impressive. In fact, considering how many animation A-listers worked on Jack Kinney’s subsequent Popeyes, it’s a wonder they’re not better. Of course bulk production tends to yield mediocrity; and the half-glass-full way of looking at the cartoons is, considering the deadlines and the budgets they had to work with, it’s a minor miracle they’re as good as they are. At least they showed a wider variety of story material than the theatrical Popeyes, and used the Thimble Theater characters sloughed off by Fleischer and Famous.

  • Incidentally, the “special set of Popeyes” wouldn’t happen to be the long-aborning POPEYE IN TECHNICOLOR, or a reasonable facsimile, would it?

  • Not leaving out another stapled Nickelodeon show, I’d say the essential “Rugrats” episode is “The Mysterious Mr. Friend” (which I believe won an Emmy). Really enjoy the concept of a creepy interactive toy that Stu’s think would be a big hit for the kids (and forgetting that one of them is afraid of clowns) which is quite the opposite and may have a mind of its’ own. There a great triumph scene of the kids battling the toys. Angelica only make appearance at the end, but her scene is a great kicker being the only one that finds the toy neat.

  • I’m going almost full Warners with my list, but what the hey:

    1. Porky Pig’s Feat (Daffy/Porky, 1943): Easily one of the funniest films with Daffy Duck, and its a testament to Frank Tashlin’s skill as a director that he was able to nail his character so perfectly in his very first film upon returning to the WB studio. A beautifully crafted film, easily one of the top ten best of the entire WB canon.

    2. Kitty Kornered (Porky/Sylvester, 1946) Another one of WB’s, and director Bob Clampett’s, best. Porky has never been fresher and more funny as a character than he is in this truly deranged film. Too bad its Clampett’s last film with the character, but he certainly left on a hight note.

    3. Buckaroo Bugs (Bugs Bunny, 1944): The animation community seems to be pretty split on whether this short is great or terrible, and I must say I am in the former category. Wonderful animation, some of the best voice acting to come from Mel Blanc, a funny premise, and a bombastic musical score courtesy of Mr. Stalling make this one of Bugs’ most underrated films and a Bob Clampett mini-masterpiece for sure.

    4. The Cat’s Bah (Pepe Le Pew, 1954): One of the funniest cartoons from a very underrated character, the one liner le pew witticisms have never been better. An intriguing opening sequence and striking Maurice Noble layouts help make this one of the best Looney Tunes of ‘54.

    5. Ready, Set, Zoom! (Coyote/Roadrunner, 1955): Argue all you want that each of these cartoons are the same, but Wile’s priceless facial expressions coupled with an assortment of some of the greatest gags (glue and dynamite bit anybody?) make this entry an excellent example of a very funny series.

    6. The Jaywalker (UPA “Jolly Frolics”): Bob Cannon is easily one of the most experimental, diverse, and underrated directors of the golden age of animation. Each of his UPA one-shots is different from the last. This one turned out to be his last (one-shot) , and its pitch perfect delivery really makes you wish the studio had done more. The humor is wonderfully subtle, the voice acting by Eugene Bollay is perfectly nebbish, and the jazz score is ultra-catchy. Never mind Cannon’s design sense. Great film!

  • The Old Mill (Silly Symphonies)
    Motor Mania (Goofy – “George” era)
    Donald’s Crime (Donald Duck)
    Heavenly Puss (Tom and Jerry – MGM era)
    The Loose Nut (Woody Woodpecker)

  • Five favorites of five different series is tough to do. I’ll try. These aren’t my faves of all time, just five in five different series. No WB here; there are too many that I love

    1. SWING YOU SINNERS (Fleischer, 1930) – I love just about all of the pre-code Talkartoons and Bettys. This one comes to mind because of its progressive weirdness. It starts out ordinary (Bimbo steals a chicken and is chased by a cop), then it gets spooky (Bimbo runs into a cemetery and is haunted by ghosts and skeletons). The music gets jazzy. When a barn grows feet and starts chasing Bimbo, you suspect that the animators were taking mind-altering substances. Then at the end, the background becomes totally abstract and psychedelic!

    2. FLORA (Columbia, 1948) – The Screen Gems studio’s output was, shall I say, inconsistent. I think they produced three masterpieces: FOX AND GRAPES, THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL, and this one, which is probably the least-known of the three. Basic story is a cat keeps foiling a dog’s attempt to catch her. But the way the story is told is like no other dog-and-cat story. It is framed as a romantic film noir, with Ronny the dog as a character trying to win Flora the cat’s heart. Very clever!

    3. DICKY MOE (MGM, 1962) – My favorite Deitch Tom and Jerry, based on a single gag. Most of the time when I see a gag over and over, it becomes less funny each time. But when a tar-covered Tom walks back and forth pretending to be Ahab’s shadow, I never fail to laugh out loud.

    4. THE CAT CAME BACK (NFB Canada, 1988) – My favorite Canadian cartoon. Another one that gets progressively more absurd as the cartoon goes on. Based on the children’s song, it depicts an old man’s repeated attempts to get rid of his cute but very destructive cat. This one has impeccable comic timing. Nominated for the Oscar but lost to Pixar’s TIN TOY.

    5. A DAY IN THE LIFE OF RANGER SMITH (John Kricfalusi, 1999) – Just because I wanted to name a non-theatrical cartoon. This one is an homage to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. Why it comes to my mind instead of a REAL Hanna-Barbera cartoon, I don’t know. I was never really a fan of early H-B. I guess the style and use of music in this cartoon made me feel nostalgic. The running gag here is that Ranger Smith keeps changing his appearance. I’m not a big fan of John K., but I think he nailed it here.

  • Who could ever forget “Snuffy Skunk’s Party”? (1939)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.