Sunday, 20 January 2013

1930 Cartoons on Parade

A week ago, we posted some snippets from The Film Daily about developments in the animated cartoon world for the first half of 1930. This post features the second half. And I’ll give you advance notice there’s not much of historical value. All the big changes in the industry happened in the first half of the year.

Perhaps the most interesting item in the trade paper was a report by a committee of the Society of Motion Pictures Engineers which outlined the changing state of the movie industry. The lengthy report read, in part:
Sound motion pictures have introduced certain fundamental changes in the previous order of motion picture programs. Overtures played by an orchestra have largely been eliminated, the value of the newsreel enhanced, the value of comedies lessened, but greater importance has been given to cartoons. The general length of program remains one of approximately two hours duration.
In other words, the two-reel comedy was already dying but cartoons were more popular than ever. And while it gives credit to sound, it would seem the real credit should go to Walt Disney for finding an imaginative way to use sound and creating a viable sound character the audience could identify with. Then other studios made the own carbon-copy versions of falsetto-voice animal singer/dancers.

Still, there are some interesting obscurities and reports of things-that-might-have-been. There’s an ad for animators and in-betweeners for a studio that had been set up in the Hardy Building in Hollywood. The studio’s listed in the 1931 Film Daily Directory, but who was behind it isn’t mentioned. The studio proposed to make something called “Scoop Scandals.” I can’t find out a thing about them. The office building once housed Rodney Gilliam’s Kinex Studios, which made stop motion pictures.

The star of the silent age, Felix the Cat, was having sound added to some of his silent pictures but, oddly, creator Pat Sullivan opted to try to make films with a new character, Hypo the Monk. Two drawings of the monkey were copyrighted on May 17 but I’ve seen nothing to suggest the cartoons were made. Sullivan died in 1933.

Maybe the most interesting snippet is the revelation that the Van Beuren Studio hired a gag man; so little is known about cartoon writers of the era (Disney possibly being an exception). Puzant K. Thomajan didn’t stay in the animation business long, it appears. The 1940 census (Van Beuren closed in 1936) lists him as a proof-reader at a book publisher. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on June 29, 1902 and died on March 21, 1990 in Carlstadt, New Jersey. And several of his homilies are on the internet, such as “A hearty laugh gives one a dry cleaning, while a good cry is a wet wash.”

With that bit of trivia, let’s get into the snippets. Below them, I’ve posted the cartoon reviews found in the various issues. Yes, they wrote two different reviews for Van Beuren’s “Laundry Blues.” One contains a term for the Chinese not used in polite circles. Some of these cartoons are posted on on-line video sites, no doubt versions that were restored by Steve Stanchfield of Thunderbean Animation, who deserves tremendous credit for rescuing these obscure cartoons and putting them in a viewable condition that people can see, and maybe even enjoy, today. A few of the titles contain links to reviews at Andrea’s fine blog “Classic Cartoons.”

July 7, 1930
Getting Noise-Makers in the Cartoons
GETTING just the right sound to heighten the comedy effect of an Aesop Sound Fable scene or incident is an art that has been developed to a high degree by John Foster and his staff of humorists who prepare these Pathe reels. In putting over a sound effect it is seldom done with the instrument that you would expect to give forth the noise you hear. A large whistle blown by a bassoon player may provide that seriocomic squeal for little Milton Mouse and the spilling of a glass of water may sound like the Niagara Falls. The Aesop Fable sound department of the Van Beuren Corp. has accumulated 137 different sound devices. These devices are the queerest looking collection of what-nots imaginable, made out of every conceivable material, including cowhide, tin, horn, steel, brass and horsehair. Even the hollowed skull of an ox was utilized to provide comedy sound effects In "Swinging Saps." In this collection are 23 varieties of wooden instruments, 14 of which are used in one scene of "Sky Scrapers," which is in the making.
—New York "Telegram"

July 21, 1930
Mintz Speeding Up "Toby" Productions
Charlie Mintz, producer of the "Toby, the Pup" cartoon series for Radio Pictures, is back from the East and will speed up production and pass on new material prepared by Arthur Davis, Sid Marcus and Dick Huemer, major artists, and Joe De Mat [sic], musical director.
Animation for "The Milkman," third of the "Toby, the Pup" cartoons, has been completed, according to the report from Mintz. It is now in the recording room. "The Prospector" is the title of the fourth "Toby," on which animation has just started at the Mintz studio.

August 24, 1930
German Cartoon at 8th St.
A German sound song cartoon, the first produced by Paramount will be shown beginning today at the 8th St. Playhouse in conjunction with "Melodie des Herzens," first Ufa talker. The first Ufa sound shorts also will be on this program.

September 21, 1930
NEW SULLIVAN CARTOONS WILL MAKE BOW IN SPRING
A new series of synchronized cartoons, known as "Hypo the Monk," by Pal Sullivan, creator of "Felix," will be introduced next spring by Copley Pictures, it is announced by Jacques Kopfstein.

Chas. Mintz Finishes Four in "Toby the Pup" Series
West Coast Bureau, THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Four of the 12 one-reel cartoons, "Toby the Pup," being produced by Charles Mintz for RKO, have been finished.

2,000 Mouse Clubs
Circuits are getting such good results with Mickey Mouse Clubs, kid stunt on the Disney-Columbia cartoons, that there will be about 2,000 of the clubs in a year, sez Edward J. Vaughn, representative of Walt Disney and organizer of the groups.

10 Years for Terry
Paul Terry lays claim to being the only cartoonist with 10 successful years in creating animated screen drawings.

NINE "FELIX" COMPLETED BY COPLEY
Nine of the dozen synchronized "Felix" cartoons planned for the present season have been completed by Copley Pictures. The series is based on the cat character created by Pat Sullivan and syndicated in more than 300 daily papers.
Titles of the finished subjects are: "False Vases," "One Good Turn," "Oceantics," "Teetime," "April Maze," "Romeo," "Woos Whoopee," 'Forty Winks' and "Sculls and Skulls."
Work is practically concluded on the tenth of the series and the remaining subjects goes into production shortly.

PLAN NATIONAL PRIZE DRAWING CONTEST
Plans for local drawing contests, with prizes contributed by local shops or by the theater, have been worked out by the Van Beuren Corp. in connection with "Aesop's Fables." Similar stunts have been employed before with success, and interest has been revived through the recent publication of the story, "How Aesop's Sound Fables Are Made," in a national magazine. Van Beuren announces that, in addition to supplying exhibitors with details of how to conduct contests, if enough interest is aroused it will offer a special prize for the best drawing submitted by all theaters.

October 16, 1930
Frank Marsales, who is scoring music for "Looney Tunes," the animated cartoons being produced by the Harman-Ising studios, was formerly musical arranger for Paul Whiteman and Paul Ash. He also made a world's tour with the "Ingenues," who were featured in the Ziegfeld "Follies."

December 21, 1930
Organ Background For Cartoon
The first Aesop Fable cartoon synchronized with organ music has been made at the Ideal Studios in New Jersey under the direction of Gene Rodermich [sic], musical director for van Beuren. The organ was played by Emil Velazco.

December 24, 1930
Fleischer Employes Get $10,000 Bonuses, Raises
Max Fleischer is distributing $10,000 in Christmas bonuses to 100 employes of his cartooning organization. Half of the amount is being handed out now and the other half will be in salary increases over the year.

December 30, 1930
Puzant Thomajan, former gag man with Harold Lloyd, has been engaged by Van Beuren Corp. to originate gags for the Aesop's Fable cartoons.

REVIEWS

July 6, 1930
"Hungarian Goulash"
Educational
Time, 5 mins.
Clever Cartoon
A cleverly contrived number, with he classic music of Franz Lizst made to provide harmonious accompaniment for the lively antics of the Terry-Toon creations. Anybody who enjoys cartoon comedies will jet a great deal of hearty satisfaction out of this one. In addition, because of its music, even the high-brows should find it hard to resist the affair.

Toby the Pup in "The Museum"
RKO
Time, 7 mins.
Peppy Cartoon
A few new wrinkles, as well as a good round of merriment of the usual sort, are provided in this new cartoon creation produced by Charles Mintz. Toby is ordered by a rough-looking individual to polish up the exhibits in a museum. He goes at his work to the tune of some jazzy music which results in the various statues, skeletons mummies and other dead numbers being brought to life and cavorting all around the place. An ingenious and neatly executed short of this type. Ought to please very nicely.

July 13, 1930
Krazy Kat in "Alaskan Knights"
Columbia
Time, 11 mins.
Fine Cartoon
Krazy Kat in his best form. Disporting in the Alaskan locale, among snow, dogsleds and saloons full of grizzly miners, Krazy has plenty of leeway for his comical antics and he delivers the laughs in regular style.

"Cannibal Capers"
Columbia
Time, 6 mins.
Corking Cartoon
One of Walt Disney's best "Silly Symphonies" to date. After the little band of cannibals have disported awhile in highly amusing fashion, a ferocious lion turns up and the whole gang takes to its heels. The cannibals' intended victim, however, jumps out of the boiling pot and gives the lion the run-around, winding up by getting hold of the lion's false teeth and using them to scare the jungle beast out of his skin.

"Bully Beef"
Educational
Time, 9 mins.
Usual Cartoon
One of the Paul Terry-Toons, being a parody on the front-line trench stuff, with the animals dodging the heavy artillery and carrying on in approved cartoon style. The gags are cleverly handled, and the incidental music by Philip Scheib adds considerably to the entertainment value. It will please the kids.

July 20, 1930
"Jungle Jazz"
Pathe
Time, 8 mins.
Usual Cartoon
Another in the Van Beuren cartoon series, showing Waffles Cat and his pal, Don Dog, facing adventures in the wilds of Africa. Thrilling experiences with gorillas, apes and a python are recorded. Finally the cannibals get the adventurers and are stewing them in the pot when Don Dog pulls a fast one and saves their lives. The incidental music emphasizes the funny situations. The usual line of cartoon comics made for the delight of the kids.

August 3, 1930
"Snow Time"
Pathe
Time, 8 mins.
Fair Cartoon
One of the Aesop Sound Fables, with the dogs, cats, birds and hippos having a big lark skating and singing till a little pup is overcome by the cold and falls exhausted in the snow. The St. Bernard is brought up with his barrel filled with Scotch, which the frozen pup empties. Then they all want to horn in on the liquor, but it is too late. Just a lot of clever foolishness done in the typical Aesop manner that will get the snickers. The sound effects are ludicrous and add to the merriment.

"Barnacle Bill"
Max Fleischer
Time, 12 mins.
Good Cartoon
One of those silly but funny animal animateds, with Barnacle Bill, the tough sailor, calling on his girl and making violent love to her. All the neighborhood tries to horn in, and meanwhile the musical accompaniments and funny cartoon effects make this one extremely laughable. Winds up with the girl's old man coming back and bouncing Bill out on his ear. It will please the grown ups as well as the kids, for it is very cleverly handled.

August 24, 1930
"Laundry Blues"
Pathe
Time, 9 mins.
Chinese Aesop Fable
A hodgepodge of animated cartoon events in Chinatown. Opens with a quartette of laundrymen who sing and dance as they work. A Jewish customer comes in and tries to get his shirts on a kosher ticket. The chinaman refuses but agrees to wash and iron the man's beard. Another chinaman starts a riot by hitting sour notes on a saxophone while trying to play. After the riot is over the quartette emerges from the ruins to go on with its singing. Okeh.

"Monkey Meat"
A Paul Terry-Toon
Educational Time, 6 mins.
Ordinary Cartoon Stuff
Monkeys have their play in this brief cartoon specialty. There is nothing of a story in evidence, so it's just a matter of showing the monkeys playing various instruments to the tune of "I Am Always Blowing Bubbles." In one scene there is a Rhino sitting on a bubble and enjoying himself until it breaks, and that is about the most amusing item. Just an ordinary synchronized cartoon that will go as a filler.

Oswald, the Rabbit, in "Cold Feet"
Universal
Time, 7 mins.
Snappy Cartoon
In this clever number, Oswald and his friends take to the Swiss mountains and have a fine time playing various musical instruments and cutting many capers. It's a snappy cartoon with good musical accompaniment.

August 31, 1930
"Laundry Blues"
Pathe
Time, 9 mins.
Clever Cartoon
A very clever Aesop Fable, with the cartoon animals down in Chinatown. A quartette of harmonious laundrymen is featured, and their funny antics as they do their work to the accompaniment of weird Chink music and singing is among the best bits seen anywhere in the modern sound cartoon. Winds up in a general riot when one Chink tries to do a Rudy Vallee on the saxophone. Very clever, and also very funny.

September 7, 1930
Krazy Kat in "Honolulu Wiles"
Columbia
Time, 7 mins.
Ace Cartoon
Here's a darb in the Krazy Kat series. It shows the clever cartoon character disporting among the Hawaiian sunshine and other native attractions. Everything, from the palm trees and sea waves to the dusky grass-skirted hula maidens and the very islands themselves, fall a-swaying to the tune of a rollicking assortment of Hawaiian music. A topnotch number of its kind that will tickle the folks by and large.

September 14, 1930
Mickey Mouse in "The Shindig"
Columbia
Time, 7 mins.
Okay
A barnyard setting supplies the locale for this Mickey Mouse performance, which consists of the animals conducting a hoofing spree, with Minnie Mouse doing honors at the piano. Right up to the usual standard of the Mickey Mouse cartoon series.

September 21, 1930
"Fried Chicken"
Educational
Time, 6 mins
Very Good
With various animals aiding in the entertaining, this Paul Terry-Toon offers a good assortment of new tricks in cartoons and also plenty of comedy. The number is built around the song "Swanee River" and every movement of the birds, chickens, cows, et al, is synchronized with the music. The funniest sequence is where the steamboat in order to pass a bridge submerges in the water and comes out again after the distance is covered. Another particularly funny scene is where one of the animals milks a cow, which is being carried by an albatross, in the air.

"Arctic Antics"
Columbia
Time, 9 mins.
Ace Cartoon
Swell cartoon entertainment is this Walt Disney subject, one of the Silly Symphony series. Delightfully goofy stuff. Against an Arctic background cartooned native animals go through the gestures of singing and dancing. The characters move in synchronism with the music. It's packed with laughs for everybody from six to sixty, and then some.

"Farm Foolery"
Pathe
Time, 9 mins.
Neat Cartoon
The latest of the Aesop Fables shows the animals down on the farm disporting themselves to the tune of jazzy music and goofy songs. There is featured throughout a quartette of barnyard animals, and other cartoonic comics are the dancing chickens, the waddling ducks, and funny dogs and cows. The sentimental motif is introduced with a dog making love to an enormous pig. Clever foolishment pepped up with appropriate harmonies.

"The Glow Worm"
Paramount
Time, 5 mins.
English-German Song Cartoon
A novelty among song cartoons in that it is bi-lingual, opening in German and closing in English. Subject matter concerns glow worms, caterpillars and such, cavorting in harmony with off-stage singing, with a change of characterizations for the English and the German. Each version is preceded by an announcement in German telling what is about to take place. Then the words are flashed on the screen in both German and English. Rates fair and probably more suitable for the foreign country than here.

"Frozen Frolics"
Pathe
Time, 7 mins.
Clever Aesop Fable
Aesop Fable wherein Don Dog and Waffles take a trip to the North Pole, to the accompaniment of a lot of goofy musical effects and funny animal antics. In their travels they meet up with a Teddy bear ballet, a family of funny dancing penguins, singing walruses, and syncopating bears with an audience of applauding seals. Arrived at the Pole, they find a barber in possession, who leaves them in possession of the prize. But a tough looking bear appears, which Don finally licks, and returns inside its skin to scare the life out of cat Waffles. Clever cartoon work jazzed up with the incidental music and funny animal sounds.

"Frolicking Fish"
Columbia
Time, 6 mins.
Excellent Cartoon
An undersea exhibition that keeps the patrons chuckling all the way. All sorts of fantastic fish are put through a dizzy series of dances, drills and whatnot, in tune to some unusually fitting music. The chief amusement is provided by a villainous octopus chasing a fish, but the wicked one is given the k.o. in the end when the smart little fish drops an anchor on him from a sunken vessel. One of the best of the Silly Symphonies series.

October 5, 1930
"The Booze Hangs High"
(Looney Tunes No. 4)
Vitaphone 4268 Time, 6 mins.
Comical Cartoon
Another of the cartoon creations that clicks as usual with its nutty comicalities performed to the tune of rhythmic musical accompaniment and some synchronized vocal efforts. The idea is taken from "The Goose Hangs High" and the adaptation of the lyrics from this piece to the purposes of the cartoon is quite entertaining. Activity in this instance is provided by the fantastic animals, including "Looney," engaging in the usual dancing and musical-instrument burlesquing.

"Henpecked"
(Oswald Cartoon)
Universal Time, 7 mins.
Up to Standard
Oswald continues to hold his own among the cartoon stars in this latest of his escapades wherein he makes so much noise on a piano that a one-legged bear is roused to retaliation. After Oswald has calmed down, a flock of his relatives drop in on him and raise some more whoopee to the discomfort of the old bruin. Has the usual number of clever quirks in both idea and drawing, and is highly entertaining all the way.

"Swing, You Sinners"
(Talkartoon)
Paramount Time, 8 mins.
Clever Cartoon
Something out of the ordinary in cartoon subjects. With "Sing, You Sinners" for its musical background, the caricatures carry out the idea of a ghostly nightmare haunting a would-be chicken thief. The idea in its entirety, from adapted lyrics to cartoon work, is clever and ought to be a treat for audiences anywhere.

October 12, 1930
"The Detective"
Universal
Time, 7 mins.
Good Cartoon
Oswald the funny rabbit gets himself pinched when Cock Robin is found murdered, although our hero is innocent. The audience is let in on the mystery, for they see the robin shot by Mr. Worm, after the villain had tried to kidnap little Worm. So things look bad for Oswald at the trial, till he hits on the idea of playing harmonies on his bow and arrow. This puts the judge and jury into a series of jazz steps, and they bring in a verdict of not guilty. Clever cartoon work with a nice comedy slant.

"Circus Capers"
Pathe
Time, 9 mins.
Good Aesop Fable
An Aesop Fable, showing the funny cartoon animals rushing into the tent show after the street parade ballyhoo. They go through the usual routine of the circus, showing all the bare back riders, trained animals and other thrilling numbers, all done with the comedy touch. A story thread is worked in with the love of the clown for the bareback rider, he being crashed from a cannon and landing through the net to find his gal in the arms of his rival. An unusual novelty is introduced here by someone with a fine voice singing "Laugh, Clown, Laugh," as the clown goes through the dramatic stuff with funny facial contortions. The combination gets the laughs.

October 19, 1930
"Midnight"
Pathe
Time, 7 mins.
Peppy Cartoon
This Aesop opens with a quartet of cats serenading the heroine while she does a silhouette dance behind a drawn curtain to their music. Finally old Alfalfa gets annoyed and calls on a bunch of canines, who engage the felines in combat. The dogs in a warbling number do the "Sextette from Lucia." Clever number, with the synchronized sound effects pepping it up with a lot of comedy touches.

"French Fried"
(Terry-Toon)
Educational Time, 6 mins.
Swell
A farmer chap similar to the Aesop Fable gent is the leading actor in this cartoon number. The action takes him by airplane to France, where he sports around the town and winds up in a Parisian haunt. As he is putting on a neat Apache dance, some native roughnecks kidnap him, but the farmer is saved by the timely arrival of his faithful dog. Appropriate music and effects help the neat idea along nicely.

October 25, 1930
"Monkey Melodies"
(Silly Symphony)
Columbia Time, 7 mins.
Good Cartoon
A little love episode in the jungle, with two simians as the sweethearts and an alligator as the menacing villain, provides the framework for this cartoon comedy. Entirely well done both in action and in synchronized score.

"Jumping Beans"
Educational
Time, 9 mins.
Neat Cartoon
A Paul Terry-Toon exploiting a cowboy hero who feeds the villain jellybeans with disastrous but hilarious consequences. The incidental music by Philip Scheib is real harmony, and enhances the funny cartoon antics and increases the laugh voltage. Clever animation, up to the standard of this series.

November 2, 1930
"Fowl Ball"
Universal
Time, 6 mins.
Nice Cartoon
A typical Oswald cartoon, with the hero leading a band of bullfrogs in some very good syncopation. The harmony is interrupted as a pelican swallows the various members of the band, and finally Oswald. Then interior views of the pelican show the orchestra undismayed, and assembling under the leader's direction for another concert. Good cartoon work, and funny antics.

November 9, 1930
"The Big Cheese"
Pathe
Time, 7 mins.
Pip Cartoon
One of the best of the Aesop Fables, and incidentally one of the best cartoonatics seen this season. The animators put some real thought into this one, and came up with a gag ending that is a wow. All about a tough dog in training at the Canine Athletic Club. The champ fighter goes into the ring battle with everybody fully expecting a murder, but the champ goes into a syncopated dance that will get the laughs. Cleverly gagged, and the incidental music fits in perfectly.

November 16, 1930
"A Jolt for Gen. Germ"
Paramount
Time, 6 mins.
Commercial Cartoon
This is a Max Fleischer cartoon designed to advertise Lysol and it entertains very satisfactorily while it advertises. A story is in back of the cartoon work, the plot dealing with an army of germs descending upon the country, with old Gen. Germ also acting the villain after the heroine, whereupon a courier is dispatched to- a drug store for a bottle of Lysol and a sprinkling of this liquid immediately wipes out the germ army, general included. Sound effects are employed to enhance the action. The cartoon work is excellent.

November 30, 1930
"Gypped in Egypt"
Pathe
Time, 8 mins.
Good Aesop Fable
This Aesop Fable has the cartoon cat and dog on an adventure in Egypt. They fall into an ancient town, and find themselves surrounded by mummies and skeletons that come to life. There is a funny fire sequence, with all the skeleton riding pell-mell to the fire in chariots. It finishes with a wild ride in an elevator to the top of an obelisk, where they step off the platform into space. A nightmare of goofy antics cleverly worked out for the laughs.

"Office Boy"
Pathe
Time, 7 mins.
Burlesque Cartoon
An Aesop cartoon which is a sort of burlesque on the office wife idea. Milton Mouse is in love with the stenog, but the boss is playing up the cutie, so Milton has to take a back seat. But the boss' wife comes in and catches her hubby in a dance with the girl, so this leaves the road clear for Milton and the heroine to elope. The fade-out is a cute idea, with the two on a train singing "Fascinating Baby."

"The Navy"
Universal
Time, 6 mins.
Neat Cartoon
This Oswald cartoon has the animated hero as a gob calling on the girl whom the captain is also courting. Oswald pulls some funny stunts in the course of his serenading, till the captain chases him on board the boat. A swift kick from the captain lands him back on the clothes line outside the window of his love, where he resumes his courting and everything is jake. Oswald is as funny as ever, and the cartoon ideas are cleverly executed.

December 7, 1930
Mickey Mouse in "The Picnic"
Columbia
Time, 7 mins.
Pip Cartoon
There seems to be no end to the original antics and laugh-producing stunts emanating from the Walt Disney workshops and performed by the sprightly Mickey Mouse and his chief co-worker, Minnie Mouse. This latest number is in the pip class and not only stirs up loud merriment but even elicits a healthy round of applause, which is some tribute considering that the public has been regaled with a considerable quantity of cartoon comedies in the past year or so. In the present subject Mickey takes his Minnie for a picnic in the woods, where they disport themselves while the animals of the forest raid their lunch, until a rainstorm chases all of them to cover.

December 21, 1930
“Alaska”
Universal
Time, 7 mins.
Neat Cartoon
A clever burlesque on the old-time Klondike saloon. Oswald, the funny rabbit, is a tenderfoot, and has a tough time trying to hold up his end with the hardboiled guests in Dirty Dalton’s Saloon. The synchronized musical effects are especially well handled, the big kick coming on a song “Pop Goes the Weasel,: which is put over by some comic variations by the different musicians. Walter Lantz and Bill Nolan, the cartoonists, did a good job.

December 28, 1930
“Winter”
Columbia
Time, 6 mins.
Fair Cartoon
This Disney Silly Symphony doesn’t stand up with previous releases. The synchrony is well done and the animation up to the average but it lacks gags for laughs. Much show, skating and slidin, with the usual animal antics for nothing particularly clever.

“Pigskin Capers”
Educational
Time, 7 mins.
Nice Cartoon
A Paul Terry-Toon with the animals in a football scrimmage and doing a good parody on the regular football procedure at the college games. The synchronized music and funny sound effects are good, and put this over with pep and a nice quota of laughs.

No comments:

Post a Comment