Friday, 31 May 2013

The Twirling Pants of Fear

Last week, we featured an Avery-like eye-bulge take from the Art Davis unit at Warners in “Porky Chops.” Here are some drawings from an even wilder take of the heckling squirrel when he sees and angry bear galloping toward him. Notice how the squirrel’s pants twirl in fear.



Larry Trembley has identified the animator as Bill Melendez, yes, the one who brought you the kind, gentle, almost immobile Peanuts characters on TV. Emery Hawkins, Don Williams and Basil Davidovich were also credited as animators.

This cartoon shows Davis and his writers Bill Scott and Lloyd Turner had the Warners style down pat. Puns, takes, silly dialogue, lippy antagonists from New York who called people names, characters zipping from one place to the next. And Davis carries it off with a one-shot character who doesn’t have audience familiarity going for him. Great stuff.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Cock-a-Doodle In-Between

Here’s an in-between drawing from Tex Avery’s Cock-a-Doodle Dog (1951). The obsessively crowing rooster keeps running from his chicken coop to a post, crows, then runs back.



Mike Lah, Walt Clinton and Grant Simmons are the animators in this one.

Since I haven’t mentioned it before, someone has been putting together animated GIF files of moments in Avery cartoons and posting them on Tumblr. Hooray for whoever it is. Here’s the scene from the cartoon above.



You can go the site by clicking on the URL on the sidebar or going to http://veryaverygifs.tumblr.com/

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Tarring Bob Hope With the Red Brush

In this day of “The Daily Show”, Stephen Colbert and late night talk show monologues, it’s hard to think anyone believed political humour would be too sensitive a subject for comedians. But that appears to have been the case in 1958, a time of stand-up yucks about mothers-in-law, women drivers and suburbia.

When you think of Bob Hope, a multitude of things come to mind. Road pictures with Bing Crosby. “Thanks for the Memories.” Old Ski Nose. Endless sojourns to entertain “the boys.” And, at the end, an old guy staring at corny jokes on cue cards during TV specials larded with marching bands, football teams and breasty women. But in his radio variety days, Hope tossed in one-line zingers at political figures. And like any good comedian, he picked on the foible, not the political party.

Leslie Townes Hope would be 110 today. Here’s a column from the Associated Press about how Hope learned that partisan political types take the attitude “If you ain’t for us, you’re against us.”

END OF POLITICAL HUMOR?
By BOB THOMAS

HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 23 (AP) – Is Bob Hope the only one left who can kid presidents?
This question arose again this week when old ski nose told political jokes at a luncheon for President Eisenhower during the latter’s political visit here. There was much laughter over Bob’s pointed political barbs. Many observers feel he is the only comic who can get away with it anymore.
These lamenters feel the age of political satire is past, that there are too many sacred cows now. You often hear the claim: Will Rogers couldn’t conduct his spoofing of politicos if he were alive today.
“Nonsense,” says Hope. I see no reason why Rogers couldn’t be doing his act today. One you build up certain trade marks, you can get away with more than the newcomer can. People expect me to kid politics; they’d be disappointed if I didn’t.”
But he admitted that political satire is increasingly hazardous.
“I guess it wouldn’t be wise for me to play Little Rock right now,” he sighed during a lunch break of “Alias Jesse James.” “I’ve been getting mail from Arkansas calling me all kinds of names.”
The reason was the Hope-ism: “President Eisenhower wanted to send the first man into space, but he couldn’t get Governor Faubus to make the trip.”
Hope recalled the time when he threw some quips in the direction of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The comedian drew a letter from a Wisconsin judge accusing him of being a Communist. Confirmed capitalist Hope set him straight in a return letter.
Hope knows his way around Washington, and so he can step on some friendly toes when he tosses out his witticisms. Richard Nixon’s “Checkers” speech was too fertile territory for him to resist, so he made some cracks about it.
“Wow, the mail I got from that!” he recalled. “I was worried, because Nixon is a good friend of mine. I sent him the letters and my explanation, just so he’d hear about it from me first.” During his summer run in “Roberta” in St. Louis, Hope cracked: “President Eisenhower is getting more distance out of his golf drivers now that he’s got Sherman Adams’ picture on the ball.”
Hope rattled it off for a quick laugh, but it was picked up by a national magazine. He felt bad about it, since Adams was a friend, too.
Unlike Rogers, who was an avowed partisan (“I don’t belong to an organized party—I’m a Democrat”), Hope has steered clear of active politicking. “I don’t think it’s fair to your sponsor,” he explained.
To prove his impartiality, he can cite the times he entertained before Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. He recalled with fondness a Washington dinner in 1944. Hope commented on the meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill to plan allied strategy:
“They didn’t discuss where we were going to attack or when. It was: How can we keep Eleanor out of the crossfire?”
Hope remembered that FDR lifted his cigarette holder into the air, threw back his head and laughed heartily. To a comedian, such a reaction is worth all the slings and arrows of outraged citizens.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Buccaneer Woodpecker

Buzz Buzzard’s panicked escape in “Buccaneer Woodpecker” (1953) reminds me of a scene in “Alley to Bali” the following year. Body parts stretch, and multiples and brush strokes are used to indicate speed. Here’s a good example.



Both this cartoon and “Bali” were directed by Don Patterson with his only credited animators being LaVerne Harding and Ray Abrams. I suspect he was doing some animation as well as directing. His cartoons featured stretchy characters.



And multiple pointed telescopic eyes.



Patterson directed until, for reasons that aren’t known, Lantz farmed out two cartoons to his brother’s studio, Grantray-Lawrence. Then Tex Avery arrived to direct his unit. Patterson never got it back when Avery left and he left Lantz by 1959 without directing another cartoon.

Monday, 27 May 2013

MGM’s Other Tom Cat

We all know about Tom and Jerry, the cat and mouse who won a bundle of Oscars for Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera at MGM. Their first cartoon was “Puss Gets the Boot,” released in 1940, although the cat wasn’t named Tom until the duo’s second cartoon, “The Midnight Snack,” released July 19, 1941.

However, there was another Tom Cat in development at the studio. Here’s a model sheet, dated October 3, 1940.



This was for Production 99, supposedly “Baby Puss,” a 1943 Tom and Jerry cartoon. But that’s decidedly not the T and J Tom, and the female cat on the sheet doesn’t appear in that cartoon. No, the sheet looks like it’s for “The Alley Cat,” a cartoon from the Hugh Harman unit with a release date two weeks before “The Midnight Snack.”

I can’t find any of the great poses in the model sheet in that cartoon, but here’s a frame of Tom Alley Cat.



It’s far from the cutsey woodland creature cartoons you think of when you hear Harman’s name. For one thing, it’s full of speed effects and comes to a violently loud ending. There’s perspective animation and interesting layouts that Harman loved. Here are two shots from opposing points of view, not only high and low, but poor side of town vs gleaming, modern art deco apartment tower.



The name “Moreno” on the model sheet, I’m presuming, belongs to Manuel Moreno. He was one of Walter Lantz’s top animators from about 1930 to 1937 and I had no idea he ended up at MGM.



Manuel M. Moreno was born in Mexico on August 30, 1908, the oldest of three children. The family moved to California in 1920. By 1940, Manuel was pulling down $4800 a year at MGM, had a nice home in North Hollywood, two daughters, a son and a housekeeper (not named Two-Shoes). His grandson wrote in the Los Angeles Times on May 16, 1998:
Manuel Moreno worked at Universal with Walter Lantz during the "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" years. He animated and directed at other studios, earned a solid reputation, and could have easily moved into a position at the studio of his choice. Instead, he fulfilled his dream to return to his native Mexico and launch a studio to make animated films in Spanish. Between 1943 and 1946, Caricolor Films made a few shorts--one in Technicolor with stereo sound, called "Me Voy de Caceria"--featuring his character Pelon. Stanford University now holds most of Moreno's notes, papers, photos and home movies, but the films made in Mexico have never resurfaced, since they were lost while searching for a distributor in Hollywood.
Moreno died in the Los Angeles area on January 8, 1992.

The design of Tom Alley Cat in this cartoon was borrowed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera for Butch who, as mentioned, appeared in “Baby Puss” and a number of other Tom and Jerrys. The girl cat was also borrowed by Hanna and Barbera and redesigned a bit for “Springtime For Thomas” (1946). Could it be they borrowed the name “Tom” from the Harman unit as well?

My thanks to Mark Sonntag for passing on word about the model sheet.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Screw-ups and Sportsmen

Inside jokes got on the air periodically on the Jack Benny radio show. Some are decipherable; laughter from the band greeted Jack reading a fairy tale featuring a character named “Bertram Scott,” who was Jack’s business secretary. But others are a little more arcane.

On the April 16, 1950 show, one of Jack’s jokes bombed. He then ad-libbed “My writers own an oil well. I can’t do anything with them.” Jack ad-libbed the oil well reference a few more times when the show started dying.

I’ve tried in vain to find a contemporary reference to any of the writers owning an oil well. But I did find a newspaper column that mentioned the Sportsmen Quartet owned one.

The Sportsmen had been around since the 1930s. They had their own 15-minute show for a time, appeared on Rudy Vallee’s and Judy Canova’s programmes and even provided songs for animated cartoons. They had even done some anonymous work on The Jack Benny Program before “officially” becoming part of it in the 1946-47 season, originally playing off the notorious Benny cheapness. Eventually, the Quartet did an excellent and memorable job crooning parody versions of songs that incorporated sales pitches and stock phrases for Lucky Strike cigarettes, cleverly arranged by Mahlon Merrick.

Little was written about the Quartet during their heyday, but the United Press came out with this story in 1953. About the time it was published, the Quartet were touring with Bob Crosby and had stopped in Vancouver with Canadian-born Gisele Mackenzie to raise money to pay for the British Empire Games the following year.

Singers of Commercials Branch Into Own Show
By ALINE MOSBY
United Press Hollywood Correspondent

HOLLYWOOD, May 27. — The “Four Sportsmen” quartet which parlayed a “Hmm” into fame and fortune on Jack Benny’s radio program, said today they're branching into their own show so they can really sing.
The four male crooners thank Benny hourly for giving them overnight success on his CBS program. But, they sighed, they can only give out with a cigaret commercial and “hmmm” that's a running joke on the show.
Like Phil Harris, Dennis Day and other Benny alumni, they’re taking the plunge on their own.
Two Singers
“Bob Crosby sings on the show and so does Dennis Day, so they don’t need us for regular songs,” explained Gurney Bell, Bill Days, Jay Meyer and Marty Sperzel—only not all at once.
“We’ll still stay with Benny, but we have our own transcribed radio show now so we can really sing songs.”
The hit they made as Benny’s foils have brought them a string of other sideline businesses, too.
The Sportsmen incorporated themselves and invested in a housing project, an oil well, a company in the Philippines, a helicopter and a play that flopped.
They’ve scored success on personal appearance tours, after a battle to convince booking agents they could do something besides a musical “hmmmm.” They also plan a series of television films.
“We went into these businesses together on our motto, ‘United we sing, divided we fall,’” quipped Days.
The “Hmm” on the Benny show started a joke.
“Don Wilson, the announcer, was to do the commercial and rather than make it a stereotyped thing, they decided to have a quartet do a hum. Then Benny could say, ‘For this I pay $500?’ and faint,” said Meyer.
Backing
The Sportsmen already were singing as “backing” for such name chirpers as Ginny Sims and Dinah Shore. The unknown quartet was hired for the Benny show. They were such a hit that Benny kept them on. On one program Benny threatened to sell them to rival Fred Allen, and CBS was flooded with irate letters defending the quartet.
One member of the combination has a pitchpipe to give the quartet their cue for the “Hmmm.”
“Once we missed the note, so on the next show Benny locked us in the closet and made us say the commercial 500 times,” grinned Sperzel.


Sperzel’s reference is well-known to fans of the Benny radio show. The broadcast of January 8, 1950 was a complete shambles—except to the audience, who love the spontaneity of mistakes. It started when award-winning announcer Don Wilson spoonerised columnist Drew Pearson’s name into “Drear Pooson.” The sketch which took up the second half of the show had Mary bollix a line. And then the Sportsmen missed a singing cue, with only a couple of them (sounding off-mike) delivering their lyrics. The following weeks, Jack used it as a running gag which Sperzel explained the interview.

For whatever reason, Sperzel became less talkative years later. Non-talkative is, perhaps, a better term. He flatly told people he didn’t want to talk about his career. He died in 2011 at 98, the last surviving member of the post-1943 version of the Quartet.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Cartoons of 1931: What Depression?

It seems remarkable to us today that cartoon studios would begin or expand during the Depression. The impression people are left with today is every business curled up and died because no one had money to spend.

But in leafing through the pages of The Film Daily in the first half of 1931, the animated cartoon industry seemed healthy on the surface. Mickey Mouse was hugely popular; studios wanted their own Mickey Mouses. In the case of the Van Beuren studio, they practically got it and Walt Disney had to sue. But the Van Beuren studio was also expanding. So was Leon Schlesinger, adding a second and third release because of the popularity of the Looney Tunes series. The Merrie Melodies were a success; the Spooney Melodies were not. Columbia added to its large cartoon schedule, picking up the new Scrappy produced by the Mintz studio. Disney was looking for a better deal than he was getting from Columbia and signed with United Artists.

News of cartoons-that-never-came-to-be came from the East. A series of Buddy Bear cartoons was announced with music by Hugo Riesenfeld, well-known in New York theatre circles and formerly a partner with Max Fleischer in Red Seal Pictures. Royal Pictures in New Jersey planned a cartoon studio. The most interesting revelation was that John McCrory studio had completed what was declared the first animated cartoons for television—yes, in 1931. Their fate is a mystery. McCrory had attempted, in 1930, to create a series of Buster Bear cartoons. Some elements of two of them were copyrighted—“The Life and Adventures of Buster Bear” (March 14, 1930) and “Buster Bear in the Spring Carnival” (April 14, 1930). Whether they were ever released seems to be unclear.

And Max Fleischer produced the gag cartoon “Paramount on Parade to Zukor's Farm” specifically for a Paramount annual meeting. Oh, if only it existed today.

Anyway, there are many more little newsy items and, as usual, reviews of some of the cartoons, including at least one commercial. Below you’ll find full and two-page ads run in the paper for either cartoons or a studio’s short subject releases in general. Shorts were already becoming endangered; one Mickey ad suggested shorts instead of a double-feature bill (a cry that got louder from companies that released shorts).


January 2, 1931
"All Quiet" and Cartoons On "Nation's" Honor Roll
"All Quiet on the Western Front" and the creators of animated cartoons, particularly as exemplified in the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony series, are mentioned on "The Nation's" Honor Roll for 1930 under the drama heading.

January 12, 1931
Ralph Wilk column
When Captain W. H. Fawcett, millionaire publisher of a string of magazines, sailed for the Antipodes to hunt marsupials, he was presented by Walt Disney, Mickey's Daddy with a mammoth "Mickey Mouse" doll to serve as his mascot.

January 16, 1931
Terry-Tooned Up
Paul Terry and Frank Moser yesterday signed a new contract to make 26 more Terry-Toons for Educational. The animators have delivered the last release on the original contract for 26, made April, 1930.

January 20, 1931
25 NEWSREEL TRAVESTIES BEING MADE BY R. MAYER
A series of 25 Cartune Newsreels, kidding the newsreels and the celebs who figure in them, is planned by Rudolf Mayer, who is now in New York arranging distribution. The first issue has been completed and synchronized with RCA Photophone equipment. The subjects, in single cartoon reels, are being made at the Coast.

January 28, 1931
COMING AND GOING
JAMES BRONIS arrives from Hollywood today to confer with Charles B. Mintz, producer of "Krazy Kat" cartoons.

February 3, 1931
Mickey's Foreign Tags
Mickey Mouse, the Walt Disney cartoon star, who is now squeaking bi-lingually has been given a native name in several foreign countries. The Germans call him Michael Maus, in France he is Michel Souris, or more familiarly as Michel in the same way as Charlie Chaplin is known as Chariot, while the Spaniards call him Miguel Ratonocito and Miguel Pericote.

DRAMAS GET MOST CUTS BY NEW YORK CENSORS
Albany—Out of 310 films which were subjected to eliminations by the state censors in the past fiscal year, 200 were dramas, it is shown in the annual report of James Wingate, director of the M. P. Division of the State Education Department. Other classes of pictures that were cut included...cartoons, 5.

Walt Disney Negotiating New Columbia Contract
Walt Disney is now negotiating a new releasing contract with Columbia. The organization is finishing two series of 13 single reels each, these being the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies groups. "Birthday Party," in which Mickey Mouse does a "Charlie Chaplin," was on the "City Lights" New York premiere bill Friday night at the Cohan. This is the first Disney subject in which dialogue is used.

February 6, 1931
Fleischer Bowlers Beat Aesops
The Fleischer Studio bowling team, headed by Dave Fleischer, won a hard fought match Wednesday night from the Aesop's Fables team, headed by George Rufle. Final score was 1902 to 1607.

February 10, 1931
FEWER SHORTS PLANNED BY M-G-M FOR 1931-32
M-G-M will release 52 short subjects during the 1931-32 selling season. . . . In the coming schedule will be 12 "Flip the Frog" Cartoons.

February 11, 1931
COMING AND GOING
LEON SCHLESINGER is on his way east to confer with Warner Bros. regarding the shorts subjects he is making for Warners and First National.

Aesop Fable Book for Theater Tie-up
"AESOP'S Movie Fables," a book published by the Sennett [sic] Publishing Co., in cooperation with the Van Beuren Corporation to exploit the Pathe Aesop's Sound Fable animated cartoons, is surpassing the most optimistic distribution expectations due to a nation-wide theater exploitation tie-up. The book is attractively printed in four colors and contains stories, puzzles, cartoons, as well as a specially written song entitled "Aesop and His Movie Fables." For the theater tie-up a specially printed card is being supplied gratis by the publishers of the book to all theaters wishing to take advantage of this novel exploitation idea. The cards have an attractive border composed of the Fables animal characters, with numbers from one to ten. A space is left for the theater name to be filled in and beneath an explanatory paragraph advises that one copy of "Aesop's Movie Fables" will be given free to the holder of the card when same has been punched for ten paid admissions to the theater. —Pathe

February 12, 1931
Harry N. Blair column
"Oh, Mr. Gallagher — Oh, Mr. Shean," which became a world-famous duet, is now being interpreted for the talking screen. Al Shean, the surviving member of the team, has made arrangements to have his tune incorporated in one of the Paramount Screen Songs made by Max Fleischer.

February 18, 1931
Two New Fleischer Cartoons
Two new Max Fleischer song cartoons, one a picturized version of the 1910 song hit called "Any Little Girl That's a Nice Little Girl," and the other based on the Leo Wood song, "Somebody Stole My Gal," will be released soon by Paramount.

Learning from Cartoons
John Foster, chief artist of of the Aesop Sound Fables studios, will explain the methods of animated cartooning at a special meeting of the New York Architectural League at the latter's club tomorrow. The architects claim there is some connection between the "animated graphicfilms" and architecture.

February 18, 1931
Ralph Wilk column
Walt Disney has completed arrangements with Fanchon & Marco whereby a stage unit based on "Mickey Mouse" and his sweetheart, "Minnie Mouse," will be produced and routed over the Fanchon & Marco circuit.

February 25, 1931
Afraid of Ghosts?
Copenhagen—A "Silly Symphony" cartoon comedy, showing dancing skeletons and ghosts in a graveyard, has been banned by the Danish censor on the ground that the exhibition is too macabre.

March 5, 1931
M. J. Mintz Renews Columbia Contract
M. J. Mintz has signed contracts with Columbia for another series of 13 Krazy Kat cartoons for next season.

Walt Disney Opens New York Headquarters
Walt Disney has opened offices in New York, taking over the space at 1540 Broadway formerly occupied by Caddo. Irving Lesser is Eastern representative for Disney. The new offices also will be used as Mickey Mouse Club headquarters, which formerly were on the coast.

March 6, 1931
TWO CARTOON SERIES BEING MADE BY MINTZ
Charles B. Mintz and Jimmy Bronis leave New York for the Coast tomorrow to start production on two series of cartoons for the new season. One group of 13 will be released by Columbia under a renewed contract. Releasing arrangements on the other series have not been definitely set as yet. Mintz will remain at the Coast for four weeks. All subjects from now on will be produced under the trademark of Charles B. Mintz instead of Winkler Pictures, which has been in the short subject production field for the past 15 years.

March 10, 1931
Radio Tie-up For Aesops Fables
A PROMOTION campaign, during which 150,000 Aesops Fables children's books are expected to be circulated has been inaugurated by the Van Beuren Corp. through a series of regular radio broadcasts during the R-K-O "Stage and Screen" noon-day talk each Tuesday, Friday and Saturday over WJZ. Aesop's Fables books will be given to all children sending a ticket stub showing that they have attended a theater playing the cartoon comedy, to either the radio station or R-K-O.—Radio Pictures

March 12, 1931
COMING AND GOING
LEON SCHLESINGER, producer of the "Looney Tunes" Vitaphone shorts, is returning to California after a New York visit of three weeks.

March 13, 1931
COMING AND GOING
DAVE FLEISCHER, song cartoon director, has returned from a trip to the Carribean.

March 22, 1931
Fleischer Studios Expand
An additional floor at 1600 Broadway has been leased by the Fleischer Studios, turning out the "Bimbo" cartoons and "Screen Songs" for Paramount release. In addition to expanding the art staff, more room will be devoted to the research department which carries on experiments with the Fleischer method for synthetic sound.

Phil M. Daly column
Lillian Bleeker, sec to Max Fleischer, is motoring to Miami in a baby Lincoln . . . and it ain't no cartoon car, either

March 26, 1931
25 Amkino Releases for U. S.
Twenty-five Russian features will be distributed in this country during 1931 by Amkino, said President L. I. Monosson yesterday. In addition his company will bring over eight sound shorts, including musical, educational and cartoon subjects.

March 29, 1931
NEW RKO SHORTS SERIES BEING MADE BY VAN BEUREN
A new series of 13 cartoon comedies for RKO release will be made by the Van Beuren Corp. for 1931-32, in addition to 26 Aesop Fables cartoons now being produced by Van Beuren for RKO Pathe. This series will replace the "Toby the Pup" cartoons, which will be discontinued along with the "Humanettes", the latter to be supplanted by 13 novelty shorts also of Van Beuren make.

Cartoon: by Television
Three animated cartoons used by the N. Y. State Health Department were broadcast by television last night through the De Forest station, W2XCD, Passaic, N. J. Music accompanied the pictures. Sight was transmitted on 2035 kilocycles and sound on 1604 kilocycles, with the range of the stations extending beyond the Mississippi River and from the Gulf of Mexico into Canada. Two similar broadcasts will take place April 6 and 13.

April 1, 1931
DISNEY SUES TO STOP OTHER MOUSE CARTOONS
West Coast Bureau, THE FILM DAILY
Los Angeles—Walt Disney Productions, acting for Mickey Mouse, has filed suit against Pathe and Van Beuren Corp. seeking an injunction to prevent the defendants from further using animated cartoon characters "in any variation so nearly similar as to be mistaken" for the original Mickey and his side-kick. Minnie. The petitioner demands an accounting, damages and surrender of all profits made on the alleged imitations. In the Disney action, which is supported by several affidavits, contention is made that Mickey's alleged double is doing all sorts of things Mickey wouldn't think of doing and has brought down a flood of irate letters and complaints.

April 2, 1931
Walt Disney to Prosecute All "Mouse" Infringers
West Coast Bureau, THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Walt Disney intends to prosecute all producers who are infringing on his Mickey Mouse rights, he said yesterday. In connection with his injunction action against Van Beuren and Pathe, a hearing is scheduled for April 13, when the defendants must show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be granted.

April 3, 1931
Says Van Beuren Mouse Came Before Disney's
Answering newspaper reports of a suit being instituted by Walt Disney Productions against Pathe Exchange and the Van Beuren Corp. over the Mickey Mouse character, Amedee J. Van Beuren yesterday issued the following statement:
"The only information we have thus far received that such action is pending is contained in articles in the papers. In my judgment the action is entirely without merit or foundation. Aesop's Fables created the characters Milton and Mary Mouse at the inception of the company in 1921 and the company has been using them. If there has been any imitation, it would appear to be at the door of Walt Disney Productions, whose characters of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are so similar to ours. As soon as we are served with papers we shall be prepared to defend the action."

April 5, 1931
Fleischer Again Making 52 Cartoons for Para.
Max Fleischer will make 52 cartoon shorts for Paramount's 1931-32 program. Twenty-six will be Talkartoons and the remainder song cartoons. Fleischer produced the same number of shorts for the company's current season schedule.

Phil M. Daly’s column
To date the Van Beuren Corp. has produced 470 subjects including silent and sound, all released through Pathe.

April 6, 1931
Fleischer Again Making 52 Cartoons for Para.
Max Fleischer will make 52 cartoon shorts for Paramount's 1931-32 program. Twenty-six will be Talkartoons and the remainder song cartoons. Fleischer produced the same number of shorts for the company's current season schedule.

April 8, 1931
Schlesinger, Harman-Ising Making 13 Novelty Shorts
West Coast Bureau, THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Leon Schlesinger and the Harman-Ising Studios, producers of "Looney Tunes," will make "Merry Melodies," a series of 13 one-reel subjects. "Lady, Play Your Mandolin" is the first.

April 12, 1931
New York Short Subject Personnel
Audio Cinema, Inc., 2826 Decatur Ave. Producers of Industrial shorts and "Terrytoons." Joe W. Coffman, Pres.
Inkwell Studios, 1600 Broadway. Producers of Inkwell Cartoon series.
McCoroy [sic] Studios, Inc., 110 W. 46th St. Producers of Buster Bear series.
Van Beuren Corp., 1560 Broadway.

MICKEY MOUSE CLUBS SWEEPING THE COUNTRY
Since the first Mickey Mouse Club meeting got under way last November, with approximately 5,000 enthusiastic kiddies joining the club of the Fox Modjeska, Milwaukee, the Mickey Mouse Club movement has swept the country. The movement was brought about as a result of the Disney animated cartoon films, distributed internationally by Columbia. Under the supervision of Manager Joe Kinsky, who because of his efforts in behalf of this first club will handle all Mickey Mouse Clubs in the state of Wisconsin, and E. J. Vaughn of the New York office, the organization of the club, securing sponsors, etc., was completed in less than two weeks.
The mayor of Milwaukee publicly endorsed the policy of the club and urged the parents to have their children become members. This endorsement was secured by Vaughn and Kinsky and will be used to further promote the clubs in other Fox theaters in the Midwesco division. Some of the most prominent members in the city were secured as sponsors. The charge for sponsors was made high enough so that it took in the other Fox theaters in Milwaukee. All de luxe theaters in Milwaukee will have their Mickey Mouse Clubs in full swing in less than one month. After the Milwaukee clubs have been organized, Kinsky will devote his time to placing a club in each of the Fox theaters in the state.
Among the sponsors is the Gridley Dairy Co., largest in the Northwest, who will advertise the Mickey Mouse Club with cards displayed on the sides of 400 milk delivery wagons.They also will distribute enrolment cards in the homes. Another sponsor, the Boston Store, largest merchandising store in the city, will devote their radio broadcasting time over the air to the promotion of the Mickey Mouse Club.

Mickey Mouse Dolls
Mickey Mouse dolls, as big as a sizable baby, are being distributed by exhibs in prize contests and sold by department stores throughout the country, through a tieup made by Irving Lesser in behalf of Walt Disney.

Special Aesop Fable for Music Week
Feeling that a touch of humor will be appreciated by patrons of motion picture theaters during National Music Week, Van Beuren is preparing a special Aesop Fable cartoon reel that will treat this ordinarily serious topic in a lighter vein. It is titled "The Mad Melody." RKO Pathe will release it.

Harry N. Blair column
Phillip A. Scheib, musical director for Audio Cinema has completed the scoring of 37 Terrytoon comedies to date, most of which consist of original compositions.

April 14, 1931
WALT DISNEY REPORTED RELEASING THROUGH U. A.
West Coast Bureau, THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Papers were expected to be signed last night, whereby Walt Disney will release 18 "Mickey Mouse" cartoons and 18 "Silly Symphonies" through United Artists on next season's program.

April 15, 1931
Disney-U.A. Deal for Long Term
Under its deal with Disney, first reported in The Film Daily on Tuesday, United Artists will release the "Mickey Mouse" and "Silly Symphonies" for a term of years, says U. A. in officially announcing the arrangement. Distribution will start in March, 1932. Joe Brandt, president of Columbia, which is now releasing the Disney shorts, announced yesterday that his company still has a contract for an extended period covering the international distribution of these cartoons. New series of both subjects will be on the Columbia program next season, Brandt said.

April 17, 1931
Warners to Produce "Flit" Ad Films
A deal for a commercial animated cartoon advertising "Flit" has been made by Warner Bros, and Stanco Co., manufacturers of the article. Production has started at the Audio Cinema studios with the TerryToon animated cartoon department handling production.

April 19, 1931
Paramount Convention Sidelights
A highlight of an evening session was the showing of a Max Fleischer cartoon, "Paramount on Parade to Zukor's Farm," which wowed the conventioneers. It does some powerful kidding with various Paramount execs depicted.

April 20, 1931
Ralph Wilk column
Making of the "Mickey Mouse" cartoons, released by Columbia, gives work to 70 persons at the Disney Studios. Forty of these are artists who are required to draw from 5,000 to 6,000 separate drawings to make six minutes of Mickey Mouse entertainment on the screen. Walt Disney originated the series in the backyard garage.

April 21, 1931
Ralph Wilk column
CHARLES B. MINTZ, producer of "Krazy Kat," is en route to New York. While in Hollywood he signed new contracts with artists who are employed at his local studio.

April 23, 1931
"Mickey Mouse" To Get NBC Radio Exploitation
For the first time in the history of radio advertising radio programs exploiting a motion picture series of short subjects and sponsored by a national merchandising advertiser, will be put on the air next fall, according to plans now being worked out by Walt Disney, producer of "Mickey Mouse" cartoons, and M. H. Aylesworth, president of the National Broadcasting Co.
The stunt will be in connection with the Mickey Mouse clubs, of which there are about 600 in the country with a goal of 2,000 to be readied before the radio hour is started. 1 he required number of clubs, averaging 1,500 juvenile members each, or a total of 3,000,000 children, are expected to be under way within the next few months as a result of the recent signing of all Publix theaters in New England and the Warner houses in Pennsylvania to permit Mickey Mouse clubs. According to Edward Vaughn, in charge of the club organization for Disney an expansion of the club plan is now under way to take in theaters from coast to coast.

April 30, 1931
Disney Wins Injunction In Mickey Mouse Suit
West Coast Bureau, THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—On motion of Walt Disney Productions, a temporary injunction has been issued by Federal Judge Cosgrave enjoining Pathe and Van Beuren from further distribution of cartoons alleged to be imitations of Mickey and Minnie Mouse pending final hearing of the case. The injunction is preliminary to the million-dollar suit filed by Disney on March 31.

May 1, 1931
Perfect Synchrony in Cartoons Accomplished by New Invention
A new invention, designed to achieve perfect synchrony in animated cartoon subjects, has been perfected by George Rufle, an animator on the staff of Van Beuren's Aesop's Fables cartoon department. The new device, which is now being used by Fables cameramen, consists of a small white ball affixed to the side of the photographic frame. A chart representating various music speeds, or beats per minute, is affixed beneath the ball. Following the selection of the tempo desired by the musical director the cameraman has merely to select the proper chart and move the ball up and down the required distance, according to the chart, each time a frame or exposure is made. When the work is projected on the screen the ball bobs up and down in perfect rhythm with the action or musical score. The ball is photographed on the negative on the space ordinarily reserved for the sound track. For the final print, the ball is masked off the negative and the sound track printed in its place.

21 Star Features, 6 Westerns, on New Pathe Program
Van Beuren will also produce 26 Aesop's Fables, presenting in animated cartoons such famous characters as Milton and Mary Mouse, Don Dog, Flossie Hippo and others.

May 3, 1931
Mickey Mouse Clubs Building Up Tremendous Juvenile Following
An amazing development of the past year along the lines of interesting juvenile attendance at theaters has been the immediate popularity and practical success of Mickey Mouse Clubs, with the resultant increase in child patronage, stamping the idea as unique and of inestimable value not only to producer and distributor, but more forcefully to exhibitors playing the popular Walt Disney cartoons. The plan has taken on such widespread proportions that a 35-page 8 x 10 leaflet has been prepared by Edward Vaughn, in charge of organization, in which every step necessary in the bringing together of the children and the subsequent method of procedure is clearly and minutely outlined.
The primary purpose of the clubs is two-fold. They provide an easily arranged and inexpensive method of securing and holding the patronage of youngsters, and through inspirational, patriotic and character-building phases, they aid children in learning good citizenship, which, they claim, in turn fosters good-will among parents.
A strong appeal is made to the "gang" instinct in children. Through Mickey Mouse Club matinees, usually held at noon Saturdays, practically every house that has tested the idea has reported considerable increase in business that day and also throughout the week when the adult patronage responds to the good will and salesmanship instilled in the children who attend the club matinees and programs. Membership cards and buttons, the Mickey Mouse Club "creed," birthday greetings extending free admission on the child's natal day, a special club cartoon in which Mickey himself calls the youngsters together and speaks to them, and a host of other attractions hold the juvenile patronage.
Working arrangements with local merchants is the greatest factor as an actual business getter for the exhibitor. Following the tie-up, merchants are designated as "official Mickey Mouse merchants" and members are urged to trade with them when possible.
In turn, certain florists have agreed to send flowers to any ailing club member, local bakers present members with a birthday cake on their birthday, dairies have gone so far as to have a black and white sketch of Mickey Mouse printed on their milk and cream bottle tops, drug stores advertise Mickey Mouse sandwiches and malted milk drinks and photographers offer 20 per cent reduction in price for all portraits of members. These are but a few of the local merchant tie-ups perfected and carried out by exhibitors.
For the past two and a half years Fox houses have sponsored the idea and, according to Vaughn, Publix houses in New England and Warner theaters in Pennsylvania will bring the number of clubs to about 2,000, with an average membership of 1,500 children each.
In order to continue the interest, especially among exhibitors on whom the burden of organization and continuation rests, a bulletin is issued twice monthly and sent to all theater managers sponsoring a club. Mickey Mouse books costing 10 cents have been put on the market and a new and large book costing 50 cents will soon make its appearance.

AESOP'S FABLES BOOK, HELPS DRAW THE KIDS
A sure-fire kid attraction for the Aesop's Fables animated cartoon series has been put out by Van Beuren in the form of a book published in cooperation with the Sonnett Publishing Co. titled "Aesop's Movie Fables."
This attractively printed book has been prepared with an appeal to children primarily in mind and is on sale in book stores, department stores and leading chain stores throughout the country.
For theater use specially printed punch cards are furnished gratis with orders for 100 books or more. The cards have 10 numbers inserted in an attractive animal border and are given out to children patronizing the theater. Thereafter each time a child visits a theater with a card, the ticket taker punches a number until 10 admissions have been reached, when the holder of the card is presented with a copy of the Fables Book.

May 4, 1931
"Mickey Mouse" at Roxy
"Mickey Mouse," the Walt Disney cartoon creation, has crashed the world's largest picture palace, the Roxy. The first of these animated drawings to play the big Broadway house is "Traffic Troubles," appearing on the current bill.

May 5, 1931
Television Cartoons
A series of 12 animated cartoons exclusively for television broadcast is being made by the John R. McCrory studios. The drawings, which are in silhouette, will be broadcast daily and nightly by station W2XR operated by Radio Inventions of Long Island City. The first six subjects have been completed.

Phil M. Daly column
• • FOR MONTHS Walt Disney has had students of heraldry working out an appropriate coat of arms for his cartoon creation, Mickey Mouse . . . it will adorn the rodent's new studios in Hollywood . . . a rival cartoon producer suggested the coat of arms consist of nothing but a Piece of Cheese . . . Walt and the gang were very enthusiastic about the idea, till some bright boy opined that there might be a lotta Dirt in the suggestion . . . the fans would soon be referring to the cartoons as the Cheese Productions . . . which wouldn't be so hot . . . but what good is a coat of arms unless there's an organization of fans to make it popular? . . . the Mickey Mouse Club idea for kids is okay . . . but what about the grownups? . . . Mister Disney doesn't realize that he has the swellest proposition for interesting the femme fans of any producer in the film biz . . . tieing up Mice with Wimmen! . . . why, the very novelty of the thought will have the whole nation talking
• • • IT'S ABOUT time that the ladies had their own Order, like the Elks, Lions and Moose that their husbands and brothers belong to . . . the password would be three squeaks . . . the highsign would be jumping up on a chair . . . when meeting on the street, two lady members would lift their skirts and scream . . . this would give all the male witnesses a thrill . . . the scream, we mean, you goof . . . lifting the skirts doesn't mean anything any more . . . already you can see the Idea has great publicity possibilities . . . there's a lotta psychology in back of it . . . the femmes enjoy the Mickey Mouse cartoons as much as the kids . . . why? . . . because for the first time in history they can laugh in Perfect Safety at a mouse . . . and mebbe you think that's just an idle opinion . . . it's a FACT
• • • THIS "SAFETY" psychology, means more to the film biz than the producers realize . . . it's the main reason why wild animal and gangster pix are so fascinating . . . the audience gets the Unique Thrill of not being SCARED at wild animals and gangsters as they sit comfortably in their theater seats . . . that's why Mickey Mouse cartoons are so popular with women . . . else why haven't cartoons exploiting dogs, cats and other animals exercised such a world-wide appeal to women? . . . simple, isn't it? . . . Walt Disney hit on the One Idea that would Fascinate femmes
• • • THE PLAN has other possibilities the . . . Ladies' Ancient Order of Mouse, having lost their age-old fear of rodents, would probably wear mouse costumes when performing the third degree ritual . . . "Who comes here?" . . . "An Amateur Mouse, duly clothed in the very latest model from Paris, made of selected gray mouse skins from Persia, with neck and wrist trimmings of white mouse from Japan" . . . by simply injecting the Fashion Note into the scheme, is there a flapper or matron could resist joining the Order? . . . don't be silly . . . there'd be a waiting list for every Lodge . . . and next autumn the Fifth Avenue shops would be displaying nothing but fur creations of selected mouse skins . . . a New Industry created from a cartoon mouse, b'gosh! Yes . . . Mister Disney, there's more to Publicity Possibilities on a mouse cartoon than meets the eye.

A. J. Bimberg Producing "Buddy Bear" Cartoons
"Buddy Bear," a new cartoon series will soon be put on the market by A. J. Bimberg, producer, and former owner of the 44th St. Studios. Associated with Bimberg is Dr. Hugo Reisenfeld who will write and direct the musical synchronization. Roland G. Edwards will supervise stories, and a cartoon department of 20 men will be established with Eli Bruckner [sic] mentioned as the possible director of animation. Offices have been opened at 1520 Broadway with negotiations under way for both a recording and animated cartoon studio. Release has not as yet been arranged.

May 14, 1931
Vitaphone's New Shorts Being Sold in Series
Vitaphone short subjects for the new season will only be sold in series, according to Harry Rosenquest, assistant general sales manager for Vitaphone.
Rosenquest also announced another cartoon series in addition to the 13 "Looney Tunes" scheduled for next season. The new subjects have been titled “Merry Melodies” and will be sold in a series of 13 one-reelers.

COMEDIES AND CARTOONS, BEING PRODUCED BY UFA
Berlin—A series of comedy shorts, under the direction of Kurt Gerron and starring well-known German comedians, has been started by Ufa. The company also will make a series of sound cartoons.
Rebuilding and enlargement of Ufa's old Templehof Glass studios is now in progress. The plant contains about 10 sets which were equipped for sound in 1929.
Two 2,000-seat theaters, one in Hamburg and the other in Danzig, were recently added to the Ufa circuit.

May 17, 1931
Decker Selling Series Of 26 Cartoon Shorts
John Decker has arrived in New York to arrange distribution on a series of 26 single reel cartoons in which various nationally-known figures are caricatured. He is negotiating with MGM.

May 20, 1931
Mintz Cartoon, "Scrappy" For Columbia Release
"Scrappy" is the title of the new Charles Mintz animated cartoon series, consisting of 13 single reels, to be released by Columbia next season. Central character will be a little boy. There will be some interpolated dialogue, music and sound effects. Dick Huemer will supervise production and write the stories, George Winkler will handle sound effects, Joe De Nat has charge of the music, and Art Davis and Sid Marcus head the animation department.

May 29, 1931
104 Short Subjects On New Columbia List
Among the shorts are 13 Disney's "Micky Mouse," 13 Charles Mintz's “Krazy Kat,” 13 Mintz's "Scrappy" cartoons.

May 31, 1931
Vitaphone will release four organ and song numbers on its current short subject program. The first is entitled "Just A Gigolo" and was produced by Leon Schlesinger, producer of "Looney Tunes." This new series will be known as "organ song-natas."

"Lady, Play Your Mandolin," an animated cartoon produced by Leon Schlesinger, of "Looney Tune" fame, will shortly be released by Vitaphone.

June 2, 1931
Huffman Out to Collect On Cartooning Patents
Denver—Harry E. Huffman, president of the Aladdin and business manager of a holding company controlling the Conkie patents, a system of eliminating guesswork in the synchronizing of animated cartoons, leaves for New York on Thursday to attempt to obtain a settlement from companies using the system.

COMING AND GOING
ROY DISNEY is due in New York about the end of the week from Hollywood.

June 5, 1931
New Cartoon Release in August
"Tom and Jerry," the new series of animated cartoons being made by Van Beuren for RKO, will be ready for release in August.

June 7, 1931
Disney Files Papers in New York
Albany—Walt Disney Productions, Ltd., of Los Angeles, chartered in California laws, has filed certificate statement and designation to permit corporation to do business in New York State.

June 11, 1931
JUVENILE CLUB MOVEMENT STARTED BY EDUCATIONAL
Basing their move on the widespread success of Mickey Mouse clubs, Educational has formulated plans whereby several Terry Tooners Music and Fun clubs for children will be organized immediately. Exhibitor reaction and average membership of the first meetings will decide how far-reaching the organization work will continue throughout the year. Gordon White, publicity director, who devised the plan, is today sending Joe Rivkin to Philadelphia to organize the first club and make local merchant tie-ups. Arrangements have already been made with the Kohner Co., for harmonicas and other children's instruments, and “toy symphony” orchestras will be organized in co-operation with local music teachers and musical instrument manufacturers. It is also planned to carry-on a synchronization contest, whereby each "toy symphony" will compete in the synchronizing of a Terry Toon cartoon, making the record of their efforts on a disc and having selected judges in New York decide upon the best scoring and recording. Rivkin will first visit the de luxe houses, where he will confer with the managers and di -tribute buttons and Other souvenirs to children, as "bait." "Movie Romances" a Chicago motion picture "fan" paper has agreed to run special articles for the Terry Tooners as a circulation builder.

June 12, 1931
NEW INCORPORATIONS
DESIGNATIONS
Walt Disney Productions, California, Ltd., cartoons, motion pictures. 10,000 shares, no par.

June 21, 1931
Andrew J. Briskin Heads New Jersey Studio Unit
Andrew J. Briskin has been elected president of Royal Studio, Inc. . . .
The company's new studio at Grantwood, N. J., opens Aug. 1. . . . Two cartoon and animating departments are being established and an innovation is a television stage.

June 24, 1931
Opening of Royal Studio Scheduled for July 30
Grantwood, N. J.—Formal opening of the Royal studio is planned for July 30 with newspaper, fan magazine and trade paper people present, states President Andrew J. Bremen.
Ned Wayburn, production supervisor, will stage a show including big name talent. Voice tests will be made of many of the guests. First production scheduled at the plant is a series of kiddie pictures which Ned Wayburn will start about Aug. 10. Also planned is a series of seven cartoons using a new character.
Frank S. Amon will produce these, starting about Aug. 15.

June 25, 1931
Oswald Dolls
Universal estimates that at least 500,000 celluloid miniatures of Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit, will be sold through one chain of five and ten cent stores. The doll has also been made in rag and other forms under the guidance of Joe Weil, U exploitation director. Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse also will be the subject of a widely marketed doll next season.

June 25, 1931
Walt Disney Improving
West Coast Bureau, THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Walt Disney is improving following an operation for a throat ailment.



CARTOON REVIEWS

January 4, 1931
"Looney Tunes"
("Ain't Nature Grand")
Vitaphone. 4626 Time, 6 mins.
Pip Song Cartoon
This number, the seventh in the series of these song cartoons, is one of the swellest shorts of the kind to come along. It depicts various antics out in the woods among the birds, bees, flowers, trees, little fish, etc., and contains a load of humorous ingenuity. A little subject full of big laughs.

"The King of Bugs"
Pathe. Time, 9 mins.
Snappy Cartoon
Good atmospheric stuff is injected into this Aesop Fable, with the citizens of Bugville in the days of the knights in arms engaging in a tournament of arms. The spider wins the main running event from the hero Bug, and winds up by socking the King and stealing his lovely daughter! But the hero comes to the escue and vanquishes the spider in a duel. Nicely handled, with comedy sound effects.

January 11, 1931
"A Toytown Tale"
Pathe. Time, 8 mins.
Good Kid Stuff
An Aesop Fable with a different slant, gotten out evidently for the Christmas trade. Shows the old toymaker leaving his shop, and then the various toys come to life, and go through a little love drama, with comedy highlights. Little Boy Blue is the hero, rescuing the girl from the gorilla when the brave captain falls down on the job. Will interest the kids, although the holiday atmosphere is not so timely now.

"Popcorn"
Educational. Time, 7 mins.
Nice Cartoon
A Paul Terry-Toon with the cartoon animals making merry at the fair grounds. The heroine gets herself in difficulties but the hero is always on hand to help her out. The cartoon work is clever and gagged originally, with the incidental music helping a lot. One of the best of this series.

January 18, 1931
"Step On It"
(Publix Commercial Ad Film)
Paramount. Time, 7 mins.
Swell Cartoon
Except for one spoken line, "Why don't you give me the right oil?" followed by a 24-sheet display of a Texaco (Texas Oil Co.) sign, this cartoon short, made by Fletcher studios, has no earmarks of anything but a slick little, piece of entertainment. It shows the fire department being called out on a job. The chief's car has a hard time trying to make its way along the streets. Finally it breaks down completely, at the same time gasping out that it's the fault of the poor oil put in at the "Junkey Motor Oil Station." After the car has been fed with the Texaco stuff it becomes rejuvenated and dances merrily to the scene of the fire, getting there just in time to ride up the side of the building and save the pretty heroine, then continuing up to the moon. A very diverting subject any way you look at it.

"Toby the Miner"
RKO. Time, 6 mins.
Good Cartoon
A Toby-the-Pup number, and easily one of the best so far in this series. Toby appears as a miner and, with his horse, is trapped by an accidental explosion. After a lot of frantic exploring underground. Toby runs into a gang of gnomes, who handle him rather roughly. Finally he makes his escape. A very satisfactory cartoon creation.

"Box Car Blues"
("Looney Tune")
Vitaphone. 4368 Time, 6 mins.
Swell Cartoon
Another swell job by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising, who are turning out this series of song cartoons. Idea, art work, music and action are right up to the high level set by previous numbers from these artists. Will prove a welcome delight on any bill.

"Big Man From the North"
(Looney Tune)
Vitaphone. Time, 7 mins.
Good Cartoon
Another Looney Tune filled with merriment and some good gags. Plenty of snow, ice and much sliding. The animal antics keep a steady pace throughout. Animation is fine with very good synchronization.

January 25, 1931
"Oswald In Mars"
Universal. Time, 6 mins.
Good Fantasy
An Oswald cartoon wherein the rabbit is kicked up to Mars by his rival for the girl's attentions. On this strange planet the hero encounters many strange creatures, until such time as a monster appears and chases him back to earth again. The conceptions of the strange inhabitants of Mars are well worked out and highly imaginative, this being one of the best of the fantastic cartoons yet produced.

"Red Riding Hood"
Pathe. Time, 8 mins.
Good Cartoon
An Aesop Fable with the Red Riding Hood motif, but here grandma gets young and frisky, and elopes with the wolf. Red Riding Hood notifies Missus Wolf, who starts a small war at the altar, leaving grandma sad but safe. The musical effects and funny noises help to keep this one scoring the laughs.

"Oswald In China"
Universal. Time, 6 mins.
Good Animated
A clever Oswald cartoon, with the hero rabbit getting the laughs in a laundry, while the shirts and iron work together like human beings and perform the various laundry operations. But the laundryman returns in time to see Oswald upsetting his joint, and it winds up with a chase sequence, with all the shirts joining in.

Cartune Newsreel
Rudolf Mayer. Time, 10 mins.
Swell Travesty
A corking box-office idea is incorporated in this subject, the first of a series, kidding the news weeklies. It is done in cartoon form and shows Al Smith, Cal Coolidge and other nationally-known figures in various amusing antics. Dialogue is occasionally used and the music and sound effects are competently arranged. The subject ought to click with any type audience.

February 1, 1931
"The Birthday Party"
Columbia. Time, 7 mins.
Okay A Mickey Mouse cartoon in which the animals stage a birthday party, featuring an enormous cake. They go through some clever antics and all in all it is a peppy animated well up to the standard of the Walt Disney series. The harmony and musical effects override the theme and clutter up the cartoon work unnecessarily in spots, but that seems to be the prevailing idea in cartoons until the exhibs or the public register a definite objection.

"Little Trail"
Columbia. Time, 7 mins.
Fair Cartoon
A Krazy Kat cartoon, being a burlesque on the covered wagon theme and the Indians. Krazy Kat is captured by the Indians and starts his harmony and soon has all the wild red men forgetting to scalp him as they join in the jazz melody. Like most of the current cartoons, this one has gone harmony to the extent that the story becomes secondary to the musical effects. But as the current animateds go, on this new system, it is good.

February 8, 1931
"Razzberries"
Educational. Time, 7 mins.
Lively Cartoon
A lively Paul Terry-Toon with the animated animals in a mad scramble of comical escapades in a thoroughly up-to-date manner. The scoring of the music and funny sound effects by Philip Scheib pep it up and make it an entertaining number throughout.

"College"
Universal. Time, 6 mins.
Good Cartoon
An Oswald cartoon, with the rabbit at college as a freshman, where he engages in a cross-country race, his rival for the gal's hand being his principal opponent. But Oswald manages to come in ahead and win the race and the sweetie. Up to the usual standard of the series.

"The Animal Fair"
Pathe. Time, 9 mins.
Average
An exhibition of the usual county fair from the viewpoint of the Aesop Fable cartoon. There is a street parade, a sheriff being "taken" by a con artist, and the usual exhibitions, all done in good animated style. The musical accompaniment enters in to make up most of the fun in the reel.

February 15, 1931
"Cowboy Blues"
Pathe. Time, 8 mins.
Good Animated
A comical travesty on the western bad man, with this Aesop Fable showing Milton Mouse being picked on by th«e bad bandit, who busts his guitar and rides away. Later Milton is in the town saloon visiting his sweetie, when the bandit arrives disguised as an old lady, and sing "Break the News to Mother," ti'l all the repentant cowbovs drop their gats. Then the bandit pulls his guns and rides away with the safe. But Milton Mouse does his hero stuff in a surprising climax, and saves the day—and the safe.

"Quack, Quack"
Educational. Time, 7 mins.
Good Cartoon
This is about the best so far in the Paul Terry-Toons cartoon series. Some fine imaginative quality gone into the construction of the cartoon gags, with an old boy getting his tooth pulled and taking gas. Under the influence of the ether he enjoys some very interesting experience in Dreamland.

February 22, 1931
"Alexander's Ragtime Band"
(Fleischer Song Cartoon)
Paramount. Time, 6 mins.
Swell Song Cartoon
One of the best of the Fleischer song cartoons to date. With the catchingly tuneful Irving Berlin song hit as a basis, a batch of comical antics is presented through the medium of an old dog of a music teacher giving lessons to a comical little pupil. Works up to a nice punch finale. A hit filler for any bill.

"Shipwrecked"
Universal. Time, 6 mins.
Clever Cartoon
A good animated, this Oswald cartoon, being a clever travesty on a shipwreck, with Oswald landing at the bottom of the ocean where he goes through a series of alarming adventures when he encounters a giant fish, who postpones eating him for a couple of hours till he gets real hungry. So Oswald wanders into a sunken ship, discovers a piano in the hold, and commences to play to the delight of the fish family in general. A lot of good imaginative work went into this entertaining cartoon.

"Little Red Riding Hood"
Pathe. Time, 6 mins.
Amusing Cartoon
A Pathe Fable cartoon based on the fairy-book story characters, including the little girl who goes to visit her grandmother, the wolf who beats her to the house and poses as granny, etc. An amusing number of its kind.

March 1, 1931
"Graduation Day in Bugland"
Warner Bros. Time, 9 mins.
Amusing Cartoon Commercial
Animated cartoon produced for the manufacturers of Listerine. Shows a little girl having a dream about the hordes of germs that fill the air and get into the mouth. When she wakes up, scared and crying, mother brings her the Listerine, which the girl gargles and thereby kills the germs. The short is entertaining all the way and, at the showing caught, the audience seemed to get a surprise kick at the end when it discovered that the comedy was a Listerine ad.

"Radio Racket"
Pathe. Time, 7 mins.
Cartoon Kidding
An Aesop Fable with the jungle animals listening in on a radio concert. The temperamental hippo goes prima donna with some disastrous results to the radio set when the audience objects to the programme. Good kidding on the radio singers. The cartoon work is peppy and the sound effects add to the comedy values.

March 8, 1931
"Rodeo Dough"
Columbia. Time, 8 mins.
Good Cartoon
Krazy Kat cartoon starts with a swing and carries on at a good pace throughout. The gags are clever and the animal antics laughable. A song by a Hebrew cowboy and another by Krazy's sweetheart are well done and excellently animated and synchronized. Although laughed at by the animal cowboys on the ranch, Krazy rides and tames the wildest steed at the rodeo much to the delight of his girl friend who sings "Pony Boy" to him from the grandstand.

Toby the Pup in "Down South"
RKO. Time, 7 mins.
Funny
All hands have done a fine job with this cartoon comedy. Animation, photography and gags are of the first class. Plenty of cute stuff with Toby and his little sweetheart in a down south setting. Two or three neat little songs help the fun along. Synchronization doesn't miss a beat.

"The Explorer"
(Terry-Toon)
Educational. Time, 7 mins.
Good Animated
The hero goes on an exploration trip to the North Pole, and has some diverting adventures negotiating for the purchase of the Pole before he finally succeeds in bringing it back as a souvenir of his trip. Done in the usual clever Paul Terry manner, with the incidental music helping to put over the comedy antics.

March 15, 1931
"The Farmer"
Universal. Time, 7 mins.
Good Animated
An Oswald cartoon, with the funny rabbit down on the farm doing chores for Peg-leg, his rival for the affections of the dairy maid. At a barn dance, Oswald and the maid get too chummy to suit Peg-leg. The harmonious accompaniment of the orchestra, "Listening to the Mocking Bird," furnishes funny atmosphere for a bout between Oswald and his rival, finishing with the big stiff taking the count and listening to the mocking bird.

"Laughing Gas"
M-G-M. Time, 7 mins.
Smart Cartoon
A snappy cartoon created by Ub Iwerks with Flip the Frog doing his stuff as a dentist at work on a hippopotamus. The doc has to use rlvnamite to blast the tooth eventually, but before that happens he gives the patient gas, and the cartoons show the jazz dream the hipp goes on. A clever animated with plenty of laughs.

"Clowning"
Educational. Time, 7 mins.
Neat Cartoon
A Paul Terry-Toon in which the hero, as a clown, enters into some romantic adventures and eventually traps the villain in the dungeon of castle and rescues the fair heroine. The cartoon work is picturesque and imaginative, and the accompanying harmonies are in the usual high-grade manner of Philip Scheib's orchestra.

March 22, 1931
"Ups and Downs"
(Looney Tune)
Vitaphone. 8 Time, 7 mins.
Breezy Cartoon
A peppy little cartoon, with the dog entering his mechanical horse in the grand sweepstakes and beating the other animal-riders by a head. Animated work is very ingenious and gags smart and funny.

March 29, 1931
"Sing, Sing, Song"
Educational. Time, 7 mins.
Lively Cartoon
Done in the modern gangster-picture manner, the animals stage a jail break, and go through many exciting adventures. But the hero and his pal who were the ring-leaders finish in an explosion that blows them right back into the jail yard, in time to join in the chorus of the jolly jail song telling how happy they are to be with their alma mater. The catchy tunes keep this one lively and snappy throughout.

"Ace of Spades"
(Talkartoon)
Paramount. Time, 6 mins.
Good Cartoon
Right up to the high standard of the Fleischer cartoon product. Bombo [sic], playing the part of a card sharp, enacts his comicalities at a card game. Song numbers are in a Negro spiritual vein. Whole job is well handled, and the subject should click anywhere. [Note: Screen capture courtesy of Tom Stathes.]

April 5, 1931
"Toby's Halloween"
RKO. Time, 6 mins.
Excellent Cartoon
Another highly amusing Winkler cartoon creation in which Toby the Pun disports in a Halloween setting. Spooks and witches participate in the lively activities, which are accompanied by the customarily appropriate music.

April 12, 1931
"The Fireman's Bride"
Educational. Time, 7 mins.
Lively Cartoon
A Paul Terry-Toon cartoon featuring the hero in the fire department, and rescuing the heroine in his own novel manner from the flames. This is a lively animated, pepped up with a lot of droll antics, with incidental music that heightens the comedy effects.

"The Fireman"
Universal. Time, 6 mins.
Nice Cartoon
A fair Oswald cartoon, with the funny rabbit taking his girl to the firemen's picnic, and having a lot of trouble with the girl's little brother, who insisted on butting in. Introduces the nursery rhyme of the Three Blind Mice in a clever sequence.

"Cinderella Blues"
RKO Pathe. Time, 8 mins.
Cartoon Fun
An Aesop Fable, with the Cinderella story as the theme. Cinderella is magically outfitted by the fairy for the ball at the prince's palace, and on the way home he follows her in modern style in an airplane and they start on their honeymoon. A fair cartoon, that is made for the kids.

April 19, 1931
"The Old Hokum Bucket"
RKO Pathe. Time, 7 mins.
Fine Cartoon
An Aesop Fable in the barnyard locale with the slick city salesman selling the farmer magic pills to put life in the broken down animals on the farm. This is a swell gag for cartoon purposes, and the results are laughable and cleverly handled. The cartoon work is exceptionally good.

"Betty Co-ed"
Paramount. One reel
Entertaining Staff
This Max Fleischer Song Cartoon packs much entertainment. Rudy Vallee and his band play through the piece and the crooner himself appears a few moments to sing part of "Co-Ed." Verses of the song arc flashed on the screen with the bounding ball marking time. The cartoon antics of Betty and the collegiates are amusing.

May 3, 1931
"The Mad Melody"
RKO Pathe. Time, 7 mins.
Laugh Cartoon
Here is one of the best of the recent cartoon comics, with Professor Lion writing on opera based on steals from all the classic compositions. He gives a recital for all the other animals at the Opera House, and the stage presentation is full of funny gags, with a wow climax as the piano gets sore at the pounding, and knocks the Professor for the count.

"The Sultan's Cat"
Educational. Time, 9 mins.
Good Animated
This issue in the Paul Terry-Toon cartoon series is cleverly animated and rates among the best of these releases. Terry on this occasion has cast old Farmer Al in the role of the Sultan, who when his sleep is disturbed by his romantic cat, heaves puss into a well. Al returns to slumberland, and it is at this point that the versatility of Terry's pen is revealed, as it takes friend Sultan for a crazy nightmare ride through the spirit world with many humorous situations being evolved. Incidental music and sound effects are effectively introduced.

"Sunny South"
Universal. Time, 7 mins.
Peppy Cartoon
Oswald plays the part of the hero coming back to his home town in Dixie. There is a lot of excitement on the railroad trip, with a cow getting on the track and making things uncomfortable for the engineer. Finally the train reaches the home town, and Oswald is received by a band, his sweetie, and the mayor. Winds up with a funny gag with watermelon seeds that spoil a nice cake walk dance.

May 10, 1931
"Traffic Troubles"
(Mickey Mouse)
Columbia. Time, 7 mins.
Funny
The traffic problem is well handled by Mickey in this humorous release. Walt Disney has gathered a score of new and novel gags that are sure-fire laugh-getters. Mickey starts out as a taxi driver but finds travel somewhat difficult with a large hog as his fare. The action is fast and the synchrony and effects well done.

"The Bum Bandit"
(Talkartoon)
Paramount. Time, 6 mins.
Okay
Quite a bit of talk in this animated cartoon subject showing Bimbo pulling off a train robbery only to discover that his wife, Dangerous Nan McGraw, is one of the passengers. A conflict follows, and she comes out victor. The idea, art work and synchronization are excellent. However, inclusion of considerable dialogue, with a corresponding decrease in action, detracts somewhat from the effectiveness of this type of short.

May 17, 1931
"Country Doctor"
Universal. Time, 7 mins.
Misses
An Oswald cartoon, centered around doings in the old schoolhouse. What this lacks, like most of the current crop of cartoons, is story interest. Even a mere thread of an idea would help carry it, but this has none. Several of the gags are in bad taste, and not the kind for nice kiddies to absorb. Especially the closing bit, which concerns the sort of thing they don't talk about in nice society.

May 24, 1931
"The Fly Guy"
RKO Pathe. Time, 7 mins.
Fair
A pleasing Aesop's Fable, with a funny bug as the hero doing his goofy antics in the usual routine insect cartoon. The musical theme is stressed as usual, at the expense of the "them," which is very slight. The cartoon work is funny, and it rates about the average of the current crop of animateds.

May 31, 1931
"2000 B.C"
Educational. Time, 7 mins.
Nice Cartoon
A Paul Terry-Toon, with the locale placed 'way back in the prehistoric period, and the Adam and Eve stuff being pulled a la the Stone Age. The loving couple make love to each other with rocks, with little love words carved on them, such as the German "Fur Mich" (for me). And when Romeo gets that rock love note, he knows he has had something. It's lively, with good cartoon gags, and done with appropriate incidental music and sound effects.

June 7, 1931
"Blues"
Educational. Time, 7 mins.
Novelty
A Terry-Toon cartoon, with darkies as the animated figures, doing a typical Alabama Blues. The boy friend hotfoots it back to his mammy in the sunny south, with all the typical darky atmosphere and the syncopated jazz as musical accompaniment. A variation on the animal routine that should be somewhat of a novelty in the cartoon field.

"Play Ball"
RKO Pathe. Time, 7 mins.
Lively Cartoon
An Aesop Fable, is in the current spirit of the baseball season, and therefore a very timely number. The elephants play the ostriches, and pull all the well known baseball tricks in trying to defeat each other. Finally Oscar Ostrich, the outfielder, swallows the ball on a high fly, and while his teammates are trying to recover it, the elephants score a few dozen runs and win the game. Good lively cartoon.

June 14, 1931
"The China Plate"
Columbia. Time, 7 mins.
Excellent Novelty
Entertainment for both juvenile and adult audiences is to be found in this Walt Disney Silly Symphony. Novelty rather than humor is the keynote. It has to do with a young fisherman who falls for a Chinese maiden. Her irate dad tries to kill the young man but finally a dragon, equipped with fire-producing apparatus, gobbles up pop. It's real and different entertainment all the way.

"The Bandmaster"
Universal. Time, 6 mins.
Poor
An Oswald cartoon with the rabbit leading a jazz orchestra, and winding up trying to entertain a baby hippo. There is little sequence to the reel, and it is made up of a series of musical gags, with all the emphasis placed on trying to get cartoon stuff to build the harmony. Consequently it has little interest as a cartoon, and the cartoon work is below par. The gags have been done so many times in other animateds, that this resembles a hodgepodge of a dozen that have gone before it.

Flip the Frog in "Ragtime Romeo"
M-G-M. Time, 6 mins.
Okay
Though it contains nothing of an outstanding nature, this cartoon comedy is a passably entertaining number of its kind. Shows Flip out serenading his sweetie. The musical antics arouse the neighbors and there is some gay disporting by the whole gang in the yard. But at the height of the joyous affair an old cow sends for the cops and Flip is given a ride in the wagon.

"Bimbo"
Paramount. Time, 7 mins.
Classy Cartoon
A Max Fleischer Talkartoon. Bimbo is a detective, a la Sherlock Holmes, who is called in to solve the mysterious death of Mr. Goldfish. It's very clever and original, and carries a real plot and continuity—about the only series of cartoons, by the way, which does so at the present writing The others have gone mostly musical. Bimbo solves the crime, pinning it on the Cat, who appears like an enormous gorilla. Cartoon work is technically in a class by itself. And the laughs are there plenty. About the best cartoon we have caught in a blue moon.

Mickey Mouse in "The Moose Hunt"
Columbia. Time, 8 mins.
Swell
Right up to the high average of the Mickey Mouse cartoon series. As the title implies, the antics in this case have to do with a moose hunt. Mickey is accompanied by a flea-bitten hound and there is a lot of comedy business dealing with the search for a moose and the failure of the gun to go off when the animal is at bay. There is a fast chase finish, with Mickey and the hound coming out winners after a narrow escape. Art work and music excellent.

June 21, 1931
"Fisherman's Luck"
RKO. Pathe Time, 8 mins.
Good Cartoon
A good fantastic cartoon from the Aesop Fable factory. The hero puppy goes fishing, lands down at the bottom of the ocean when a giant fish carries him there on its back, and is introduced to the mermaid daughter. When the session is over, the father fish brings him back to shore, and the hero thinks it is all a dream, till the mermaid comes up from the ocean and joins him. The cartoon work is well executed, and the incidental music adds to the comedy effects.

June 28, 1931
"Wot a Night"
Radio. Time, 7 mins.
Good Cartoon
A Tom and Jerry cartoon, that follows a little different formula than the usual cartoon. It carries a story, with the two pals getting into a haunted castle, and undergoing a series of adventures quite fantastic, and ingeniously worked out. Getting away From the usual animal characters in the cartoon is a relief, and this one ought to go over good.

"By the Sea"
Educational. Time, 8 mins.
Snappy Cartoon
A Paul Terry Toon that is bright and cheerful, with hero mouse getting into all sorts of difficulties with villain dog, and of course there is the usual "heart" which both of them go for in a big way. It has a funny fishing sequence with clever animation gags that brings the laughs.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Not That Screwy Squirrel

Two cartoon directors in Hollywood got screwed. One was Don Patterson, who showed his capabilities at the cost-conscious Walter Lantz studio, but never got another shot at directing after Tex Avery arrived. The other was Art Davis, whose unit was deemed superfluous and decimated at Warner Bros. Davis had a couple of good animators, two great storymen (who developed after they left the studio), and was able to revive a virtually dead Porky Pig and turn him back into an amusing character.

One of Davis’ lesser-known delights is “Porky Chops” where the pig takes on a heckling squirrel from Flatbush. It’s the cartoon where the squirrel removes the blade from Porky’s axe, and the pig responds with the line “Gee, you don’t have to fly off the handle like that.”

Here are a couple of drawings from one of the takes.



There’s even a better take by the squirrel later in the cartoon. It’ll appear in a future post.

Artie, you got screwed.

The credited animators are Emery Hawkins, Bill Melendez, Don Williams and Basil Davidovich.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

What's Clobberin'

“Inconsistency” describes the Walter Lantz cartoons of the early ‘50s. Even within a cartoon, characters can be rubbery in one scene, drawn with thick ink-lines in the next one and rendered fluidly in the next one. None of them are animated as well as the cartoons before Lantz closed his studio temporarily at the end of the ‘40s and lost great talent like Ed Love, Fred Moore, Pat Matthews and Ken O’Brien.

One somewhat rubbery scene is in “What’s Sweepin’,” directed by Don Patterson, where Woody clobbers a shop owner and Wally Walrus (both voiced by Dal McKennon). Here’s an in-between before Wally’s hit. No speed lines or smears; just Woody stretched a bit to indicate speed and gravity.



Here’s an extreme from a little bit earlier in the scene. Wally’s off-balance and cross-eyed in the background, like something out of a Terrytoon.



The scene’s partly animated on twos. Paul J. Smith, La Verne Harding and Ray Abrams get the animation credits.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Good of the Act

“Progress” was society’s watchword for the longest time and once something new was embraced, the old was discarded quickly. In 1955, everyone looked ahead to flying cars and kitchens that made instant food. They didn’t look back. Modern home entertainment meant television. Radio was a thing of the past, even though the networks were still broadcasting. Silent films were positively ancient, a product of those Stone Age days way, way back—a whopping 30 years earlier. How attitudes change. Today, the past is the present. You can turn on one of those obsolete radios and hear music from not just 30 but 40 years ago. In 1955, no one was listening to singing stars of 40 years before like Alma Gluck and John McCormack.

So it was in the mid ‘50s that vaudeville was considered a dusty memory. A pleasant one, though. Grumpy Fred Allen left the impression in his book Much Ado About Me that the tedious grind of touring small towns for next-to-no pay was the best time he had in show business. George Burns looked back on his vaudeville years with bemusement. They were among a comparatively select few who made it to the top.

So were the team of Smith and Dale. Remarkably, they were still performing long after vaudeville was dead. The Associated Press caught up with them in 1955.

Comedy Team For 57 Years
Famous Members Of Avon Four
By BOB THOMAS

HOLLYWOOD, May 25 (AP) — The battling comedy teams of today can take a lesson from Smith and Dale, who have been creating laughs together for 57 years.
Comedians like Abbott and Costello and Martin and Lewis have suffered splits and dissensions which have placed strains on their careers. Smith and Dale can show them how two men can live and work together in a highly competitive business and still get along.
No vaudeville fan needs to be told who Smith and Dale are. But to the younger generation, it can be explained that they were the more famous members of the Avon Comedy Four.
Some years ago, Variety polled veteran stars on which were the best acts of the vaude era. The majority placed the Avon Comedy Four at the top of their lists. Their most famous routine is the zany Dr. Kronkite sketch.
Smith and Dale are getting belly laughs with Dr. Kronkite nightly at a night club called the Bandbox. Their audiences have included such fans as Jack Benny, Dan Dailey, Frank Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson, George Burns and George Stevens.
The veteran pair was relaxing in the sun at their Hollywood hotel and reminiscing about their career.
"I'll tell you why we've never split up," said Joe Smith, who is 71, powerfully built, and hawknosed with a dapper mustache. "We've had our fights in the dressing room and listeners say 'Oh-oh, this is the end of the team.'
"But we never carry our disagreements out of theater. Whenever we argue, it's for the good of the act. There's no jealousy over who gets laughs."
"That's right," added Charley Dale, almost 74, a wry-looking fellow with heavy-lidded eyes and a fighter's nose. "That's what breaks most teams up. One of them wants to be an individualist. You can't think about laughs for yourself alone. You've got to think about the good of the act."
Some teams, for instance Olson and Johnson, figure they will get along better by remaining apart offstage. But Smith and Dale don't hold to this.
"When we're traveling, we always stay at the same hotel." said Smith. In New York, we usually see each other every day. If we don't, we're talking on the telephone. We're both Masons and members of the Lambs Club."
"He's stuck with me," laughed Dale," and I couldn't get along without him."
This has been going on since 1898, when they met and combined forces in show business. Their long pairing is a record in anybody's book. They've been doing "Dr. Kronkite" since 1906. As Smith says, "If the number of times we have one it were laid end to end, it would be endless." They've peformed it in every medium from vaude to video.
How do they retain their zest for the sketch?
"We never do the same routine twice," explained Smith. "The other night I threw in a line about Medic.' Got a big laugh."
"The sketch is wonderful," said Dale. "Some of the lines are still so funny to me that I can hardly keep a straight face."
It's apparent that Dr. Kronkite must have rejuvenating powers, Because both Smith and Dale look 20 years younger than they are. Their hair is scarcely gray, and they have the enthusiasm of show biz newcomers. While here, they're discussing plans to film their life stories.


The most interesting part of the story is the attitude that Smith and Dale had toward their audience. They were entertainers so the audience came first. They set aside their personal feelings because the show must go on. Considering the self-indulgent, self-important nature of stars today, perhaps they should look back at the attitudes of the past.