Sunday, 6 March 2016

Tralfaz Sunday Theatre – Tom Schuler, Cobbler Statesmen

This edition of Tralfaz Sunday Theatre features one of those Commie-hunting era cartoons that waves the American flag. A number of them were made by John Sutherland Productions for right-wing groups, but this one was made by someone else for the U.S. Information Service.

“Tom Schuler – Cobbler Statesman” doesn’t have any credits (the ending features the Screen Cartoonists Guild bug) but Graham Webb’s The Animated Film Encyclopedia came up with some and a pretty good mix of people worked on this. The cartoon was made by Sketchbook Film Productions; perhaps some information about the company will come to light.

The cartoon was directed by Dick Lundy, the ex-Disney animator who went on to direct at Lantz and MGM in the ‘40s. The story was by Bill Scott, best known for Rocky and Bullwinkle, but a somewhat unwilling spinmeister at Sutherland for several years. The animators were Ray Patterson, Grant Simmons, Mike Lah, Osmond Evans and Stan Walsh. The first three were at MGM; Patterson and Simmons left for Walter Lantz and then worked out a deal with Robert Lawrence in mid-1954 to open their own studio. Lah and Walsh were principals in Quartet Films, a commercial outfit, while Evans had been at UPA with Scott. Curt Perkins was responsible for backgrounds while Michel Perrier wrote the score.

The narration is by one of the greats of radio, Marvin Miller, who also freelanced for Sutherland and UPA.

Variety of April 28, 1955 reveals:
U.S. State Dept. is dubbing the 30 minute documentary, "Tom Schuler—Cobbler Statesman," in 16 languages for distribution abroad, Sketchbook Film Productions, which made film for U.S.I.A. release in Germany, disclosed yesterday. Pic copped a certificate of merit at 1954 Edinburgh Film Festival, and a similar citation by 1955 Golden Reel Film Festival of Film Council of America earlier this month in NY.
Subject deals with an immigrant cobbler during drafting of the American Constitution.
It’s a half hour long, so you may not want to sit through the whole thing. Unfortunately, this isn’t a restored version.

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