Saturday, 27 May 2017

Cartoons in Theatres, 1961

Short subjects fought a losing battle in the 1960s. They were still being shown at movie theatres but their heyday was long past (it could be argued that shorts fared better before sound came in). And by 1970, they were almost extinct.

In 1961, distributors were still sending cartoons, newsreels, sportsreels and travelogues to theatres. The cartoons had a big advantage over the others. New releases could later be sold to television for a profit. Old ones could be cobbled together for a kiddie Saturday matinee “carnival” or run in connection with a G-rated feature.

Boxoffice magazine still had a Short Subjects Spotlight edition in 1961, gamely trying to convince the movie houses (and, perhaps, producers) that people really wanted to watch reruns of old Candid Microphone shorts. And there were some new things at theatres—Gene Deitch’s Tom and Jerry cartoons had been produced, while Paramount promoted a two-reel cartoon, Abner the Baseball.

Here’s what the magazine had to say about various shorts coming soon to a theatre near soon in its November 27th edition. Photos and publicity drawings accompanied the stories but we’ll only reproduce the ads which, I suspect, were the reason Boxoffice had a special Shorts edition in the first place. Some non-cartoon items have been omitted.

Wide Variety of Subjects In Columbia's Lineup
“Today’s ‘shopping-customer’ will go to the motion picture theatre, and will continue to go only if a full effort has been made to provide him with his money’s worth in terms of a well-balanced program of judiciously selected features and short subjects,” according to Maurice Grad, Columbia’s short -subjects sales manager. ...
Highlighting the one-reel color cartoons is the popular “Loopy de Loop” series, created by the Academy-Award winning team of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Other one-reel color cartoons will be the two-time Academy Award winner, “Mr. Magoo,” in eight of his favorites, and 15 selections from some of the company’s Cream of the Crop of past years.

First New Tom & Jerrys In 3 Years From MGM
After a three-year halt, new Tom and Jerry cartoons are being produced once again for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer — with 11 new subjects on the release schedule for 1961-62. In recent seasons, the MGM Tom and Jerry lineup has consisted of reissues of the most popular of the subjects in the series.
Three of the subjects already have been placed in release — “Switchin’ Kitten,” “Down and Outing” and “Greek to Me-ow,” all in Metrocolor. The Tom and Jerrys have proven so popular, both in this country and abroad, that many theatres regularly book festivals exclusively devoted to subjects featuring these two animated characters.
The cartoons are being released through an arrangement with Rembrandt Films of New York, of which William L. Snyder is the president and Gene Deitch the creative director. Both have had wide experience in the animated cartoon field, Snyder having produced, among others, “Munro,” an Academy Awards nominee, and Deitch having served as creative director for Terrytoons.

'Abner' Story of a Baseball, Prime Paramount Entry
With the current shortage of feature product in today’s markets, shrewd exhibitors are surrounding their feature programs with the most attractive short subjects obtainable in order to cultivate a continuous flow of patronage and maintain a well-balanced show, says Howard Minsky, Paramount’s assistant general sales manager and executive in charge of shorts sales.
“The essential values in a company’s short subject program to increase exhibitor patronage is best summed up in these important subject matter requirements: timeliness, variety and action — with color an additional strong plus factor. Opinions from leading exhibitors on the most desirable type of short subjects patrons prefer almost invariably revealed cartoons leading all other divisions with sports, travel shorts and novelty films running closely behind,” he said. For its current program of short subjects, Paramount will have available a brighter, newer array of 40 assorted short subjects encompassing a wide variety of colorful subjects “geared to meet any and every showman’s program requirements.”
The 1961-62 lineup is composed of the following: A two-reel cartoon special, “Abner, the Baseball,” which documents the life of a major league baseball from the time it is stuffed and stitched in a factory to the time it gets the stuffing clobbered out of it on the diamond. This subject was shown to various baseball writers as well as major league clubs. Phil Rizzuto, baseball radio commentator, declared it “one of the funniest pictures about baseball I have ever seen.”
There will be 20 other colorful cartoons of four series each: seven Noveltoons including “Munro,” a cartoon gem which won this year’s Academy Award; “Turtle Scoop,” “Kozmo Goes to School” and “Perry Popgun”; seven Modern Madcaps consisting of “The Plot Sickens,” “Crumley Cogwheel” and “Popcorn and Politics”; six Comic Kings with “Mouse Blanche” and “Hits and Runs” now ready and the following six Popeye Champions: “Fireman’s Brawl,” “Toreadorable,” “The Ace of Space,” “Shaving Mugs,” “Taxi Turvy” and “Floor Flusher.”

Universal Has 36 in Color One Black, White Subject
Acting on the premise that short subjects are continuing to form a more important part of a theatre’s programming. Universal again will offer a varied program of 36 shorts in color and one in black and white during the 1961-62 selling season.
F. J. A. McCarthy, assistant general sales manager in charge of short subjects distribution, said that the increase in output effected last year by Walter Lantz would be continued during 1961-62, with Lantz making 19 new color cartoons for release, augmented by seven rereleases of Woody Woodpecker subjects.

Terrytoons Winning Favor On Film Festival Front
For exhibitors booking Terrytoon cartoons, William Weiss, vice-president and general manager of CBS’s Terrytoon division, has a few suggestions that should help create more public interest in the subjects.
“The nature of the pictures we currently have in distribution provides the alert and aggressive exhibitor with a great opportunity to point out with pride that the Terrytoons releases he is now receiving have been selected for showing this year at the world’s best known film festivals. He should point out to his local Parent Teachers Ass’n, his local school administrators and to any other educational group in his community, that Terrytoons cartoons featuring Hector Heathcote, Hashimoto San and Silly Sidney were seen in the Cannes, Berlin, Moscow, Locarno, Edinburgh, Cork, San Francisco and Mexico festivals; in fact, were requested to be shown at these festivals by those in charge. He should also point out that at the Venice Film Festival, “Drum Roll,” featuring Hector Heathcote, won first prize in the children’s category,” Weiss said.
“By promoting the quality of these Terrytoons films, the alert and aggressive exhibitor can help his continuing drive to bring children back to the movie theatres. Also, because of the current lack of full-length films for the entire family, the alert and aggressive exhibitor can put together a Terrytoons cartoon festival of his own that he would be proud to invite the family unit to attend,” he said.
Weiss said the Terrytoon studio is working on two new series with new characters, which will be available some time next year.

Union Film Distributors, releasing organization of Kingsley International, will offer eight new short subjects for the 1962 season, in addition to 11 now in release. The new subjects consist of “Two Men and a Wardrobe,” a Polish live-action film; “Children of the Sun,” a cartoon; “A Bowl of Cherries,” from Greenwich Village; “Rembrandt,” the story of the artist’s life as told through his paintings; “A Chairy Tale,” about the revolt of a kitchen chair; “Return to Glennascaul,” a ghost story with Orson Welles; “Romance of Transportation,” a cartoon novelty, and “Life with Caesar,” a comedy.

Lester Schoenfeld Offers 14 Shorts in New Season
Lester A. Schoenfeld Films will offer 14 short subjects during 1962. The subjects cover cartoons, art, travel, adventure, sports, nature and military — with running times ranging from ten to 30 minutes.
Titles of the lineup are:
“The Colombo Plan,” art cartoon; “The Queen’s Visit to Nepal,” travel-adventure; “An Oscar for Signor Rossi,” art cartoon; “A Date With Gulienne,” travel; “Sicilian Memories,” travel; “Champs of Sport,” sports; “Springtime in England,” nature; “Aran of the Saints,” travel; “Down Killarney Way,” travel; “Northwest Horizons,” travel: “State Opening of Parliament,” art; “Safari South,” travel; “Edinburgh Tattoo,” military, and “Three’s Company,” travel. All are in color except “Champs of Sport.” The sole Cinemascope subject is “State Opening of Parliament.”

Laurel & Hardy Cartoons
The famous comedy team of Laurel & Hardy will again be seen on the world’s screens, in a series of two-reel animated cartoons to be produced by Larry Harmon. The subjects will be produced for both television and theatrical showing, but films made for theatres will not be available for television.

1961-62 Shorts Lineup, Company by Company

Buena Vista
One seven-minute Goofy short ; three Donald Ducks, including one 28-minute subject; two live-action featurettes, and groups of cartoon and live-action reissues.

Six two-reel color travel featurettes, a new series; a group of new Loopy de Loop cartoons; eight Mr. Magoo reissues; eight Three Stooges reissues; 12 reissues of two-reel comedies under Assorted Favorites and Comedy Favorites banners; 15 Cream of the Crop cartoon reissues; ten World of Sports one-reelers; six Candid Camera re-issues.

Eleven new Tom and Jerry color cartoons; 104 issues of News of the Day.

Kingsley-Union Films
Eight new subjects, encompassing a variety of subjects, mostly imports, plus 11 subjects already in release.

Forty subjects — one two-reel cartoon special, seven Noveltoons, seven Modern Madcaps, six Popeye Champions, six Sports in Action, two two-reel specials in color, plus cartoon favorites.

Lester A. Schoenfeld
Fourteen subjects, encompassing cartoons, art, travel, sports and other subjects.

20th Century-Fox
Twelve color CinemaScope short subjects, encompassing national defense, national progress, sports, music and travel ; four subjects in a new series, “Amazing But True,” a believe-it-or-not type of subject, plus a selection of new Terrytoons and reissues of popular Terrytoons of the past.

Nineteen new Walter Lantz Cartunes; seven Woody Woodpecker rereleases; two two-reel specials (travel) ; eight one-reelers in color; Football Highlights of 1961; and 104 reissues of Universal-International News.

Warner Bros.
Three two-reel Worldwide Adventure Specials; six one-reel Worldwide Adventure specials; 16 Merrie Melodie-Looney Toon cartoons; 13 Blue Ribbon cartoon reissues.

By the end of the decade, there were still short subjects around—just fewer and fewer of them. As for cartoons, Walter Lantz and DePatie-Freleng were the only studios still producing new shorts, Terrytoons was putting TV cartoons (like the Mighty Heroes’ The Toy Man) on the big screen, Warners had ended production with the release of Injun Trouble on Sept. 6, 1969 but was reissuing old shorts, as was Disney. Not that I saw them. The local theatre was torn down. No one was going to the movies. They were watching TV instead.

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