Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Cave Man

Willie Whopper cartoons aren’t funny. But you’re really missing out if you don’t get your hands on Thunderbean’s Willie Whopper Blu-Ray/DVD release.

The cartoons, as you may know, were made in 1933-34 by Ub Iwerks for Pat Powers’ Celebrity Pictures for release by MGM. There are some wonderfully off-beat character and background designs and some of the shorts have a peppy little orchestra toot-toot-tooting along as the action proceeds. And Thunderbean has pulled off another of their incomparable and loving restoration jobs on these B-list cartoons. The company deserves the support of anyone who loves animation from the Golden Age of theatricals (and commercials/industrials, for that matter).

Here are some background frames from The Cave Man (1934). Like most interiors in an Iwerks cartoon, things are broken, run-down, misshapen. These are from Mary’s thatched hut.

Here are some of the muted backgrounds. Ignore the characters that get in the way. I’d love to know who painted these and if it was the same person who did Porky in Wackyland for Bob Clampett a few years later (Clampett inherited some of the Iwerks staff).

Note how the distance is out-of-focus. It reminds me of a Fleischer cartoon, not surprising considering Grim Natwick, Berny Wolf (who get the animation credits) and others who worked at Iwerks had come from Fleischer.

There’s no music credit on this short. I don’t know if someone went to a record store, bought a 78 and had it played in the background, but it’s a hopping little tune.

Oh, and for character designs....

P.S.: I get nothing for the above plug for Thunderbean other than the satisfaction that it may help them carry on with their restoration of neglected old cartoons.


  1. According to Chris Buchman, who wrote about music scores in the booklet that comes with the Thunderbean set, The Cave Man includes two works performed by Bennie Moten's Kansas City Stompers: "Somebody Stole My Gal" and "Lafayette." Buchman's guess is that the songs were chosen by Natwick and Wolf.

  2. Given that Moten's band became the Count Basie band after Moten's passing, it's not surprising that the tune is "hopping." The Count himself was most likely featured on these recordings.

  3. Thanks for the information, guys.