Sunday 26 November 2017

Tralfaz Sunday Theatre: Killjoy Was Here

Not all animated cartoons for the military were as funny and entertaining as the Snafu shorts made at Warner Bros. But they didn’t have to be. All they had to do was get their message across.

The U.S. Air Force Air Photographic and Charting Service commissioned a cartoon called Killjoy Was Here which, basically, told airmen not to be a jerk. The title, of course, is a play on the “Kilroy was here” graffiti in World War Two. The 12-minute short released in 1956 won’t be mistaken for a Warner Bros. cartoon. It’s chock-full of limited animation, even more than in your average Hanna-Barbera cartoon; a parachuting airman is on a cel that is turned in different directions to simulate movement.

If anything, this cartoon may remind you of something from Famous Studios. Not only is Jackson Beck voicing Killjoy, but some of the characters have that slow, mechanical walk cycle that you’ll find in late-’50s Paramount cartoons.

This cartoon was produced by Cineffects, Inc., one of many companies in New York City to take advantage of the boom in animated commercials in the 1950s. A Billboard article in November 25, 1957, gives a bit of a profile:
Should you turn on your TV set to a picture of a woman walking down a street, split in half, with both halves walking, don't be alarmed— it's not another "horror" picture just a commercial produced by Cineffects to advertise deodorant. Cineffects, Inc., of New York City, claims to be the oldest film service organization in the city. Established in 1939 by President Nathan Sobel, it has departments devoted to animation, lettering and backgrounds, camera technique and optical effects. The studio also boasts a time and labor-saving method for use with Oxberry animation equipment. This method provides the effects of products floating through the air without support, lines or shadows.
A Billboard story from the previous year reveals Phil Klein was a director at the studio while Bert Freund was a designer. Broadcasting magazine revealed several years earlier that Joe Stultz, who had been a writer at Famous/Fleischer, was an employee. But I can find very little about the studio’s staff. It was a union shop.

The year before Killjoy Was Here was released, Cineffects animated a TV spot for Schaefer Brewing that appeared on Brooklyn Dodgers games. It featured a character named Thirsty who parachuted onto Ebbets Field (Cineffects apparently had the parachuting cel idea down pat).

With that brief introduction, here is the cartoon. I don’t know who the narrator is, nor the name of the music library heard in the background.


  1. I'm hearing some Dave Kahn underscores (Leave it to Beaver), so maybe the David Gordon music service?

  2. Same here, the minute it started, I heard a the cues used by Universal/Revue back in the late 1950's.From the early " Leave it Beaver " episodes, also Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Perhaps the Omar Production Library, also?

    1. One more thing, I noticed at the 5:57 mark, " Rag Doll " by Bruce Campbell is played. That, and a few cues that follow from Van Phillips are part of the British JW Media Music Library.

    2. Guys, thanks for the help on this. Off-hand, I don't know who had the American license for those at the time.

    3. Actually, "Rag Doll" and those Phillips cues are from the Impress library, whose catalogue is now owned by JW. Emil Ascher distributed them in the 50s and 60s.