Monday, June 11, 2007

The Lost Columbia Cartoons - Tetched In The Head

Tetched in the Head (released October 24th 1935) marked the debut of comic-strip character Barney Google, created by Billy DeBeck. Charles Mintz had high hopes that his transfer to the animated screen would be a big success, but that did not happen. The character did not have the qualities to be an animated cartoon star, and was quickly retired after just four cartoons. Watching this and his later cartoons, it's not hard to see why. They're just not funny.

This cartoon apparantly only survives in the Columbia archives as a 16mm B&W copy, but it also exists in the collectors'/traders' circuits as an experimental redrawn colourised short (without any sound) and several truncated B&W silent prints.

Using the redrawn version as a template, I've managed to reconstruct the cartoon using three different silent prints. It's almost complete (at least one very-brief scene is missing, during the introduction of Barney). I've decided not to add a music sound track, as I don't think it's really necessary.

Hope you like this version. Enjoy!

Barney Google - Tetched in the Head
Uploaded by ldglover

This video will be available for the next four weeks.

I'll be making posts of the other three Barney cartoons in the near future.


sdestefano said...

as a huge fan of both thirties animation and DeBeck's creations, I'm thankful to you for your work in posting this lost cartoon!

Jim Engel said...

Lee--- I can only echo Stephen DeStefano's comments (on '30s animation, AND DeBeck)!

I've got at least one of those old Google home movies, but always assumed those were old silents, VS Columbia edits...

those babies looked a lot like Scrappy!

Chris Sobieniak said...

Would've been neat if the soundtrack was still there. Wouldn't hurt to give it the ADR treatment if it's possible to figure out what they were saying in this film, as well as the kind of music timing that might've been there. Still a shame to know how lame King Features was for not letting these things last longer than 10 years.

TJR said...

In your post, you write that these cartoons where not that funny, but I think it's hard to tell just how funny they may or may not have been without the dialog and music (Not to mention the voice characterizations).

Both can do a lot to enhance the funny quotient. It's to bad because from what I have read, it looks like we may never know.

That being said, I also want to tip my hat to you for putting this together and posting it for animation fans like myself to see.

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Craig D said...

Pretty cool, Lee!

If ever there was a "generic" cartoon studio, it was the MINTZ gang. This could've just as easily been a Scrappy cartoon with a baby-sitting plot.

(I don't recall the Smith clan having so many young 'uns. Maybe this is where Ma & Pa Kettles got their inspiration?)


OM said...

...Well, Jeez louise, kids. There's a *reason* this cartoon isn't funny. It's about hillbillies in the Appalachians, right? Ergo, it's not a comedy, it's a documentary!

Lee Glover said...

Hi guys!

I'm glad you enjoyed the video. I'm also overwhelmed by the number of views and comments (thanks, guys!), mainly helped by Jerry Beck (thanks, Jerry!) and his Cartoon Brew website:

True, it's not a hilarious cartoon, but I'm glad that I have this in my collection. Maybe it could be slightly more funnier with its original soundtrack, but having seen some of the comic strips, most of the absymal 1960's Snuffy Smith cartoons, and the Columbia short "Spark Plug" with its fake 1980's soundtrack, I'm doubtful if the sound can enhance these weak-looking shorts.

As this reconstructed toon is becoming very popular with you good folks, I'm going to double the availability of this video to 8 weeks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lee- I work in a film archive and recently found a 16mm bw silent home movie Barney Google called Barney's Banquet. I take it that it is an excerpt from one of the 4 longer Columbia cartoons from the 30's? Would you happen to know which one? I'd just like to get this cataloged as correctly as I can. Thanks very much! Heather

Lee Glover said...

Hi Heather.

I believe the cartoon you're referring to is originally called "Patch Mah Britches". Watch out for this in a future post, which might be in a week or two (I've been quite busy doing other things during the last few weeks, hence the recent lack of posts).

Hope this helps.