Monday, February 25, 2008

The Radio & Television Packagers redrawns

During the 1960's, when B&W cartoons were beginning to have little or no commercial value (or so they think), Warner Brothers and NTA decided to commission Fred Ladd's company Color Systems to redraw their respective B&W cartoons (Porky Pig and Betty Boop) in colour. The results may have been impressive at that time, but nowadays (especially in the computer-colourising age which can give much better results in colourising cartoons) one can be appalled by the poor technical quality in the redrawn animation (not every frame is traced, momentary missing limbs etc.), psychedelic colour scheme, and poor film stock.
Of course, we all moan about these redrawns, and we hardcore animation fans prefer to see these cartoons as originally intended. But the sad truth is, these redrawns still kept the spirit of the originals in the public consciousness, and has enabled many fans to seek out the originals, resulting in a big demand to see them on DVD and other media. You could say that the redrawing process was a necessary evil at that time.
There were other companies that commissioned redrawns later on. Turner, in 1986, invited Entecolor Technologies (formerly Color Systems) to redraw their B&W Popeye and Merrie Melodies cartoons, which was a rather strange decision as they were starting to colourise their feature films using a computer process. While the technical quality and colour palette was somewhat better than the redrawn Porky's and Betty's, plenty of mistakes were still made.
But perhaps the worst-looking redrawns of them all were commissioned by Radio & Television Packagers (who I shall refer to as R&TVP). They gave Color Systems a batch of (presumably) home-movie prints of (mostly) public-domain cartoons during the early 70's. Unfortunately, what R&TVP didn't know is that many of the cartoons do exist in their original colour! Also, they failed to realise that some of them were silent versions of sound cartoons (they will later add corny music to those redrawns). On one cartoon, they had the ending redrawn to something completely different!!! The result is a series of redrawns that are sooooooooo bad, they are actually quite entertaining in their own unique way.
Here is a complete list of the 43 R&TVP cartoons, as compiled by Richard Jebe and Pietro Shakarian:

"Toy Shop" – "We're in the Money" (1933), WB
"Ain't Nature Grand?" – 1931 WB of the same name
"Barnyard Frolic" – "Moonlight for Two" (1931), WB
"Bosko's Woodland Daze" – 1932 WB of the same name
"Country Boy Rabbit" – "The Country Boy" (1935), WB (originally color)
"Magazine Rack" – "I Like Mountain Music" (1933), WB
"Off To The Races" – "Ups 'N Downs" (1931), WB
"On Duty" – "One More Time" (1931), WB
"Accidents Won't Happen" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"The Invisible Revenge" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"Where Am I?" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"Mixing In Mexico" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"Oceans Of Trouble" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"Soda Jerks" – 1925 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"When Hell Froze Over" – 1926 Mutt and Jeff of the same name
"The Adventures Of Mutt And Jeff And Bugoff" – "Slick Sleuths" (1926), Mutt and Jeff
"Dog Missing" – "Dog Gone" (1926), Mutt and Jeff
"Egyptian Daze" – "Mummy O' Mine" (1926), Mutt and Jeff
"The Mail Pilot" – 1927 Aesop's Film Fable of the same name
"The Under Dog" – 1929 Aesop's Film Fable of the same name
"Tuning In" – 1929 Van Beuren of the same name
"Love Bugs" – "Fly Hi" (1931), Van Beuren
"Art For Art's Sake" – 1934 Van Beuren of the same name
"The Villian Pursues Her" – "Sinister Stuff" (1934), Van Beuren
"Chinese Lanterns" – "Japanese Lanterns" (1935), Van Beuren (originally color)
"Batter Up" – "Play Ball" (1932), Terrytoons
"Spring Cleaning" – "Kiko's Cleaning Day" (1937), Terrytoons
"The Dancing Bear" – 1937 Terrytoon on the same name
"Lumberjack" - "The Saw Mill Mystery" (1937), Terrytoons
"Music And Charm" - "The Villain Still Pursued Her" (1937), Terrytoons
"The Inventor" – "Felix Turns the Tide" (1922), Sullivan
"Sunken Treasure" – "Felix Braves the Briny" (1926), Sullivan
"Misses His Swiss" – "Felix Misses His Swiss" (1926), Sullivan
"Scoots Through Scotland" – "Felix Scoots Through Scotland" (1926), Sullivan
"Mr. Do–All" – "Jack From All Trades" (1927), Sullivan
"Jack Frost" – 1934 Iwerks of the same name (originally color)
"Puss in Boots" – 1934 Iwerks of the same name (originally color)
"The Steadfast Tin Soldier" – "The Brave Tin Soldier" (1934), Iwerks (originally color)
"Cinderella" - "Once Upon a Time" (circa 1937), Audio Productions
"Big City" – 1947 UK Bubbles and Squeek cartoon of the same name
“Grampus & Scrappy” - The Big Game (1928), Aesop's Fable

"They Shall Not Pass" – Mutt and Jeff
"Double Performance" - Unknown

In these series of posts (yes, I'll be posting these, so be warned - lol),I shall be posting specially-selected redrawns, along (where possible) with their originals for comparison.
And to start off with, here's a redrawn version of Felix Misses His Swiss, starring the title character as a burgundy-coloured cat!. Unfortunately, I don't have the original to upload, but according to David Gerstein, the final scenes were missing from the original source print, so you will see a fake (clover-shaped???) iris-out before it reaches a satisfying conclusion.

Did the re-tracers really believe that Felix was grabbing his gonads at the beginning of the cartoon (lol)?
For this series, as these will mostly be public-domain cartoons, I've decided to abandon imposing a time-limit on their availability.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cartoon Lookalikes

A couple of cartoon lookalikes for you today.

Recently, I caught a glimpse of a DVD cover of Are You Being Served?, and the picture of a scowling Mrs Slocombe (Mollie Sugden)...

...instantly reminded me of Chicken Pie in the Herman cartoon Scrappily Married.
And why does the map of my native West Country...
...always remind me of the head of a certain aardvark?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rare Felix Cards

Below are scans taken from a set of very rare Felix the Cat cards that I managed to obtain a few years ago. Little is known about about the origins of these, but it is beleved that these came as a gift from either confectionary or tobacco products that were sold in Britain during the late 20's or early 30's. If any of you guys know more about these, please let me know.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Lost Columbia Cartoons - Kitty Caddy

Kitty Caddy (which only survives in soundtrack form in the Columbia archives) is one of the last Screen Gems cartoons to be made, produced in the Harry Binder - Ray Katz era. It features a cat & dog's attempts to play a peaceful game of golf, but it turns out anything but peaceful, especially when Bob Hope and Bing Crosby keep stealing the scenes (and something else besides). One note: you see the cat & dog holding hands when they arrive in the park - are they more than just friends (tee-hee!)?

Out of all the lost toons, this is one of the better shorts, and I'm proud to present this in its entirety. Enjoy!

Kitty Caddy
Uploaded by ldglover
Available to view for 1 month.

And that's all, folks (I know. Wrong tagline for these cartoons)! It took a long time (for reasons I won't go into), but this series of lost Columbia cartoons has finally drawn to a close. I hope that you enjoyed viewing these clips, and I also hope that those of you who haven't or have little of these cartoons in your collection will seek out for more, and not just these lost toons. Many of these are by no means classics, but are certainly underappreciated.

Watch out for my new series of posts about the crappiest-looking redrawns ever, and I will be posting more Columbia cartoons in the future.

Thanks for reading the Lost Columbia Cartoons series!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Lost Columbia Cartoons - Major Google

Major Google was the last of the Barney Google cartoon quartet, and, like the previous three, this is a lacklustre effort. Even with the absence of sound on the surviving home movie prints, you can still visually see why the transfer from printed to animated cartoon was not successful.

The cartoon apparantly survives in the Columbia archives as a B&W print (don't know if it is with or without sound) and a redrawn (but silent) version. I've managed to obtain copies of two silent, truncated home movie versions. Sadly, there's not enough material to make a almost-complete reconstruction as each one is 2-and-a-half minutes long and only a few differences in each print. However, I've uploaded the best-looking of the two prints for your viewing pleasure.

As always, the video will be available to view for a month.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Lost Columbia Cartoons - Dreams on Ice

This 1939 cartoon, directed by Sid Marcus, is apparantly non-existant in the Columbia archives, but does survive in the collectors'/traders' circuits as a 16mm B&W print. This is one of a handful of "Sparky" cartoons, where he attempts to do ice-skating by flooding his bedroom with water and opening his window to let the freezing wind through.

IMHO it's a drab, Disney-esque cartoon, but nevertheless, here's the complete short for you to enjoy:

Available to view for 1 month.

The Lost Columbia Cartoons - The Herring Murder Mystery / Hollywood Sweepstales

A double-bill of short clips for you, today.

The Herring Murder Mystery (a 1943 cartoon which apparantly only exists in the Columbia archives as a segment of the first two minutes) features the story of a herring pickler, who, after being arrested - and thrown into the sea - by the fish police, is on trial for murder (well, he did pickle them to death!).

Presenting here is a short segment from a complete print. Personally, it's shad roe, shad roe, shad roe to me!

Another short clip below is taken from Hollywood Sweepstakes, a 1939 cartoon (directed by Ben Harrison) that is officially missing in the Columbia archives (but survives among us collectors as a 16mm colour print). It does feature a host of celebrity characitures, but they're mostly token - it's really about a pony's attempt to win a derby. Here's the second half of this cartoon for you to enjoy:

Clips are available to view for a month.