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    You WIll Need To Reset Your Password!!!

    We just moved hosts on this system, and this has caused a few updates. One is the way we encode and store the encoded passwords.

    Your old passwords will NOT work. You will need to reset your password. This is normal. Just click on reset password from the log in screen. Should be smooth as silk to do...

    Sorry for the hassle.

    Dave Koch
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    Are You Just Hanging Out?

    Just lurking? Join the club, we'd love to have you in the Big Cartoon Forum! Sign up is easy- just enter your name and password.... or join using your Facebook account!

    Membership has it's privileges... you can post and get your questions answered directly. But you can also join our community, and help other people with their questions, You can add to the discussion. And it's free! So join today!

    Dave Koch
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    Other Side Of Maleficent

    I have been looking forward to Maleficent with equal amounts of anticipation and dread. On one hand, she is easily my favorite Disney villain, so cold and so pure, and I want desperately to see more of her and her back-story. On the other hand, she is easily my favorite Disney villain, and I would hate to see her parodied, taken lightly or ultimately destroyed in a film that does not understand this great character. The good news is that this film almost gets it right; but that is also the bad news.

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    BCDB Hits 150K Entries

    It took a while, but we are finally here! The Big Cartoon DataBase hit the milestone of 150,000 entries earlier today with the addition of the cartoon The Polish Language. This film was added to BCDB on May 9th, 2014 at 4:23 PM.

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    Warner Brings Back Animated Stone-Age Family

    Funnyman Will Ferrell and partner Adam McKay are working on bringing back everyone’s favorite stone-age family. The duo’s production company Gary Sanchez Productions is in development on a new Flintstones animated feature.

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    Disney To Feast In France

    The follow up to Disney’s 2013 Academy Award Winning short Paperman has been announced, and it will premiere at France’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Titled The Feast, the short looks to be based on the same stylized CG techniques used on last years Paperman, a more natural and hand-drawn look to computer animation.

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    Renegades of Animation: Pat Sullivan

    Pat Sullivan became famous worldwide for his creation of Felix the Cat. What most animation histories gloss over is Sullivan’s checkered past and longtime standing as a wildcat renegade. He didn’t follow the rules. And he made damn sure to fully protect his intellectual properties.

A Major Victory

Discussion in 'The Animated Word' started by Dave Koch, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Cartoon Admin

    Oct 27, 2013
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    B000BQ7JW0.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg The folks at Thunderbean Animation offer modern-day viewers a comprehensive survey of the animated films—made for entertainment, propaganda and training purposes—that were produced and released during the Second World War. This collection comprises 20 such films; most of which were produced here in the U.S. by established Hollywood animation studios like Warner Bros., Walter Lantz and UPA. Also included are a handful of animated films from Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, Occupied France and Nazi Germany. These rare foreign cartoons hold special importance because they present viewers with different perspectives of the war. Cartoons like Revolt of the Toysand Bury the Axisare of particular interest because they utilize, respectively, a combination of live-action and animation and stop-motion puppets instead of traditional cel animation.

    All of the cartoons presented in this compilation were produced and distributed for viewing by contemporary audiences; and no consideration appears to have been given to their preservation beyond the period in which they were made. Transfers have been made from the best available 16mm and 35mm materials. In most cases the original negatives were destroyed or have been lost in the intervening years. Many films are seen here in their only surviving prints. Steven Stanchfield and his associates have done an admirable job in transferring this material to DVD and have refrained from using excessive DVNR, which more often than not makes bad prints look even worse by erradicating portions of ink-lines that are mistaken for film scratches. While the majority of the prints do have more than a fair number of scratches (and even some unfortunate splices which momentarily interrupt the film continuity); the historical importance of these cartoons far outweighs any technical shortcomings.

    As in previous releases from Mackinac Media, the packaging design and interactive menus are top-notch. Each of the menu screens is accompanied by a music cue taken from one of the cartoons contained on the DVD. In this respect they seem to have taken their cue from Disney's "Treasures" series of animation DVD's. This time around Mackinac appears to have worked out the technical bugs that were inherent in their previous DVD's Popeye: Classics from the Fleischer Studio and Attack of the 30's Characters. I was able to play the disc (the regular program and the bonus features) on both the DVD-ROM drive on my PC and on my regular DVD player with no difficulty whatsoever.


    Viewers have the option of playing the cartoons straight through or selecting them individually from two categories: Entertainment/Propaganda and Educational/Armed Services. In the former category the only cartoon familiar to most animation aficionados is the Bugs Bunny Bond Rally (Warner Bros., 1943), in which Bugs (joined at the end by Porky Pig and the earlier, rotund version of Elmer Fudd) gives a rousing rendition of Irving Berlin's "Any Bonds Today?" The cartoon is presented complete and uncensored; and includes Bugs' impersonation of Al Jolson in Blackface that was cut from the "Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons" segment in Volume 1 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. The remaining cartoons, with the exception of the "Private SNAFU" entries and "The Return of Mr. Hook", are presented on DVD for the first time in this compilation.


    Hans Fisherkoessen's Der Schneemann (Nazi Germany, 1943) is a delightful and charming tale of a snowman that, after coming to life and frolicking in the snow, hibernates in a kitchen icebox so that he can romp in the fields during the summer months. In the end, however, he melts away and his carrot nose is eaten by a rabbit. The animation in this short is wonderfully fluid and boasts some impressive background work. In fact, the house that the snowman visits has a striking 3-dimensional quality to it; suggesting that it was either rotoscoped from "live" footage or photographed using a tabletop model and animation cel setup—similar to the one employed by the Fleischer Studio for their 2-reel Popeye "specials".

    In the aforementioned Bury the Axis(Great Britain/Lou Bunin, 1943) Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito are portrayed by stop-motion puppets. The cartoon chronicles Hitler's birth, brief childhood and eventual rise to power. The visual effect of the stop-motion animation in this cartoon is eerily reminiscent of the later Rankin-Bass holiday specials produced for television; so much so that I half-expected caricatures of Fred Astaire and Burl Ives to pop up and start singing "Deutschland uber alles". Bunin was actually American. He was responsible for Alice au Pays des Merveilles, a stop-action version of Alice in Wonderland that tried to compete with the Disney version. The rumor is that Disney, with its own project in mind, sabotaged the release of Bunin's version in the U.S.

    Nimbus Libéré (Vichy France, 1943) is in French and, unfortunately, has no subtitles; which will make it difficult for many American viewers who don't speak French to understand what is going on in the cartoon. According to the liner notes the American forces, who are trying to liberate Occupied France, are represented by such popular cartoon characters as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Felix the Cat and Popeye the Sailor. The other characters in this short include a provincial French family, the patriarch of which resembles a Bourgeois version of Farmer Al Falfa; and a decidedly "Jewish"-looking radio announcer who is broadcasting via short-wave from London. At the conclusion of this bizarre cartoon the American forces end up bombing the citizens they were attempting to rescue. The animation here is by the French comic artist Cal, and his renderings of Donald Duck and Popeye the Sailor are dead-on. Viewers take note of the cockpit of Popeye's bomber plane; apparently he enjoys a little nip of whisky in addition to his daily spinach!


    In Hermína Týrlová's Revolt of the Toys(Czechoslovakia, 1945) a Nazi SS Officer receives his come-uppance from a group of toys who magically come to life. The blend of live-action and animation here is well-done. Týrlová, one of the first Czech women animators, worked for Degeto Film, a German firm, during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. After the war she produced films with Kratky Film Praha.

    Der Springmann Und Der SS (Jiri Trnka/Czechoslovakia, 1946; Original Czech title: Pérák a SS) is the tale of a local chimney sweep who, by donning a black, ninja-like costume and wearing a pair of springs removed from a necking couples’ living room love-seat, takes on the local Gestapo. There is a wonderful scene near the end of the cartoon where very realistic-looking (rotoscoped?) black smoke is billowing and filling most of the screen.

    Cap’n Cub (alternately known as "Cap'n Cub Scraps the Japs", Ted Eshbaugh, 1945) is described as one of the strangest cartoons produced during WWII. Perhaps, but it has some impressive dogfight animation and a peppy music score that is at times reminiscent of the tunes of Raymond Scott. Cap'n Cub witnesses a review of all divisions of the animal fighting forces; and then decides that more planes are needed to win the war. An ersatz version of Scott's "Powerhouse" is heard on the soundtrack during a bizarre aircraft plant sequence. The planes no sooner leave their hangar when they encounter a single Japanese fighter plane; the pilot of which is portrayed (in stereotypical fashion) by a monkey. The enemy is ultimately defeated and the allied planes head off into the sunset (depicted as the setting sun of the Japanese flag) with Cap'n Cub in the lead. The highlight of this cartoon, for me, was a machine-gun toting kangaroo—whose offspring also fires at the enemy aircraft with great gusto. The version of this cartoon seen here appears to have edited from two different sources: at one point in the cartoon, when Cap'n Cub's plane descends onto the parade grounds, the film briefly changes from color to black and white.

    Only a small number of Eshbaugh’s films, including Cap’n Cub, are known to be extant. Eshbaugh produced an early animated version of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz (1933, shot in 3-Strip Technicolor and part of a proposed "Oz" series that never developed), Goofy Goat (1933, re-titled "Goofy Goat Antics" by Official Films for home movie and TV distribution) and The Snow Man (1933, estimated) in California—according to Tim Cohea of Golden Age Cartoons. The Snow Man is listed in the Big Cartoon DataBase as actually having been produced in Canada, however; and this cartoon had been released earlier by the Van Beuren Studio as The Snowman . It is not clear if these are two different cartoons; or if The Snow Man is simply a re-issue of The Snowman by the Film Laboratories of Canada. The 3-Strip Technicolor segments of the “Oz” cartoon, according to Steven Stanchfield, were processed in Canada in spite of Walt Disney’s exclusive contract with the Technicolor Company. In 1934 Eshbaugh migrated to New York where he did a brief stint at the Van Beuren studio. It was there that he and Burt Gillett (with whom he—and most everyone else—reportedly did not get along) produced what is probably the best-known of his films, The Sunshine Makers (1935). Eshbaugh directed two other cartoons at Van Beuren before leaving, Pastry Town Wedding (1934) and Japanese Lanterns (1935). Eshbaugh contracted with different companies in the production of commercial animated films after his departure from Van Beuren. A series of brief animated vignettes that Eshbaugh produced for Wonder Bread and Hostess Cakes--for exhibition at the 1939 World Fair--is featured on the Thunderbean/Mackinac compilation, Cult-Toons.

    The educational and training films which make up the bulk of this collection are interesting to watch, if only to see what the major cartoon studios could accomplish (or get away with) when not restricted by normal Hollywood conventions. All of the Private Snafu and at least two of the Mr. Hook cartoons produced by Warner Bros (the first was produced by Walter Lantz) contained in this compilation have been available before—either on bootleg and "official" VHS videotapes and DVD's, or as streaming videos on the internet. Spies and The Return of Mr. Hook can be found as bonus features on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 3.

    The Private SNAFU (a military acronym for "Situation Normal: All F***ed Up") series was produced by Leon Schlesinger's cartoon studio at Warner Bros. for the Army-Navy Screen Magazine. There are 26 episodes in this series (including two that were never released) that were produced between 1942 and 1945. These were filmed in B&W and 35mm but were distributed to military units at home and overseas in 16mm format—because the reduced film-width made shipment of the cartoons less cumbersome, and because most military units could be equipped with lightweight, portable 16mm film projectors.

    Private SNAFU was your average U.S. soldier, who was depicted in each film as a constant screw-up who got himself in hot water for not following standard procedures. The character was created by Phil Eastman and Theodore "Ted" Geisel, better known to baby-boomers as "Dr. Seuss". Geisel wrote many of the initial episodes in the series. A number of these were written in verse. Phil Eastman had a very interesting career. He was active in the bitter Disney strike—so, for that matter, was Hank Ketcham. Eastman got blacklisted during the McCarthy era and worked clandestinely in the back rooms of Shamus Culhane's New York studio—ironically, doing copy for Navy recruiting commercials! Eastman got the last laugh on the Red-baiters... he changed his name slightly to P.D. Eastman and became a famed children's author and illustrator. His works include Are You My Mother, Go Dog Go!, Sam and the Firefly, The Best Nest and Are You My Mother? Several of his books won awards.

    According to Chuck Jones, storyboards for the Private SNAFU cartoons had to be approved for content by the Pentagon. Individual episodes were directed by Chuck Jones, Robert Clampett, Friz Freleng and Frank Tashlin. Carl Stalling and Treg Brown each contributed their familiar brand of music and sound effects; and voice talent was provided by Mel Blanc, along with Bea Benederet and Robert C. Bruce (often as a narrator.)


    One of the best entries in the series, Spies (1943) was directed by Jones and features typical "Seuss-ian" rhyming verse. Robert Canonn and Ken Harris contribute superb animation SNAFU inadvertently tips off Axis agents about his impending assignment to Africa, winds up getting killed and gets sent to Hell. Sexual and Swastika gags abound in this episode.

    Booby Traps (1944) was directed by Robert Clampett and features what is possibly the first appearance of the "exploding piano" gag (set to the melody of "Those Endearing Young Charms") in a Warner Bros. cartoon (and that would later turn up in Ballot Box Bunny, Show Biz Bugs and Rushing Roulette). That gag, according to Eric Goldberg, actually has its origins in one of the Van Beuren-produced "Little King" cartoons from the 1930's. Apparently Clampett was very much influenced by the early cartoons produced in New York by Van Beuren, Paul Terry and the Fleischer Bros. Subtlety was never a feature of these cartoons, which offered servicemen a fair amount of gratuitous double-entendres and profanity, and this particular cartoon is no exception—witness as SNAFU encounters a pair of "booby traps"!

    In The Chow Hound (1944),alsodirected by Jones, a bull selflessly gives his all (literally) for the war effort--allowing himself to be "processed" into steaks, hamburgers, roast beef hash, creamed chipped beef, etc. so that soldiers like SNAFU can be well-fed. SNAFU, unfortunately, turns out to be a "food hoarder" whose eyes are bigger than his stomach; and as a result he ends up wasting most of the meat he has snuck from the chow line. The print used for this compilation contains a bad splice—at the point where the phantom bull charges at SNAFU in retaliation and head-butts him into oblivion.

    Both A Lecture On Camouflage (1944) and Censored (1945)—directed, respectively, by Jones and Tashlin—offered servicemen a generous serving of “cheesecake” while teaching the dos and don’ts of concealing one’s position and sending correspondence to the loved ones at home. An unfortunate bad splice occurs in the latter cartoon, during the scene featuring SNAFU’s topless girlfriend. Whatever else was meant to be shown in that scene, we may never know!

    The four Mr. Hook cartoons contained on this DVD are from rare 16mm prints that were saved by an Army cameraman. This series was the U.S. Navy’s answer to Private SNAFU, but the premise behind each entry had a singular purpose—to get servicemen to purchase war bonds. The character was designed by Hank Ketcham (of “Dennis the Menace” fame).


    The first cartoon in the series, Take Heed, Mr. Tojo (1943), was produced by the Walter Lantz Studio and directed by Jimmy “Shamus” Culhane (who had previously animated for Disney and Warner Bros.) Darrell Calker provided the jazzy music score; and the voice of the Hook character heard here—although this has yet to be authenticated—is reportedly by George O’Hanlon (who later voiced George Jetson on Hanna-Barbera’s The Jetsons). The animation in this cartoon is quite good, although—as commentator Jerry Beck points out—clean-up drawings were not always done before the animation was inked and painted onto cels, as a time and cost-saving measure. Why further cartoons in this series were not produced by Lantz is not clear, although it could have been that the workload at his studio was already too great (Lantz had lost a number of his staff to the draft during the war.) In this cartoon Mr. Hook describes his role in the war to his son though a series of flashbacks. Besides being the first cartoon in the Mr. Hook series, this was the only entry made in Technicolor. The other three were produced in black and white.

    The next three cartoons in the series were taken over by the Leon Schlesinger Studio at Warner Brothers. As in the Private SNAFU series, Carl Stalling provided music and Mel Blanc and Bea Benederet most of the voices (with the exception of Hook himself—this time voiced by Arthur “Dagwood” Lake of the “Blondie” radio and TV series). McKimson, Jones and Clampett each took a turn with the character. In his commentary for these three Hook cartoons, John Kricfalusi conducts what he calls a “controlled” experiment in analyzing each director’s style—since each of them is dealing with an unfamiliar character.

    The Good Egg (Chuck Jones, 1945) shows Hook being pestered by his good and bad alter egos about what to do with his savings bonds. The fluid poses and extremes in this cartoon suggest that the animation was done principally by Robert Cannon, but unfortunately no animator credit is given.

    In Tokyo Woes (Robert Clampett, 1945) the Japanese propaganda machine is in full force, trying to dissuade American servicemen from investing in the war. Rod Scribner’s (?) rubbery animation of Tokyo Rose (portrayed here as a bobby-soxer, whom we first encounter sitting on the toilet) is outrageously funny, despite the overt racist stereotype. Mel Blanc here resurrects his “Sad Sack” radio character (which used a voice characterization similar to that of Porky Pig). Double-entendres abound in this cartoon.

    The Return of Mr. Hook (Robert McKimson, 1945) was intended to show servicemen all the post-war benefits of saving war bonds. Mr. Hook comes home, buys some new duds, a new home with furnishings and marries his sweetheart. The character animation and the layouts are very well-done here and this actually was the first cartoon that McKimson ever directed at Warner Bros. He would not direct his first theatrical cartoon there until 1946.

    The remaining four instructional training films are extremely rare but are offered in prints that wear their years lightly.

    Both Flight Safety: After the Cut and Flight Safety: Landing Accidentswere produced in 1946 by United Film Productions, the company that would eventually become United Productions of America (UPA), and feature the stylized animation and backgrounds that would revolutionize the animation industry just a few years later. It’s a pity that the producers of this DVD didn’t think to include Chuck Jones’ Hell Bent for Election (1944), which was one of the first animated cartoons—industrial or otherwise—produced by the fledgling studio during the war. Then again, the current running time of this DVD (142 minutes, including bonus features) may have not have allowed room for it.

    Commandments for Health: Taking Medicine (1945, attributed to Hugh Harman’s independent studio) is unique in that it is executed largely in rough storyboard fashion with a mixture of full and limited animation. The odd thing about this cartoon is that its main character bears a striking resemblance to Private SNAFU.

    The most impressive (from a technical standpoint) and entertaining cartoon in this last group of training films is Camouflage (U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Motion Picture Unit, 1943). Frank Thomas, one of the “nine old men” from the Disney Studio, directed this 20 minute film—in which a Jiminy Cricket-like chameleon demonstrates the proper way to camouflage buildings, aircraft and personnel to U.S. Army Air Corps pilots. The animation, done by former staff from many of the top Hollywood studios, is superb.

    The bonus features included as part of this collection are, unfortunately, the one area in which the quality is inconsistent with the rest of the DVD.

    Spoken commentaries are provided only for the Private SNAFU and Hook cartoons; and even then there is a fair amount of duplication—in that more than one commentary is provided for some cartoons. It’s a shame that no commentaries were provided for any of the lesser-known cartoons, like Cap’n Cub, Der Schneemann, or the excellent Camouflage, as these are deserving of more detailed analysis. Of the spoken commentaries provided I found those of Eric Goldberg and Jerry Beck to be the most informative; and those of John Kricfalusi to be somewhat biased, rather un-PC (he uses the word "retard" at one point, when commenting on SNAFU's inability to notice a bevy of scantily-clad women) and rambling. At one point during one of the Private SNAFU cartoons, he takes the opportunity to plug his upcoming, uncensored DVD of newly-produced Ren and Stimpy cartoons—referring to them as “his own Private SNAFU cartoons”. Throughout Booby Traps he can be heard lauding Robert Clampett’s direction (which I, too, admire), while at the same time lambasting that of Chuck Jones. Although The Good Egg is admittedly weak, when compared to the other "Mr. Hook" cartoons, was it really necessary to refer to Jones’ directing style here as “gay”? Kricfalusi would have us believe that all U.S. servicemen fighting in WW2 were gruff, horny, loud-mouthed schnooks; who most likely would not have responded favorably to a cartoon like The Good Egg because of its so-called effeminate style. This, I feel, is an unfair assessment; since Jones only directed one cartoon in the Mr. Hook series, and he was dealing with a character (created by someone else) with which he probably did not feel completely at ease. At the same time, however, a number of Jones’ Private SNAFU cartoons are rife with sexual innuendo and nudity (particularly in A Lecture on Camouflage), so Kricfalusi’s assessment in this context appears to be without justification.

    The stills gallery included with the bonus features offers a look at some rare artwork produced both here and abroad. Of special interest to cartoon fans is the inclusion of a transcription from the “Command Performance” radio program that was broadcast to servicemen overseas during the war. This particular broadcast focused on animals in the military; and featured the voices of Mel Blanc, Arthur Q. Bryan, “Pinto” Colvig and Clarence Nash, all recreating the cartoon characters with whom they are best associated (although Colvig portrays his character, Goofy, here as a draft horse.) This may be the first and only time, prior to Who Framed Roger Rabbit that cartoon characters from different studios ever shared the same stage! I had no trouble accessing either of these bonus features on my DVD player.

    My overall ratings for Cartoons for Victory (using a four-star system) are thus:

    Packaging and Design: ****
    Menu Options ****
    Visual Quality ***(*) Some allowance needs to be made due to the rarity of a number of these cartoons

    Sound Quality ****
    Bonus Features **** The “Command Performance” segment is a rare treat!
    Commentaries **(**) I only found some of these to be helpful…
    Value for the money ****

    Special thanks to Eminovitz for valuable information on Phil Eastman and other tidbits (and for pointing out some of my more glaring errors); and to STARFOX for providing pics.
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