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    Renegades of Animation: Pat Sullivan

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"Eveready Harton in Buried Treasure", History's First Naughty Cartoon

Discussion in 'Toons for Big Kids' started by sidestreetsam, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Greetings, Folks!
    Just for historical clarity it must be mentioned that X-rated animated films like "Flesh Gordon", "Fritz the Cat", and "Coonskin" were not the first naughty cartoons by a long shot! Don't forget "Eveready Harton"! The real story (not yet verifiable) is more fascinating than fiction!

    Eveready Harton in Buried Treasure, also known as Eveready Harton, Eveready, Buried Treasure, or Pecker Island is a pornographic animated cartoon made in the United States circa 1928, depicting the unlikely adventures of the perpetually aroused title character with a woman, a man, a donkey and a cow.

    Supposedly, U.S. film labs refused to process the film, and it had to be developed in Cuba. The artists are unknown, but a widespread rumor states that a group of famous animators created the film for a private party in honor of Winsor McCay. Disney animator Ward Kimball gave the following account of the history of the short:
    “The first porno-cartoon was made in New York. It was called "Eveready Harton" and was made in the late 20's, silent, of course—by three studios. Each one did a section of it without telling the other studios what they were doing. Studio A finished the first part and gave the last drawing to Studio B, and so on… Involved were Max Fleischer, Paul Terry, and the Mutt and Jeff studios. They didn't see the finished product till the night of the big show. A couple of guys who were there tell me the laughter almost blew the top off the hotel where they were screening it.”

    When a copy of the short was screened in San Francisco in the late 1970s, the program notes attributed the animation to George Stalling, George Canata, Rudy Zamora, Sr. and Walter Lantz. The short circulated informally, shown only at small underground festivals or parties, until 2002 when it was included in the theatrically released compilation The Good Old Naughty Days.
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  2. oneuglybunny

    oneuglybunny Moderator Staff Member Forum Member

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    Even though this "cartoon" was made in secret, and had limited circulation, its lurid details had to reach the ears of those who would ultimately form the Hays Office. Bad as it was, the Hays Office was at least independent from the Federal government, which would have horribly hamstrung the film industry as a whole. Yes, the Hays Office forbade a lot of mechanisms that could have been used for clever comedy or even thoughtful drama; however, an impartial panel with unilateral rules at least made things level for everyone in the film industry. It was when the Hays panel began to make "artistic" exceptions that they lost credibility as impartial guardians, and became sanctimonious film critics.

    Perhaps, this "stag" animation can be praised for triggering a cleansing of the media so that its productions were suitable for all ages. Much of the Golden Age of Animation is composed of "General Audience" / G-rated fare. By keeping their productions out of the gutter, cartoon studios created some of their best works.
  3. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Hey, oneuglybunny!
    Actually, "Buried Treasure" had absolutely zero, that is nothing to do with the censorship regime brought about by the Hays Office. As you noted, few people ever saw it and they were not talking. It was never released into circulation and was only available for viewing many years later in the 1970's. It's important to do the research regarding events from long ago. Here is a contemporary transcript from the early days of the Hays Office censorship;

    One factor in ignoring the code was the fact that some found such censorship prudish, due to the libertine social attitudes of the 1920s and early 1930s. This was a period in which the Victorian era was sometimes ridiculed as being naïve and backward. When the Code was announced, liberal periodical The Nation attacked it. The publication stated that if crime were never to be presented in a sympathetic light, then taken literally that would mean that "law" and "justice" would become one and the same. Therefore, events such as the Boston Tea Party could not be portrayed. If clergy must always be presented in a positive way, then hypocrisy could not be dealt with either. The Outlook agreed and unlike Variety, predicted from the beginning that the Code would be difficult to enforce. The Great Depression of the 1930s led many studios to seek income by any way possible. Since films containing racy and violent content resulted in high ticket sales, it seemed reasonable to continue producing such films. Soon, the flouting of the code became an open secret. In 1931, the Hollywood Reporter mocked the code and Variety followed suit in 1933. In the same year as the Variety article, a noted screenwriter stated that "the Hays moral code is not even a joke any more; it's just a memory."

    Censorship is never a good thing. Many important films were not completed or changed significantly because of the Hays Office. Besides, look at what a drip they turned Betty Boop into! (ha-ha)
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  4. Pokey J.Anti-Blockhead

    Pokey J.Anti-Blockhead Intern Forum Member New Member

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    And the character name of course borrowed from Edward Everett Horton in his pre-Fractured Fairy Tales, pre-Fringer [sorry, couldn't resist-Fred and GInger] era.
  5. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Hi, Pokey!

    That's pretty funny! Of course, Edward Everett Horton was huge in Hollywood. He made hundreds of films starting in the silent era. Well known for his comedic skills and for his supporting character work in the Astaire/Rogers films. His vocal talents followed him into successful radio and television projects. His narration on the Fractured Fairy Tales series was always superlative, enjoyable, and forever memorable.
  6. peterhale

    peterhale Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB!

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    My dad loved his bewildered double-takes in the Astaire films!

    I remember seeing the Eveready Harton cartoon in the late 80s - someone brought in a tape of it where I worked. Apart from the central premise (of Harton trying to get his end away, as we say in the UK) it was very much a typical gag cartoon of the time, and a lot of fun.
  7. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Hi, Peter!

    "Trying to get his end away"... I love these expressions from the UK. We really massacre the Queen's english here in the states. After viewing Eveready on YouTube again I must say it flows pretty smooth considering they passed it around between three studios!
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