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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Pushing The Cartoon Limit

A Long, Long Animated Ribbon

How many is too many? 21 cartoons in one sitting amounts to, what, two hours forty minutes? It comes down to threshold of each viewing child, I suppose. Such marathons were less about admissions, more about concessions. With the program broken up continually, as in every seven to eight minutes, just imagine same in terms of rush to trough that was snack bars. They could expect deluge times twenty, this for $ way past dimes or quarters it took to get in. A unique feature of this ad is title listing of content, to which I'll leave more specific ID for animation experts. I do recognize a Tom and Jerry (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse), Plutopia and Merbabies from Disney, plus lots to ring fainter bells. By the 50's, age of cartoons mattered not a whit, for what ten-year-old would complain of having seen one of them in mid-forties? Rental was cheap enough to afford 21 of the things and still spend no more than an average feature might cost. I must say 21 is the largest dump I've seen for one program, though you'd have to figure plentiful kids stuck around for Simba, Terror Of Mau Mau!, assuming there wasn't usher clearing of auditoria (but then what were restrooms for if not to hide in?). Proviso that no adult would be admitted without a child might work hardship now that 'toons are more embraced by grown-ups.


Blogger radiotelefonia said...

I feel that I may have inspired this posting based upon the ads from Argentina devoted to cartoon exhibitions from 1956 to 1958. I have been seeing a lot of them from Cuba, before the revolution.

From Argentina, I even have one ad devoted to cartoons from the Soviet Union. Cartoon programs were mostly scheduled around the beginning of the Summer or Winter vacations.

My favorite ad, so far, is this one from October, 1946.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

I ran 4 hour cartoon marathons in the 70s and 80s. The trick was to arrange them with a series of highs and lows as in a wave pattern. My audiences walked out wanting more. These were not ten year olds. These were people in their teens, twenties and early thirties. I ignored the fans completely because they wanted only what they were familiar with. When I brought Bob Clampett to Toronto in the summer of 1979 I also offered 200 cartoons over three days. People flew in from all over the world. Again after three days they wanted more. That was in the day of 16mm. It was not easy to do. Today with digital the selection and the picture quality is much better. I ran a 4 hour history of Warner Animation. Part One was "Gotta Talk, Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance." Part Two was, "The Stars Are Born." Part Three was, "Of course, you realize this means WAR!" Part four was, "The Classics." I prefaced each set with introductions. Here is one of my reviews: Paul McGrath, THE GLOBE AND MAIL,
"Some audience members were visibly distressed by the frequency and force of Hartt’s interjections into the program but it is clearly his chosen way of doing things, and the payoff in information is worth it. He has many good stories to tell: about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s transformation into Mickey Mouse, Disney’s most enduring character; about the furor that greeted the creation of Tweety Pie, which subsided only when the artists painted him yellow; and much valuable technical information for the animation students. He has some interesting tales about Mel Blanc, Warners’ resident genius of voice characterization, as he continues the series with a full scale look at the Warner work of Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, and others. It’s the best work of its kind you will see anywhere because, except in rare oases in the United States and Eastern-Europe, they don’t make them like that anymore."

6:39 PM  
Blogger DBenson said...

Last cartoon matinee I can remember was in the 60s in Morgan Hill, CA. The cartoons were mostly newish, including a few Gene Dietch's "Nudnik" shorts, a Paramount toon of "Sir Blur", and some television-grade Walter Lantz. Pretty sure the feature was "Smokey", a 1966 movie about a horse. I remember it as being a holiday thing: "Leave the kids and shop at local merchants!"

There was golden age in the late 70s and 80s when programs of animated shorts toured art houses and colleges. Several were even released on VHS. These encompassed everything from grim foreign art films to exuberant foolishness from Cal Arts students (many who went on to revive Disney and start Pixar). The young audiences tended to be, I suspect, fellow television-trained connoisseurs. We appreciated art, but a well-staged gag killed. It was the old cartoon matinee, made classy and even sexy.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Randy Jepsen said...

DON`S GOLF is most likely DONALD`S GOLF GAME 1938.
MICE-CAPADES 1952 Herman
SPOOK NO EVIL 1953 Casper
HARE WINNER is most likely WINNER BY A HARE 1953 Tommy Tortoise
FRIDAY THE 13TH 1953 Terrytoon
BARGAIN DAYS is most likely BARGAIN DAZE 1953 Heckle & Jeckle
OPEN HOUSE 1953 Terrytoon
HOUSE MOUSE is most likely A MOUSE IN THE HOUSE 1947 Tom & Jerry
BELLE BOYS 1953 Woody Woodpecker
PLYWOOD PANIC 1953 Walter Lantz
SQUARE SHOOTIN`is most likely SQUARE SHOOTIN` SQUARE 1955 Woody Woodpecker
COLD WAR 1951 Goofy

I could find no listings for SALTY TABBY, HAPPY LION, MOUSE IN BLOOM, 20 BELOW ZERO. CINDER-ELLA could be anything.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Randy Jepsen said...

Came up with two more titles.

SALTY TABBY is most likely SALT WATER TABBY 1947 Tom & Jerry
HAPPY LION is most likely SLAP HAPPY LION 1947 MGM Tex Avery

11:35 AM  
Blogger Randy Jepsen said...

I went to a Saturday matinee of 10 to 12 WB shorts in the 60s. They were all cartoons released in the 1950s. And I remember those 70s animated short programs. Saw them in a retro theater on the Balboa Peninsula in California.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Thanks to R. Jepsen bird dogging, we can see this may have been a decent show but, line art notwithstanding, Doc, fairly Warners free!

21 toons sounds like a lot, but Saturday matinees back at my hometown theater on Long Island in the late fifties, early sixties always included five color cartoons plus a feature. Some shows leaned heavy on old Columbia re-issues but always included at least one 'star' character entry, usually Warners or a Woody.

3:47 PM  
Blogger John Rice said...

From 1950 a small grindhouse in San Francisco known at the time as the Newsvue (formerly and afterwards as the Pix) played newsreels & shorts Monday to Friday and a program of 25 cartoons every Saturday and Sunday. As a kid I loved that policy and hit the Newsvue on weekends every chance I got.

Other theaters in the Bay Area would also have periodic all cartoon shows with numbers of cartoons usually between 15 and 25. Our local United Artists in Richmond CA once had a gimmick "CartoonScope" program with 20 or so cartoons falsely advertised as being in the relatively new CinemaScope process. Although a few cartoons were actually made in 'Scope this program consisted of all flat cartoons projected with 'Scope lenses. Unlike with live action material cartoons didn't look all that distorted in 'Scope but as an aspect ratio purist even back then I was disappointed and asked for my money back. I was refused that since I'd stayed for the whole show!

6:54 PM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

Note that there is also a 9 p.m. show, and on a Friday. So, strictly speaking, this is not a weekend kiddie matinee. The manager must have known the tastes of his usual crowd, to program this as a weeknight attraction. Same phenomenon with the Bowery Boys and B westerns, who did have an adult following -- they were seen on weekends, but some houses played them in the weeknight slots.

8:35 PM  
Blogger stinky fitzwizzle said...

When Stinky was a little shaver, he went to a neighborhood theater to see "Godzilla VS the Smog Monster". For some reason, the movie was replaced with a boatload of cartoons and a couple of Three Stooges shorts. Stinky thinks he got the better of that deal.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

My friend Ted Okuda remembers attending an all-cartoon show in Chicago in the 1960s, and he was totally underwhelmed because the program consisted exclusively of Walter Lantz's "Beary Family" cartoons -- 13 of them!

I remember attending a Christmas-season show where the theater ran some original-release 35mm prints that should have been given a military burial. Max Fleischer's RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER was horribly splicy, as was a late-'40s Paramount Popeye. The management's attitude -- or perhaps the projectionist's -- seemed to be that kids would stand for anything.

This same theater ran the 1943 BATMAN serial as a weekend matinee and packed the place. The management carefully refrained from saying it was the old Batman, and you can imagine the puzzlement when the lights dimmed, and the Columbia logo came on in black-and-white, and the names of Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft were featured. What made this show especially confusing was that the projectionist handled the reels as though they were so many cartoons, and just threw them on in haphazard order like any cartoon show. So I saw Chapter 9, followed by Chapter 15, followed by Chapter 2!

6:04 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

One of my town's theatres had two or three cartoon only shows a year, usually on school holidays. The program name they used was THE MIRTH OF A NATION.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

Back in the '80s, a great, crummy, New York revival house called the Thalia had a summertime festival of rare and classic cartoons from the 10s through the mid-40s. And while families brought kids to the matinees, the evening shows were strictly for the mind-altered. I don't know how anybody saw the screen through the marijuana haze.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

THE THALIA THEATER had a unique design that prevented one person's head from blocking another's ( In 1995 I presented my SEX & VIOLENCE CARTOON FEST there for a killer six shows in a row. The final program at night's end was a tribute to Shamus Culhane. Though my name was on the Thalia Marquee when I arrived I had them remove it. I had them put Shamus' name up. Shamus had done several programs with me in Toronto including a solid week devoted to his career from his first work in silent film right up to the moment. Each of my sets was preceded by an introduction. The audience for each set stayed over for the next set so that by day's end not only was the place packed there were people who had sat through the program seven times, six times, five times, four times, three times, twice. Shamus, of course, was treated by the audience like royalty. He could no longer speak. I spoke for him.One very old Chinese man had sat in the back row from the first program on. After everyone had left he came up to me. He said, "Thank you. You have given me the best day of my life." I thought of the history of Chinese people of his generation in America and Canada. I realized that was one helluva compliment. The next day Shamus and his lovely wife Juana welcomed me into their home. It was a real treat. The bonus was that the legendary Al Aronowitz welcomed me to New York from the Thalia Stage. After the program he took me to The Blue Note where one artist after another paid tribute to him. It was a memorable day which I have yet to repeat in America. Theaters are dying not because there is a poverty of audience but rather because there is a poverty of imagination in presentation.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

That was 1993 (

7:09 AM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

Cartoon compilations appeared in movie theaters during vacation time in Argentina, specially at the beginning of them because audiences were still at their homes and didn't travel yet. On summer time, they remained in the screens for more time because when it was raining and you couldn't go to the beach you ended up in the movies.

This ad for a Warner compilation is from the end of the 1957 summer vacation, with school starting a new season in a few days.

Here is a rival cartoon compilation from Universal, taking place at the same time.

If you had gone to Brazil, you could find something like this in 1962.

Or this in 1971.

Or even this.

And in Colombia you could even find this bizarre combination in 1975.

12:53 AM  
Blogger aldi said...

Two more titles for the cartoon list.

20 Below Zero could be Plenty Below Zero, a Columbia cartoon from 1943.

Mer Babies looks like the Silly Symphony Merbabies, 1938 from Disney.

9:58 AM  

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