Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Last chance for half-price DVDs!

Well folks, as the month comes to a close I'm offering a last-chance shot at buying some really nice early animation DVDs at HALF PRICE. Just to refresh your memory, the selection includes: Out of the Inkwell, Felix the Cat, Krazy Kat, Farmer Alfalfa, Aesop's Fables, Alice Comedies, Oswald Rabbit, and many more!
View the complete list at my Tom's Vintage Film sales site.

Click here for my other collection site.

More from that Krazy Kat cartoon...

Special thanks to Craig D. for uploading these frames from his Super 8 print of that Krazy Kat cartoon. I have the same version on Standard 8mm, but sadly no quick easy way to take screenshots.

Here is a list of the 1925 Winkler Krazy Kats taken from Denis Gifford's American Animated Films: The Silent Era, 1897-1929. (McFarland, 1990). I suppose all of these home movie prints are from the 1925 entries, as the design and composition is slightly different from later titles held at BFI.

Hot Dogs
The Smoke Eater
A Uke-Calamity
The Flight That Failed
Bokays and Brickbatz
Hair Raiser
The New Champ
James and Gems
Monkey Business

Hmmm...could it be A Uke-Calamity?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Right in my own backyard

Below is an ad for the Gaumont film company. Gaumont made cartoons, most of which are invariably unavailable for viewing.

Awhile back I read in Crafton's Before Mickey that Gaumont was located in Flushing but didn't give it much thought. The moment I saw "Flushing, N.Y." listed on this ad, however, it piqued my curiosity. I'll have to do a little bit of detective work to find its old address and to see what's currently on the lot.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Krazy Kat, Winkler Style

Krazy Kat being beaned with a brick by Ignatz Mouse is probably one of the most well-known images in comic history. The George Herriman comic creation first appeared in newspapers in 1913 and was soon adopted for the screen by William Randolph Hearst's International Film Service in 1916.
Simple in composition, the IFS cartoons literally did seem like moving comic strips.

Some 10 of the 26 IFS Krazy cartoons survive.
After the 1917 shutdown of the IFS studio, Bray Studios began producing the series in 1920. The most popular title in this series has been THE GREAT CHEESE ROBBERY (1920), its first. An astounding 9 out of 12 Bray Krazy cartoons still exist in some form.
Fast-forward to 1925. Krazy had not been in any cartoons since 1921 and M.J. Winkler signed a contract to produce a new series of shorts after ceasing distribution of the Felix the Cat cartoons. A very succesful run, Krazy consistantly appeared in cartoons from this point in 1925; through the sound barrier, and well into the following decade.
Meanwhile, the negatives of the silent Winkler Krazy cartoons sat in storage. Not visioning a commercial future for these shorts in 1948 (just shy of widespread Television usage!) and not being able to afford the storage costs of the dangerous nitrate prints, Margaret Winkler ordered these negatives be destroyed. This one event immediately made the series very rare. A handful have turned up as shortened home movie prints, or in the case of four nitrate prints stored at the British Film Institute. Aside from these rare instances us enthusiasts are left to enjoy whatever scraps were used as "home movie" prints during the 1920s-1960s era of 8mm and 16mm projection in households.
Although I have a longer 8mm print of this particular clip, I was happy to find this 2 minute 16mm clip of a Winkler Krazy Kat in which Krazy is a dentist trying to pull a Hippo's tooth. Hope you enjoy some frames from this "Gem Safety Film" print retitled HIPPO AT THE DENTIST. (If you want to take a guess at what the original title might have been, drop me a line!)

Friday, February 23, 2007

LLL #2: Bobby Bumps' Adventures (1915)

In this #2 entry of Looks Like it's Lost, we bring you the synopsis of the second Bobby Bumps cartoon. Produced by Earl Hurd for Universal as a "Joker Split-Reel", this is the last cartoon in the series before Hurd went on to join forces with J.R. Bray and invent one of the most important animation innovations in the industry: the Cel Overlay technique.
Unfortunately, folks, "Looks like it's lost."

This is most likely a Moving Picture World review deposited at the Library of Congress as its copyright synopsis; where it has remained ever since.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Word from 'Rashoom'

I'd just like to share this wonderful statement, as posted by Rashoom on the Animation Show Forums.
"[Tom], you can post all you know about the silent cartoons, and there will still be blank spots. In sharing the information you do know on your blog, you're now open to people from around the world who may be able to contribute some of the information you do not know. A lot of information is present in the shorts themselves. A lot of things that were mundane and commonplace back then seem new and alien to us. We see things in these cartoons that belong in museums today--things like telephones, cars, clothing, tools, and hair styles. Human nature, however, is still the same. That's why Felix is so enjoyable. That's why Alice is still so adorable. That's why we can still laugh at "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces", and the antics of Gertie. In just finding these cartoons, and in distributing them to the masses, you have told us much more about these shorts than we would ever have known from an interview. Any extra information about the people who made these cartoons, or the current events at the time they were being made, is an added bonus. Thanks for sharing what you do know, and adding to our knowledge of the silent era of animation."

What nicer words could be said? A big thanks to Rashoom.
I'll be posting something new either today or tomorrow. Stay tooned ;-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


My YouTube clip below has inspired this next post...
I think some of you may be familiar with the fact that there were series of Charlie Chaplin cartoons produced in the 1910s. Some were produced here, and some abroad (France, IIRC). It's interesting to note that Felix precursors appear on the Sullivan/Messmer main titles of the films; and quite possibly may have appeared in the cartoons themselves (your resident blogger has admittently not seen all entries in the series but will be familiarized with more very soon).
I suggest readers check out the Pre-Felix Pat Sullivan Studio Filmography compiled by David Gerstein with some small contributions from yours truly. Good work, Dave!
These two closeups from a small 16mm toy film loop most likely show a Movca-produced Chaplin cartoon from the mid-teens.

And below, a very rare promo ad for a 1918 short from the Sullivan Studios, as published in a Universal trade magazine from that period.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Heeza Liar's Second Wind

Colonel Heeza Liar was possibly the first true cartoon character to star in a long-term series of films. In his first regiment, the Colonel starred in 39 cartoons from 1913 to 1917. Surviving titles include In Africa (the first film), Shipwrecked (1914), At the Bat (1915- on DVD), and Hobo (1916).
Fast forward to 1922 and the Liar starts in another series of updated entries. This time, produced by Vernon Stallings and animated in part by Walter Lantz, Heeza Liar interacted with the live world much like Koko the Clown and Dinky Doodle. The most widely known example from this period is Col. Heeza Liar's Forbidden Fruit (1923) though at least 1 or 2 more from the 1922-1924 entries are known to survive.
Here below is a rare publicity ad from EXHIBITOR'S HERALD (1/6/23)

Blimey! I need an Elmo TRV-16 (or, The Future of Tom's Vintage Film)

Many of you wonderful fans are probably wondering what's in those film cans pictures below...or simply what else it is that I have. The answer is dozens of things!
The only problem is that I have no feasible method of transferring 16mm film to video/DVD. Sure, I can send films out through the mail to other people but I would definitely rather not risk the majority of what I own being handled by any 'carrier'.
The answer to my problem would be an Elmo TRV-16. This is a machine that looks exactly like a projector except it transfers film to video using a built-in CCD camera and RCA output to a VHS or DVD recorder.
Check around for one folks, as I don't have a couple thousand to burn on eBay for this machine.
Below is a tiny sample of just one of endless things I can offer with transfer capabilities.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

LLL #1

Today I'm introducing a new series of blog posts. LLL, or Looks Like it's Lost.
In an LLL post, I'll examine print or visual records of a cartoon that is most likely lost; in other words, the only "hint" of a lost cartoon or series thereof.

LLL #1: Farmer Alfalfa's Scientific Dairy (1916)

Many of you know that Farmer Al graced TV screens for years throughout the 1950s. Most of what viewers saw were either the silent Aesop's Fables or sound Terrytoons via the Barker Bill show or the Farmer Alfalfa show.
The Bray Studios did have a TV package, folks (again, some of you know that.) Another elusive series within that package was the Bray-Era Farmer Alfalfa cartoons from 1916. While a handful survive, none to my knowlegde survive as Bray TV prints.

This image, among several others, appeared in a book called Film Flashes (Judge Company, 1916.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blogger Special- February

Cherished blog readers,
Announced only here*, all 23 of my Early Animation DVDs are half price this month.
Help support my cause and buy a DVD or two or three or 23 :-D
For those of you that haven't checked out my sales site, here is a quick list of what's available:
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Alice Comedies (vol. 1-3)
Felix the Cat (vol. 1-4)
Farmer Alfalfa (vol. 1-3)
Aesop's Fables
Aesop's Sound Fables
Bray Rarities
Krazy Kat
Out of the Inkell (vol. 1-2)
Koko Song Cartunes
Rare Silent Cartoons
Stop Motion Madness
Bobby Bumps

For content info, follow the link at right.

(Questions, etc...send them through the forms on my site.)
*I had originally announced on the forums about having an overstock and selling some at half price, but I've since decided to have the sale apply to all compilations.

You can thank sanitation

Hey, it's how some of us find good 'n useful treasures!
Last night we stumbled upon this great wooden shelf. Thanks to the sidewalk piles o' junk, I'm now able to organize a nice hunk of the silents.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Some HFL Title Cards

Courtesy Craig D., these are two examples of Home Film Libraries titlecards. While Felix Minds the Kid turns up alot in this version (later duped by Official Films before adding their own "Felix Minds the Baby" titlecard), the fact that HFL offered Winkler Krazy Kats remains a little known fact.
If I remember correctly, the complete version of this particular Krazy is available on Ray Pointer's Krazy Kat DVD. (As Craig mentions, his Krazy is a later Atlas Film dupe from the 60s.)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Elusive 'Home Film Libraries'

Thanks to a Kid Pics PD video from 1989, I was introduced to Home Film Libraries. If you must know, KP used an old amber-tinted HFL print of ALICE'S MYSTERIOUS MYSTERY (1926)in one of their Disney compilations. For reasons unrelated to this, Kid Pics (an Amvest Video company) was apparently sued by the motherlord: Disney. That may be why you don't see any Kid Pics videos appearing after 1989.
Anyway, Home Film Libraries was sort of a spinoff on Kodascope Libraries (the Blockbuster Video of the 1920s-1940s). Started in 1928 in a man's home, this company soon flourished and offered prints of many popular silent-era titles for outright sale. Later, HFL became Films Inc.
Unfortunately, through my years of collecting HFL seems to be one of the more elusive sources. As you can imagine, not much survives after some 70+ years.
What cartoons did they have, do you ask? Oh, plenty of goodies. Felix the Cat, Alice Comedies, some...random things and yes, Winkler Krazy Kats. (Thanks to the Man from E.G.G. for exposing me to that fact via a shortened Super 8/DVD print and later some actual listings in magazines that I came across.)

No folks, that's NOT my hand!

Whew! Ever spend money you didn't have? But better this than it vanishing into a black hole.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Telling Tommy (and how!)

Some years ago, a jolly old neighbor of my grandmother's passed away. One of his possessions which came into my hands was a series of childrens books entitled Telling Tommy, by Paul Pim and (c)1942 Cupples and Leon. An educational series if you must, these books introduced children to facts and ideas in the form of an illustrated father smoking a pipe (or in this case, "Uncle Jack") and chatting with his son.
The post below jogged my memory a bit...and you'd never guess what I found in TELLING TOMMY about Famous Inventors.

Robert Winsor McCay

Here's something I stumbled across on eBay fairly recently...a cool letter from Robert Winsor McCay to "Mr. Sobol", a columnnist. Too bad it's not dated by year. Nonetheless, an interesting look into Robert's personal feelings for his 'pop'.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Bootlegging of a Farmer (Bootlegs, part 1)

Poor, poor Farmer Alfalfa...always bearing the brunt (or grunt?) of the forever restless livestock living on his farm. Sure, Al appears to be a neurotic seed-sower but after all he did feed his pigs spaghetti by the mid-30s. If you've studied his cartoons you can see what he's been driven to...in 1921, he wore a bonnet as a milk maid...in 1923, he had nightmares of the Feline KKK persecuting him among other horrors.
Nonetheless the Farmer has been given some good treatment throughout history. In the 1950s, he was the star of at least two TV shows in a period when reviving old cartoon libraries was commonplace.
One fact usually escapes the average enthusiast's radar however...and many of you may have even seen one or more, but the Farmer and so many others were the subject of black-market Bootlegging in the early days of TV.
No, I don't mean legitimate reissue packages such as Stuart Productions, Commonwealth Pictures, etc etc. I'm talking about the obscure companies like Astra TV, Cinepix Inc., and Krazytoons. What these companies did was simple: take vintage cartoons and tack on new titles. In the case of Astra, if the cartoons were old enough (10s and 20s silents) the original titles would be left intact.
Cinepix on the other hand had a better idea: dupe sound Terrytoons and replace the soundtracks with Winston Sharples music. Don't get me wrong, I have an undying love of Terrytoons, but sometimes this made the cartoons one percent more interesting (the footage and music tends to blend nicely.)
Now for your enjoyment are some visuals...

An early Astra intro title

It may be a little hard to see, but look at this typical Astra title card ...there's Mickey, and whaddya know, the Nazi Wolf from one of those WWII Disney cartoons!

Typical Cinepix fare...

Check back for more on vintage bootlegs!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Allow me to introduce myself

Hidey ho surfers, since this is my first post I thought I should get started by explaining how I got started in this field.

For one thing, I've been watching old cartoons on PD VHS tapes since I was born. At any given moment, you could find me as a toddler sitting patiently watching Jasper in a Jam, Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur, Minnie's Yoo Hoo, Smile Darn Ya Smile, among many others.When I reached about age 5 I went into a phase that I've never come out of: collector.

Besides old things in general, it was at this time that I started collecting VHS tapes of classic cartoons wherever I could find and afford them. I owe my family alot of credit for supporting my interests and footing the bill for many of those old videotapes.

A couple years later, my father found some old silent 16mm Castle Films prints of 30s Terrytoons and a Mickey Mouse film as well. I was fascinated by them, but thought "What are these round things?" We asked around and discovered that my Godfather had a projector and was able to show me the films my father found. Ever since I sat down and watched those primitive cartoons flickering on a white sheet against the wall, I was hooked.

Where, do you ask, did silent cartoons come into the picture? It was a bit of manifest destiny. Before I was even born, my mother bought The Disney Studio Story. It sat displayed on my bedroom shelf for several years before I started flipping through it. Being that I grew up watching old black and white cartoons like Smile Darn Ya Smile, the images of Alice Comedies and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in the book started me on a quest to find those films.

I did eventually find a videotape of silent Disney cartoons released by Video Images, courtesy of the huge Movies Unlimited catalog. My father was generous to buy the $20 or so tape, this being much more expensive than the little PD videos I had been collecting. Then again, when the video came, I was hooked.My next exposure to silents came soon thereafter. This was the period when the F.W. Woolworth Co. stores were closing in New York. At a local Woolworth's there was a video bin...inside were old PD videos that must have been leftover from the 80s. Some of these were from an obscure company called Nippon Ltd., one series of videos of which was called Hide & Shriek. This series boasted "scary" or "oddball" cartoons and short films. On one video was a print of The Pet, a c1921 Winsor McCay classic. From that point on my interest in silent cartoons snowballed to what it has become today.

The rest is history!Now, for your enjoyment, are some snapshots of [some of] my collection.