Random semiconscious musings

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

WB Cartoon Credit Weirdness

Most anyone who has watched animated cartoons on television while growing up can remember seeing the widely-distributed "AAP" cartoon package. If you'd have done your reading, you'd recall that when the Warner Brothers cartoons were redistributed to theatre owners in the late 40s, there were changes made so that the theatre owners who were paying for product to run with the feature-length films always had a cartoon to accompany the matinee experience.

Since the release output of the Warner cartoons did not quite size up to that of the motion pictures or newsreels, the Associated Artists Productions (in charge of 16mm distribution at the time) thought up a clever way to recirculate prints that had already had their once-around. They created what we know as the "Blue Ribbon" prints- cartoons re-released to the markets with their original titles removed and replaced with generic, bland, credit-less title cards. The thought behind it was clever: trick the theatres and movie audiences into thinking that every cartoon was a new one by re-issuing a new copyright date on each cartoon.

At the time, it didn't seem like a big problem. Nowadays, many people wish they could see those beautiful, uniquely-animated and scored titles as they once were, complete with production number and screen credits to those who worked on them.

However, the odd thing is that other 'side effects' happened to the Blue Ribbon prints: many had scenes removed; some were shortened significantly, others had 'questionable material' taken out. But the oddest thing includes some strange renditions of prints that made it out into the film buyer's market.

I have included some of these 'oddities' that have been talked about in animation forums and newsgroups, but not too many have witnessed.

Our first exhibit: what was referred to as the "Silent AAP". The cartoon "Super Rabbit", when redistributed, had the ownership AAP tacked on, but without any audio track... see for yourself. (For nostalgic purposes, I left on part of the network opening tags from WUAB Cleveland's "Bugs Bunny And Friends" show from which this cartoon was recorded).


Strange.
Our next exhibit features another weird oddity in the case of Blue Ribbon titles: the famed "Tweetie Pie" segment.
Many have deemed the original opening titles to the classic Academy-Award winner, "Tweetie Pie" to be lost forever, since no surviving prints can be located (personally, I think prints do exist somewhere, probably in private collections, since this was an Academy Award winner- but whether or not those individuals who hold those prints are aware of the situation, or care to share their print is another story). Anyway, when the Blue Ribbon title card was tacked on, some prints retained their original opening titles score, right into the cartoon, creating an odd-looking off-synched effect:






How someone actually passed that by a board a review is beyond me.... well, maybe that was the problem....

Our last exhibit features the unusual closing titles to the cartoon, "The Upstanding Sitter" featuring Daffy Duck. Now this one really goes beyond my understanding of quality control... although the cartoon maintains its original opening credits, it's the ending that gets messed up....

Check it out- both the incorrect visuals and some random audio title, pulled from a pre-1940s Merrie Melodie. Unfortunately, this ending isn't complete, because I suffered from the "VCR-that-backs-up-and-erases-the-last-bit-of-the-preceding-show" syndrome. But you get the idea:




I'd personally like to know what the person was smoking when they watched that rendition and believed it looked passable.

Next time- "WB Cartoon Credit Beauty".

4 Comments:

  • "...trick the theatres and movie audiences into thinking that every cartoon was a new one by re-issuing a new copyright date on each cartoon."

    The BR reissues always carried the original copyright date, which was inserted into the new copyright line. The early reissues used an obvious pasteover job, while the later ones apparently used a fill-in-the-blank copyright line, often resulting in a poorly spaced or stretched date that did not match the rest of the line.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:49 PM  

  • The BR reissues always carried the original copyright date, which was inserted into the new copyright line

    Thanks for clarifying that- the point I really wanted to make was about how the titles were genercizied to remove some of the identifiability of the cartoon's age.

    I personally don't think a lot of moviegoers really cared to look at that date on the WB shield screen when the cartoon came on, anyway :) .

    By Blogger Larry T, at 9:53 AM  

  • Larry, in case you're interested, the "Bugs ending" version of "The Up-Standing Sitter" still airs in CN and Boomerang Latin America.

    By Blogger Javier, at 2:46 PM  

  • Since the release output of the Warner cartoons did not quite size up to that of the motion pictures or newsreels, the Associated Artists Productions (in charge of 16mm distribution at the time) thought up a clever way to recirculate prints that had already had their once-around. They created what we know as the "Blue Ribbon" prints- cartoons re-released to the markets with their original titles removed and replaced with generic, bland, credit-less title cards. The thought behind it was clever: trick the theatres and movie audiences into thinking that every cartoon was a new one by re-issuing a new copyright date on each cartoon.

    It was actually Warner Bros. themselves who created the Blue Ribbon prints. They re-released these films from 1943 to the 1960s, but only those prints done before 1957 (e.g., all the Blue Ribbons AAP had) removed all the credits. The next ones had title cards with credits and only replaced the Merrie Melodies/Looney Tunes openings.

    By Blogger Deyan Mavrov, at 2:35 PM  

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