“Scrappy’s Camera Troubles” (1937)

Scrappy really should have some adult supervision in this week’s short since it would both help him in how to better get along with animals and humans, but also proper care of professional equipment and other people’s property.

But first — in Thunderbean country:

Lots of behind the scenes stuff I can’t talk about yet at all… it seems there’s more and more of that these days. Wish me luck though since I can use it! What I *can* talk about is having a really good time getting together some of the new special sets as we’re able, and working towards getting another batch done. The three official sets in progress all had films make it to the finish line this week too.

At Thunderbean, we all can’t wait to get Mid Century Modern 3 to replication despite being a little tight on funds,so we’re working on ways to support that venture. One of them is the Save the Cartoons special set. We’re using this set as a sort of fundraiser to specifically replicate titles. It’s at the Thunderbean shop for a limited time— and comes with some extra swag too!

I’d love to do a survey that required contemporary animation people (writers, voice artists, storyboard artists, background painters, animators and assistants) to watch all the 1937 and 38 Columbia Cartoons and decide wether or not they would have liked to work at that studio in this time period. It’s fascinating to me that the studio, at a time of great strides happening at Disney, Fleischer, MGM (Harman-Ising) and Warners Brothers, seems to frequently miss the mark on one aspect or another in production, but also seems to nail it so well sometimes. The studio’s Rhapsodies in this period are some of the best cartoons they ever produced, while in the Scrappy and Krazy Kat series they’re sort of all over the place. Perhaps it’s the organization of the studio more than any aspect, or perhaps budgets, or perhaps not having a requirement to be at the top of the game. Still, the best cartoons from the studio in this time are as good (or close at least) to the films produced by the aforementioned shops. Sometimes I feel like they’ve stumbled into some of the best moments in these films.

In today’s cartoon, Scrappy’s Camera Troubles (1937) Scrappy emotes a little tune about how much he loves nature and how he wants to take pictures. “I use a camera, not a gun, to hunt the fox and deer— I treat them very kindly, whenever they are near— I’d love to take a picture, if only one were here”. This, or course, leads to lots of animals punking Scrappy’s ambitions. He misses one great moment where Br’er Rabbit is helping an offscreen rabbit give birth, emerging from a tree truck to tell the lucky father they’ve had 10 babies, counting them down on his fingers. The second half of the cartoon seems to switch gears to Scrappy attempting to take a picture of Yippy. Hilarity ensues? In the ned, Scrappy owes a nice old-world Italian photographer a camera since he’s unable to control his own temper and destroys the poor man’s property. I think we should make a list of everything Scrappy destroys that belongs to someone else and send him a bill. If he was about five in 1931 that means he’s nearing 99 now!

I always thought Scrappy’s Camera Troubles really missed the mark — until I showed it to a group of children once who thought it was really funny! I wish I had a print of ‘Niagara Fools’ to follow it up with and see how that did in comparison. It’s an interesting one from an animation standpoint in that some sections look like really experienced animators worked on them, and some of the animation isn’t as well thought out timing or pose-wise. Some scenes have good layout and some good character poses but don’t have the best timing otherwise. It’s a mixed bag that works well enough in this almost all personality and sight-gag based film. The meandering and slow paced score doesn’t help things too much honestly – but I especially like a lot of the poses Yippy gets into- although sometimes to comic timing is really not working. One of my favorite moments is yipping doing a Stan Laurel impression, but it’s such a throw away moment that it’s hardly noticeable.

I hope you enjoy this little film, from my own 16mm print I bought 40 years ago.

Have a good week all!