“Makes A Guy Sore!”: Confirmation from Classic Media

"What the hyeck?!" No Cecil on THIS set, folks...

"What the hyeck?" No "Beany and Cecil" here (image from TVAcres.com)

Kevin mentioned it the other day, but now we hear it from the source: the upcoming DVD set from Classic Media will not contain any of the Matty’s Funday Funnies segments featuring Bob Clampett’s Beany and Cecil. Just this morning we received the following e-mail from  John Ruzich at Classic Media:

Dear Sir or Madame:

I am contacting you on behalf of Classic Media, an Entertainment Rights group company. Recently, your website reported on Classic Media’s upcoming August 26th DVD releases of Casper Classic Collection Vol. 1: Trick or Treat and Casper Classic Collection Vol. 2: Casper & Wendy Scare Up Some Fun. Although both releases will contain Casper cartoons that originally aired on television as part of the Matty’s Funday Funnies program, we wanted to clarify that Classic Media does not have any trademark or copyright ownership of Matty’s Funday Funnies including the characters associated with the show such as Beany Boy, Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent, Uncle Captain Huffenpuff and Dishonest John. For the avoidance of doubt, Classic Media is the sole trademark and copyright owner of Casper the Friendly Ghost and Wendy the Witch. If you have any questions and/or require any further clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

John Ruzich
Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs
Classic Media, Inc.

Thank you, Mr. Ruzich–we, along with countless other Beany and Cecil fans, are crushed. But at least we know.

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Orphan Toon Musings—Beany, Cecil and “Bats”

By Kevin Wollenweber

Okay, just a few things to keep those who care up to date-

I excitedly and prematurely wrote herein a while back about the possibility of Bob Clampett’s “BEANY & CECIL” coming, in greater volume, to DVD from Classic Media. My original alert to this was rather fuzzy, because it came from a website that was confusing “BEANY & CECIL” with anything else involving the old “MATTY MATTEL’S FUNDAY FUNNIES”. Sure enough, I more carefully reread the same alert and it had a link heading to news of two very spare “CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST” DVD’s from Classic Media, both featuring only around 12 cartoons and very embarrassingly aimed at the kiddies.

This company has absolutely *NO* clue that kids of today are just *NOT* the ones who are interested in the old Harveytoons (or Famous Studios) characters!! While it is true that the HARVEYTOONS or Harvey Comics characters were also connected with “MATTY MATTEL’S FUNDAY FUNNIES” (thus the link to “BEANY & CECIL” to further confuse those not in the know), one could not get immediately confused between theatrical cartoons from Famous Studios and TV cartoons from Bob Clampett! So what, then, *IS* the correct news on “BEANY & CECIL”?

I sure wish I knew. I did get news that the Clampetts were last heard to be negotiating with Classic Media; so does this mean that the marriage is complete? Not as far as I now know. For those who care, I’m sorry I jumped so prematurely. I really thought I had a major scoop on this one, and, in all honesty, I was jumping to tell folks that felt as close to the series as I do that there are further possibilities. While there are still possibilities, I guess we all have to moan and groan and suffer with our fast-decaying videotapes. I’ve already outlined the reasons why I thoroughly enjoy this series. While, to some just discovering this twisted gem, this might seem like a “you had to be there” type of moment, I continue to say “give it a second or third try!” It really does have the sense of humor of Bob Clampett all over it despite its very limited animation style, along with then popular hipster humor that is as quick-witted as Clampett’s own.

This is one of the few shows in which I like the time capsule caricatures and name-dropping, and that is why the adults, of course, should be the market to which this show is sold, but I do wish the Clampett family much good luck in finding an all-embracing home for this show and just about anything else deemed lost in the history of Bob Clampett.

In other musings, this morning regarding animators and where they came from and where they were going, on YouTube, I checked out a print there of an MGM cartoon credited to Rudolph Ising, called “BATS IN THE BELFRY”. It is, with animation logic and all, a one act play with Three Stooges-like bats singing of their lunacy and demonstrating it with their antics. The cartoon is almost plotless, although the big punchline is that we do find out, at the cartoon’s close, just what makes the bats “crazy” each night at the stroke of twelve!

I’m unsure of the voices in the cartoon, although I do catch Pinto Culvig voicing one of the bats. The third little guy (known as “Brick Bat”) just jiggles his empty head around so we can hear that something is indeed loose, but he remains voiceless throughout.

The cartoon plays out like an old vaudeville routine and does so within real time (something rare in cartoons of this period) which can span any number of years just so we get to the finale or punchline of the on-going joke within the seven-to-ten minute period that we are spending with the cartoon in question.

It is directed, in actuality, by a guy named Jerry Brewer, who also directed another lavish MGM toon of this period, “THE FIRST SWALLOW”. I believe that these two toons were the only ones that he directed. I’d sure be interested to know more about the guy and what else, in the golden age, he had done. I had thought, originally, that he, like George Gordon, had been a Terrytoons transplant, but then again, I’m not entirely sure if Gordon first worked at MGM and then at Terrytoons, but I’m certain that he worked at both studios. In fact, I like Gordon’s work at MGM, and his BARNEY BEAR cartoon, “BARNEY BEAR’S POLAR PEST” almost reminds me of any number of plot elements created for any number of TERRY BEARS cartoons. Perhaps you readers could clue me in on Gordon’s animation work history…or Jerry Brewer’s for that matter.

It is worth noting just what Jerry Brewer’s influences were, here, because others have said, about “BATS IN THE BELFRY”, that the bats, themselves, are oddly designed, with brightly colored decorative clothes or ornamental gear on their bodies. It is a strange little tune in which almost all the dialogue is sung. It reminds me of the earliest Three Stooges shorts in which the cast sang all the dialogue. If I remember clearly, those sing-songy Stooges shorts did not go over well, even with staunch fans, but I can see where animated cartoonists could be inspired to do something with the concept. Those at Warner Brothers had done much better with the idea, but this is an interesting effort and worth better understanding…or at least a second look.

“NOW JUST A DARN MIN-NUT!!”, The True Essence of Bob Clampett’s “Beany and Cecil”

Our red-blooded "sea sur-pent" in puppet form (1949, above) and animated (1962, above right)

Our red-blooded "sea sur-pent" in puppet form (1949, above) and animated (1962, below right)

by Kevin Wollenweber

I was listening to the commentary tracks found on disk four of LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION, VOL. 3, especially John Kricfalusi’s enthusiastic talks
during some of his favorite Bob Clampett cartoons included in that program, like “GRUESOME TWOSOME” and “FALLING HARE”, noting the overall work of Bob
Clampett as a major influence for many facets of his own “REN & STIMPY”series and his ways of approaching characters that are not his own. It must
have, therefore, been a blast for John K. to have had a shot at directing and writing his own “BEANY & CECIL” series as his tribute to the man who was his artistic hero.

In the commentaries, John K. says that Bob Clampett was the king of mischief, of the double entendre, the gag that could mean something other than what you might have thought it meant as a kid viewing it for the first
time, and there are indeed times this is true. There was that gag that apparently was often cut from TV airings of “AN ITCH IN TIME” in which the dog gets bitten by the flea and  goes rolling from one corner of the room to the other, dragging his bitten posterior on the ground and yowling, pausing only for enough time to pant and say, as an aside to the audience, “Hey, I’d better cut this out. I might
get to like it!”

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