As I looked around the Redford Theatre on Saturday, November 14, 2015, people-watching while I waited for the Redford Cartoon Fest to begin, I noticed a wide variety of ages.
It was the matinee, and of course there were many families of parents and children. But I also saw a fair number of middle aged and older people who didn’t have children with them.
That told me that the afternoon’s lineup of classic cartoons had a wide appeal, mainly because these older cartoons had been a part of the entire lives of most people in that auditorium.
Thanks to several area collectors, and the Redford Theatre, everyone got to enjoy these cartoons in the original way in which they were presented—in glorious 35-millimeter Technicolor in a theater setting.
Before the cartoons started, stage announcer John Monaghan said that 35-millimeter movies are an important part of the Redford’s mission to give patrons an authentic movie theater experience, along with the live organ playing, butter on the popcorn, and other familiar Redford treats.
To ensure an authentic experience requires much preservation work, including the restoration work that has gone on in the theater, and the diligence to acquire 35-millimeter prints in this digital age. Next weekend’s presentation of the Christmas favorite Miracle on 34th Street was made possible by a new 35-millimeter print that was made available by Twentieth Century Fox.
For this weekend’s cartoon festival, this preservation also included the careful protection of 35-millimeter films that are vulnerable to fading and warping, as explained by Steve Stanchfield from the Redford stage. All of the cartoons in the show were provided by area collectors, like Steve and John Monaghan.
The result was laugh-filled afternoon of 12 cartoons from MGM, Universal, Columbia, Famous Studios, UPA, and of course, Warner Bros.
Their Place in History
These cartoons were originally shown as parts of packages of entertainment in cities and towns across the United States.
The small print in the following pictures shows the original advertisements for some of the cartoons that were part of the Redford Cartoon Fest. That print also shows other short subjects that helped make moviegoing such a fun experience in the 1940s and 1950s.
The cartoons were mainly produced to accompany feature films that were made by the same studio that made the cartoons. But some cartoon characters and creators were so popular that were shown with movies from other studios.
(All images were accessed through the Newspapers.com website.)
The 1941 Columbia cartoon The Way of All Pests was shown with:
- Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary (M-G-M)
- Rebecca (Selznick)
- Devil Commands (Columbia)
The 1951 Warner Bros. cartoon Rabbit Every Monday was screened with:
- Vengeance Valley (M-G-M)
- Royal Wedding (M-G-M)
- The Magnificent Yankee (M-G-M)
The 1951 M-G-M cartoon Symphony in Slang appeared with:
- The Painted Hills (M-G-M)
- Excuse My Dust (M-G-M)
- The Frogmen (20th Century Fox)
Also part of the 2015 Redford Cartoon Fest were:
- Mr. Moocher (1944, Columbia)
- Puppet Love (1944, Famous Studios)
- We’re On Our Way to Rio (1944, Famous Studios)
- Birth of a Notion (1947, Warner Bros.)
- Slingshot 6 7/8 (1951, Universal)
- Feed the Kitty (1952, Warner Bros.)
- The First Bad Man (1955, M-G-M)
- Magoo Goes West (1956, UPA)
- Lighter than Hare (1960, Warner Bros.)
- Several surprises, including a trailer for the animated 1942 Walt Disney movie Bambi and an old advertisement for NBC Saturday morning cartoon shows like Underdog.
The afternoon had the feeling of transition from fall to winter and from the quiet of mid-November to the bustling activity of the Christmas season. Patrons waited in line along Lahser Road in chilly but sunny weather.
Inside the theater, people gathered around the half-finished train set that is always a highlight of the Redford Christmas season.
On the way out, many visitors carried a guarantee of a Happy New Year, with the January-April 2016 Redford schedule that includes Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Goldfinger, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
The also carried with them a happy feeling, thanks to the Redford helping them rediscover the spirit of youthfulness that is preserved in everyone, no matter what their age.
Copyright © 2015 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.