“A Faithful Burro and an Old Sour Dough” – Uranium Blues (1956)

Don’t worry — the Terrytoon will be on in a minute, but first…

Some Thunderbean news:
Next week is the Columbus Moving Picture Show in Columbus Ohio! I’m especially looking forward to seeing old friends, maybe trading and buying some films. I’m giving a presentation on Friday about what Thunderbean does in putting together the sets, covering film cleanup, editing and more. The little Thunderbean team has been gathering and organizing as we bring more people in to help up get these things moving, and none too soon. Over the next few weeks we’re attempting to hit a few big mile markers on three projects. Since school is done here the ramping up has started! Wish us good luck!

And, now, the cartoon:

The Terrytoon kick continues for another week here with a somewhat odd cartoon: Uranium Blues (1956)

In this entry, Old Prospector Farmer Al abandons his faithful burro, trading it in for a Jeep so he can mine Uranium for Atomic Bombs. Stupidly, Farmer Al attempts to have the jeep crawl up canyons like his borough did, destroying it. The wrecked Jeep’s head conveniently ends up in front of the sad borough, letting him know old Farmer Al has been carried off by two typical Terry vultures, fresh from a gig on a Mighty Mouse cartoon. Of course, Farmer Al is saved, even though his film career is over.

Maybe it would have been a better ending to just have him carried off by those vultures as we iris in, or maybe he could have beat up those vultures and put them on a spit, ending the film with the two friends starting drumsticks. Farmer Al does seem to have a kinship in design with Poopdeck Pappy. Why aren’t there “What Would Poopdeck Pappy Do?” bumper stickers?

I think this particular cartoon is one of the least interesting Terry cartoons in terms of overall design and direction. Having the Grand Canyon as the subject of a scope cartoon seems like a great idea (even if it’s a copycat one) but, as evidenced from even this ‘flat’ print, the backgrounds are really never exciting enough to take advantage of the splendor that could have been created. It sure isn’t the best sendoff for Farmer Al, but at least his TV show would continue to entertain the kids through the 50s.

The 1956 Terrytoons mark the end of an era in many ways. It’s the big change of guard for the studio and the very last films with the old set of characters. For Farmer Al, it’s his last cartoon. It was produced in Cinemascope – and it would be great to see a print in scope of it, but I’ve never seen one for sale in 16 or 35. This old 16mm print I have is letterboxed a bit, with black bars on the top and bottom, at least getting *slightly * closer. Many of the scope Terrytoons have an odd echo in the recording, including this one.

It’s an interesting perfume on an otherwise sort of blandish entry. I really wish they had done more with the Atomic theme, or developed the sadness of the burro a little more, or even had a more interesting death for the Jeep. But heck.