Since 2010, the Redford Theatre has devoted a weekend to rare, classic animated cartoons. The Redford Classic Cartoon Festival returns this Saturday.
The project was spearheaded by local film historian John Monaghan and Ann Arbor based animator Steve Stanchfield. Stanchfield is a professor of Animation and Animation History at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. He also runs Thunderbean Animation, a small company that restores animated shorts, releasing many on DVD and Blu-ray. He was featured last year on Turner Classic Movies, presenting some rare silent cartoons. “Putting together the show for the Redford happened because of film archeologist John Monaghan, who [is] one of the board members at the Redford, and has a great passion for showing films. We both collect original 16mm and 35mm cartoons and the Redford is one of the few venues left that specializes in showing 35mm,” he said.
The lineup includes “Symphony in Slang”, a 1951 cartoon directed by Tex Avery that tells the story of a hip young man who has just arrived at the Pearly Gates and tells his life story to St. Peter and lexicographer Noah Webster using slang of the early 1950’s. We see zany sight gags based on St. Peter and Webster’s interpretations of the man’s dialogue.
Also included is “Birth of a Notion”, a Merrie Melodies cartoon from 1947 starring Daffy Duck. Daffy encounters a dog named Leopold and a mad scientist loosely based on Peter Lorre while trying to head south for the winter. Lesser known characters Fox and Crow, who were created by Frank Tashlin for Columbia Pictures’ Screen Gems, are featured in 1944’s “Mr. Moocher”. Other cartoon characters that will be featured include Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny, and Mr. Magoo.
A Popeye cartoon from 1944 is what Stanchfield is most excited to show to animation lovers. “I’m most excited to show ‘We’re on Our Way to Rio’ a 1944 Paramount Popeye cartoon, and one of the absolute best of the color series. It’s a nearly perfect 35mm, original Technicolor print. It’s just beautiful, and funny,” he said.
In the past, the Redford Classic Cartoon festival has showcased silent cartoons featuring Felix the Cat and rare gems from the 1930’s. “This year we’re concentrating on 40’s and 50’s cartoons. It’s a pretty fun show this year. There are two Tex Avery MGM cartoons- Avery created some of the greatest and funniest cartoons of the 40’s and 50’s,” said Stanchfield. “There are 3 Warner Brothers shorts, including a great Bugs Bunny [cartoon]. ‘Feed the Kitty’ is one of the best the studio ever produced, and is a wonderful end to the show. John Monaghan unearthed a nearly perfect print of the famous ‘Let’s All Go to the Lobby’. While only a minute long, it’s a gem to see it on a big screen, in a nearly mint Technicolor print.”
Stanchfield looks forward to seeing the audiences’ reaction and interacting with fellow animation buffs afterwards. “I love the audience at the Redford. It’s a great crowd of animation fans, both young and old. I love being part of this unique experience,” he said.
Show times are Saturday, November 14 at 2 and 8 P.M. only. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased in advance at the theatre’s website.