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Screen Songs is the name of a series of animated cartoons produced by the Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures between 1929 and 1938. They were revived by Famous Studios in 1945 starting with the Noveltoon Old MacDonald Had a Farm.

History

The Screen Songs are a continuation of the earlier Fleischer series Song Car-Tunes. They are sing-along shorts featuring the famous "bouncing ball", a sort of precursor to modern Karaoke videos. They often featured popular melodies of the day. The early Song Car-Tunes were among the earliest sound films, produced two years before The Jazz Singer. They were largely unknown at the time because their release was limited to the chain of 36 theaters operated by The Red Seal Pictures Company, which was equipped with the early Lee DeForest Phonofilm sound reproduction equipment. The Red Seal theater chain—formed by the Fleischers, DeForest, Edwin Miles Fadiman, and Hugo Riesenfeld—went from the East Coast to Columbus.

Between May 1924 and September 1926, the Fleischers released 36 Song Car-Tunes series, with 19 using the Phonofilm sound-on-film process. The films included Oh Mabel, Come Take a Trip in My Airship, Darling Nelly Gray, Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?, and By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Beginning with My Old Kentucky Home (1926), the cartoons featured the "follow the bouncing ball" gimmick, that lead the audience singing along with the film. The other 17 films in the Song Car-Tunes series were silent, designed to be shown with live music in movie theaters.

The Fleischers were ahead of the sound revolution, and just missed the actual change when Red Seal Pictures filed for bankruptcy in the fall of 1926.

Releases after Red Seal Pictures

The Internet Movie Database lists these Fleischer animation films as being released by Weiss Brothers-Artclass Pictures in 1926 and 1927.[1] This suggests the Fleischers turned to Weiss Brothers to release these films—some sound, some silent—from the Song Car-Tunes series after the Fleischers ended their Red Seal Pictures partnership with DeForest. In 1928, a few of the silent Song Car-Tunes may have been rereleased with sound by Weiss Brothers.

  • For Me and My Gal (1926)
  • I Love to Fall Asleep (1926)
  • In My Harem (1926)
  • Just Try to Picture Me (1926)
  • My Sweetie (1926)
  • Old Pal (1926)
  • Alexander's Ragtime Band (1926)
  • The Sheik of Araby (1926)
  • Annie Laurie (1926)
  • Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (1926)
  • When I Lost You (1926)
  • Margie (1926)
  • When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam' (1926)
  • Oh What a Pal Was Mary (1926)
  • Everybody's Doing It (1926)
  • Yak-A-Hula-Hick-A-Doola (1926)
  • My Wife's Gone to the Country (1926)
  • Beautiful Eyes (1926)
  • Finiculee Finicula (1926)
  • Micky (1926)
  • When the Angelus Was Ringing (1926)
  • When I Leave This World Behind (1926)
  • Tumbledown Shack in Athlone (1927)
  • The Rocky Road to Dublin (1927)
  • Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon (1927)
  • Oh I Wish I Was in Michigan (1927)

New contract with Paramount Pictures

The Fleischers signed a new contract with Paramount Pictures in late 1928. Beginning in February 1929, the song cartoons returned under a new name, Screen Songs, using the Western Electric sound-on-film process. The first was The Sidewalks of New York (East Side, West Side) released on 5 February 1929. In the 1930s, the shorts began to feature such musical guest stars as Lillian Roth, Ethel Merman, Cab Calloway, Rudy Vallee, the Mills Brothers, the Boswell Sisters, and others. The series, which eventually focused on many of the "big bands" of "The Swing Era" continued until 1938.

In 1945, Famous Studios, successors to the Fleischers, revived the Screen Songs as an all animated series in color. The earliest color Screen Song part of the Noveltoon series, "When G.I. Johnnie Come Home Again." was released on February 2, 1945.

Legal Status

All Fleischer and Famous Screen Songs released prior to October 1950 were sold to U.M.&M. T.V. Corp. in 1956 for television syndication. These shorts have changed hands in the decades since due to a series of corporate acquisitions involving what would eventually become the revived Republic Pictures, and the 2006 corporate split of Viacom (which became the parent of Paramount Pictures in 1994, and later acquired Republic in 1999) into two separate companies. Today the theatrical rights to the Screen Songs are once again owned by Paramount (via Republic), home video rights are owned by Republic licensee Lions Gate Home Entertainment]—which has yet to announce any sort of home video reissue—and the television rights are the responsibility of Trifecta Entertainment & Media. However, the majority of the "Screen Songs" are in the public domain, and are available on various discount public domain cartoon videos and DVDs. The Screen Songs released between October 1950 and the final release in 1951 were sold to Harvey Comics, and are now owned by Classic Media.

The only exception to the above was Let's Sing with Popeye. This particular film was purchased by Official Films in the 1950s and re-released to the home movie market. While this cartoon stars the character Popeye it is unknown if it was included in the sale of the Popeye cartoons to Associated Artists Productions. It is possible that a.a.p. was supposed to receive this film, but never did, or that they did not do anything with the film at all, since it re-used animation from the original Popeye the Sailor short released 14 July 1933. Whatever the case may be, it fell into the public domain as would be expected when its ownership is unknown. This film was released as a special feature on the first volume of Warner Bros. Popeye DVD series, but it was the same public domain print that has been in circulation. Additionally, it was never given a real general release—rather, it was shown as part of a Saturday morning matinee Popeye club—and searches in the Library of Congress Copyright Catalog turn up no results for the film, suggesting that a copyright was never registered.

Filmography

Fleischer and Famous Studios

Film Characters / Musicians Original release date
The Sidewalks of New York (East Side, West Side) February 5, 1929
Yankee Doodle Boy March 1, 1929
Old Black Joe April 5, 1929
Ye Olde Melodies May 3, 1929
Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two) May 31, 1929
Mother, Pin a Rose on Me July 6, 1929
Chinatown, My Chinatown Chinese August 2, 1929
Dixie August 17, 1929
Goodbye My Lady Love August 31, 1929
My Pony Boy September 13, 1929
Smiles Male Vocal Quartet September 27, 1929
Oh You Beautiful Doll Tommy Cat October 14, 1929
After the Ball Charles K. Harris November 8, 1929
Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet Animal Quartet November 22, 1929
I've Got Rings on My Fingers Irish Traffic Cop December 17, 1929
Bedelia Bimbo January 3, 1930
In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree Bears January 18, 1930
I'm Afraid to Come Home in the Dark Bimbo February 1, 1930
The Prisoner's Song Prisoners March 1, 1930
I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles Mice March 15, 1930
La Paloma Dog April 12, 1930
Yes, We Have No Bananas April 26, 1930
Come Take a Trip in My Airship Kitty April 26, 1930
In the Good Old Summertime Cats June 6, 1930
A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight Drunken Mice August 1, 1930
The Glow Worm August 23, 1930
The Stein Song Hot Dog Vendor September 6, 1930
Strike Up the Band (Here Comes a Sailor) September 27, 1930
My Gal Sal Chubby Dog October 18, 1930
Mariutch Bimbo November 15, 1930
On a Sunday Afternoon Dog Woman November 29, 1930
Row, Row, Row Bad Dog December 20, 1930
Please Go 'Way and Let Me Sleep Sheriff January 10, 1931
By the Beautiful Sea Mouse January 24, 1931
I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now White Boy Cat February 14, 1931
I'd Climb the Highest Mountain Boy Dog March 7, 1931
Somebody Stole My Gal Boy Dog March 20, 1931
Any Little Girl That's a Nice Little Girl Tommy Cat and Betty Boop prototype April 18, 1931
Alexander's Ragtime Band Dog May 9, 1931
And the Green Grass Grew All Around Boy Fly 1931 May 30
My Wife's Gone to the Country Bimbo and (briefly) Betty Boop May 31, 1931
That Old Gang of Mine Lady Alley Cat July 11, 1931
Betty Co-ed Rudy Vallee and Betty Boop prototype August 1, 1931
Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean Gallagher and Shean August 29, 1931
You're Driving Me Crazy Jungle Animals September 19, 1931
Little Annie Rooney October 10, 1931
Kitty from Kansas City Rudy Vallee and Betty Boop October 31
By the Light of the Silvery Moon Eddie Cantor November 14, 1931
My Baby Just Cares for Me Eddie Cantor December 5, 1931
Russian Lullaby Arthur Tracy December 26, 1931
Sweet Jennie Lee Jean Harlow January 9, 1932
Show Me the Way to Go Home Eddie Cantor January 30, 1932
When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along Joan Crawford February 19, 1932
Wait Till the Sun Shines The Round Towners Quartet, Betty Boop March 4, 1932
Just One More Chance Betty Boop April 1, 1932
Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning Les Reis and Artie Dunn, Betty Boop April 22, 1932
Shine On Harvest Moon Alice Joy May 6, 1932
Let Me Call You Sweetheart Ethel Merman and Betty Boop May 20, 1932
I Ain't Got Nobody The Mills Brothers June 17, 1932
You Try Somebody Else Ethel Merman and Betty Boop July 29, 1932
Rudy Vallee Melodies Rudy Vallee and Betty Boop August 5, 1932
Down Among the Sugar Cane Lillian Roth August 26, 1932
Just a Gigolo Irene Bordoni and Betty Boop September 9, 1932
School Days Gus Edwards September 30, 1932
Romantic Melodies Arthur Tracy and Betty Boop October 21, 1932
When It's Sleepy Time Down South The Boswell Sisters November 11, 1932
Sing a Song James Melton December 2, 1932
Time on My Hands Ethel Merman and Betty Boop December 23, 1932
Dinah Mills Brothers January 13, 1933
Ain't She Sweet? Lillian Roth February 3, 1933
Reaching for the Moon Arthur Tracy February 23, 1933
Aloha Oe Royal Samoans March 17, 1933
Popular Melodies Arthur Jarrett and Betty Boop April 7, 1933
The Peanut Vendor Armida April 28, 1933
Song Shopping Ethel Merman and Johnny Green May 19
Boilesk The Watson Sisters June 9, 1933
Sing, Sisters, Sing Three X Sisters June 3, 1933
Down by the Old Mill Stream The Eton Boys July 21, 1933
Stoopnocracy Stoopnagle and Budd August 18, 1933
When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba The Mills Brothers September 15, 1933
Boo Boo Theme Song Funnyboners October 13, 1933
I Like Mountain Music The Eton Boys November 10, 1933
Sing, Babies, Sing Baby Rose Marie December 15, 1933
Keeps Rainin' All The Time Gertrude Niesen January 12, 1934
Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing Les Reis and Artie Dunn February 9, 1934
Tune Up and Sing Lanny Ross March 9, 1934
Lazy Bones Borrah Minnevitch and His Harmonica Rascals April 13, 1934
This Little Piggie Went to Market Singin' Sam May 25, 1934
She Reminds Me of You The Eton Boys June 22, 1934
Love Thy Neighbor Mary Small July 20, 1934
Let's Sing with Popeye Popeye (Billy Costello) Produced for Saturday morning matinee "Popeye Club"
Later re-released by Official Films in the 1950s
I Wished on the Moon Abe Lyman and his Orchestra September 20, 1935
It's Easy to Remember Richard Himber and his Orchestra November 29, 1935
No Other One Hal Kemp and His Orchestra / Skinnay Ennis January 24, 1936
I Feel Like a Feather in the Breeze Jack Denny and his Orchestra March 27, 1936
I Don't Want to Make History Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra May 22, 1936
The Hills of Wyomin The Westerners / Curt Massey July 31, 1936
I Can't Escape From You Billie Bailey / Joe Reichman and His Orchestra September 25, 1936
Talking Through My Heart Dick Stabile and his Orchestra November 27, 1936
Never Should Have Told You Nat Brandwynne and His Orchestra January 29, 1937
Twilight on the Trail The Westerners / Louise Massey March 26, 1937
Please Keep Me in Your Dreams Barbara Blake / Henry King and his Orchestra May 28, 1937
You Came to My Rescue Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm Orchestra July 30, 1937
Whispers in the Dark June Robbins / Gus Arnheim and his Orchestra September 24, 1937
Magic on Broadway Jay Freeman November 26, 1937
You Took the Words Right Out of My Heart January 28, 1938
Thanks for the Memory March 25, 1938
You Leave Me Breathless May 27, 1938
Beside a Moonlit Stream Eddie Cantor July 29, 1938
The Circus Comes to Clown Circus December 26, 1947
Base Brawl Tommy Tortoise January 23, 1948
Little Brown Jug Animals February 20, 1948
The Golden State March 12, 1948
Winter Draws On Buzzy March 19, 1948
Sing or Swim Animals June 16, 1948
Camp Town Races Farm Animals July 30, 1948
The Lone Star State Cowboys August 20, 1948
Readin', Ritin' and Rhythematic October 22, 1948
The Funshine State January 7, 1949
The Emerald Isle Lephechauns February 25, 1949
Comin' Round the Mountain Hillbilly Cats March 11, 1949
The Stork Market Storks April 8, 1949
Spring Song Flowers June 3, 1949
The Ski's the Limit June 24, 1949
Toys Will Be Toys Toys July 15, 1949
Farm Foolery Farm Animals August 5, 1949
Our Funny Finny Friends Fish August 26, 1949
Marriage Wows Bertha September 16, 1949
The Big Flame-Up Tim Turtle September 30, 1949
Strolling Thru the Park November 4, 1949
The Big Drip Buzzy the Crow November 25, 1949
Snow Foolin' Animals December 16, 1949
Blue Hawaii Hawaiians January 13, 1950
Detouring Thru Maine February 17, 1950
Short'nin' Bread Bakery March 24, 1950
Win, Place and Showboat Elephant April 28, 1950
Jingle Jangle Jungle Ubangis May 19, 1950
Heap Hep Injuns Indians June 30, 1950
Gobs of Fun Herman the Mouse July 28, 1950
Helter Swelter Animals August 25, 1950
Boos in the Nite Ghosts September 22, 1950
Fiesta Time Mexicans October 20, 1950
Fresh Yeggs Wolfie November 17, 1950
Tweet Music Birds February 9, 1951
Drippy Mississippi April 13, 1951
Miners Forty Niners Gold Miners May 18, 1951
Sing Again of Michigan Buzzy the Crow June 29, 1951

References

  • Leslie Cabarga, The Fleischer Story (Da Capo Press, 1988)
  • Leonard Maltin, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons (Penguin Books, 1980, revised edition 1987)

See also

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Screen Songs.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Hey Kids Comics Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Category:Fleischer Studios short films Category:Famous Studios series and characters Category:U.M.&M. T.V. Corp. acquisitions Category:Animated film series Category:1929 introductions Category:1945 introductions