Bob Clampett’s First Film

It’s no masterpiece, but it is rare and significant.

Below is the first four minutes from the Joe E. Brown comedy When’s Your Birthday? (released February 19th, 1937) and it marks the first directorial effort of Bob Clampett. Those familiar with Bob’s art and Chuck Jones drawing style from this period can pick out the scenes they did. There is little of Bob’s trademark zaniness (though there are a few semi-naked girls running around Zodiac heaven), but my guess is that this sequence was probably script-driven – as any dream sequence in a live action movie would’ve been back then.

When’s Your Birthday?, which isn’t very good by anyones standard, was extremely hard to see in the last 25 years. The print that turned up last week on Turner Classic Movies wasn’t very good either – and the “Technicolor sequences” (which I assume included this opening cartoon bit) only exist in black and white. As this will not be included on any DVD any time soon, I’ve posted it on YouTube as a public service for all the Clampett completists who missed it.

(Thanks to Thad K for taping it.)


  • Andrea Ippoliti

    Thanks Jerry and Thad for this!

    I notice how, ven compared to Clampett’s earlies efforts (“Rover’s Rival”, “Porky’sHero Agency”), this work is a bit slow. Clampett’s shorts were indeed pretty fast and wild just right from the beginning.

  • Bugsmer

    Thanks for sharing this, Thad!

  • http://www.stupixanimation.com Jonathan Lyons

    “Directed by Harry Beaumont” ???

    What’s the story with that?

  • http://thad-k.blogspot.com Thad

    Actually, while doing some searching, Jerry, I found out that it WILL be available on DVD. No idea if they’ll be using the same copy.

    http://www.oldies.com/product-view/5596D.html

  • Norman

    Joe E. Brown spent years as a hopeless alcoholic before making his last comeback as the underplayed bisexual in the last scene of “Some Like it Hot.”

  • red pill junkie

    Well, it is reassuring to confirm that the talent of any artist must be perfected over the years through hard work an endless experimentation. Even geniuses like Clampett had humble beginnings such as this, so there’s hope for the rest of us mere mortals :-)

  • PCUnfunny

    Thanks for this treat Thad !

  • top cat james

    Another Clampett rarity I’ve been dying to see for years is “It’s a Grand Old Nag”, the cartoon he produced for Republic after he left Warners.Any chance of it being included on a future LTGC set, Jerry?

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    The animating planets at the beginning are kind of ambitious and well executed for their time. That’s a fairly impressive effect to open a low budget comedy with…

    Does anybody know who the voice over is? It sounds a bit to me like George Givot, who did V.O.’s for Disney later on.

  • Kevin Martinez

    Not very Good, that’s all I’m going to say. Even if it is a milestone (Clampett’s first jab at directorship)

    Don’t know if it’d be worth even the bargain price the DVD will be going for.

  • Dan

    There is no evidence that Joe E. Brown was a “hopeless alcoholic ” at any time in his life. There is a lot of evidence that he gave a great deal of time to the U.S.O. and youth baseball.

  • Kevin Martinez

    OH, and by the way….

    “but my guess is that this sequence was probably script-driven”

    Could this be even more proof of script-driven animation existing before 1960? Could be!.

  • GENE

    Harry Beaumont was the director of the movie. I saw no mention in the credits related to the animated sequence. I couldn’t decide if it was a Warner Bros. type toon or perhaps a Fleischer toon. When I was watching the movie, which I stumbled upon by accident, I was hoping the Cartoon Brew dudes would see it.

  • Jim

    Who’s the voice of the narrator?

  • Paul J. Mular

    Don’t hold alot of hope for a quality DVD from oldies.com/Alpha Video. They are the PD on DVD company that specializes in the bargain-table discount DVDs. Any 16mm source material is good enough for them. We will be lucky if they managed to get their hands on the copy that ran on Turner.

    I missed this on Turner, but seeing veteran second-banana Edgar Kennedy’s name in the credits has me wanting to view this low-budget comedy. I’ll still pick up the Alpha DVD & open a beer to enjoy it. Low-budget comedies are always better with a beer.

  • http://www.cartoonbrew.com/animators/bob-clampetts-first-film#comments Zoran Taylor

    “….round and round it goes….where it stops…nobody cares….”
    Haha.

    Not bad for a first effort….remember, “Gold Diggers of ’49″ was Tex Avery, and it is pretty funny, but let’s face it, that cartoon has timing like peaches have beards. Everyone starts somewhere.

  • Nick R.

    I just found this animated opening of the lady’s eve by leon schlesinger studio (rare)

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=pcu607Cw148