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The 3 Minnies: Sota, Tonka and Ha-Ha

The Three Minnies

This week on Cartoon Brew Films, we are happy to present another rare animated film long considered lost: The 3 Minnies: Sota, Tonka and Ha-Ha.

In 1949, Republic Pictures (best known for their B-Westerns and Saturday matinee serials) released a series of cartoons under the banner “Jerky Journeys”. These were low budget satires of travelogues, written by radio comedy writer Leonard Lewis Levinson, and narrated by Jack Benny Program regular Frank Nelson (“Yeeeeesss”). To keep costs down, Levinson wrote the films in such a way as to have as little animation as possible, and convinced Republic that this would be a perfect way to demonstrate the studio’s patented cut-rate “TruColor” (red & green) film process.

Financial restrictions, however, didn’t stop Levinson from hiring several of Hollywood’s best artists, including background painters and designers Art Heinemann, Pete Alvarado, Bob Gribbroek, Paul Julian and effects animator Miles Pike, to help bring these comedies to life. The resulting films are fascinating. An early example of what Chuck Jones might term “illustrated radio”, the “Jerky Journeys” give us a glimpse at a direction Hollywood animation did not go—or might have gone if UPA hadn’t come along. Like an animated version of an article from a ’50s issue of Mad Magazine, these are literate parodies of travel films familiar to audiences of the day.

Four Jerky Journeys were produced, but only two are known to exist and The 3 Minnies is the only surviving entry in color. Take a look at it here. I think you’ll agree this film is unique, original and in many ways, far ahead of its time.