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Capt’n Sailorbird


Any Baby Boomers out there recall those odd foreign cartoons that ran on TV in the 1950s and 60s, packaged under the Capt’n Sailorbird or Bozo Storybook names?

Toon Tracker has some information… but the burning question is: Where are these cartoons today?

The cartoons were usually rich and lush, and animated on ones. The original soundtracks were usually stripped off and replaced by an unnecessary narrator. But they were pretty cool.

An anonymous blogger has posted on Kino en Esperanto rete a group of very attractive animated shorts from 1951-3 based on folktales from Russia and various Asian countries. They look a lot like the stuff of Capt’n Sailorbird. These films are subtitled in Esperanto (as is the rest of the site), but if you can get past the language, our benefactor has the full films available for streaming and download. There is some bizzare stuff here.

(Thanks, Eric Wilson)

  • Christopher Cook

    I do recall the Capt’n Sailorbird features when I was around five years old in Riverside CA; I just don’t recall which channel (out of Los Angeles) ran them. It may have been KTTV/ch. 11. In 1996, some of those features ran here in Atlanta on WATC/ch. 57 Saturday mornings, without the Capt’n Sailorbird tags.

  • Brendan McNally

    I remember these cartoons on KIRO Channel 9 in Seattle Washington in the early 1960s. They were usually serials. The best was called Mister E from Tau Ceti or summat. It was on JP Patches. They were really good and the animation and particularly the motion was absolutely lush. The fairy tales were often dark. I spent the next forty years wondering about them. They were the best, especially compared to the Hanna Barbera crap, which was already starting to be cranked.

  • Esn

    Those were all made by Soyuzmultfilm during the artistic period of socialist realism (see here)

    Here their profiles at (in English):

    The Brave Man’s Heart (Сердце храбреца, 1951):

    Brave Puk (Храбрый Пак, 1953):

    Lu Brothers (БратьÑ? Лю, 1953):

    In Russia, those films have been released on many different DVDs. In the US… well, the US has been extremely disrespectful to Russian animation as a whole. When you compare the soundtracks that they usually added (which often ruin the whole film, especially for someone who’s seen the originals) compared to the original ones, the difference between the two mentalities of making films becomes very clear. They had no qualms about taking a poetic work of art and cutting it to shreds.

    Heck, in many cases the original orchestral music was replaced by synthesized melodies (such as some of those releases by Films by Jove).

    • Robert

      The soviet stuff was and still is superb!
      It was produced by Soyuzmultfilm in Moscow. The studio got off the ground in 1935 and is still afloat – barely!

      By the 50’s they were nipping at the mouse’s ass. Their work was superb and holds up well today. I have a large number of their films in my collection – in Russian of course. Regularly review them for “The Big Cartoon Database”.

      If anyone’s interested in links, let me know.

      Don’t even get me started on those 2 bit hacks at “Jove”… There’s a lot of nasty politics behind them.

  • I have this very distinct (& fond) memory of 1 of these films. It was about a giant (no joke) who could turn milk into ice cream by just stirring it in a cup with his finger. This film has “haunted” me all these decades….but the “broadcast dates” that you mention….and the “stripping of score for narration” ….just seemed to “match!”

    Does ANY human out there know what this film is?….and from where!? And where is it NOW! For real!

    • Eddie K

      I believe it was called “Johnny Little & The Giant”, but I’m not sure that’s the one you are thinking of….it was a 10-part cartoon, shown week by week when I saw it, & it’s the last one they ever showed, on our channels anyway.

  • Esn

    No idea, but if you really want to search you could take a look through this catalogue of Soyuzmultfilm’s films. Most of them have screenshots.

    They’re listed in chronological order. If the style was like that of the other films in the link, you’re probably looking for something made in the 1950s or late 1940s. If it was more cartoonish, the 1960s are a better bet.

    The only thing I found with a giant through a casual glance at the titles:

  • Eric Wilson

    Well, that’s what I get for not nosing around more. To give credit where it’s due, our Esperanto blogger/translator (or “tradukisto”) is named Kirill Shvedov.

  • Esn

    It might also be this one, maybe. Although probably not, since that one actually has a scene where the map of the USSR is shown.

    By the way, I’ve found an interesting website. It’s a bit like a Russian CartoonBrewFilms, except that there’s the option to download an animated film (at the cost of 5 rubles) OR watch it for free on the website but with commercials (if you want to watch any films with commercials, click on the red text).

  • Eddie K

    I know exactly the cartoons you speak of….I used to watch them religiously as a boy, & have ever since wondered about them after they abruptly stopped showing them in the early 60’s. (I remember well that they were in the middle of a (supposedly) 10 part cartoon titled “Johnny Little and The Giant” when they disappeared. Another title I remember-one of my favorites-was called “Dorje and the Dragon”). I would SO love to have a copy of them. That being said, I will check out the site(s) listed below in the hopes that some of the ones I remember are there for viewing. Thanks so much for the info!