The Last Terrytoon one-shot The Last Terrytoon one-shot

The Last Terrytoon one-shot

I’m back with another lame attempt by a classic cartoon studio to be relevant in the 1960s.

Today I’ve got what I believe is the last theatrical one-shot produced by the Terrytoon studio in New Rochelle, New York. Search For Misery (1963) is a real curio. I suspect it was concocted as a pilot, an attempt to break into prime time television. Why not? Everyone else was doing it at the time – and Terrytoons was actually owned by a major network, CBS. With other prime time animated series patterned after sitcoms and adventure shows, director Bob Kuwahara and writer Larz Bourne concocted this spoof based on TV’s most tried and true genre: soap operas.

Though years ahead of Mary Hartman, Pitiful Penelope lacks the wit and social satire this sort of thing required. The humor is labored and deliberate. When the character names (Roland Stone, Big Delia, Kay Niver) are the cleverest thing in the script, you know you are in trouble. Cosmo Anzilotti did all the animation, Tom Morrison is the narrator, Dayton Allen and his wife Elvi portray Roland and Penny, respectively. I give it points for being different, and for its attempt to appeal to adults. It’s certainly one of the oddest things Terrytoons ever produced. Because it is so rarely seen, I thought it would be worth a post.

  • Christopher Cook

    I remember this. One of our independents showed this cartoon in the mid 70s along with a batch of Terrytoons shorts. First thought to me was “Is there a point to this?”

  • J Lee

    It moves and sounds like a 60s Terrytoon. It looks like one of the failed prime-time attempts by Hanna-Barbera from the early 1970s, when the FCC forced the networks to give back a half-hour for “local” programming (which I believe coincided with the time that Larz Bourne was working for the studio, which might explain the similarities).

  • Katella Gate

    Astonishingly bad. I spent most of the time watching the timer tick.

  • Mark Newgarden

    Years ahead of MARY HARTMAN, but years after MARY BACKSTAYGE, the long running satiric Bob & Ray series which this resembles in some clunky ways.

  • A 16mm print of this cartoon was actually being sold on eBay about a month ago.

    That was an…interesting cartoon. I’ll admit that those later Terrytoons facinates me, for one reason and another.

  • uncle wayne

    Love it!! My favorite part[s]?: the omni-present 50s-soap-opera-organ, and the “charred” quintuplets.

    About as UN-kiddy a kartoon as it gets….but I love its histrionics! Thank YOO!

  • Rose

    That hurt.

    It tried. The animation was as good as much of it’s contemporaries, better than some.

    …but the script and the imagination was far more limited than the animation.

    a few things made me smile a bit, and I admire Terrytoons attempt at developing an adult oriented product.

    …but over all it was painful to watch.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    It needed Bob & Ray alright, plus a faster pace. Like “Mary Backstayge, Noble Wife”, it’s more a parody or radio soap operas than TV soaps. The cartoon makes no real attempt to spoof the genre visually. In fact, it actually works better without the visuals. Try closing your eyes and listening, (admittedly not the best recommendation for an animated cartoon.)

    By 1963, it was probably already old hat. Ernie Kovacs and Sid Caesar had already explored this territory on TV, (as did The Carol Burnett Show later – with “As The Stomach Turns” – with mixed results.)

  • *Yawn* -_-

  • I was looking Peter Griffin to poput of nowhere !!!

  • s porridge

    “Cane Iver”?

    “Big Delia”?

    Earwig puns. Ouch.

    Yet enlightening to see how soap opera theatrics and limited animation have so much in common.

  • Beautiful Mind

    Honestly, I sorta hope someone does this sort of thing again. I mean I hope the do it well but a cartoon soap opera satire sounds like a fabulous idea!

  • There’s a candidate for your “Worst Cartoons Ever” festivals if I ever saw one. Awful!

  • Rudy

    Ruby-Spears attempted something similar in the mid 1980’s with their “Animal Hospital” animatic, which never sold. Warners played around with “True Romance” in the 1990’s, and though it was better, it didn’t make it out of the gate, either.

  • The best soap opera parody I’ve seen is SCTV’s Days of the Week. It was hilarious, and dead on with its cinematography, visuals etc.

  • Cole Johnson

    Nice character design, as usual, by Bob Kuwahara. I like how “Roland Stone” is a much more successful version of Gary Powers, as a “Mee-Two” pilot! —-Women (other than animals, little girls or old ladies) rarely show up as major characters like this in theatrical cartoons back then, especially not sexy ones like “Kay Niver”. I think that from the mid-40’s on, animated cartoonists generally bent over backwards to avoid anything remotely sexual/censorable, so they just didn’t have young women in them.

  • It has a “Dover Boys” feel to it, just without brilliant snappy animation (and writing, acting, etc.). Not terrible though, it was an interesting experiment. Thanks for posting!