Columbia’s Barney Google
One of the “Holy Grails” amongst us cartoon historians is the series of four Barney Google cartoons produced in Technicolor by Columbia Pictures’ Screen Gems cartoon unit in 1935.
King Features had it in their contracts with Hollywood studios that the films adapting their comic strip creations would be destroyed after ten years (popular demand allowed exceptions to the rule for the Popeye cartoons, Flash Gordon serials and Blondie movies). Thus, many of King Features movie adaptations were considered lost for many decades (luckily prints of King’s numerous serials – The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician, Secret Agent X-9, etc. – have surfaced in recent years). However, Google still remains on the “Most Wanted” list by cartoon buffs and comic strip historians. (A 1946 Paramount Snuffy Smith cartoon, Spree For All is, as far as I know, still non-existant).
British film collector Lee Glover has tracked down several 50 foot rolls of black and white silent Barney Google 16mm home movies versions (excerpts of the Columbia Google cartoons were sold to home movie enthusiasts of the era). He has virtually reconstructed Teched In The Head (1935), the first of the series. It’s no classic, but it’s a treat to see one of these, just to get a taste of what we’ve been denied all these years. Check it out on his website. Thanks Lee, nice job!
(Cel set-up above is from the final Google film, from 1936, Spark Plug)