The Last <em>Screen Song</em> The Last <em>Screen Song</em>

The Last Screen Song

The cartoon below isn’t very good, but it’s been rarely seen — and that’s usually good enough for me. And it’s somewhat historically important, as it represents the last of a series of animated shorts that began in 1924 by Max Fleischer.

Fleischer began sing-along Song Cartunes in 1924 and it was an immediate success. His gimmick was a bouncing ball atop the lyrics on screen, to help audiences keep up with the song. In the sound era, Fleischer added popular singers and big bands (in live action). The original run ended in 1938. Famous Studios, Paramount’s successor to the Fleischer operation, revived the bouncing ball series in color, in a Noveltoon When G.I. Johnny Comes Marching Home in 1945. Paramount released bouncing ball cartoons through various Noveltoons, Kartunes and Screen Songs series for the next nine years (Candy Cabaret (1954) was the last).

In the 1960s, with Paramount having sold off their most well known creations to Harvey Comics, the studio was desperate for ideas. They began remaking earlier shorts; they tried adapting comedy records (“Abner The Baseball”), they even reinvented Casper as “Goodie The Gremlin”. Nothing caught on. The only thing they owned with audience recognition was “sing-along with the bouncing ball”.

Hobo’s Holiday (1963) was the last Paramount Bouncing Ball cartoon short. It was released in 1963 and hasn’t been seen since. Morey Reden, a Fleischer/Famous veteran animator, wrote and animated the film. He used The Big Rock Candy Mountain, a public domain song from the (1930s) Depression era, arranged here with a 1950s rock beat. It’s pretty lame. With references to “streams of alcohol” and “cigarette trees” the cartoon was naturally omitted from showing on Nickelodeon when the rest of the 1960s Paramount cartoons were shown on that network from 1989 through 1992.

So here it is. If you ever wanted to know what a Screen Song short might look like if they kept the series going into the TV era, here’s your answer: