Scrappy at Home

Let’s face it: In movie theaters, Scrappy was not particularly stiff competition for Mickey Mouse or Popeye in terms of sheer star power. But the old-time home-movie cartoon business had a curious leveling effect. I’m not sure if it raised the profile of second-stringers or diminished the lustre of iconic characters—maybe both—but anyone who was enough of a name brand to appear on a home-movie box was a star.

And Scrappy beamed from box art for years, long after his cartoon series was history.

Scrappy movie boxes

Oddly enough, even though I’ve owned several Scrappy home movies for years, I’ve never seen any of them, since I don’t have a projector handy. But Friend of Scrappy Jason Fiore (who is, incidentally, 12) has done us all a favor by digitizing two examples, adding Scott Joplin soundtracks, and putting the results on YouTube.

Here’s Excel’s Stage Struck, a cut-down version of The Concert Kid (1934):

And this is Exclusive Movie Studios’ Bucking Horse, better known to you and me as an extract from Scrappy’s Pony (1936):

I never thought of Scrappy cartoons as being overly burdened by complex plots. But both of these silent short-shorts are less than half as long as the theatrical shorts they’re derived from, and in both cases, whoever did the editing accomplished it in part by chopping off roughly the first half, eliminating lengthy set-ups which explain how Oopy came to be onstage with a violin and where Scrappy got his pony. The results still feel like Scrappy cartoons, albeit ones that have been denuded of a fair amount of both coherency and charm. The lack of of dialog, music, and sound effects is also a bigger deal than I might have guessed.

I doubt that the people who watched these in the comfort of their own homes decades ago were overly critical, though. And there was a time in my life, before the advent of home video, when I’d have been pretty pleased by them myself. Actually, I still am. Thanks, Jason.

3 comments on Scrappy at Home

  • Ed

    Love these posts!
    Keep ’em coming!

  • Paul

    Odd that the worst box cover comes from the original production company, Columbia Pictures.

  • theorbys

    Back in the day those old home movie cartoon were pure magic for us when we were kids before we had television. I admit I haven’t seen a real projection of old time home movies in many decades, but I still watch them now and again on YouTube. It’s not exactly magic but there is a pleasant echo of childhood nostalgia and of the way things were (and thankfully now aren’t).

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