The Little King in “Jest of Honor” (1934)

It’s a simple Thunderbean Thursday this week since it’s reviews at the school. Between three teams, we look at *all* the work from the students in the Entertainment Arts department at CCS, and by the end of the week everyone’s brains are mush. It was day three today.

Thunderbean News:
I did get some good news on several fronts: The nitrate negatives for Piano Tooners and Marching Along were pulled yesterday and prepared for scanning at the Library of Congress. I can’t wait to see what those two look like. I promise to post pictures as soon as they’re here.

Since the school has swallowed me, there’s not much new progress to report in any other way, but I’ve also heard the last thing for Flip is very close to being here, so there’s a good possibility that three titles (Flip, King and the Tom and Jerry sets) will be replicated at the same time or pretty close.

And.. onto our cartoon!
Since the coronation is happening Sunday in the UK, a Little King cartoon is in order! Jest of Honor (1934) is still a really fun cartoon nearly 90 years after it was made. If only royalty was this much fun in the real world…

The censor board must have somehow passed this little cartoon since it’s as rowdy as Van Beuren’s pre-code shorts. Some examples: the King, while surfing behind his well-equipped ship, manages to have quick relations with a mermaid. just before that happens, flying fish (using their fins as wings) defecate in the King’s eye. My guess is somehow this cartoon was missed.

After a series of diplomats offer the king flowers and a rabbit magically produced out of a hat, the king gets a grand welcome into what appears to be New York City. Just before a speech, the king eats a sloppy, cheesy hotdog, burping while squeaking into the microphone. After kissing the mayor’s floppy jowls, he upsets him, leading to the King being chased out of town for a surprise ending. Who knew that the King’s crown was actually part of his DNA?

The direction on this short (credited to George Stallings) is some of the most dynamic of the series, especially in the chase scene near the end. This cartoon is the fifth in the series of ten, and at this point the studio really starts to hit its stride with this character.

I really love a lot of the animation in this particular short. There’s music near the beginning with the Little King moving around on his surfboard with wavering music, and its one of those oddly memorable little moments. The King attempting to talk while food gushes out of his mouth is also especially entertaining somehow. Since the King is primarily a silent character, the studio started to build in lots of great little moments of pantomime comedy in these shorts, and in some way this cartoon reminds me of the Hal Roach shorts (Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chase) from around this time.

This is one of my favorites of the series, and absolutely one of the hardest to find a decent print on. Luckily, cartoon heroes Dave Kerwin and Jeff Missinne lent their prints to help with the set. Dave’s print is a nice old original that had lots of use over the years, but is still pretty beautiful. Jeff’s is a dupe print – and one of the few ways this cartoon has been around for many years. Mark Kausler was kind enough to lend his dupe as well, so between these three prints, a good scan of them and a good amount of digital care we managed to get a pretty good version.This is close to what the film will look like on the final ‘Little King’ Blu-ray that’s almost done.

Have a good week all and more news and cartoons soon!

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