Monday, April 12, 2010

048 The House That Jack Built

Title: The House That Jack Built (note that while the reissue title pictured omits "The", contemprary issues of BoxOffice include it)
Studio: Columbia
Date: 4/14/39
Credits: None listed on print
Series: Color Rhapsody
Running time (of viewed version): 6:35

Synopsis: A beaver builds a house, but it is invaded by a bear and an ostrich, who call on termites to utterly destroy it; the beaver uses a gun to force the bear and ostrich to rebuild the house.

Comments: The opening beaver shot looks like a completely different beaver than in the rest of the cartoon. I wonder if Jack the Beaver will make the bear and Joe the ostrich dig their own graves, too. The viewed print was cobbled together from color and black and white sources. This cartoon is feverish; not that it moves quickly, just that it feels like it was born of a fevered brain. The termites (in close up) are the best looking characters. The Beaver reads "Gone With the Wind", likely as a nod to the movie coming out in the not so distant future. The bear and ostrich end up in a traditional workmen hitting each other with work implements physical comedy bit. Like the rest of the cartoon, it isn't handled well.

This is one of the cartoons where a bunch of cels were commercially released at around the time of the cartoon (when precisely is unclear, but based on WB cels with Schlesinger copy signatures, the time would have been pretty close; Schlesinger separated from WB in '44 and died in '49 so presumably that style of release was very likely before '44 when the value of the name would have been higher, and almost certainly before '49). More personally I own two of the below examples. Comparing the cels to the viewed print, I wouldn't have thought the broom handle was red. You can see screen caps of each of these cels (more or less) above. Note the termite cel's front printing does not mention Mintz, unlike the Happy Tots printed card example; this implies the Tots cel may have been prepared before Mintz split with Screen Gems, and the termite one was prepared afterwards. So maybe the printed card examples were being released at the cartoon's release, when people would remember them, while the screen printed signature on cel examples were being released at a later time. The Schlesinger (and Lantz) examples imply the screenprinting releases (which share frame styles across studios and presumably came from one distributor) wanted to use producer names, implying Mintz was too out of favor to use.

The text on the termite cel is generic, and reads: "This is an original animated cartoon painting used in the production of "Color Rhapsodies" (c) Screen Gems, Inc. "

Additional cel from the shot above, appeared on eBay, August 2010:


  1. Great to see this! I have 2 cells still in original frames! I had this in my room growing up as a kid and had no idea what they really were until I took up an interest in animation which I then studied in college.

  2. now is disponible in Youtube check the out