Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Coach for Cinderella (Jam Handy Organization/General Motors, 1937)

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2016 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved

After Animal Crackers I ran Charles a really quirky 10-minute commercial cartoon, A Coach for Cinderella, produced by a company called the Jam Handy Organization (“Jam” is short for the first name of its producer, Jamison Hardy) on commission from General Motors to promote the 1938 model Chevrolet (the film is copyrighted 1937). Directed by Francis Lyle Goldman from a script by Norman Terry, A Coach for Cinderella is a story about an elf who lives in the home of Cinderella and takes the place of the Fairy Godmother in the usual versions of the story; when Cinderella can’t go to the ball (to which, in this version, the Prince has actually invited her!) because she has nothing to wear and no way to get there, the elf takes her into the forest and the various insects take over — they build her a carriage and make her a dress (woodpeckers sculpt a model of her torso so silkworms can spin the silk directly into a dress that will fit her), then drive the carriage into a black machine called a “Modernizer” from which it emerges as … you guessed it, a 1938 Chevy. The cartoon is advertises as being in “Technicolor Process,” which I would presume meant three-strip (by 1937 Walt Disney’s contractual monopoly on three-strip Technicolor had expired), though the film actually looks closer to two-strip to me, with a lot of objects being teal blue (what the green dyes in two-strip Technicolor faded to when their yellow components dimmed more quickly than their blue ones) and warm brown. It’s artfully done, and though I can’t imagine that it moved many cars it’s certainly more appealing than the bizarreries that get aired as car commercials on TV today!