A typical scene in Parrotville.


Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: The Van Beuren Studio
First appeared: 1934
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When television first switched to color, even talking heads wore such eyesores as bright orange suits with bright blue ties, just so broadcasters could demonstrate their newfound color capabilities. It was the same with cartoons, where producers siezed on any excuse to get …

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… color into their formerly monochrome products. At the cartoon studio of Amadee Van Bueren, whose black & white stars included such luminaries as Cubby Bear and Tom & Jerry, they latched onto a good one — stories about small-town life, where the folks were all parrots with multi-hued plumage.

Parrotville turned up early among Van Bueren's color cartoons. The second Rainbow Rhapsody, which is what the studio called its color output, introduced them. The title was Parrotville Fire Department, and it was released on September 14, 1934.

It was directed by Steve Mufati and Burt Gillett. Mufati had animated and directed several cartoons for Van Bueren. Later, he did the same for Fleischer and its successor, Famous Studios, where he made cartoons starring Little Lulu and Superman. Gillett was already known for his work at Disney, such as the Silly Symphony Three Little Pigs.

While making the people Parrots succeeded in putting a lot of color into the cartoons, the small-town setting, without emphasizing a particular, marketable character, didn't create enough interest in Parrotville to make the series viable on a continuing basis. Two more Parrotville cartoons were made, Parrotville Old Folks (released January 25, 1935) and Parrotville Post Office (June 28, 1935). Then the idea was shelved, and a couple of years later, the studio folded.

Parrotville was a product of its time, which called for that particular new technology to be displayed to its full effect. Since then, there hasn't been much call for color for its own sake.


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Text ©2009-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Van Beuren Studio.