January 18, 2015

Bubble and Squeek in Old Manor House (1947)

Forgotten today, Bubble and Squeek were cartoon characters — a taxi driver and his anthropomorphic cab — whose animated career was limited to four titles released way back in 1947 and ’48. The character’s names were derived from Bubble and Squeak (note the spelling difference), a traditional English dish of pan-fried leftovers, usually served at breakfast. 

The driving force behind the cartoons was American-born George Moreno Jr., late of the Fleischer Studios, who settled in England and launched British Animated Productions (B.A.P.), making a bold attempt at creating homegrown Technicolor cartoons for British cinemas. Unfortunately, the project collapsed quickly when wartime restrictions on foreign products were lifted and the market was instantly flooded with American-made cartoons.

The fourth and final Bubble and Squeek title, OLD MANOR HOUSE, has our heroes seeking refuge from a typical monster-movie-style wind and rain storm inside the title’s “creepy place”, occupied by a belligerent, monocle’d and mustachioed rodent named Colonel Rat. Clocking in just short of 7 minutes, it’s a brisk and manic affair with Bubble and his car subjected to frights that include a nice cameo of a Frankenstein Monster — an absolute requisite character in any scary Old Manor House. Identified as “Frankie Stein’, with forehead wingnut bolts, the Monster moves mechanically, utters a dainty “Boo!”, and exits through the wall, leaving his distinctive silhouette in classic cartoon cutout.

B.A.P. produced a fifth short, spinning off Colonel Rat as the star of LOCH NESS LEGEND (1948) while Bubble and Squeek went on to a brief career as picture book characters. Moreno would go on to work in television and commercial animation.

OLD MANOR HOUSE (1947) is embedded above, worth a look if you don’t mind the poor quality. Embedded below is a British Pathé short showing the B.A.P. crew at Harringay studios working on a Bubble and Squeak cartoon.

George Moreno and B.A.P. on Bear Alley.

British Frankenstein cameos in Dance Hall Frankenstein (1950) and Thursday’s Child (1943).


Karswell said...

Awesome, never heard of this!

Anonymous said...

There was a "Frankie Stein" character that Ken Reid drew during the '60s in the British comic book "Wham!"