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Color Classics were a series of animated short subjects produced by Fleischer Studios for Paramount Pictures from 1934 to 1941 as a competitor to Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies. As the name implies, all of the shorts were made in color, with the first entry in the series, "Poor Cinderella", being the first color cartoon produced by the Fleischer studio. There were 36 films produced in this series.
They are considered by some animation critics and modern audiences to be cheap knock-offs of Walt Disney's own Silly Symphonies, but many of these cartoons are still highly regarded today, including Somewhere in Dreamland (1936), the Academy Award nominated shorts, Educated Fish (1937) and Hunky and Spunky (1938, first in a subseries), and Small Fry (1939). The first film in the series, Poor Cinderella, featured Betty Boop (with red hair and turquoise eyes); future films were usually one-shot cartoons with no starring characters. Two color classics - Educated Fish (1937) and Hunky and Spunky - were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons); both lost to Disney shorts.
The Color Classics series ended in 1941 with Vitamin Hay, starring Hunky and Spunky. In its place, Fleischer began producing Technicolor cartoons starring Gabby, the town crier from the 1939 Fleischer/Paramount feature film Gulliver's Travels.
A similar series would be started by Fleischer's successor Famous Studios in 1943, under the name Noveltoons. Some of the one-shots in this series would be reminiscent of the Color Classics in terms of production value and story.
--info cited from The Other Wiki's description of the series.
Several years ago, a DVD set containing almost all of the cartoons (save "Tears of an Onion" due to copyright) was compiled and released by historian Jerry Beck, although almost all of the shorts save that one have slipped into the Public Domain.
On that note, over a decade after his previous appearances, Hunky the Burro was brought back as a side-character for at least two Casper the Friendly Ghost shorts.
- Poor Cinderella: August 3, 1934. This short is also notable for being a runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons list.
- Little Dutch Mill: October 26, 1934
- An Elephant Never Forgets: December 28, 1934
- The Song of the Birds: March 1, 1935
- The Kids in the Shoe: May 19, 1935
- Dancing on the Moon: July 12, 1935
- Time For Love: September 6, 1935
- Musical Memories: November 8, 1935
- Somewhere in Dreamland: January 17, 1936
- The Little Stranger: March 13, 1936
- Cobweb Hotel: May 15, 1936
- Greedy Humpty Dumpty: July 10, 1936
- Hawaiian Birds: August 28, 1936
- Play Safe: October 16, 1936
- Christmas Comes But Once a Year: December 4, 1936
- Bunny Mooning: February 12, 1937
- Chicken a La King: April 16, 1937
- A Car-Tune Portrait: June 26, 1937
- Peeping Penguins: August 26, 1937
- Educated Fish: October 29, 1937
- Little Lamby: December 31, 1937
- The Tears of an Onion: February 26, 1938
- Hold It!: April 29, 1938
- Hunky and Spunky (introduction of characters who would star in a few more Color Classics indicated below): June 24, 1938
- All's Fair At The Fair: August 26, 1938
- The Playful Polar Bears: October 28, 1938
- Always Kickin' (Hunky and Spunky): January 29, 1939
- Small Fry (Possibly a sequel to "Educated Fish"): April 21, 1939
- The Barnyard Brat (Hunky and Spunky): June 30, 1939
- The Fresh Vegetable Mystery(Possibly a sequel to "Tears of an Onion"): September 29, 1939
- Little Lambkins: February 2, 1940
- Ants in the Plants (last non-Hunky and Spunky entry): March 15, 1940
- A Kick In Time: May 17, 1940
- Snubbed by a Snob: July 19, 1940
- You Can't Shoe a Horse Fly: August 23, 1940
- Vitamin Hay: August 22, 1941
- Adaptation Dye Job: Betty's hair was always portrayed as jet black prior to "Poor Cinderella", where its shown to be an orange-red.
- An Aesop: Not uncommon due to the fairy-tale nature of the shorts.
- Animation Bump: Any scene which uses the three-dimensional setback. Play Safe! (skip to 4:00) takes it even further and has a stop motion train sequence!
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: In "Dancing On The Moon", the animals have no problem walking onto the moons surface, singing and dancing, with no explosive decompression happening in the process.
- Big Eater: Small Fry manages to wolf down a fairly large sandwich in one go.
- Blackface: "Little Dutch Mill" briefly features a black shoeshiner (or rather a shoe shaver-and-painter) who is designed in this manner.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Small Fry the fish, from the short of the same name. Hunky the Burro is also quite good at getting himself in trouble.
- The Cameo: Olive Oyl and Grampy briefly appear in a couple of these shorts.
- Chewing the Scenery: The bull in a "Hunky and Spunky" short.
- Cool Ship: The rocketship from "Dancing On The Moon".
- Cool Train: The train from "Play Safe!"
- Disney Acid Sequence: The ending of "Small Fry".
- Disneyfication: This series was the point when the Fleischers were starting to abandon much of their earlier cartooniness in favor of trying to emulate Disney, no doubt due to pressure from Paramount. It's especially prominent in the Hunky and Spunky cartoons, which are Fleischer cartoons In Name Only.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: The short "Peeping Penguins".
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: They're color cartoons that retroactively became classics.
- Hell Hotel: In "Cobweb Hotel".
- Innocent Panties: The little Dutch girl, Freida, from "Little Dutch Mill". Her short, white undies/bloomers are shown from behind as she bends over and she, the little Dutch boy (Hans), and a duck stick their heads under a curtain, looking inside an open window.
- Two other Dutch girls from the same short have this from behind as well. As they churn butter in an up-and-down motion, their skirts move in the same manner.
- Makeover Montage: The miser from "Little Dutch Mill" gets a haircut, a bath, a shave, and some new clothes, courtesy of the villagers. By the end, he's a whole, new man.
- Mama Bear: Do not hurt Spunky.
- Mood Whiplash: "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" all over the place.
- Not So Above It All: Mother penguin in "Peeping Penguins".
- Predators Are Mean: The portrayal of the larger bird that tries to eat the little chicks in "The Little Stranger", the the spider who catches flies in "The Cobweb Hotel", the wolf who tries to eat a baby lamb in "Little Lamby", the worm who tries to eat anthropormorphic fruits and vegetables in "Tears of an Onion", and the anteater in "Ants in the Plants".
- Public Domain Animation: All of the cartoons save for "Tears of an Onion" are in the Public Domain.
- R Emake: Song of the Birds would later be remade as a Little Audrey cartoon.
- Scenery Porn
- Sentient Vehicle: The train from "Play Safe!"
- The Gay Nineties: "Musical Memories" has elements of this.
- Those Two Guys: Spunky the Burro and her wayward son Hunky.
- Through a Face Full of Fur: In An Elephant Never Forgets, the elephant's face turns red from embarassment when after boasting that "an elephant never forgets", reveals he doesn't know 2+2.
- Tongue Trauma: The miser in "Little Dutch Mill" attempts to burn the tongues out of the two little kids who discovered his gold.