"Rainbow Parade" is a classic U.S. animated series that was produced by Van Beuren Studios between 1934 and 1936. Many of the all-color cartoons from this series were one-shot stories with no recurring characters.
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"Rainbow Parade" is a classic U.S. animated series that was produced by Van Beuren Studios between 1934 and 1936. Many of the all-color cartoons from this series were one-shot stories with no recurring characters.

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USA

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English

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27 July 1934 (USA) See more »

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Hit and miss parade

Van Beuren cartoons are extremely variable, especially in the number of gags and whether the absurdist humour shines through enough (sometimes it does, other times it doesn't), but are strangely interesting. Although they are often poorly animated with barely existent stories and less than compelling lead characters, they are also often outstandingly scored, there can be some fun support characters and some are well-timed and amusing.

The "Rainbow Parade" series is a hit and miss and wildly variable series of twenty seven cartoons made between 1934 and 1936. It's not an easy series of cartoons to rate, because while there are some above average ones most are average or less. Once seeing about two or three cartoons, it was difficult not to know exactly what to expect as there are pretty much similar strengths and flaws in most of the cartoons.

When it comes to the hits, 'The Sunshine Makers' stands out as the best (one can't believe it is a "Rainbow Parade" cartoon, while the Felix the Cat cartoons (particularly 'Neptune Nonsense', no matter their tameness), the Toonerville cartoons, the last Parrotville cartoon 'Parrotville at the Post-Office' (didn't care for the previous two), 'A Waif's Welcome' and 'Scotty Finds a Home' also fare well.

Others don't fare so well. 'Japanese Lanterns', 'Picnic Panic' and the Three Kittens cartoons are weak and 'It's a Greek Life' is just bizarre. The worst of the Molly Moo Cow cartoons, 'Molly Moo Cow and Rip Van Winkle' and particularly 'Molly Moo Cow and the Butterflies', are also down there.

All the cartoons have similar strengths to each other. Mostly have very much liked the animation (especially in the later ones when the drawing became more refined), which has come on a lot since (human) Tom and Jerry and Cubby the Bear. In the early cartoons, some the character drawing lacked refinement at times and there was some garishness which does give off a primitive feel. Overall though, the colours appeal generally to the eye while the backgrounds are elaborate and meticulous.

Even better is the music, in all the cartoons it is so beautifully and cleverly orchestrated, is great fun to listen to and full of lively energy, doing so well with enhancing the action.

Some of the synchronisation is sharp enough. There is zest and charm in enough of the cartoons and some of the cartoons, like the last two Toonerville cartoons, have more gags than usual and they are amusing. Some characters are more memorable and likeable than others, the Toonerville characters being notable examples.

Conversely, there are things done wrong too. Even in the best cartoons, the content tends to be very thin, and a vast majority of the cartoons are plot-less. In the average or less cartoons, not only are there not enough gags as such but any absurdist humour or surrealism present in some of Van Beuren's earlier work is completely absent. Many of them are too saccharine and excessive on the sugar, present very early on in the series. 'Pastry Town Wedding' was far from one of the worst "Rainbow Parade" cartoons but it was rather too cutesy and saccharine still.

While some of the cartoons had nice characters, others didn't. Most are not very memorable or interesting and fairly typical Van Beuren characters. Molly Moo Cow was never a strong enough protagonist and the Three Kittens in their two cartoons were annoying (one roots for the dog character(s) in their efforts. Felix while faring much better is noticeably tamer and is far more interesting in his earlier silent black and white cartoons.

Overall, very variable and not easy to rate hence my mixed feelings rating. 5/10 Bethany Cox


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