The Screen Songs are a continuation of the earlier Fleischer series Song Car-Tunes. They are sing-along shorts featuring the famous "bouncing ball", a sort of precursor to modern karaoke videos. They often featured popular melodies of the day. The early Song Car-Tunes were among the earliest sound films, produced two years before The Jazz Singer. They were largely unknown at the time because their release was limited to the chain of 36 theaters operated by The Red Seal Pictures Company, which was equipped with the early Lee DeForest Phonofilm sound reproduction equipment. The Red Seal theater chain -- formed by the Fleischers, DeForest, Edwin Miles Fadiman, and Hugo Riesenfeld -- went from the East Coast to Columbus, Ohio.
Between May 1924 and September 1927, the Fleischers released 36 Song Car-Tunes series, with 17 using the Phonofilm sound-on-film process. The films included Oh Mabel, Come Take a Trip in My Airship, Darling Nelly Gray, Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?, and By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Beginning with My Old Kentucky Home (1926), the cartoons featured the "follow the bouncing ball" gimmick, that lead the audience singing along with the film. The Fleischers were ahead of the sound revolution, and just missed the actual change when The Red Seal Company filed for bankruptcy in mid-1927.
In 1945, Famous Studios, successors to the Fleischers, revived the Screen Songs as an all animated series in color. The earliest color Screen Song part of the Noveltoon series, "When G.I. Johnny Comes Home Again." was released on February 2, 1945.
The Wikipedia entry goes on to list all of the Fleischers and the 38 color cartoons that were in the official "Screen Songs" series from 1947 to 1951. The title screen as shown up above and the opening credits all include the catchy tune:
However, several Bouncing Ball sing-alongs appeared in the Noveltoon series before the SS series started: "When G.I. Johnny Comes Home Again" (1945), "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" (1945), "The Goal Rush" (1946), "Madhattan Island" (1947, with two songs "Penthouse Serenade" and "42nd Street") and "The Mild West" (1947). All five are in the public domain. I have the fascinating "Madhattan Island," but the current quality is too poor to do anything with it.
Cartoon Research site.)
I had wondered why the popular Screen Songs ended suddenly in 1951. Turns out they didn't! The series stopped, but Paramount kept making them through 1954, except the cartoons fell back into the Noveltoons series. Did audiences start going to the concession stand if a cartoon song came on, but stayed to watch a normal cartoon? It is impossible to tell in the first half if the Bouncing Ball will make an appearance. I can't list all of these "extra" Song Cartoons because you can't tell from the titles listed in Len Maltin's "Of Mice and Magic" (1980) and I could not view one of the discs due to damage. These 1953 cartoons include Screen Songs: "Philharmaniacs," "Aero-Nutics," and "Invention Convention" where the audience can sing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."
Right here and now you can enjoy "Candy Cabaret" from 1954, which just might be the last Paramount Screen Song ever made! Sing along at home to "Ain't She Sweet!"
Visit my website at Festival Films