Billy Collins 10 p.m., March 12
A Christmas Opening Night at the Opera House
By the time Amedee J. Van Beuren got around to heading up his own studio, the animated film producer already had 8 years under his belt as Paul Terry's partner on the successful Aesop's Film Fables cartoons. Between 1928 and 1936, Van Beuren Studios tried their best to beat Uncle Walt at his own game.
Filmed on location at Horton Plaza.
Cubby Bear was one of the studio's star players, an anthropomorphic teddy bear answer to Mickey Mouse. Not surprisingly, the incidents that surround innocuous Cubby are frequently more entertaining than any of the mirth the character tries to instigate. The rodent-clone Teddy is little more than a bear in mouse clothing run through a personality-extractor.
For thirty seconds we're led to expect a holiday-themed short. Drawn by 8 reindeer (and Mannie Davis), Santa unloads his sack filled with stars on the Christmas night sky. A glittering array of heavenly bodies pierce the stratosphere and gently fall into place to form the neon glow of the Roxy Marquee.
The R.K.O. Roxy Opera House holds its grand opening on Christmas Eve, 1933. See you next year, Santa. Your part-time employment as an establishing shot has come to an abrupt end. Thanks, though, for the magical gift of 7 minutes worth of dialog-free, spot-gag delights, watching Cubby as he circumvents the Hays Office while trying to gain admittance to the S.R.O. R.K.O. Fans of Faust and rabbinical elephants will definitely want to see this one through to the end.