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Clutch Cargo is an American animated television series produced by Cambria Productions and syndicated beginning on March 9, 1959. The series was notable for its very limited animation yet imaginative stories; it was a surprise hit at the time, and could be seen on 65 stations nationwide in 1960.
|Written by||Clark Haas|
|Voices of||Richard Cotting|
|Theme music composer||Paul Horn|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||52|
|Running time||4 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Cambria Productions|
|Original release||March 9, 1959 –|
The stories centered on adventurer Clutch Cargo, who was sent around the world on dangerous assignments. Accompanying him on the assignments were his young ward Spinner and his pet dachshund Paddlefoot. Live-action footage was used, as well, of a 1929 Bellanca C-27 Airbus; series creator Clark Haas was previously a jet pilot. Episodes were produced and then serialized in five five-minute chapters each. The first four chapters ended in cliffhangers, with the fifth chapter concluding the adventure. Haas explained that the show was formatted this way so that "the stations can run one a day on weekdays, then recap the whole for a half-hour Saturday show."
The show was the first to use the "Syncro-Vox" optical printing system because of budgetary limitations and the pressure to create animation within a tight time frame. Syncro-Vox was invented by Edwin Gillette, television cameraman and partner in Cambria Studios, as a means of superimposing real human mouths on the faces of animals for the popular "talking animal" commercials of the 1950s. Clutch Cargo employed the Syncro-Vox technique by superimposing live-action human lips over limited-motion animation or even motionless animation cels.
To further cut costs, Gillette and special-effects man Scotty Tomany supplemented Syncro-Vox with other tricks to save time and money. Haas explained, "We are not making animated cartoons. We are photographing 'motorized movement' and—the biggest trick of all—combining it with live action…. Footage that Disney does for $250,000 we do for $18,000." Gillette and Tomany simulated action in the real-time movement either with the camera or within the cel itself. Other live-action shots were superimposed as a means of adding a certain degree of realism and to keep production costs down. For example, footage of real smoke was used for explosions. Traditional animation was also employed in the series on occasion.
The musical soundtrack to Clutch Cargo was also limited. Jazz musician Paul Horn provided a score using bongos, a vibraphone, and a flute.
In 1996, a live music venue named after the series, Clutch Cargo's, opened in Pontiac, Michigan. In 2013, Clutch Cargo was featured on TruTV Presents: World's Dumbest where it placed #19 on the show's countdown of dumbest TV shows.
|DVD name||Episodes||Release date||Additional information|
|Volume 1||26||March 22, 2005||
|Volume 2||26||March 22, 2005||
|Episode and Title|
- Arceneaux, Noah. “Clutch Cargo, Space Angel, etc.” Outre #5 (1996).
- Collier, Kevin Scott. Clutch Cargo's Adventure Log Book. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2019. ISBN 1092645543
- "Don't believe your eyes! How 'Clutch Cargo' cuts corners as a television comic strip", TV Guide, December 24, 1960, pp. 28–29.
- Erickson, Hal. Syndicated Television; The First Forty Years, 1947–1987. p. 119. ISBN 0-7864-1198-8
- Haas, Clark."Clutch Cargo" (comic strip).Jack and Jill magazine, Feb. 1961, pp. 56-61.
- Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials, 1937–1973. New York, New York Zoetrope. 1986. pp. 96–97. ISBN 0-918432-69-3