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Clutch Cargo - Love It Or Hate It

Incredible as the 1950's were so far as film, television, and popular culture are concerned, 1959 was a true annus mirabilis for television. Among many other debuts, that year gave us Rocky and Bullwinkle, Slam Bang Theater, Bonanza, The Untouchables, The Twilight Zone, Dennis the Menace, and - Clutch Cargo.

Clutch Cargo was one of the most unusual programs ever seen on television, and it was intended as a childrens' cartoon program. What made it so unusual was its animation; the voice actors were filmed during the recording sessions and their moving mouths extracted and superimposed on what were otherwise still figures. The effect was at once creepy and fascinating. All other animation such as character movement was held to a bare minimum.Clutch Cargo himself was a writer and pilot who took on an assortment of dangerous assignments, always bringing along a young boy, Spinner, who was apparently his ward (as Dick Grayson was to Bruce Wayne), and the boy's dachshund, Paddlefoot. They were involved in a variety of adventures for several seasons. Adventure awaited at every juncture, villains were defeated, good people prevailed. Each episode contained five chapters, the first four were cliffhangers and the finale upbeat.

This was also an unusual program in that you either loved it or hated it. The IMDb User Reviews contain about an equal distribution of each and you will find the assorted commentary quite interesting. Still, it is worth watching just to experience the 'Syncro-Vox' technology used to animate the characters' mouths.

All episodes appear to be available on YouTube and a typical one is embedded below. I haven't seen these on television since about 1962 but have fond memories of them. Clutch was a genuine 'good guy' and an intended role model, but you would never find a series such as this on television today. More's the pity.


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A good assessment. This was a program for kids, not adults, and I don't see how any normal kid could not have liked it. You comment about these people applying current standards to the past is spot on. Now maybe if Clutch were gay and Spinner a transgender........
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Loved it. It was one of those offbeat cartoons that weirdly held my attention. Same as Gumby and Davey and Goliath, the latter of which I didn't like but still watched. Clutch was different because of the good guy bad guy thing with Clutch always winning. Probably why to this day I still read Mark Trail.

And I read the IMDB reviews. The worst ones seem to have been written by clueless people who grew up without Saturday Morning Cartoons and are applying current standards to the past.
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I am ashamed to say that I have never seen Space Angel, probably due to its not being offered in the DFW area in the early 60's. Had it been on TV then, I am sure that I would have seen it, since we never missed an episode of Clutch Cargo. I have to admit there is a bloodline here since the animation style and technique appears to be identical. A tip of my top hat to you for posting this.
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