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FILM C IO 'M MENIT

VO LUM E 11 NUM BER 1

publ ished by THE FILM SOCIETY OF LI NCOLN CEN TER

JAN UARY- FEBRU ARY 1975

STAF F CONTE NTS editor RICHARD CORLISS special contributing editor G RE G FORD ass istant editor

BROOKS RILEY direc tor of fi nan ce & produc tion

SPECIAL ISSUE: THE HOLLYWOOD CARTOON 10: WARNER BROTHERS focus on a studio article by G reg Ford

18: MICHAEL MALTESE AND MAURICE NOBLE Chuck Jon es' cruc ial Coll.l bo rators inlelView b y Joe Acittm son

SUZANNE CHARIT Y 21 : CHUCK JONES gra phi c des ign GEORGE SILLAS SUSAN DOBB IS

Bugs Bunn y, Daffy D uck , Porky Pig, the Roadrunner in terview b y Greg Ford Jnd Rich ;ud Thompson

contributing writers

Chuck Jones' ca rtoon s w ith Bu gs, D,lffy, ;lIld Elm er Fudd article by Ric hard Thompson

39: DUCK AMUCK RA YMONO OU RCN AT

STEPHEN FARBER RO GER G REE NSPUN

JONATHAN ROSENBAUM RICHARD RO UD ,\ NOREW SA RRI S AMOS VOGEl ROB IN WOOD contributing edi tor STUART BYRON <ldvcn ising Ill<inager TONY IM PAVIDO

44 : WINSOR M cCAY Gert ie th e D inosaur, little Nelllo article by John C m cmaker

48: MAX AND DAVE FLEISCHER Ko-Ko , Belly Boop, Popeye, G ulliver, Supe rman i1rticle by MJrk Llnger

57 : GRIM NATWICK IllJ sler <tnim Jtor of the female form: Belly Boop, Snow W h ite arti c le- interview by John C lnema ker

researc h ass itant

MARY CO RLI SS 1n(' oponlOn, 1·'1'''.... , ('(1 on r ll. \\ CO'\\ \1lN r

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-18106 P' ''''M ,n U",\ h~ A(Ill€' 1'"n,IOS, 'k<lio.d, \l A l)"U,hull-U III ,h(' U::' A hI t ,hlNn '\:(,W, COnll),ll1\ 1~; \\'t',1 151h ::'1' 1.'C1. '\:c w Yo'~ 'JY 1001 1 lnl('tn.II'0I1,,1 d"'"buIIOO I" \ \O"<1 ..... ,d(' \I ('(h,1 s.:" ,",u'. 186 P,lIlo. ""('IIU1' x,u rh. 'cw y()lf" . ' Y 10U 1h U"J A l)"tllbul('(J m (;,e ,11 6", ,1111 I" \I'")f1' 11,110,-'" (Onlj)Jnl , lOfldon fi LM CO\l'U:,\: I r)'uh{'ll.ll(" on th(' FI ,\f p'''flod, (,11 ",dl"III)o: pl,on ISS ' O()!S · II'I X l,h •• I" oi COlljot'('" ( J,d numl)['r ~6, -I91:1

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fo, him COIIIIIIl '1I1 bl Chucf" lon('~

"II ca rloon st ill s, and thccharactcrs in them , are copyri ghted b y the respecti ve ::'Iudios,

&2: THE VAN BUREN STUDIO memoir by I. Kl ein

64: WALT DISNEY Jrticlc by Jonathan Roscnb<1um

70: TEX AVERY Droopy, Chill y W ill y, G eorge Jnd Jun io r Be<tr article by JonathzlIl Rosenb<ILHll

74: TOM AND JERRY the animators' Jrt art icle by Mark K<tusler

76: TV ANIMATION from Rocky & Bullwinkle (down ) to Yogi Bear & Boo-Boo Jrticlc b y I.eon<trd M .l llin

OTHER FEATURES 2: LONDON JOURNAL lIonalhan Rosenbaum) 4: ISTANBUL JOURNAL (Gerald Weal es) 6: INDEPENDENTS (Amos Vogel) 84: WITHER THE AFt? (Austin lJlllont) 85: " WHAT IS THE BFI !" (Vcrina Glaessner) 86: BOOK REVIEWS (G(:.'1orge Morris, JO,1n Mellen ) 89 : CORRECTIONS (Roger Gr('''ellspun on LEITER FROM AN 94: LETTERS (Charles Wolfe, JOlla lh<Jn Rosenbilurll )

UNKNOWN WOMAN)


JOURNALS LONDON JOURNAL by Jonathan Rose nbaum O ctober 8; Victor Ericc's

EL ES PIR IT U DE

LA CO LME:"! ,\ (T il E ~ I' I R r l O F TH E BEEH IVE ).

I've been tryi ng il l1 weckend tu co rne up w il h .111 <ldL'q uall' LiL'sc ription of this lovely Sp;l1l ish film , but J Gill '! gt.:'1 anyw h"" fe. A co llC<lg Ut..' nx . . . ntl y spokt.· of tht' 1l1Ovic <IS " begu il ing," w hich s el.'ln S like an honL's ! s tart. T wo remar kab ly e xpress ive little g irl s, Ana Turn'n! and Is..l bcl Tdleria, sec James Whale's FRA .'iKE:"!~ r E\ :-': ilt a traveling film show th a t s to ps in their vill age in Castill e. A fh.:onv<l rd s, [sabel c;" p\Clins to her sister thilt the mon s te r is still a li ve- and in deed , he m,lki..'s " bri d ap pcCtr<1 ncc in the final red. Thl:' girls' fdlh e r is il Ix'e-kecpcr

who brood::, o"e r Milct crlinck , while th e mo th er writ ...·s lII1l" plained letters to SOl1leonl' in Franct:'. IS,lbd plays dead for a bit , and Ana bL'l il'ves Iwl". Ana bcfril'nd s .1 fu g itive sold ier who is l've ntually killed . I don ' t knl)\\' w hat Sl' nsl:.' to IlMkl' o f e ither the plot or Ericc's l"ll'Ctuli flil hlll1P),to ne co lo rs <lnd ho neycomb compos itio ns, but I find thl' film h;Hlnt ing a nd r<lther s pellb indin g in .1 mlllL'd WIlY, ,m d em otionally it all ~t'('III~ to ,ldd up to somet hi ng. Lik e Me rvy n Pl'<lke ':; LJnnl'rv in ~ f,lnta sy novella BOlj ill Oark,lt-:;s, its o\·c rilll efh.'cl is unmis takable yet s tr<m gely unacco unta ble , at least by me. All I Cil n do is poin t and hupl' th.l t yo u'll get a cha ncl' to enco un ll'r

e ll 's, w ith all th e Ell in g to n s id emen crowd ed aro un d Freddie Wa s h ing ton' s bed pl ay inga sombe r blacko ut m elody (the titl e tun e a gain) a nd proj ecti ng tCi ste ful dea th -s hadows on the waiL capped by CI final imag e of Duke fa d ing and bl urring o ut like a can dle flam e as the d ann.'r hero ine loses co nscio usness. The la s t excerp t in th e prog ram , from DUKE ELLINGTON AT THE WIHTE HOUS E (1969) , offers the sa ti sfy ing spect<lcle of Elling to n s ha ring a st<lge w ith Nixon w ithout losing an o unce of cool or int eg rity in th e p rocess, o utcl aSS ing hi s s po n so r w it h every ges ture of co urtesy a nd w it and lea v· ing no d o ubts at a ll abo ut w ho is th e presiding no bilit y. It's a sig nifi cCint contra st to N ixon 's na u seat ing Jo hn Ford tribute , w hich contrived to remove the Brechtia n distance fro m the o ld dod ge r's vision a nd leave us w ith a chauvinis tic postage- sta mp of mytho logy for rig ht - wing auteu rists to s lobbe r ove r- th e perfec t co mpanion* piece to Ro na ld ReagCl n's prog r<lTn intro duct ion to Bogdanovic h 's DIR ECTE D liY jOt·IN FORO at the New Yo rk Film Fes ti val in 197L

Ot her part s of this Ellin g ton a nthology raise th e w ho le co mplex iss ue of co mpat ibili ty behvee n jazz Cl nd film as ind e pen dent a nd /or simultaneo us ar tfo rm s: clearly the bes t jazz does n' t a lways add up to the best cinema, and the contras t of filmi c a p proaches to the mu sic is in teres ting fo r it s illustrat io n of di verse ways o f dl'alin g w ith the p roble m. A lu nCitic extract fro m MU ROER AT THE VAN IT IES (M it chell Le isen , 1934) fr<lntically inte rla ces plot and perfor mance, ending with the en tire Ellin g ton ba n d murdNl'd by a spray o f mach ine -g un bul * let s; th e CJ u as i -abs tract titl e c re dit s o f CHANGE OF MI ND (Robe rt S teve ns, 1969) g ive the m us ic a more ne utral s urface to play aga in st, but w ind lip se rving as a relative ly sta ti c b<lckdro p. Pe rhaps th e o nly moment in thl:.' enti re even in g w he n jazz

becolI/ es c ine m a occ ur s in W ill Cowan 's wonderful SA LUTE TO DUKE ELL INGTON, a Uni ve rsa l s hort o f ·1950: in the mid st of a tun e, Ray Na nce s teps forwa rd a nd " im pro vises" Lo uis Arms trong in everything but his mu sic-a llfal improvisa tion s ud d en ly blosso ming int o vis ual improv isa ti on as he mugs and mim es hi s wa y th ro u g h a n in ve nt or y o f recogn izable Sa tc hm o s tances , in a s pirit perfec t ly ma tching tha t o f the music aro und him. Octo ber 13: Th e same iss ue of mu sical and filmic value s a ffectin g o ne a not her crops up with a revival o f GUYS ;\ ND DOLLS o n BBC televisio n. Neildy <III of th(' crit ical acco un ts o f this underrated movie s ugges t that it 's wl'ake ned by the " unprofess io nal " sing ing of Ma rl o n Brando and Jea n Sim m o n s; for m y mone y, Fra n k Loc sscr's mus ic hilS never come <la-oss better. Why? Becau se th e v ulne rab il it y o f Brandu a nd S immon s perfo rmin g th ese tune s ellhances the ir cha racters, Ill<lking th em un * us ual ly tactile <I S musica l-co medy fig ures. The s li g ht quavers and hes itat ion s in their vo ices a s they approach a nd prabl' at ce rtain note s g ive t h eir so n gs-' TII Know," ";\ Woman in Love," " If I \Vere a Bell," " Luck Be a Lady" -an a d di ti onal emo tio nal IClycr precisel y beca use o f th c ri sks and ten s ion s invo lved , w hi ch imme diat e lv tra ns late them selves int o tht' e motio n;1 ris ks take n by S ky Ma sterson an d S is ter S <lrah Brow n . ( Is GUYS ANI) DOLLS the o nly Meth od m usica l?) Listen to Robert Ai d a and Isabe l Bi g le y in the orig inal ·cast a lbum o f the s tage productio n, a nd yo u' ll hea r to what cx tent " p rofessio nalis m " can bl each out or eiiminCite these to uching ove rtones, g iving u s a more po li shed surface w ith m uch !t:.'Ss se nse of th e h Ull1nn be ings/actors behind t he vo ices. Which o nl y d e mon s t ra te s that a n aes theti c for the film mu sical. mllsically speakillg, sho uldn' t necessa ril y be the sa me aes th eti c ll Sed o n s tag e musica ls. CONTINUED ON PAGE 8]

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October 10: A prog ram o f film s and extra ct s fea turing Duke Ellington a t th e National Film Thcatrl', jud icio usly selec ted , arra nged , .1nd prl'''l' nted by Dav id Meeker .1Ild C harl es Fox. The l'a rl ies t tre.1 t- a nd the firs t recordin g o f Elling to n o n film - is BL\C .... M W TAN F,,\ ,'>:TASY(1929), direc ted by Dudley Murphy the sa ille )'l'i"lr as his Bess ie Smith film , ST. LO UIS !ll_ U~S, w ith an equa ll y Crl\lky plot a nd a lot mo rt:' <lrt y chiaroscuro. Bu t it is ful l o f indelible d eta il s and moment s: Duke' s clegant re hearsal o f the title tune with .1 tru mpeter, in terrupted by th e a rrival of I wo pian o rem OVl'rs (" Move your anatom y from that m.1 hog.my!" ); a nig htma rish d .lIlCl' ro ut ine of fi Vl' ml'n o f decreasing he ig h ts in tU Xl'dos o n a p o li s hL'd , mirror - like floor, comb inin g canceroll" Busby Berkel ey- like images o f multipl icit y w ith a period species o f voo* d oo jive; ,1 d~cl th sce ne worthy of Lilt le 2

JAN.-FEB. 19 75

An,l Torrent .Hld b.lbel Telled;! in Victor E,ice's TlI [ SPIRIT OF THE BEEHI VE.


#Ihef film )OperbO ckS from Avon!Flore / EquinoX 'C inema BorealiS: Ingmar Bergman and Ihe swedish EthOs. bY 've Yr J'\U The Disney Version . oy " :ha ra 5Lh ,e I1he Filmgoers Companion. b\ ..es118 Hnlhwe1 . A Herit· age 01 Honor: The English Galhic Cinema . 1946-72 : The HOllywood screen writers. E.o ov ~I • JI,) )fhSS Interviews with Film Directo rs . by I.prj,{e\". ')1 Memo Irom David O . Selznic\<.: picture, uy .In ,I, >ss WR : Mysleries of lhe lic Organism : A Cinemo Teslamenl 10 lhe Life and Teachings 0 1 Wilhelm Reich . I N ' . ;! \,: ; ... -;~e :e I " Whya DuCk ," v "WhO's on Firsl" :' i " 'A Flask of Fields." 1 PI' 1 ~eo '['IV ,( J ;,"') :,1: Ie •

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JOURNALS ISTANBUL JOURNAL by Gerald Weales An Italian 11l0ViL'Ill.1kt,r, t; topping in Istanbul long I..·no ugh for ,1 quick look .ll the ca tch- .h-c,l tc h- Cill1 Ilk,thod., of Iht.· Turkish film businl'''-', ~m ill'd , .. houk hi.; head and s<1id, " If ... lik..- the l.'arly d,l Y" of the movit.'s," So I WiI'; told by ,1 Turkish moviemaker \\';Ih .) tDueh of bCll1l1sed pride in hi s vo ice. T hL' bL'1l1u:::tl'llH.'nt, I

ass ume , was t hl' s t.l nd ,nd Istanbul sta te -o f - mind , an (1 fft..'c liOI1.lIL' .1ttr.h.- liol1 to cO lllplic.ltiol1 ,lll in cipil..·n t diS,lskr; thl!

pridl..' \\'.1::0 m o re spcciiic. ~"..' rif Cl) rl'11 is one of the producers o f Yilm,ll. C llne~" :­ films , ,l nd Clinc\' j ... OIh' of the fl'w se ri Oll ::. fiil11lll.1h' rs i~l.' hu s tlin~ bus in ess in w hi ch the c hid product i:.- iI fl,l :-: h y, hil-ilnd - rull (o mmerci.li picturt' imit'-tt ing American elnd Europl..'.ln mo vie ... ,1 1 tlwir t.1wdries t. I W.1S first to uted on to Cuney by an .1fchill'd in Anka rcl, ,lTl inll..'lIi)o;el1l ~ ' Ollllg man who ~l'l..' med dt:'lermin L'd that I h,1\'e a look at Turkey's bl..' ... t .1111..' rnpI S .11 thl..' sl'r iou:- film . I was vilgUe\y .1\\·,lre thdl UMUT ( II UI'I' ), m,uk in 1970, h.ld pl.1Yl'd in PMis tu rl' s pectabk 1'I..'vil..·ws, ,11ld Ih,l! nn occns ion al Clinev tUrlll'd up "I ,I film fl..'Sliv.1L bul nOlw of hi ~ w\lrk h.b f\llll1d release in ei ther Ih l' Unill..'d S tatl'~ nr EngI.-.nd . I w.-.s warned bv :-Ol1l1..' thetltl' r peo plio.' in Is tanbul Iha t G linl..'Y is s impl y too arlv to bl',lr and t lMI hi ... rl..·put iltiol1, in France el l lea s t, is as mudl politi cal .1 S aesth e tic, Ihal it depl'nd~ in pMt on hi s havin g been j. ,iled durin g thl..' pl..'rim\. follow in g th e s tudent llll1'l..'s t , w hen Ihl' country WilS undl..'r I1lMtiall.l\\' . roo prodnci ill to buy a kno\\'ing Ist.ll1b ul opin ion .1 1 the expense o f an I..· n lhu ..;i"..; ti c Ankar.l Olll' (is New York al w.1Y'" rig ht ?), I decil..kd I had better sC'e for my!'oelf. Although Cllrt' n and hi s ,b!'ooci,ltes \\'ere extre meh' .,plliogelic about tlw llualily o f the film ·thl..'\· ... ho\\'l'd me (nl\' wl..'l'k in Ista nbul, Iht.:\' "',lid, \\',I S too s l~ort., time for the m to fi;ld g\lud prints o f thL' film s), they did manage III (l)[ne up w ith U1'. l UT and a 1971 color film ACI ( BI l l ER), Cliney was an "r tor fir ... !, with ,I hundred or so roles 10 hi s Cl'1..·dit (o r so I \\'a~ tol d in a displa y o f amorphous Turkish s t.'Iti,tic')' and then .-. dirl'c tor , bul his g r owing reputation as it s l..'rio u s

4

JA N.- FEB. 19 75

fi lmmaker depends o n his Tllorc recen l work in which , as writt.'r , din..'ctor .1nd lead in g performer , he is turning to indig e n ous charactl..'rs .1nd s ituations. Thl..'rl..· arlo.' undl..·rly in g soc ia l assulllp l ion~ in th e film s-par li cularly in u MuT - ,md bOl h filllls make u sC' of ex tensive spl'l'ci'll's denouncing inequities of one kind or another. The jury at the '1972 Co lde n Cockerel Fe s tivill in A d,lIM , h,IVin g votl..'d C linev best actor and hi s IJ AB ,\ ( FAIIII:.R ) best piclure, mysteriou s ly rl..·versed il sdf before Ihl' cl\\',lrd " co uld be m.-.dl' , pres um ably bec<lll s l..' of the " un favorable rea ctio n in governml..·nt c ir c lL' s" reported b y thl..' sem i -o ffici<ll An,ltolia Agency. Later , C linL' Y, like a n 1I mber of other Ldtis t intelleclua 15, was pUI in pri so n . H e left a half - fini s hl..·d film ",hl..·n he wellt to jail but , wl'll'n I \\'.'I S in bt,lnbul in April , his produ cl..'rs \\'l'rl' con fidenl that he would s oon bl..' rd e.hl..·d ,md the film completed . By thai timl' , marti,,1 law h ad g ive n way 10 dection ~, and th e expec talions were Ihat mos t of thl' writers and journalis ls would bl' 1'1..' lea sed under an impending ,lmnes ty l<l w. It pa ssed in mid-Ma y, bul w ith an ame nd ment excl uding politi cal pri s lUl crs from th e gene ral amnl..'~ t y. EVI..'n so, C(iney h.-.s bee n released , prc ~ lImably on il tec hni calit y; Ihe original c harge a ga in s t him was hM boring revolution.-.ries, nul expressing revo lutionar y s l..·ntiment s. To ml..' CL'rlain ly , Cli n l..'y's primary impulsl..' s l..'em~ mol'l..' artistic than politic<lL p a rticulnrly if onl..· looks at UMUT alungs id e a filmlikl..· S .H.1h M"ld o ro r's ~ ,\1'.1 HI ZA:'\lGA. U~lUr , ... t..'I in So ulh C l..'nlrdl Turkl'\" in and ncar Ad.-.na , is the s lorv of a ;11<ln and his f<lmil\' , wh051..' m.lr~in.ll I..', isle l1 ce dcpl..·nd s,"on hi s in co111I..' ,15 01 hor~e­ cab driver (G linev 's f.:tlher dro ve , uch .1 ("b). \V hen ol1e l;f his horsl..·..; is killt'd by .In ,1LItomobiie .1nd whl'n it is dear th" t nl..·ithl..·r jus tice nor charity w ill prl' va il , till' man (sl..' n s itivd y pl ayl.'d b y C unl' Y) begins till' s low s lidt' into .1 dl..'s p,li r in whic h Ihl.' titular h ope finall y pu s hl'd him tow.l1'd madness, The inju , ticl..' is I..'Slabli s h ed neatly , vis u ally, in 01 ... cene in whic h the middk-cl.1 ss o\\'l1er of thl..' .tutomobik s it s and h.-. S.1 g la ss o f {/,lIrtlll wilh thl' pol icl' .1 :, Ihe ell..'l<lil s o f thl..' "ccidenl arl' takl..' l1 down , nohilL' thl' cabdriVl'r , the victim of I he a cc idl..'nt , Std nds.1 rl.'s pec tful di s l,lncl' from the des k . The la ck o f c har il v b co nvcved , mu c h more co nve ntion· .lily, m uc h 'm orC' co rnil y, with ~ landMd s h ots of the \\'I..'II-Io - do at pnol s idl..' <lnd Irick s h o ts, s u c h a s o n e in which thl..· f,Kl' of the pll'adingc.lbman is dis torlt..'d in Ihl' clasp of .1 purse. Much more ill1prl..'ss ive is a SCI..· n l' in thl..' f':lInil y in w hi ch pML'nt.1i di s trl',s, heightl'ned when onl' of the c hildren USI..·S br('ad money to buy.l bi Cy cll' ride , blossoms inl(l a mild riol of r<ln d o m puni s hment, as innocl..' nt .1nd g uilt y .llike Me cu ffed , s lappl.'d , sp.l nked in .1n esc<ll<l tin g sc('nc Ih<ll coll.:tps l..'s finall y

into t he fath er's OWI1 di s ta s tl' for him sd f. When Ih e film playl..'d in PMi s, it w.:ts co mpilred 10 TliE IJI CYCLE THII:.F - pilftl y, I SUSPI..·c t, beGHl se of thl..' plo l - but Ihe wo nd erfull y dl'tailt:'d opening sl..' c lion of thl..' film , thl..' (·s l.1bli sh ml'nt of Ihl' family a nd th eir Iifl..' , remi n ds Illl..· less o f Ilil li an nL'o-rl'al ism Ihiln of sim ilar pass.1gl''' in 01 fil m like O u s m ,l1le SC l1lbL'lll""; M,\ N OA IH , The diffi c ultv wilh UMur for ,I non-Turki s h .lud'il..· n cl..· is Ihill the w h ole last ~I..'c ti u n of the film h as tn do with 01 s tran ge and hopeless treasurl' hunl - as th o u g h TIIF TRI: ,\S URI· OF filE SIERRA MADRE h.-.el bel' n ' plicl..'d o nt o TI-II:. IHCYCLF TIl IFF - .lnd Ihe imlllt.'d ialt..' effcc i is the kind of di s orientation o ne gt.'lS w hl'n a film swilc h es gl'nres abruptl y midw<l y through , Yd , Ihe hunt i..; no Illl'rl..· nll..'lilphor . S uc h 01 sl..'arch for trl'asure, initi.-.tl..·d bv divination , is <;,lid to be common I..·;l ou g h in thl..· Ad,ln,\ rl..~gion ilnd I..·VI..'11 oa,lsiOl1tlllv s u cce..;s ful (thl' Irea ~ url..' tu bl..' found is mMkl..'t<lbll.' ,lIltil\uitil..·~) , o fll..'n l'nough .ltleils t 10 make it il tl..' 1ll10US hope w ithin thl..' film '..; rl.'OIl is ti c fr<lme , S in CI..·lhe film eOlrlv l's lil b li s h l's it s hero'..; " uperstilious lon ging for the s ur prbl..· rl..'w,lfd , in ,1 5':1..'111..' in whi c h he - bl..·ing illiler ,ltl' - l1lu SI h.1\'e the winnin g lotter y numbers re<ld for him , and SinCl'.l ~ imil.lf SCI..· l1e , after Ihl' elL'alh of th l.' hnrs l..' , undl'rl in es Ihl' dl..'~pl.' r"ti on in hi s h opl..', \\'1..' <Hl' prepMl'd for the fi n al .llmos l dell1l..·ntl'd journey inlo the wild. The trl..'.l s ure -hun t sequl'nces Sl'l'm 100 e,lI..'nded 10 ml" bull h ev do fin allv build a power of Ihl..'ir own ' ilnd dfl'~ ti vt.'ly ca rrv I..'vl..·n (IS doubtful .l vit'wl'r as Ille ove; inlo thl..' momel11 in which hopI..' PI..·co me ~ th e 1.1SI terr ibk delu s ion , UMUT, for ,111 it s fault s, is an imprl..''' ivl..' film . ,\ CI is m u c h kss intere s ting , ,llthoug h there would "1..'1..'1ll to bl..' g re.11 pOII..'nt ial in il s initial idl..'., , A nl.ln (Clinl..'v) rdu rn s 10 his Il<lti vl' vill,lgl..' cl fl er yea rs i·n pri s on , for h<l v ing killed a boy in a blood feud in his yu uth , ,11ld gol..·~ 10 o ffer himself a s 01 s ubs titute sun tu Ih l.' dl',ld bov 's filt h l·r. He is ml..'! , fir s t w ith violence , thl'n with hes it,mt .-.cceplilnCl' , finally with lovl.' , b ut hi s old .lll ie s will not let him dlone . The blood feud livl..' ~ ,lnd he is s el..'n .1 S,llr,litor who mu s t fin"ll y be p u nishl..'d , as hI..' is in .l SCl' llI..' in w hic h th l..' o ld mall is k ille d <lnd hI..' is blindl'd . Reduced to th est.' terms , thl..· film cuuld be sel' n as .1 "t<lll'ment about 11l.ln '~ t'nlrapment in nnti :,uci.ll sociel l usa ge, but thi s is not an a cc urate description of AC 1. The film is, fir s l of .1 11 , a lovl' s tnrv bdween th e Illdn .111d hi s vic ti ill 'S s is tl..'r -Selltillll'nt.ll for a ll its a us terit )' (l ), a SCe lll..' in which t h e man bri n gs 01 bo u quet of wild flower s bOlck .1f1er a (b y's work in the field s, .-.nd they are offered and accep ted wi thout word s) - .l nd , finall y, a rl'vl' n ge dr.-.ma unu s u<ll o nl y in Ih.1lthe heft) is blind . An inordinate .-.muunl of foot.-. g l..' is given to the l1l<ln '~ lea rnin g, by Illt..'<ln s of bdls , 10 CONTINUED ON PACE 87


lIs••

Warner Bros. Inc. Non-Theatrical Division 4000 Warner Boulevard , Burbank , California 91522


INDE-

PENDENTS STRUCfURES by Amos Vogel

(OIll Ill Wl ien /ivll:' (il mil g~l Z in l..'), s pecial publicat ion s. and filrl1og rilphies. The ir litles (ilnd me mbers hip informil tio n) are a vaila bIt..' from The Societ y for the An thro po logy of Vis ual Comm unications, Ame rica n A nthropolo g ica l Ass oci"ti o n , 1703 N t..'w Il ampshire Avenue N. W . , Wa s hin g to n,

D('{l tll (lII d Dy ill X (rt..'viewin g thirt y- five film s o n Ihe s ubject) . They will be d e li g hted to provide Illembers hip informa tion and data concern in g their an nll al Aml:.'rican Film Festival, the definit ive orgy of nonlhc<ltri cal film s of <III cat ego rie s. (EFlA , 17 Wes t S i.xtieth S trl..'l..'!, Ne w Yo rk,

D.C. 20009.

N.Y. 10023.)

New publication s useful in o bv ious and s ubtle ways to both filmmakt..'rs and film lIsers a re now availilbll..' from t il(' Edu catio nal Fihn Library Asso ciation : M II :'('II I1lS wilh Film Pro8 rnlll s. (a hl:.· og raphical li st with addresses) ; Lilliversity nlld ColI('gc Fill11 Collectiolls (fo u r hundred <lnd fiftl.:'t..'n Uni-

The 13ullt...·tin fo r Filmand Vidt.'O Info rmation (c/o Anth o logy Film A rc hi ves, 80 Woos ter S treet , New Yo rk , N.Y. 10012, 52 a year) is a valuabl!:' new slt:.'lter wi th info rm<ltio n about independ e nt film o rganiz..l tions, dis tribution news, g rants. sample prog rammin g o f reg ional s howcase s. fi lm

For th e first lilll t..' ..... L·vt..'rill hundrl!<l of

America's 111051 tl ct-i v\..' .1Ild productive in depend ent filIII 1l1.1k.l'P" ha ve joil1i..·d togethe r as an orgM l iLa tion - lht! Associa-

tio n of Ind l'pl'llde nt Vid t..'O a nd Film rnakl'rs- to dt..'vdop Illcthod s of sdf-hdp a nd mutual protection , to provid L' practi cal , in form<ltio l1.l1 , .lnd ll1o f<l1 supJX)rt , to

L'IlCOuragL' t..',is ting and IlL'W method s of ex hibitio n and d is trib utio n, .1Ild to prt.'5ent ~~ rl:cllin gs, k 'Clun.-'s, .ln d :-Y IllJX)sia w ith Ih('atrical a nd nu n- theatric.ll film field figures for info rmatio n -t..''Xc han ge, nnd trilllsm issio n of know- ho w an d techniqu es

In a I1 l.' W ).,;L'I1t..'ratio n . Most Signifi cant a nd promis ing. how('vl'r, is an innocentsounding pM,lW'lph in it s dl..'cI '1ftltion o f principl es: " the Asso ci<1t io n d Ot-'S no t limit it s s uppo rt to o ne gt..'I1ft..'. i,iL'ology. aes th etic, but furthL'rs di vl.' rsit v o f visio n in artistic a nd soci.11 con scio l~n t.'~::'." rhis rej ection of ::'I..'ct.uia l1ism ,md es pousal o f opcnnl'ss- co rnbined w ith ,m emphasis o n a possibk fu siu n o r at leas t co- exis te nce o f both dL'SthL'lic ,lIld social co ncerns repn."SL'rHs. to an t..'VL'n g rL,,,ter I..' '-knt Ih.111 it s other goals. a sig nifi c'lIltl y prog ressive att itude th(lt rl'quirL'" encourag ement and s upport . Reg ular mt:' l1lbe rs hips a n.' S ID; so .HI..' .1ssociat e no n-voting m c mbers hips (,l\'.1il.lbh.' to ,\I1yon l..' s uppo rting thl' prin ci pk>::, Mld \\'or" of the ASS0c1.1tio n ). If yo u only w is h Il) rl..' cei" e mailings, tht..' co~ t b 53 . (Addrt..'ss Ed Lvnch . Assoc iiltion of in d e pe ndent ViJI..'l. ; .md Filmmilke rs. S'I Leonard S tn 'l..'!. NI..'\\' York. N. Y. l OOn .) The Societ y for thl..' ,.\nlhropo logy o f Vi . . u.lI Communicatio ns is" nl..'W o rgilniz ation for researche rs, sc holM5, .lnd pra cti tiOlll'r . . "s tudyin g humiln bd,a vior in con te'- t thro ugh vis ual mean!'>" who are in terested in t ilt' s tud y, use and p rodu ctio n o f a nthropolllg ic.ll films; the .mal ys is of vis ua l sy m bolic form s from a c ultural hi stori ca l framl..'\\" ork; vis ua l th eorie s. technolo gi es, and tll L'lho d o logies for r('cording and a na ly.li n).; bl..·hil\'ior and diff0 r0nt modes o f com m u niciltio n; and thl..' cro ... !'>·c ultural s tud v o f Mt .1nd artifa cts (rom .1 ~ocial , cult~ural , hi s tor ica l, and aes tlll'tic \'i L·wpoint.. The Society publisht..'s

S lu dic:, ill 6

flit'

Alltll ropology of Vis ual

JAN .-FEB . 197\

,\ Fit,! ,\ v{'nue Screening Room prl'ITII{'re : M,l ko Midofl

vl:' rsity film librarit.'S by s tatt..', sizt..' of coll ectio n , b ud get , and perso nne l) ; a nd NOI/ TI'I'a fr ica/ Fillll D is/rilll/tors: Snit's Serv ia Policies (wi th informatio n on preview and sales policies o f onL' hundred and thirtyseven companies and ty pes of films hand It..'d) . EFlA al so dis tributt..'s three filmographies: AXillX (a co mprehe nsive, criticall y annotated lis t of a hundred and thirty film s for and about o ld e r peopl e); A/t('mal ;Pt's (a n a nno tated li st of a hundred and twe nty films dealin g with alte rnatives in educa tion , li fe -s ty les, \-vork , and re lig ion); and

In

Y,H UlO M,l,umur,f s \·VAREH OUSE.

fes ti val s, bibli og raphies (includin g ma g il Lint..' a rti cle s a nd s pe cial publi ca tions) , <lnd even re prints of <I few artides ur artists' stall.'ments. A « we<l!: While the in fo rmat ion prov id ed is first · cla ss, it is s lanll.'d s t ron g ly toward the " formal " (s tru cturali st? minimali st?) avant -gard e wit h wh ich A nthology and Mckas arc con ce rn e d ; o the r newsl e tters addre ss in g them scl vcs to " the rcst" o f the ing epend e nt fie ld k ig hty per ce nt?) wo uld be ad vis.l ble. CONTINUED ON PACE 8


"The film book of the year!' -Internalional Film Guide An in-depth, uncensored look at film as revolution, film as hlas phemy, film as pornography, film as hallucinogen, film as cruelty, film as scandal- film as a s ubversive art

• Wa vekllgth, Mi chae l Snow's ambitio us, controversial expe riment in one-take film mak ing; a single, 45 -mi nu tc -lo ng zoom

F IL M AS A SUBVERS IV E A RT by Amos Vogel is the fi rst book of its kind. Ill u strated with close to 350 still s. many rare ly see n . many purposely ~h oc k ing. it dea ls with areas of film infrequently covered in stand ard h istories. and co nce ntrate s on subversion of form and co nt ent. Surrea li sm an d exp res-

sioni sm. D ad a a nd pop. minim a l and co nce ptual a rt. assault s on narrative. time.

• Trium ph 01 the Will, Leni Ri cfcn stahl 's notorious N:1Zi ma sterpiece • N umber 4 , Yo ko Ono's irreverent survey of the bUllocks of ove r 350 London art ists and ce leb ri ties

:",

,~

,

't>

-'

~

The se and hundred s of othe r

. !

...... .' •. ' ···W ' ...

n ~) El '

fil ms and early Sov iet Ru ssian avant -gard e: film s of

the Third World. Maoi sts.

9

afC

ana -

lyzed in detail. and there are fu ll-length rev iews and capsu le descri ptions of se veral hundred represe nt at ive IiIlll s in c ludin g:

• Daisies, VeraChyti lova's styli sh, dada isl. hi gh ly eccentr ic comedy of glu tto ny gone wild

I· .'~'

and space: Nazi propaganda

and We s tern revolut ionar ies; anu the "forbidden" subjects of ci nema : birt h, death. se x. blas ph emy - a ll

• Lui s Bufluel's Land Wilhou! Bread. one o f the most "perve rse" doc um enta ries eve r made

Vogel has been in the fore-

famous and in fa m o u s

films. appear in F ILM AS A SUBVERS IV E ART a co mpre hen sive and mesmeri z in g s tudy o f th e c inema' s 111 0s1 exc itin g . di sturbin g, a nd co ntrovc rsia l wo rk s,

Fully ind exed by E nglis h an d original film title and by directo r. The still s a re accompan ied b y deta iled caption s des igned to inv it e c lose "visual read ing." Size 7 14" x 10 ",

• Wh y No!, S, Arakawa 's hyp not ic, COI11- " The impact of FILM AS A pulsivt; , t; rot ic classic of minim al cinema SU8VERSIVE ART will • Oh D elli Water meluns, Robert Nelson' s reverbera te for a very long o utrdgeo us sa tire of rac ial stereotypes time." - NAT I-I ENTOFF

16, Ameri ca' s la rges t and most famou s film society, and former director of the New York Fi lm Fes t iva l and the Linculn Ce ntcr F ilm D cpart me nt ( until 1968), Amos

front of di scove rin g n ew film talent s for a lmost th ree decade s. He is o n th e faculty of the Un iversity of Pennsy lvan ia's A nnenberg School, a nd is a regu lar co ntr ibutor to the ViIlagf Voice , the Nell' York Tim c.\', and o th er publi ca ti o ns,

$ 15, now at you r book store, or m ai l thi s coupon to R a nd om Hou se M ai l Service, Dept. I 1-2, 20 I E. 50th St. , New York , N. Y 10022. If no t comple tely sa ti sfied, yo u m ay return book postpaid wi thin 14 d ays for full refund.

p------------------, To ),Ollr book.I·lore, or

H.ANUOi\1 HO USE MAli , SERVICE Dept. 11-2,201 I·.. 50th St., Ne w York, N .Y. too22 Please send me F I LM AS A SU BVE RS I VE ART hy Amo,\ Vogel , for which I enclose $ t 5 p l ll ~ 75( fur pU~lage a nd handlin g. If nOl complelely ~a l is tied, 1 1l13Y relurn buok postpa id wit hin 14 days fur full refum!. Name AlIdre!> s' _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ __ Cit),

_ _ Slate _ _ _ Z ip _

_

P le a!>c ,HId ~ale, lax when' appl icable . P rice applies to U .S. an d territories only. In Canada. wrile to ~

L __________________ ~ Il ou,e of Canad a. 37U Alliance Ave., TorOlllo FCI

FtLM COMM ENT

7


CONTINUED FROM PACE 6

That's Not All Folks:

A Look Behind the Scenes of America's Great Cartoons A course by Leo nard Ma lli n This series surveys outstanding work by the giants of Ame rican animation w ith lectures exploring the back ground and contex t of eac h ca rt oon. Feb. 5

An Introduction to Cartoons : the remarkabl e pionee ri ng of W inso r M cC ay with Gertie the Dinosaur, the evo lution of ca rtoon style in th e si lent·fil m era wit h Felix the Cat, Mull and J eff and oth ers.

Feb. 12

Walt Di sney, from Kansas City to Hollywood, inc lu d ing ea rly wo rks, grou nd-br ea king ca rtoons exploring new vistas of so und and co lor, th e birth of M ic key Mou se and Dona ld Du ck and later ex perimentation .

Feb. 19

M ax Fl eisc he r, in c luding prim e entr ies fro m his innovative Out o f the Inkwe/f series, the Bou nc in g Ba ll sing-alongs, Betty Boo p and Popeye. with rarely-s ee n examples of each .

Feb . 26

Warne r Bros. cartoons , tra ci ng th e d eve lopment of perhaps the best ca rtoon stud io in Hollywood led by Avery , Jones , Cl ampetl and others, with such stars as Bugs Bu nny, Porky Pig , Daffy Du ck and the Ro ad Ru nner.

Mar.5

A Hollywood Po tpourri. including film s by Walter Lantz, Paul Terry , Ub Iwerks , Hanna and Barbera and ot he rs from the 1930's and 40·s.

Mar. 12

The Th ree Caballeros, Wa lt Dis ney's forgotten treasure , a film never reissued to theaters . not shown al Lin co ln Center, seen in excer pt form only on televis ion. Thirty yea rs ahead of its time with pop-art visions of Don ald Duck , Joe Carioca and Pan chito south of th e border. A real treat , an d a majo r red iscove ry th at represents the zenith of the Holl ywood cartoo n.

Course number 6308. 6 sessions. 8 :00 P.M .. S18. Si ng le ad mission S3.50 One of more than 65 cours es on fi lm at The New School.

Sh owc<1se o f th e Monlh !\wilrd : to the Fi rst AvenueScrecning R(x)m and il s i ndefa ti ga ble sl eu I h -c in c a ste - prog rammer Fabiano Ca nusa, who , w ilhin barely m ore I han J year, ha s tran sformed a failing Ne\·v Yo rk theater into an enti rely neW ty pe uf rept.'rl o ry th ea ter Ih at ass iduu u sly stays <1way f rom th e u sual repertury staples, stressi ng in s tea d Ihe y oun g new talen ts (m Jny as yet no t w ell k now n ,l nd sorel y in need o f e;..pos urc) <1S well <1 S neglected ma sterpieces by older d irec tors or culios of Ihe P,lSI. C on s id er some of th e litl es: Os h ima's DEi\TH In' I'IA;\"C INC, M as u mura 's "'ARE HOUSE, H er zog's Fi\TJ\ MORGAN A, GOlllez' FIRST CHARGE OF THE MACi'I ETE , Rochi.l 'S BLACK GO D, W'·IITE DEV IL, Arz nl:.'r's DANCE, GIR L, DANCE, Bruc k's I. F. STONE'S WEE KLY, M<1k,lvejev's MAN tS NOT A BIRD, Os heroff' s DR E/\ MS A ,' \' I) N I GHT t-.·t AHES , C Ul.'rr<1 's Til E GUNS, Del vtl u ;..' THE ~·tA N WHO IIAO HI S '·I A I R CUT SHOHT , F<l ssbinder' s A U , Meh liui'S T H E CO W. The em pha sis he re is clearly not on shurts o r tht.' A m er ica n u n derg round , bu t o n features (a t tink's clo se to the com m ercial <I rea in it s crcati vt.' <lspects), Th ird World films, negIt'ctt.'d co u nlries, social and aes thet ic co n ce rn :,. For s.lmple prugr.lI11 S, ilddress F"biano C' Il OScl, Fi rst Avell ul:.' Scret' nin ).;. R (XH ll , Fir st Ave nue' <I I Sixty-First StR'et, New Yurk , N.Y. HX)2"J. C reation of F<l lst.' My th s D t:.'p<lfttne nt : WJtch o u t fo r Ih e splendi ferous, rapidl y emerg in g new Lt.~ n i Ridens t<l h l l11y th (in Ame rica, not Euro pe w h ere th ey kno w better), Clccurding 10 w hi ch s h e i s n ot merd ya gre,lt filmmil ker (a fa ct on w hich <;1 11 art.' .1greed ) b u t o nly mad e innocuous, " {.K tlla l " " docll l11t.' nt aries," w ilh n ei the r Ihe films nor th e filmmil ker orgtlll icall y related to N az isl11 . The nt.'\V nw th is ass id u uusly "betted by the IllOSt UI{l ikel y com b ination of rig hti st, left ist, and po liti ca lly i n ll oct.'n tlig llorant forces and med iil eve r assembled into 0 11(.' eclectic mass of sycoph<1ntic c,d or<1 tion isl s w hu, in th e Ililme o f a s puri o u s objectiv ity, va inly <llIcmpt to sep.1I..1Ie Len i's splendid (eve n m ag nifice nt ) form-s t y le -aes tht.'l i cS from her nefario u s (even dead l y) content- subject Illatkr. More anon . ••;;

Write for the film broc hure or call 741 -5690.

~

You c an register by teleph on e for the above cou r se if you are a M as ter Charge o r Ba nkAmer icard h ol der . Ju st call 741-5 61 0 . 10 A.M .- 7 P.M .. Mon.-Fr i.

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Monthly lists of scarce ci nema books & magazi nes sen t airmai l - $5. 00 yea rl y. A_ E_ COX, 21 Cecil Road , lichen , 50uthhampton 502 7HX, ENGLAND. . . all at mo st reasonable prices. " Intern ational Film Guide.

The New School America's First University for Adults 66 WEST 12 ST

8

JA .-FEB. 197,

NEW YORK 10011

741-56 90


SCIENCE FI CTION / ZARDOZ Predictions of [he future. or picturizalions

or our

nightmares, the crea tures and machines Ihal inhabit

sc ien ce fiction movies aTC the most vivid images of film.

ZARDOZ Zardo::, starrin g Sean Co nn ery. is one of th e 111 0 s 1 co ntrove rsial n c\\' film s of thi s ge nre. "No film since Space Odyssey has lI sed sti ch a hla zi ng di splay o f ph otograp hi c inge nuit y to

suggest a tim e beyond tom orro w.

Char les Cha mplin .

I,f) ." A lI~eles Times

OTi-I ER GREAT SC- FI FLI C KS West wo rld d . .\1 il'I\;H,! [ Cricht(H). Y1l1 Brynn..:r . Rid\;trd Benj:lmin, JanH.'s Brolin

Plan et o f the Apes d . h :mk lin SchatTner. ( 'harlton Il e,\!(JIl . R o d dy i\k OQwall. K im Hu nter. Maurice Fv;ms

Soy len ! Gree n d. Richard I k ischer. Charlton ]-k sloTl, Fdwa rd G. Robi n son . Joseph Cotten. Chuck Connors

200 1: A Space Odyssey d. Stanley Ku brick, Keir Du llea. Gary Lockwood, Wi ll iam Sy lvester

(0

FILMS INCORPORATED

IJ. Cunt;ll路t your InC;11 Lxch:.tngl'. :\tlanla, Georgia 30341 5589 Nl'w Pl'arhtrel' R oa d

404 /451-7445 Lm Angeles. California 90028 5615 I-iu lly\\ood B oukv~Hd 213/466-5481

Skokie (Chic;I)!o arl'~I) Il lin o is 60076 4420 O:lktol1 Slrc!;!t lI1 / 6 76-IORH New York. Nl'w York 100 16 440 Park Avcnul' South 212/ 889- 7910 Distributing ill the Un ited SI,lt('s ndusivcly.


o c>

o

Above : Elmer Fudd

,I' [)OUgl.l\

MacArthur, In Chuck

lones' BUG S' BONNETS ( 1956). Sequence below: Jane)" RA BBIT OF SEVil lE ( 19 50), Bugs sp rml..l~ Fig.l ro f ertilizer on Elml'r '~ '>(. .IIIJ . 11f" to Elmer'路 deli ght. th en 10 hl ~ dr<'n1ay

@ ' 9 7S\\ ,1II1t', II,nlh,路" In c

In

O ne of Bugs Bunny's fabulous subterra nean burrowin gs lead s him to the Sahara Desert , whereupo n he leaps up from hi s rabbit -hole , ye ll s out rejoicin g ly " Miami Beach at las t! ", and rus hes off in a s wimsuit o ver miles and miles of d esert sand , fi nall y coming upon an oas is and turning d isillu sio ned with the p iddling reservoir thereat : " I a lwa ys pictured the Atlantic O cean as much bigger." But farand away a funnier gag in Friz Frdeng's S A t-i }\Ri\ H ARE (1954) is a purely vi.sua l tes tification to the Abs urd and a gentle poke at the little fireball rabbit -ha ter Yose mit e Sam: to dry his face, Bugs calmly pulls out the backsectio n of Sam 's turban, yank ing it down and tearing it off as though the cloth tlap were pe rforated . Then, as a topper , the turban e mit s a seco nd flap to replace the first , automatica ll y- to make a perfect counterfeit of a papt'r-towc! dispen se r. The gag's vis ual apparatu s is n 't especiall y fet chin g: it s pyrotechnics fall short of an y thin g s pec ta cular (tho ugh one dot':' admire the softwan...'- thc savvy of the animators when it com es to thei r meticu lou s and to -the-e xClct-framc control - the crownin g s urreali s t impo s iti on being withh eld just long enough to arouse attention , unloosed jus t soon enough to make it wo rth the wa it ). Nor c<ln the jo ke be

p ra ised for any es ped<l! o riginality; it's undoubtedly <I h'lIld-ll1e-dow n- Tex Avery, the foremo s t innovator at the Warner Brothers Cartoon s hop, treated an Ozark shirtt,1illike.1 perforated paper-towel years before, in his '!Y38 cartoon t\ FEUD T HER E WAS, though the screwy no tion very probably dates back even farther. The SAH ARA HAR E turban bit is unexceptional in it self, and of s li ghtly over a s e cond 's duration , y et seve ral knotty Illcan ings could be e xtrapolated from it. The jokc aSS UIllL'S ildditional hu mor , addi tional valuL', wht..' n viewt,'路d with in the conte xt of a po s twar Bugs Bunn y C<arloon - w ithi n the welter of signifiers, visual associations and gel1l'ric patterns that inform mos t of Bugs' film s from thi s particular period . For s tarters, o ne guesses the la u gh is el icited by a sc rambling -up of regiDnil1 s ymbol s: S am' s pot e ntially " foreign" s heik ' s app urt e n<l nce simul<ate s <a towel dispen ser, ,1 banJI American mechanism. And one can gleJ n that the laugh is on Yo semi te Sam from hi s ticked-off doubletake-the tlip Bunny s t<ays unfazed, and doe s n ' t eve n notice the d is placement -effe c t that he 's in s ti gated. One might sa y that the cartoon is ts are ridi, culing Yosemite Sam for his outlandish aspiration to masquerade as a sheik , \vhen everyo ne know s that S <lm ' s bombastic dis position and fiery cusses a nd ex pl etives (" YOll ornery fur -bearin ' critte!"!" "You long-eared galoo t!") carmark him as solely indi geno ll s to the American We s t. But who \V<l S it Ih<lt s pru ced up Sam as an outre s he ik to begin w ith , if it wa sn't the filmmaker s them selve s ?


by Greg Ford

Ultimately, the revelation that Sam's exolic sheik's turlx1Il functions like a towel di s pl.!nscr betrays the ca rtooni sts' Oll'11 ArneriCClIl cultivCltion. It ridic u lt."'5 their OlI'1I

prL'lensions for havin g embarked on the tinsel desert actioner in the first place, and for h<wi ng sent the ir rabbit :-:;kidaddling off, under ground, on a thrCl., -dJy- leave to Miami Beach, or to Pi l.:ll1o Be,lCh, or else to the La Brea Tarpits, <lnd for further having confoundt.xj the rabbit bv making him "accidentally" caisson to the Sa hara Dese rt, or to sunny Spain (HULLY FOR HUGS, 1953), or to the North Pole (FR IGID H ARE, 1949) with the flim s iest s uperficial c ' cuse that he "took the wrong turn at Alb uqucrq ue. " Th is was the staple premise for many a Bugs Bunn y film in the late Forties and early Fifties: the scalawag rabbit unearth ing him self in parts unknown , puzzling over roadmap directions , thereupon wreaking madness in soml' Mbitrary faroff land; wreaking crJziness, with J dab of the s urdire com ic rashn ess Jnd overbearance of a U.S. Twain-t y pe Innocent Abroad who exports with him a homebred Sense of reality and misa pplies it wherever he goes; wreaking cra zin ess, and sometimes unint ~ ntionall y. Perhaps the mos t urnate ins tance of s uchlike so rry misapprehens ion trans pires in MY BUNNY LIES OVER HIE SEA (1948) when Bugs, with mispl<l ccd chiva lry, thoroughly routs the bagpipes of an innocent Sco ttis h bystander. He's mistaken the kilt-wl..'aring Scot for a defen seless little old lad y, the pipes for a vicious S<.lueaking uctopus. J\ turban aping a towel dispense r, a kilt be ing seen as a lady's skirt, bagp ipes bein g mi s taken for a ravenou s octopus. Yet

cross-cultural mishaps were by no means the only s ubjects for humor to be ent ertained in the rabbit's humorous hierarchy. S uch g<lgS, in fac t, amount lu jll::.1 d ::. lIldli so up,on of the fult spectrum of s ubjects covered in Bug's gag-spangled ca reer. On other occasions, the Warners artis ts COIljured joke-ideas which d eli cio usly h it on personal ity- human nature, inhuman nature. It's these jokes and their attend ,111 t delvings into Character that ha ve even more of a so rta timeless, " universal " q ual it y to them, as the se two gag s thtlt s prin g to mind , from films d irected by Cha rl es M. Jones, are pips of exploration s into th e sick illld troubled psyc he of the hunter Elmer Fudd : to s upport an off-screen co mmentator's c1othes -mtl ke-t hc - ma n disquis ition in BUGS' BONNETS (1956), \ve ar" tendered the sig ht of Elmer J. in his undi es and he looks, a t best, like a feeble weak-kneed marshl11allo . .,,; but just as soo n as his hunting utens il s and hunting clot hes are s upered over his feeble form, he powerhips neuro tically. discharges h is rifle and s hout s out" Kill ! Kill! Kiln " - turning homicid al maniac as if attempting to ca mouflage his tru er schnook-y self (and in the same ca rtoon, maybe more revealingly s till , Fudd dresses up as Douglas MacArthur). There was s urprisingly little levity ever levelled at Fudd's ba ld pate, but the baldne ss was as permanent a fixture in the weakl ing image of Elmer as wa s the timoro us " r's"-a nd- " I's" -to " w's" <lilment in the milksop speech of Fudd, and it mu st have been predes tined that a note o n Elmer's hairl ess ness crop up amid the s undr y

mad cap haircut-shampoo-bilrber jokes of 1950's RABB I T OF SEV ILLE (most li kely the fines t Ross ini cartoonizil tiol1 ever, tho ugh ,I co uple from s tudio s other than Warners- namely Shamus Culhane's Woody Woodpeck e r THE BARBER OF SEV ILLE and the opening Rossini sp<lITings ofTol11 <lnd Jerry in Hanna -Barbera's HITY FO I LED- are also contenders for firs t plilce). Among several dozen merry pranks that he plays 011 his barber-chaired victim, Bugs Bunny, to brcl'zy orchestration , sprinkles Figa ro Fert ili zer on Elmer's sC<l lp in stead of an y more orthodox re s tor<ltivl' lotion st imulant , and Elmer' s noggin, .ever so briefly, seen1S to sp rou t rC<l1 ha ir. Fudd lig hts up at this, o f course, and only then do red wildflowers bloom on the fertilized hair-like stems, to the victim's s hocked dismay. What 's tdltale, tho ugh, arc those six or seven microseconds uf sheer elation U ll Elmer's face, when he believes that he's grown actual hair. It' s this brief uplift that makes his final letdown funn y, and fur~ th ermore gives the tipoff that the baldness may ha ve bee n bothering Elmer for 10, the se mnny years~th<l t it m" y be yet another afflictio n to sa lt the inferiority feelings that drive Fudd oui, preJXlsterous ly, to hunt the "willie gway wabbit. " All I mean to elucid ate, in a roundabo ut way, is that even the mos t seemingl y sim ple or hurried -throu gh or inadvertent visual gag, from the Loon ey Tunes and Me rrie Melodies medley of vis ual gags, seems to glimmer forth , when int erp reted , as " gem- likl..' conde nsa tion of wit and multilevel significaiton; that 1hI:.' best of these fantas tic Warners s igh t-gags could compound whole complex ities of visual mean-


WARNER BROTHERS CONTIN UED ing and visual associat ion into abso lutely the fewest number of frames; ilnd that the

Warn e rs Sig ht -g a gs, in to the bar gain , co uld s urpass the live-action cilvortin gs of even Sennett 's jes te rs in the a ppli catio n o f this unique ly to -th e- frame pre ciseness and co ncis io n (s ince a talented animation directo r is able to reg ul ate timing and compositio n, not to men tion a ll the demcnts o f the Fa ntas ti c, to a n 11 th dl')-;rL'e thtll nary a Live-act ion ring m as ter co uld evt..'f ho pe to

a tt ain ); a nd , m o n_'OVL' r , th ai s uc h seem i n g ly effo rtle ss econ o m y in arriv i ng il l humo r and bonu s 111 1'i'lning Wtl S open most

sing ularly to thos\.' anim ators who chose to wo rk w ithin prl'scriblxj ge ne ri c g uidelin es, whe re chiHilcter concept.;, story concepts, jo ke idea s, <lnd s p <lce -;;1Ild - m Ove IllL'nt id eas could lx' either hel d ove r from on e ca rtoon to lx' wi ld Iv L" tend ed in thL' next , or else modified , or completel y elkk'd , o r maybe kinki l)' d d lected. The lurb<l n-toto wel-di s pL'T1 ser joke in the Frel eT1g CMtoo n <1nd th L' fe rtili zed cr<lT1i<l1 flow c r<1ge joke in thL' Jon L's CMtoon a rL' lluite funn y in them selves, but the n, in <ld d ition, <He bols ll'red up by th e <ludi e nCt.." s filmiliarity with Yosem itl' Sa m a nd Elm e r Fud d , these charac krs; I'l'spt.'c tivl' dupabilitil's, a nd the wagg ish rabbit 's cu sto mary scrimmages with eac h. Ye t, s tr<1nge ly en o u gh , s u ch "genre cartllon s"-il nd bv this I mec1l1 the Ho lly woo d C<lrtoon s {y'know , ill! those an imated s hort -subjects that were doled out to mo vie - ho uses of bygo ne yeMs to be sho wn il long with the major stu d ios' li veactio n fenture -Icn g thcrs)- by ilnd large ha ve been s lo ughed o ff or glossl'd over in fudd y-dudd y fashion by our rather fl atu le nt Eng li sh-l<lIlg ua);e cartoon clil ica l histories. Printed,,~ Idtel y as "1967 was Ralph S te ven so n 's run- o f-the -mill and nOT1e too- Illodes tl y- titli..>d so ftbil ck Alli" lfllioll ill Ill e Cilll'lIIfi whi ch , to it s d e b it, doe s it s s ha re to nurse this mos t untcnable co nd esce n sion toward co mm e rcii11 Ho ll y wood gl'nrl' Ci1rtoo ns. Mo~ 1 peevinl-!, of all , it seems to me, a re Steven slHl 's obv io us s lig htin gs, or hi s ba rely- deigned f.l in t pri1 ises di1 mning the "Tex Avery School," und er which ci1tc hi1 11 headin g he i1ppilre lltl y s u bs ume s Tex Avery's whole ca reer <l ~ a CMtoon d irL'ctor .1 t Warner Brothe rs and MC M i1lld Uni ver~<111'/11~ the entire d irec linl-!, CMeers o f the morl' .ltl chored Wi1rnc rs s ta fft.' rs C hu ck J one~ , I\()bert McKim son , a nd Friz Frcleng , p/l1~ Will iam Hanna and Jo seph Barbera 's dirlYtio n of the Tom i1nd 1e rry's at M G M plll:-, it "ee ms, whate v ~r o ther H o llywood anim.ltion he ca n s umm o n that mig h t foslL' r hi ... hypotheses and p remature co n cl u s i o n ~ . O ffer i n ~ u s i1 good cross-section of myo pi( criti ci11 p rejudi ce ~ d isg uised as straig htfacl'd d .lt a, Stevenson GIn onl y ca rp ab o ut "sanwn t.'ss" and " re pd ition" in the narratives o f the genre cartoo n..;. A nd yet he mig ht have seen that such ritual a nd repetition-of-fon1111Ii1e can 12

JA N.-FEB. 1975

permit i1 director o f high -ca libre to work with in clei1nly refined a r('<lS, G ill i1 llow i1 di rector the oppo rtuni ty to produ ce mos t subtl e vi1 rii1 nces with in the ritu<ll super stru cturl'- va rii1l1 ces thi1 t Ci1n be, in truth , of the kee nest aestht.'lical ord er. In hi s mos t re marki1ble p<lr.1gri1ph (p . 62), S tevenso n, in all soberness, es tima tes as "bad qU i1 li ty" fi ll y sampk o f " neo- Dis ne v" handiwork tha t mo ve s a t "ex press S P~'('li" o r harbors "ca ri caturt:.路 d a nimals, dri1wn on ccls." The criterii1 Me toti111 y absent, thou gh olle s us pects th a t the um b ra ge ta ke n w ith ccls is s impl e oversig ht s in ce cel animi1tion, i1fte r Disney, was, is, i1 nd probably forever sh<lll bl' regna nt , rea ll y occ upy in g i1 he lluv <l lot a ground in the <lnimation field , including i1c res a nd ac re s of the 11105 1 os te n sibl y i1vi1 nt-ga rd e a nd experiment<llist IL'rritory

went beyo nd the pain -with -humiliation of a ban<ln i1- peel pm lfi111. (Of co urse, the conto rtio n was just part of the lang uage and co uld be used to ex press an unlimit ed ri1n ge o f emo tions). Re ve red i1 S pos ultivel y sacrosi1nct, mulled over a nd over in textbook s, and with out i1 s l11i1ck o f s mug di sdain , hi1vl' been the mo re scdi1te, " non- violent" g raphically 2-d UrA 's ( Robert C ann o n 's CER ,\ LD ""ICUOI NG IJOI NG, etc.)' or, more to the heart of the llli1tter, a peculia rized ind cpend e nt item lik e 10hn Hubl ey's MO ON BI IW , i1 froth y nightfi11l reverie wherein a litt le kid i1 nd hi s little brudder try to e nsni1re the so me what o Vl' r- preciou s ly C ray oli1 scribbled title bird (;;111 ostrich lookal ike contes lloser) <l nd do so w hile cons umed in tep id wa tery colors o n som e s u burb<lT1 la wn made up of dissolvey tri1nslucencies

,\ bove , IwO T,l ~ h lin co ur! ~hip 'cenc, compared: Porky .Inc! 1'('lun',l Pi g'~ In POR KY'S RO,\-I,\N CE (19J7 1.1nd j,l yneMarhfield ,1nd Tony Rand,ll1's in WILL SUCCESS SPO IL ROCK HUNTE R (1957~ Below, comp.He T,lshli n's pigeon 5(路 - duck - lrc~S H,III,l M,Hr rn 1944 's PLANE D,\F FY w'lh T.lshlin 's live -,lCtion M,ln,frcld .

that Steven sLln loves to travd in. But th e mos t pe rs is tent bUgilboo th<lt his torii1 ll s ha ve g roupt.'d beh ind to s tig mat ize the Wi1rn ers <1ft is th e reg uli1r p li1int about vio lence or, rather, the "breakneck, unre mittin g, e xtreme v io lence"-to -do and hoopli1 bi1sed, I guess, on i1 so rel y fallacio us i1ss u mption th at these mos t resil ient Cilr too n fi g ure s e Vl;'r po ssessed th e same identical sentiency fo r hurt i1S would i1 flesh-i1nd -blood ied li ve performer; to-do i1nd hoopli1 founded o n <lnothe r mis ti1ken n o ti on that th e fift y-s e ve n varieties of s platted , squished , scrun ched , or crun ched - up s ha pes thi1t were g otten int o by the plii1b le fig ures nl'cessa ril y reg istered pi1 in i1t i1 Il--{) r, if pi1in, thi1t it necessaril y

i1nd tran s parencies . I do n ' t wa nt to put d o w n Hubl ey's OK fil m ; but unque stionabl y, as a rtifi1 cts, the fil m s that s ta r Bugs Bunn y, Di1ffy Du ck , Twee t y S ylv ester, Pork y Pig, Pepc Ll' Pew, a nd eve n Fog horn Leghorn <Ire th e more dur<lb le <l nd readil y readable hie rog lyph s today i1nd , natch, are f<lf the more ind elibly inked on a world public's co llective con sc io u s and un con sc iou s both , whil e I di1rc sa y that the vaunted MOONB IRD 'S seepage into societ y ha s hee n wel l nig h d ose to nil, as the mov ie brings mos t audiences to dow nright yaw ning s ta nds tills . But beyond this, as art , ilnd al so as Art , the di1r1in g gibberi ngs-gu rglLngs o f these kid s in thei r MOONBIRD -q llesting (a ll the


C hara cter's on the so un dtrack) plainly lack th e psychological crispness-clarity of, say, the facia l expfl'Ss ions etched by Jones on th e irked o r bduddk'<.j coun tenance of his fra zz led sc rilwn y Coyo te, af ter ilnother one of his nubbcd -up s tabs al ciltc hing up with the ROildrunner: the wearied beastie's piqued or perplexed gander- takings when one of his intri c.lte Roadrunne r-s naring g izlllos goes kaflooey a n d co me s to naug ht; or hb drop-mout hed gog-eyed " Egad!" look at Ihl.' bi rd's nabberghasti ng g usty s peed (s peed llt1 it e often replete w ith all the .1 ft e r-d fl'cts of l'd died dtl s t clo ud s, dredged - u p cacti , tin y w.dl ed sc raps of paper) . My g uess, witho ut intendi n ~ too mu ch anti -int ellectual slaver, is tha t the mos t e rudit e .1 nim.l tion cog nescenti tuday are non-wr it ing, s up posed- to - betriluma tized you ng and adult who turn their TV 's on at ce rt.l in times, <md mig ht wa it pa tie ntl y through ne ttlin g marathon toy-or- hamb urgl·r commercials, or the haran gllt.'S of dippy tot -show-host emcees, on the slim offch,uKl' o f finally gettin g a sb,-or-seven minute mas terwork bv Te"\ Avery, Rolx' rt Clampelt, Jones, or Frt?leng . Milnny E;lrber's old remark from a 1943 N t'1I 1 R(7Jl1Mic art .ell' o n Looney TunesMerrie Mclodit.·s i ~ prob'lbly s till admis s..l ble: "The s urpris ing f.1C ts about them a re that the good ones Ml' ma sterpieces and the bad ones a ren 't <l total loss." The total thousandr titl e-or-so o utput of film s, from "1930 to "1963, should be sifted through, .1S o ne reaps man y troves and littl e dross- with s pt'cial attention given to the fullow ing t.:l ltmted confluence of an im.:lti o n directo r ~ .1Ild th eir rarelycumbrous sty les: I) Frank Tas h lin- w hose Warners cartoon s compan..· <lnd contrast fasci natingly with his latl'r ft.·.Hure comedies . 2) Tex Avery- w hose recognition of animat ion 's po It.' nti.:lI for abs urdi sm a nd abs traction led him irrl'futably to the discove ry of Bu gs Bunn y in 1940' s t\ WILD IMR E, ,m d Da ffy Duck in 1937's PORKY 'S DUCK I-I UN r (w hl.'fL' Daffy goes off o n co nn iption-fi tting t<ln gl'nt s a nd ulul ates "woo-woo!" into the Deep Foc us o f th e lake hori zo n-l iIl L' -but the best mome nt of PORKY 'S DUCK HUNT is inC'xpli cably lyrical: caro usin).;ly drunken trout row-boati ng by (lnd s in gin g " Moo n li ghl 13.1)"') and , just as importantl y, i n hi s Ill.:ln y J11o c kdOClll11entaril's ,l nd mock -travelog ues a t Warner Brothers from 1936 to 1942, mos l o f th e rudiment s fur the a s to ni s hin gly rapid -paced sty lcof his la te r fi lms at MG M from ' 42 to '55. which pilrlook of even mon..' abs urd hyperbole. 3) Robert Clampett- in whose madness th ere wa .. even [l'SS me th od t han in Avery 's, <1I1d w ho :'l' most undiSCiplin ed sproi ng in g rubbery character - motion gave him so me of t il l' mos t c minentl y stretchnb lc-be ndable c harclCte rs in Ca rtoon Hi s tory, a nd \,<"hose any thin g- fora - lau g h te mperame nt p rophcs ize d

today 's Sick o r Bl ilck Hum or: there's th e notorio us iron lung routine in '1940'5 DAFFY DOC (i n which the berserk q uack-d octor Daffy also trea ts a n operil ting- room respirator like a punching -bag, and .l tl elllpts surgery with .1 ru sty SilW), the death agony in 1943's CORNY CONCERTO, hi s kooky lam pooning of FANTAS IA (so thilt Bugs Bunny ilnd Porky Pig s tilggc r about the Vienna Woods in dea th thrm.'5 accompan ied by a S tra uss wa lt z), o r the l:'llually gruesome death ag ony o f D.lffy Du c k in 1942's WISE-(JUACK INC DU CK (w hen Daffv tucks hi s head in s id e hi s ring - necked' collar, s pu rts o ut ke tc hup fr o m n bottll' a nd makes like decapita tion), se nili ty in "l944's OLD GRAY HARE (with (I dod dering Rip Va n Winkle Elme r and an a rthriti c Bugs Bunn y still a t odds in th e year 2000), mass murd er in 1944's GREAT PIGGY 8 t\ N K ROU8ERY (so that Daffy Duck can machine -g u n down a closet -full of Dick Tracy cha racters , and th e bulle t- riddled co rp ses of Do ubl e I-leader, Snake- Eyes. Pickle puss, etc. , ca n toppl e out like a row of dominos- leaving o nl y Ncon Noodle, an electTi ca l neon o ut lin e, whom Daffy promptl y lassoes into a nashing EAT AT JOE'S marquee ), and even , mOl11enta ri 1y, hOl11osex ll a Ii ty in 1941 ' s WHATS COOKING DOC? (w heR' Bugs Bunny's cove ted OSCM tro phy ilbruptl y co mes to life and does a littl e gay sashay} 4) Robert McKim so n - formerl y 130b Clnm pett 's top a nima tor, and \vhose ea rl y wo rk, from 1944 , captures so me of Cla mpett 's in itinl rnw, nnarchic energy ill reck le ss film s s uc h as DAFFY DOODLES (w here Daffy fiend is hl y paint -b ru s hes mou s taches o n every bill board in M.1I1 h.ll1a n), CO RILLA MY DHEAMS (when...' Bugs Bunny nnd a simia n go vin e -swinging from tree to tree thro ugh the BingziBangzi jungle), and whose early Foghorn Leghorn film s (1944 's WALKY TALKY H,\WKY, 1947's CROW ING I>,\I NS) co ntain SUIllt...· wo nd e rfu lly reck k'ss li mbs-t hras hin g-every-w hi chawa y m ove ment , a s He nery Hawk is never all owed to get a word in edgewise over the very boisterous babbl in gs-on o f th e So uth e rn blow ha rd rooste r (" ...... that boy's abo ut as sharp as a bow ling -ba ll"} 5) Fr iz Fre le ng - w ho had the lo ngl's t ten ure of a ny directo r .11 Warncr Brothe rs, a nd w ho was to use his early expe rti se a t mus ical synchron izn tion . lea rned from his pio neerin g di rect ion of th e eMly Me rrie Melodies, and developed it into so me thin g like.1 personil l theme in the Forties and the Fiftit...·s, celllenting, brick - laying , and rivet· ti ng up an e nt ire building to th e mu sic of Lizs t' s Seco nd Hunga ri an Rhapsod y in "1941 's IU'IAI'SODY IN RIVETS, pl aying o ut the old-ti mey nurse ry-rhy ml' of "The Thre(' Little Pigs," ballet-sty le, to Bra hm 's H un ga rian Dances in his "1944 PIGS IN A POLKA and, quit e ofte n, utilizing his mu sical aplomb to present Bugs Bun ny as il hoofer, in 1945's STAGE DOOR CA RTOO N, and o nce aga in in 1957's SHUW -llI Z IJUNNY, w here th e song-a nd -dan ce man Daffy Duck tries to

r he (>1.lbor.\I(' c,lterw.l uJlngs of Sylvc~t('r: onc of his fi~st IX'rform.lnCt.", In Fuz F rc leng' ~ 8AC'" All[Y OPROAII (1947).

.E

R

i

• • '~

~, ~ ::;; ~

...

Bosko ,II oneness WIth n.lIure. <;urrounded by the smiJ· jungle anim,lls of CO....GO JAZZ ( 19 10) .

In).:

.E

¥; ~

~ ~ ~

(u

Grocery store r .lbcJ ~ ~pring 10 life in typic,11 e,!fly Merri e Meto<hes m,mner in Frcleng '~ I~ OW 00 I KNOW I " S SUNDAY?( 19 34).

Porky 's c.lmel h,lliucln.lte<; o lher (I.lfllpeU 'S !'OR"'Y IN EGYPI (I 'JJ 7).

c amet ~ In

Robert


WARNER BROTH ERS CONTI NUED

upstage Bugs and crab his act. 6. Chuck Jones, who did so much to refin e and cons truct the charac ters o f Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy and the o th ers into the fi nalized version s by w hich they are popularly know n tod ay, and gave us th e Roadrunn er besid es . It's left to be sa id that each of these artis ts quite likely d eserves a "special animation iss ue" unto himself. One need merely fl it a glint il t Mickey Mouse as " Willi e" steering-wheeling at hi s steamboa t he lm- his fee t so lidl y planted w hile his w hil e two-b uttoned bret'ched mid riff capers left -right , g inge red up, to mark Ihe bea ts o f the m usic-to appreciate that, from the o ut set. the Wa rner Brothers A, Avery's RED 1t01 RI[)ING 11000 (194 3). ,It MGM, pic , luring pen pin-UI) Rl'(/ .md the wol{i ~h wolf in oddly demure I>OStures: u ~ u.1lly, Red doe ~ .1 hOI-.md-flirt y nightclub d.lnce , ~Iucily .1I1II11.11ed by Preston BI,lir, while the wolf iIIuStr.lles his lupine .I PI>elite~ With wild, w ild re,lction -~ hot " cros<;-cul with Ihe t,lnt.l lizing d,)Ilce : like ~ome whirligig efOgenou<; zone, he m ight whislle, stomp hi S feet , set III motion ,I Rube Goldberg hand ,cI,lpping m,lchme, Of hl ~ eyeb.lll s might unsocket t hem selve~ for mid -.lir oglin g at the di sh, hi s body nM ybe cr,lckle it~lf into tiny flakes, ~nd itsel { to the ceiling, or go through oth('l un~pC,lk'lble p,111)it.l ting gyr.ltion ~ ~poken of 1.ller in thi<; i'~Ul' , MOSI of the cOllll'(ly is milked , Ihou~h , from the delic'ICv of tnc crO"sculling between the I,ld{ ~ ~fIloo th nubili ty In the d.mce , .1Ile! the Skill ish strenuous heher-<;kelter of the wolf's impo~ ­ sib)y overstimul.1ted respon ses, The wideSI)read theory th"t the.;c most healthy lec herous acrob,l tics were incu rred lo/ely for the enioymen t o f WWII servicemen is obviously a moot I"sue, though ,1 p,lrtl y-corrobor,l tive im,lge OCCUrs in THE SHOOIING or OAN MCGOO (1945 ): during one prOlr,l(ll"</ wolf-whiqle, the wolf's bod y, turned erectile. h.15 ,\rm y, NavY,lIld M.lfine uniforms za pped over il. By the b)" the fir st of Avery' s ever -ullS,lIed rll.ls her-Iypc wol ves W,IS whelped ,It W.uners, in 19 37's unL( RED WAlKING 11000, fir st disp l.lyed "lurking in.1 nearb y IXKllh'111 ," as the n,lffa tor sez, but the Red Riding Hood CO-SI,med here, .1 li"le sprite, he.lr ~ onl y in(lden l.ll resemblance to Preston Blair 's pertcr, ~ uppler d,lme of Ihe l,lIer MG.\.-, " Red Rid , ing Hood" spook Cener.llly s pe.lking, dllthe sexil y upda ted I)(}ellh and {.liry-t.lles th.lI Avery dirl'('led .It MGM were ,lnted,lIed b y more ~u bdued \'V arner Brothers " p ilot " ver,ion~ : hi s s.lss y SWINGSlll fI (IN O(ICEllA (194S) W.1S fOrerun by (lNOl RHlAM(( ISAHllA (19381. .Ind hi s dr'l sti< rrdrculing of Ihe I)urplest s mlllc~- met .lphor s in Service's Yukon poem in ltH. SItOOltN{. ()I OA"-: MCCoo (1 945) W.l ~ looked fOfw.lJd to by his 1919 W.lfners fil m OANG UIOU$ OAN ,'-ICfoo, Other well -known C.lftoon depictions of sex should get capsulized mention here: there '~ th,'t f,lmou~, but ­ mos t-unfunn y ,lIlcient un ~ lgned porno relic frorn thc 1920's e ntilled 8URIW IRlA SUR( (inch,I(i(,<1 in the recent ~cx,c om ,)endi u m IIISIORV UI 1111 BL UE MOVltJ .Ind ie,IIuringa rough ly-sketchlXl hornunculu ~ who c.lrts his \1\,1111(" cock about in .1 whedh,lIIo w in some dopey an tl,EIlen ~,lrden , In .1 differenl d, ,,~ .1Itogether.lle the nat\l' ,md primitive boop -boop- ,I - doop~ of the Flelschers' plt' , H.l y~ (I,lpper, di scu s~ t'd l' 1~ewhere in thi ~ issue, Chut \.. lones' onl y CMloon <;erl{'<; d rdic.lted to sex·fruSlratK)n \\t're the film S lhat st.lIred Ihe .Hom.llic Pepe le PcW- ,1 P,llIsi.ln skunk as mu<h .llllo rou ~ ,1 ~ malodorous, ,md wh O"e hopp)" mist.lkcn love' pursuit s of a fema le cat cau>l'(1 neverending matingdifficuhic s: here the humor stemrllIXI flom the fem a le C,l t '~ di straught refusal~ o f the ~lIlclh ,ldv.lIlces, from her Icr , rifie d expre ssions, s w ,u~ .1 1 the ~ \..unk , and quilk !;r'l.lways-but al l of thiS W.I~ optuni,tic.llly counter b.ll,mced by Pepe's caval ier comcb,]Ck" b ~' his Charles Bo\'('IJ'or Mau rice Cheval~r-I ype ';u,welc ,md, even in Ihe f,llt' oicountless brushoffs by thec.l!' hJ ~ m,lIldatory retentlol l of hi' ~If-ass ur ed frangl,liS,ISide" to thl' viewer ("luff wl'('1 find a way"), Also at W,lfnefS, Roben Clampe" duelled ,\ very funny piece c.ll1C(f 6A<All TO

14

JA .-FEB. 1975

character ilk benefited from Dis ney's tutelage (tho ug h a ta nd em ca usal co nditio n - th e less rig idified p rodu cti o n syste m, th e vvilling ness and initiative of the sepa rate uni ts-deter mined that the Warners' d irecto rs lt1 ter wo uld s upe rced e th e Disncy land ers with the cliching niches o f their s to ryline s' m o re adult prcocc upt1 ti o ns, th eir reg ular pl aye rs' m o re g ro \v n -up charac teriza tions, and their mo re shrewd retrieva l of a s mattering o f th e pre-class ica l p re- Dis ney za nin ess to overl ay the Disn ey la nd ers' firs t-s im p lifi e d , th e nimpecca bl e, th e n - in creas in g ly -crea kit y " realis tic" anilll t1tio n), Tho ugh Disney's ea rly menagerie Tnig ht see m ecl ipse d by th e la te r Wa rn ers moro ns- im becil es- wiseacres, Mickey th l!

Mouse and his s implified , mUSiG;l l1y- syn ch ro ni ze d she nt1 ni gt1 ll s jus t mu st ht1vc paved the way for the first of the Warn er Bro the rs chaps: Bos ko, appea ring in th e firs t o f th e Warn e rs ca rtoo ns, a Loon ey Tune, S IN KI NG I N T H E BATHT U B (1 930), In STEAMBOAT W I LLI E, Mickey Mouse o rga ngrin ds a bi lly-goa t' s tail for orga n-grind er's mu s ic; in S I N KI NG, Bos ko, putt- putting a lo ng in hi s ca r, cr a nk s th e ta il o f a cmv-i n -th e- road to ra ise he r u p lik e a to llga te- the cow resen ts it and marches o ff ins ulted ly, her udd ers sw in gin g to-fro to " Po mp a nd Circ um s ta n ce," Tig ht so und -a nd -image sy nchroniza tio n is th e c ru x of th e w h o le s heba n g, as Bos ko b lith e ly fo res t-trip s and bec ko n s LI S to

ARMS (1946), in which an Averyesque wolf fre<Iuent s .l movie the.l tre and there gelS erotiGllly enfl.lmed- thIS time not fuelled by the typical ch"ntoosie, but {j,st by ,1 cu lie usherelte, " nd next by the movie ,scrC('n vision of lauren Bacall (here rechri stened " L.lUrie Bee,Cool"), Claml)(>" , seem ing to speci"lize in nightm.lJes, dre,lms .1nd hallucina tions. now comes to grips wi th the Hol lywood Ore,lm Machine. as the wolf is .111 but burnt 10 a cinder in his symbiotic invo lvement with Ihc B,]C,IIlBogart "Anybody got a lightf' sequence from 10 IIAvl AND HAVE NOT . Along the wa y, Cl.lmpett .llso proveSth'll animated canoons C,ln criticize live-'lction cinem,l as con(fetely ,IS docs lhe wrinen word : in 8ACAll 10 ARMS, the coy innuendoes .1nd thewr),. snide willicisms of Ihe How,l rd Hawk s film .1re sabot.lged by the wolf's ruder, more redhot repris,l ls to them (he blows h iSIOI), lwirI s .1 party noisemaker). tn Time Ma8dZine, Agee deS(fibed Bacall as " hot as bl.lzes" and q ui pped that she " h.1s cinema persona lity to bUin .md burns both ends ,lg,linst .In unusuall y lillie middle," .md Robert CI.lm,>en uses similar incendiMY imagery in hi s c.Hloon , ,IS the wolf f,lnta s ize s Bogart toss ing an ,\rm y SUI plu s fI,'me thrower to Bac.IlI (instead of the f.lmou s to.;sed book o{ matches) and ,15 the wolf im,lgines IJac,l ll' ~ s ultry tre;)d across the room igniting.1 minor conflagration,.l li llie ribbon -stre,lm of flames (extingui shed to Ihe la ~t spuner by a hopped -up Smokey Stove r brigade th.lt insl.lIlt,lIlcously zin g~ on- scene].

cases, Bugs Bunny, So.l Y, might \\'.llk in front oithe cred it~ ilnd re,lel them ,llouel, mis pronouncing the n.lllle~ - " Fred ,\h-vahr'-ee"). AC tU.llly, the "shadow ch.lr,lcter" silhouette W<lS simp ly a rOtoscoped versio n of W.llllers Slorym.ln TI;.'(/d Pierce. who g,1VC hi ~ rn~ t ,I s~ iduou s ly dfilwn -oul performance in DAffV OUCK AND EGGHEAD (1937). whe re, shol in cold blood byoneofthe screen '~ cartoon c h,lr,lcters, he does ,1 lenglhy f.lll to de.lth 1,Ind OAFfV DUCK AND [Getll:.... I) is gr"ced with ,1 s plendid openlllg : the IwO W,llnutl y princ ipal s Me shown le.lping from two ~ e p .u,lIe w,t!nut shelt s). /\ver y's m.lIly masterful innov,l tions in d istancing hb subieCI -m.lller- ,lS well ,1 S the very p rocesses of the C.lrtoon medium _ were wellcxploitl"l:l by other dirc<tors .11 W,lIner BfOthers, notably by Chuck Jone~ in Ihe incompar;lble DUCK AMUCK (which, 'llnong otncr things, puts 10 the question Ihe ,lrlim.lIor' s poss ibly sadi slic <o ntrol over the (r,lIne- put <; 10 Ihe queslion the ,l nim,ltOf '~ thumbs-up, thumbs,down Emperor's Rule ove r his ca rtoon subjec ts) ,lIld in Ihe delightful IIARl TON IC (1945 ) in wh ic h Jones .Hld Bugs Bunn y, in c.lhoolS, pers uade the ,ludience Ihat it's contractcd the d rcaded disc,l sc " Rabbiti luS" by sw irling red .lnd yellow spots on tnc screen ,

B, Droopy, roped up, in his fir st S(f ccn IOle in lex Avery's MGM DUM84tOUNDEO (1943): Ihis film .•l nd Inc "lightl y moreex,lggerated NO RT ~t W( ST ~t OUN D([) POllet (1946). concern the vivesection,ll phobi< "t,lke's" of the esc.lped,convict wolf whenever he l;Jy~ his en1.uged or out'pQpp.lble eyes on the seemingly inesc.II).l ble dog , The wolf Ch.lf,l<ter would tr,werS(' entire continents to shake off Droopy, yet would .IIwJys lind the imp,I$<; ive b,lsset w,liling for him on Ihe other side, In the j,ming conclusion of NORTt IWE$1 IIOUN DEO, Ihe wolf, once mOIl' pl,lCe<! behind b.l rs, wonders .ll o ud if " Ihere could 've been more th.ln one of those little guyS," .Hld Avery zip-p,lIls to ,In unnerving shot oi a h.lllw,IY.Iisle lil1el(:~1 with mountie Droopys. w ho c horus in unison " I'lmrnm, could be:' a pet A\'ery one -liner, Thh nMgi _ c,lliy rnul lipli.l ble or ubiquitous Ch.H.1Ctcr concept wa ~ introduced in Avery's Warners film TORTOISE 8(AI$ ItAR[ (1940), where Bugs Bunny is lendered p.u.1I10id by ;J plethora o{ turlles,

C. lex Avery's self-port r'lit model sncet. D , A c.H loon -wit h in-,l -c.utoon : Porky .l nlm,l tes hiS own ~Iick ,fi)o(url>d dr,lwings in PORKY'S PR EVI EW (I940 ) ,1t \<Varners, onc of ,\very's m,my fl.lgr;Jnt jokes UI)(}n hi" audience , E. Avery's Egghe.ld , ,ln Elmel Fudd prototype wi th ,1 bigger proboscis and more e niglll.1tic lIl oti v.1tion ~: cast as Prince Chow Mein in Warner Brothers' (tNOlR HlA MLET S A HllA (1938), Egghe"d finds his dreambO;)1 (inderell.l w,wing to him frOIll thet he,ller's ten th row, lhc "shadow character" silhouene (supposedly Of.l "rC,II " .lUdience-member) was one of Avery' s best devices to ,mnihilate the forlll.1l stl ictures of the fr.1me (in other

( ONJ/NUED ON PAGE /6

F, From lex (Fred) ,\very's tou<hstone Bugs Bunny film A WILD HARE (1940) : .1 "g ue ~~-who " 8.lIl1e , Elm(>r ven _ tures. "vVosem,lwy W.lner Pwiss iwa W,lnef' How is a Ch,lr,l(ter born? The chunkier r<lbbit in PORKY'S HARE IIUN T(1<]36), directed by Ben "t,lrd,WV.ly. procl.lim ~ "Of course, you know. this me.l ns w;)J! ," but he procl,l irns it in ,1 scaller-br,' ined W,l Y, and it W.1S up to director Chuck lanes to SfipulaTe th,lt the line become the rnor,l l fulclum 10 the later Bugs stories, It was Ben " Bugs" H.ud.1W;) y who g.we Ihe Bunny hi s moniker, Oul it W,l ~ up to lex Avery to first prove that the moniker w.IS .l misnomer ,lIld that Bugs wasn't buggy or b.1lly.1I all , but ;)...15.1ch.lr.lCter with much ment.l l wherewithal. F,lCing ,~gun-c.urYing hun ter, Bugs Bunny in A Will) IIAR[ first delivers h i ~ c ruci,ll sCMcely- import u necl c,lIch line " What's Up Doc?," and seve"ll othcr groundrules for the Bugs- Elmer tu ss les were est.l blished in thi s (ilm , Ch.lr;)Cler-huilding precepts that were hewn to b~' the other W.lrners director ~: Bugs' c,lutious tc sting,out of the Situ.l tion with his gloved h.lnd , before spinning out of his r.lbbit-hole ;)nd into sight ,It I,lst lin Frelens 's 1942 IIIESII HARE . SCI in snowy Can,lda , the glov('''I:1 hand a ppc,lf ~ florn the holl' and goe~ through the S.lme routine , only th is ti me .Hound . wC.1fing little fingcr-si zed snowshoes) and , of course , Hugs' h,lbit of pl,lnling kisses on Elmer's forehedd , here reveiJling nOI ju~t IJug~' in_ souciance. but also his genuine ,lwe and affectio n for Elmer' s seemingly limitless insi p idity, After A WltD tlAR E, only a few changes were left to be made in Bugs' ch.lJa<ter-sh,ll)(' (i,e , the Bunn y's sq u.lllier bow-legs in thi s C.HIOon had yet to be str.ligh tened OUI). C, Here spicing each other w ilh sail and pepper, two f.l m ished bu zz.lrd s struggle to devour o ne .100ther throughoutl he <oursc o { Avery's most libidinous MGM {ilm WHAt 'S BUZZIN' 8UZZA RD? (194]): to p ut the viewer in ,I properly carnivoro us {rame-of-mind . Avery, .It thl' beginning, inserts ,I Iive-,lctiQn phOtO of ,l ste.lk , dri p' ping with gravy,


A.

-COUI(I[S' PA Ul IIU'-11

CO UlnF<;Y ]OF M ) ,\\ ISO'l

G.

FILM COMMEN T

15


lurched-tempoed, hn stened motion . Bul c harm is there in 1934's POP GOES YOUR HEART (t ugs-of-wa r betwixt worms nnd bnby robins, a wood s- pillng ing bear vil la in , pond- side Iil y- p.1d It:'np-frogs do ing "boo m, boom, ooom , boom!" (oIIt;IIIIO:' 10 th l! .1ll- important ca rollin g of th<.' title song); 1936's LET IT UE ME (in " Birdville," as her dance-steps splish every bubble to morali zing over so me s ta rs tru c k loca lcorrespond with th e ditty's every note . yokel he n); 1936's I'M A LlrrLE tU G SHOT (fhis serenade- scene compmes favorabl y ("Birdvil le's" o th e r-sid l'-o f-the- trilcks: a to many such musical -skits from the sa ll1~ bank-robb ing jay); 1937's STEI\MU NE GRETA season's Mickey Mice.) GREEN (in "Carville " yd , w ith .1nthroHugh Harm a n and Rudolf Isi n g pomorphized auto mobiles, where typify(Harman-isin g- " h<lrmoni zin g," undering estab li shing-s ho ts are to colonize the stand?) created Ih ~e " Boskos" with lsodenizens of Bllgvill e-C hickville-Ca rville nt dare Freleng (the selfScll1lc Friz) as th e chief so me dO\v n-home town ship mixer, pub, an imator. The three of 'C I11 we re formerl y o r jamboree, and the d<ln ces Iherl..' are Dis ney personnel and th eir derbied Bosko me c hanicall y, but unifu rml y wt:' l1 (the Neg ro) w .., s a b l.. ck -do t-inkbl o t prope ll e d. (A favorite ea rl y Melod ies s pecim e n like a Mickl')' the f\'lo use sa il:' d a nce fro m Freleng's 1937 spiritualis t exmo use-eilfs--o r IikL' Flip the Frog or OsIravaga nZc;, CLEAN PASTURES: <1 s uperciliou s wnld th e Ra bb it , ot her c harme rs cosid e walk tap of a ve ry nall y s pade to flout a 111asterminded or ma ste rmind ed w ith Ub S tepinfetchit angel who has bccn commisIwerk s so mewhere <lround . But Bos ko's s ioned by Pair-a-Dice to round up HJ rlem squenky, so metimes-l"en -tremolo falsetto so uJ s. ) wa s, if any thing, more guilelt..'ss than the Th e co ntinu o us motion gl' nerall y asMouse's. Bos ko was a guikl css paragon , similat es or merges nny didac ticis m preshi s pi ca resq ue ad ve nturin gs defiant of e nt in these flowin g mini- mus icill s, a nd exegesis- except for th e co mment that the films are seldom sa cc harine . The litmlls whet hl.:r he W.1S d.1bbl ing in freL' if no t the acid test is Frcle ng's firs t-in -color e nterprises (BOS KO'!:> HUH , IIOSKO'S SODA BEAI.Tn' AND THE BEAST (1934) by dint o f its FOUNTA IN, 1932). proudl y wa xin g iI potentin ll y cloy in g little g irlchild so uped -up raCl'- car (BOSKO T H E sleepyhead w ho's Sn ndmnnned off to toy SPEED - KING, 1933), c hJ s in g butte rflie s dreaml'1I1d; it 's a damn SCM) ' drL'am , as it (TREES' KNEES, 1931) or in a d ogsled mu shhappens, in duced by g luttonous overeating pipsqueak huskies through a blizza rd ing of m1,xt:'C1 ba na nas and choco latl:.'S. Also over the s imples t-drawn hump -shaped germina ti ve, o ne of Iht' co lo r Mel od ies knoll s (BIG "IAN FROM rH E NO RTH , 1931), co uld c hance upon a dlilracter w bo wns Bosko had a kinda simplifit'd o neness with positi vely foo lish e nough to belly ou t 1111..' the unarra ved world abo ut him , a n esn ega ti ve ly blase Budd y and becolllt', pOU SL' d p';il oso ph y sloganized by th e therea fter, the pudgy s tar of Ihl..· studi o's catchphrase ,\I N'T ~ATU RE GRAND? (1930). paralkl-runn in g sl'ries o f b&w Loonl'Y Tune!': in HAVEN 'T GOT j\ HAT (1935), the fat Ha rll1 nn- Isin g deparh:d from Warners and packed off Bosko w ith them to MGM, c hild hog Porky, fra ught with s t.1mmers!'vhere the \' .1lchem ized th e ir firs t !'llllters throu g h hi s f<llt L'r in g overlong ambig uo us i;lk-splotch into .1 much mo re show-<1I1d-tell of " Midni ~ ht Ridl..' of Paul co mplicated but less .1ppealing Bosko-a Rev ere," is th e leas t l'lldl'aring fully-colored beige-mulatto c uteso-k idd o schoo lho use dun ce with clns!'IlMll.'s s uch ste reotype. Menntime, Warners' Loon ey as the mi schie vo us Beans, Ham and E, Tune s wt:'re Idt to sc hlep along with (cute tw in pups), n pianisl Oliver O wl a nd Budd y, n caUC<lSi.11l Xerox o f th e originnl a scared killen qunkily s hOW-.1I1 d -tellin g Bos ko nnd prett y pa llid and pale a t that " Mary's Litlk lamb." (t hou gh Fre le ng's '1934 BUDDY HI E GOIl , Mo st reg.liin g, th o u gh, tlfe t hosl..· Orie ntall y-sw un g, undulJte s well to SKELETO N DA NCE- like Melodie s wherL' "S hang hai Lil"). Fortunntei y, HilrnKIIl clothes lined la d ies' undt..' rwe.lr shilllmi es., I<;ing .11se had deCfL'l'd " Ml'rrie Meiodit:'s Jell o quivers, bod y less nwn' s paj .1 1ll<l S legilcy before th ey le ft (.l mons their e Ml y bongo tree-stulllps w ith their trap-door Melodil· ... , the 1932 THR EE'S A CROWD , rerea rs. Or tho se in which g roCt.'ry portedly ini tiating the books-coming-tuIrad e marks- brnndnames !'pring to songlife schem.ltd). The vintagl..' Merrie and-movement like the s nc1zzy IIOW DO I Melodies of thl..' middle Th irties , furth e red KNOW IT' S SUN DAY? (1934), wht..'re Dutch mainly under Frl'leng's d irect ion, proved C lean ser labe ls wood t:'n-s hoe d c1n ct:', to be less aesthetic.llly perishable thnn tht:' UWJnta Bi sc uit in s ig nia s ptlfti c ipate , "Buddys." The mild ... mi les thnt are ins pi tama les fandango, lobs ters and clamshells rated by these Melod il..·... mig ht see m lam l:' cask'net , th e umbrella-totin g toot sie fmm or Ic1l11e next to the far-flun g g uffaws enthe Morton Salt container ca n get rightl y couraged by a ll the pust-Ave ry mani cso<lked by n downpour ddugl..· from n box ness-the acu men behind this flu id sinu of Threa ded Wheat (the una vo idable acous m otion maybe seeming less pro co mpaniment: " By A W<lterfall "). And nounced th.1n thnt behind the Fo rties' later there are fitful s ta rtle s: some flies abrupU y

WAR ER BROTHERS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 14 "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" with him. But the prize-winning g ig is Bosko 's sax-blowing of soap bubbles (''I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" ), with Bosko's heartthrob H oney daintil y staircasing the bubbles down from he r second- story w indow

16

JAN .-FEB. 1975

cossack-s te p after nibbl ing Russian Rye, and o ne uf th e m ge ts kil )'oed by a downsw ung Harm -a nd -A mmer mallet , as do es th e fel in e v illain of the -1935 IJi LL IIOARIJ FROLICS, whu ,1150 is tormented by the RCA Victrola dog nnd plng ued by the police squadron cnlled for by the Phillip Morris pageboy. The 1937 dooz y SPEA KINC OF HI E WEATHER g ives the snme workou t tu il mag.nin e- ra c k, so that "C rime S to rie!''' fu gitives arl..' pers ued by "Boy's Life" dogooders, by s iren -in g " Police Gazldte" cop-cars, and tlfe se nt enced to Life (M.1g.1Zine) . It's revealing IhJt Ihis c.1rluon shou ld be all /t'ur'li by Frnnk T.1 shlin , whose live-.1ctiol1 ft:'nturt: s.1 tirl..'s, it 's been noted, ,lbo und in s uc hlikt.' cultllrnl -punning and tOpiC.11 rclt.'v.1n c ies. TIll' Dis nl..'Y s tudio ca mL' to draw a blank o n w hat thl..· Wilrners Mtists nL've r forgot : th.1 t even Ih l' mos t lavishly mythical C.1rtr.xHl co uld still quite nicd y keep abrea st of lop ic.llitil..'s. (Even in JClnl..' s' , ulllptuou s iy Wa g nl·rinn WH i\r'S OI' EHI\ , [)Dc?, Ihl..' c" pp in/-!, ,111.1thema im preca ted by a Il'utonic Elmer Fudd to smilt.' ,1 Briinhilde Bugs Bunn y is "S mog!," il modern pestile nce.) In Tas hlin 's b&\\' 1'0 1{KY 'S RAJLRQ ,\l) (1937), Pork y's spas modic.1l1y s lowpokt.' loco mo ti ve (head in' for thl' last roundhou s~). .uduo us lv huff-puffin b uphill , i<; outrun by n sn~ iI , predi ctin g .1 I.luilt., c.lftoon -y g.:lg in T.:l s hlin 's. Sh tie s OISOIH)E I{L YOIH)ERLY w hl'n .1 rl..·al-lift., ~ pa ::;­ li c, Jt:'rry LI..'wi s, him se lf is outrun by .1 s n ai l. All the rib - ti cklin g ove r CO Il s umeri s m -co mme rciali s m in hi s preit)lbrill ia n t co med \' - Clllll- socia 1- cr iti que of thl..· middle ~Fiftit.' s, WII_L SUCCESS 51'O lL ROC K HUN TER ?, is forl..'s h.:ldowcd by the comparable courtship foll y of PORKY 'S RO"'l ,\ NCE ('1937) . Adman Ton y Randall proposl..'!' to puckt.·red -lipPl,d J<l ynt:' Mansfidd in ddHllnanizing pnddl"l1 t'\lui pagl..' so tu cinch hl'r endofSl'lllt:'nt o f hi s Sta y- Put lipstick merc handise; in the cartoon , Porky s tut lt:'rs propoS<l ls tu Pt:'Iuni.1 Pig (.1 T.1s hlin inventl..'d sow) , whilt:' sht:' is mort:' enrapt w ith the "Che wie GOOI..·!'I' c.lndil..'s .1nd Ihl..' flO\wrs thai hl" s bro ugl1t to hl..' r. (T11I..' d t:'pt:'rso llc1 lizing sak s pit c h in the flori st's <; tore w ind ow: "!\ POSI..'V to 1'11..'.1:->1..' EVI..'n · N O:-> l·Y.") Without.1 doubt , Pt:'Iunia Pig is:1 J.:l y nl' M.ln sfield -proge l1itor but .1 mll ch more tnkin g- aba c k resemb lance to the over-sh.1pt:'ly Man sfiel d is di scovl..'rl'd in th e curV<lceous dl's ig n o f the to p- hl..·,wy Naz i p igeon se- duck-tress Halla Ma ri in the rOlls ing '1:1shlin " pmpagalld .1" cartuun PLA NE O,\FFY (1944), in which Dnffy and his carrier -pigt:'(lI1 confre res forlornl y ccll1 ccI oul the name s of eVL'r y p ig eon-fl yer torched by wicked Hatta- a n indubitJblt.' v is ua l-a nd -s to ry qll o tJtion o f DAW N I',\TROL. Anyone admirin g th e devastati ng amol/r {V II o f T.1s hlin 's live -ac tion far ce IIi E LIEUTENANT WORE SK IRTS , w here S ht:'rL'L' No rth nnd To m Ewell s mutch e<lch other CONTINUED ON PAGE 93


II ~ ~A~ AllrY ~AI~

BOB ClA,\oIPETT. Top lefl ~eries of four: PORKY IN WACKYLANO 0938). Porky Pig Ir.lcks Ihe l.lSl of the Do-Dos , worth trillion s, s urro u nded by ClampeW s w.lcky h,l lluc in.I!Ory effects. Above : DAFFY DOC (19 40). 15 there.lnything funny .1I)Qut .lJl iron l ung~ The .1rtilic i.11 lung gag, wh ich tllJ y .11 o ne time have seemed u nutter.lbly grotesque, in re trospect was only.m excuse fOf Clampen to ('XI)lo it h is sense of r u bber~' ChM.IC!er Illotio n : the fun of the .1ccident's .litermath (tighU, ,IS Daffy's head , h.lnd ~, ieet bulge in .lnd out like inhJling-ex hJling lungs. Setles of five, top to bottom, ,It right: TIN PA, ALLEY CATS (19 4 2 ). Given the mor,' l .1I tl!nl.ltiv('S of Uncle TomC"II 'S Miss ion or the Kit Kat Club (top), whi<h would rou choose r Our prot.lgonist opts for the latter; and in the middle of J j.}m sess ion , he e~hOfl s his trumpet player to "SEND me out of this world" in emul.ltion of F.lIs w.lller, on whom his char'}cler is based (second p.l nell, He hallucinates the "ou t-of-this-world" lips (fourth) ami In unforgettable " rubbe r band " Ififth l. cited in a CI"m pett interview by .Inim,ltOhl nim.ltion histori.In Milton Groll', in fUflfl)'World :# 12. left : Bob Clampe" ,l nd friend , c. 1945.


nWeU,~kfea..u~b

bak.eJ! GIlDWKJ ~!n

In terviews by Joe Adamson Animat ion is a co mpl ex, co ll a borative art , and it takes Illilnv men of m ,lIl V tal e nts many days a nd nig'{t s to work its 路peculiar mag ic. W hil e the anim<ltion directo r be<lfS heavy burd~n5 of responsibility a nd is g ra nted in return an uncommon meas ure of control, he is dependent every step of

the way o n a battery of stor y me n, anima tors, and g raph ic desi~ners to bring his vision to fruition. In these interv iews, two of Chuck Jon,=,~ ' clssistants, writer

Michael M.:lII('sc .1nd desig ner ,'v1<lUri ce Nobk, disc liss their roIL's in the elahorate

{..

~

process of cMtoon creation.

: M ICH AEL MALTESE When yo u' re wa tc hin g an old Warn er Bruthe rs ca rtoon , ilnd some powe rful quality <1bout the verbal exchanges makes yo u s to p and say, " Hey, who wrote this thing, an yway, Pres ton St urgt路s?", yo u can be fairly ce rtain yo u are in the able hands of Michae l Malte se , s to ry man il t Warners from 1937 until 1958. Whether wo rking alone or in collaboration w ith Tedd Pierce, w het her worki ng for Fri z Frelen g, Tex Avery, or C huck Jo nes, Maltese wrote the funni es t C<lrtoon s to cOllle out of that or a n y other s tudio , c hara c te ri zed by Kca tone squ c s ig ht ga gs a nd s pice d b y d i<llogue worth y o f Be n Hecht. Maltese wrote excl us iv elv for Jones from 1946 to 1958, and it was <l peak period for both. This in tL'rv iew was hl'ld Ap ril 3, 1971. M ICH AE L MALTESE: It IVO S fun going to work . Th e atm os ph e re! That place looked old , bea t- u p-it was rig ht o ut of Di cken s, yo u know? Reillly, yo u went in the b<lck rooms, thl'Y wcre dreadflll rooms . They h<ld composi tion bO<lrd for walls , and we u sed to put Ollr fist s through ii , we used to th row dMts at it. Dave MOI1 <l han tried to set fire to it once, just for the hell of it, jus t to sec if it burned. And it wo u.ldn' t bu rn. We did everything to that s tudio . And the boss, Leon Sc hlt's ingt'r, passed the ch l'cks o ut once a wt'ek , and he said , " Pew, let me outia here! This looks like a shit housl'." Bu t we loved it. To me it was like home. And The Looney Tune Bunch was someth ing that w ill neve r be dupli cated in this busi nl..'ss. We wro te cartoons for g rown -u ps, that was the secret. For in:-.tdnce, Porky Pig was .1 boy pig. Chuck's storie;, < 1t the time wcre slMlted towards the kid s, and th e grQ\vnups would go ou t in the lobby fur a smok e while the Porky Pig cdrtoon wa s on. And they werl..' Idlking abo ut dropping Porky. 18

JA

.-FEB . 1975

; !l<:

3

Michael Maltese (right) with Fflz Frclcng.

So what we did , we made him into J grow n - up , fussy路type bachelor, and we teamed him with Daffy once in a w hile, a nd we gave him more g rown-up s to ries, and the res ult was that he pi cked upagain. They never we nt in for the cute s tu ff at Warne rs. There WilS o n ly one g u y th at tried cute Sluff. C huck , at the tim e-a nd he' ll admit it - had tht' Dis ney Syndrom e: the urge to try to make Ihe Inost beautiful ca rtoons going. Freleng would say, " Ah , bullshit! Let's knock 'em dead!" In 1944, when I was work ing for Frdeng, we ca me up with Yosemite Silm in a picture ca lk'd HAI{ E T RI GCE R, and I patterned him mort:.' o r less ilfter Freleng: " WHY , I'LL BLOv\' YOU TO S MITH E I~EENS! OOOOO Hl" A real red - haired, hOI -tcll1pen..->d litt le g uy! O h, he was a litt le firebrand. And <1 hard taskmaster. With Freleng, yo u never knew what he thought of yo ur s tories. He m ig ht love them , but he wou ldn ' t tell vou. I never knew how much Fn..'h:.'ng valu~ed my tal ents until I told him I was qu itting 10 go with Avery at MGM , clnd then "OOOOOOOOOOO H '" And he got to the bo ss, and the boss ca lled me lip a t hOlTle ilnd sa id , " Yo u ca n 't quit. Frcleng do n 't want yo u to quil. " I WilS flilttered. And I was surprised. The relat ionshi p between C hu ck <lnd me wa s jus t g reat. Hl' gave me the freedom o f exp ression th.lt I co uldn ' t hil ve gotten from Freleng. So for twelve years I worked with C huck. A w rit e r w il l go into the director' s room, and the d irector' s busy and yo u'll SilY, "Ca n I sec you a m inult:." C huck? I'm s upposed to do a Bugs Bunny. 0Jow here's an id ea thai I got." And like as not, C huck

...

would say , "Co a head," know ing thilt he could d epend o n you fo r turning out the type o ( humor t hat came o ut of the studio . God bless g u ys like C hu ck Jo nes, who said , "Goa head. " Chuck 's scope is much , much wid~r than Freleng's. Freleng didn ' t dare ve nture forth; hI..' wo uld back o ff w hen yo u s u).;gcsted a new thin g to him . C hu ck is a highl y st'll s iti ve l11a n; thilt'S what makes him thl' Mlis t he reall v is. That's \Vh" w hen one o f C huck's cha;acte rs gets h~rt yo u don' l feel Ihat they're reall y hurt. It's like he's going to m<lke them bette r right away . Wh en Chuck did a cMtoon hew ing to do with a n alley- a dirty cllley w ith a ga rbage ca n- Chuck's garbage Cilns always looked s potless ly clean. They looked li ke they were mad e o ut of plilti num-beautiful! With Frcleng, tht'y looked dirty. W hen Frele ng had a tou g h-look ing cat, that Cil l was dirft/, viciou:5, ro/l('l/. YO li co uld <llmost :5111t'1l the cat. C hu ck's ca ts were a lwa ys clean, precious. And eVl'n w he n he'd try to 11l<1ke mean ca ts, there wa s <llways some kind o f saving grace about them . The g u y with the m os t m isc hi evou s Bugs Bunny character in the w hole s tudio was Tex Avery. He kept thai studio jumping . Whe n Ave ry was around , you go t a kind of gaggy, fun <l tmos phere. Usually , <lnybody working for d director would say " He's the boss," a nd then.:.' would be problel1"ls . l3ut Avery wou ld cheer the g uys into this crazy mixed-up attitude. And yo u can put th is down- J don ' t carl' w hat you heM fro In anybody elsc--he took l3ugs Bunn y and ins till ed into him Ih e c harilc te r th a t lIIade Bugs Bunny.::;;' Tcx is<l hard miln to work for. He's <1 pe rfect io nist to th is point: that even whl..'n he's retldy to turn out a good cartoon , it 's s till not ,1S good as he w<lnted to make it . I'd tell him, " Yo u proved yo ursel f already," bu t he'd think , "No, it's got to be bt:ttcr!" He wo rried himself to the po int where it go t too diffi cult for hin") . When AVt'ry was gone It o MCMJ, the heritage Ihilt Wil S left us at Warners was Bugs Bunn y, Dtlffy Duck, a nd Porky Pig. And it was up to u s to develop the se characlt'rs ,md turn the m into somet hin g. Each unit had so mJny Bugs Bunnies to do, and so milny Daffics-tht, stock s tuff. ThL' rest of the schedule was up to us, thest' we re one-shots. We cam e up w ith differe nt c harilcll..'rs thilt we th ough t would go , o"f.路 Av('ry"s I}ugs l}un:1 Y film s ,Ire A WI LD H ARE,

fOll"rOI Sf. HEATS H ,\II.E (bo th 1940), II EC KU NC U ,\II.E, ,\1.1. nil S ,\ ., ' 0 II. A 1111 IT STE W

(both 19 41 ).


and th ey didn 't go. W ho co uld tel l? We didn' t say, " We' re gonna do a Roadrunner cartoon, a nd it'll be a tremendous smash." We'd had h ig h hupes for o ther characters, and they'd laid the biggest bombs! So we'd just say, " It's just a no ther filler." It wa s a big s ur pri se w hen Roadrunner became a hit. We did on lv o ne a vea r, then two a yea r, never mor~ than that , fo r fear of killin g it off. I d id a pi ct ure with Fre leng called DOUBLE CHASE I{, where a ca t went after a mouse , a dog went <l fter th e cat , a dogcatcher went <l fter the dog-and they all got ta ng led up , and it was vcry funny. Ch uck and I used to kid Mo und about a chase film. I'd sav, " How 'bo ut an o ld wil d ebees t ch<ls il{g <In o ld g n u ?" And Chu c k' d say, " You mean <I ga- nu ,

don tcha ?" and I says, " Yeah, ga- nu ." And he'd th ink , and he'd say, " How about a Meso potam i<l n )'e ll ow-belli ...·d saps ucker cha sing an Austml ian jacka n<lpes?" O ne thin g we learned wa s not to be s elfconscio us vvhe n yo u' re thinking up stories o r cartoo ns. Because pt..:>Qple hat e to la ug h unless they havea reason; they k"el embarrassed . But we knew , writing th ese CMtoon stories, that Ihe kiddi ng aro und that we a ll d id so rt of broke down th e barrie r, and e nabled tiS to go unashamed ly, almos t like children, into mak ing abso lute id iots o f ourselves. An ou tsider would sec us and 5<1)" " Well , fo r heaven 's sake ! Grown men!" Bu t we und ers tood. \'Ve'd sta rt the ball ro lling by makin g cartoons o f eac h o ther, o r we'd s tart kidding around , or we'd go on and do th ese diffe r-

e nt kind s o f a cts. In o ne we showed Freleng, but Frdcng d idn 't think it was fu n ny. Frdeng was bald; a bald - heclded g uy's always self- consciou s abo ut hi s ha ir, and nobody no tices it , r~ally. \<\' c did <In <lct where Tedd Pierce is wa lki ng alon g t he s trect and he stops and takes o ut his comb, a nd hI.:.' combs his hair . Then he removes the 1005...• h<lirs frolll his co mb, drops th e m, puts hi s comb away. Now I play Freleng. I pick u p the loose hai rs and pa ste them on my head. We s how",'d that to Frelen g one day and he said , "Yo u son of a bit ch," and wa lked o ut. Maybe we became cartoon w rikrs becau se \,'e thoug ht thi s way, or maybe we though t this wa y becil us ..., we were CM toon writers . I don 't know.

M AU RICE NOB LE No o ne wh o sees C huck Jones' cartoons of the 1955 - 1970 period can fail to no tice the s tun n ing bea uty of the d es ig n wo rk. Jones' C<lrt o o n s were .:l1\\,il yS \\'ell desig ned , and in the earl y Fort-ies he wa s setting new s ty les in cartoon layout that were d eclared bo ld and innov<ltivl! when aped by UP A a decade lalt'r, btlt w it h Mauricc Noble he ach ieved a vis ual gra ce that is a s del icate as it is s triking. The Nob le hall mark is as evident as Jones' in o ut standin g Warner and MCM cdftOOns like t\ S HEEP IN

m y desk aft e r each picture. I put everyth ing away. I don't pull a nyth ing ou t of the ha t and say, " \,yell, it was good las t picture , I' ll use it in this one." Mdny times Chuck wo uld have an idea for a c<1rtoo n , and it wo uld be ei th er a roug h story board or jus t a ro ug h o utline o f a s tory. And he'd ca ll me in a nd give me a general id ea of what we were going a ft e r. He mig ht sa y, " I need mat e ria l there a nd here." So I ,,,,o uld take h is ske tciK's and s tart weavin g the m in to a con tinuit y o f g raphi cs. And o ut of the gra phics, sometim es, vvo u ld come an o ther facet of the ca rtoo n: a gag, o r staging, or even a complete drama t ic sw itch in the middk' of the car· toon. Then h e would go b<l ck <l nd intro duce it into the story as he d evelo ped it and laid o ut the a nimat io n . Some ca rtoo ns, jllSt beca use of the ir nature, a rc A- B- c' r ig ht dow n the line. Oth e rs wou ld perm it the u se o f grap hi c explo rat io n . We did a S pa ce p ict ure, and th e idea of S pa cl.:.' became more <lnd mo re deve lo ped. I' d do <I s ke tc h , and prett y soo n we h ad fl oa tin g c iti es, and je tpropelkd ta xica bs, a nd a ll t h is. S pace evolved . Far m ore t han we eve r a nti cipated o rig ina lly. I think WHAT'S OPERA , DOC? was one o f them. T he thin g jus t go t bigger and bigger and bigger, as these ske tches cam e a lon g,

and [ would wo rk back and for th w ith Chuck on the stagin g and things li ke this, and even tu ally we hfld this super-co loss<ll prese ntat io n . I've alwa ys loved that carloon. J d o n ' t know w he t he r <II1\' o t her d esig ner thi nk s in the same tem;s that I do, bu t 1 de s ig n in //Iol ioll . If yo u have a pano ramiC shot , it's a se ries o f <1fe<l S thflt <Ire e x po se d t o the e ye a s t h e y pass throug h . You have a big area and a s mall area and a sta ccato area and so fo rth- put on a nas h of red , J...'t it ex tend for a long tim e , a nd then two fla shes o f b lu e, <lnd g ree n, and it 's <I rhythmic thing . From the arti sti c s tandpo int, when yo u' rt.' on a s tiJl co mpos iti on, you r ey e ha s a Ch.1I1 CC to wa nder a nd St'e a big a rea a nd a small area , an d th e balance of the cOIl1~si ti o n . W he n yo u' re on a panoram ic s h o t a lso , yo ur overa ll tota l has to bala nce out to be an in teres ting eye experience: your largl' <l rea s and s ma ll areas <Ire ex hibited to I he eye a s the pan goes <llong, and th e spaces a nd rh y th m s o f th is who le thin g, thi s total over-all, is a vis llal co mposition in motion. And this is purely d one by Ih e usc of co lo r a nd s pace rel<lti ons hi ps, an d a cce nt s in pa ttern s of fOrrTl s, a nd so fo rt h. There's a school of an il11tltio n l<1yo ut that I call the N u t and Bo lt Sch(x) l: every rivet's in the rig ht p lace, and every table is so lidl y

T H E DEEP, BArON IWi\:NY, ROCKET SQUAD ,

t he Aca d emy-Award-w innin g THE DOT AND THE LI NE, and th e s upR'me tour-d eforce o f s hort s ubject an imation , WII AT'S OPERA, DOC? This interv iew took place December 29, 1971.

MAU RI CE NO BLE: When YOLI speak of the C<lrtoo ns Ch uck's m<lde ()ver the ye<lrs, I th ink the variet y of them <m d the ex plora tion of id eas is rea ll y tremendous. We always tried to find a solution w hich seellled appropriate to a story , whether fro m the dire ctorial s tandpoint or the grap hi C s tandpoint. The style came out o f the ca rtoo n, ins tead of vice versa. I thin k one o f the streng th s in C huck's cartoons has always been just that : <l pproaching each one <IS a fre sh slnrl. I ha ve a tendency to c1cfln

Bunny ,md Elmer Fudd In Chuck JI)IIe~' WIIAT'S O PERA. [)OC~ (1957 ). M,lunce Nohle '~ "~UI)I(>ml' tour-de-force of short ~ubl('c' ,lnim,lliof'l. "

FIL M COMME T

19


Righi : Chuc k Jones' THE PHANTOM TOLLBcx) r H (1 9 71). Left : Jones' SHEEP AI-lOY (1954 ).

CONTINUED FROM PACE 19

o n the gro und , and every chair is drawn so that yo u kno w it 's a Chippen d ale. There are many very fine des igners fo r animation who are not happy u nlt""Ss they ha ve been able to p ut every nail in place all th e \-vay thro ug h a compo!' iti o n . But w he n th e ca mera q uickly goes across so mething li ke this, th e importa n t thing is what it says: "Ta bl e- Chair. " An inte res ting tab le and cha ir. Beca u se of th (' na tur e o f th e medium , the eye is exposed to something in such short flashes that everything mus t read ve ry qu ick ly, a nd in an int eres ting way. So it d oes n' t matter what period it is, unl ess you' re definit ely wo rking in period . Th en one exaggerates. Yo u take what is th e essc nce of that period an d overe mphas ize it. I' m quit e s ure that a lot of the French furnitur e I' ve th ro wn in some o f the Pepe Le Pews would never sta nd on their overexagge rated curved legs. But th e ove rall appea rance when th e eye sees it quickly is: Here is a n overd o ne rococo Fren ch interio r, o f big s werving backs and so forth . Exagger<ltion for comic effect al so ca n be wo ven into it if that's whil t yo u' re going after. But, in essen ce, all d esign for animatio n sho uld have a certain hu mor to it. It must, in it s sha pes and co lor, contribute to the spirit o f the ca rtoon. If it 's s todgy desig n, a nd cl C an g- Bu s ter ca rt oo n , th ey d on ' t mix. Wo rkin g with Chuck Jones wa s a very crcaf i l'c ex p e ri e nce. It go t to the po int wh,,'rc we would have a few s hort-hand con versations rega rding th e picture, and then he'd mo re o r less sav, " Don' t bother me, jus t go ahead and do- it. " And I know that so metim es he was jus t a little s urprised at what he go t back. But it worked well, so he wo uld keep h is mo uth shut. I

was g ive n a grea t d eal of creati ve leeway, beca use I believe he had co nfidence in my tas te and what I was d oing fo r the pi ct ures. If I d esigned so mething that didn ' t see m to be appropriate, he would let me kn o w , with no d oubt in his mind , that thi s was no t correct- at least, to his way of thinking. And thi s is so methin g that o ne always has to accept in a ny g ive n production: the director is the director. C hu ck was th e kind o f pe rso n that w(lII ted fresh ideas. He was kind of a Disnl:'y of th e shor t s ubject . I don 't believe I wo u ld have wo rked as man y yea rs fo r Chuck if he hadn ' t had these fresh id eas co min g alo ng a ll th e time. Because o ne mu s t rea ll y enj oy one's work to make it bloo m, yo u know ? O ne thing about Chuck's ca rtoons is th e treme nd o us n um be r o f cut s. And background s. In the busin ess, a "same- as" is a scene used ove r aga in . And hi s pictures wo uld neve r ha ve "sa me-as" ba ckg ro und s, because there \vas always a new facet or something, so it meant a new layout. Many tim es I wo uld d esig n ma ybe a hundred bac kg ro und s fo r on e cartoo n . And th is gave th en1 a sense of motion and va rie ty, w hil e th e o th e r d e pa rtment s wo uld be paintin g twe nt y- five or thir ty backg ro und s . And th e sa me te leph o ne po le would be co ming thro ugh cons ta ntly. Well, my se nse of design wu uldn 't permit me to d o that. We couldn ' t go back and re- use bac kg roun ds. And man y tim es when we tried to, it was a loss o f time, because we wo uld ha ve to make readju stments and re-paint and re- peg, and by the tim e we ha d go ne throu g h a ll that , we mig ht as well have started from scratch. At that time, most o f the other animators

MaUrice ' oble'~ " eleclric eye" ,lnd " M.ul i.1n \ '\'18801" from Jone ~' DUCK DODGERS IN THE 24 VI CENTU RY (195 1).

20

JAN .-FEB . 1975

belonged to th e Sh in y Door Knob School: th ey we re puttin g hi g hli g h ts o n b ra ss d oo rknobs. And th ey \vould com e back into m y roo m to see what was going on, s h a kin g th e ir h ea d s. S ome tim es the y wo uld groan , and so me times th ey' d be ve ry puzzled , and sometimes th ey' d look at it and say, " What in the hell <He yo u doing?" And I wou.ld say. " Well, I'm d esignin g th e p icture. Isn ' t it int eres ting?" And to me it wo uld be real inte re stin g . And they wo uldn ' t know what it was all about. They tho ught I was bats when I put that bright red o n Elmer with those p urpl e s k ies in WH A T 'S OPERA , DOC? Yet th ey thought it was g rea t when they finally saw it o n th e scree n. I had th e Ink. a nd Paint Department co me in and say, " Yo u really IIICrHl yo u wa nt that mage nta red o n that ?" And I sa id , "Yes, that's the way." I had mad e this sket ch and s ho wn Chuck what th e res ult was go ing to be, a nd he sa id , "Yeah, go ahead ." I did a chara cter one time a ll painted in whit e. It was a wo man with a whit e pood le, and a whit e umbrella , and she was all d ressed in whit e. Everyth ing. And I thi nk a red rose was pinned on her. And they thou g ht. " Wh y, th e re 's no c%r to thi s charac ter. " Well, it looked beautifu l on the screen. I've bee n fortunat e enou gh to pull o ff a number of things, so that no w when I d o something za ny, they tend to listen to me . If I can' t make it intt.路restin g. I don ' t want to s ti ck aro und . I rea lly don ' l. You work with so me directo rs and this is if. They do n' t und e rs tand \Vh ,1t ex plorin g fo r id ea s mean s. And this is what C huck was always after: id eas. ~.~:


BEG IN INGS ; EA RLY EX PERIM ENTAT ION ; R EA LI S M VS . " BELI EVAB ILI TY"

CHUCK JON ES: Kilns.l s City is where Ub IWl'rk s s tarted , <1nd Bu gs Hardawa y. â&#x20AC;˘1nd Hug h Ha nnan and Rud y Isin g ilnd Walt "nd I ~o y Dis l1l'Y ... all Ihost.' peo pl e

Like the great silent comedians, Jones could express emotions "through physical detailand it was beautiful 10 watch. "

worked (or that one little compan y, Film

Ads in Ka nsas City. And until it kind o f!X'¡ INed o ut, they actua ll y mad e commercial s. co mmercial s for th eatricell sho wing. Walt then came Wl' s t , clllli thl'll Friz, Hilm Ilam ii ton , class ic .m illlilto rs, and they all go t cstabli slwd w ith A LIC E IN C ARTOO N LA N D at U niversal. I carlle up w it h tht.' next generation - well, gL't1l'r<ltions

Interview by Greg Ford and Richard Thompson ( O URTE S" IOE ADA\\SO'"

Wt.'rt~

sepa-

rat ed by ilbout e ig ht or tt'n years then . Those o f li S who had gone to Cho uinard Art Sc hoo l in Los Angd es, where could WI' work? We could go into co mmercial art o r we could go into animatio n. So I worked with Ub !w('rks, wh o had split with Dis ney at the tim e . I workl.'d for Uni vl.'rsal , and then C harles Mint z, and . .. hell, in those d ays yo u jumped (ro m s tudio to s tudio . But eve nluall\' I ca me to \V,lrn er Brothers. Meimtime, I \~'orkl.'d as a St-l ilor fo r a while, went to South America o r someplace. Q . And as a lumb e rja ck, and a cowboy . A: I was callrd .1 lumberjack by Disney people who tho ug ht I was a commun ist. Q ; What does a lumberjack ha ve in commol1 with a communis t? A: Well, they used to say that the Commu nis ts took " li ttle hairy Jew ish people" along when they had a speech to m"kc at a union meeting. \<Vhel1 I s poke at a meet in g, o ne o f th e Dis ne y animato rs said , " Ho w co me they' re us ing these big pink 11II1"'lbcrjack ty pes now?", and pretty soon everybod y was saying it. So J went home and to ok a loo k ill ll1 \'sdf - I was twent y -Fi ve-and , s ure en'o ugh, I \\',l S a big pink lumberjack ty pe. And I was .1 fat lumberjack- two hundre d a nd fi ve pounds. Q : In POfo itif ma ha.dn e, the y say that C h uck Jones, bt-fo re he we nt to Warners, \va s a lumberjack, and had a big blu e ox named Babe. A: That was tru(' . That was a sexual relatio nsh ip. Bu t any"'.,y ... Q ; Somehow, we've got your chrono logy aJi screwl"'<.i u p. Did yo u do Ihat before yo u worked in any a nimat ion s tudios? Or in-between? A: I d on' t kno \\' .. . Any way, I did it. Q : Yo ur firs t cartoon s, s tartin g from about 1938, Seem to make a much grea ter effort to approx imate realis tic shape and move men t thnn your later cartoons. A; That reall y was an effor t, learn ing how to make thing s move . One o f the things I thin k is basically rnis unders tood abou t easel art is that , Sc1Y, Andy Warhol, Claes O lde n bcrg, de Kooning , Robert Mot hcnvc ll ca n nil draw beau tifu lly. They al l had li ne control. They had to learn that, and then they bra nched Oll t. It's hard to

FILM COMMENT

21


CH UCK JONES CONTI NUED

think of an <nt is t tha i is wort h a n y thin g who d idn 't have thi s abil ity. They s tarted wit h the ba sics. \,\' ith those L'<1r1y cclftoon s, I wa s learning the basics. What th e hell, J started di recting w hen I wa s twt?nty. fi ve, so I had to learn thl' lang uage, an d so d id

m)' ani mators. We had classes-for years, w e had ill [C<l s t hvo cln ssl.'s per week, <I I

night. And \\ft;' Wt;.' [ t: wo r king a fivc · and -a - hillf - day week , Clbo ut fifty-six

hours it wee k. Q: Who cond ucted the classes? A: I d id. And I had to learn at the same tin1C. I wen t to the lectures that they wt:'re

1I0AD-RUNNEII

E

IIIIDIIUS zllD1US

£

~

,;: ~ ::: ~

""'.........

Latinate l i l le~ in Ihe Ro.l drunnc r c,utoons .

Chuck Jo nes (1956).

O n gin,)1 arl : O., fly Duck in ROBI N HOO D DAFfY (1958).

having at Dis ney's wi th Don Gra h'lIn . We al so went th ro ug h <l whole se ri es of classc s from the Art S tud e nts Leag ue, conducted by S imone N ikol iade s, who d id tho se ed ged draw ings, marvelous things, w hich k ind of ca ug ht the chamcter. He laid down the law that if vo u ever wa nt to learn to draw, you have' a hundred tho usand bad drmvings in you. A nd Iht.' S(Xli1cr you bet rid o f them , the beller you are. 50 we d id thousa nd s o f draw ings . Q: Th is rea li sm effecls tim ing, too. An ea rly ca rtoon like GOO I) N IGHT EL M ER 11940J is rath er s lo w - it seen1S obsessed w ith rea li stic movement, shape, a nd shad ing. A: The s had ing was the re because of the p resen ce of a s ing le light- so urce , th e can die , w hich wa s ve ry imfX) rl rlllt. The story was just a liny thing: a man attemp ting to put o ut a littl e ca ndl e. How can yo u make an en tire s tory abo u t that? Is it possible? That's w hat I \va nted to know. I wo uldn' t say il was a particul arly s uccess ful picture, b ut it wa s crucial in te rms o f w hat came afterward. You have to s tumble a lot. I can " think of a n y other wa y o f doing any thing . T here are no s ho rt- cu ts. An d nobodv had the time to do a scene a n d the n- th row it .... wav - we hnd to use it in Ih e final film. At Di s l~ey's, durin g Ih e sa me period , th e y \vere ex perimen ting w ith t hings an d the n IlOf using Ihel11. They coul d affo rd to , b ut we co uldn 't. T here wa s nothin g w ron g w ith that, b ut several o f the pictu res were experimental - so me o f the m worked a nd so m e d idn 'l. SOl11e were slow, but I was attemp ting 10 discover things a bout timin g here, and in the early "S niffl es" films . Besides, thev didn ' t seem as slow the n, bas iGill y beca ~l se a ll Cclr loons were n' t at s uch a fa nta stic p<1CC. The pace t hi ng s tar ted w ith TH E T O RT O ISE AND TH E HARE f19351 a t Dis ney'S. Q: O ne .... s pect of T H E TORTOIS E AN D THE H ARE w h ich yo u seem to have picked o ut a nd expa nded in th e Pe pe Lt..' Pew sl!ries is the " S low <md s teady wins the race" idea of c haracter act io n. Pepe ma intain s his stead y pace, wh ile the female ca t Pepe is p u rs uing fina lly wears herself o ut with fas ter b ut mo re s porad ic movem ents. A: I di d th a t eve n ea rli er in LITTLE LION H UNTER 11939, Jones ' firs t cartoon feat uring the native A fri can ch ild Ink i and the m ys tica l m y na h bird I. The myna h bird was that so rt o f s tead y charac te r. I often have mu sic


d ictating the s tead y pace. In the Inkiserics, th e m y na h bi rd wo ul d ho p a lo ng to " Fingal' s Cave Ove rture ." That was my first experience with Mendel sso hn. Q: The vocabulary of Carl Sta lling, the regula r com poser for Wa rn ers cartoo ns, is u nbelievab le . He can even an ticipat e th e aud ience's associat ion \Vith the image. For in stan ce, in the m iddle of the ch<lse in Fr\ ST A N D FU RH Y -OUS 11949L the fi rst " Roadru nner" fi lm , yo u cut to an over head perspective o f th is hig hwa y clove rleaf that the chMC1cters arl' running aro und , <lnd St<l llin g im mediate ly refers to ''I' m Look ing O ver a Four- Leaf Clover." He seems to be <l ble to rcl<l tc to <ln y ki nd o f music. A: The re was a reason fo r thilt: he wa s a lead organ is t at so me of the bigges t theaters in St. Lo uis <lnd Kansas C ity, whe re yo u had to have t'veryth ing right at yo ur fin gertips. That was o ne of the reil sons he tend ed to go to ward vi<; U<l I ti tl es. When a charilcter was eating so met hing , he'd p lay "A Cu pof Coffee, A Sa ndw ich, And Yo u," eve n tho ugh it might not fit exactl y. If it was a lad y in a red d ress, he'd a lways p lay "The Lad y in Red ," or if a bee, he' d al ways play " My Fu nny Little Bumblebee," which wa s wri tten in 1906. Someti mes it worked " !ld someti mes it did n' t- tha t " Fun ny Little Bumblebee" th ing wa s so obscu re no o ne co uld make the connectio n. Yo u had to be a hu ndred and eight years old to eve n know there wa s s uch a song . Q: Aro u nd 1941 o r "1942 your cartoons see med to chil nge- they began to p resent more vio le n t <lnd r"dicitl chilfacter-mot io n, and th e ba ckg ro und s bl'cilml' m o re sty lized. Do yo u think the \" IM had il ny effcct o n thi s chit nge? A: [ th ink as far a s ac ti o n and s ubj ect- matt er we re concerned , m y carto o n s actu all y wert' ge ntler be fo re 1941 ... 50 I'd ag ree with thit t propositio n tu a Iimit t.> d t.>x \t.> n t. But ge ne ra ll y, no , I d on' t think th e n.~'s much o f a con nectio n there. In terms of vio lent character -actio n, I suppose tha t I was effected so mewhat by bo th Friz [Frcleng] and Tex [!\vt.> ryJ. 1 always ad mi red the ir se nse of timing ('m d sen se o f movem e n t, <1 nd t he ir g <l g s tru ctu re s - alt h ou g h the y certa inl y wo rked d ifferen tly. Yo u see, a fter T H E D I{ ,\ FT H O RSE [194·1], [ d iscove red that I co uld make pt.'ople laugh-i'lI1 d not jus t be amusl'd . And that' s a head y thin g . Yuu get so YOll (I 'all l to make them la ug h, or at leilst makt-' yo urself lau gh. Q: THE DHAn H O RSE is s ti ll very fu nny tod <1Y. To beg in w ith, we' re confron ted with n s u perpa triotic plowhorse, fln gs in h is ey es, who th e n o f course is te rr ifil.:.' d when he's caugh t in the middle of some arm y wilr -gam es. A: We ll, at this particul ar time, vc ry l'a rl ), in the Seco nd World \-VM, eve rybod y Wd S in fa vor o f fig ht ing. Th ere we re simpl e terms then . YOll h.w(' to be in con tact with the idea o f whnt Adolf Hitl er wa s: he was a n enorm ity, a gi<lnt bl<1ck th ing over the ho rizon. That W.1S so meth ing you co ulLi

see- he was an evil thing . It was th e las t o f the g rea t c1earc llt co nflicts. Nevertheless, within th e co nt ext o f cha u vinis m, yo u co u ld d iscover the id iocy o f people jus t wcln tin g to go throw th em se lves o ut in fron t of th e Ca nno n. At least yo u co uld be reaso nab le. Ano th er develop men t is tha t after this film, and afte r the war, I workl'd more with the writer Mike Maltese . He wa s mo re of iI gag man than Ted d Piercc, with whom I' d been wo rking ea rl ier. Tedd te nded to be more o f a writer. He was good .1 t s tructure, a nd it was a hu morous s truct ure- bu t it was n' t gags. O n the o th er hand , Mike Maltese W<lS, il nd still is, iI bri lliant gag man . Bu t w ha te ve r hap pe n ed d u rin g tha t period , it probably wasn' t d ue to thl.:.' W ar. If any thing, the War wo uld have calmed it down . Q : At any rate, we co uld say tha t in 1942 there suddenly was a decisive breitk from that over-a wareness o f realis m . A: Yea h, that's rig ht. I thin k nt thnt poin t the lang uage bega n to be learned , and this group of people worki ng together d iscove red that they were all reaso nably facile. The team thing is very important. It gets to the po int wh ere yo u Can snap yo u r fi ngers, or make a s ing le drawing to con vey yo ur id ea. Wheneve r <1 ne\v iln ima to r came to wo rk fo r me, he was in tro uble for a whi le, beca use on my ex pos ure s heets, [ wo uld pu t d ow n a no tatio n li ke " BAL" -which was " ba lance" - or "ANT ' - "an ti cipate. " And all my an imators had to kno w exactl y what they mea nt. Q : What did it mean - an a n ticipa tion before the actual motion? A: Sure. O r " BAL" mig h t mean that I'd wa n t a particula r chnr<lcter so lid o n his feet before he did so methi ng, so yo u'd know thilt the re wa s a s tabili ty to the thin g, befor e it moved int o action . O f co urse, I llsed " ho ld s," and ani mators leMned thil t when [ p u t d ow n a tWt.~ l ve - f rame h u ld , tha t d idn ' t mean thir tee n frame s o r e leven fr<t lll es- it Ill ean t twelve frames eX<1c tl),. Wh en tht.' Coyote fell off, I knt'w he had to go exactly three or fo ur feet <ltld then di sappear fo r eig hteen frames before he hit. A ne w <1n ima to r wo u ld CO l11l' in il lHI h e would ovc rl<1 p th at. and it wo uld neve r wo rk. When we'd layo ut d <l nces, we bq;anto unders ta nd tha t we co u ld an ti cipnte by one fra me. If a step is s u pposed to come down on a beat, we fou nd ou t thilt if yo u moved it up o ne frame, it wo uld work, beca usc the th ro w back to th e mid dl e o f the thea ter, thirty rows back, wo ul d make the step appea r to be exa ctl y on bea t. Th .. ('s ju s t o ne frame w ,-, ' rt:.· t<1 lk in g abo ut , on e- twe n tv - fo u rth of a second , b ut Wl' fou nd out it worked best for th e en tire theate r if yo u were one frame .-. hcad of til(' beat. Q: How o ften did yo u use ro tosco pin g? A: Almos t neve r. Occasio nall y, when we had to shoo t so mething like a co mplicated Ll a nce , we ' d ac tu <lll y ta ke li ve- a ctio n

~ 1975WJ~

lnt'r ~. lnc

Bugs Bunny Jnd Elmcr Fudd in WHAT'S OPE RA ,

0001957).

,

~ ~

::;

A vVagncfi.l1l <.h.1da.v C.l~ on J cliffside in W HAr SO PEKt\.IX>C?


CHUCK JONES CONTIN UED

fram es and s tud y them , sketch them o ut a nd loo k at th ~ 1l1 to see where th(;' fee l would lil n d . \,\'e did that for th e leprechaun's litt le jig in THE WEARI NG OF T H E C RI :-.l

(1 95"11. w here Porky goes to Ire·

la nd . Q: There art' so Ill.ln y di sciplines just in terms of timin g- th e w,' )' Bu gs Bunny wa lked mu s t have been mathe mati ca ll y

exact. A: S ure , but th e basic thing in an im cltio n is th.l! yo u' re talking .1bout believab ilit y. You see, I wa !'> dt.·aling w ith t h e id ea of rctllisl11 first. but then I rea li zed that be -

Iiev,lbility \V,l S mu ch more important. So that w ith 13ugs or an y o ther c haracter, it Wil S tht.· fL'L,ling of weig ht thai mattered . Oneo f th e Lx's! L-'xilmplcs o f th is is puppet s or tnMio n L'th.'s: they seL'1ll to work best i f Iht:ir kr1L'l' s don '! be nd w ht.' n th~ i r feet

~

touch the g round. Otht.'rwist.', they look all wron g, bec.lust:' tht.'rt." s no s ugges tio n o f gravity tht:'re. So I discuverL'l..i th at if yo u ge t the fL'L'l in g o f \\'L'ig ht , yo u ' re all right- it d oesn' t rcall y make much differ· ence w hethe r it's real is tica ll v drawn or no t. Q : In o tht:'r words, th e ~va lu es become less litt.'r<l l <l nd m o rt' abs trac t. A: S un.:. If VULI Wd lll il luo:o-e, if VU LI \\'dn l it buoyant , if yo u \\'<lIlt it innat~d li ke .1 bcllloon- wdl , go ahead <lnd make it like c1 ball oon. But if m v dL'cis ion is th a t it's a Bugs Bunny s tory~-thL'n Bugs ha s a particular w L'i ~ ht. So I want h im to feel , as ht.' wa lks across a room , .1S if he ha s this given d ens ity, this givt.'n su lid ity. Q : Un iL"-ss hL" :' p ulling himself o ut of a h.1t , ii/a CASE OFTH i! 1I.H SS ING H ARE [1942J . A: Ah ha! But L'ven then, pulling yoursel f o ut o f il hat h.1S a fL-'t..'ling of weig ht , a s yo u li ft )'o ursd f li p. This f\.>t:'li ng of weight and bcl iL'v.1b ili tv can l'ven be o ffscreen, as in DUn, AMUc ,, '[ 1953] .1Ild R,\BBIT RAMPAGE 11955). Q : C\.'rtain them es started ""merg ing th e ve ry firs t yt.'M YO ll bt:'gan to direct. In DOGGONE MODER:\" [ 1938], those two L'a rl y d ogs of yo urs, tht.' bo,er .lIld his puppy pal , were pitt L'd aga in st the abs urdities of tec hno logy, much .1S a llt host:' "Acm e" dL'vices wo uld I.lt\.'r b,lCkfir\.' on thl' Covotl' in hi s qUL' s t for th L' Ru.lliTlI I1 I1t.'r. TI~l' t wo dogs go t trapP\.' d in a moderni s ti c ho use-o f- t he· fu hlrl'.

A: That 's rig ht. They w.mdert:'d in , an d the pla ce had a robot broo m that wo uld sweep up <ln ything, re).;ard less o f wha t it \\'as. Q : And the dogs had to dod ge the robot broom , 10 kee p from ge tting s wep t up the mselves. YOLI did <1 rema ke of the sa mt' fi lm about a d t'Cad e lat er, this time s tarring yo ur mice ch aracte rs Hubie and Be rli e \i·I OUSE H UNTI NG M ICE, 19 4 7 ), w hich seems to b\.' s uch an incredibl e improvt;.'l11 cnl on the o rig in al DOGGONE MODEI{ N. A: Well , the s ty le llf ba ckbTUund Wil S completel y differt.' nl in Iht:' two CilTtouns. In th e fi rs t few pi ctures I worked on , wt.' lIsed a mall by th t' name of G riff Jay, who was an o ld news pc1pe r CMtoon is t- and he d id wha t we'd call " mold y pnlllt.''' back gro und s. Everybody used the same typt:' of thing back then - C harlit.' Jo hns ton drew backgro un ds for Tex Avery, a nd he was ~m old newspaper ca rtoon is t too. Q : But th e bigges t diffe rence betwee n the two fi lms is in the s tarring characte rs. The situatio n is the S<lll1 e, a pa ir of c harac· te rs being victimized by t he c razy el ectronic ho use d ev ices, but Hubie and Be rtie in H OUSE H UNT ING M ICE aT('activea nd full y developed cha racters, w hile the d ogs art' far too p,l ss ive- the y jus t don ' t ha ve .1 cha nce. A: No, they don' l. T he d ogs do n ' t really amo u nt to .,n y thin g. T hey ju s t walk aro und and g et m ixed up in "II t h e ).;"dgel"ry. But they don 't d emons tra!c any rea l hum a n rea cti o n s, none that Wt' ca n r\.'cogni ze an y wa y, beyo nd" s o rt o f generali£l'd .1nxid y. The chara ctL'rs arL'n ' t reallv es tablished, so vo u don 't care about the, ~You do care abo{11 Hubie and Bertie, thoug h . Q : The y' re re a l pe rsona liti es. It 's so much more exh il amtin g to se\.' them rl'spond to th e ll1.lCh in cry, occasio nally react aga ins t it , and at odd times eVt'n triumph OVt:'r il. There 's a marvelou s st'tlllel1ct' w ht.'re Ilu biL' an d Bt' rl ie s llcceed in te m· poraril y o utfoxing thl..' robot. reme m ber? Un like th e two dags , they finall y reali zl' thai this fu cking broom is go ing to w hiz out a nd swt.'\.'P up lilt:' dt:'bris, rL'ga rd less of pur post.', <lnd so , th is tim \.', the ch<lTclctc rs l1lakl..' usc of the (<lct and co nsc iously try to wt.'ar th e robo t out. The \l turn on an au toma tic rL'cord ejec tor th '11 shoo ts o ut d iscs

a nd s hatters Ih\.' 1ll ag.li nst thl' wa ll , the reco rd s fl y and break into pieces, .U1d thl' robot , in variabl v, ha s to come o ut a nd sweep up, .1ga in ~ nd aga in . Also , Ihe rt.' art' sho ts, w ith the simulated t.'dit ing, o f a m issil e sa iling past in tl:'rcut with <1 quick in sert of a characll'r, just watching it go by. A: That may ha vl' been gener"ted from a f<l scinat ion with II..'nn is mal ch\.-"S, il nd s uch intcrcutt ing effects wou ld ofkn make the sce ne wo rk . It eli sa demo ns tr,lI cs that yo u co uld get an o bjt'ct to look like it's moving cl hell of a lot fe1s te r w ith e d itin g . A nd \.'ventud lly, I bL'g.l n to "dd shadows of the m iss ik fl ying p.1St; t h i ~ ha p pe ned very u fkn in the " Roadrunn e r" films. Q : Mos t Il1L'lllorably, w hen you get an in st:'rt cJost.'- up of th e Coyote , w ith a truck or tra in he.h.lin g rig ht fo r him , tl1l:.' sh'll"iow of it go ing OVer hi s f.1Ce, a nd hl"s holdin g up il littl e sign that S.l), S "STOr, IN TH E NA1vl E OF II UMAN ITY," or so mL'lh ing likt.' thaI. A: O f CO UTSI.' yo u rea li ze Ih.lt .111 o ur s tuff \\".1:, pr\.'- l'dilt.'d ; it had "simulated ed it ing," <l S yo u S.l),. Th\.' I..'l..i ilin g was <I ll in thl' di rec tor ' s h ead. A lo t of people d o n't reali ze that , so it 's interL' s ti n g a nd w \.'11 wo rth \.'rnpI1olsj,~ i ng. This w.ls n't ll t.'ceSSilTil v tru e o f iJ isnev, bul wt.' didn ' t actuall" pil,ll:'icnll.'l cut o ur' stuff at all. Th e diTl>c tor's hl:'J'L' dt.'vdoped the ability to bring in" eM · toon w ithin tell secunds of its propL'r leng th . It 's ca sit.'r to do th is on a s po t·g.1g pi c ture Ih.l 1 it is o n d s tory p icture, o f COllrst.'. It wa s rc"lIy mental ed itin g, .1nd i' VL' ne vt.' r mL'l .1 li vL'-action directo r, o r t.'d it or, who un de rs tood how this co uld b\.' dOl1\.' . It 's just like shoo ting IhE.'Se little clips o f film in li vl'·actio n , at \.':\actly thL'ir prop\.'r le ng th , and putling them ,111 togeth e r. A nd

/~'<\. /

An Ofl~1I1.I1 Colh.l r1{'·~ \!..ctch oi the Iron . wlll1 or, hrnd Il').:~. ml">lKI A">lU Ti l E un' (19 -4 1).

l'mph'I~'~

this W<lS the I/lYt"!'::it y of the situation, since Wl' wL'rL'n ' t allowcd an" ret.1kcs. \'\It' WL'T\..'I1't allm/'t'd to cuI. \' Ie on ly had su much fOO I..1ge, and wt;' had todo it rig ht thl..' fir~ t tim f' . We did re takes in the sense th.l t wc'd rl~-.lnill1ate so meth in g , if it \\",l S wrong, bu t we neVl'r rt.'·fi lnH.:.'li. Q : 0111..' thing pu zz iL'S nl\.': TrL').; Brown occasionall y gl't ~ a " film ed itor':," credit. Us ua ll y he is cred it ed as a so und -effe cts man . 24

JAN.- FE O. 19 75


A: Right , the " film ed itor's" credit also to so un d -effects; he was a so und ef-

ref~rs

fect s cutte r. He d eserv e d hi s credit thoroughly, since he wa s one o f the mos l bri lliant so und -eHects editors that eve r lived. Q : Your cartoon s have more of this s imulat ed , li ve-actio n - ty pe ed iting than an y o ther ca rtoo n dirl~ to r' s. In th e middle of O l1t.' of the " Ro.ld runner" cha ses, the camera angJt..'S s witch ra pidly from pan s ho t, to a close- up of the Coyo le, to an ove rhead vantage, etc. !obod y at Warners did this kind of thing more frequ en tJ y, excep t possibly Frank Tils hlin . Friz Frcl eng, on th e o th er hand , see med to opt more foran illusio n o f "stilge spa ce," as if the characters were performing li ve on a stage platform. You oft e n revert to close- ups, reilct io n shots, and ~ven very s ubtle uses o f s ubj ec-

~

like Robinson Crusoe. Any way, we had to go thro ugh Ih e process of anatomy first, in things like DOGGO NE ~ I ODE RN , so Ih at the lat er dogs s till gave the im press ion ofbcin g dogs, but weren ' t drawn exactly like dogs and didn ' t 1l10 Vt,-' exactl y like dogs. Marc Antony in FEED T H E KITI,), 119521 and C AT FEU D (19591 certt1inly appeared to be a dog, but he moved acco rding to the anatomy we had establis hed for him. He was overweight in front, and had il tiny behind .

EMOTI ONA L NUANCE ; FACIAL OETA IL

,.:-=----..

a""=::a:::::It:~.

The M ynah Bird ,lIld Ink i. by Chuck

Jone ~.

." , li ve vie w po int s; Fre leng goes fo r single- takes. A: It so und s like a n obse rva tio n Iha t yo u' d be able to make more acc uriltel y than I co uld . I don ' t see myoid pictures too regularl y, and I never thi nk o f th e m in terms of cutting. Q : Anoth er thing wro ng wit h th e two earl y d ogs th a t appeared in DOGGONE MO DER.'I and a co uple o f other films at the tim e: there see med to be so me question as to wha t moveme nt s we re defi ne d for th e m . They we re ve ry n a tura li sti ca ll y d rawn , bu t Ih ~ ir movem~nt s seemed to confuse hu man - Itke and canine actions. A: That 's w h y th ere wa s n ' t an y character, because what \Ve were trying to d o wa s to find o ut how th e -h e ll a d og moves. Jus t how he moves, and no thin g mu ch be yond th at. That's w hen I was fi g htin g Ih e anthropomo rph ic id ea o f m ove ment. Th ey we re mod e le d with ba ck - legs like dogs, b ut no bod y really knew how to move them pro perl y. The result was that they looked rather awkward. One very pi vo tal film fo r me was IN KI AND Tt-I E LI ON 119411. where Shamus C ulhan e , o ne of the a ll -time g reat anim a tors, finall y go l that lion to work- then Manny Farber wro te in New Rep/lblic that he thought th e lio n looked

to crack an ex tra o rdinaril y un crackablc nut. And he tri es eve ry th ing: sa wing it, exploding it , riveting it . A: Tha t was a difficuJt picture to do. It was such a s imple gag; it's almost idiotic in it's Simplicity. No dia log ue, of co urse. But whe n he tried to crack the COCO<ln ut by pu s hin g it o ff the Empire S ta te Building- that was the sequt.'nct.' that go t me. He start s pushing the cocoa nut up all th ose flig hts o f s tairs, and I' m so sad fo r him when he has to pus h it up each stai r individuall y, th e n sc ra mble up th e next stair and push it aga in, and so on.

Q : And th e fri sky puppy in TERRIER [1952J and nvo's A CROWD 119511 was a natural -looking fo ur - legged puppy. But his friskiness is jus t beyo nd the rea listic. There came to be a very thi n line for yo u, th en, between the realis ti c and the slightly exaggera ted . A: Oh yes, a real d og mig ht d o o ther thi ngs than what this puppy d oes, but the puppy's bas ic characteristic is Ih is fas tness. So that's what I take off on and acce nt: that incre dibl y qui ck movement . He co mes sliding in, barking like cra zy, all ears, arm s, a nd legs. Q : And the sq uirrel in M UCl-1 ADO A BOUT NU'IT INC {1953] is also a natu ral- seeming squ irrel . A: Technica lly, that' s o ne o f the bes t pictures I ever mad e. I studied sq uirrels just to find ou t how they moved; th ey tum their head s in almost one fram e and then they hesit ate as they loo k- like a bird , th ey don ' t ha ve binocular vision . I love those lit tle hes it atio ns when he's looking around an d s niffing. If th e s urrealistic e nding worked it was because everything was so normal up to that time. The cocoanu t was simply imposs ible to brea k, and when il did break th ere was ano ther one be neath it. Q : Jus t o ne ord inary squ irrel setting out

STR IC KE N

Q: What struck yo u as mos t impressive in Bus ter Kea to n's repertoire of ph ys ical gags? A: He u ften moved like he was being pulled il\vay- he'd do ubletake as tho ug h someone were ya nking him by the back of his collar_The classic scene of illl is where he actually was dragged off- in cors, I believe. There we re th ese hundred s o f cops 路 cha sing him , rig ht behind him; a streetca r .. gOt' S by and Keato n jlls t reilches o ul a nd grabs it and it pulls him o ff-screen. Q :The re's a gag li ke that in ZOOM AN D BO I{ED , w h ere the Coyote's foot g et s ca ught in the rope of th e harpoon that he's ju ~ t shot uff. He's strugg ling to lInsnari his foot and finally s ucceed s, but thl'n rea li zes that he's left mid -a ir over one of those terrible tho usand-foot drops. So at the las t second he grabs for the end o f the harpoo n rope, still zipping by- and he's yanked o ff in th e way yo u described that Keaton bit. I see ms to me yo u we re influe n((.'d eve n more by Keato n than Chaplin . A: I would think so, becausc my s tuff isa littl e brD<:lder than C haplin 's, altho ugh the ea rly C haplin is q uite broad , too. Chaplin o rigin ated tho se funn y littl e ho ppy runs a nd turn s, w h ere h e bounce s up and down a bit while ro unding a co rner. I'd use that a lot; I tho ught it alwJ.ys looked funn y and strange because it wasn' t at all necessa ry, phys ically. It wa s red un da nt. S imilarl y, C haplin 's s urprised rea ction s were ahvays comica ll y ove r-e labo rated . He' d jump up into the air and then co me down and the n start to run . The jump is so lely a method o f re g is terin g exc it e m e nt a nd reali za ti o n . He' d look li ke a hum an exclamation }.'Xlint, cil lling ilttention to his s urprise-like say in g, " Ah ! I'm s urprised!"-a nd then he'd ru n. S ince th ey had no other means to express it, they'd do it with physical action , and it was beau tiful to watch. Q : You seem to have a special interes t in eyes. A: Oh yes. That's anot her th ing I picked up from Keato n- those littl e eye- flicks towa rd the ca mera , whic h I'd use, sa y, wh enever th e Coyo te rea lizes that somethin g is inev itably going to fall on him and the action s tops for a moment. O f course, FILM CO MMENT

25


CHUCK lONES CONTINUED

that was alwa vs used in the earl v Torn Mix Wes te rn s, tO'o , durin g a teri'se poker ga me-every thin g would be s tockstil l in the fra mc c).ce pt that the eyes, in close- up, wo uld be ni ckering back and fort h, le ft and right. I foun d that yo u cou ld get a laugh fro m any of the~e minimal movements. Like in TER R[ E H ST RI C KEN , you hear the mis tress off-:-.c rL't'n tt'lling the cat to take care of Frisky, the little puppy. Claude Cat has a devilish ~ tllirk on his face, o( co urse, but w e got th l' 1,1 ugh from just hi s tin y eye - ll1uvcl1l l'nt from side to side. Q: Oftl'n you bring the w hites together so th<1t th(路 two eyes are joi r1L'd , toind ica te a c hara cter 's ~ urpri ~c. A: Thnl ju s! sel..' ms to make the surprise dramntica ll y s trongl'r. I might take one eye tip and cven makC' th e u th er one sq uare under certain wndition ~. 1 fo und thai once they' re accepted ;1 :, eves, vou can d o an\'thing with them to get s t ~ong effects. T~A AVI..' rv used them so that the e n's wou.ld s hoot ou t a pp roximate l\' si, fpet, then (nIl on the novr, etc. I nl'vcr ~\'t.'nt quite that far. Q : You did , IU'> t on ce in a special caSC - HOP" l 0 .... (. CA'>U.\Ln l1961], when the C\)yo te re"d..., tha t EMthlju<lke Pill s Mc n 't dfl'ctiv~ on rO<ldru nnl'rs. A: I usunl!\' U<"t' such t'xlremes onJv for st run g rt:'acli~lll S, as when thl' Covo'te b <Hllil /'t.~d ell till' RU<ldrun ncr'sspced J nd his jaw dro ps s trni ghl h) I hl' ground . But th en hl' immedi ntdy pi ch.~ it up Jnd shoves it b,:ck into il~ proper pl.lCe. I wan ted to get 1115 s tartlemcn I nl till' R()adrunner's speed . . Q: ~ho ~e movement s sccm to suspend time, hke w ht.:> n the con struction worker in ONE FROC,cy EVENING 11956 1find s the singIng frog in the co rne rstone, and gives a p rulongl..'d look of di sbelief at the audience, or when the Coyote is schcrning and one of h is ears :-.imply ndpS ove r. 1\ ; I dan " k.now how long those moveme nts take, but when I use them , you see, it's simpl y a l1l<ltier of co ns piri ng with th e a udil'I1Cl'. Q : S omt.'tinw ~ YO li s us pend all a ction for a moment <l!-. bt'.l d s of swe<lt start formin g 011 a c h <lr<lct l!r '~ ford 1ead - li ke when the g uy in ONE FROGGY EV EN I NG is s howi ng the frog to the agent and b wO ITied whether or not it'll sing. A: In the earli er ca rtoon s we'd have a he<w it.'r profuSion of sweat for a n <m xio us char,lCier. BlIt in the Fifties \\~t' le<l rneci that just o nl.' o r two beads looked better. Q: Annthe r one of my fa vori te insta nces of this tllnl'-IllMk ing a nimation occ urs in B UllY FOR B UC Ci / 19531 when the proud matado r loob .11 tlwca mera , doesn 't move for a ti me , then s im p l\' nares one o f his ' nostri1 s. A; That' s a ca ri caturl' of Juan Belmonte, one o f the great bullflgh le rs. He looked like tha t and was every bit a!-. va in . A nd then I put in h im wha t I would feel under the same circums tances- th at is, fear- once he 's face to f.l ce wit h th e bull . So h e's 26

JAN .-FEB . 1975

dressed for the part, bu t he wasn ' t reall y the brave matador. Q : But in termso f facial deta il , I'd have to pi n point FHIJ T H E K ITTY (1952J for it s gam ut - runni ng o f f,)cia l exp ressions. A: Of co urse, tha t was a verv sentimental picture, . Q : The to ugh bulld og falls hard for a tiny black kitten .. , A: T he dog s tarts out p ugnaciously w ith the cat but tht'n run s the e ntire gamut of a rel atio ns hi p w it h a nyo ne . It' s li ke a girl , yo u know, w hen you firs t meet her: then yo u grad uilily get so that YO ll can s tand her ;:m el the n yo u fall in love wit h her, then you become ob scs~ cd with her and fear she's go in g to die or somet h in g. And that is w hat the dog went through: hl' was a verv protective character. I gOI involved with that bloody dog, Mark Antony : his panic when he thinks the cat is go ing to di e, his efforts to look non chala nt vvhen he's trying to cover u p for th e cat. The draw ings in that cilrtoon were a lot of fu n.

simples t thing to lise if you don 't happen to have an" other toob at hand I have :, r unni n g gag J \~' ant to d o somet ime-picking upon the image of the Big Sprin g, and ma king a n entirt.路 ca rtoon abo ut it. The Coyo te could just get ca ugh t lip in the s pring , then latcr it cou ld just bou n ce him ,lian g , then he coul d get caught li p in it a~a in , and it wou ld jus t kl't'p going. Th..-n he ,"'oul d frill u ff th e edge of a cl iff a nd O llt.' end of th e spring could catch on top of the cl iff, and then he'd get down to the end at the sp ring, and there' d he an outcroppin g a nd he 'd grab Ihc a u 1Cf0ppin g . And then he' d spri ng ba ck to th e top t1nd he'd puillhe outcropping up and that would drive him d ow n <}g,lin. !3cctluse w hen somet hin g compresses, it ha s to go in the upposite direction - it's cause and effect. And ~U , yo u see, jus t th is s pring, com bin ed with wavity, would be all you 'd need in terms of motiv\;.' power. Q: How would that ca rtoon e nd, just in the m iddle of the ilction? A: J don ' t kno w ho w I' m cvcr go ing to e nd it, but it wo uld obvio usly e nd up in a situa tion that implies a continuum , where the action goes ri g ht ba c k whe re you s tarted from. That " He re we go aga in! " kitsc h, We mig ht e ven lise a spring wipe fo r the e nding, go ing off in the dis tance or jus t fa lling away from thl' ca me ra. Q : MOUSE W R EC K ERS see illS to us to be a major ca rt oon beca use of th e co ntrolli n g fa ctors of th e film are a lway s kept off-screen. Yo u r two mo use characte rs,

GR A V ITY, VELOCIT Y, AND THE RELATION OF FORE G IIOUND TO BACKG ROUND

Q: Wh a t (Ire yo u r fav ori te effect c; to show, say, the force of gravity in cartoons? YOLI often use those 5tra ig h l-on shots of the Cuyote in the mid ..;t Of .1 fall, <lnd different parts of hi :, bod y fall at diffcrent times . A: Well , that \\,<1:, an old trick of mine to emphasi.le the irlCl/ of falling. A good e. . ample of thi:, in actua l nature-one that always in furiated me- is when a red Iighl changes. Why doesn' l everybod y move at on ce? But th ey do n' t: the fi rs t car moves, then the second takes it s mo\'cl11ent fron) the fi rs t, and so on , and yet s u pposed ly it is possible tha t they co ul d a ll start a t once. To I1W it was funny to apply the ~me p rin ciple to a livi ng body, so tha t th e Coyo te's trun k wo ul d drop away, and then his face and s tre tc hed -o ut neck wou ld s till be the re, then the head would drop, leav ing the ears, and then the ears'd drop off. Q: It prolongs the ago ny, too , having the Coyo tc in vol ved fL'd each part of his bod y d rop at d iffe re nt time s, hi s expres sion s cha ng ing in the proces:,. A: And yet whe n he land s, yo u kn ow, it does n' t seem to hurt him an\'. It's usuall v just the idea of falling, the id e~ it self, \vhich seems to carry the emotional impact . Q : Someti mes you ha ve e ntire cartoons set up around the idea o f gravity. In ,\tQUSE \vRI:. C KE~ [1948j, for instance, you have a whole s tring of g ravity gags, the amp dl' griic(' bein g the ups ide- d o w n room sequence. A: An earlier gravity gag in that Cilrtoon is whe n Claud e Cat is p ulled through the house by the rope , which is triggered by the mice pus hi ng the heavy boulder off th e ch imney, An d re me m ber? Claud e ,"'>'ou ld get pu ll ed into sta cks of dis hes, around ba n ni sters, und er table s. G ra vity is th e

The Coyole, Wi th srre tchcd ,out neck , fall s out of the frame in ZOOM AND

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Hu bie and Bertie , are s lati oned on the c himn ey p la y in g arch it ectural mi nd · ga mes o n poo r Claude Cat, who's alone in Ihe huu:;e bd ow. The min .' recon struct his entire room , il nd when Claude wakes up, he does n' l know whether Ihese things Me reall y happenin g or whether he's haliucinil ling it all. A: In Ihe IClt er M- G ·M rema ke, YEA R OF T H E M OUSE 1"l9651, the Cilt fin all y re<ll izes that the mice Me provoking these d is<l s ters, and <I t the en d he catehL's th e mice. Q: Yeah, it 's il l1lorill ending, where the eil rlier Wa rllt.'rs film hilS an immoral end · ing . 1\: O h , we ll , I like immoral e n dings better. Forgetting the Tom and Jerry, the purJX>se in !I.·l O USE WRECKERS was that the

vibra ting and so, with these two things in com binatio n, yo u s till haw someth ing on th e screen after the arrow is gone. Here, wha t's ill1JX>rtilnt is what' s left over: th e cat ilp ult s in my eMloon s Me sh own the same Wil y, they g ive yo u a reic n.' neepoint. Q: There's an ea rly Da ffy Duck cartoon eatled CONRAD T H E SAI LOR 119411 w h ich hild ve ry pro nounced experimentation wit h wC'l ys of presenting speed. You (lctu· .l ll y held t he runnin g ChM.1clt.'rs leave ghos t· ima ges be hind th em, \v hich would then eilt ch u p with the solid c h ~lr<lCle rs . I il lso remembe r a pro minent li se o f l11ill ched cu tting in that cartoon . /~ A: Well , we u sed " 101 of overlappin g

the liqu id flowe d up , wh il e if it we rt:.' s h own from yo ur view po int it would naturall v fl ow down. And I wanted to show wha t he felt . Actuall y, Charli e Chaplin used soml'lhing li ke that in the open in g airplane seq uence o f n l E GHEA T DICTATO R, when he ' s p ilotin g hi s p lane lIpsidL'· down. And the sa me series o f gC'lgs ilre in the Po rk y Pig cMtoon JUMP I N ' JUP I -

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(r GIl never realized exactly whilt W,JS hap· pen ing to him . And it was based on an ac· tllal hil ppening . Th is u ps ide-down roOIll d id exist: so me Eng li sh duke or somet hing has a weird sense o f humor, <'Inc! ilt his PMtit's, w hen so meone wo uld pass o ut , he'd hC'lu l ' e lll in Ihere ,l nd everyunt' would look through the holes in the wall s C'l nd wa lch them co me 10. And people wo u.ld d o exnet Iv w hat th e cat d id : they 'd try to Cfnw l up 'the wa ll or so m et hin g- p,~rti c llli1fl y so mL'o nL' with il dn'adful hclll ):;ovl'r, yo u Cil n im.lgine how hid eo us that wa s. Q: The second · to -lil 5t imagl' of thai carloon is cllnaz in):;. It's jus t CI'lude's L'YL'S, wit h th e cal bein g driven to tall y in sane, cowering at the top of a tree, (l nd the leaves fallin g il\\'ay just enough to revea l th ose eves. , A: In IhC'l t picture lu sed a d iffere nt thing: the eYl'::i were hil nd led (l lmos t like il pilir of <lJ1 itllclled breds ts - d id vou notice that? Q: Yes, th (' pupil can~e o ul o f the bil ll of the L'yL', like il n ipple. The fCM reg is tered in Clil ud e's eyes in illllilzing, ilS he looks from side to s id e. A: Phil Monroe did a ):;ood job on thilt. Q: Whl'n ( l.lU de is in Ihl.:.' ul-'lS ide -down room , on the ce iling that he thinks is the floo r, try ing to keep his billance by digg ing hi s c!ilW S inlo Ihe ce ilin g , the came ra turns il rolllld and goes upside-down with Cla ud e; it 's fC'l scinating. I wo nder if yo u wcre tryin g to s how the force of grav ity throu gh mot io n il lo ne , a nd w ith out the s til ndard vis ual presen tiltio n of what' s up and what's down. A: Well, Claude o pened the bott le and

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grilph ics un I hat particular cMtoon , so that 119551 when the y lose their grav it y_ one scene wo ul d have th e samt.' grilp hie The re I didn ' t have to turn Ihe ca mt.' ril s hape as a n ea rlil'r scene, even tho ugh it Mou nd , obv io us ly, sin ce it wa s in outer wo uld bea d ifferent objL'Ct: firs t we'd show spilce. I jus t used a littl e s ign th C'lt rea d: a gu n po int ing u p in the a ir, Ihen in the " You are n ow en te rin g a low g rav ity zonl.:,' Q: This brin g s us to ano th e r na turil l /) 9 fu rce. I wa s wo nd eri ng abo ut yo ur l1leilT1S ..,_~ of l'xpress ing velocily un the screen. O ne = o f nw favorite gimm icks is in BULLY FO R ~ BUGS:- as the bu ll charges, it leC'lve5 dozens =::: of hooves in m id · air behi nd it. Daffy's , ho rse in DR lp ·i\ LQNG D A FFY 1'1 951 J leilves @ hooves in its Wilke as well . You o ften use ==~::!::.,e~ d ust, as when th e Coyo te is lagg ing jus t behind the ROild runn er a nd is trying to p ick up speed . ---::; ....-< A: We ll. there ilga in I' m g iv in g t he viewer somethi ng to hold onlo , so meth ing to regis ter the speed . A bow and il rrov.,' is il ~ good exa m ple frum real life. Yo u pull the string back, and release the arrow, but the The upside-down rourn ~l'queu ce in MOUSE bow is there- except in a Daffy Duck car· WRECKER S (1948). hy Chuck Jo nes. toon. But the bow is there with its strin g

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next shot there'd be a cl o ud in exact ly the same s hape. It gave a ce rtain s tability wh ich we lI sed in man y of the cartoo ns after that. John McGrew was the artis t rcsponsibl e for that sort of t hi ng . CONRAD was al so the one where we lISed the firs t compl/..·1L' 360- deg rcc turn , when th e cha rac te rs went u p through the air. Q : Conrad il nd Daffy arc being chased throug h the air by cl torpedo, and they go around full circle. A: Th(" fidd s themselves did not turn all the wa y "ro und . The fidd o nl y madca pilrHal turn . ThL' dfL'ct W<l S accompli shed P I~ ­ tin.:>!y by changi ng the shape o f the cl oud s. The cloud s wt're the ma in thing. So when yo u saw it, it looked like yo u made one complt·tt' revulutiun - we s tarted at one t:'nd lookin g down on <1 battleship and at th e other end yo u were looking d o wn at the Selme b<1ttles hip <1g<1in. It was a ve ry tri cky probl em ; I' m not sure it was worth it . Q : You 'vc used th e same bas ic technique since, as w he n the came ra seems to do a l BO-degrce tilt. In MOUSE WRECKERS , when C l a ud ~ is b~ in g pullt.>d throug h the drainp ipe, you mu s t have drawn the d rainpipe so that it bulged o ut in th e m iddle and ta pered off <1t e ither e nd , to allow fo r the pe rs pe cti vl.' -change durin g the camera movement.

fo liage, w hich serve <1S the backgro und for the nex t s hot. In rL' gard to techni cal facil ities at Warn e r Brothe rs, did you ha ve a mu ltiplan e ca me ra, or anything like it? A: No. we fah'd it a lo t but WL' never hOld an y s uc h th in g. I don ' t th ink an y studio d id except Dis ney'S. Q : So met imes, th e Warners cMtoons have at least fit'o laY l>rs, mov ing in pers pecti ve durin g a shot. A: We ll , WL' could du thelt a ll right. Johnny Burto n, w ho was in charge of produ cti u n, was pretty damn good at man euver ing thin gs around to get a th rec-di m cnsio n<ll effl'c t, but all three layers wo uld actually be o n the sa111C level as we were photog r'lph ing them. He W<l S very cl eve r at wo rking o ut the s peed at wh ich foreground m<lterial should go, in re lation to a secon d laver. I've u sed <l S ma ny a s three laye rs to .; chieve certain ef-

feets. Also, one o f the rea so ns vou ' d use <l foreg ro und object, if yo u wL' rL';l ' t cutting in the middl e o f a pan shot, is th<lt your backg ro und draw ings would ha ve to repeat - ot herwi se, the y' d be on a mile - lo ng s heet of paper. So yo u'd ha ve to use a telepho n t.' pole to cover up the break between th e firs t backgro und and the duplicat e fie ld . But finall y, with the " Road runners," sa y, th is type uf pt' rs pect ive

desert land scape background s were flat tened o ut , more Japanese. Don idd G raham , the dean of a ll art teachers for c,utoon ists, always sa id that cartoo ns \\It.'rL' un ique in the way they established s pace by movement. And he sa id thatl he " Roadnlllnl' r" series was the on lv case that ht.' knew in wh ich a fo rm move~i in " pure" s pace , w he re the s pace was ach ieved t'lltirely by the form movi ng it. Q : That' sce rtainl yevid ent when yo u get thost' overhead - viewpoint s of th e Coyott.' fallin g off a cl iff. He fa lls s tra igh taway from the camera , isolated aga in st a completel y blnnk ba ckg ro und , diminishing, the n d iscl ppearing fo r <l tim e unl il- poof! - he' s bee n re d uce d to cl puff of du s t on the g round ~ I ow. Are there an y a nteced ent s 10 that ? In SU P E R RA BIJI T [1943], Ru gs Bunn y is fl ying <l long and is about to "recharge h is bJtlL'ril.'S," but t hen accidentall y loses a ll his fortified , super-vit amized carrots, an d hL' falls to I;'art h at that point-a beau tifu ll v an imatl.'Ci fall. In stvleand cnmera an g l ~ , it s eem s to ant ic ipat e the Covo te's la ter falls. f\ : T ha i was a nim ated by Ken Harris, a nd il was vc ry simil,]f to a ll the Coyote's later filil s. Ke n cldded th<lt " loose-l imbed " feeling to thL' act ion. Q : In one GISL' yo u used the same backg rou nd in two C(l rtoo ns: the " Electric Eye"

} \ The g.lmut·runnlng of bulldog 'vlark

Anro m ' ~

faci.l l express ions when confronted with the kitt('n in FEED THE

A: Yeah , that 's exa ctlv what we did . We u sed it befo rt.' in an ea'r! v " S niffles" cartoon . In fJ ct, that 's one ~ f few trick s we o rig inatt.' d that Dis ney took from us- n.!member the pers pective trick w hen the J ll iga tor comes s lithering do w n th.lt pole in "Da n ce of the H ours" [from FANT/\S IA I? Anyway, John McG rew was a g reat s tudent of fil m techniq ues. And odd ly e no u g h , mu ch of the s taging in CO.'-iRAD r il E ~ ,\ILOR was taken fr om Eise ns te in 's writi ng. It· had m ostly to d o with matc hed d issolves, wit h the relation of one sho t to the nex t- so that one scene, formally, might be e,adly the sa me as the pr('v io us one, evcn thou g h the s u bjec t would change. Q : Yuu h,lVl' a tran silion like that in HOLD THE LION , PI I A<;E [1941], one of vou r earliest Bugs cartoon<;, w here this ~\'eakling !>ch nook of a lion is claiming h is sta tus as " King o f Beasts, " and all the other an imals in the jung le a re laughing at him. T he laughi ng ,1I1i!ll<1 1 fa ces in thc first com positio n di ssolve into s hrubs, flower s, and 28

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KITIV 11951. ).

didn' t seem to co unt. We dropped it. since it jus t d idn ' t Scem ne ce ssary. The pan s were so d a mned fa s t thai the audience could n~v e r loo k a t them too closely; other times, yo u'd get your speed and perspecti ve e ffe cts jus t by having a diminishin g body in s pa ce. Yo u see, if we couldn't achieve the id ea of inte nse s pecd through th e character d rawings, th e re didn't seem to bl..' much point in using added mechani cal mean s. Q: In the I,l ter cclrtoon s, you seem to use com pl e te ly " s lanted-over" backgrou nd s to ,lccent the speed o f the character. A: Well, that was Ma urice Noble's idea . And he'd always t,""I ke this o pportunity to lise a lot of int e resti ng s hapes- abs tract curves a nd things of this sort , w hi ch gave<l so rt of eIL-pth fee lin g to it. But for the most part. we were trying to avoid forced or Italian pe rs~cti ve, ..."h ich you'd establi sh by havi ng th e vario us buttes get prog ressively s ma lle r into the background. Except for th e road itself, we used a lmos t none o f th is forced pe rspe cti ve . Th e butte s a nd

that was in both DUC K DODGERS IN THE 24 1/1 CENTURY [1953J and ROC KET SQUAD [19561A: Yes, that giant mechan ical bloodshot eyeball sus pended from the ceiling . I liked the shape of it, a nd it went so fa st that I thoug ht it wo uld be fun to use it aga in . It was de s ig n ed by Ma uri ce No ble. He created most uf thl' space -age ga d getry fo r tho se film s. Mauri ce a lsu inven ted that ROC KET SlJU AD " Ev<t!X' rator": the character would s te p int o a we ird test-tube g lass con traptio n and ZA P! disappear and remateri ali zt, so mew here else . In t hat casc , Maurice wurked ahead of m e on the story and orig inat ed that contraption . Q: Thrrc is a lways a ve ry marked contras t between foregro und and backgro und in yo ur car toons. Wo ul d you say that yo u 5<1y that yo u genera lly gave more leeway to yo ur backg ro und artis ts than oth er directors might ? A: Yea h , , did -yo u see, what I did was to draft a ve ry ro ug h plan, just to sho w the layo ut man w hat I wa nted. Now, if I put in a d oo rway, say, a ll I wa nted was room for


the chamc ter to exit; I did n't care w ha t the doorwa y looked like , be yo n d th at. laurice wo ul d lake nl\' lavouts-lel 's Stl V tht'r\."d lx· ten layo uts for '·h ...• scene- Iht';' he'd rnakc a sort of l1I;s(' - m -s((.,/c that dc(int.·s th l' li mits o f thc ChM.1CIt.'f actio n . H e'd find th e lay out th at goes the furthest to th e rig ht , th e O Il L' tha t ~OL'S the fu rt h l'S t

to the Idt , the d('('pcst one, the dosC'S t one, ;lI1 d gClll' f il lly

p la n lll.·d where 11105 1 of t h l'

.. ( lio n wo ul d h .w\.' to f.1 11. Il c'd take a ll thl.'st..' separa te la yo uts illld put th(,111 all in

o lle dr<1wi ng, ilnd th en dl'sign the backwo und aro und il . H e'd al so !<'Ike i n to COIl sideral io n \Vhn! wa s happen ing in Ihl..' sto ry- which very few b,lCkgro u nd men ever d l) , C L'n t.' ra ll y spL'<l k in"" thl.' fo rL'groun d c h ar3clt'rs wt'rt' a ll m in I.:', bu t Ma uri ct' wou ld a ls o often de s ig n ba c kg ro un d c hara ctl.:' rs w hic h were v is u ally vL'ry s tro ng , like those B.uoq u e- looking Fre nc h bys ta nders in th e lak'r Pepe Ie Pew cartoons, l OW, in t h l.' " Roadrun n er" s L' riL's, Wl.' a lmos t nl.'Vl.:'r u sed color fo r e m p has is, Bu t in a m orL' oVL'rtly l.'xperil1lL'nta l p ic ture likt' FRO""I 1\ TO LZZZ 1'19541. WI.:' h ad J scent,' in a boxing ring, WI.:' fl ashed to a comp lt'te ly red bac kgrou n d at t h e p un c h , which th en qu ick ly diminis h ed , T he re was J lot of h ig h co n tras t s tuff in th at Cilrtoon , Bu t the mos t o u tsta n,d ing exa mple of Mauricc's ache iv-

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:I1ICROCOSM M AC ROCOS :I1 - JO:>lES' SENSE OF M IN IATU RI ZATION

Q : I love the 1l10 nUIl1L' nt .ll prdudL' ~)f CAVE:"IAN INK I (1 950), your I<l s t car tuun

d ng in thL' co u nt ry. r\ lot of d irL'L'tun. IM Vt,' u Sl, d SilL' ddnrm.ltion , but diffL'rL' l1tl v, ( lampL'lt '" tin~' ( hM.KIL' I':-- ML' nftL'n d~'­ s ig ned to ('llIWL'Y "m,lll n L':-':-- .lnd CUIL'IlL'SS, with hL',l d " .l nd ru mps len g L' in propo rtion In thL' rL':;t of the ir hndiL'~, S im il .lrly, ",1lL'1l AVL'ry m.lgnifiL's h is Ch.u.l ( lL'r'" in KI:\'C; -"" E CA:\' ,\IO' 119-l71. thL' ir ~h <IPL':-­ e h.lngL' to L\ Hl\'L'Y l .lrg L'IlL,~ - thL'ir " tn11l ,Kh s di ... lL'nd grn tL' sqlld~ ' lHlt {If pnlpor tinn . But \\' h L'1l "Uti ~ hrink llr L'nl,lTgc .1 e h.1 r.lCiL'r, t hL'if .11~.l t llllliL'S rd.l in t Iwir I lri~­ in,ll pnlportiol1 ~, It's Il'~~ li!...l' h i' ll o Mic.11 nig htlll .lI'L', .111d morL' lik L, ,I ...ort tlf ,Ib ... urd di :-- pl.KL'IllL'n l. Ynur p ug n .l(lLIlIS flL'.l , Ilw I'vli g h ty t\ngL'ln , look s like.l p L'r k ( tly pn>poriiOlh_'d cirnl:::' h"'-1ll .11l . ,\ : A'.l ,ort of l.lY phy , icis t, I" 'L' e1Iw<IY'" bL'L'n f.l~ciJl,lIl'd by th L' pL'("uli.lf ~wrfL'dioll of tin \' things, \VhL'!1 1 \,',1:-- .1 kid , IlwrL' \,".lS .1 gL, ,1L' r.l1 .", .., umptinn th.lt thing:-- ", hkh \\·L' re \·L'ry ..,m,111 \\'L'rL' impL'rfL' ct. L lTgL' hlltl ~l'S " 'L'fL' finL' , whilL' ,I g r.lin o f "',lnd " ..l S ll11t h in g. 13ut thL' morL' I bl'l·.l IllL' .1( 'l u.linlL'd ",ith this, b~ · fL'.ldin g S ir J.lIHl'" jL'.ln ....l nd b.l.1 C :\ S i llll)\' .lllli nlllL'r pop u l.HiLL'rs of ~e i L'lKL' , tilL' IllllTL' 1 rL\lliLL'd th at it \\,.l:.;n 't ,1 1l1.1tlL'r of pt..'rfL'\.'tioll nr im pL' rkc tion , Long ,lftL' r th.ll , I fin .lil y go t along to tilL' D~:\ molecule , rhe mos t perfL'CI thi n g ,llld tilL' tllo::, t m b undL' r..,tood thing is thL' D NA lllolL'c uk. And tlll.'ll , n n

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w ith ba ckg ro und s, an d so for th . A nd Jatl' r o n , I wo u ld find th is kin d o f thi n g very u sc'ful, in th at often it wo u ld mak!..' vo ur gag wurk, and so met imes yo u wou ldn't l've n know w h \', li ke th a t litt le <lbs tra ct backg ro und a t "'t he end of DUC K AMUCK, w ith thl.:.' s h a rply ang lL'd lines ~o in g off . Q : T h ere 's <1 s im ilM d L' s ig n in AlHSTO-C,\T 119431. where <lbs tract lin L'dr s h apL's S('rv(' <1 S <In l'~prL'ss i ul1 uf thL' c harac te r's m ood - a n almust l<llI g h <lb ly s Upto'rabundant exp ression , Th is s illy patricia n C<l t is helpless w h en h is butk'r w<llks o ut , so th e ca t gOL'S runn in g krr ifit'd thr o u g h t h e rn a n s ion , scrL'aming o u t " ML'<ldows !" in a s e ries o f t<lkL's, L',lCh u n l.' w it h a new wa ll pape r d es ign in the ba ck~ro u n d , directly re nectin g t h t.' Celt'S fel' lIIlgs. A: That was McG rew, He was d l'\.'ply in te res ted in t he e mo tional effects YO ll co uld get from those jagged red a n d w h ill' li n('s in thl.:' wallpaper. It's qu ite ja rri n ~. So, l'VL'n tho ug h w e were worki ng w ith ju s t a s illy littk ca t, we wa nted it to J P pear as tho ug h he were rea ll y in a state o f pa n ic,

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i n g mood w it h hi s ba c kg r ou n ds was WHAT'S OPERA DOC? 11957). O f all th L' peop lt' l'v L' worked w ith , Maurice wa s p robably the most influential. Maurice was a bril lian t d t'Signer, and very o ft en peo pl e give Phil Ol'C uard credit fo r d esig n , since the cred it ros ter wo u ld say "Backg ro und s by Ph il OeG lIard ," Phil was an excellen t fo llow-up ma n , cerla inly, and he's a fi ne pa inter, but hl' bea rs th e s ame rel a tio ns h ip to th e la yo u t man , in prepill'ing a p ic tu re, that a co n tractor does to an a rc h itect in con s truc ting a bu il ding , Q: W hat abou t Jo h n McGrew 's sty le and approach, as com pa red w ith Nob le's? A: Jo hn McGrew d idn' l rea ll y h ave a s ty le; h e was expe rim e n ting a ll th e ti m e. Maurice docs have a sty le, Jo hn McG rew, yo u might 5., )', was more of a n int ellectu a l. Yo u could be in te ll ec tual , and get awa y w it h it " .but if yo u ' re so lely in td lectual as a d irecto r, yo u weren' t goin g to get away w it h it , The res u lt was, however, that h~ goosed m e in to think ing th a t il m igh t be wo r th w h il e to try some differe n t th ings

w ith Inki and the My n <lh Bird . It'" c r.ll.y ho\\' the Mvnah Bird , <1 tin \' CrL'dturl.', i ~ .1 5s od.lled \\:ilh motlnte1 in~ 'crumbling, tht' e Mth s hakin g , natural c<ll <lStroph t.'s that te rrified all th e largL'r an ima ls, A: O h , thev wt.' rL'n ' t te r r ifi L' d of thl' Mv n ah Bird , b~l t th ev were te rri fied of thl' n a'turel l co nd ition t h at ilfO SL' from t hL' Mv nah Bird 's appeara n ce. T Ill.' mo un tai n s pIit rig ht in h alf, remember? EVL'ryo n l'cxPL'CtS something pretty treme n d ou s, ,l nd tht:.'n t h is li ttle t hi ng coml.:'::' out. Q : Is n 't this a r("Cu rrL'nt the me? You fn.> que n tl y s how these vio le n t con tras ts !x.'tWl.:'en \'erv SI1l<l1l cha r<l cte rs <lnd their en vironment ;, It 's vi s ib le in vo ur ea rl " TOM THUMIJ I:\, T1WU BLE 1 1940J.~ w h ic h fea turcs li tt lL' Tom takin g a bat h in hi s fathcr '~ Clipped hand s. It's al su opc ra t ive in yo ur earl y Po rky c<lrloOn S- PORKY 'S A:\'T and l'O I(KY ' ~ MIO:\,IG HT ;l.1,\T I:\'EE Ibolh 194 1] - th at co- s tar ,I n African pygm y a n t. The n in TO ITCH HI S OW:\, /1 958 ]. VL'M S lelte r, th ere's YO llr fl ea, the Mig hty Angelo, who wants to sett le d own on so m e ni ce q lliet

\ \ arnC'! IJr01he ... ln(

th L' ot h l'r hand , vo u hewt.' infinit ie s that no ont..' ca n poss ibl): unders tand e ither. So yo u begin to \\'onder if thert.' is n ' t SO Ill L~ k ind of b ig loop that hoo k", Ihem togeth er- perfL'ctio n/im pe rfec tion, s m<l ll s iLcllargL' s ize , m icroco s m /ma c roco s m, Each "o ppo s ite" is rL'all y tlw Selmt' thi ng loo ked a t from a differen t \'iew}X) in l. If I' d been .1 ph ys icis t, I would probably h ave h ooki..~d in to it ill < lllot her w.w; or if I held bee n a nove li st. I probably '\\'ould have tried to \\'rite ,>o1l1c thi ng like OB rie n's TIll' Diamolld 1.1'11 :', \\'h ic h \\,.b p reoccupicd wit h th e same idea, J did read it w hcnl was young, and it probably had somet hi n g to do w it h Ill\' la ter work , A t Ihe tim!.:.' , the idea Uf .l st~ ry like tha t seemed rid icul o us, But now we know it 's far from rid icu lous. H ORTO:\' HEA RS ,\ WHO [19711 was a good example o f ,1 microcosm Tn<l CfOCO'>111 relat io n s h ip , and it a lso co ntained t h e " p t:.'r...( III '..,-a - per ... , HI- n( 1- nMt te r-how- Sill all" idea , w hic h , 1 agree, is a lso re presented in things li ke PORKYS A:\,T. Q : It's interes ting how lo ng you've kept

FILM COMMEN T

29


CHUCK JONES CONTINUED

th is concern, <:'Ind how irn,lgl'S from your earl ier film s s pring up ag ain in the later o nes, in illtefed \\'<W5. Your earl\' black and-white JOE GLO W "H I E HREFLY [f941 J has a firefly scootin g MOllnd the face of a sleep ing cJmper, walking the part in the g u y's hair; dnd the (,1 III per's mouth , twitching in sleep, creates a major earthqut,kl' for Joe. Years later, you do this <lgain in BEA:'\IS fA LK BUNi\Y 1I955J with thc same kind of im-

mense close-ups on a human head, a s Bugs .Jnd Di1ffy <HI..' funnin g aro und the G iant Elmer FuLld 's eMS, nose, and mouth. [I '" a wL'i rd , <llmosl Sw iftiatl image. A: rhe Swif tia n connection is exactl y

right, because I remember those descrip tions of enormous pores iHld things thai Gulliver SilW, the enormOlls s ize of the hairs, and how gross it wa s whL'n hL' was o n a wom;-m's breast. Q: The humor of these change-of-scale effect s seems to be bd se d on takin g i\ character who 's tailor-m<H.lL> for largeness, who se ve ry drdwin g s ty le and body-s tructure s ugge sts largeness, J nd sh rinking it- lik e the tiny bulld og in yo ur late "Tom and jerrY" Gutoon THE CAT'S ME -OUCl-I l"1965j, Whl; had those wild f1as h-

in g keth that tme through ,}II th e other ch,lr,lCters . A: Ye,lh , thilt little piranha dog! He WilS really a shrunkL'n vers ion o f the big bulldog, MMC Antony. Q: Or, mos t especidlly, yo ur min iature elephant who " terrorizes a large metropOl is" in I'V\C H T RU :\,K [-1954]. A: That hild to lw ,1 rea l elephant; it couldn't even be c1 car toon 1'lephant. It wouldn't ha ve workL'd at all unless it WilS a real elephant. You had to establi sh it as a pe rfect min iature- and the people who see it as re.ll people-or else their respon se wuuldn'! count. If we had use d an anth ropot11mhized elephant. there wouldn't have been ,HW s hock valu e to it, and vou wo uld n' t h,1\<' hL~li(,vL>d it. Q: Not all the peoplt' who s ee the elephant are surprisL'J by it , tho u ~h. A: :...lo, but that' s the idea. Some people live with bntasy every day of their lives. The drunk, you remember, staggers out, sees the eleph ant, and takes it calmly- jllst 30

JAN. -FEB . 19 75

looks at his watch and say s, "You're late!" The little girl who lives in the penthouse accepts it as a new toy, while the people who trade on "sanity"-such as the parents of the little g irl or, later on, the psychiatrist-are te rrified. Q: Tech ni cally, the moVenlents of the elephant are so fluid. It 's as if you were using the same number of drawings thilt you would if yo u were animat ing a l<1rge elephant. A: Yes- in fact, I wo uld say we used /IIore drawings . We used a real elephant cry on the so undtrack, too. The same thing, in a different area, is the bull in BU LLY FOR BUGS. The bull had to be believable as a bull: he had to present the same terror and probab il ity of in jury to Bugs as h e \.-"ould to you. A nd that' s why I showed that first man facing the bull , the Juan Belmonte caricature, before Bugs even go t into the story- if he's afraid of the bull, well, poor Bugs. But that 's the trick , I think , if you 're going to do mi niaturization: you've got to make your audience really bel ieve that s uch a thing is poss ible. Of course if yo u'd ask Eddie Seltzer, our producer, he'd say , "You shou ld use fewer drawi.ngs for a god dam little elephan t! " Q: The same thing seems to work, in re-

Disney seems to bea simultaneou s ins piril tion and exasperation. A: Well , I know I exasperated him a lot. Yo u see, the THREE LITTLE PIGS established the w hole ide<l o f characler an imation. Before Ihal, there wasn'l s lIch a thing . The ca rtoon wilh the g ra ss hopper and the <lnt, and others tht'v did in the Thirties were tht' progenitors o( the whole idea of character animation. And Bugs Bunny, of course, is fina ll y the o ffs prin g of Max Hare from Dis nc,, 's TORTOISE AJ,D THE HARE - that was tl{e first pure speed cartfX)Jl as well. Q: It ce rtainly seemed to influen ce you a great deal. A: And it' s still pretty hard to beat. And BAND CO!\'CERT [1935J WilS s uperb , but it wasn 't as quite as strong a development as THREE LITrL E PIGS . The three pigs looked alike , but had completely d ifferent personalities . YOll might say that they werl' the beg innings of the Seven Dwarfs, who all looked s imilar but all had different personalitit's. Q: THE BA'\IO CONCERT expresses character conflict in term s of mu sical confl ict in the same way thilt yo ur LONG- HAIRED HAI{E [1948[ docs . Donald plays "Turkey in the Stra\\I' on his fifl', inkrfL>rin g with Mi ckey, who's tryin g to conduct the

verse, with that little puppy yo u h<ld in TE RRI ER STRICKEN and NO BA RKING [1954J, His motions and anatomy are tailor-made to convey s mallness and frisk in ess. And yet, with the same type of funny perverseness, you took lllat characte r, in the 3-D cartoon LUMBERJAC K BUNNY l1955J, and made him into a g iant-castin g him a s Pilul Bunyiln 's dog . A: Right, hi s movement s a re fri s ky. When yo u look at a puppy, at the time he first sto ps being an infan t and becomes what yo u'd call an adolescent puppy, well, his movements are very quick. They s tand there posed , read y for action , looking at you and trying to provoke yo u- so their movement s are very c1eancut and sharp.

Willinlll Tell Overturt'. You have Bu g s Bunn y s trumming il banjo, <lna-beltin g " What Do They Do on a Ra in y Night in Rio?," wh ile yo ur opera-singer, Giovann i Jones, is trying to sing an aria. A: I don 't know if there wa s any conscio us relation to the Disney picture, but in general you'd have to say th at in term s o f tht:' tool s s uppl ied to those w ho followed h im, Disney was to animation what Griffith was to li ve action . Almost all the tool s were di scove red at Disney's; they were the only ones who had the money, and who could and did take the time to ex peri ment. Donald Gra ham gave lectures to future animators at Disney 's. The re was one on di s tant act ion and one on se condary action-secondary action be in g those instan ces when a cha ra cter comes to a s udden s top and hi s hair move s out on it s own, wit hout the vol ition of the character. A primary action is when you move yo ur head , and a secondary action is what happens to yo ur ha irset.

DISN EY

Q : I' d like to talk ilbout your at titud e toward Di s ney. No t only t h e pers on of course , but all the association s one has with the Dis ney name. In your cartoons,


Q: That 's certain tv ve rv ev id en t in FA NT,\SlA .

A: In "The So rc~ro r 's Apprentice" sequence th ere was a tre mend ous amou nt of secondary acti on because Mickey was fitted in s uch a big cos tum e that when he stopped the s uit wo utd s wirt arou nd him. Of co urse, I used this a lot in th e " Roadrunn er" se ries as tilt' bird s tops and th e dus t continu es to go by. Q : Despite th e obvio us influ en ces that Disney has had on yo ur cartoons, many of them seem to satires or parod ies of Disney. A: Rig ht. We ll , Disn ey himse lf never went in for satire. I do n" think he und erstood it vcry well. WHAT'S O PERA, DOC? can be looked upon as il satire o f FA NT AS IA. I never made-a cartoon wh ich didn 't con tain some flick-o f-tlw- wris t at the es tablishment of the day; the Disney people seldom did that , of co urse . Q : BROO ....路l !)T 1C K RUN;\, Y (1956 ] changes the concept into who's th e uglies t oneof all instead of who' s th e faires t ont:.' of all, ilia SNOW WUrI!:. .

A: The witch in

BROO M ST ICK nUN NY

was

so a fra id of getting pretty, and she tried to get rid of Bug's ugli ness. Q: It has a g rctlt deill of abs tTact variatio n on Bugs' lIs lItl l charac ter sha pe. A I th e end

find it very difficult to select /Ill' color that will be of any use to yo u. But if you take arbitrarily, say, yellow or g reen or a particular shad e o f blue, yo u can paint a pretty good picture-beca use the fact of painting a picture depend s more on you and not so much on the tools ava ilable. You can paint a very good picture uf a g reen mt'.1dow without any green paint. You might s ubstitute white fo r green and then s urround it with brown, using colors very sparin gly. It will s till look s pring li ke . Everyone I've ever respected alway s used restricted tool s. The g rea tes t comedians were the ones who wore th e sim ples t costumes tlnd worked in p rescribed areas-such as Chaplin . So it just became ev id e nt after a while that th e na rrov",er th e di sc iplin e in the "Roadrunn e r" series- for ins tance, that th ere was no dialog ue, that the Roadrunner wouldn ' t hurt th e Coyote, and that th e Coyo te wo u ld be victimi zed b y hi s own ineptitude-the better it got. Q: Co uld yo u co mpare the " Ro.:1d runner" series with the "Tom and Jerry" series which yo u took over in 1964? They seem sin1il ar eno ugh that there might be some overlap in concept. A: I wasn' t really at home with the Tom

M in iaturization . from left : JOE GLOW Tl'tE FIREFLY (1941); PORKY'S M ID N IG HT M ATINEE ( 1941); Mighty Angelo. the pugnacious flea in 10 ITCH HIS OINN (1956); Ougs wilh Frisky Puppy in LUMBERJACK BUNNY (1955); the Mighty Angelo, HORTON HEARS A WHO (1971l

he looks like a stick \..,ith tI head s tuck on top , and th e head is almus t nothing but eyes as Bugs make s with that ultimat e pathetic exp ression. A: My characters o ften used the exagge rated " so ul ful eyes" w ith th e gooey , overs ized cente rs-th e "o ld soulful eyes routine"-to get themselves o ut of a jam. I think I first used that in a "C harlie Dog" car toon, UTILE O RI'HA N AIREDALE f1947) . T HE " ROADRUNNER" SERIES; " WOLF AND SHEEPDOG" SERIES; JONES' " TOM AND JERRY" Q : I' d like to talk abo ut the rules and di sciplines yo u applil-'d to individual series. You sa id in Psychology Today that the more rules yo u applied to the " Road ru nne r" series, fo r ins tan ce. the funnier the fi lms were. A: Well, if yo u sit down to paint a picture. and yo u spread out on a table every color you ca n buy in a paint store, yo u' ll

and Jerry characters. Hanna -Barbara han dled those characters bea uti fully , much better than I d id. Jerry was a much more charming charac ter in their best cartoons than I co uld ever make him, s imply because I co uld never und ersta nd hi m. And I co uldn' t reall y draw Tom very well; I had to tum him into a different cat really. So I p urposely sa id, 'The hell with him ." And I tried to keep Je rry att ractive personally , mo re like the Roadrunner, in that he never reall y hurt Tom in m y ve rs io n . Bill a nd Joe's Jerry would so metimes cut Tom into slices. It became sort of half-assed with my Tom becoming a co mbination of th e Coyote and the original Tom. It's difficult to work with so meo ne else's characters. Q: You' ve used th e same Coyote character in many different ways-which way do yo u think he ope rates best? A: Th e Coyote rea ll y represents three different characters: he's one character in the "Wolf and Sheepdog" se ries ... Q: His name's Ralph , Ralph Wolf, and

as he and the sheepdog pass each o ther o n the way to work, they punch in together at the timeclock. A: And the y say, " Hello, Ralph ," " Hello, Sa m ." So in the " Sheepdog" series he's one character, when he's working with Bugs he's a completely different character, and when he's working with the Roadrunner he's a completely d ifferent characte r. He looks the sa me, I admit. I don 't know, I liked the sha pe o f him. It's like the same actor playing three d ifferent parts in live-action films. Q: Of co urse, there are elem ents of perso nalit y that ove rlap from o ne series to another. The Coyote who wo rks w it h Bugs Bunn y is different because he has a voice and dial og ue, but he 's like the Coyote who chases th e Roadrunner in his obsession vvith hi s ow n ma chin at io n s. In O P E RATIO N: RABBIT [1954], th e COyotl' draws up va rious inventions a t a drafts man's table- " Plan One: Pressure Cooker; Plan Two: E>..plosive Decoy; Plan Three: Flying Sa uce r." He's obv io us ly hun g up wit h him se lf in a s mug, se lfcongra tul atory kind of way. A: The las t scene in that was one of my all-timt! favorite gags. The Coyote is in th e munit ions s hed , fi lli ng up Bugs's carrots with nitroglycerin, complim enting himsel r on his id etl, whil e behin d him , thro ugh the windo w in the btlckground, yo u see the train co ming tu wa rd him . But th e Coyote d oesn' t pay tin y a tten ti o n; he jus t continue s screw ing th e ca rro t-top s ba ck in p lace. and think s he '~ so smart, saying to h imself, ''' Wil e E. Coyote: S uper-Genius: I like the wa y tll tlt roll s o ut - ' Wil e E. Coyote: S uper-Geniu s.'" This Coyo te's a type of very shabby egotis t, beca use he ha s th at exaggera ted self-confid ence that h e refu ses to lose. Q: But isn' t this trait crm; ed over from th e Coyote in the " Road runner" series, that sa me love for his own schemes tlnd d evices? A: Oh ye ah , but th e whole thin g is changed . In the film s with th e Coyote and the I~oad runn er , the e nti re si tu a tion is more d es pe rat e. Th e Coyote here is n 't merely an egotis t; he's almost }XJssessed, he's a fanatic. And now I realize, it was o nl y in th e earlier cartoon s thtlt I mad e

C>

1975 W"rncr Brothers. Inc.

The bull in BUllY fOR BUGS (19531

FILM COMMENT

31


CHUCK JONES CONTINUED

m uch o f a point abo ut the Coyote wanti ng to eat the Roadrunner. Later o n, even that didn't seem to matter a ny more, and th e Coyote's motiva ti on becan1e eve n mo re ge ne ralized: all h e wa nt ed to do was gl'f him, or some thin g, beca u se his dig nit y was shot. Q: And even tua ll y, in the la st o f the series, even the Roadnmner bird hi mself see ms supe rflu ous to the se ries. For exam-

ple, he hardly makes a n appea rance in TO [19M}, as the Coyo te s pe nd s more than half of the film trying to operate o ne sin gle ca tapult , an ins trum ent wh ich was o rig ina ll y intel/ded to get the bird . A: Right- the cata pult itself achieves a so rt o f perverse ness, a personality o f it s BEEP OR NOT TO BEEP

ow n .

Q : There's a ge nera l difference betwee n the "spot-gag" cartoo ns and the narrative cartoons. A: Th e difference is in the relat io nship of tim ing, pac in g, and hittin g the p roper length for the film witho ut go ing over the bud get. If il s po t-gag film was too long, yo u co uld jus t lift o ut a gag and save if for the next film. Q : But th e " Roadrunner" fi lms, thoug h s po t-gag fi lm s, arc d e finitt' ly structllrÂŤ!d works. They don ' t ha ve a narrative s tructure, but they' re far more than stri.ngs o f unrelated gags. A: I evo lved a kind of rhythm to th em, wh ich so metimes had to do with planting

a gag w hi ch reappear in a " poster ending"-in ZOOM AND BO RED, for exa mpl e. I' d h ave thre e or fou r of th e Roa drunner's ne rve-w rackin g " beepbeeps" at the openin g, in rapid s uccession to prepa re the audience for more . But by the end o f the film the Coyote, poo r bastard , was so shaken that I didn' t have the heart to let the Roadnlllner se nd h im off the cliff. So when th e Road runner comes up behind the Coyo le, he holds up a sig n saying " I DO N' T HA VE TH E H EA RT. " Then so metim es, in o th er Roadrunn e r films, I' d use a differen t kind of ru nning gag, a cumulati ve gag, like the d ynam ite cartoo n .. Q : You mean L1C KETI' SPLAT [l % "IJ? That o ne has the Coyo te in a ba lloon, to\vard the beginning, unloosing these h undred s o f nying dart-shaped d ynamit e s ticks. A: Yea h, then at th e end o f every scene that fo llowed afterwa rd , one o f th e li tt le darts, left over from th is first gag, wo uld come in and explode. Or so metim es I'd go through a number o f very s imple vis ual jokes, fas t-like, saving a very long gag fo r the end, like when the Coyo te swa llo ws the Ear th quak e Pill s in H O P ALONG CASUALTY. But th ere is a s tructu re. It isn' t, as it may appear in the begin ning , a series o f spo t-gags wit hout re lation s hi p to one ano the r. I' d a lte rnate, say, a gag w h ich wo uld let the a udience in on w hat was going to happen, where the s urprise might be in how it wo uld happen, with a sce ne that wo uld ge t a laug h from somethin g

\~a~

\ Soulfvl eyes Routine

(:for$etti~

adopted)

32

JAN.- FEB . 1975

tha t the audience co uldn ' t ha ve the remotest idea would happen. Q: Explosio ns seem to be very im portant to yo u. There is a use o f explos ions in your work, more so than in the wo rk of o ther anima tors, that releases a lot of the tension which results fro m th e extreme pacing. A: That's probably true-I go t to a point whe re I need ed so methin g to release all this tension . But also, to me, an ex plos io n is best used not as a dramatic device in it self but as a po int o r an idea in th e comic seq ue n ce. A n example is th e cartoon w here the Coyo te bu ilt a fantas tic, long trough u p the sid e o f th e mo unta in [ZOOM ,\ND BO RED]. You didn' t know wh at he wa s going to do with it , but the camera pann ed up and you sawa ll the 'Nork he put into it and how de lica te ly the tro ug h wa s ba lanced o n th e roc ks. By the time the ca mera fi na lly go llo Ih e top and th e Coyo le Iii the fuse to the dynam it e, it wasn ' t eve n p roper to let the fuse burn d ow n. The second the Coyo te lit the ma tch, the whole thing exploded. BOOM!! Immediately. The humo r is 110t in the explosion at all, but in th e fact that the guy obv iously worked for ho urs and hours and weeks and \veeks o n the dam n tro ugh . A.c. Ca mer, \vho did so me o f the best s pecial e ffects we had , concocted a big, beau tif ul exp lOS io n wi th curli cues and s tars s p layi ng o u t. It was a marve lo us th ing, an d it was based on a di scovery we mad e aro und th e time o f DRAFT H ORSE: that the re were mechanics to an explos ion \ve

hadn ' t kn ow about. Before, we always s upposed that an exp losion wo uld go o ut fast, so we'd make a small drawing, and then a bigger one, and then a bigger one, taking maybe three frames to s pread o ut. Well, when yo u thi nk abo ut it, you realize th at it could n' t co nceivab ly be th at way, beca use eac h fram e wa s o ne- twen tyfo urth o f a se cond . Th is mea nt th a t it wo uld take three- twenty-fo urths of a second to get the full effect, which wa s far too mu ch tim e. So, by stud y in g so me liveactio n expl osio ns, we discovered that th e brightest fram e was the very firs t one. That beca me ev ident to everyo ne la te r, of course, with the d ocum entary foo tage on atom ic bomb exp los ion s, which actua lly wen t all white at first , and the n fad ed d ow n a little bit until yo u began to see the m ushroom. So what we would d o was to


take the explosion to its furthes t poin I at the first fram e, and then take a few frames to diminish . I later app lied that principle to more minor, less violent actions: if so me· o ne s im ply got socked in th e jaw, the most extreme drawing would be the first o ne, and the n we'd dimini sh it. Q: I'd like to know more about the less known but very remarkable "Wolf and Sheepdog" series. A: I ga l the idea for that series at about the sa me time I made a one·shot filrn with Mike Maltese ca lled GO FLY A K I T [1957]. There were these la rge·sca le arg um ents going on, as to wh ich was the more irnpo r· tan t co ndition ing factor: enviro nm en t or hered ity. Well, I would guess that bot h o f them are important , an d nobody rea ll y knows. But it got to the point where it was so idiotic- the yo ung people were rearing their children e ither with all environment or all heredity in mind. I ft'i l that, OK, it 's abs urd, so let's make it really absurd a nd go on the suppositio n that .:\11 adopted ca t raised by an eagle would obvio us ly be able to fly. The same thing would hold true for the "Wolf and Sheepdog" se ri es, I tho ug ht . Jus t as human beings go to wo rk, punch their cards down and become at that poin t, say, bus drivers- a bus driver isn't a bus driver on his way to wo rk, he's o nly a bus driver th en he gets in the bu s. And I tho ug ht , if th at's tru e o f hu man bein gs, why ca n' t it be tru e of an imals? A s nake isn't a snake u ntil he goes and punches in

c 197'i Wd'''''''

thing . Alt ho ugh in th is case, yo u have o ne person with the object of protecting the sheep and thi s is the majo r difference in the series. Yo u have the Wolf who wa nts to gather up the s heep, and the S heepdog w ho wan ts to keep the s heep together. This isq uitea different things from pro tect· ing yo urself, which is th e concept that the " Roadrunn er" series d ea lt with . To me, it's a mo re sym pathet ic s ituation, and therefo re the means of protectio n cou ld be a lit · tie more dramatic, a littl e s tronge r. And visua ll y, come to thing of it, th e Sheepd og is th e exac t oppos it e of th e Roadrun ner

be s tronger p ieces o f dramati c bus iness tha n th e re wou ld ever be in the Roadrunn er·Coyote cycle, where yo u a l· ways have plent y of ac tion, even when not hing's rea ll y happening. A lo t of my explanations are dependent 011 the s ty li stic problems that I was try ing to solve at the time. Q: I find these cartoo ns ve ry moving. They alw<lys suggl..'S ted to me a kind of du· pl icity in vo lved in jobs, an <llil.'na li o n· from·self, the nccessary co mpromi ses thilt peopJt· must make cer tain jobs-that sort of assumption of a disg uise, withi n a dis-

._ -

6.oth(',~. Inc

in the mo rning. And a wo lf a nd sheepdog co uld be very good friends, real buddies, up to the point th at they punch in , the fac· to ry w hi s tl e blows, and th ey do what they're be ing paid to do . Q: O nce yo u mentioned that the " Road· runn er" se ri es bega n as a sa tire on the usual kind o f character·co nflict in ca r· loons, the Coyo te being a purely intellec· tual and motiva ted character, while the Roadrunner bird is completely un mati· va ted, a na tural or n early su pernatural character. You have a s imilar cla ss ic dichotomy h e re , with the Wo lf a nd Sheepdog. And th en there's the fact that the Wo lf a nd S heepdog are a nt ago nis ts only afte r th e wh istle blows, wh ich seems to ind icate a sa tirization of typical ca rtoon charac ter clas hes. A: It may have been a n un derly in g

The Coyole W.lhs ,1 fly.

bird , who is very fast , while in this case the d og, w ho takes the same part, does n' t move at all. Q: He jus t appears on Ihe cut , from no· where. A: Yes, with an almost magica l q uality. Q: And in this se ries, the S heepdog ac· tively clobbers the Wolf all the time-it can get pretty severe. In STEAL WOOL [19571. for example, the Wolf is squished panc..lke·flat •1nd gets p unched in the nose, leaving his sno ut accordian·crink led. A: Maybe the fact that there was littl e ac· tio n otherwise ind ica ted that there sho ul d

gu ise, within a disguise , within a disguise. The cl imax of this occ urs in SHE EI' rN Tl-I E DEEP (1%2), where yo u pictorialized first a wolf in sheep's clothing, which turned out to be a sheepdog in wolf's clothing, which turned o ul to be a S lll..'l'P in sheepdog's cia· th ing, and so forth . A: Yt;>s, I enjoyed that. It jus t kept going forever. But th at really is always true, and in a way, I s uppose, it 's a sort of sa tire on FILM COMMENT

33


CHUCK JONES CONTI NUED

The SI'H:."elxJog.

the id ea that work ing pl-'ople ex perience a g re at differen ce bl:'lwt't:' 11 lift:' a s it is sociall y, and as it is w hen you get to work. For in s tance, if two pe ople wa lk into a

room and one sits dow n beh ind a desk , the o ne person beco lllL-'s the power , and the

oth e r pl'fson bt:.'comes the s ubject of that po\vcr. Q : Thi s relation s hi p is co rnpletel y arbitrary-a nd how mllch did they change ove r th e years? No l much , except that yo u even tua ll v added a lun ch-break fo r the warring cllaraclcrs. A: Th.ll 's rig h t. The beg inning <md the end 01 thl.:.' cMtoons rema ined th e sa m e,

but e mployce co nditions improved in the interim .

PORKY PI G Q : How do vo u St'l' Pork" in relation to the oth er charac ters? . A: Porky beg,H) as a child , and g rew up al o ng the W,lY. But to decid e w hat the dis-

ci plin es we re '.vith the Porky character is imposs ibl e. He te nd ed to change witheach se ri es he appea red in . He wa s kind o f sq uare, I suppose; but yo u always felt, in a movie lik e DU CK DODGE RS IN THE 24'12 CENTURY, th a t he ha d his ton g ue in his chee k. There was a lways so me sly awareness. Fo r in sta nce in DUCK DODGERS, Daffy is so ca ug ht up in his cr usa d e- his ass ig nment to find a s u pp ly of A ludiu lll Phosd ex, the s ha ving-cream atoill - that by the e nd , he has s ucceeded on ly in oblite rating the e ntire a lie n p la ne t and goes on to cla im the remain in g cr umblin g mo und in the na me o f E.l rth . Then we pan down to Po rky , hanging off the ed geef the thing and say in g " B-b-b-b-big deal !" Q: Mo re ofte n than not , you ' ve used Porky as s uppo rtin g- pla ye r rat her than star. He's a n "eager you ng s pa ce cadet" to Daffy's " Duck Dod gers." In the Westerns, he's even s ubtitled a "Comed y Relief ' to Daffy's " Western -ty pe Hero," with littl e absurdist labe ls resembling th e Lat in a te ca ptio ns yo u a lways use for th e Roadrun ner and Coyote. A: I tho ught Por ky was a t h is bes t as the " Fat Friar" in ROB lN HOOD DAFFY {1958]. I did hundreds of layo uts o n that- I got so in fatuated w it h that fat -assed c ha racte r. That w ho le picture I enjoyed very m uch. Q: And it 's very well des igned . You once told me tha t you knew Eugene Pallette. A: O h, yes, Pallette was a good friend of mine- he used to stay and live wit h us all the time. Of co urse we'd also see Fairba nks occasio nally, a nd the ma nnerisms of these people wou ld affect yo u, they were Stich strong pe rso nalities. I g uess that helps, unconscious ly. Ac tors li ke Fl yn n were really hold ove rs from that ea rli er era. Flynn wasn 't quit e a n original. Daffy was really parody ing Fa irbanks there , more th an Flyn n. Daffy's swas hbuckli ng poses w ere exaggeratio ns of the ,,..,ay that Fairbanks moved. His bod y had strong, dramatic actions to it . Q : Pall ctt e is very s trong ly evoked as Porky falls over lau g hing a l Daffy's buf(oo nery , o ut o f co ntrol, ,,,, ith that g reat an imation of his jell y- li ke s tomach bou nd ing, thumping up a nd down. A: And Daffy say s, d isg ustedl y, " H m ..... joll y ca n you gt.'t? " That s tomach WIlS good.

Abe Lev itow a nim ated th a t. I'd say that tha t wa s his first really goo d p iece of animation . Q : I'm very fo nd o( the horro r-show ty p e se ries w ith Pork y a nd Sy lves te r, w here the characte r co ns tmction seems to be one o f Sy lves ter 's pa ranoia versus Porky Pig's co mpla ce ncy. My favo rit e is th e seco n d, CLA WS FOR ALARM f19 551. where Sy lves te r is terrorized by these rasca ll y mice armed w ith axes, c hopp in g blocks, nooses, gu illotines, but Po rky remain s en tire ly unawa re a nd , throu g h bli ndness o r dumb lu ck, a lways e merges unharmed. A: Th e re yo u h ave a ve ry log ical Po rky- he's no t a dope, bu t he's certainly very naive in th e sense t hat he doesn' t see what's happe ning. The cat is dete rmined to pro tect him , and victimizes himsel f in the process. You mig ht say that thi s is a variatio n o( the "sing ing frog" situation , in that w hateve r happen s, there's no ev idence o ( it. This one guy had the privil ege, or the cu rse, of seeing the sing ing frog, but whe n other people looked at it , it s to pped do ing its so ng-a nd-dance. In CLAWS FOR ALAR M-as well as in the first in thi s se ri e s, SCA REDY CAT [1948 1- th is poo r ca t is tryin g to save Porky's life all the time, but he a lways appears to be ta king Po rky' s life, poor deviL The lig ht s go o n , and th ere's Sylveste r, caught in the mid s t o f a pro tective act, but seem ing to be th e g ui lty pa rty, ho ldin g th e kn ife or razor b lad e to Porky's throat , w hile th e g uilty m ice a re hidd en some\v here. Some how the funn iest thing is th at Po rk y is n ' t eve n a larm e d b y t h is - he doesn' t be lieve Sy lves te r has the co urage to d o it. H e sees Sy lve s te r hold in g th e razor, b ut he d oesn' t rea ll y take it se rio us ly. He just says, " You psychopathica l pussyca-you psychopa-yo u psyc hopa -yo u mani c-de press ive ca t, you." Porky's vo ice a lways drops at th e e nd , I don 't know w hy, so w he n you say "yo u cat, yo u," tha t littl e "yo u" at the e nd drops down about three notes. Q: In JUMP IN ' JUPITER, the last of the series, Porky and Sylvester are threatened by a fan tastic Martian: a Dr. Suess-like bird, consisting entirely of smooth, curved lines. There's another Martian, in DUCI< DODGERS, with a

â&#x20AC;˘

Robin Hood Daffy and Porky, the "Fat Friar," in ROBIN \,---=~.t~",,~,,:,,~'DAFFY (1958), by Chuck Jones.

Pepe le Pew and his inamorata, by Chuck Jones.


Ro man Legion- type helmet, tennis shoes, a nd jus t a black circle for a head-no fada l fea tures a t all except two large ova l eyes. A: Tha t was o ne of the firs t times I di scovered yo u co uld get o n easily e no ug h witho ut mo uth actio n . You ca n co nvin ce peo ple tha t the little Ma rtia n is s peaking s impl y th ro ug h the way h e moves, and w ith th a t fun ny, meek Ric ha rd H ay dn kin d of voice- innocent, ha rml ess, a nd say ing things like ''I'm going to blow up th e Ear th , as it obs tr u cts my view o f Ven us." Q: It was a Po rky ca rtoon that int rodu ced Cha rlie Dog, tha t very aggressive mutt "vho feels that he ha s to in g ratiat e himself to a ma ste r. lie continually find s un w illin g ma ste rs , b ut kee p s go in g to great le ngths to find a ho me. In one cartoo n, DOGGONE SOlTTH [1950)' ht, tries to befrie nd a p la ntation owne r an d so ad opts a So uth e rn accent, ea ts c hitt e rlings a nd co rn pone, the w hole wo rks. In UTILE ORPH AN AIRE DALE , he ac tua ll y fakes pregnancy to win over a mas te r, even tho ugh th e d og's nam e is Charlie. A: Ri g ht. Po rky find s a lit th e d og is male, th rows him out, the n Cha rlie pops rig ht in aga in to tes ti fy: " Well, th ere was s llc h a case in Venezuela." I loved tha t line. The n th ere's the o ne th .. t ta kes pl ace in It aly, w he re C ha rli e tries to break into a pi zza pa rl o r , trump in g up a n Itali an dialect. Yes, I ahvays liked that d og, that eager d og. He's kind o f a chall vinis t dog, o r a sa les miln dog- alwilYs tryi ng to bell himself, advertise himsel f. Bu t tha t's really w ha t dogs are. They' ll butte r yo u u p, lick yo ur (ou (, d ie 0 11 yu u r grewe. PEPE lE PEW Q : What wo uld yo u say the basic disciplin e is in the Pe pe Lc Pew series? A: That was miscege natio n , obvio usly. After all , w h.. I's a mule but a hun k of miscegena tio n ? This is involuntary rn iscegena tion, wh ich is a sligh tly d iffe ren t thing. Pepe tho ught the g irl was a fe male sk unk w hil e in rea lit y she was a fema le cat, a nd she co uld never u nd ers tand why s he w .. s being followed, yo u see. I mea n, fro m he r vie wpo in t, it was miscege na ti o n , w hil e fro m his viewpoint, it certainl y wasn' t.

The o ther thing is tha t Pe pe always re presen ted the o ther sid e o f my pe rsonality, beca use h e re presented w ha t I wan ted to be, a nd w ha t I think every ma n wo uld like to be: irresis tibl e, a t least in o ne's ow n eyes. Yo u d on' t have to be irres ist bl e in women 's eyes if you think yo u arc. As for Pepe, he got ple nty, yo u might say. But it nt' ver occ u rre d to him th a t h e h .. d o ffe nd ed anyo n e. H e was n eve r faze d , unde r a ny circum stances. In the fi rst cartoon [FOR SCENT-1M ENTAL REASONS, 1949], the re was a pan to mime seq ue nce w he re the girl is hiding insid e a glass case a nd Pe pe is o utside, a nd s he is say ing [imitates female ca t's pa nt omime of disg us t, ho lding hand to nose la nd he goes [imita tes Pe pe's so undless, s hockedJu pset reactio n]. So he puJls o ut a g un a nd walks o ff, the cat quickly running o ut , feeling bad abo ut th is presumable s uid d e. It turns out th at Pepe is completely all rig ht, o f course, wasn' t the s lig htest bit d e terred . He just ta kes the g irl in hi s arms aga in , say in g " Fortunately fo r you, I 111eesed ." It's that comple te self-ass ura nce. With the Coyote o f the " Roadrunne r" series, I und ers tood him beca use he mad e so ma ny mecha nical mis takes, w hich is n a tural for a nybod y, pa rticularly fo r me. But Pe pe was the s u per cha racte r, a s uper sex-job, a nd he knew it. And he never gave up. Q: Whe re d o you suppose the a ud ie nce identifica tio n goes in those ca rtoons? Towa rd Pepe or toward the fe male ca t? A: I've neve r been able to discover that, because all the girl s I've eve r kn ow n ad ore th e Pe pe cha racte r as a sex-ob jec t, you mig ht say-he was really irresistible. O ne o f my favo rites was WI LD OVER YOU [1953), because there Pepe's mis taken d esire was this e no rmo us wild cat, a nd th e s itu a tio n furni s h ed so me goo d re ma rks-" Acres and acres of he r, a nd she's min e, all min e." I liked the e nd -lin e. The \vild ca t is fe rocio usly fighting Pe pe off in a ba ll oo n fl oa ting away into th e d ista nce, a nd s he's cl aw in g th e he ll o ut o f him. Yo u can't quit e tell w hat was going on, jus t a big mess, a big brawl in the d ista nce, a nd the n wecut back toa close- up of Pe pc, looking up al the viewer and 5<lying, "Eer,Yo u haff not tried eet, do no t knock eel.

Q : At times, Pepe Le Pew is p retty overt, as fa r as sex goes. A: Well , he's overt , bu t tha t's a n ho nest love for a woma n ... 1 ca n't see a ny thing w ro ng with that. Q : So me thing o ne ca n res pect, something o ne can understa nd . A: Tha t's v..,hat I tho ug ht, a nyway. The e ntire ca t-mo use ca rtoo n cycl e, th e chase cycle, might be ca lled "oral" today. But in those days , it was a ma tt e r of ea ti ng so mebody, li ke a cat ea ting a mo use. No urish men t. S ustenance. Surv iva l. Today, if yo u say th a t a c harac te r is go in g to cat somebod y-well , it has a differen t mea nin g. But th e sk unk Pe pe wa s uniq ue in chase cartoon s of the period in the sense tha t he was aft e r the ca t, well , to screw h er, I sup pose. He 5<l YS, "S he thee nks by playing ha rd- Io-get she ca n make herself more a ttractive to me-how right ::IIe e('Z!" And " o t eve ry m an wo u ld put u p w ith th ees- Iucky for he r, I a m no t a n )' man. " Q : Arc all his feminine foil s cats ins tead of o th e r skunks? A: Th ey h a d to b e. A n o ther s kunk wo uldn ' t ma ke a ny se nse, beca use th e oth e r skunk would go for him , so w he re's the comedy? So the re always had to be a ploy o f getting a white stripe accidentally down a ea t's lxlCk, w hich, I ca n tell yo u, go t a littl e tireso me try ing to fig ure o ut. It was strange sin ce the a udie nce never objected to the il11pl a usibility of hav ing it ha p pe n aga in a nd aga in, film afte r film . Q : It's very graceful in CATS- BAH [1955]. w here th e g uy is painting the huJl of a ship , a nd a lad y passe nge r co mes d ow n the ga ngpla nk with he r pet cat o n a leash, and so me of the pa in t sloshes on th e ca l. It's also th e film whe re the seductio n s tory is s tru ctured with a n "As Time Goes By" CASA IJLA NCA- like fla s hba ck. But why, if Pe pe is irresis tible to othe r sk unks, wo uld a ca t res is t him? A: Beca use he smells bad! Whe n I was a kid, I worked on a boat tha t carried creosol piling, an d I d o n' t kn ow if yo u've eve r been close to creosol piling, but it has a te r路 ribly s trong smell. But s tra ngely e no ugh, in abo ut fo ur o r five days, yo u forge t, a nd eve ry thin g reS um es it s no rm a l sme ll s aga in, except th at everywhe re you go, yo u no tice th e peo ple reeling-yo u smell. As

0 1975 WMner Brothers, Inc.


CHUCK JONES CONTINUED far as Pcpe was co ncerned , it really ca me

down to tha t s imple level o f mi s und er· s tanding. Do you know what heoll cesaid? In one film he daint il y sniffs hi s wris t and says, "Do I o ffend?" Q : Pepc 's o nt.' moment o f selfawa no-ness.

THE 5 1 G ING FROG Q: In ONE FHoOCCY EVEN ING, much o f the humor SC'l ' IllS to be derived from a s harp break betwe(;'n ,1nt hro pomorphized movement and natural nnim a l 1110vcm enl . A: It wa s anthropomorphic w he n th e frog \'V Cl S s inging and d.1ncin g .1nd co m pletd y Ilillum! o ther wis e. Q : Did yo u actually use a frogasa model for thClI? A: I s tud ied il frog, but I didn' t act ua lly gct <1 n.? ll frog as I did with Iht:.· squir rel in MUCI-I ,\0 0 A BOUT Nun"ING. I w a s morc inte res ted in th e cl ction; I knew I could draw it. It was obv io lls the way th e frog had to move, fro m the way h~ W.1 S d rawn. The trick was that the clud ie nce wo uld never hear any thing but the frog's sing ing voic~ . Thl' rl'st is c nti rc ly pantomime. There an..' il lut of ways of doing this, and th ~y a ll seem obv io us o nct..' yo u look a t the m- putting thl:.' characters lx-hind the p latl:.' g lass window in th e theatrical ilgen cy, for in stilncl:.' . There the timing had to work inte restin gly, because wh e n th e protagon is t we nt back to get the theatrical agt.'nt , once th e frog had started sing ing th e rag, we kt..'pl the mu sic going but yo u co uldn ' ! heoH thL' VO iCL'. Tht..' phra s in g wo rks o ut so that thl' frog s tart s to sing, his owner runs back ins id e in a hurried fash ion , trying to tell th e agent w hat's happening. S ubconscio usly. the audience knows w hat ht." s tdling hi m t.'vt.'n though there art.' no words spo kt..'n . b..:-ca use the music is still bt..'ing CMriL'd over. Tht.' yo u cui back to the frog; as the frog b finis hing the song (" ... tha t lov -in ):; r,lg! " ), PLO P!!. the doo r op~ n s. a g u y p Oint s, the frog looks up, cro.lks, an d t h ~ theatrical agent gives tha t tin y look at thL' .ludience w hi ch I often usc- it 's on~ of my favo rite gags. Then yuu cut to th~ streL'! (1J1d the frog a nd his ow ner a r ~ thr()wn out . By Ih~ WelY, d id yo u know that M i k~ M,lllt..'SL' ,lIld I wrote " Thl' M ic hi g<l ll Ra g " ? WI..' nL'ed e d el rag tim e piL'CL', so \\'1..' \vrolL' one. Q : The w ho le CMt(X)I'l seems to be in a p.uabk s trueturL' . It 's like an e\;cess ive punishnwnl for on~ man 's WL'ed - for his dL" ire to e:\, ploit the discovery o f the singing frog a nd m.lkt..· m illions. A: Th.lt' ... right , thL' guy W<1l'''S to join the establish nll'nl, ('niov the fruit s o f th e establis hme nt. And th'lt W,lS a lso o ne o f th e first o f my con ti nu ing or cyclic.11 cartoons, likt' IIO RTON HEARS ,\ W II O , the e ndings of wh ich impl y that w hat 's h.lppt:.'nt:.'d will happL'n ,l~,li n a nd again in the fu lurl'. Q: I h,11 ("(' rt a inly existed in cartoon s like I WAS A TEENAGE Tt-IUMIJ [19631. w hich e nd s

J6

JAN .- FEB. 1975

w ith th e narrator say ing" ... a nd he had a son th es izeofhis thumb, and he had a son the size o f his thumb, etc." A; Getting b..1ck to O:'>lE FROGCY EVE N ING, it would have been eas ly to keep on Llsing th e Lubit sc h tri ck, impl y in g th e ac ti on go in g on be hind closed d oo rs or barricades. I wa nted to see if I co uld find ot her ways of convey ing the sa me tho ught-as w hen the frog is singing in the pa rt , and th e cop is beh ind th e wa ll. The co p ca n hea r the frog. In this case, it 's s impl y that the cop's eyes are behind th e wa ll; by seeing the top o f his head yo u know th at he's a cop. The cop's activities are determined by the actio ns of his hat. And the n there's the terribl e time that the owner of the frog has in the thea te r: firs t getting the peop le in the re, then havin g the rope to the curta in break. You ha ve to feel sorry for the g uy; he's s tuck w ith tha t frog and so mehow the onl y pl ace he ca n get rid of it is back w he re he go t it- back in the corne rs tone o f a no the r building. It wa s rea ll y a n exemp lificat io n of fru s tra tion , and it continued. BUGS BUN Y AND DAFFY DUCK

Q ; Getting back to th e idea o f ind ividual disciplines for c ha ra cte rs, w hat abo ut Bugs Bunn y? A: We ll , I a lways und erwrote thl' id ea o f Bugs never being a heck ler- he's mind ing hi s ow n b us in ess, and then somebod y co mes along a nd tries to dis turb h im, hurt him , de s troy him. But when he fig ht s back, he beco mes a n a narchis t, rat her like Gro ucho Ma rx. Q ; It ta kes a butt from a b ull to antago nize him in UU LI. Y FO R Bues, as Bugs goes sailing over the a rena declaring, " Of course , yo u know, this means war!" A: That' s the o ld G ro ucho Marx lin e, and it certainl y be came ba s ic to Bu gs ' c harac te r. A cross between H a rpo and Cro ucho is w hat he'd becomea t that point: he had the inte llect o f Gro uc ho combined with the za niness and oddity o f Ha rpo , w hi c h I never und e rs tood - I'm s ur e

Har po him self never und e rs tood it. In o the r word s, Bugs' behavio r would ofte n s urprise himself. He never knew what he was goi ng to do next. Ano the r im portant mle was th at we a lways started him o ut in a n e nvironme nt natura l (o r a rabb it. Q : With o r w ith o ut ba nj o, iI In LONG - I·IA IR ED H A RE?

A: Wdl, that was a slight exceptio n- but he did have his ft...... t in his rabb it-hole a nd he wns out in the wood s, remt:.·mber? Sit ting thl'rt:., play ing th e banjo t he way mly rabbit wo uld under the sa me c irc ulll s ta nces. A nd tha t, to ml.!, wa s always ve ry impo rtant. I.'xt C<lme the p rovocati o n , and th~ provocation is <llwa ys based upon a guy w ho is minding hi s own business. Q : In LONG- HA I RED I-i f\l!E 'S Illusica llan g ll <l ge, Bugs Bunn y, 011 th e o n e s id e , see lllS to repn..'sent th e po pular, s ing ing pop so n gs or fo lk so n gs, w hile the opcra -singt:.'r, o n th e other sid e, represen ts th e class ic,ll, o r in thi s case, tht.· pretentiolls . Whl.!rt:.' did yo u find th e voice for the o pera bilsso? A: Wt:.' fo und (1 yo ung singt.'f wi th a terri bly stro ng voice. And re mc m bt:.'r Bugs' rl.!venge on the opera-si nger? The singer'S per formin g ,1t the Ho ll y wood Bowl a nd Bugs is perched o n to p of it. Bugs tests the Bowl firs t, saying " Hmillm . .. acous tically poi - ft..>et! " The n he cau ses th e whole thing to vib rat e , bou n c in g thl' s in ger d own bt:'low. \-\'e had to d o something simil.lr to o ur a ctual singer. We told him , " We're not go in g to hurt YOll , but so mt:.'thin g ma y ha ppen to yo u w hile you ' re s in g in g. \'V hat ever happl' n s, keep s ing ing." So while hI..' was record ing at th e microp hon e, WI.! s nuck up behind him , grabbed him a nd s hook him . His voice did just what yo u hear on the so undtrack . Q : I thin g SU I'ER RAIl"I"!" ho lds lip very wd l among yo ur earliest Bugs cartoo ns. A: In fa ct, it W,lS o ne of the first cartoons w here I got a rea l fed in g (or Bugs, which I had W nll;' trouble do ing fo r a little w hile. That was 011 1..' of th..:- first timl.!s I got a ho ld on the char.lctl'r, and on the wa y he would latt:.'r develop, for meat least. You co uld sec

-jWarMr BrOlhers, lnc

from len : Bugs III SU PER R/\661T (1943); with the opcr,1 ~ mger in LONG HAIRE D HARE (19 48 1; Porky dSClaude

R'lins in THE SCARLET PUMPERNICKEL (1 950).


he vvas rea lly clljoyillX h imself. wh ich I enjoyed.

Q; Well , he ce rla inl y seems 10 enjoy h imself during tha t greal scene where thl' vitlilins try to blil st him wilh thl' cannon. And this, too, is a Milrx Brothers bit, in th(' wily th at Bu gs imposes a complete ly foreig n disciplin e on thl' ominolls s itua tion; s taging a bilsketball gamc with the cil nnonb,dl. turnin g th e hunters in to a rooting sectiun. A; The u nl y rL' sen'il lion that I l11i g ht ha vt' abou t s urER RAIHHT WilS thai it had an end ing that o n ly relilt ed to that pa rti cular time, and that p<trticular war effort in 1942, \v hen Bugs go...·s off to join the Marines. Q: What sor t o f disciplines would there be in Daffy Duck c<lrtoons? A: Well, Bugs and Da ffy "c tu" Uy s tarted o ut vcry s imila rl y. they bo th bega n as ra ving lun<ltics. D<lffy L'VL'ntually became a self- preservatio nal is l. It was rea lly hi s job to s,)Ve his ow n life. Q: But he's<llwilysshowing o ff so much. A: Well, he's <l s how -off too , bUI basically he was concerned with taking care of h imself. Fri z Frdeng <l nd I used a competition between Bugs and Daffy througho ut the " Bugs Bunn y S ho w" TV sl·ries. All through it, Daffy was trying to get to be Illilstcr -of-cerelllo nies, bu t Bugs go t all the appla use . Th is so rt of thing wo uld drive Daffy nut s. D<lffy " Iways wan ted to be triump hant , in whatever hl' did , but in some cast..'s, alt that meant was hav ing to s urvive, and he w" s <l lwilys apologizing. He'd s tand there and say: " Pain hu rts mc," " I ma y be a co wardly li llIe black duck, bUI I' m a hut' little black d uck," or " What a s hitty thing to do. " Wcofll'n wrote Daffy's d ialog ue with four - lt..'Ilt..'r wortis, "nd then we'd abridge it lalt..'r. Q; It seems that Da ff y is often cas t in ambitio us parts that he's alw"ys unequal to, Errol Flynn - ty pe ro mantic leads. A: J don ' t kno w whv ROBI N HOOD DAFFY worked so \vell. But Ih e re yo u ha ve a straig ht pa rody. There he d id no t act, as us ua l, the part o f J self- pr....serva tion is t. but he did wa nt people to be li ev .:, he was

S he rl ock Ho lm es, or Robi n H ood, o r whoever, so he was still try ing to es t"blish the fact that he had J right to be th ere. Q: Wo uld you say that role - pla y in g, then, was central to Dilffy's Chilf.1cler? A: That's cer lain ly one important as pect, bUI then there are m<lny pictures where he plays just the part o f Daffy Duck. The very early ones don't really co unt , s in ce he had yet to com pl etely deve lop his chara cter. Just as yo u think o f Jack Benn y as be ing a very mi serl y person, so Daffy is m iserly rega rdin g his OWI1 life. Of cuurse he can't sta nd loss of dig n ity, that's anolhera s pect. Q ; There's a brill iant seq ut..'nc...• in ROB IN HOOD DAFFY, very sad in a way. Daffy has a hero ic lin e to deliver before he performs some ath letic feat o f d erri ng- do, sc reaming " Yoicks, and away!", sw ing ing on a vine, and s mashing rig ht into a large tree. He keeps say ing " Yoicks, and a\vay!" over and over, cras hi ng into a new tree ea ch ti me , hi s voice ge ttin g mo re and more tire d . Wa s n ' t thi s th e car loo n w here Daffy's beak kept s pring in g up? A: Yes, it was. Ma nny Farber ca lled it "a token o f Daffy's ine ptitud e," or so meth ing. Q: Ge nre-parod ies often come up in Daffy Duck cartoons. A: Very o ften. I li ked to do that. I did o ne o n Jack Webb , sort of a Dragne t-inOuter-Space ca rt oon, ca ll ed ROCKET SQUA D. I would say the basic di scipline there was to be as true to the orig in al s tyle as possible, accenting the co mic qualities o f th e part icular genre a ll th e w hil e. As in ROCKET SQUAD: " Th u rs da y- 4:05P.M . - I s tru ck a mat ch - Thu rs da y 4:05 and " quarter- P.M.- I lit a ciga rette." Q: In THE SCARLET PUM r ERNICKEL [19501. you exagge rate, to jus t th e rig ht degree, the Michael Curtiz-type g randiose set decoration and use of shadow, all those very roma ntic trappings o f cos tume epics. A: There were a lot of in-house jokes in that ca rtoon-most ly in the cas ting . We put on the Mothe r Bear fro m those ea rlier " Three Bears" cartoo ns I did [B EAR FOR

THE SCr\RlET PUMPER NICKEl. left : Daffy ,HId ,\I' eh ss(l Duck . Hight : Curtizian swordplay .1 5 Meli ss.l watches.

PUNISHME NT, BEE- DEV ILLED BRU IN, etc.1 and Henery Ha wk appeared brie fl y as a me sse n ge r- it wa s an e p ic, so a ll m y characters had to be in it. Everybod y appreciated it except Jack Warner , and I don ' t think h e e ver rea li zed we \vere talk in g "bo ut h im in the cartoon . Q: Da ffy wa s trying to ~e ll a scr ipt to Warner, th e sc ript pro vid ing the mocke pic sto ry, th e ca rtoon-\v ithin-a- ca rtoon . A: Da ffy was no grea t writer, of co urse, so the thing had to end with o ne cliched di sas te r afte r "no the r: " The n, the dam b rok e !" " The n , t he vo lciln o erupted! " "Then, the price of fo od s ky rocketed !" - whi le p ictured o n the sc ree n wa s one kreplach with a pricetag of $1000. The ultimate catas tro phe . We end it wit h Daffy s hoo ting him self, say ing " It 's getti ng so yo u have to kill yo urse lf to sell a s to ry a ro und here!" Q: And DIUP - ALONG DAFFY [1951 ] parodied the high -ang le s ho ts gene ra ll y used for classic HIGH NOON g undow ns. A: The thi ng that mad e that work was the dis t"nt so und the horse mad e. I used the d is tant s p ur ~ j a n g lin g so llnd too, eve n tho ug h the cha racters weren' l wea ri ng any s purs. Q: It seems to me there' s a grea t dea l of FROM A TO zzzz's Wa lter Mitty-ish Ralph Phillips character in Daffy, in his nei ive des ire to actuall y li ve o ut th ese hero ic fan tasies. A: Thilt's rig ht, Daffy's an innoce nt , he's an ingenuous character. No l onl y when he is plilying parts, but in a stra ig ht s ituation: all he wa nts to do is survive, and be triU I1lphclllt, without having to do the wo rk th"t was necessa ry, and \vithout having to be particularl y nice. Q : In DR IP-ALO NG DAFFY, Daffy firs t rides into the Wes tern town, sees th e sig n that a sheriff is wa n ted , opens his coat. a nd has an a ll - purpose selectio n of badges : "Chicke n In s pector," "Ju n ior C- Man ," etc. He's ready to impersonate any given role at any given mo ment. A: I like the way he p ulls out his g uns, and hi s chaps come o ff along with them. " Tim e o ut , w h ils t I ad ju s t m y acco utrements. Q : Da ffy seems to be very co ns iste nt w ith those se l f ~co n sc iou s as id es for his, sent s traig ht to th(' viewer off the screen. You ' ve said that yo u didn ' t preview your cartoon s, bu t one verba l bit in RAUUIT FIRE 11 95·1]I/I/1st have been previewed. Elmer Fudd is sta lkin g bot h Bugs and Daffy- th is is the firs t full y d eveloped cartoon t hilt features all th ree of them toget her- and Bugs keeps eng ineeri ng it so that Daffy is th e one who gets blas ted by Elmer. Daffy angril y takes Bugs by the collar and says, " You' re des picable!" This line a lways brings dow n the ho use ... a nd then, as if yo u k,,('w it would get a terrific laugh, Daffy proceeds to soliloquize o n Bugs' despicability, elaborating on th e line. A: No, I ac tually rewro te the lin e on th e so und stage when Mel Blan c said "You're FILM COMMENT

37


CHUCK JONESCONTI NUED

despicable!" The way he said the line was so good a nd so s tron g th at I immediat ely rewrote the line, and sa id " Look, I wan t you to play with this thing. draw it o ur as much as yo u ca n- You're d espicable, a nd not only that, yo u' re pickable, and not only that . . .. " And Mel just kept going. Q: It d oes appea r ve ry s pontaneous. A: It was spo ntaneo us ... I jus t let Mel go, him run out o f gas on the idea. We used tha t in one of the Westerns, too . Q: Yeah, Daffy 's great mO llthings-on. There' s a lo t of ramb li ng s peec h in the "C harlie Dog" car too ns as well. A: Th ey \ve re both pretty no isy characters . T hose "C ha rlie" ca rtoons were real talk-fes ts. I probably prepared myself for IlOt talkin g, in the panto mime ca rtoo ns, by talking a lot in these. And I e njoyed it. Q: From yo ur vc ry first ca rtoo ns , yo u made a g reat efforl 10 find those plots and situations th at arc so basic that th e re's no need for dia log ue- so o ften, you've opted for pan lomimeca rtoons. Is it s imply a mat ler o f your preference for vis ual rather than verba l wit ? The re must be more to it, since w he n yo u use d ialog ue, yo u use it in a s pecia l o r uniqu e way . A: I co uld und ers tand a person's inability to ex press himself more than I could his ability to ex press him self. Like Daffy saying, "Yo u' re d espicable! And not o nl y that yo u ' re pickable, e tc."; he was alwa ys reaching for it. Frustrating verbal exp ression seems to me to be more e ffective beca use, we ll , that 's w hat I know best. Q: Friz Freleng's characte rs, on the o ther ha nd , \,"'ere a hvays more voca l. A: Yeah, there's a classic example, when he has Yosem it e Sam telling Bugs to shut up . Q : And Bugs ans we rs back, " Sure I'll sh ut u p, of co urse I'll sh ut up, I' ll s h ut up a ny time a nybod y sa ys so. I' m the kind of person w ho shut s u p w he never I' m told to , 1 '~1 the ,~e s t s hutte r- upper you ever saw, I m . A: And then Sam screa ms , " S hut up s huttin g up !! " A nyway , it is a d ifferent way to ap proac h the character, an d I g uess I never used dial og ue to that ex tent. Q : I'd say th at yo u had a more se lfco ntain ed Bugs. A: Maybe. I'd s us pect tha i Fri z's Bugs wo ul d be more o f a sca mp , and Tex Avery 's more a contro lled lunati c, a brilliant co ntro ll ed lu natic. -Bo b C lampett 's was a thoroughly a mo ral lun a ti c, w ith fl as h es o f g rea tne ss. A ll th ese characters- Bugs, Da ffy, Pepe, Porky- in a way a re li ke the mu lti plica tio ns of our o\'\'n fo ib le s . And if th ey we ren't, of course, th ey wo uldn ' t be val uable a t all, they wo uldn ' t be funny. Bull suspect that a ll humor is based on that fact: the recog nition in o the rs , in a multiplied form , of something that we o urselves are ca pable of. It's li ke vo,'hat Orwell said : " I' ve never m e t ,,~. person that was an y worse th a n I am . .~:: 38

JAN.-FEB. 1975

CARTOONOGRAPlllES by }oe Adamson C H UCK JONES 1938 N IGH T WATOIM AN ; DOC GOSE MODERN . 1939 ROB IN HOOD MAKES GOOD ; PR ESTO Oi ANGE - O; DAFFY DUCK A..... D TH E DINOSAUR ; NAUG HTY IIUT MI C E; OLD GLO RY; SNOW MAN 'S LAND ; LITTLE BR OT HER RAT ; LI TTLE LI ON II UI'.'TER; THE GOOD ECC ; SN IFFLES AND THE 8 00K WOR M ; C UR IOUS P U PPY . 1940 MI G H TY H UNTE RS; EL M ER 'S CANDID CAM ER A; SN IFFL ES TA KES A TRIP; TO M THUMII IN TROUBLE ; THE ECC COLLECTOR; GH OST WANTED ; GOOD N IGIIT EL MER ; BEDTIME FOR SN IFFLES; ELM E R'S PET RAB81T ; SN IFFLES BEL LS TH E OJ . 1941 TOY TR OU8LE; T il E WA C KY WORM ; IN KI AND THE LI ON ; SNOW T I ME FO R CO MEDY ; IDE GLO W TU E FIREF LY; BR AVE LITTLE BAT; SAD DL E S ILLY; THE BI RD CAME C . O . D. ; PORKY ' S ANT ; CONRA D TIl E SA I LOR ; PORKY ' S PRI ZE PO NY; DOC T IRED ; THE DRAFT H ORSE; HO LD THE LI ON, PLEASE; PORKY 'S MIDN IGIIT M ATIN EE. 1942 THE SQUAWK IN' H AWK; FO X 1'01'; MY FAVORITE DUCK; TO DUCK O R NOT TO DUC K; TIl E !.JOVER HOYS; CASE OF TH E M ISS ING HARE; PORKY 'S CA FE . 1943 FLOI' GOE S THE WEASEL; SU P ER RA BHIT; THE UNBEARA BLE BEAR; T H E A RI STO CAT; WAC KIKI WABB IT; FIN ' N CATTY; IN KI ANO THE MYNAH BIRD . 1944 TOM TURK AND DAFFY ; AN GEL P USS ; FR OM H AND TO MOUSE ; THE ODO R- AB LE KITTY ; BUGS BUNNY AN D THE THR EE HE ARS; THE WEAKLY REPORTER ; LOST AND FOUNDL ING. 1945 TRAP H APPY P"ORKY ; HARE CONDIT IONED; HA RE TON IC; H US H MY MOUSE; FR ESH AIREDALE ; QUENT IN QUA IL; HA IR RA ISING H ARE ; T H E EAGE R BEAVER . 1946 ROUGHLY SQUEAK INC ; SCENT - 1M ENTAL OVE R YOU ; FAIR AND WORM ' ER; A FEATHER IN HI S II ARE . 1941 LITTLE OR · PH AN A I REDALE ; WHAT ' S BR EWIN ' BR U IN ; HO USE H UNTING MI C E; HAREDEVIL H ARE ; IN KI ATTH E CIRCUS ; A PEST IN TIlE H OUSE; RABBIT I'UNCI I. 1948 YOU W ERE NEVER DUC KIER; MISSISSIP PI H ARE; MOUSE WR ECKERS ; SCAREDY CAT; MY BUNNY LIES OVE R THE S EA; AWFUL ORP H AN ; THE IU,E'DEV I LED II RU IN ; DAFFY D I LLY ; LONC' HA IRED H ARE . 1949 FR[GID HA RE; RA BB IT HOOD; OFTEN AN ORPH AN ; FAST AND FURkY ' OOS; FOR SCENT [MENTAL REASONS ; BE AR FEAT ; HO M ELESS H ARE. 1950 TH E lIyp O ' CH ONDR['CAT ; DOG GONE SOUTH ; THE SCA RL ET PU M PERN I CKE L; B' BALL BUNNY; T il E DUCkSTI!RS; RAIIB IT OF S EV[LL E; CAVEMAN INk l. 1951 TWO'S A C ROWD ; A HOUND FOR TROUBLE; RABB IT F IRE ; mow HO UN D; TIlE WEAR ING OF T il E GR[N ; A BEA R FO R p UNIS ItM ENT; BONNY H UGG ED ; SCENT ' IM ENTAL ROMEO ; C H EESE C H ASE RS ; DRII"ALONG DAfFY . 1952 OP ER ATION : RABBIT ; WAT ER , EVERY !l ARE ; THE II AST Y II A RE ; W ATER M OUSE WARMI N C; DON 'T GIVE UP TH E S H EE P; FEED TIlE KITTY ; LITTLE BEAU I' EI'E; BEEI' BEEP; GO ING! GO ING! GOSH! ; TE RR IER STR IC kEN ; MABB[T SEASONING; KISS ME C AT . 1953 FOR WARD MARC H HARE ; WILD OVE R YOU ; BULLY FOR HUGS ; DUC K AM UC K; MUCII ADO ABOUT NUTTIN G; DUCK DODG ERS IN TI l E 2 4 IJ1 CENTU RY; Z IPPIN G A LON G; FELiNE fR AME·UP . 1954 PU NC H TRUN K; FROM A TO -uzz; BE WITOiED BUNNY; DUCK!

TEX AVERY TEX AVERY AT WARNER BROTH ERS 1936 GOLDDI GGERS OF '49; PORKY TtIE R ... INMAKER ; I' D LOVE TO TAKE ORDERS FR O M YOU ; PLANE DIPPY; I LOVE TOS ING ... ; MILk AND M ONEY; M[SS GLO RY ; TH E VILLAGE S M IT HY; PO RK'\' Tt I E WRESTLE M; TIiE BLOW-OUT; DON ' T LOOK NO W . 1931 1'[CA DO R PO RKY; I' ORKY 'S DUCK H UNT; I ONLY H AV E EYES FOR YOU ; POR KY 'S GARDEN; AIN 'T WE GO T FUN; UN C I. E TOM 'S BUNGALO W ; I WAN NA BE A SA IL O R; EG GH EAD RIDE S AGA I N; S UN 80N N ET 8 LUE; LIT TL E RED WA LKI NG 11 000; DA Ff Y DUCK AND EGG H EAD ; TIlE SNEEZ ING WEASE L. 1938 THE PEN GU IN I·... R ... DE ; THE [S LE OF I'[ NGO - I' ONGO ; C I NDE RE L LA MEETS f EL LA; JOH NNY S MITtI AN D PO KER ' H UNTAS ; A FEUD TIl ERE WAS ; DAFFY DUCK IN H OLLYWOOD; T H E MI CE W ILL P L ...y ; H AM ATEU R N IGII T . 1939 DAY AT TIl E ZOO ; THUGS WITH DIRTY Mues ; FRESH FIS H ; BE LIEVE IT O R ELSE ; LAND OF TH E MID NIG HT f UN ; DANGEROUS DAN M c FOO ; DETOUR I N G ... MER I CA ; SCR EWB A LL FOOTBA LL ; TH E EA RLY WOM M GETS T H E BI RD . 1940 CROSS COUNTRY DETOURS; TH E 8EAR 'S TALE ; A G A N DER AT M OTH ER GOOSE ; A W ILD HARE ; C IRCUS TODAY; CE IL' ING HERO; HOL IDAY HI GHLI GHTS; WAC kY WILD LIFE ; O F FOJ( AND HOUNDS . 1941 TORTOISE BEATS II ARE ; HO LLYWOOD STE PS OUT ; PORKY ' S PREVIE W; C RAC kP OT QUA I L; THE H ECKLING H A RE ; AV IAT ION VACATION ; H AUNTED M O USE; ALL T HI S A N D RA88ITSn:.:W ; T H E BUG I'AIIADE ; T HE CAGEY C ANARY . 1942 ALO H A H OOE Y; C RA ZY C RUISE .

TEX AVERY AT PARAMO UNT 1942 SPE ", KING O F ... NI M A LS DOWN ON TH E FA 11M ; SPE AKI NG OF ANIMA LS [ 1'1 A PET SHOP ; S PE AKING OF AN[ MALS IN TIl E ZOO.

RA8B IT! DUCK !; NO BAIIK I NG ; S TOP , LOO K, AND HASTEN! ; SH EEP Ati OY; MY LITT LE DUC KAR oo . 1955 TH E CAT 'S BAH ; C LAWS FOR ALA RM ; LUMBER JA C K RAB8 1T (in 3· 0 ); RE ... DY , SET , ZOOM!; RABBIT RAMPAGE ; DOUBLE O R M UTTON ; BABY BUGGY BUNNY ; II EANSTA LK BUNNY; PAST PERFORMANCE; JUMP IN ' JUPITER; GUI DED M USCLE ; kN IGHT · MARE H ARE . 1956 TWO SC ENTS ' WORT H ; ONE F ROGGY EVENING ; BUGS ' BONNETS ; ROCkET SQUA D; HEAVE N SCENT; ROC KET· BYE BABY; BROO MSTI Ck BUNNY ; GEE WHl lZZZ ; BAMB ... RY CO ... ST BONNY . 1951 DED UCE , YO U SAY; TIlERE T H EY GO' GO'GO! ; SCRA MBLED ACH ES ; GO F LY A KIT ; STEAL W OOL ; ZOO M AND 80RfD; TO H ARE IS H UMAN; ALI 8ABA BUNNY; BOY H OOD DAZE ; W HAT ' S OPE RA, DOC?; TOUCH E AN D GO . 1958 HA RE ' WAY TO TIl E STA RS; H OOk, LINE, AN D ST INKE R; RO BI N HOOD DA FFY ; WHOA , BEGONE !; TO fTO I HI S OWN. 1959 BATON BUN N Y; HOT ROD AND REEL; CAT FEU D; HII' HII' H UM MY! ; MEA LLY SCENT. 1960 FASTEST WIT H TH E MO STE ST ; WH O SCENT YOU?; RABBIT'S FE ... T ; WILD A80UT H URRY ; MEADY , WOOLEN AND ABL E . 1%1 HI GH NOTE ; II OI' ALONG CASUA LTY ; THE A BO M[NABLE SNO W RABHIT ; ... SCEN T Of TH E MATTE RH ORN; U C kETY SPLAT ; Z IP ' N SNORT; T H E MOU SE ON 5 7fli STII EET; CO MPR ESSED H ARE . 1962 LOUVRE CO M E BACK TO M E; BEEI' P REPARED ; A S H EEP IN TH E DEEP ; N ELLY 'S FOLLY ; ZOOM AT T HE TOP . 1963 M A RTI AN T H RU GEO RGIA; NOW II E ... R TltlS; H ARE ' BRE ADTH H URRY ; I WAS A TEENAGE TH UMII ; WOOLEN UNDE R WHERE . 1 964 WAil AND PIECES ; TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000; MAD AS A MARS H ARE ; TO 8EEP OR NOT TO BEEI'.

CHUCK JONES AT MGM (.l UTom .1nd Jerry CMtoons unless ind icated by 0) 1963 PENT H OUSE MOUSE . 196 4 TH E CAT ABOVE AN D THE M OUSE BELOW; IS TIlERE A DOCTOR IN THE MOUS E; M UC II ADO A BOUT MOU S ING ; SNOW80DY LOV ES ME ; UNS HRI NKABLE JERRY MOUSE . 1965 THE DOT AND THE LINE 0; All SWEET MOUSE - STORY O F LIF E; TO M - IC ENE RG Y; DAD DAY AT CA T ROC K; BROTHERS CA RRY MO US E O FF ; H AUN T ED MOUS E; , ' M JUST WILD ABOUT JERRY; OF FELI NE BONO ... GE ; YEA R OF TtIE M OUS E; CAT' S ME · OUCH . 1966 DUEL P ERSONAL ITY; JERRY JERRY QUITE CON TR ARY; LOVE M E , LOVE MY M OUSE (w it h Ben Was ham) . 1967 Tt I E BEAR TH AT W"'SN' To ; CAT AND DU I'LI CAT .

CHUCK JONES FEATURE FILMS 1962 GAY PUMM ' EE BOOTH .

(story).

1911 Ttl E PH ANTO M TOLL

CHUCK JONES TELEVISION SPECIALS 1910 HOW TIlE GRINCU STOLE CHRI ST MAS . 191 1 HORTON IIE A RS A WH O ; T H E POGO S PE C IA L B I RTItD A Y SPEC IAL. 1913 A C IIRI STMAS C AROL (execut ive pro· ducer); TI l E CR ICK1, IN TIMES SQUARE ; A VE RY MERRY C RI CKET . 1 974 YANKEE DOODLE CR IC kET . 191 5 R[kl · T l k l · TAVY .

TEX AVERY AT MGM 1942 T H E EARLY BIR D DODD IT ; T H E BLI'L WOLF . 1943 RE O HOT RiO lNG 11000; OUMB ' HOUNDED; WHO KI LLE D WHO ?; ONE H AM 'S FA M ILY ; WH AT 'S BUZZ IN' DUZZARD . 1944 BATTY BAS EB ALL ; SCREWB AL L SQU IRREL ; H Ar py · GO - NUTTY ; BI G H EE L-WATH A _ 1945 T H E SCREWY TRUANT ; THE SII OOT INC OF DAN MeGOO; JERKYT Uk KEY ; S WIN G S H[FT C IND ERELL A; W[L D AND WOOLFY . 1946 LO NESO ME LENNY; TI·IE I·II CK C H IC K; NO RT HWE ST H OU NDED POLIC E; li EN PECKED IIOH OES . 1941 RED HOT RANGERS ; HOUND H UNTE RS; UNCLE TO M 'S CA HANA ; SLA I"HAl'py 1.10N ; K[ NG ' S IZE CANA RY . 1948 WII AT PR IC E FLEAD O M; LITTLE TINKER ; T ilE II AU PINT PYG MY ; TH E C AT TII AT II ATED PEO PLE ; LUC KY DUCKY . 1949 BAD LUC K IIL AC KIE ; SENOM DRoon; OUTFOXED ; DOGGONE TIRED ; L ITn E RURAL RIDI NG HOO D; WA GS T O RICHES ; COUNTERFE IT CAT ; TIl E 1I 0USE O F TO M O RR OW. 1950 T il E CUC KOO CLOCk ; VENTRI LOQU IST CAT ; CA RO EN GOP HER ; T H E CH UMP CIIAMI'; TIl E pEACIt Y CO BB LER. 1951 COC K'A'OOODLE DOG ; DARE·DEV IL DROOPY ; DR OO PY' S COOD DEED ; SYMI'It ONY IN SLANG; DRoon 's DOUBLE T ROU BLE; THE C AR O F TOMORROW . 1952 TIU M ... GICAL M AESTRO; ONE CAB 'S FAMILY ; ROCK'A'BYE BEAR . 1953 LITTLE JO IIN NY J ET ; T H E T HR EE LITTL E POPS ; TV O F TO MO RR OW . 1954 DR ... G· ... · LONG DRDon ; HI LLY BO'\' ; H OMESTEADER DROOPY; FAR M O F TOMO RR O W; THE FLEA C IR CUS ; DIX IELAND DROOPY . 1955 FI ELD AND SC REAM ; THE FIRST HAD MAN ; DEPUTY DRO O PY ; CEL LB OUND . 1956 MILLIONAIRE DROO PY. 19S1 C ...T'S ME OW .

TEX AVERY AT UN IVERSAL (WALTER LANTZ) 1955 I ' M COLD; T HE LEGEND O F ROCKA8YE P OiNT; CRA ZY MI XE D-UP P UP ; SH · H · H· H .


the oth e r me m be rs of hi s u nit a n d the Wa rners a nim ation wa rd who con trib uted mil te ria l to the ca rtoons. Whoever d id it. the dialog ue in Jo nes's films is inv<1Tiably complex, multi -leveled, a nd lite mt ('. Bugs , Oil ffy, t.'t 011. are mo re full y cha racte rized by jo nes's dia log ue thil n by ;m y o ther unit's, a ltho ugh thL' lint..' s art.' so metimes so d ee ply weld ed to th e indiv id ual cha racte r's pe rfo rmilnce tha t they pa le on }J<lper, as the DUCK AMUCK co ntinuity rep rod uced here shows.

~

.

j ~

~ ~ ~

o

Top left : Bugs di<;guiscd tiSO.lfly, Daffy disguiSCd.lS Bugs. in RABBIT FIRE(1951). Top right: Elmer bowled over by Bugs' ch.umingly ,"cpt huntress (RABBIT FIRE ). Bottom left : " Aha! Pronoun trouble!" in RABBIT SEASON I G ( 1952), Bottom fl ghl : D.lffy dressed .1S.1 farmer ... gains! <I snoWSC.lpe in OUCK AMUCK ( 1953).

by Richard Thompson C hllCk Jones <m d D.1 ffy Duck go wa y back. Jones bega n worki ng wi th Da ffy Mo un d -1939, w ith DAffY AND T H E D INOSAU R, and co nsistently from 1942 on . T hl..' t eam sepa rated afler 1(Q IJl N H OOD IMFFY in '1958; Jones continul'd w it h Bugs Bu nny films. "Roadru n ner" cMloo ns, th t:. , " Wolf and SI1L'cpdog" ~rit..'s . and m.myof his oll e-s hots after that. until th e Wa rner Bro thers cartoon sho p shu t down in 1%2. T h eir be s t work to ge th er ' spans t he

'1948-'1958 period . Th e impor ta n ce of ot he r Wa rn ers a nim a tors sho ul dn ' t be und eres timated , but it' s cle.1 r tha t jones m.:ld e the bes t of th e fil ms w ith Da ffy. In cont ras t tu Fri z Frt:.' 路 leng, w ho rep rese nts the zenith if not the ,1cme o ( the classical trad itio n , jont;>s takes the characters and the (onna l aspec ts of his CO'ITtoons far beyond s tandard limits. He dt..'vdoPL路d an doqut'nt naturalistic depiclio n of facial expression - as opposed to Tex Avery's express ionis t or s u rrea l app roaches. As ind ica ted in the int e rview

t:.'Mlier in these pages, jones has a lso pursued an in terest in accu rfltel y adapt in g an im<l l move me n ts, a na tomy, a n d behavior. The "disdplines" he ta lks about art..' narrat i ve an d s tru c tura l c le me nt s w hi ch stress (orm , re petitio n, limits, il nd It":' r('sit'S rill jell. His te nd ency towilrd th t' blilck a nd the bleil k o ut stri ps eve n A ve ry's, probab ly beca use it is p n..'Sen ted thro ugh s imple, step-by-s tep log ic. jones is o uts ta nd ing with his ,1dors. He uses the best. never st uck wit h Fog ho rn Leghorn (a weak ham) orTweety- Pil'{who trades on her cuten ess as S hirl ey Te mple d id). Yose mit e Sa m is Frele ng p roperty, rightly: S,lIn's sty le, a lways il t top registe r, is in com pa tible with Jo nes's m t'thod . The I('s t is wo rking w ith Po rky, Bugs, Da ((y, a nd Sylves ter; and he re jones has no pwr, whatever criteria for acti ng arc ilpplied. jones's verba l range also scparall..'s him from his colleag ues. I won ' t try to fh. r('spo n s ib ilit y among Jo n es, hi s writer s Michll cl Milltese and Tedd Piero.... il nd il ll

In RAUIJI T HOOD (1949), a Jones char.lcte r says, "O dd s fis h! T he very ai r ilbo ll nd s in kings!" In RAlunT FIRE (1 951), w hil e settin g o ut s pu rio us " Rabbit Season" signs, Da ff y ex pl ai ns, "S urviva l of the fitt est, <l nd besidL'S, it 's fu n! Woo-woo! Woo -woo! " In Rt\ UU IT SEASON ING (1952), he 10c,l tes t he ca u se o f h is p roblem: " Aha! Prono un tro uble!" ElmC'T 5<.l YS to Bugs, ret urned as a n a ngel in DUCK! RAU IJIT! DUCK! (1954) , "Goll y, Mr. Wabb it , I hopt' I d id n' t h urt yo u too muc h when I kill ed you ." O r take Da ffy's fin a l speech to Elme r in th e sa mC' film : "Shoot me aga in , I c n joy it ! I love th e s me ll of burn t (cat he rs and g unpowd cr a nd cordite! I' m a n e lk, shoot me , go on, it's elk season! I' m a fidd ler crab, w hy don ' t yo u s hoo t Illtc' , it's fidd ler crab seaso n . Wha t hilve I do ne? W here did 1 take th e wro n g tu rn ing?" Thi s is s p iced w ith Da ffy's excell('nt m iming of ,m e lk a nd a fid d ler crab thro ugh tangled arr.l ngemcn ts of a ng ular black li mbs a nd d igit s. jones is a lso mo re interes ted in th e use o f wfi tle n words, in letters a nd signs, than most animators: sometimes for labe ls , som(' ti mc s for rea l-mov ie iconog rap h ic refere n ces, s Ollle times in the u nemph<lsizl'd ma nnC'T o f mod ern fil mmake rs. In O.'IE J:IWGGY EVEN ING (1957) , the co n struction worke r leaves thL' wo rksite w ith the frog in the box, tiptoeing pas t iI background wall with a "DA I CER" s ig n o n it. Jones experi me nted wit h h is idea of d isdp lin('s most sta rkly in tht..' " Ro.l d runner" sc ri('s. Someti mes ht;> organ iL('d a ca rtoon a ro u nd ex tri nsic material : in WI路t AT 'S OPERA , DOC? (1957) the in tern.ll diSCip li nes o f th e Bu gs ilnd El mtc' r Ch cH.lc t(' rs cHe p layed off aga in s t refcTt;.'nces o ut side to FANTAS IA a n d Bey re uth -s tylc Wag ne r. Mo re o fte n, he chose to create extre me ly s impli fied s ituat io ns w ith few elemen ts. These d iscipli ne-situil tions sl'rved as a rmat ures fo r the chilractcrs, in te ns ify in g their impact o n us. In the " Road runner" series th is is mod ified <IS the wo rdl ess c ha rac ters a nd th e e mphasis o n repetition create a n e motiona l di sta nce, an d fin ally a sense of se re nit y: a SCriL'S of fo ur o r fi ve sho ts C'm phasizing the graccfultlTc of the oyote aga ins t a lovely sky being drawn illong by h is jet harpoo n o r wha tever, ca lli ng atten tion to the curve mt her t h.1Il the d isaster; o r the contemplative momen ts provided as he diminis hes frol11 Oll r view towa rd the canyo n floor. This in tens ificat ion ca n be deflected, as in

FILM COMME T

39


DUCK AMUCK CONTI NUED •

(1957), w hen Daffy's rC'tri but ion is min ia turi za ti o n; or it can be

AL I BA BA BUNNY

overs hadowed by th e s heer s p,,-'c lack in BEANSTALK BUNNY

('1955). But in Jones's

hu nte r t r il ogY - lv\ IUJI r FIR E, RA BBIT SEASON I NG ,

il!l d

D uod

RA BBI T!

DUCK!-Bugs, Da ffy, il nd Elmer Mt' locked

into 1I11':lVOid ..lblL' three-w.w comb,'lL .u,d the stakes afe Il l ll(h hig her'fu r th e charilcle rs: beyo nd d ignit y tusa nity a nd surv iva l. Jo n""5 s hares th e rcspo l1 5ib il itv for m aturi ng D affy f ro m .111 I..'cccn l ri c·o n edim e nsio n,, ' Z"IW in till' Th irties to a full and rcs IXmsivL' {n slTuml..' nt in the Sixties: 1'Iongil ti ng <lnt! cl ngu la ri l..i ng th e fo rm , ma kin g it 11..''''' d uck likL'. a nd overseein g Mel Bltl n c's dL'vl.'l oplll cnt o f a roun ded \/oCi)1 perso n .llit y. I n Ihl.:.' Fi fties. Jo nes took Da ffy on dn Oll y~~ ey th roug h thL' genres, as far a~ th l;' NEVE R GIVE t\ SUCKE I{ AN EVEN BRE,\ K "rl'.llit y joh'" o f n -I E SC.\RL ET "UM!'ERNICKE!. (1948). /\.silk fro m l').p lo rin g Da ffy's r.1 n ~L' thoro u ~ hl y, th L' mai n d fl'ct of thl..'5l' film s W.1S 1\) l..'st.1blis h .1 new rolt' for Porky: :'L'co nd b.1ndn a <'I n d ca u st ic inlcrl OCtl kJr. JOlk'5 then b ro ll~ ht \Varlll..'rs' two s u pers tars intu d irL'ct con fron til tio n : Bugs a nd Da ffy. It's ,1:-0 if hI..' Cl'l'a it.' l-j th e op po rtu nit y to t.'). plo rl' t.'ac h charilCll'r in terms of the o thl'r, a nd to rL'fin e tht.' difk'rL' nces. With il se nse o f ro u ts, Jo nes rl'turn s tu AVlc' r v's WILD i-I ,\R E .1I1d s ubsL'qUl.'nt films, in w h ich Elme r the hu n k'!" fi r~ t g lim psed the ro ugh bl' g inn ings o f Bu gs a nd , ri coc h e tin g

th ro ug h , Woo-woo!, .1 duck w ho's m a in lin e was ' '1' 111 ju s t lb ffy!" ElmC'r is t he hu n tl'r am id th l' wood s a nd m o unta ins o f h unti ng st.',l so n . T he co ntinuing gag is Bu gs try ing tu conv ill cl..' Elm e r it 's d uck St.·,lS0 n , a nd v ict.·-versa w ith Da ffv. T ht.· fi lms in the t rilogy s hare th e S<l me Poi nts: huw d u mb C.ln Elme r Ix' (pwt.·lIy d u mb); how clever ca n Bugs be; how mllch ca n Da ffy s u ffe r. For o u r pur poses, tht:.' iss ut.' is: huw d o Bugs a nd Da ffy diffe r? Bugs is il w inn e r a nd Da ffy isa loser. Greg Ford ha s pointed uut tha t in thl'se three films we ha ve the cl ea res t d e fi nit io n o f gene ral ro les: Elmer neve r knm"ls w ha t' s goin g o n; Bu gs a lways knows wha t's go ing o n il nd is in co ntro l o f events; Da ffy's brig ht e no ug h to fi gure o ut w ha t's up J nd und ers tand how to be in contro l, b ut he n l've r m.1 h's it. Bo th Bugs a nd Daffy a re con m e n a nd la lkt.·rs, b u t Da ffy ta lks too mu ch . Bo th M e va in , b u t Bugs's va nit y is indiscreet, leadi ng him into sit uat ions he m us t, and ca n, reso lve; Da ffy's va n ity is disastro us. Bugs s la nd-s back from a s itu a tio n , dn a lyzt.'s it , an d makes his move; Da ffy h('co lll ~ e mo tio na lly in volved, loses hi s d is ta nce, and blows it . He' s s tuck w ith a o n t.'- track mind w hich fixes o n o ne facet of th e problem and loses sig ht o f the larger pa tt ern . Thi s so rt o f diffe re nce is cl ea r in the ir behav io r in pe riod pil..'Ces. Wh en thrus t in to a no thl'r time pe riod, Bugs rarel y appears as a n y thin g but prt.'sent-day Bugs dmo ng cos lumed rus tics; Da ffy wears the appro -

.\bO\<(' ,Inc! below : O,lify, c!ebe,lked or nOI debe,lked

priat e costumt:.'S a nd a tt e mpt s to s peak and play the rolt:.· illa I~ o bin Hood o r Buck Rogers. Da ffy lo ngs to be.1 movie he ro. Bugs looks s uave in h is pl'a rt g ray o utfit trim Il1 l,(-j in ", hill'; Da ffy'5 a ll black, Il'sS s k"Ckl y co nlo url..xi, ring- nl'Ckcd (oh , th e ind ig n ity!) - hi s m a in feJt u re is th e ca nti - Ievered o rangl' -yc ll uw be.1k th ,l t indi cat es Ih l..· cen te r o f his c haractt.'r. I-k looks diffe rent fro m all thL' o th l' r c ha racte rs. Evt.' n hi s pl ace in tht.' di'wupaSt' is d ifferent: Bugs's reac tion -s ho ts prt.·se llt a w idl' ran ge o f e m o t io ns, rl's pon st.'s, comml'l1ts; c utawa ys to Da ffy h <wt.' o nl y two fun c tion s, c ithl' r to s how him recog n iz in g his im pend in g d oom , or to d ocu ll1l'n t th e d J m ilge d o ne. A t the e nd o f th e las t w ho-shoot s- w ho a rg u me nt in RAUIJI T SEASON ING, Bugs na rro w s Daffy's c h o ices d o wn to w he th e r Elme r will s hoot h im he re o r wa it till h e ge t s h o m e. "O h , no yo u do n ' t," sa ys Da ffy, " he' ll wa it ti ll h e gets ho m e." H e a nd Eitne r go o ff arm -in -arm into Elmer's cilbin . Ex plosio n . Blas ted Da ffy returns to tell Bugs, "You' re d espicabl e." In DUCK! RABBIT! DUCK! Da ffy goes cra zy (the elk-alld - fiddl e r-crab dia logue). Elme r, co nfu se d by all th e s ig n s fo r S kunk , Pigeon , a ndlo r lo n goose sea son , plead s w ith a g al11 e ward e n (Bugs in disg uise) to kn o w wha t sea so n it is. Baseba ll season , Bu gs re plies, and Elm e r g oe s nut s too , bo u nd ing o ff afte r a ball Bugs has th row n . Daffy ha s a re mi ss ion a nd the e n s u ing dia log ue occurs:

DUCK AMUCK .

D: Go t rid o f hi l11 , c h? B: Yup . Da t takt.'s CJrl' of him . Eh , no w te ll me : jus t bet wl'e n the two of us, wha t season is it rea lly? D: Eh - h e h - h e h , don ' t b e so na ive, Bus tcr. Why, t.'vcrybody knows it 's really duck season. Wa lking away, Da ff y is s udd e nly s u rro und ed by hunt e rs w ho blas t him into a g ra phic black s l11ud ge o n the s no w. Ba rely a live, he c roa ks: "CilSp ... gilSp ... yo u' re d es picable." Daffy's beilk is lIsed ind ex icall y in these films, il nticipil ting s uch a use o f his e ntire bod y in DUC K AM UC K (1953). E.:1Ch time he s uffers a s hooting, his beak is rearranged o n his head- o r p<lrted frolll it- 1I1 so me w ro n g fa s hi o n : ups id e -d o wn and mo u nted over his eyes, so thilt he thinks


I

eve rything is u pside-down ; in Kwakiutl thunderbird ma sk a rrange ment , so that h i ~ en tire face is ins id e the ope n ja ws; spi nning aro u nd h is head like a shooting gallery target; o r simply cTll l11pled like tin foi l after stick ing his head o ut a hole to see if Elmer's s till there: "Still lurking about ," he says. A nothe r p h ys ical me thod of placing Bugs and Daffy in these films is their entry into shots. Bugs is us ually discovered by a cut, irnmobilc in the center o f the frame o r ris ing into it from his ho le. Daffy is found either by walking into a fixed sho t, or by cuttin g from a s tat ic s ho t of Bug s and Elmer to a ITlov ing-came ra shot, tracking with Daffy as hl' movl'S to ward th em ulti mat ely int o the frame lin es of th e first shot as he joins Bugs a nd Elnwr. All of which indica tes to th e viewer that Bugs is at the cen ter o f th ese events, the hub , nea rly (but not qu ilL'-yet) the II1('II('lI r dll j Cll ; and as coro llary, tha t Daffy'S co ns tant movement, somet imcs ecccntric, is an attempt to find a simila r s ~t at the eye o f the s torm . In th e first Stilgt..' of ea ch ca rtoo n, Bugs ilnd Dnffy arc nctuil ily und er Elmer's gun muzzle as they attempt to get each o th er s h ot. Bu gs a lwa y s wi n s by pl aying on Daffy's impilt ience il nd perversity . "Duck season," Bugs say s, and swi ngs the gu n tOWilrd Daffy. Th e du ck sa y s, " Ra bb it season," nnd swing s the g un back to Bugs. Th is repcilt s, s peedin g u p, until so mewhe re in th e midd le B u ~s says, " Rabb it season," and feints wi th the g un , leaving it

" Hey ! !

Not Ille, you ~Iop ,1rl iSI !"

Tht.'re's a lot o f schlemiel in the mix, and d lot o f proto-Jack LL'mmon. Elmer is in IhL' cartoon s ,15 tht.' source o f danger and as a dupt.' . He's Lhngerou s bl'cauSt.' he's a hunter wit h a g u n, and conseq uentl y q uit e ce rtain he 's there to s hoot somet hin g: also because he's d u mb and un stable. To Elme r, reality is whiltevcr hc's just ix>en con ned in to th in ki ng it is. The principal differen ces illl10ng 1{t\l:HHT FIR E, RAlmIT SEASO NING, and DUC K! RABBIT! DUCK! arc the ir end ings . S ig n s o n tree s cla imin g " Du c k St.'as on " or " Rabb it Season" are major props in atl lhree films, tho ugh Wt.' us uall y don ' t know whdhe r they're true o r not, or who puts them u p. AI the end o f RA IJIJIT FIRE, Bugs and Daffy are pulling s uch sign s o ff a Iret' , and under each s ig n is the o p pos it e sign , back and forth u ntil the last sig n is revealed : "El mer Sea so n ." Elme r doe s a n a sid e " Uh -oh" lilke, an d we cut to Bugs and Da ff y in unison a nd hunti ng cos tum e a s Bu g s sa ys, " Be ve ww y ve ww y qui e t: we ' re huntin g Ewme rs," and Daffy SZl YS, " Huh-huh-huh-huh." B (reading from "1,000 Ways To Cook A Dll ck"): D u ck polonai se und e r g la ss. Um-mmm . D (readillg from "1,000 Ways To Cook A Rabbit "): Rabbit au g ra tin d e gelatin und er tooled leather. Duh -roo l, duh -rool. B Barbec ued duck meat wi th broil ed d uck bill milanilise, YUT11eeYUt11. D: C hicken -fried rabbil wilh cottontail sa ll ce braised in carrots. M nl tn -mT11t1l1ll m. E: I'm SQwwy, fewwows , but I' m a vegetaw ian , I jus t hunt for the s port o f it. Huh- huh- huh -huh -h uh . B (acclIs illg ly): O h, yea h! Wt,lI , there's other s~ r ts besid es huntin ', you know. D ((,lIIlIlatiIlS B(lgart 's Broadway j il 'l' ('1/ t ral/ cl', il l white!' w ith roque!): Anyone for tennis ? (BLAM!) Nice game. The p rocess is more involved in DUCK! I{ADDIT! DUCK! whl' n Elmer identifil's Bugs as a s tt'wing rabb it and invi tes him to s.:' y his prayers. B: Look, doc. Are yo u look ing for trouble? I'm no t a s tewin ' rabbit. I'm a fricasseein ' rabbit. (S ho ws In/lei 011 al/ klc: " Fri({/ ss('f'ill~

po inted at h imself. "Duck season!" Daffy yell s triu mp hantly, s wings th e g un over, and comll1ilnd s "Fire!" The action th en escalilt es into secon d sta ge, more in volved con du els. RABBIT FIR E: Bu gs is a s t ron g, more tradi ti o na l American hero who rea cts to threat s u pon his person or property w ith appro priate violence. Dnffy is much mo n.' comp licated. He's a coward , he claim s, but a li ve coward . Daffy feel s a pn.'emptive necessity 10 set someone else (Bugs ) up fo r the d estruction he know5 is s tnlk ing any film he's in . He initiates dece it. I li s yen for herois m, as we ll as his tenacil y and rut hlessness in it s quest (o r th(, qUL'st of its ap pea rance) are balan ct.路d by his capacity fu r self-pity, selfrig ht eo lls ness, ilnd sdf~ a gg randizeme nt .

m/lhit. ")

E: Fw icasseein ' wabb it? B: Ha vL.' yo u go t a fwicassee in ' wabbit lice nse? E: Welt, no, I . B: Do yo u ha ppe n to kn ow wha t the pena lty is for shoo ting .1 fw icasseein ' wabbit without a fwi casseein ' wabbit license? D (ollt raged): Ju s t a parboiled minu te! What is th is, a cook in )!, c1Z1ss? S hoo t ' in'l, shoot ' im! E: But I haven 't got a license 10 shoot a fwicassL.'cin' wabbit. D (l'x itiIlS): Don ' t g o awa y, Danie l Boone , I' ll be bac k in a fl ash .. _" This li cen se permits th e bearer to s h oot a fw icasee ," uh ... fwickass , uh ... SZlY, Bud , how d o yo u spell fwickasl'ein '? B: " F- R- J- C- A-S-S- E- E- J-N-G. D - U -C - K. "

D: Here y a re, Leat herstock ing , all nice and legal ... Hurry up, h urry up, tht.' fint' p rint d Ot.'s n' l tllL',1n .1 th ing ... Hurry up, hurry u p! BLA ,\II! Daffy is blasted /111 Ellllt'r. D: He rl' ,' le i mt.' sec that thing . "Fricasseeing Duck." Well, I guess I' m the goat. (Surl'rised.') What ? (Buss mist's fI "Gont St't/SOll Opt'" " si,"!I/.

BLA.V! "" DnrfirJ D (t(l Buss): You ' rt.' .1 d ir ty dog. B(tn Daffy): And you' rt.,.l di rty skunk. D I'm ,1 d irt\' .. kunk ? l' m.1 dirt\' s kunk? (BliSS mises:, "Skllllk St'fISIIII " "~,,!I/ . BIA,\1

"" DarN路)

D (diss ustt'd i!'itll sclf): Brother, am [ a pigeo n. (B uss mises (/ " Pi,,,!I'OIl St'flSOII " sign . .. .)

The fin al s ta gt.路 o f these n arrati ves in vo lvt.' s var iati on s on mit..' an d identit y through im it Zlt ion a nd disg uist.>. Bugs and Daffy try to fur the r con fllst..' Elmcr by d ressing Up.1 S l'ach oth t.'r. Thl.'sC broad ly com ic episod es are s urpris ing ,1nd funn y because of o ur knowlcd gt.> o f e,1(h Ch.lrc1cter and our intt'fest in how cach choosL.'S to ape the othe r, rat ht.'r li ke Wallt..'r BrennZlI1 doin g John Way nt.' at the end of IU O UI{AVO . Jones provid es feath L.' r duslt..'rs, swim fins, an d a shower cap for Bugs' dumber and no isier ve rs ion of Daffy. Daffy's ve rs ion empha size s s li ck be lligt.'re ncl.'. The C(lIlP de Srace is Mel Blanc's crent io n of the voices of Daffy imitating Bu ~s, d e. Finally, we see Bugs's drag nc t. for wh ich Elmer is always a s ucker. Bugs as charmingly in e pt lad y hu nt ress in variabl y bow ls Elmer over, often to Dilffy's di~~ u st . s Ol11t."1 imt.'s Da ffy joins in by pla ying Bugs's hu n ti n g dog, do ing an excellent impress io n o f the Fris ky Dog character Jones used ea rli er in TERRIER STRI CKEN (1952), et c. DUCK AMUCK is Daffy's Book of }vll_ It is one of a handfu l of American anim ation masterpieces, a nd likely the mos t cerebral of them. Daffy Illak('s the mos t of his o ppo rtunit y fo r .1 definitivt.' solo tour-deforct'. It is Ht llnce a laff rio t and an essay by demon s tratio n un th e nat ure a nd conditi on s of t he a ni1l1 il ted fil m and th e 111 t.'chanics of film in gt路neral . (Even a qu ick check o f fi lm grarn mar is tossed in, via the "G imm e a closeup" g.1g.) Th e basic concept in DUCK ""'WCK is th e idea o f th e fra mt.' an d framl' lines. The s trat eg y w ithi n th o se lin e s d eve lo ps th roug h fr us trZltin g in cong ruiti e s. Th e co mi c pa y- o ff is the reflect io n of these themes in Dclffy's character, hi s res po nses and- wit hin the world of the cartoo n- his lit erall y cosmic hu miliat ion. The film is extremel y con sc io us of il sl.' lf as a n act of cinema, as is much o f Jo nes's wo rk. The s wa shbuckler credit s set the scene for another ad ve nture e pi c like THE SCA RL ET PUMP ERNICKEL . With extre me eco nom y, Jones p lays o ut th e firs t seq uence in a n un broken righ t-to- Ieft (the hard way) tracking s ho t. That th e entire world of the cm too n is 110t inside th e frame

FJLM COMM ENT 41


• DUCK AMUCK CONTINUED

grou ll\.; , p.l st pencil sketchlines of Sc:1 me,. to pl a in white background couples w l ~h Daffy's co mplai nts, the new brushed -Ill ba ckgro und s, and Daffy's cont inuin g fru stration . Tht;! res ult: the integrity of the expected layo ut has been d~troy cd. Jones goe s on to dCl1lOn s trllt e that while the sp irit and personal ity of Daffy, as abstractions, a rc unass.1ilnblc, his ph ysical person is up for grilbs. Daffy is erased, re-drawn , and saddk'd with inapprupriatt;! sO llnd e f-

feets. His objections are replaced by various bird sound s. He is abs urdly pain ted , then turned into a parody of thed uckbill cd Rub-a- Dub and provided \vith a mirror so that , li ke the Coyo te perceiving the chasm , he ca n und ers tand what's wrong . DUC K A1\·tu C K is a go od illus tration of Noe l Burc h 's dialectic idea of film elem e nt s: foreground and ba ckground , s pace and action , chara cter and environment , image and so undtrack are all in co nnict with one ano ther. The precise attack on the logic and co nven tions o f the fo rm climaxes as th e blackness outside the frame lin es sags in on Daffy, takin g over the screen. After fa il ed attempts to prop this stuff up with stru.ts, Daffy goes into a rage and shreds the 1Il vad ing black areas, asking that we "get this picture sta rted ," o nly to be cut o ff by an iris- in to black superimposed w ith "The End ." Obviously, Daffy is more sympat het ic in th is 111m than in the hu nter trilogy beca use he is not preying o n anyone else; he is a victim instead , no longer of himself but of so me irrat io nal power. Unabk to ~ooper-

DUCK AMUCK: Dialogue and stage directions

h ai-ha i-hai- hai-hain . O ne last e mbrace, before we ... mmmmm ... hmmmmm.

All dialoglle spokell by Daffy Dllck except as /loted. Florid eig" teen tlz-cell til ry swash frlllfnres.

0" pall with Daffy, backgrmmd Jzas been downgraded again to sketchiness, and then to white.

Sta nd back, musketeers! Th ey s h a ll sa mple my blade! Touche! Unh! Unh! Unh! Unh!

Buster, it may come as a complete surprise to yo u to find that this is a n animated cartoon, and that in animated cartoons they h ave scenery; and in aU the years I ...

lines-that th e director, as in li ve-actio n cinema, uses the frame to selectively show what he chooses to s how- is en'lphasized as Daffy ex its and enters past the frame lines as h e makes costume changes in II futile effort to matc h the chan ging scene background s, rccaJling II sequ ence fro m SH ERLOCK , JR.

Along with the frame-line

idea , Daffy mu s t be unders tood as an autonomous character, a put- upon actor ca p.lbk· both of playing ro les and spea~i~1g for himself. This increases the vulnerability we w itness t hrough Daffy's forced

metamorphoses. The move ment through th e firs t section from a florid , b u sily high -s ty le back -

Pall with Daffy swordplayi"g ill period costume, post period ensile backgrolllld, post prcr gressively less detailed sketch lilies of the backgrolllld, to a completely blmlk space. Musketeers?.. Hmmmm?.. En Ga rd e ... ? My blade ... ? Hey, psst, whoever's in charge here? The scen ery? Where's the scenery?

Bmsh ellters frame, paillts i" famlyard. S tand back, musketeers . They s h a ll sa mpl e my ... ? Blade . . . ? Hmmmm? Okay, h ave it your way. Daffy lroves frame- left, retllms with appro-

printe overalls, hoe, and fan/ ler's hat. (Sillgs:) Daffy Duck he had a farm, ee aye eeayeo ...

Backgrolllld challges, while pmlll illg with Daffy, to Eskimo snowscaJJf.. . . . And on this farm he had an igloo, ee .. . aye .. . eee .. . aye ... ooh (revelation). Would it be too much to ask if we co uld make up our minds, hmmm? U'illJeS frame, rollles back on skis, weari"g

muffs alld will ter outfit. (Sillgs:) Dashing through the s now, yaha-ha -ha - ha, th rough the fields we go, laughing all the way ... eee ... eee.

BackgrOlwd has changed to flowery Hawaiin" jlmgle; Daffy exits, re-enters frame with lri, ukelele, and wraparound. Sings: Farewell to thee, fa rewell to thee, the wind w ill ca rry ba ck our sad refrai42

JAN. -FEB . 1975

Daffy is erased. AU right, wise g uy, where am I!

Re-draulIl as singing cowboy, Daffy maves to strum guitar. No audio. He raises a sign, SOUND PLEASE. He stmms agaill . Guitar emits machine-gun sound. One more stnml . Guitar hOllks Klaxon sound. He throws duwlI guitar ill auger tlIld outrage. It crashes, shatters to "Hee-Haw!" sound. Daffy tries to protest: a roos ter crowromes from his mou/h. Ano/izerattempt: tropical bird calls. Slaps halld over mouth . Teutatively removes it: "Squeak!" Daffy flips ou t, ooicebox back. Raa rrghbrbrbrbrbr!! And I've never been so humiliated in all my life! Look, Mac, just what's going on here? Let's get o rganized , hmmm? How about some scenery? Pencil facetiously scrawls ill childlike out/inc

rendering of a city street. Thars dandy, ho ho, that's rich I'll say. Now how about some colo r, s tupid?

Bru sh paillt s DafIY with crude colored polkil-dots, stripes. Hey!! Not me, yo u slop a rtis~!

Erased. save for 'Yes alld hmk. Well, wh ere's the rest of me?

Daffy retumed as crazy-looking purple /lWtant with petal-mane and tail tllat roove5 a flag spelling "screw-ball," picture- rebus fasl1 iOlI. It's not as tho ugh I haven' t lived up to my contract, good ness knows; and good-

DUCK AMUCK

ate with this force, Daffy takes res pons ibility for the picture upon hi rnsclf, moti vat ed bo th by the egotis m o f his s tarhood an d a

ness knows it isn' t as though I haven ' t kept myself trim, goodness knows, I've done that. That's strange, al l of a s udden I don' t quite feel myself. Oh, I feel alrig ht, and yet I, I uh ...

Mirror i" ked ill . Da/ftj sees his refIectioll. Hey!! You know better than that!!

Erased, redmwn back 10 normal. Well?

Sailor suit provided. Hmm, sea picture, eh? I always wanted to do a sea epiC. Now Mr. Rembrandt, if you' ll kindly oblige with a little appropriate scenery-(Sillgs:) Over the sea, le t's go men, we're shovin' right off, we' re shovin' right o(f-

Oceall daubed jn, leaving Daffy strmlded mid-air over wnter. Aga in? Splash. Daffy dilllbs ashore 0 11 to faraway island 011 horizon. Distallt voice: Hey! C' m e re! , c' m e re! G imme a close-up!

Close-up grmlted, as whole screen reduces to size of postage-stamp to accommodate tiny distall t face if, comer of fmllle . This is a d ose- up? A dose-up, you jerk, a close-up! Violell t zoom-in for a "real" close-lip. Overly close. Daffy's huo ell raged red etJes fill screell .

Daffy tums, walks from camera ill disgust. Thanks for the so ur persimmons, cous in. Now look, b uste r, let's have an understanding.

T7zumpillg sOll1lds as top mId side /ramelilles begin to sag and rollapse ;11 . Now what? Brother, what a way to run a ra ilroad. Hunh-urg h! Hunh-urg h ! Huhn-urgh!


• comm itment to d eliver th e e ntertainment the audience deserves. Approp riat e ly a t this Jl101ne nt, his softshoe is dis rupted as th e image ro ll s o ut of frame, the frame lin e splitting the horizo ntal o f the screen and pruvid ing two images of Daffy. This event dicta tes th at Daffy have a fight with hill1-

self. Th e n there is a turn for th e better a s Da ffy is pro vided the lead in an av ia tion e pi c. Daffy handle s an o ff-screen cras h with good sp irits-"U h-o h! Time to hit th e old s ilk!"- and see ms to have resumed co ntrol until his ch ut e is turned into a n a nvil. The film pi vots o n this event. Daffy loses his heroic pos ture , his las t sho t at con tro l of the filn1, his physical well-being, and his grip o n real ity . He w inJ s u p reciting "Ihe Village Smith y" wh il e hammering o n a s ixteen· in c h nava l s h e ll 's d e tonat or. It ex pl ode s. Thi s p ar ti c ul ar image is emb le matic of his e ntire ca reer. It reca ll s FOREWAI{[) MARCH HARE (1952), one of Jones's Bugs Bunny serv ice comedi es, w hich ends w ith Bugs testin g s he ll s . If th ey don't detonate-and none of th e m do- he stamps "DU D" on th em as his De-

Daffi) now utters incredible shriek as he lIysterimlly claws alld tears at surroullding blackness. Alright, let's get this picture started.

Pelluftimate fal/fare, iriS-alit, THE END sign inserted. Daffi) desperately pushes sign away. No! No! Lis te n , pal, le t's discuss thi s

thing sanely, huh? Look, I'll tell you what, you go your way a nd I'll go min e. Live and

let live. iVg ht? Right. Ladies a nd genU emen, there will be no further delays, so I shan a ttempt to e ntertain yo u in my own inimitabububle fas hion .

Daffy starts softshoeillg to "Way Dowll Upon the Swallee River." Film catches in projector gate, so tiiat framei in e splits screen ill two horizon tally. There are nmu an upper all d a lower Daffi;. 0#1: Now what? (Looks below.) What are you doin' down there?

fense job. The differe nce is clea r. Daffy's las t indi gna nt a tte m p t at se lfassertio n begin s the final shot of the film . H e lit era ll y pull s him se lf toget h er and sa ys, " .. . w ho is respo n s ible for t his ? I demand that yo u show yo urse lf. Who are you? Huh ?" During th e s peech, the on1 nipo tent pencil ha s lubit sched in a d oorframe and a door; and, as Da ffy fin ish es, the e raser e nd of the penc il nu dge s th e door closed, settling his hash as fin ally as Bruce Baldwin's in HIS GIRL FRIDAY. As th e shot con tinues, th e fram e limi ts are p rofoundl y violated. The camera tracks back until we see the a ni mation boa rd , and then t he animator- a g loa tin g Bugseight-a nd ·a- ha lf seco nd s later. Two years afterwa rd, in RABB IT RAM PAGE (1955), Jon es remade this film with Bugs as the victim a nd Elme ras the cartoo nis t misu sin g hi s powers. It is n' t so s uccessful. Da ffy's the perfect para noiac (and he has his reasons); Bugs is a w inner, a nd does n't quite fit the sce na rio. A nd Elmer as th e a U- powerful crea tor?? In Bugs's version, a ma jo r issue is Bugs's contract and w he th er he' t! li ve u p to it. The p lay w ith s pa ce and

medium is more limited , a nd less pointed. It's the diffe re nce between bizarre sitcom and go- fo r-the- jug ular cOllledic lwire. The Daffy ve rs io n , it see m s to me, takes us m uch furth er ins id e ourselves: it' s incand esce nt. The Bugs ve rsion is cooler. DUCK AMUC K can be seen as DAFFY 'S BAD TR IP. Delu sio ns, h is own self-destruc ti ve fanta sies, with the rapid , unpredictable, di sco ncer ting cha nges of scene and orientation: it 's the final e xte ns io n of down hill ego-o n -the- lin e dreams. Is it reassuring when \'ve see, at the e nd o f DUCK AMUCK, the concentric, esop hagal War ner Brothers cartoon logo? Perhaps this d escription of DUC K AMUCK will provoke more thoug htful criticism of Holl ywood a nima tion . C huck Jo nes sa id: " But \-vhat I wan t to say is that Daffy can live a nd stru gg le o n a n e mpty screen, w ithout setting a nd witho ut so und, just a s well as w ith a 101 o f arbi trary pro ps. He remaill s Dalfi) Duck. " Although s hort of tits-a nd-ass, it s distil lation of para nOia , s uffering, a nd irrationa lity make DUCK AMUC K the perfect short to s how with Bob Fosse's LE NNY. :!;

D # 2: Down h ere? What a re yo u doin' up there?

as all aI/vii. Daffy falls abruptly, crashes below. Cut to dazed alld battered Daffi) after fall, milldlessly hammering the allvil. (Broken voice:) U nd e r the s pread in g

Peeved, the secolld Daffi) steps lip to first Daffy to settie displl teo D #l : Listen, bud , if yo u wasn' t me, I'd smack yo u rig h t in the puss.

0#2: Don't let that bother yo u, Jack. 0#1: Okay, you asked for it. First Daffy takes a swillg at the seccmd. Second Daffy is erased leavillg first hvirlillg around mid-punch. All resolved as Daffy I/ext is outfitted as WWI fly ing ace, ill plal/eagail/st blue sky. He digs it. O h brother, I' m a bu zzboy!

Plane eng ine revs, goes illto power dive, crashes il'lto pail/ted-ill 1II011nfnin. Daffy pilots body-less cockpit. Uh-oh, tim e to hit th e old silk . Gero nimo !

Bailsout successfully, un til chute is rqmill ted

chestnut tree, the village sm ithy s ta nd s; the smith, a mighty ma n is he, with s trong an d sinewy.

Anvil repainted as bomb. Daffy colltilllle5 to bring down hammer. Explosion. (Ne'arly destroyed vo ice;) . .. h a nd s . (Pause.) Awrig ht, e no ug h is enoug h, this is

th e fin a l, this is the very very las t stra w; w ho is res ponsible fo r this? I dem and that you show yo urself.

The III/seen artist draws ill door alld door-fmme. Who are yo u?! Huh?!

Door is shul in Daffy's face. Bugs Bwmy revealed at the animatioll boord. Bllgs Bl/lll1y: Ain' t I a stin~er?~

FILM COMMENT

43


For making the following research into the his· tory and techniques of e.l ch of the Winsor r-.kCa )' animated film s s uc h an excit ing and plea s urable tas k, the a uthor is gra teful to Louise Beaudet , Oil«:" ' IriccofLa Cinematheque QuebecoiS(', whoarranged for him to view the film s I.ls t summer in Montreal. and whose knowledge of "!lim.lllan h is tory is sur· p.1sscd only by her love for il ; to Ra ymond Mo niz, McCay' s gra nd son , a p roud promoter of h is g randfather's r"'pot.llio n; and to Jo hn A. Filzsim · mons, who was Winsor MCC.ly'!o neighbor, friend , assistant on two o f Ihe ,lnimililod films, .lnd ,In.lrticu· tJte c yt· · witne!os to ,ln im,lllan history.

The part o f m y lif...· o f w hi ch I am proudest is the fac t tha t I wa s on€' of the fi rs t men in the world to make an imated cartuon s . I went into the business and spent tho usand s o f dollars developing this new art. It req ui red co nsiderable time , ,patie nce, and careful th o ugh t- timin g end draw in g the pi ctures ... this is the mos t fasc in a tin g work I ha ve ever dont' - this bus in ess o f ll1(1killg ca rtoons li ve on the screen. - Winso r McCay, Cnr/o()JI nlld M(wie Mngnzil1l',

April 1927

When Winsor McCay died at his ho me in Sheepsh.ad Bay, N . Y. on Jul y 26, 1934 of a mass ive cerebral hemorr hage at the ap~ proxima ted age o f s ixty- three (th e Heralrl Trillltll e claime d " not eve n Mr. McCa y knew his exact age"), his fame as one of the g reatest o f newspa per cartoonists seemed secure. His realis tic fantasy s trip , "Littl e ('mo in Siumberland ," fi rs t appearing in The New York Herald o n October 15, 1905, was an immediate s uccess in news papers in America and Europe . Thank s to McCay's brilliant imag ination, and to an uns urpassed virtuosity o f drafts mans hip that neve r fa ils to a s tound , it rai s ed comic· strip ca rtoon s to J fine (l rt. On his way to s uch fame, and fo rtun e, Win so r Zenis McCa y, th e s on o f a Michigan lumberman , was a painte r o f posters and advertisements for traveling circuses, melodrama companies, and freak s how museums in C hicago and C in cinnati. Earl y on , he discover-xl his natural drawing ability, and this tal en t ga ined him a position , before he wa s twenty, as a staff artis t o n the Cincin nati COIIl/llt'reinl Tril"lII t'.

He was soon wooed away to work for five years o n th e riva l Cincinnati Enquirer. In 1903, New Yo rk Herald and New York Ti·ItXrtllll publis her James Gord o n Be nnett Jr. brought McCay to Ncw York as a s taff illus trator on his papers, cove ring crimes, trial s, and socia l events. While at these papers McCay al so created his ea rl y strips " Hun g ry Hcnrit..·tta ," " Little Sa mm y S neez(,," " Dream of the Rarebit Fiend ," and " Little Nemo in Siu mberiand. " After joining thc Hears t Press in 1912, McCay co n tinued "Nemo" and contributed powerful illus tration s to accompany Arthur Brisbane's written discourses. McCay's phenomenal energy ':lI1d d rive cnablt.>d him , in Jun e 1906, to devise and star in his own unique vaudt.·ville act, wit h which he toured s uccessfull y for eleven ye<l rs until William Randolph Hearst in sis ted he sig n a co ntra ct agreeing to aband on all stage work and conc('ntrat e o nl y on his news paper co mmitmen ts; McCay un~ happil y Sig ned. Part of the act had McCay in front of (I large blackboard drawing in chalk J picto rial "Seven Agesof Man": fa c-

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ing profiles of a man a nd a woman were taken thro ug h progress ive changes fro m cra dl e to o ld age in about fo rty pictures drawn at the rate o f one every thirty second s. As ea rl y as 1905, McCay was experimenting with an im ation in the s paci ng and cha nges of th e vis uals in his com ic strips, and his ea rl y vaudev ille routin e shows a fa scination with and und ers tanding o f bas ic animat ion principles. Eventually, McCay found time in his busy life to create ten animated fiJms, ex hibit ed between 19 11 and 1921, that are th e fo rerunners o f modern ca rtoon films. His painstaking t!x periments with tim ing, motion, cha racte riu1tio n, and techniques, fo r which th ere were no precedents, rig htfully place him as th e true father of an imatio n. McCay cons ideroo.t hea nim alcd film a new art form , and he treated it as a very personal, one -ma n s how ins tead of a factory assembly- lin e. He once p redicted "the com ing artist will make his rep utation not by pictures in still life, but by drawings that a re ani" mated. But McCay never full y exp lored the co mmercial possibilities o f animation and so never beca me widely recog ni zed or wea lth y fr om h is work in th e new medium . Soon afte r his death, Win sor McCay's repu tation fell into obscurity. With in th e las t d eca d e, howeve r, interes t in McCay and all his wo rks has rev ived . Hi s orig inal ca rtoon strips are selling fo r about $2,000 each; magazine articles and a glorious book of "Nemo" strips hil ve been published; his films are reg ularly included in college film his to ry courses. G radually McCay is being restored to his rightful place as an important American artis t, and his veteran co lleagues are con tributing to the res to ratio n with their reminiscences of Winsor McCay at work.

leased o n December 28, 1914.) Fitzsimmons also re members th e fam o us be t be twee n McCay and fe ll ow Hea rst ca rt oo ni sts Geo rge (8rillgillS Up Father) McManus, Tom Po we rs, a n d Thomas ' 'Tad'' Dorgan, that led directly to McCay's first film , LrrfLE NE M O: " ... th e three o r fo ur of th em were down in a sa loon near the old Alllaicnll building at William and Dua ne Streets rig ht und er the Brook lyn Bridge. They go t to kidding in there. I think McMan us kidded McCay becau se he was s uch a rapid wo rker. I never saw a n yone who co uld work like McCay ... Jokin gly, McManus s ugges ted that McCay make several th o us.l nd drawin gs, photog raph them o nt o fi lm and show the result in thea ters ... On a dare from his friend s McCay claimed he would produce eno ugh line drawings to susL:l in a four o r five minut e animated ca rt oon showing his ' Littl e Nemo' characters a nd would use the film as a special feature of his alread y pop ul ar vaud evill e act." McCay had to build his know ledge and working techniques of a nimatio n from lit erally no thing. At that time , sil ent movie projec tors were fl as hin g s ixteen frames- per- second onto th e screen, and accord ing to Fitzsimmons, McCay " timed eve rythin g w ith sp lit -second wa tches. That's how he got nice smoot h action. For every second th a t was o n th e sc reen McCay wo uld draw six teen pictures ... I-I e had no thing to fo ll ow, he had to wo rk every thing out himself. " The artist an imated his first three films o n 6" x 8" sheets o f translucent rice pape r, lig htl y pencil ing in th e an imatio n extreme poses first and fillin g in the "inbet,'\'een" dr"""ings of a n actio n a fter. He added detaiJ s and completed the indi vid ual drawings in Higgins black ink with Gilliot #290 pens in ho lders . For accurat e regis tra tion from o ne drawing to the next, crosses were placed in the upper rig ht and left co rners John Fit zs immo ns, th e artist' s friend and and a serial num ber was assig ned to each occasional ass is tan t, recalls how McCay draw ing in the lowe r rig ht co rner. Nex t, each rice paper drawing was mo unted on first became intert.'S h.'CI in animated mo tio n s lig htl y la rge r pieces o f qualit y bristo l pictures: "The New York American had a boa rd to ease hand ling and pho tog raphS unday s uppl en"lent , a ha lf - page of the ing. co mi c secti o n , a littl e h eav ier th a n th e Aseac h seq uence reached the mounting news s tock. Whoever mad e it drew a serit.'S stage, it was then checked fo r s moothness of pictures yo u could cut ou t and put toge th er with a rubber band and flick of action on a device McCay built t hat was th rough yo ur fin ge rs. We werl' talkin g based 011 a penny a rca d e view ing machine. It was a box, 24" x 12" x 20', o pen abo ut that o ne day. That mus t ha ve been the sta rt because they were a novelty, they at the top ,..,ith a shaft running thro ug h it had adve rti sing, some dru g co mpany. It . onto which a hub containing slit s held th e got to be a fad for kid s: get th ese things, cut drawings. A cra nk revolved th e hub and them out. I know he was talking abo ut it. " the drawings w hil e a brass rod running McCay himself con firms this o pinion, across the top ca ught the cards momen tarfor he wrotc in 1927, "Winsor, Jr., asa s mall ily, thus creating the interruption provided boy, picked up several flippers of ' magic by the shutt er o f a projecto r necessary fo r the illusion o f moving pictures. pictu res' and bro ught th em ho me to me. From this ge rm I evo lved th e modern ca rTHE FILMS toon movies in 1909." (McCay's use o f the LITTLE NEMO. A pproxi mat ely four da te 1909 has caused it to be used erroneously quite o ften as the date o f GERT IE T H E tho usa nd drawings were photographed D I 1\10SAUR'S debut. In fac t, GE RT IE was onto one reel a t th e Vitagraph Studios in McCay's third animated film and was reBrooklyn for McCay's first anima ted film.

Gertie. the firSI grea l Jadyof .lnimaled cartoons, was in¡ corporated into MCC.1Y'S v,lUdevilie pefformance in 19 14 .

A live-acti on sequence, directed by J.5. Blackton (w h ost! ow n film H UMOROUS I'H ASES OF FU NNY FACES in 1906 is regarded <IS the first fra me -bv- fram e an im atio n in motion p ictures), w~s attached to the beginnin g and end o f the fi lm for comme rcia l dis tributio n . It was released in moving picture theaters on April 8, 1911 , ."Ind shown as part of McCay 's va udeville act at New York's Co lonia l Theatre on April 12. Jo hn Bunny, Vi tagra ph 's s tar co median , appears wit h McCay and ot he rs in the live-action which takes place in a stud io sct representing the restaurant where McCay mad e th e bet wit h his peers. The tuxedoed ge ntl emen li'lu gh continuous ly as McCay, who re se mbl es Ja me s Cag ney with a forelock , claims h e w ill co mplet e fo ur th o usa nd movin g d rawin gs. The sce ne s hifts to a hallway o utsidt.' a door labe led "Studio" as burly workmen deliver barrels of "ink" a nd huge ca rtons o f " paper" to the diminutive McCay, dressed in ves t and the fedora hat hea lways wore when wo rking. Inside the studio, il mid stacks of paper representing animation drawings, one ca n ca tch quick glimpses o f th e "ch ec kin g machine," il nd close s ho ts of a fcv" of the rice paper sketches. The li ve !X>rtio n also contains a brief scene of the method used to ph o tog raph th e drawin gs: s ketches were inserted in to a wooden s lot and s hot one frameat a time by a horizontal ca mera . The animat ion itself is quit e wo nd ro us; therl' is no pl ot and no ba ckg rounds, so th e pure lin e drawings delight us by mag ica lly meta mo rphosing. Flip and Impy appea r, disappear, and chase each other in limbo, con tinually mov ing, and indica ti ng pers pecti ve o nl y thro u g h the g radual s ize changes in their bodies. Nemo is form ed by lines rest.'mbling s teel filin gs attracted to a magnet; he is rl>splendant in a cape, hat, and plumes (delicate pinks and yellows in the h a nd- co lo red o rig inal made by the Museum of Mod ern Art). He bows and co nducts the Imp and Flip in funho llsemirror co ntorti o n s. emo s ket ches th e Prin cess and presents her with a rose that grows just in time to be picked . A magnificent green drago n -c hario t, brilliantly animat ed , carr ies off th e two childre n to S iumbe ri and. Flip and Im py return in iI jalopy that ex plodes and th ey fa ll onto anot her McCay chara cter, Dr. Pill. The li ve St.."qucnce sho ws McCay collecting his bet. THE STO RY OF A MOSQUITO. A no tice in the Detroit N(>ws Trill/II/e o f March 24, 1912, dt.'5c ribes how McCay was incorporating his anima ted fi lms in to the va udeville act: ... Par t 1 will be a series of blackboard drawings , entitled 'Yo uth to Old Age'. Part 2 will be the ' Little Nemo' moving pictures, made from Mr. McCay's drawings and d epicted o n the picture scree n by a beau tifull y co lo red film , he bein g the first ca rtoo nis t in AfT\erica to make animated pictUrL'S. Part 3 is ca ll ed THE STORY OF A MOSQU ITO and is said to be a mong th e best comed y series o f pictures yet d evised by a ca rloo ni st." The MOSQ UITO film Oanuary FIL M COMMENT

45


W INSOR MC CAY CONTI NUED

19U ), his second ink-on - ri ce- pa pe r anim a ti o n , is a g ru es ome ly funn y s h o rt. Steve, a s piffy mosq uito with a to p - hat, discovers a slee pin g drunk and bores his long proboscis into the ma n's nose, neck, a n d d o me in gl utto no us search fo r alcoholic blood . Soon he has par taken of so much he can ha rdly fly; in the e nd , Steve exp lodes. GE RT IE T H E DI NOSAU R. Re markin g on th e LITTL E N EM O a nd MOSQ UITO anima t ion s. M cCay o nce sa id, " Wh ile th ese n't1d e a big hit , th e th ea tre patro ns s uspec;ted so m e trick with w ires. No t until I d rew CERTI E T H E D INOS,\ UR d id the au d ie nce un de rstand that I was mak ing the drn w in gs move. " In th e Ap ril 2, 1912, Roches ter Pos t , M cCay anno un ce d , " I ... have a lrea d y bee n a pproac hed by 'The Ame rica n His to rical Society' to dra w pictures of pre his toric an im als, the present ev id e nces o f w h ic h a re limit e d to th e ir ske leto ns, w hi ch wo uld represe nt some con nected inciden t in the ir li ves. they co ul d be s how n on screens a ll ove r the world ." GERTIE was co pyrigh t o n Septe mber 15, 1914, and is McCay's first a nimatio n using a d etniled backgrou nd . Jo hn Fit zsimmons assis ted McCay on th e film : " I did a ll the backg ro un d wo rk ... H e had a mas te r draw ing of the backgro und and he wo ul d make the d raw in g fea turing the an imal. I wo ul d lay thnt over the master backgro und and trace in pen a nd ink. " Fit zs immo ns also observed the fil m ing of GE RTIE: " I we nt u p to the Vitilg rap h Con1 pa ny o n Ave nu e M o n e n ig h t. {McCayJ h a d a w ho le series of d raw ings a nd we were u p the re fo r ho urs ... He wen t thro ug h this w ho le th ing, p hotogra ph e d t he w hole da m n ree l ... T hey d cveloped th e n egative, made th e positive print , put it on the screen a nd every other frame was a diffe rl'nt s hade. Bec<l use th ey were u sin g arc lig hts, it woul d sputt er a nd get brig ht, the n go d ow n, get dim , and s putt e r aga in . \"ll'lI, th e whole d a mn th ing W<l S no good. It h<l d to be th rown o ut." The fin a l version o f GE RTIE was fitte d w ith a live-acti o n seque n ce s h ow in g McC"y a nd cron ies vis it ing New Yo rk's Mu se u m o f Na tural H is to ry. roamin g a mo ng d inosa u r skele to ns, a nd later, in t uxe does a~p i n , .1t a res ta ura nt w h e re MCCilY bets he ca n make a dinosa ur move a nd sl.'ls to work dra wing. Ge rtie, the fi rs t real ca rtoon ~ tilr, s hyly ma kes he r screen d ebut pee rin g from be hin d so me rocks. Soon a more asserti vt..' persona li ty e merges .md she d evours trees, bo uld e rs, a nd fmit. " I lectured in connection w ith the screen prest..'n ta tio n ," McCa y wrote yea rs la te r, " in vit ing Ge rtie to ea t a n ,' pple, which I he ld up to he r. Ge rti e wo ul d lo wer he r 46

JAN .- FEB . 1975

lo ng neck and s,,,,,aJlm v the fmit , much to th e de lig ht of the audie nce." Gertie a lso drinks a la ke, tosses a mammo th over he r s ho ulde r, a nd d a nces. Admo nis hed , she cries, and th e a udie nce is wo n over by the ins pired to uch of a d ip lod icus weeping like a n ove r -g row n c hild . S ixty-year-o ld GERTIE is as fresh as eve r in conception and execution-a mas terpiece o f e arly person a lity an imation technique. THE SINKING OF TIlE LUSITA NIA. On Fri da y, Ma y 7, 1915, th e Eng li s h C un ard liner, Lusitania, ho me w a rd bound from e w York to li verpoo L was torpe doe d witho ut w arning by a German subma rine o ff the coast o f Irela nd . The ship Sc:, nk in e ight ee n minutes, killing almost twe lve hundre d , includ in g ove r a hundre d Ame ricans. The fX>litica l and e mo tional res fX>nse to this tragedy wa s a major fa ctor in bring ing the Unit ed States in to World War I. " McCay was especia lly ince nsed a t s uch w a nt o n bruta li ty," Fit zsimmon s reca ll s. " He proposed to make an a nima ted ca rtoon g ra phica ll y d e pictin g th e ho rrible tragedy." Released on July 20, 1918, this film was the fi rst McCay a nimatio n to use cellul oid ins tead of paper for th e actio n dra v.' 1ngs, thus allowing a s tat io nary backg round to be used tha t didn ' t have to be re dra w n each fra me. " Binding posts we re a ttached to dra win g boa rd s," says Fit zsimm o ns, who o n this film was aga in McCay's assistant , "a nd th e s hee ts o f ce llulo id we re punched to fit sn ug ly to the m , thu s th e a nnoying prob le m o f move me nt or shifting o f draw ings \-... h il e being traced was red uced to a minimum . . [It J fa cilita ted the ph o tog ra phin g o f th e drawin gs im meas u ra b ly. ' di d th e wa ter, th e waves. He mad e a set of six teen waves a nd num bered the m o ne to sixteen, a nd those waves wo uld ro ll nice a nd s moo th . We had o ne scene o f the Lusit ania a t n ight go ing across Io n ] abo ut seve n hund red a nd fifty draw ings. His numbe r o ne drOlw ing and my number o ne \,vave wo uld be th e sa me; fo r h is seventee nth d raw ing I wo uld s tart m y number o ne aga in ." The fina l fi lm conta in s a pprox ima te ly twen ty-five th o usa nd d ra w in gs o n ce ls and took twen ty- two mo nths to co mplete. There is a wo nd erful use o f g ray to nes, fascinOltin g patt e rn s o f th e w hit e a nd blac k s moke e ffects, and McCay's att e ntio n to d e tail and pe rs pective in sce nes o f t he s ubmarine s ubme rg in g \vhi le s peeding tow<lrd the ship, <l nd o f th e ship ca ps izing. It is quite a bea utiful film, a nd must h<lve g rea tl y affec te d audie n ces o f th e tim e - w h o w e re un aware th a t th e Lus ita ni<l had bee n heavily a rm e d , a nd Ihal Ihe English AdmiralI)' had been negLige nt in protecting th e ship . TH E CENTAURS. Frag me nted scenes a re

all th at re main of th is fascinating cel animation . A wo man with a n u pswe pt haird o is seen \-...alking, nud e to the waist, thro ugh a birch fo rest; soo n we d iscover she has the bod y o f a calico ho rse re plete wit h white ta il. A ma le ce nt a ur throw s a rock and hits a vulture. He a pproaches the fe ma le and they slow ly wa lk towa rd a g randmoth er centa ur a nd a gra ndfathe r (who resembles Geo rge Be rnard Sha w), pres umably to ask perm iss io n to marry. All the a nimatio n appea rs to be o n on e cel- Ievel because a ll th e c hOl rac te rs s ta rt a nd sto p mo vin g a t the sa me time. A baby's head a nd torso on a fX> ny's trunk ente rs a nd s hows off, a nd the film abruptly e nd s . The d esig n of the "centa ure tt es" in th e Pas to ra l-se que nce o f FANTASIA might ha ve been in flu en ced by th e McCay film; many o f the olde r Dis ney s to ry men und o ubte d ly saw th e McCay films w hen they we re firs t rel eased . (Dick Hu e me r, in fa c t, re-creat e d the GERTI E vaud eville ro utin e from me mo ry for a Fifties Dislleyland T V show.) FLI P'S CIRCUS. Fragme n ts o f scenes fro m this film-return o f th e cl eve r Flip. Here he juggles, bala n ces, and a tt e mpt s s tunt s w ith a C f'rti e- likecreatllfe who ea ts pa rt of h is COl r. The re a re ma ny "cel flashes" in this film ind icating light re fl ectio ns o n the cellul o id , a n d three- fram e ca pti ons co uld mea n this was a wo rk print. GE RTIE ON TOU R. Th e s ho rtes t o f the McCay p rints, this frag me nted film s hows Gertie wa lking near a rail road . looking at a frog, s to ppin g a tro ll ey ca r, w it h ba ckg ro un ds of the New Yo rk Cit)' sky lin e, and a s trange scene o f Gertie d ancing on he r hind legs o n a rock surro unded by se veral othe r dinosa urs. The re a ppea r to be two eel-levels used , one for her head a nd ta il, a nd a no the r fo r he r body; again , ca ptions a re shown fo r two or three fra mes. DREA MS OF THE RAREBIT FI END: THE PET. This first of a series o f three DR EA MS, all d istributed in 1921 , tell s the tale of a ma n wh o eats so me d isag reeable ra rebit a nd dreams that his s ma ll house pet g rows into a tens to ry high mon ster afte r drink ing a barre l o f " ro ugh on rat s ." The re a re impressive scenes o f th e mo ns ter pe t roamingil la KI NG KONG through city buildings, and hi s final d es truction by <In a rm y o f bo mbing pla nes. Th e fil m re mind s o ne o f Tex Av e ry's KING -SIZE CANARY (1947) in which a cat <l nd a mouse drink so much "Jum bo-C ro" they ca n hard ly fit on top of the wo rld . DREA~I S OF TH E RAREIJI T FI EN D: BUG VAU DEV ILLE . A ho bo comp lain s abo ut a rareb it ha ndout a nd falls asleep und e r a tree. He dreams he is watching a va ud evill e pe rformance o f juggling grass hopper's, a n ecce ntric- dan ce r Dadd y Lo ngLegs, a trick-cyclist cockroach, and a butle rny corps de/Nll/et. Finally, Ihe hobo is al -


"

Top leh ; flip, a favorite character fromM cCay's cpiccomic stripLiftle it in a b.',m:;n"",;n flliP'S a b.lrrel of "rough on rats" and grows into a tcn路storey high monster, fin.ally destroyed by an a rm y of airplanes and a i I (1921). Bottom left : Steve, a dapper but greedy mosquito, com es to a bad end, in THE STORY OF A MOSQU ITO ( 19 12). Bottom right : The outer-space effects ma ke DR EAM S OF A RAREBIT FIEND: TH E FLYIN G HO USE

(1921) McCay's 200 1, eighlYyears {'.lrly.

tacked by a la rge black s pid e r a nd thi s awakens him . A marve lous ly en tertaining ca rtoo n , seve ral eel- leve ls, love ly grayton e backgro und renderings, a nd cleve r animation . . DREAMS OF THE RAREBIT FIEND: T H E FLY -

A title ca rd announ ces the film was " Drawn by Rober! Win so r McCa y using the Win so r McCay process of an imated draw ing." This father and son collaborative effort is a fantasy o f a wife who ea ts so me rarcb it and dreams her hu sband has eq uipped their house wit h rings and a propeller in o rder to fl yaway from their creditors. The a nimat ion of th e humans is rather stiff and repetitious, but th e specia l e ffec ts an ima ti o n of the h o use fl y in g higher and higher into outer space is quite ING H OUSE.

impressive, a sort o f 2001 of the T . .ve nties. In conclusion, one notices the influence McCay's theatrical backgro und had on his film s ubjects and action; most o f the fi lms are prese nted in a rather s ta gey, as opposed to cin ematic, way, with ex tremely limited u se of close- ups. In th e firs t three anima tions, the action is continuous, as in " rea l ti me", and makes no use of cut s; changes o f angle are accomplished by the movement of th e characters. The e mpha s is in McCay's animated fi lms is o n ma king th e impossible seem p lausibl e. This is acco mplis hed mo s tl y thro u gh makin g the characte rs cha nge shapes, dance, juggle, and fl y in mas terful perspective thro ugh space. Limit ed perso nality touch es, yes, but never lirnited

animation; cycle drawin gs repeating, yes, but always well-plan ned. It seems a pity McCay never continued wo rking in an ima tio n, with so un d an d color, setting up his own s tudio, and produ cing more and more cartoon films. But h e never did , for he knew his own need s ve ry we ll. As Jo hn Fitzsimmons says: " Fi rs t o f all, McCay was an artist. I do n' t th ink h e wo uld eve r sit in an office and ha ve a d oze n peop le drawing the stuff. He got more fun out of his own work than anybod y I ever sa w . Every o nce in a while all of a s udden he'd bus t out laughing at the cartuu ns h e was d o ing. McCay, he loved to work. I nevenaw anybody love to work li ke he did ." ;C.. Copyright John Canemake r 1974.

FILM COMMENT

47


IVYFIL 1 M,l\ JI drJwinj.< boanl wllh Ko -Ko.

Ko·Ko in BEDTIME.

Immi nent cJ.astro phe in KO -KO'S EARTH CONT ROL.

MA~ ANS SAVE

The inventor Max and the inventive Dave built a cartoon industry, with

Ma, Fl eisc her wa s born in Aus tria in 1885 tmd ca me to tht..' Un il ed States at the agt..' of fivt..'. After SOIllt..' Ir.lining in ilrt and mt..'chilnics ill Ihe Art S tudents' Leilgue , Coo pl.:.'r Union , Mld the Mec hanics and Tradesl1ll.:.'n 's Sc hool. Ma x so ug ht employ ment ill the Brook lyn Daily EaSlc. It is stl id that he offered to pay the A rt Edit or two dollars it week for the trainin g: the sttlrtit:'d editor hired him on the s pot. MtlX left the En\!Il', " nd ilfter several vears as a pho to t:'ng'raver, returned to n., lis m as the A rt Edi tor of Popular Scifllct' ,\/lolI/IIly, w hich allowed him to pu rs ue his ml.'c han ical and artis ti c interests . Encour,'gt..'d by Wa ldcll1tlr Ktlcmpffert , the Editor- in -C hief, Max, with his b rother Dtlve, ilttempkd to dL'v d op " Illdhod to ftlciJit a te the produdion o f mo ti on picturt' ca rtoons bv ma chiner\', in order to cut the costs and improve tll(, mot ion o f an im,,tion . The res ult of the ir c\pcrimentat io n was tilL' rotoscope. w hich projectt:.·d a film of il li ve fi g un.' franlL' -by- fr<1mL'. serving as . ., g uidL' for the dr,lw ing of <lIl anill1i1ted fi g ure . 1n ·191 5, the FleiscllL'rs h,lli complet ed thL'ir fir sl cMtmm bv this nL'\\' mL'lhod. T h\..' film , one hundrL'd :m d seve n tv· fi ve fet.'t in leng th , starred Kn- Ko thl' C h;wn , ,1 ro tosco ped \·L'rs ion of Dave FI~i sc h er in " clown s uit. C1rtoon in han d , ,\ 1,1\ went out in "l'a rch of ,1 di stributor, and found John Bray, his ers twhil .., col!L\lgue o n the [asic , w hose s tudio wa ~ tilt' L'\c1usivL' producer o f cartoon ~ for Paral1llHlIll Famo us L1Skv. Bray hired thl' Fleiscl1L'r..; to produce -;1 se ries of s hort c.ntoons th,lt featured KoKo, but the First World Wolf interrupted thL' ,l "soc i~tion . In 1917, tilL' Army L's t.1blis h L'd .l film s tudio .1t Fort 5 illto produce tra in ing film s. M,lX enli ~lL'd in tht' arm y, and du e to a se ries of a rtid ..,s hL' h,ld previollsly donc un

IOur-

48

JAN.- FEB. 19 75

mi litary equ ipment fo r Poplllar Scimc(', he was ass ig ned the direct io n of a se ries of trilin ing films. These an ima ted films, HOW TO READ AN ARMY MAP and HOW TO FIRE A LEWIS GUN (both 191 7), may have bee n th e fi rs t educational cartoons, alt hou g h Bray ha s a similar claim. Dave s pent the war in Wa s hing ton, ed iting film s for the Medi ca l Co rps . After the end of the war, Max and Dave returned to the Bray S tudio , until 192·1, w hen they bega n to release their " Out o f th e Ink well" cartoo ns throug h Winkler , then S tandard , Arrow , a nd Red Sca l Pict urcs. MODELI NG, an early "O ut of the inkwell " Ctl rtoon (1921), beg in s, ti S us ua l, with Max a t h is drawing board. I-k sketches circlL's tha t fo rm them selves into the s hape of Ku· Ko the Clown , who complains that he is weak beca use Max uses stale ink . Max demands that the clown s how more pep , and prod s hi m into act io n with a s harp pl.'n. As Ko- Ko cavo rts, we see another part of the s tudio, w he re Da vt..' is mudeling a likeness of an ug ly clie nt in clay . The modt.'1 comp lain s that the bu st look s too mu ch like him , and ivl ax, after drawing a winter scene into Ko- Ko's ' ....o rld , goes to a rbit r.1 !L· the d is pute. Ko· Ko, left alone, sli ps a lo n g th e ice, b ut regtlins his balance a nd skates confidently o ff screen , s tickin g ou t his tong ue at us. He reappeMs over thl.:.' horizon, and traces a cilrictlturl.:.' of the Illodel on the ice. A polar bear stetlls Ko- Ko's hal, and after a lon g cha se, Ko-Ko roll s th e bea r up inlo a giant snowba ll , \-vhich he mold s into the likeness o f the mo del. The three men arc a n gered by thi s displtlY, so Ko- Ko takes refuge in tilt:.' sculpture. M:.1 x, Dave, and th e mo del are horrifiL'd by the s ubsequcnt beha v ior of the bu st' s nuse, as il beg ins to crav,,1 a lo ng the

floor. Terrified , they jump on th e piece of clay, but Ko-Ko escapes to the dra w ing board . The me n fig ht until Max rea li zes w ho is to blame. Ko-Ko sees this, and jumps btlck into the sa fety of the ink well. [n reve nge, Max pours o ut th e ink in sy m bol ic fi licide. in MODELING, the Fleischers tried to so lve two of the early proble m s of a nima tion: elaborate movement, a nd the illusion o f depth. Through th e use of the rotoscope, Ko-Ko was able to move in an elaboratl' and s mooth mann er throu gh a li ve st'! . The Reischers reveled in the freed o m the ir invention gave the m , keep in g their silent cartoons in almos t cons tant motion. i\·IODE LI NG ill us trates sig n ifi ca nt themes in the Fleischers' work. The an ima ted characters move witho u t necessary ca use, and o fte n in a rhy thm ic pattern . This movl.:.' ment is not limited to change in locatio n . Many things in the film cha n ge tht!ir s hape o r properties, s uch as the dra w n circles that tran s fo rm the mselves into the li ving Ko-Ko, or the nose of th e sculpt ure tha t crawls likea \vonn a lo ng the floor. These cons tant tran sformat io ns run throu g hout the Fle isc her silent s . In BEDTIME (1921), Ko-Ko grows g ig antic, a nd stalks, Ko ng- like , thro ug h the s treets of L'W York . In ,",0-,",0'5 HAUNTED HOUSE (1928), the ink well is s tre tched into a model house, and Ko-Ko's pet dog Fit z turns him self inside ou t. In HAREM SCARUM ("1928), Ihe chopped-off head s of Ko-Ko a nd Fit z s pro u t legs and walk back to their bod ies. The Fleischer cartoo n world is o ne in w hich every thing is potentially some· thin g el se, with a res ultingly bizarre imagery thtlt find s its fullest expression in the ca rtoo ns o f the ea rly Thirties. The Riots o f mos t ea rly Aeischer carto ons a re cycl ical and fatalis tic. In SPARRING PARTNER (1921), a tiny Ko- Ko is


by Mark Langer a little help from Ko-Ko , Betty Boop, Popeye, and the Bouncing Ball. unjustly punished by Max. At the film 's end, a s hrunken Max is punished by KoKo. More usuall y, Ko-Ko's fate i s dictated

by Max, his father-tormentor; the ca rtoon shows ho w the clown both !em pis fate and struggles aga in st it. In KO-Ko'S HA UNTED HOUSE, Ko-Ko and Fit z Me tormented by an animator who rin gs a gong and blows ai r into th eir 1l10dd hOllse. The cha racters ask Max for hel p, and he draws hundred s of Ko- Kos, which fti ghlen th e an imator ou l of the studio . At times, the conflict between the real and comic worlds g rows increasingly violent. In KO - KO 'S EA RTH C ONTROL (1927) , Ko-Ko a nd Fitz comt:' to a shed , they play with the controls, and Fit z attempts to pull a lever marked " Danger! Do not touch ea rth control. If thl' handlt.路 is pulled, the world will come to dn end." Despite Ko- Ko's dcs perilte interference, Fitz s ucceed s, and th e Cilr toon wo rld begin s to crumble. The two characters jump out of the d rawi ng to the s uppo sed safety o f the Fleischers' office window sill. Muc h to their s urprise, they see that the real \vorld is a lso bei ng destroyed , a s the grou nd shakes, a nd time runs backwards. Horrified, Ko- Ko a nd Fit z jump back into the inkwell, leaving the world in a state of chaos. The film ed process of drawing Ko- Ko at the beg inning of almos t every silent cartexlll shows a Fleischer fascination w ith mechan ics and processes that is evid e nt in other ways. In KO-KO THE HOT SHOT (1924), Max is shO\vn flipping through a stack of cels; in KO-KO'S EARTH CONTROL, we see a carloon explanation of how nature is con trolled . Much o f this fascination probabl y orig inated with Max, v..,hose interest in mechanics brought him to animat ion, led hi m to patent mo re than a dozen a nima tion processes, a nd was to lead the Flei-

sehers to make a number o f his toricall y sig nificant films in the Twenties. The Fleischers' intert:.'S t in ed uca tiona l films did not e nd after their short Army film experience. In 1922, Max attempted a four- reel animated exp lanation o f THE EINSTE IN THEORY OF RELATIV ITY (1923). This first- eve r animated feature was played primaril y for schools, and was so co mpletely for go tten that a publicity s heet iss ued by the Fleischer Shldio in 1938 neglected to me ntion it. THE EINSTE IN Tl-IEOJ{Y OF RELAT IVITY wa s fol lowed by a partl y animated feature, EVOLUT ION (1925), a minor sensa tio n, made the sa me year as the Sco pes Monkey Trial. An even m o re sig nifi ca nt achievement fo llowed . In 1924, the Aeischers, work ing with Dr. Lee DeFores t of the DeFores t Phonufilm Co mpany . produced the first sound -on -film cartoon, OH MABEL. In its first public showing, the aud ie nce refu sed to watc h the feature until the cartoo n was rerun. 0 1-1 MAIlEl was the firstof the "Song Car-Tu nes, " which we re more generally di stribut ed in silen t version s . H owever, the so und p rint s were true sy nc hronized sou nd film s. In MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME (1926), a d og repairs his fal se teeth , plays a trombone, a nd requests that the audience sing alon g and " fo ll ow the bouncing ball," all in pcrk--ct sy nch . Generall y, the " Song Car-Tunes" were c heap ly anima ted in comparison w ith the " Oul of the Inkwell" films. Most began with a stock clip of KoKo a nd the Ko- Ko Kwarlette, who wuuld introdu ce th e song. Then the ly rics would roll by, accompan ied by the now -fa mous Bouncing Ball. The last few choruses of the so ng would have a ca rtoon cha racte r replace th e ba ll . and perform amusing actions as it jumped fr om word to wo rd. Tod ay, the fi lms seem overlong w ith their

endless choruses, but arc still imag inative and funn y. The "Song Car-Tunes," a lthough popular, were made o nly until 1926. The Red Sea l Picture Corpo rati o n, never a financially s table company , had undergo ne a nurnber of changes of managem e nt , e nd in g ..."ith Max Fleische r as pres ident. Des pit e p ublicit y tours, and th e introduction of the new livC' -ac ti o n two - re e l ser ie s " Keep ' Em G uess ing" and "Carrie of the Chor us," the company closed in S eptember 1926, and th e Flei s chers were without a dis tributor. In 1927, th e Fleischers released KO-KO PLA YS POOL through Paramount, an association that was to last for fiftee n years. AI fir st, the Fl e isc hers produced a series of silent " Inkwdllmps" ca rtoo ns with Ko-Ko, but with the immm ense popul arity of Disney's talkies, Ma x and Dave ret urned to so und cartoons. THE SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK ("1929) , a "Sc reen Song," was the Fle isc hers' fir s t so llnd cartoon for Paramo llnt , and marked a return to the "bo uncing billl" format of the "Song Car-Tunes." Paramount pro vided th e re co rd s o r fil m clips, and the an imators, work ing under Dave's direction , wou ld d ev ise cartoon action to accom pan y t he music. Often, as in I'L L BE GLAD WI路IEN YOU'RE DEAD YOU RASCAL YOU (1932), they would incorpora te an ima ted characters inlo previously film ed live sequences. Th is u se of pre- recorded materia l was closer to today's animat ion m e thod s than wa s the ea rl y Di s ney method of pos t- recording. At first, there was no sto ry department at the Fleis chers' studio. Max and Dave, as producer and d irector, wo uld receive recordi ngs from Para mount, a nd would decid e on a rough ac tio n o utli ne or theme . Then D<lvl' would go to work w ith the FILM COMMENT

49


MAX & DAVE FLEISHER CONTINUED

Top to bottom: Po pe y("~ film debut in POPEYE THE SA ILOR; Popeye hangs prec<Hiously from a girder in DREAM WALKING ; sku ll- rock background in POPEYE THE SAILOR MEET S SIN BAD THE SAILOR ; Popeye, Olive, ,md Wim py in PQPEYE TH E SAILOR MEET S ALI BAlW S FORTY THIEVES. We Mt' grateful to I vy Fil ms, the t'xdu s ive dis tributo rs of all the Betty Boo p cartoon s, fo r their generos ity in furni shing prints for this piece.

50

JAN. - FEB . 1975

an imators. T he animato rs were divid e d into units, each unit working o n a d iffe rent ca rtoon. The head an im a tors would li sten to th e music with Da ve, and wo uJd devise the action of the film , subject to Dave's appro va l. This gave the head a nimators more freedom tha n the Dis ney animators, but not as mu ch as the animators at Warners were to have. The new so und series was far better a nimated than the first, but marked the decli ne of Ko-Ko the Clown, who was quickl y losing his popula rity to Mickey Mo use. The " Inkwell Im ps" sil e nts ended in 1929, and were re pl aced by th e " Talkarloon" series. Max appea red less frequentl y in the films, and Ko-Ko was joined by Bimbo, a more a nth ropomorphic dog than Fitz. Bimbo's presence failed to res to re the series to the s uccess of earlier sil ent Ko-Ko's. In August 1930, th e Fleischers introduced a new character, developed w ith a nimator G rim Natwick, called Bet ty Boo p, w ho first appeared as a dog-like character in the " Talkartoon" DI ZZY DISHES (1930). In 1931, after advertising for a girl "with a cute voice,'.' the Fleischers hired Mae Questel to prov ide the H elen Kaneish voice for the new cha racter. Ques tel' s voice first appea red in BETTI' CO-E D (1931), which o pens w ith Betty Boop as she is ca rried by chee ring college students. We see Bimbo walkin g to Betty 's door with fJowers a nd candy. He is seized by two frat e rnity me n, w ho bou nce him into the air with a b la nket. Bimbo fal ls into a tree, which comes to life and deposit s th e hapless dog at the fraternity door. After a live-action seq ue nce of Rud y Vallee singing th e title song, Bimbo gets to see Betty, and a number of shots give a satirical view of co llege graduation. BETTY CO-ED illu strates th e weakness of many o f the "Screen Songs." The liveaction sequence in the middle o f the cartoon disturbs its kinetic pa ce. The film just stops wh il e Vallee sings. although it ma y not ha ve see med so to theater aud ie nces who joined him in so ng. Also, at this time, the Betty Boo p chara cter was not yet fu lly formed , being awkwardly half-woma n, half-dog . As in other Fleische r ca rtoo ns, there is a treme ndous sense o f fatal ism in BEnl' CO-ED. Bimbo cannot get to Betty through his own attempts, but is brought to he r by chance. He is to rmented by fraternity ITlembers and stru gg les with a n anthropomorphic tree in an expression of violence and mutability. BETTY CO-ED a lso contains s trongly sex ual elements. No t a ll o f the ea rl y so und Fleischer ca rtoo ns were psychodramas . Some we re revu es, composed o f a number o f looselyrelated sight gags and musical numbers . BETTY Boor M.D . (1932) has Betty a nd friends in a medicin e show , se llin g Jippo . The cartoo n is a dance of metamor phos is

and death as va rious cha racters drink Jip po. An old man d rinks and jumps in to his grave. The e ntire casl marches towards the camera, the ir bodies e longating in time with the mu sic. Finally, a baby d rinks, and turns into Mr. Hyde. Despite the g rueso meness of these images, the e ffect is pleasa nt becau se the chara cte rs' movements are so closely choreographed w ith the infectiou s jazz score (pe nned by Lou Fleische r) . Other rev ue ca rtoo ns e ntered the realm o f social satire. In BETTY BooP FOR PRES ID ENT (1932), the Fle isc he rs pa rody Prohibition and ca mpaign promises as Betty imitates a n umber of po li ticians, including Herbe rt Hoover. BETTY BOOP'S UPS AN D DOW NS (1932) is the Fleischers' Grapes of Wrath, whe re everyone on ea rth is dis possessed. Neither ca rtoo n has a plot; in stead, they ge ntl y poke fun at the problems of th e coun try in a numbe r o f short, a"nost unrelated sight gags, and pleasa nt , bu t forgettable so ngs. The ir charm lies in th eir light-hea rted a pproach to the subject matter, in contrast to the overpowering imagery of the psycho- sex ual drama s . In 1932, the Fleischers a rra nged w ith King Features Sy ndi cate to bring to the screen E. C. Sega r's popula r Thimble Thea tre co mi c strip character, Popeye th e Sa ilo r. Po peye's debu t was in a Betty Boop cartoo n, I'OPEYE TH E SA ILOR (1933), w here he was fi rs t show n in a newspaper that a nnounced that Popeye was now a mov ie star. Ko-Ko was merely a re-creat ion of Da ve; Betty had appeared w ith he r " Und e Max" in a fe w cartoons. But Popeye was the first Fle isc he r character w ho was ind epen d ent o f his creator, and the only one w ho never returned to the inkwell. POPEYE THE SA ILOR provided the bas ic plot o f man y Popeye cartoons. Popey e and Bluto are rivals for Oli ve O yl's love. They compete for her favors, and Popeye eventually win s by eating his spinach, and beating Bluto in a fight. The ea rly Popeye was a simpl e gruff character, but with the developme nt of a s tory depart lne nt in 1932, and w ith the later addition of acto r-writer Jack Me rcer (w ho provided Popeye's delightful ad libs), the characters atta in ed a richness denied earlier Fleische r ca rtoon cha racte rs . In A DREAM WAL KING (1934), we see development in both character and style. Th e film beg in s with a REAR WINDOW-ish track a long an apartmen t building wa ll , revea ling Popeye, Blulo, and Oli ve aslee p in their separate a partments . Ol ive begins to sleepwalk, and exits thro ugh a wind ow, upsetting a flo werpo t. The crash awake ns Popeye a nd Biuto, w ho rush ou t to save her. Olive wa lks along rooftops into a build ing und e r con stru ctio(l. The two sa ilors struggle with each other for the privilege o f rescuing her. The ir fight goes on within a marvelous ly mec hanis tic geometric environment of moving bea ms and gird e rs,


with the sa ilors using tht:.' beams a nd tool s as weapons. Aft er ea ting his spinach, Popeye w ins the s truggle, but Olive has \valked right off the building , and is only saved from fa lling by the miracu lo us but seeming ly inevi table presence of swinging beams that appea r as she is abo ut to s tep out into space. Popeye reaches O li ve's win dow just as she reclines peacehilly back in to bed. The alarm clock goes off, O li ve wakes, and thinks that Popeye is J peeping tom. As she hurls every thing s he can find at him, Popeye turns to the audience and says, " I saw my duty and don e it, 'cause I'm Popeye th e Sailor Man !" Popeye's invincibility is somew hat mod ified by h is lack o f success in love in A DREAM WALKING, and his e ndurance of the slin gs and arrows of o utraged O live reveals a stoic side o f his nature . FOR BETTER OR WORSER (1935) combin es gro tesq uerie and pessimism with the Fle ischer cyclica l p lot. Popeye and Bluto live in a filth y tenement IJbelled " Bachelor Apts. " After burn ing his dinner once 1110re, Popeyc SJ ys " It's no use, I have to get me a v,"ife." He and Blulo visit a matri mo nial age ncy, and bo th select a picture o f O live. As soon as Ol ive enters, in gow n and ve il, Bluto grabs her and tries to carry her off to a Justice of the Peace. Popeye fo llows, but in th e struggle is covered with cement, and frozt:'n into a statu e (yet a no ther metam orphosis). As Hlutn drags Olive into Ju stice Wimpy' s office Popeye manages to move under a pile dri ver, which breaks the cement and crushes him grotesquely into an accord ian s hape. Un d aunted , Popeyc rushes into Wimpy's o ffice, takes his s pi nach, and defeat s Bluto. But when Popey e seL'S his bride, looking none the betll'r from her ord mal , he rushes back to his apartment, whe re he picks up an eggbeater and beats oellf. Bv the mid-Thirties, the Fleisc her s tud io was~ rivalled o nl y by Walt Disney Prod uctions. Although Dis ney was more "ar tistica lly" respectab le at th l:.' time, Popeye had outstripped Mickey Iv10use as th e most pop ular ca rtoon character in the wo rld. Both compa nies sought to re fine the ir products in order to market mo respec tacu lar ca rtoons, throug h longer color films. Many o f the ea rly Fleischer ca rtoons were tinted, including at leas t one soll nd "Song Car-Tune," HAS ANYBODY SEEN KELLY? (1926), but the practice \\'1;' S discontinued in 1929, bcciluse it wa s unprofitable. Disney 's s uccess with Technicolor changed that; and in 1934, the F1 eischers produced th eir firs t " Colo r Classic", POOR CINDE RELLA. Thi s was s hot in a two-colo r process, because Dis ney 's arra ngement with Techn ico lor prevented other animators fro m us ing the process until 1935. Max compe nsated for this technica l deficie ncy by d evising the s te reo ptical process, which, he cl aim ed, introd uced a three- dimensio nal effect to an ima tion . This process ..,vas a refinement o f the first

Ko- Ko ca rtoo ns. Prev io usly, Max and Dave had presented their cartoo n characters in a rea l world . The stereoptica l process ada pted a rea l set to a cartoon world . A min iatu re set waS constru cted on a ci rcu lar tab le, and the cels were mounted in front o f it. When th e set was photographed thro ugh the eels, it appeared that the cha racters were moving in the set. By rotat-

villa in . The three- dimensional e ffect given by the turning set gives a vis ual as well as an emo tional , excitement to the scen e. Asid e from their li se as technical exercises, the " Color C lass ics" were ex perimen ts with sent iment. All too o ften, though , they became exe rcises in th e mos t maudlin sentime ntality, ou tdoing Dis ney 's excesses. In SO MEWH ERE IN DREAMLAND

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ing the tab le, the Fleischers co uld get th e e ffect of tracking thro ug h a th reedimen sional cartoon set. The effect was qu ite startling. In LITTLE DUTCH MILL (1934), the Fleisc hers rotate a cen trall y p ivoted model o f the inside of a windmill, as hvo cartoo n children a re cha sed by the

(1936) , two poo r littl e children visit the saccha rine wonders of Dreamland in their sleep; when the children awaken, they find tha t local merchant s have vis ited their hovel, and trans formed it into a Dreamland on earth fo r the Uttl e tykes and their CONTINUED ON PAGE 53

FIL M COMMENT

51


SEX, DEAlli, AND BETrY BOOP Images of sex uality and mo rl<llity. s tar· tling in the ir Freudian density, resou nd throughout th e Fleisc h er car toons. Gene rally, the sex ua l elem en ts wcre stro nge r in the so und c.. rtoons, while the Reischers' horrifyingly morbid humor, wo rthy of the East Europea n Sta revich, was c mph <ls izcd in the ir sil ent work. The sil e nt IMR EM SC t\RUM (1928), fo r example, begins with a li ve· action sequence showing a sultan as he piKes th e floor, ranting. " It's lime thilt boob was here with th e treas ure," En ter th e boob bC<lring a box, which he gives to his master. The sultan opens the box, revea ling a n inkwell, from wh ich he produces Ko- Koa nd Fit z. ln one o f the m ost gruL'some momen ts in anima -

tion , the s ultan picks them up, pulls out a kni fe, and sli ces th eir heads off, the heads fa ll to the gro und , blin k once, and lie mo· tionless. The violence here is CO 111 ll1i t tl'd by a livin g ci1araclL'r u (Xl n a cartuon character, thu s viobt ing a bas ic bw of cartoo n fan· tasy: that onl y a totall y artificial en viron· men t turns violence into humo r. The Flei· schers' so und cartoo ns were no t q uite so grotesque as th e silents in their use of sadism and catastrophe. \"'hen violence was laler ust.."Ct , its in1pact was so ftened by ritualizat io n and sty lization, as in the " Po peye" sL'rics. Sex ual dements in s il ent Fleischer ca r· loo ns Wl'I't' less obvious than those in th e so und ca rtoons. In NO EYES TODAY (1929), Ko·Ko loses his eyes after he ogles a 00· thing bea u ty. This punishment for sex ual· ity expresses a Glstrat io n fea r that is ex· pressed in the 1924 KO·KO NEE DLES T HE uoss (when' Ko· Ko's weapon wilts in a ducl with ivl.:n.. ), and in I-IAI{ El\.'i SCARUM (w hert:.' Ko· Ko and Fit z <lrt:.' chased throug h a hart:.'1ll by razor·w id ding g uards). In II ETfY CO· ED , Bimbo tries to vis it a temptress. His ina bilit y to sel.' Betty by himself, and th e way in which he is held by the motherly trec, reduce him to an im (Xl· tent, ch ildlike statl'. Bimbo's loss of masculinit y is dealt wit h again in the Talkartoo n IU l\.H JO 'S I N IT I,\ · n ON (1931). Bimbo falls dow n a manho ll', whe re is is in vited to join the ma sculine, a nimal -li ke O rd er of Kuca lllunga Fraternit y. Bimbo's refu sal is .a rehl S<l l to recog· ni/l' his sex ual id en tit y. The fr<lternity Il1l.'lllbt..'rs to rture Bimbo, b ut he esca pes. Betty I3nop calls "Come in, Big Boy ," an d Bimbo responds to this sex u<ll in vitatio n, follow ing Betty down a lo ng vag inal corridor, as h ugt' bl<ldes shash d own , and traps clas h, in ,111 l.'xpress io n of hi s cas tr.. tion fears. Bimbo finall y emerges in a room filled with the frak' rni tv members. One of them removes h is pdt-to reveal that hI:.' is I3L'1t~ ' . Bimbo agrees to join, and is rew.lrtk'd fo r this assumption o f his sex role by the :-ight o f .. 11 o f the fraternity members s trippi ng 10 revea l, in anoth er meta mar· 52

JAN.-FEB. 1975

p hos is, Ih at they are all Betty Boops. In th e 1932 MI NN I E THE MOOCHER, th e Fle isc h ers crea te d a film rcple te with metamorphoses, sex ual im age ry, and fea rs of deat h a nd the unknow n. Flowers, trees, a blot of li ps tick all co mc to life, and Betty's nagg ing father is tran sformed into a phonograp h. Within Betty's home, thi s mutabili ty is harml ess, but o uts ide it ca n become a dangerous and fri ghtening fo rce. Betty is unhappy with her ho me life, but the sig ht of ghosts in the cave to which she fl ees with Bimbo pers uades her to return ho me, just as Ko·Ko mu st return to th e inkwell. In MI NN IE T H E MOOCHER, Bett y and Bimbo elop e, and flee to a d ee p cave (a pl ace ass ociated w ith s exuality in the Fleischer ca rtoons). Insid e th e cave, th ey are confro nted with symbols o f fe rtilit y and d eat h: an androgynous walrus dances w ith ph a llic tu s ks a nd feminine grace; ske le tons co urt eac h o th er and dance; nursing kitt ens cons ume their mothe rs. Betty a nd Bimbo are fri ghtened not only by the ghosts, but by horribl e images of their union. The visua l r ichne ss of M I NN IE HIE MOOC H E R is mat ch ed by SNO W WI-II TE (1933). P urs uin g Betty through a cave, Ko·Ko is trans formed into a pole·shaped g hos t , exp ress ing both sex u al it y a nd death. The wall s of th e cave are painted with g has tl y scenes o f dancing and gambl· in g s ke le tons. As Ko· Ko prog re sses throug h the cave, his oody elonga tes and co ntracts in tim e with his singing of "St. james Infirmary Blues," and he turns intoa twenty·doUar go ld piece in illustration of the lyrics. Different elements of this scene work at val)ling levels. Ko·Ko's phallic shape, and th e d ea th images o n the walls o f the vag ined ca ve, co nfirm the link with the visio ns o f sex and deat h in MI NN I E THE tI.'IOOCHER. But Ko-Ko's movements, his trilnsforll1ation into a gold coi n, and the sin g ing o f "51. james Infirmary Blues" do not fit the cha se s ituatio n . The cave se quence be· co mes a musical and v is ual interlude within th e chase. The relationsh ip between Po peye and O live Oy l bears so me resemb lance to that wh ich l.'x isted between Bimbo and Bett)' Boop. Whereas the ea rly Betty Boo p repr~se nt s a com icall ), bo hemian and att ractive sex uality, Olive is a thin s pinsterl y fig ure w ho dreams of sex with a pile o f ro man ce magazines by her bt."<i. But dream ing is all s he ca n do. Whenever s he is confro nt ed with the possibility of sex thro ugh an abd uction by the powerful 13luto, she reflexively stru ggles to save her virtue. Pope)'e loves O li ve, but is us ually rendered harm less by Bluto, th e elemental male. Spinac h ads as a kind o f wonder dntg fo r Po pe)'e's impotence, streng thening th e old one-eyed sa ilor so that he may wi n his love and beat a more vigo ro us rival. In mall Y ways, the Fleischer's S uper-

man character resembles Pope)'e. Bo th are invincible, bo th series of ca rtoo ns often revolved aro und a fight. Po peye and S uperman are each in volved with fool ish women, and neither relat ions hip is ph ysica lly cons ummat ed . Both characters must perform a ritua l ac tion before th ey ga in their s treng th - Popeye mus t eat his spi nach, and S uperman mu st change into his unifo rm. The sex ual con flict between Clark Kent and his alter ego S upennan is simiJar to that between Popeye a nd BlulO in certain Po peye ca rtoons, such as y ,\ COlTA li E A FOOTBALL H ERO (1935). just as O li ve falls in love with the powerful Biuto and rejects the mild Popeye, so Loi s Lan e rejects the mild Clark Kent in favor of the stronger S uperman. Unlike Popeye, Clark Kl.'nt is never united wit h his love, and the sex ual tcns io ns are no t reso lved as they are in the Popeye ca rtoo ns. ALADD IN AN D HIS WONDERFUL LAMP,

a

Popeye two-reeler of 1939, probab ly contains the last homosexual joke in Fleischer ca rtoons. The genie o f the lamp is an e ffeminat e character- the final echo o f a sl.'ries o f jokes like thl:.' one in DI ZZY RED HID ING 1-1 00 0 (1931), when Betty ski ps merrily along to Cra nn y's house, picki ng flowers, and si ng ing" A flower for C ranny, for Granny ... " A tree minces o ut, grabs her flowers, a nd si ngs "The fairies like th em too!" By the end of the Thirties, the Betty Boo p car too ns had undergo ne a con siderable change. Betty had so ftened fro m a sexy actress to a respo nsible yo ung woman. Her dress Icng thent.x t, s he acq uired a dog, g randfathe r, baby brother, and the duties o f ho use clea ning and baby sitt ing. Th e chara cter o f Betty Boo p was unable to s ustain the chan ge from thc lower class sens uality of the Depression to the middle class respectability o f th e film s of th e late Th irties. A n imat o r S hamu s C ulhane , wh o wo rked for both Dis nt:.'y and the Fleischers, re marked tha t w hil e Disney worked to perfect hi s a rt by refi nin g charac ter, the Fleisc hers perfected th eirs th ro ug h the elabora tio n o f actio n a nd drawin g. Th is would accou nl for the kind of compact im age ry and rapid act ion of the Fl eischers' SNOW WHITE, where the mu sical, sexual, a nd mo rbid imagery is so dense that one experiences it almost subliminally. As sex ual as the im ages a ppea r, it was not th e conscio us intention o f the Fleischer S tudio to dea l with sex ua l th e mes. Anima to r Myro n Wa ldman reca ll s their surprise when a seq uence of UOILESK (1935) was ce nso red in Philadelp hia. In A LA N· C UAGE A LL MY OW N (1935), japanese s tu· de nts were cons ulted to determine if any o f Betty Boop's ges tures in an Orie ntal d ance mig ht be co ns id e re d obsce ne in Japan. This co nflict between the ex pres· sian and repression of sex by the Fleisc her Studio mig ht ex plain the link between sex a nd deat h in their film s: dea th is the threa tened pu nishmen t for sex ual d esire.


MAX & DAVE FLEISHER CONTINUED FROM PA CE 51

mothe r. The ca rtoon s uffers further from imposs ibly s wet:.'1 voices .l nd il gooey chor,,1 accompan imt.-'nt to th ~ action . The Flcischers, with il few C'xce ptions, seemed unable to dt'ill w ith sl'ntiml'n t in <In effecti ve manner, a fault thill was to harm their fi rst so llnd feature . For two ),l'ars, th e "Color Classics" were th..:- on ly Fll!ischer co lor c.utoo ns. In 1936, thc Fleisc her Stu dio rd(,<1 s~..'d <1 two-reel sped .. i, POI'EYE T H E S ,\[ lOR i\.'I EETS S INDBA D T H E SMLOR , poss ibly thL' mos t spectacular cartoon made lip to th,,! tim!..路 . The film o pe ns on BluIO, as Sindbild , w hu takes the audience un

il

musical to ur of his stt: rL'Opti-

ca l island , wht:.'re th e vcry s tones rcs(' mbJe sku lls and bt:.'asts . S ind bad spies Pupeyc, Wimpy. <md Olive as thL'Y sail past his island, and orders the Roc to " Wreck that s hip, but bring lilt' the wOI11<1n. " The Roc dL'Stroys the sh ip, <1 nd .1 bducts O li ve, as Popeye s to icall y observL's, "That's the bigges t buzzard I L'vcr saw." Popeye and Wimpy sw im to th L' bl,Uld, w hen.' Po peye defea ts the Roc, 800ltl thL' Two-headed Monster, and fin ally S ind bad. The film e nd s as illI th e beasts o f th e is land join PopeyL' in the silm(' song they sang wit h

visuill puns. During the fig ht between Popeyt' and Si ndbad , Popeye is squeezed in S in db..1d 's grip. Firs t, his filce turns as red il S.1 bL'L't, and the n act ually turns into a bcct- ,l nL'W d evelopment from thL' us uill metamo rphosis. Most im porta ntly, SINO IJ A!) W,lS the fi rs t tru e ca rtoon epic, impress ivL' in It.'n gth , color, and s pectacle. The low -angle s hots of th e dil rk, ma ss ive Roc, a nd th e accom panying so und o f rushing wind , g ive a sense of mena ce on a scale larger than any of the Fleischers' p revio us works. Althoug h the environmcnt o f 1\ OREA~'I WALKI NG had bet'll as inh!rL'S ting in it s mccha nical ex press ion ism as th e set of SINORA)) was in its exo tic exp rL'~~ i o ni s m , the g ritty ci ty s t:reets of the POPL'Yt.' series were fOl"S<lken for the exo tic env iro nments of MI NN IETHE MOOCHER a nd SNOW WHITE. PO PEYE Tt路tE SAILOR MEETS SINORAO nl E S,\l LOR was ins tan tly s uccesshtl , and was ofte n bil led over it s acco mpa nyin g feature. It also won the stud io it s fi rs t Acadt'nw Awa rd nomina tio n fo r Sho rt S ubjl.'C ts, bl;t the award wen t to Disney fo rnl ECOUN TRY COUS iN (1936). Encouraged by s uccess, tilL' Fleische r S tud io began wo rk on two 1110re Popeye specials. Before they were released, iln unsettli ng even t occurred at the

that exis ted a t Dis ney 's or Iwerk s' s tudios. Also, w hil e Disney provided his staff wit h thl.' lates t o f I!(luipme nt, th e Fleische rs ~id not. As liltt.' as GU LLIV ER'S TRAVELS (1939), the Fleischcr Stud io had on ly one Movio la, wh il e Disnt.'y had ma ny. Th e s trike wen t o n for man y mo nth s and , althou g h it \Vii S finilily settl ed, the new s itua tion did no t pl ease the Fleisc he rs . In February o f "1938, the Fleisc her S tudios .1Ilnoli nced plilllS to cons truct il 5300,000 s tudio in Miami, far from the labor proble ms o f New Yo rk. In the mea ntimL', produ ction co ntinu ed in New Yo rk, a nd the Fleischers released pe rhaps the best o f the t\vo- reel Popeye Ca rtoon s. POI' EYE THE SA ILOR MEETS AL I U/\ UA'S FORTY TH IEVES (1937) , o pe ns once morE.' w ith il musical introduct ion by Bluto, this ti lllt' as Ab u Hassan , the sco urgL' o f th e East, ilS he rides with his band throug h a s tereop tica l dese rt. Popeye, Wimpy, a nd O li ve, s tat ioned a t a Coas t G uard base, are o rdered by rad io to s to p Hassan. Po peyt"s boat metamo rph oses int o an il irpl a ne , w hi ch cr,lshcs in the d esert. As day turns into nig ht , il nd back aga in , we see Po peye, Olive, a nd Wimpy trudge wear ily throu gh th e de sert, as Popeye

leit : Betty.lIld BlOlbo sell '路 ]IPPO" to ,ucker' 10 BEnV BOOP, M.D. Center .mel right : The lillipU IIJIl5 le.lel Gulliver 1010 Ihe City, III GUlUV ER '~ TRAVElS.

Sind bad at the film 's beginn ing. POI'EYE THE SA [LOI{ MEETS SINI)HAD THE SA ILOR is refres hing ly (reI.' o f thL' se nti men talitil.'s of the "Color Classic" st.' rit's. I t uses thl.' Fleischer cyclical plots but w it hout the usual pessimis m , g ro tesqueries,.a nd morbid overtones of lll<1ny o f the t'Mlier POPt.'YL' cartoons. The film also s hows a co ncern for <; ty le ,md lang uage that had been developed in earlier works. Miln y Bclty Boop ilnd Popeye ca rtoon s depL'ndcd on the usc of verba l hUlllor for comic e ffect. A similar ou trageo us u sc of lang uage occurs in SINOUAD . A sign g reets vis itors to th e is lilnd with the Illt.'ssage: " Enter o t. Whosoev('r Passeth In , Passdh O ut. " Lalt'r, whe n Popeye combats Bool.1, the mons ter s we.tr~ " By ilrbonate! I makc fmm yo u Chicken FriGlsst.'C Assis i!" The film also includes one of thc Flcischers'

Fl eische r Studio in New York. O n Ap ril 20, 1937, the Co mlllercial Ar tists and Des igner's Unio n cha rged that Max Fleisc her had refused to negotiate with the unio n after hea ring the requests for pay increases and s horte r hours. This was so. Wh il e Dave had wo rked fairl y closely wit h the animators, Max prefe rred to wo rk on manageme nt , developme nt o f tec hniqucs, a nd s tory id eas. He took a pill e rnillis tic altitud e to his e mployees; to him thc demands of the s triking inkt.' rs, opaq ue rs, ilnd inbetweene rs were like tht' demand s of ung ra teful c hil dren. Altho ugh salaried employees only received fifteen to twenty -seven dollars a week, this wason a par with wages at othe r a nimatio n s tudios. However, the work load waS heavy, <Ind sin ce the F1eischers did not s hoot pencil tes ts, there was not the margin for L'rror

whim sica lly mutt ers " I \v is h the rt.' was a boardwa lk on th is beach." When O li ve collapses, Popeye pushes he r into the sha pe of il camel, and they co ntin ueo n until bot h O li ve and Wimpy collapse. Po peye transform s them into <l tilnk trcild , a nd in this form they ru sh thro ugh the d esert a nd into a town. Whil e the travelers refresh thelll selves in a cafe, Hassan and his me n ra id the town . Whe n Popeye pulls Hassa n off hi s horse, Hil ssan bellows "T hink yo u' re a to ugh guy, e h ?" The e mba rrassed Popeye bl ushes and says " You ca n tilke me ho me for on ly 51.98." They fight , and Popeye is defeated . Hassan a nd his men leave town with O li ve and Wimpy, Po peye p urs ues th e m, a nd cu ts his way into Hassa n's cave wit h th e flam e o f his pipe. The s um p tuo us, th ree -dime nsional in terior of the cave has no equal in il ny o f the FIL M COMME T

53


MAX & DAVE FLEISHER CONTI UED

Fleischers' work . Popeye proceeds ap· pre hensivel y past brightly-colored heaps o f jewels and go ld, a nd finds that O li ve and Wimpy have been ens laved by Hassan. Popeye pulls out h is spinach , sa ys " Open Sez-Me," and the can miraclI lously opens. His flexed bicep shows the fo rm of a tank within-a typicall y mechanis tic express ion of s trengt h . In a battle royal , he d e (cClts Ha ssan and the forty th eives, and returns in glory to the Arab town. All BABA was a di s tinct improvemen t over the first two- reel Popcye. It replaces Sindbad 's long, tedious musical introd uction , with a sho rt er introduction of Abu l-I aS5<ln that is intercut w ith the introduction of Pope ye. ALI U,\lM s how s much mo re verbal a nd ViS Uill wi t thrm il s pred ecesso r. And it ise nri cnt!d bv a reference to so me of the darker psychological themes of tht! e<lrlier works. Whe n Popeye firs t en ters Abu Il assan 's c<we, he remark s: " I don ' t like it in here a bit!" Th is is remini sce nt o f the anxil..·tie s of Ko- Ko and Bimbo in the cavt!s and hallw ays of KO -KO'S

HAu:-.:rED

H OUSE ,

BIMBO 'S

Pope ye's self-consciou s ness find s greate r expression in GOO N LAN D (1938). A climactic ba ttle between Popcye, his father, a nd the hostil e Goons is so fierce that the filn1 " breaks," and all o f the Goo ns fall off the scree n. Po peyc co mment s, "That was a lucky break!", pulls the two halves of the broken film together, and th e cartoon continues. Unlike all the ea rlier Fleischer characters , Popeye docs not need the in tercession o f an an imator to control his (at e. As the Betty Boop cha racte r became more domesticated in the late Thirties, he r popularity decl ined , and when Mae Questel refused to move with the s tudio to Mia mi in 1939, the series was dropped. The Popeye cha racter continued to chan ge as well, becomi ng increasi ng ly gentle, often to the point o f being foolish . In LEAVE WELL ENOUG H ALONE (1939) , Popeye frees all the animals in Olive's pet shop des pitea wise parrot's advice to leave well enough alo ne. Popeye realizes that he is wrong when the dog ca tche r round s up the hun gf)' s trays. In PUTrIN' O N T H E ACT (1940), Popeye and Oli ve polish up their routines after reading a newspaper art icl e o n th('

Con llnU.lllOn oi the lilllptJll.lO monl.18(' from GULLIVER'S TRAVEl S.

I N ITIAT ION,

and

SNO W WHITE .

The last o f the Popl..~ye s pecials was no t th e equal of the first two . AL ,\DDI :-.i A:,\D HIS WO NDERFUL LA~I P (1939), .1 Ho lI\'woodi zed version o( the Aladdin story, is 'interesting fnr two rl..·.lSOlb . Fir~ t , it Iltls a diffl..·rl..'nt tYI-"-' o( self -consciousness from th e silent Fl e~dw r film s. ;\) 0 a nimalt)r appl..·a rs in th l' Po p eyl..~ c.lrtoons, yet Pope;.'e is awa re th at he is in ,1 film. Whell he kis~e~ Oli ve in ALADD I:'\ , Po pt'Yl' hesit.lt es shy ly and Sc1YS, "Gosh, I've never dont' this in Technicolor before." This kind of self-consciollsness had occurred in 1'l)I'EY E H I E SAILOR, when a news paper proclaimed Popeye as a star. It was developed furthl..·r in H OLD THE W IRE (1 936), when he temp..H.lrily forgets his part. O live ha s to re mind him that he is s uppost'd to take his spina ch. " I never thought of that. " he replies. 54

JAN.-FEB . 1975

rena iss.ln ce of va ud ev ille. Swt'e'pea dam pe ns their en thusia sm when he points out that th(.· paper is several decades old . Popeye's se nile father, in Wlnl POOl'DECK I'A PPY (1940), want s to spend his nights ca ro us in g, but Popeye worries about thc old man 's health . After many attempts to get Pappy to bed, Popl'ye finall y chains him down . Popeyl' climbs into his own bl..'<i, turns o ut thc light, and says "Goodnihht P<lPPY." No answer. Popeye turns on thL' lig ht, a nd find s that he is chain ed to his bed , and the old ma n ha s esca ped. This was a far cry from the gruff cha racter of POPEY E THE SAILOR.

PNhaps part of the reason that the Fleisc hN cartoons c hanged wa s the impact o( " Disneyfication. " Many of the Fleischer staff o( the Forties had worked for Dis ney or Iwerks in the Thirties, often moving

from s tudio to s tudio. A strong Disney influence can be seen in thi.' "Color Classic" ,\ KIC K IN TJi\1 E (1940), a nimated by Shamu s C ulhan e and AI Eugster after their return to the Fleischers from Iwerks and Disney. S punky, a baby donkey, is separated from his mother Hu nky - a stock Dis ney theme, but un common in the Reischer film s. He is kidnaped a nd sold into s lavery in a scene that bears an amazing resemblance to the e nd o f th e Pleasure Island sequence in Disney's PI NOCCH IO. In A KICK IN TIME, the usual s tereoptical process was di scarded in favor o f a less effecti ve approximation of the Disney MuJtiplane ca me ra effect. Also tht' cha racters were mo re natural istic than the funk y originals developed by Myron Waldman. Many Fleischer characteris tics remained , however, including a long passage devoted to the process of harness ing S punky, a nd occasional Fleisc heresque lang uage, like " I'll be b.lck in a flash with the tra sh. " In 1938, the Fleischer St ud io moved to Miam i, where the s taff was swollen by the addit ion of hundred s of artis ts hired to wo rk on .1 so und featur e, GU LLIVER 'S TRAVELS.

\I US( U \\ or \\0.)[1{ .... ... RI fl L\I Sfl lI 'I ... RCIIIV(

Perhap s part of the reason that the Fleischer cartoo ns cha nged was the impact of " Disneyficat ion." Many o f the Fleische r staff o f the Fo rties had worked for Dis ney o r lwerks in the Thi rties , often movin g from studio to studio . A s trong Disney in fluence can be se('n in the "Color Classic" A KICK IN TIME (1940) , an imated by Shamus Culhane and AI Eugs tN after their return to the Fleischers from Iwerks a nd Disney. S punky, a baby donkey, is se pMated from hi s m o ther Hun ky -a s lock Disney the me , but un common in the Fleischer film s. He is kidnaped a nd sold into s lavery in a scene that bears an a mazin g resemblance to the end o( the Pleas ure Is land sequence in Disney's PI NUCCHIO. In A KiCK IN TIME, the us ual s tereopti ca l process was discarded in favor of a less effective approx imation of th e D isney Multipla ne ca mera effect. Also the charac ters were


mo re naturalis tic than Ihe funk y originals d eve loped by My ron Wa ldman . Ma ny Fle isc he r c ha ra cter is ti cs remained , how ever, includin g a lo ng pa ssage devoted to the process of harnessing S punky, a nd occasio nal Fleisc heresq ue lan g uage, like ''I'll be back in a fl ash with th e tras h." In 1938, the Fl eischer Studio moved to Miami, wh ere the staff was swollen by the add iti o n of hundred s of arti s ts hire d to wu rk u n a so und fea ture , GUll iVER 'S TRAVELS. GU LLIVER 'S TRAVELS did well tit the box office, but the Flcischcrs were dissa tis fied . P.-.ramo unt, eager tu duplica te th e pop ularit y o f SNOW WHITE AND THESEVEN DWARFS, had forced the Flcischers to nlsh their film

comic-sex ual relations hips with a blandly "classy," sex less, over-romanticized one. Many of th e backg ro und s of GU LLIVER'S TRAVELS reca ll- no talwa ys to their credi tthe backgro und s o f ea rli er Fleisc her films. The interio r o f King Little's palace shows the same kind of detailed chiaroscu ro as the backgro und s of 1I.II NN IE TH E MOOC HER o r SNO WWI·IITE, but witho ut the me naci ng imagery. Perh aps th e bes t sequences in the film deal with mechanical processes. The binding o f G uJliver beg ins with a bit o f comic fo reshadowing. As th e tiny fig ures adva nce on the sleeping g iant, they tie down a particuJ arly no isy member of their party. Then, by the light o f the moon, th ey tie cab les around G ulli ver, constru ct

GULLI VER'S TRAV ELS was tried o ut in <1 "Gabby Color Cartoon" o r an " Animated Antics," but none was s uccessful. Expenses were hig h at the studio, with a s taff of hundreds, a nd this was agg ravated when Paramount ob tained the rig ht s to a nimat e S uperman, the po pula r ActilJl l Comics character, in hopt.."S of repl'ating Popeye's success, dt.-'5 pite Dave Fleischer's protes ts that prod uction cos l" would mak e a ny profit imposs ible. SU r'EKMA N (1941 ) rl'vt'a led some sty listic d ifficulties that the Po peye cartoo ns did not have. Sega r's s tyle o f drawing had more in oo mmo n with the Fleisc her sty le of the earl y Thirties than the draw ings of S upeTl1l<lI1 ca rtoonist Joe Shu ster had in

left and right : Clark Kent and hi s altef·ego, Superman . Below : In thc model chart. notC discrep.lncy between cartoon and rotoscoped characters.

Mod.1 Ch.rt f .. 'GULLIVE~S TRAVELS'

COMPAOATM SIZES Of ""'N CHAlACTEkS • 'l'_a..~~.,_._

throug h prod uctio n. Max an d Dave felt that th e film s uffered , and indeed it had many problems. It lacked stylis tic unity. G uJli ver, Prince David , and Princess G lory we re heavil y rOloscoped , but the o ther characters were drawn in th e free s ty le o f th e Popeye ca rtoo ns. The co ntrast o ften made the rotoseo ped characters look awkwardl y lifelike, and the others crudely dra w n. The script s uffered from an a pparent in ability o f the Fleischer Studio to make the hero or ro man tic lead s interesting : The o bservl.!rd oes no t Ci!rc whethe r the lovers are united , and one s us pects that th e Fleisehers d id no t ca re eith er. More attention wa s given to the s ubsid iary co mic characters, pa rticularly King little. Like th e Popeye of th e later ca rtoons, Little is relu ctant to fig ht, but is on the wi nning sid e, a nd has Popeyt"s be nevolent, slig htl y foolis h quality. Bombo r<.' semblcs Bluto in physique' and temperament. In co ntra st, Princess Glory a nd Prince David arc the antith esis of Bdty and Bimbo o r Popeye and Olive, re placing the fo rmer lower class

cranes, and lift him onto a ca rt. Hundreds o f ca rtoon horses art' shown in heroic angles as they s train unde r the weig ht of G ulliver. Similar attention is give n to the g rooming of G ulliver \vith scy th es and rakes. Unfortunately, more detail is give n to these physical properties o f GuJLiver the giant, than to the persona l qualitiesof G ul liver the man . So me of the darker the mes in th e Fleischers' ea rlier work are repea ted in GU LLIVER'S TRAVELS. G ulliver's pis tol is taken from him when he is bound, in sy mooli c castratio n . He does no t have the power to return home until the g un is returned to him . Furthermo re, Prince Da vid does not marry Princess Glory until he takes this pistol away from his father's agents. The Fo rties found the Fleischers witho ut a replace ment for the defunct Betty Boop series. The do nk eys Hunky and S punky, had a limite d s ucce ss, but c1 proto- Flintstones se ries o f " Stone Age" cartoo ns proved very unpopular. In o ne for m or another, every comic character of

the early Forties. As a result, SU P E R ~'fA N was an unhappy amalgam o f differl.!nt s tyles, co mbinin g S hu s te r's morc naturalistic artwo rk for the heroes, w ith the Fleischers' more gro tesq ue sty le for the villain . The "S uperman Colo r Ca rtoons" were well received, but werc too ex pensive to yiel d any s ig nifi cant p rofi ts. The Fleischers d es perately needed to ha ve a hit with th eir nex t feat ure, MR . BUG GOES TO TOWN (1941). The ad va nce publicity fo r the film had an omino us ring to it. No t since the final days o f Red Seal Pictures had th e studio been so press-co nscious. Weird publicit y s tunts were tried , s uch as an $185,000 ins urance policy \vith Lloyd sof Lo nd on on th e ha nd s o f the head animators. Even hangnails were to be covered . MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN was billed as the first feature ca rtoon with a n orig in al s to ry, al though Dave Fleische r admits that he was influenced by Maeterlinck's Life of a B {'('. The film opens with lyrical tracking shol" throu gh the sky, d own pas t the buildings o f a stereoptical New Yo rk, to a FILM CO MME NT

55


MAX & DAVE FLE ISHER CONTINUED

park, where a man discards a lit match. The ca mera follows the match down to the world of the insects, finis hing a poctic trans ition from the cosmic to the microcos mic. MR . BUG tells the sto ry of a youn g grassho pper named Hoppity, his wooing of the lovely H oney Bee, and his search for

a safe home for the entire insect community whose ex is tence is thrt'ate nt'd by the cons tructio n of a skyscraper. The insects' hopes beco ll1t.' linked with the hopes of

stmggling sOIl).;writl'r Dick Dickens, who pla ns to rebuild hi s hOIllto' where the sky scraper is to be buill, if his so ng is so ld . The ev il C. Bagley BL'l'tk, however, has designs o n HOlley, and tries to thwart everyo ne's plans to achieve his own nefarious end s. Beetk"s attempt to hide Dickens' check fails, and (llt huugh thl' skyscraper is b uilt , Hnppity, Ilonl'Y, tlnd the other in sects find a home in Dickens' penthouse apartment garden . The connection between MR. 8 UG and

Frank Capra's films go beyond the similarit y o f the titles. In physique, sincerity, and a faith in the future , Hopp ity resembles C.. pra 's arch - heroes, James Stewart and Gary Coo per. Mr. Beetle is the dark force that threat ens the well being of the comn1unity, much like Edward Arnold in ~IEET JO H N DOE (md (I.路1R . S~'1I TH GOES TO WAS HI NGTON . Hoppity expe riences the moment o f disillusionment and despair that strikes Ca pra 's heroes, but rega ins his faith and that of his fellow citizens at the l'nd of the fitm. Neverth eless, the film does show a number of typ ica l Fleischer fea tures. The preoccupation with construct-ion echoes GU LLIVER'S T RAVELS, as the process of building the insect wedding chapel and the skyscraper show. I~oto sco ping and con ventionally an imated figures ilfe used more success full y than in the earlier feature. Instead of producing cl disunit y of sty le, here th e two s ty les illustrate a barrier between the rotoscoped human world a nd

MR. BUG GOES TO TOW"\I. ,\hove len: the m~ect world ,\hove right : Happily ,111(/ 1tom.禄 Bee embr,lCl' . Below: The hUlll,lIl ,lIld 1 1l~ect world~ ulter.lct ill the con~tructioo IOc.lle.

56

JAN .- FEB . 19 75

the inscct world. This is simila r to Disney's usc of rotosco ping in DUT\'I BO, where the circus laborers are rotoscoped, but the anima ls are not, defining two different, but related world s. This separation between animal and human was a fairlv late development in the Fleischers' wo(k. In ea rl y Betty Boop and PuPI.:'. Y!! ca rtoons, the two mingled on an eq ual basis. The Jitterb ug seq uence where Hop pit y gets electrified is an abstract interlude similar to DUMBO' S Pink Elephants On Parade seq uence in its USl' of music and image. Perhaps thl' grca tes t weak ness of both the Fle ischt!r ((,<ltures is th<lt they do not dC<l1 with the g rc<lt fanta sit!s and fears of ch il dhood , as did the Dis nl.:.'y film s. Instead they conCl'ntr<lte on adult <lnxielies- fear of death , sexual fcars, and fears of ch<lngc- that co uld not effect children. Also, the studio suffered from .. rift between M<lx and Dave Fleisc her. Since 1937, when they clashed in a person<ll matter, the brothers had refu sed to talk to o ne another. Apparently, they were ablt:.' to functio n in this manner. Dave d irecfl'<i the films, and Max handled technica l and adminis trative matters. Early in 1942, Da vl.:.' res igned, although he reta ined his sha re of th e comjJ<, ny, and w ithin the year he wa s p roducing "Culor Philll tas ies" and "Color Rhapsodies" for Columbia, some of wh ich wen:.' remakes of earlier Fleisc her Cilrtoo ns. In the meantime, the ret urns on ,,-JR. DUG were not (1S good as had bee n hoped. Due to the ~"ar, the Em opean and Japanese markets, whic h had made up a great pa rt of the Fl eischer audience, 've re cut off. It <llso seems as if P<1r<lmOllnt wanted the Fleischer St ud io to founder: the Paramount publicit y office had actually sen t advisors to Dis ney'ss tudio to help prepare publicity for BAMBI. Max wa s now so deep ly in d ebt that he was forced to sell the company to Paramount. In mid-1942, the studio was renamed the Famuu s S tudio, with Fle isc her employees Seymo ur Kneitel and Isadore S parber as s tud io head s, The s taff wa s pared drasticall y, and the studio returned to New York, \vhere it was to produce cartoons that continued to decline in quality. i\ fter losing the studio, Max developed a g unsig ht reco rdi ng mec han is m for the arm y. He worked for the J<lm Handy Organ i7..<l tion, <l Detroi t concern that produ ced advertiSing films a nd educational filmstrips, and then returned to the Bray St udio . In the Fifties, he was involved in a short - li vt'<f " Ko - Ko" ca rtoon series for televis ion. 0.1\1(' remained at Columbia for several yea rs, and then joined Universal as a speci<ll effects man , where, he recall s, he painted cracks 0 11 someo ne's glasses for THOROUGHLY MODERN MIL LI E. Max Fleisc herd ied on November 'I 2, 1972. Dave lives in semi - retirement in I-Io lly'>vood, California, The brothers never did s pea k to each other again. :,:4


Grim Natwick He created Betty Boop, animated Snow White, and after 50 years of cartooning is still going strong.

by John Canemaker

The g reat Grim NJtwick was in town. The anim ato r who CfC<1llxi Bett y Boop (or Max and Dave Fleische r, and w ho W,15 respon s ible for a nim ati ng e ig ht y- four

scenes in Dis ney's

SNO W W I-lITE AND TI-t E

(mos tl y of thl' yo ung princess hersel!), was in Nt'w York co mpleting the last leg of a cross-co untry journey visiting friend s and relat ivl's. " I'w bL'l'n d m\\, ing Be tty Boo ps a nd Mickey MOll ses and Sin cl ai r dinosau rs an d a ll thl' variolls things we used 10 animate, for the n ieCl'S a nd nephews as I CO Il1 l.' <lcross th e co untry. And yo u'd be surprised a t w hat they bring yo u to draw w it h and o n ~" Gri m Natwick isco nsid ert.路d by hi s peers to be perhaps tht..' finest .1 nima lOr o f Ihe fe mail' form a nd c har,)(tcr. Cer tainly he is a pione~r in this spt.>cia l area; fo r bes id es his ma sterl y wo rk o n the Misses Boop and White, a t wick brou g ht to life Princ~ ss G lory in Ma x a n d Da ve Fl e isc h e r's CUL LIVER 'S TR ,\V nS; Ne ll y Bl y, the champag ne-g lass -s haped sex pot in U.r.A.'s ROOTY-TOOT-TOOT (1952) d ircch:.' d by Joh n Hu bley; and mos t recen tl y, th e Mad I-Ioly O ld Wit ch in Richard Willi a ms' long-awa ited featurecMtoon , n l E C088LEH AN D T HE T HI EF . J .. twick c1 .. im s thi s will be his fina l an im a tio n in a ca reer of brilliant versatility wh ich has .. Il owed him to master at one time o r another Sti c h diverse chara cters as Mr. Mtl goo, Pop~ye, Woody Wood pecke r, .1I1d Mickey MOllse. G rim Na tw ick was born in the lumber H:.'gion o f Wisconsin . " I neve r give Ill y age. If t hey k now I worked o n Be tty Boop they can tnake their own g U(路sscs. I guess yo u can ca ll me a vl'tl'rinl , an antique, o r o ne o f thl' p ioneers." In hig h sc hool , Na tw ick was a track star: " I was never a greil t s printe r, but I knew the' form of ru nn inb tlw hurdles. a nd fonn SEVEN DWARFS

Left : Grilli

N,ltwick. by Williams and Grim N,llwick i1llhedrawingbo,lrd in p rcp.lI,lIIOIl for THE COBBLER AND THE THIEF .

FIL M COMMENT

57


GRIM NATWICK CONTI NUED

in animation is just as important. I no rice that , amo ng a nimat ors. the re are eithe r former a thl e tes o r a thl e tic devotee s. There's a phys ical feeling in an imation. When I animate a scene I feel it pe rfectly. When I make one drawing I know exact ly hoW' that figure fee ls. I know exactly how it feels to stretch that leg fa n vard and then I know how those ' inbetweens' a re going to feel. " Na hvick's interest a nd talent in art took him fi rst to th e Chicago Art Institute, then to the Na tional Acad emy o f Desig n in New Yo rk . H e designed hundred s o f son g

shee ts before a fonner art sc hoo l b udd y convin ced him to try ani mat io n at the Wil liam Randolph Hears t Stud io. The studio, which an imated Hea rst newspaper com ic heroes (S il k- Hat Harry, Ju dge Rumm y. etc.), was under th e direc ti on of young Gregory La Cava.

in between drawings-proved more efficient for an im ating mu sic a nd so und effeels . In 1925, after o ne year at Hearst, Na twick took his savin gs and sa iled for Vien na to study art. " It was one of the most val uable decisions of my life. " At the Vienna Na tional Academy Na h ... ick s harpened his draftsmanship a nd develop ed the sk ill in rendering the female form that was to become his forte in ani mation. Ego n Schiele (" h is feel") and G us tav Klimt were stro ng s ty li st ic innuences o n yo un g Na twick. Durin g thi s period , he fe lt his drawin g " bounded ahead " and he did not intend to return to animation . After three years of intense stud y, J atwick received his certifica te and, in the late s umme r o f 1928, returned to ew York. Some s tartlin g chan ges had occurred in America's enterta inme nt scene s ince his departure. Radio had become very popu-

through. So we s tarted with a four, thenan eigh t, a twelve, an eighteen, and a twenty, and we'd kee p running this and set the metronome to mat ch it. I'll bet haH of those old pi ctu res never did harmo nize with the music, but we'd h it it ofte n enough, so it was pretty good. "They were g rabb ing an awful lot of records o f the time and wcrc animating what th ey ca lled 'so ng ca rtoo ns' and had developed quite a few little characters, like Ko-ko the Clow n and Bimbo. O ne mornin g th ey put o n my d esk a co py of the ' Boo p-Boo p-A- Doop' so ng s ung by Helen Kane. At that time there were no d esig ners and no s to rymen. We virtually wro te o ur own sto ries and des igned our own characters, then a nimat ed th em , a nd so it was with Be tt y. I'm no t ~ven s ure s h e was okayed before I animated her. " Hele n Kane, like so many girls of the time, wore s pit curls, so I s tarted with that

lar and motion pictures with sou nd were all the rage, a fact that influenced the animation b us ihess profoundl y. Dis ney's so n g-a nd -so und -e ffec ts ca rt oo n s h ad an imation producers freneticall y tryin g to co mpet e no t only with Disney's expertise and sty le, but with each other for so und eq uipment that had to be eith er in vented or adap ted. Most importantly, they competed for new ideas and talent. An imators were in great demand. Natwick jo in ed p ioneer Bi ll Nolan in a nim ating " Krazy Kat," and wit hin a yea r was working on "Song Car-Tunes" at Max a nd Dave Fleische r's b usy s tudio." obody knew how to read a music s heet then. We didn ' t know w ha t a musical beat was. Th e re were a coup le of an im ators w ho knew music or played an ins trum ent, a nd grad ually, with metro nomes an d th ings, we worked o ut a fool- proof sys tem that is still used. What I had them d o in th e cutting room was simply takc a loop of film and put a piece of Sco tch tape every few frames so it sa id 'click' each time it we nt

and designed a little character who was s upposed to work with Bimbo the dog. S he s tarted ou t as a littl e dog \", ilh long ea rs , b ut th e rest of he r was ex tre mely feminin e and s he did J rat her sw in g ing dance in the firs t pi cture w hich no d og co uld ha ve d one, so after a few pictures th e long ears developed into earrings and she was no thing but a cute littl e g irl. Bett y Boop was a n ins tan taneous hit, probably beca use s he was th e firs t real fem ini ne charac ter, and introduced new sensitivit y to ca rtoons." Betty Boop emerged as a s tar from the Fleischers' " Talkatoons" se ries made in 1930 for Paramount Pictures. As Betty's popularit y grew, Pa ramo unt cont ract players, a l1)ong them Cab Calloway, Rudy Vallee, The Mills Brolhers, Don Redman, Maurice Chevalier, a nd Ethel Merma n, made live o r voice-over g ues t a ppearances in her films . S he ,vas given tailor-made s tories and specia l songs by Sa mmy Timbe rg a nd SJ m Lerner, and eventually beca me sexy eno ugh 10 be ba nned by Holly-

Snow \Vh,!c . olmmolled by Grim Nollwick . In Disney's SNOW \<\' HIT[ A"..!O THE SFVEN D\VARFS.

In those ea rl y days, th e aids takcn for g ra nt ed to da y in film anima ti onso u nd trilcks, storyboards, "in betweeners" (th e head a nim ato r' s app ren ti ceassistants)-d id not ex ist. EVl'n a proper S to ry Deparlllll'nt was ye t to be develo ped; a t th e Hea rs t S tudio, La Cava would d eli ve r a brief ty pewritten co py of a plo t with s ugges ted sce ne numbe rs to the a nimato rs, who were then respon sible for coming u p \... ith gags ge Ui~ g the character inlo ilnd Qut of trouble . Final drawings were inked o n paper, since th e "cel" meth od was not ye t in w id e use. Eac h animat or turned o ut one four-hundredfoo t picture a mon th: " When we s tar ted o ut we alwavs made one hundred draw路 ings before' we went to lunch . This is ' s tra ig ht -ahead ' animation. We d idn't even have inbet\\路eens." New Yo rk ani mators w ere Irclinl'd to an im ate "strilight-a head " from point A of an action th rough poin t Z. When sound arrived, the " key post.''' md hod-drawing th e ex treme poses of actions first and then filling in the 58

JAN.-FEB. 1975


wood ce nsors as " Ie\vd." Th e Fleische rs we re s ued by Hele n Ka ne w ho claimed Betty was s tea ling her trademark, b ut Miss Kan e los t the ens uing court case when it was reveal ed that she had picked up the " Boo p-Boo p -A- Doop" fr o m a lesserknown black singer, Baby Es th er. Na lw ick animated th e fi rst six of about one hund red Betty Boo p ca rtoons. Some of the "pure ca rtoon ists" who had to draw and an imate her fo llow ing Na hv ick, and who did no t ha ve the aC<ld emic a rt background he had acquired in Vienn a, fo und her tro ubl esome. " I had gone to life classes fo r three years over there, plus prev io us art educat io n here, and mos t of th e men in animation then- almos t all o f thelTt- were jus t cartoo n ists. Th ey did n' t pre tend to d raw anyt hing that had any se rio us manner. I g uess 1 was probably th e fi rs t person to a nimate a fe mal e character and rea lly try to d evt' lo p the fe minin e qu a liti es. The ca rly ani ma tio n was simply try ing to make so meth ing funn y, and if anything popped into yo ur head to make it funny, yo u did it. " It \vas a scene of Betty Boop cl imbing up a rapidl y moving loco mo tive eng ine that ca ug ht th e tale nt -searc hing eye o f Wa lt Disney. Natw ick had animated the scene w ith d e tail ed to uches unu s ua l fo r that period in animation, s uch as her hair and dress bein g w hipped about he r by the wind. (Na twick ca lls it " th e firs t se ri o us animatio n I eve r did .") Nat-wick was soo n vis it ed in New York by Roy Dis ney, Walt's brot her and business partn er. " Roy ca me o ut a nd took me to di n ne r every n ight for about a week. It was a g lo rio us tim e to be an a nimator. We were o ffered us ually hvo jobs a n10n th , but \,ve respected co ntracts. But ) Jcc epted th e Iwerks s hop [in Californ iaJ becau se at thJ t lime the rumor in th e Eas t wa s th a t the ge niu s of the lDisnt'y Studio l \,vas Iwe rks. I'm awfull y glad I d id." Ub Iwe rks was Wa lt Disney's fo rmer pa rtner and th e d es igne r of Mi ckey MO llse. He was the so le ani ma tor on the firs t fi ve Mickey Mo use sho rts and the desig ner and animato r o f th e ea rl iest " Silly Sy mphonies." lwerks ha s been d escribed by Christo pher Finch as bein g " .. . nex t to Walt Dis ney him self ... the mos t important s in g le fig ure in th e deve lo pmen t of th e l Di sneyl S tu d io." In 1930, howeve r, Iwerks q uit the Dis ney o peration and set up hi s ow n s tudi o. Na t w ick reca ll s: " Iwe rk s di d eve ry thing we ll. He co uld dra .." like a fiend . He'd make a few drawings the n run down to th e ba se me nt to work on his multiplane cam era . We had a multiplane ca mera before Dis ney did ." But Iwerks was not the busin ess geniu s Dis ney was, and he did n't have Disney's talent for s tory editing, nor his d ramatic sense. Iwerks created a character cal led Flip the Frog that proved unpopular. " If you picked him a part," says Natw ick of Flip, "he was d esig ned very m uch like Mickey Mouse

except he had a blunt nose and he wo re a funn y hat. O th erw ise they were almos t th e sa me characters, which helped me beca use after drawing Flip fo r a w hile, wh en I finall y d id go to Disney's, Mickey ca me very easy." After almost three years wo rking at the Iwe rks S tudi o, Nalwick d ecid ed to make overtures to the Disney o rgani zatio n. "Someo ne to ld me that if yo u ever turned Wa lt down he'd never hire you ." But Ted Sea rs intervened o n Na twick's behalf and in ea rly 1934 atwick joined the Disney Studio. At that time Walt Disney had al read y s tarted preliminary work on SNOW WHITE, and was enlarging his production s taff of artists, animators, write rs, mu sicians, and technicians to a n eventual lo lal o f a lmost seve n hundred e mployees by la te 1937 when the film was completed . The Mi ckey Mo use shorts a nd Silly Sympho nies we re in full p rod uctio n and Na twick at firs t worked on several of these fi lms: MIC KEY 'S

thin g.' So he'd ha ve the old character co me in and turn on the water faucet a nd maybe mice wo uld co me out! Every thing excep t \va ter."

Walt Dis ney was the first ca rtoo n produ cer to util ize his various an ima tors' indi vidu a l tal e nt s by all o win g th e m to speciali ze. Some animators speciali zed in hea vies (Bill Tyt la 's S tro mb o li fr o m PI NOCC H IO, a nd the devil in FA NTAS IA'S Ba ld Mo unta in sequen ce), w hil e o th e r men fo und co mi c charac ters more to th eir likin g (Norm Ferguson , Bill Rober ts, ilnd Shamus C ulhane became Pluto ex pe rts). Di s ney, o f co urse, wa s welJ -J\Vare of Nat w ick's ex pe rt ise in animatin g th e female form, so Natwick attended ma ny of th e ea rl y m ee tin gs regardin g S now Whit e's d esig n a nd personality co nce pt. "They didn 't wa nt her to look like a princess, rea lly. They wa nted her to loo k like a cute little girl who could be a princess. So FIR E BRIG AD E (1935), MUS I CL A N D (1935)' . ins tead o f a little crown , it end ed with a litCOO KIE C ARNIVAL (1935), ALPIN E C LIMBERS til' bow; Jn d with the hair we did man y (1936), MIC KEY 'S POLO GAME (1936)' MOT HER thin gs. They allowed me two mo nth s of GOOS E GO ES H O LLYWOOD (1938). ex perim e ntal animation before th ey ever Art classes, und er the d irectio n of Don asked me to animate one scene in the picGra ha m, had bee n sta rt ed by Disney in ture. I mig ht even take a sce ne we knew 1932 to prepare his artis ts for co mplex fuwo uld be th ere, th at had this so ng in it, ture projects. " ) went to th e nig ht classes and play a round with it a nd see how th e and there was a life cl ass there all the time, test looked . Then we'd say, ' Well, we're and o f cou rse, there were ce rtain talks by ha ving tro uble vv ith th e s leeves or so meRico LeBrun, Jea n Charlot, and that great thing. Can they be simplified ?' We wo uld pian ist and musician, th e tail , skinny guy brin g lip any question with the designers. I who co mposed th e mu sic for S NOW WH ITE, had a lot to do with the d esigning o f it beFrank Churchill. He told us how to inter- ca use ) '>vo uld try things myse lf. But Snow pre t a certa in ty pe of mu s ic fro m a White was a sweet and grace ful little girl mus icia n's point o f view. I reme mber o nce a nd we jus l tried not to d own her lip. Betty I had a grassho pper- this was in the ('OLO Boo p gets q uit e wild at tim es, you know, picture-who played his violin . Fran k ve ry but it's in her chara cter. See, abo ut ten difpolitely and casually said , ' Don't yo u think feren t artists worked o n that charac ter and it wo uld wo rk better if the bow were going they ke pt se nd ing up model s to us. Yo u in the o pposit e d irection?' Vio linis ts get certain notes by bowing up a nd ce rtain notes by bow ing down. I d idn 'l know thaI. So it d id work better. "They gave yo u all sorts of help th at no other s tud io in th e wo rld co uld ever give you. You had a hundred very talented arti s ts the re a t th a t ti me, li ke IG us tave I Ten gg ren . With T HE OLD MIL L f1 9371, ) g uess he s pe nt a year o n th a t makin g ske tches. Albert Hurter had a bi g room a nd a big d esk and did ex actl y wh at he o pleased. Walt wo uJd say, ' Well, we're going to ma ke an animal picture, it'll be loca ted so and so. See if you ca n thin k o f funn y lit tl e pos iti o ns.' And A lbe rt wo uld pl ay around with it. The Disney Sto ry Departme nt had s upe rb artists. Th ey we re a ll good cartoonis ts, fe llows like Webb S mith , Ted Sears. And a fte r these g uys ca me up with a I . funn y id ea, th ey turned it over to that big, muscuJar pro fessional foo tball pl aye r who was al ways bu m ping in and o ut , Roy Wil liams. He would turn o ut eig ht or ten gags. For ins tan ce, if you had to turn on a fau ce t, th ey'd say, ' Well, this scene is d ea d . Hand it to Roy and see if he can think o f so me-

-_

~'" ~K

...

FILM COMMENT

IV-

59


Mad Holy Old Witch of the Oescn Mountain for Richard WillidnlS' THE COBBLER AND THE TH IEF .

GRIM ATWICK CO TINUED

see the differen t models in tha t book [TIle

Art of Wall Dislley ]. " DIs ney hired eig hteen路year-old Marjorie Belche r (later Marge C hampion) as a mod el to aid th e animato rs in capturin g Snow Whi te's expressions, movement, and POSE's. Miss Belcher would dance and act scenes (rom th e script for a live-actio n camera (see Lift! magazine, 4 April 1938, pp. 18-19) as pari o f a technique known as " Toloscoping." Natwick explains how this aid was used: "They wo uld take a film o f this g irl acting oul so mething. Then they would p ut a bunch of beg inning artists in a da rk room ""here they co uld run the fi lm over so it reflected aga inst the animatio n board exactly with pegs a nd everything the same as we u sed it. And th e n they wo wd trace, rat her hurriedly sometimes, eve ry seco nd (frame] . In a ph o tog ra ph yo u'd lose half; they'd trace as much as they co uld see, and give us the action as nea rl y as they could see it. The n these d rawings were photostatted and given to LI S. We wou ld put those on ou r board and th en recreate, YO ll know , this character, this Snow White. " Fo r ins tnn cc, her chin wou ld co me about here, th en we had to cu t off he r shoulders a nd start from the bollom. You kept a short blo use so that if you keep the legs long e no ugh, s he did dancing and walking and things. The Snow Wh ite we drew wa s us ua ll y only five or s ix heads high. We had to recons truct the character over rt he mod e l drawing s ]. Very often about all we co uld use mig ht be the leg action and then we co ul d exaggerate that if we wanted to . And very o ften some o f our bes t anim ation we co uld do witho ut the rotoscope. The bes t an imatio n, generally, th at I think I ever d id-and th at 's what LDickJ Williams tho ught and that 's why he want ed me to co m e to Londo n- was where she runs down the stairs. It was too risky a thing to ro tos;cope so -, had to an imate that a nd it turned o ut to be o neof the nicest ... ! think we could have anima ted a lot of Ihat probably. Bul we didn't know. Nobodv had ever don e a character like this. It ;..'as <l new problem for all of us." Many of th e old er Disney artis ts s till at the Studio today consider Snow White the m os t s uccessful fema le a nimati on ever done the re; so much so that , in th e 1973 featurecarloon ROBIN H OOD , the animation of the fox Ma id Marian dancin g at a for('"'5 t party is路 the sa me used to make S now White dance at th e dwarfs' party thirty-six 60

JAN.- FEB. 1975

years before. To so me, S now White seems "yo un ge r" in co nt ras t to the Di s ney heroines Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Na twick responded : " I g uess so. We were yo unger, 100. Maybe that had something to do with it. The problem was too new. We were too yo ung to know what th e hell we were d oin g. I don't know how we did it. I don't think anyone does rea lly." During his twenty months' concentra路 tion o n SNOW WHITE, Natwick completed eig hty-four scenes (or a tenth o f the foot路 age), many of them major compo ne nts of the story. He was assisted at times by five yo unger animators w ho "cleaned- up" his basic rough " pose" draw ings, and followed his instructions in the preparation of inbetween drawi ngs to smoo th o ut the actio n's now. Near the picture's deadline came a ru s h o rder for completion and Na twick pus hed out thirty-five fee t of fi lm, o r about a thousa nd drawings a week. While atw ick was on vacation after work in g o n so me a nim atio n in the "Sorcere r's Appre nti ce" seque nce fr o m FANTASIA and some layo ut for PI NOCCH IO , his car slid up a wet emba nkment and fell over, tearing his rig ht arm ("my drawing arm") o ut of the socket. "Whil e I wa s in a plaster cas t I vi sit ed New York and the Reischer Studio. They were build ing the ne w s tudio down in Fl o rid a a nd they wa nted me to come down there, much to my s urprise. So I thought, well, I've been at Disney'S four yea rs. Why no t? I always e nj oyed working with Fleisc he r a nd I knew them very well. "I never had a ny gripe with Disney'S. It was a grea t place to work, terrific experi ence, and , I believe, the g reates t coll ege of animatio n in the wo rld . Dis ney had only o ne rule: whatever we did had to be better than a nybody else co uld d o it, even if you had to anima te it nine times, as I o nce did. The animatio n is s till go rgeo us, but now they've lost their s to rymen-t he former newspaper car toon is ts a nd com ic-strip men." The new Fleischer S tudio in Miam i was th e second largest unit for the production o f animated cartoons in the co un try. The $1,250,000 complex occupied an entire city block a nd employed about seven hund red people producing thirty cartoons a year for Pa ramoun t re lease. On GUL LI VER ' S TRAVELS, Reisc her's firs t feat ure ca rtoo n, Na twi ck was Seq ue nce Di recto r of o ne tho usa nd fee t of film a nd a nima ted the third g rea t fema le character of his ca reer:

ADV JCE FROM A MASTER:

"The only advice for anyone who wants to animate is to dra w every seco nd th ey ca n, and work with a good animator." Natwick casts a cold eye on a certain g ro up of West Coast TV animation factories daiming they "are doing nothing 10 improve animation. They're jusl trying to make a quick buck so that they can make ano th er quick buck, and it's a shame. I have ideas on what can be done. I don't think animation has even been tried yet. Animation ca n s tand ten years of experi menta tion, particularly in a feature picture." Na twick's na tural g ift for " teac hin g without teaching" demons trates itse lf in several casually men tioned tips on animatio n technique which are the res ult of yea rs spent mastering his craft: "We used to bet $10 to a dim e that yo u could tak e any character a nd walk it across the roo m and get a laugh o ut of it. And it still can be d one by the animator. We used to have abo ut twe nty- fo ur different walks. We wo uld have a ce rtain motion on th e body, a certain mo tion on the head, a certain kind of patter walk, a big s tep, or the 'Goofy- walk' that Art Babbi tt d eveloped . We made a stud y of walks and dances. While the opposite arm naturally moves with the opposite leg, we would break those rules eig ht or ten different ways to make the walk in teres ting. Lots o f silly little commerdal cartoons have been saved because there wasa


GRIM

ATWICKON ANIMATION

funny walk in there. 'The editing of a picture an animator has to learn, too. An animator s hould spend days experimenting to learn how to move [ca mera] fields. Never waste a drawing, but always get everything out of a drawing that you can. " If we wanted to know how to do something [at Disney's). we'd go to the greatest guy in the world who could do it. I learned how to deliver a punch from Art Babbitt. He said, 'Oon't ever show the hand hitting the chin; show the hand after it's past the chin and the chin has moved out of place and there's lots of s tars where the contact

was.' "There's a vocabulary of h.vo thousand

things-just as if they were two thousand se parate words-that you have to learn about animation. If you've got that vocabulary, you're a grea t animator. If you have two hundred of them, you could get by today. A lot of animators are getting by with a very small vocabulary. What do you know about animation today and what wiJl you know ten years from now? Youll find that in ten years you11 be able to do in one hour what you take a day to do now. That's because you keep piling knowledge upon knowledge till pretty soon you have five hundred words in that vocabulary that wiJI make it a lot easier."

the Princess Glory. He decp·sea fished and worked on some Popeye sho rts after GULLIVER. Money and film were becoming sca rce due to the War, and all studios with· ou t governme nt contracts for training films-necessary to keep reven ue flowing as the European market shrank-were in trouble. atwick returned to Cal ifornia and worked with Walter Lantz o n two hundred Army Educatio na l films a nd Woody Woodpecker shorts. He spent a year animat ing in an aircraft plan t while il· lus trating comic books on the s ide. After the War, he joined U.P.A. U.P.A . (Un ited Productions of America) was formed by a sma ll g ro up of former Disney artists, amo n g th em Step hen Bosustow, BiJI Hurtz, Pete Burness, John Hubley, and Bob Cannon, who sought to produce car too ns more freely and in a wider variety of indi vid ual styles than was allowed at the Disney Studio. Ultimately, U.P.A.'s diversification and e n co ura ge· ment of different work opened the doors to a genera l change in app roach to cartoon style a nd content not only in America but around the world . Their movement away from reali stic, natural setti ngs, and charac· ters, and toward sharpe r, more sophisti· ca ted, eve n cy ni ca l, abs tractio n s o f realis m , returned animation to its basic mag ic o f making the impossible plausible. Grim Na twick worked o n many U.P.A. classic shor ts, including TROUBLE IND£MN lTI' (1950: the second Mr. Magoo ca rtoon), WILLIE T H E KID (1952), GERALD MCBO I NG BO I NG (1950). and ROOTY TOOT-TOOT (1952). He was Supervising Animator on co untless TV commercials at U.P' A.'s New York office, and when that bra n ch closed in May 1958, he free-lanced s uccessfully with Tissa David for ten years. Tissa David is one of the few women an imators to have made it to the top of her profession. Her animation is much in de· mand by TV commercial, industrial, and educational film producers. Most recently s he was sole a nimato r of Jo hn Hubley's award - winning COCKA BQODY (1973). " I lea rn ed animation from Grim Natwick. I think h e is the grea test animator that ever lived and he is the greates t teacher of ani· mation . Not only does he have that know· ledge, but he has a way to give it away. Even today I don't do one lin e without somet hing in my brain that Grim to ld me. I came to New York in 1955 (after working as an a nima tor in Paris a nd Budapest] . At that time U.P.A. was the big name in a ni·

THE COBBLER AND THE THIEF : The Mad Holy Old Witch examines the Enchanted Prince before beginning her magic .

mation in Europe. I had no sa mple reel. I went in once to make a sort of try·out. I was scared; I didn't speak English. I didn' t know what they were talking abo ut. So I was jus t wa iting. waiting, and G rim came by. U.P.A. had a n awful lot of work and they needed an assistant to him, SO they to ld him I needed th e work. And so I worked with Grim for twelve years. " First we wo rked at U.P.A. as a team, then when U.P.A. closed down we went over to Bob Lawrence. Then we free· lan ced. We always free-lanced as a team. We picked up a job, then more and more it happened he did half of a nimation, I did half of anima tio n, and I 'cleaned up' the whole thing so it looked like one. We did seve ral pieces of an im at ion for John [Hubley] and this is how John knew me. I saw SNOW WHITE in 1938 and I thought, , ow this is something I want to do.' Isn't it s trange that SNOW WHITE go t me into animatio n and I really lea rned my an ima· tion from Grim." In 1968, atwick retired from a nimation in order to pursue o il painting. "I spent my who le life drawing and I wen t to Vienna with the idea of being a serious painter. In order to earn a living I had to get into an imation, so I s pent mos t of my life there. But I decided to quit and wa nted to do so me painting, and I've spe nt the better part of abo ut fi ve years trying to reach that point." In 1973 Natw ick was coaxed o ut of retirement by an in vita tio n to lecture on h is approach to the ar t of a nimat io n to you nger animators a t Dick Williams' London st udio. The agreed-upon two months stre tched into eight month s because he "got so intrigued with that witch" - th e fascinating old crone in Williarns' feature TIiE COBBLER AND THE THIEF.

Film anima tion celebrates its diamond anniversary this year; this date is based on the ex is tence of a paper print of an animated cartoo n in the Library of Congress by an unknown artist working for the Edison Com pany in 1900. G rim Natwick is yet another o f the many individual artists who have to il ed anonymously und er co rporat e banners and a re o nly now receiving longove rdue public recognition of their special contributions. Grim atwick has always had total command of the a nimation "voca bulary" h e refers to; he has spoken it flu ently and with eloquence througho ut a lo ng a nd distinguished caree r advancin g the new art of film animation ...;.: FILM COMMENT

61


~~~~(Q)(Q)JMITJM@

~

@ @~(Q)~IQ>\Wl~W Meanwhile, back in New York .. .

by I. Klein

TH E SU NS H INE MAKER S. ,\bovE> : The "gloom" Ch,lf.ICler.; , Below : The " Ioys" c.l rrying hOll led su n~h i ne iorthcir w ar ,l gains! th(' ',!dooms," Re(ir.lwn for FILM COM,\-IENT by I. Klein .

62

JAN.-FEB. 1975

BiJi Tytla go t a brig ht look in his eyes whe n I 1l1e ntio ncd, one Saturd ay afternoon in the S pring o f 1934, that except fo r Till' N('w Yorkl'r, m os t m agaz in es weren' t bu yi ng m y ca rtoo ns a n y m o re-beca use th e De press io n had driven them out o f business. " You were

an a nim a to r befo r e yo u jumped int o magaz in e cartoo nin g," h e sa id. "Yo u anim a te d o n The Ka tze n jamm e r Kid s, M utt a nd Je ff, Kra zy Ka t. May be yo u co uld d o so me free- la nce a nim a tio n to g ive yo ur in co me a lift . Burt G ill e tt is back in 10 WI1 , as directi ng s upe rvisor o f th e Va n Bure n Animati o n S tudio ." Bill , w ho wo ul d la te r beco me a to p a nima to r at the Disney studi o (des ig nin g impo rtant sequ e nce s fo r SN O\V WH ITE, F/\ NTA S I /\ , a nd DU M80 ) , had s ig ned on at Va n Buren a fte r lea rn ing how serio us the s tudi o was abo ut co mp e tin g w ith Dis ney. T he boss, Mr. A m e d ee Van Bure n, had hired Burt G ill e tt , the d irec· lor o f the s m.-,sh T HR EE LITT L E PIGS, a way from Dis ney at th e then· fab ul o us sa la ry o f 5400 pe r week. If tha t kid Dis ney in H o ll y w ood made a b ig hit , Mr. Va n Bure n reasoned , it mu s t have bee n be· ca use he had the rig ht directo r: Burt G il· lell . Now Burt was in th e process o f reo r· ga nizing the V(l n Buren s tudio. Wh e n I a rri ved a t their o ffi ces in th e 729 Seve nth Ave nu e b uildin g (it s till s la nd s, ju s t off Bro(ld way, a nd s till houses a num ber of fi lm compan ies), I imnw diat ely rea li zed th e ex te nt of Burt's reo rg'1I1 iza ti o n . Bya coin cid e nce, it was the sa me fl oo r o f the sa me build ing th a t had o nce bee n th e loca tio n of Hea rst's In· te rnati o nal, w here I'd he ld In y first joba l a nin"'la ted ca rtoon in g. But the o ffi ce was changed beyo nd recognitio n. Wall s, pa r· titio ns, every thing had bee n rearra nged -exce pt fo r the Me n's Roo m . Bu rt Gi ll e tt ha d cha nged , too, s in ce th e days te n yea rs earl ier w he n we'd wo rked toget h er for Th e Assoc i<1 te d An im a to rs in Lo ng Isla nd Ci ty. Now he wo re an expensive- look ing s uit tha t fit pe rfec tl y and was pressed to ca rd board s ha rpne ss. In o ur conve rsa tio n he told mc I co uld ei th e r animat e o r d o s to ry wo rk , but on s ta ff - no fre e- la nce. I chose to a nim a te, we ag reed on a sala ry, and I sta rted th e foll ow in g Mond ay. I di d no t mee t Mr. Va n Bure n the n o r a t a ny o the r time d uring my m o nth s a t th e Va n Bu re n S tudio. But al o ng the way I lea rn ed th a t he ha d mad e hi s mo ney o n the frin ges o f s how b us iness-s uppl yin g pee p-s how mac hin es to Penny Arcad es -before b uying in to th e Aeso p's Fab les S tu d io, which was s ubseq uen tly na med a fte r it s new ow ner. At wo rk , he sa t behind a d esk that hi d his s ho rtn ess of s tatur e , a nd m ade any e mpl oyee s u m m oned int o th e Sa nct u m s ta nd in hi s prese nce: the re ' vc re no o th cr chairs in the room! Wh e n I re por ted to wo rk th e fo ll ow in g Mo nd ay, I saw so m e famil ia r faces


Above left: In TH E SU NSH INE MA KERS. the "joys" att ac k the "glooms" with bollied sunshi ne. Le ft: The "glooms" are happily tr,ln sfo rmed in to "j oys." Redra w n fo r FILM COMMENT by I. Klein. Above: I. Klein ~elf-portrail.

(George S talli ngs , George Rufle, a n d Carl " Mike " Mayer) and some new ones: Bill Littlejohn , Jack Za nder, Pete Bu rne ss, and a g uy named Frank Ta shli n . G illett had th ree dire ctor s w ork in g und er him: Jim Ty er, S te ve Muffati , a nd Ted Es h bau g h. I wa s ass ig n e d to Es h bau g h 's unit , to a n imate a cartoon called PASTRYT O WN ; my seque n ce in vol ved a lot of elves actin g out the trim min g on a weddin g ca ke. I wa s plea sed to d iscove r that , thou gh my experi en ce in an imation wa s completel y w ith silent film s, 1 cou ld cat ch on quickl y to the technique of making cartoon s talk. Ea c h S aturda y ( we work e d five and-a-half da ys a week ), Bur t G illett wo uld call his animator s into th e scree n in g roo m for a lect ure on Disne y anima t io n method s; s ometime s a Di s n e y a n imat o r wh o happe ned to be in N ew York would talk to us. Burt would al so read from a chart h o,v muc h foo ta ge each animator had co mpleted . My first wee k, wh en he came to littlejohn's name, Burt sa id , " Bill, th is is no good . You onl y d id six fee t ." Littlejo h n onl y s hru gged hi s s h o uld e rs and loo ke d sa d , so I fo und m yse lf s peakin g up: " Burt , the sce ne Bill's workin g on [for PA STRYTO W N] is full o f e lves ridin g egg- beate rs o n unic ycl es in sid e a hu ge bowl o f cake- mix- a hell of a lot o f wo rk! " Burt could appreciate the in1porta nce of quality ove r qu antit y, and la uded Littl e jo hn for hi s wo rk. The s tudio produced a var iety o f ca rtoo n s ubjects. I ca n remember anima ting se qu e n ces o f g ran d filther clock s,

human iz ed, for a film Jim Tyer directed , and sce n es w ith a parrot for a "Too ne rv ill e Fo lks" cart oo n; al so littl e fl a me characte rs for a picture directed by Ste ve Muffa ti. La te r on I anima ted about hventy -five or thirty pe r ce nt of a co lor ca rtoon , T H E S U NS HI N E M A KER S, for Ted Eshbau g h- a s tory a bout so me happy s un shine elves, in confl ict ,..., ith gloom y e lves, who used the ir secre t weapon o f bo ttl ed s uns hine to di s pe rse the force s of g loom . As the picture wa s bein g fini s hed , th e re was a n o m in o us mood in the s tudio. People we re bei ng fired before they could reall y p ro ve them s e lves, and Burt G illett see med more interes ted in build ing partitio n s be tween fl oor a re as than in s upervis in g cartoon p rodu ction. When I asked him ho w he liked my animation in T HE S U NS HI NE MAKERS, he an swe red that one sce ne I did wa s a ll r ight. I told h im that I' d do ne a good pa rt o f the p ictu re, he re s ponded a s he had to my defen se of Litt lejoh n's wo rk: " J didn ' t kn ow that!" Earlier in 1934, before joini ng the Van Buren St ud io, I' d bee n offe red an a nimation job at Cha rle s Mint z's Scree n Ge ms Studio , b u t had chosen to remain in Ne w York , w he re I co uld kee p in contact vvit h th e ma ga zin e editors, es peCia lly at The New Yorker, who cont inued to p ubl is h m y occa s io nal cartoon s. Toward th e e nd of the ye ar, ho we ver, Ted S ea rs, an old friend who ha d beco me a s tory man at Di sney, wrote me say ing that Walt wa s inte res ted in seeing any story mater ial o r gag lines r mig ht have for hi s film s; a nd

in re s ponse I sent Ted a s tory board of my a d aptati o n of "The Em p e ror 's New Clothes," with the chara cters drawn as fam iliar, fair y- ta le me n and wom e n. In vie\-\' of later development s at the Dis ney s tudio, r belie ve Ted 's le tter to me is wo rth qu o tin g from: " Wa lt liked the wa y that s tory you worked up wa s p rese nted. Ha vin g jus t com pl eted THE PI ED P IPER , we ' ve jus t come to the conclus ion tha t our bes t scree n values a re s mall , cute , an imal chara cters, a nd \Ne ha ven ' t adva nced fa r e noug h to handle human s properl y a nd make them perfo rm well e noug h to compete w ith real actors." I sent Ted no more mater ial fo r Dis ney. But by that time I was fed up with G ill ett a nd the Va n Bure n s tudio, so I we nt bac k fu ll -time to ma gaz ine cartoonin g . The n again I received a ca ll from the Ch a rles Mint z s tud io. Thi s tim e, m y w ife Ann a nd I decid ed to go to Ho lly wood . We arrived there in Jan uar y 1935, a nd I pl unged in to work the da y a fter our a rrival. Fo r a yea r I animated Kra zy Kat (thi s time with sound), S crappy, a nd other Screen G ems characte rs. We we re able to so cial ize with a lot of old friend s, Te d Sears includ e d. On e eve nin g Ted re ma rked , " Wh e n you arrived in Holl ywood , I told Walt Dis ney that Kl ein had just co me to town to wo rk for Charles Mint z. Wa lt sa id , 'W hy the he ll didn ' t he come to wor k fo r me ?' I a ns wered , 'Wh y the he ll d idn ' t yo u ask him ?' " Two weeks la te r I was at my an imation de s k at th e Dis ney s tu d io. But tha t' s anot he r s to ry ... ~;~ FI LM COMME NT

63


In so me respects, the re may be no cui路 tural fig ure in the \,\Iest who is as potentiall y controversia l as Walt Dis ney, even though love .1nd hatred for \vhat he rep rese nt s are frequentl y felt by the same people. At the sa me ti me, there is certainly no o the r filmmaker w hose aesthet ical a nd id eological preoccupatio ns have permeated su much of m od e rn life that, paradoxicall y, hi s omnipresence verges on invisibility. Even beyon d th e g rave, continuing m<1nifestatio ns of his vision hiwc become so integ ral to I\m e rican soc iL't y that the y Me (olTll11only rega rded as nat ural il nd relatively unques tioned pClrb \ ~~,thc \,md scape , like a S.:llt s haker or a ~bys ittcr o r a place to go on vClcatio n. II has bet:'11 rcpo rted that in 1966, the yt.路ar th .11 Dis ney died , two hundred and forty million pL'O ple saw at leas t one of his movies wh ik e ight hundred million read a bLx>k or l11agclL in e be.lring his imprin t. One would not be u nduly s urp rised to lCilrIl that last yea r the figures were eve n higher. In an uncharacteristically pro vocative ,md rather co rros ive acco unt o f the opening o f Disnc\' World in Ncw:,>weck (October 18, 1971), ' Jose ph Morgens te rn cha rged that Walt Disney Prod ucti o n s wa s " not hin g more or k->ss than a roY.lJist p lot, a computer progra m to lake over the Unit ed Stal es and turn it into a cont in ental Ma g ic Kingd on1. "There is reaso n to s us pt.'ct that the Disney in te rests have done mort' than ins tall an Audio -A nimatronic Nixon in the Hall o f Pres id e nt s h l..' re , that the man in Washing ton is programm ed to abdicate in favor of <1 Disney-desig nated rul er. "A nd w lw no t? Whodst' but Disnev ha s been .1bk' to b uild a n Aml..'ri can cit\" that work s? All the answers (lfl' here : l ... \ What wo rks here can work in a large r ivlagic Kingdom.l ... J " In \Valt we can tru s t to refo rm our schouls a nd put his tory in it s proper perspect ivl:': an Attica land in which AudioAn imatrun icizcd priso ners !'ing the pra ises o f Guvernor Roc kefe ller for respcctin~ their rig ht to pri vacy, a Thinkt.mk land in which Dan ElI sberg takes the Penta gon papers with a g rdin of salt. In \Valt we can trust to clear the slu m:-;, fenew the cities, wipe uut poverty a n d thl..' bcllan(e ~o f颅 payme nt s deficit by puttin g up tur nstil es and charging adm iss ion to o ur shores. It is o ur maniks t destim' to becom e Dis neyldnd to the world. " If 1\ lnr h l..'nstern' s a nger s(ll111ds exaggerated , it it' wo rth rec,llling tha t many yea rs ago, Ra y Bradbury quite se riu usly pro pm.ed to Di!:i ney th,lt he nm for ma~ ' or of Los t\ngt.'i l.."". A:;; the s tory is relat ed , the g ray eminen(e was fl a tter.... d b u t unin teres ted : " Wh y " hnuld I run for mayor," he scl id , "w hen I'm .1Ire.ldy king?" And in dcet..-i , ()ne co uld hiHdh' bl.1me Disncv fur hi " re s pon .. e. Wh y ' ... IWllld he 11 ,1\'e bot herC'Cl w ith trifles li)..e man.1g ing a city whe n tn mind s all over tlk' co untry he al ready (,lI1W ,lC ro s ~ as the ~n ev olent ru ler 64

JAN.-FEB. 19 75

, of the u niverse? How man y of u s rcmember Uncle Walt on telev is ion , situated in hi s cozy s tud y wit h A ll the World 's Know led ge a nd All th e G rea t Literar y Classics bound in leather - the titles lettered in go ld , if we had colo r TV presiding ben ig nl y ove r hi s g lobe o f the wo rld , which he pa tientl y expla ined and desc ribt.'d to us? It was and is a strange relations hip that he had w ith that globe: no t at all like the o ne that Chaplin had w ith h is own g lobe in T HE G RE AT DICTATOR, bl'ca use it wasn ' t s ubject tocasy irony or rid icul e- no, it was much too good -natured ,md paternal for that , too h<lrmk'Ss in a ll of its mos t obv io us imp li cation s. Like Mickey Mo u se a nd Donald Duck, w henever or hO\vever they appear, it us ually makes a nt' smil e beca use it is so cheerfuJly legible. A c ritic once remarked to me that m uch of the co n tinuing

extremely problemat ical to deal w ith , because, like it o r not - and mos t a udiences like it - Dis ne y does embody a s pec ific <le stheti c intelli gence; a nd fo r t h e pas t th irty yeMs, inh.'lIcctua ls have generally refu sed to take him seriously on a ny level at a ll. A bese ttin g limitation o f Richard Schickel 's useful an d factually interes ting The Dislu'll Vers ioll (Avon Books, 1968) is that it virtually d ism isses Disney as an artist w hi le p urs uing various social im plicatio ns of his CMeer-as if talent , integ rity , a nd ta ste were a ll some hmv sy nony mous a nd interchangeilb le. (If one app roves ofi!' it 's art; if onc disaprroves, it 's mas s cu lture. ) And o th er s tudi es, usuall y more sy mpa th etic, te nd to s in g prai ses to Dis ney's "a rti stry" witho u t seriou s ly acknow ledgi ng a ny thing else. A fo rmidable task fa ced by any Disney critic is th e sq uaring of art w ith ideolog y

DREAM MASTERS I:

by Jonathan Rosenbaum

The Supreme Heart- cru sher conta ins multitud es: Hu gh Hefn er, Leni Riefenstahl , John a nd Henry Ford

excitement o f THE GREAT DICTATOR resided in the f,lct that , "" hen Chaplin made it , he was probabl y 1110re w ide ly known t han any other human on the ploJnet, il/cllldillg Hitler. Whethe r or not thi s is true , the m ind boggles before the likelihood that thl..' non- human and imagina ry Jv lickey MOllse may be eVe ll Illore un iversa lly familiar: acco rding to Lewis Jacobs in Tile gist' of fil e I\lI1t'1"icnJl Film (1939), " His popularity o utranks that of ki ngs and di ctato rs; he is the bes t-know n fi g llfe of th e twen ti et h cen tury." I don't know whe the r he has pen etra ted Red Chinet yet and I hope he never does, but I rather s uspe ct ht' is likd y to get there in some form o r another even bdure Coca-Cola. All of this is unsettl ing, awesome, and

witho ut d isto rting the natu re or va lues of e ither. In the absence of a methodology that ca n adeq uately accomoda te bo th asPl:'cts, I have limi ted myself he re to a few no tes a nd s uggestions, lis ted under four head ings. For the sake of convenience, my retnge of re fe re nces hets been narrowed to a few of the an il11etll'd a nd semi路animated features - not on ly bec.:1 use th ese tend to be th e best-know n works, but al so because they appeilr to be the richest single area for investiga tio n . Un fortunett ely, the bulk of the early "Silty Sy mphonies" and Illa ny of the feat ures are notorious ly d iffi cu lt to come by, and no t having been around for the ma ss ive Dis ney retrospective a t lincol n Center in '1973, 1 ca n ' t be qu ite as com pre hensive in m y use of cxa mp les as


I' d li ke to be. A rece nt Pa ri s rev iva l of SA LUDOS AMIGOS, fo r t'X'1I11pl e, was welcome; but how often d oes one get to see TH E THR EE CABAL LEROS o ut side o f, say, Buenos Aires? (A n Arge nti ne frien d has told me that it is q uit e pop ular th ere, a nd shown almost perpetua ll y.) (1) Authorship. No one has eve r bee n able to tackle the sli p pery matter of assig nin ~ Disllt'y prec ise a uth o rs h ip . O n th e o ne hand , the cartoon fea tu res ex hi bit a sty le that is bo th unmi sta ka ble and all pervasive: a tree in a Dis ney film is a Disney tree, a doorknob is a Disney doorknob. On th e ot her hand , Dis ney \vas not even capable of dupl icating the famous " Disney signature" th at appea rs o n th e cred its of each of his films. Five directors are listed on the credits o f DUMBO, six in BAMBI , but the Disney style o f animation persists as a

recog nizable entity even u p to th e presen t, rega rdless of who happens to be wo rking at th e s tud io, and despit e the frequ e nt modif ica ti o n s (c.g., th e influ e n ce o f U P .A. a nim a ti o n in ALI CE "IN WON DERL AN D, th e eve n fi <l lter gree tin g-card pers pectives in more recent films like THE ARISTOCATS). In certain res pects, the crea tive relation shi p betwee n Dis ney and his films might be seen as ro ugh ly eq ui va lent to the one betwee n Hu gh Hefn er a nd Playboy: in and above th e mu ltiple con tributions, the master fantasy o f o ne in d ivid ual finds a setting for th e m all , a " pe rfec t" la ndsca pe continu all y rebuilt, red eco rated , and elaborat ed by o thers--rather like the made-too rd e r pornog ra ph y w ritt e n for th e sole

cons um ption of weaJthy il. Re/xmrs ty Pt'S, exce pt for the cru cia l fact that Dis ney and He fn e r bo th have "cross-secti o n" pe rso nalities. There are obvio usly a lot o f people around who feel as a mbivalent about sex and nature as Disney and Hefner (respecti vely) d o, and ex pe ri ence mu ch the sa me mLx ture of wors hip and fea r in rega rd to bo th ca tegories. Th e who leso me ness projected by th e world view o f each empire is s itu a ted in a po rce lain te mpl e o f the mind where all notio ns o f waste bPco me ma g icall y abse nt , s we pt away by water that is ke pt permanentl y purified , thanks to be ne fice nt , in v is ibl e po we rs. Th e categories a re thu s e nabled to maintain th eir pris tine and id eal s tat es: pure idea , with o ut the th rea t of co nt a mina tion o ffe red by a ny ex per ien ce but a vica ri ous o ne. A ma n w hose high ly ambi val ent fee l-

ings abo ut art were expressed equall y well by th e term "Silly Sy mph ony" and by h is no torious co mment aft er seeing one of the seq uences in FANTAS IA ("Gee, th is' lllllake Bee th ove n! " ) may ne ve r have re sol ved th ese conflicts- he n eve r rea ll y ha d to - but he ce rtainl y kn ew w ha t he liked . And the Disney sty le might be d escribed ilS the putting into practice, by countless employees, o f what Dis ney liked . Style and vision: a comparison . Perhaps the o ne wo rd that could bes t enca ps ul ate thi s s ty le is id ea li za tio n . It is chie fl y this quality that s ugges ts a rath er stro n g pa ra ll el between Dis ney's vis ion and Len i Riefens tah l's-a dream of perfection ilnd sim plicity th at makes every detail (2)

on th e screen a n ex pressive part of a continuo us a nim istic whole, impli city turnin g th e entire cos mos into a s ingle id ea. THE BLUE UGHT, Riefens ta hl 's firs t feature, is full of s tri ki ng correspo ndences to th e ca rtoon features. It begins with the fra ming device of a lu xurio us lea th er-bo und vo lume be ing o pened to lead us into the story prope r; eve n in Ri efenstahl' s g li stening bla cks and whit es, th e book's cove r ap pears to shine with th e regal s plendor o f in laid go ld . Th e inte nse pantheis m and th e towering vistas of the land scape shots, the poeti c inn ocence and purity o f the heroine (played by Ri efen s tahl herself), the telepathy and e mpath y s ho wn by a nim als (a la mb and a dog) to ward her fl uctuating mood s, the shee r terror o f her fli ght from angry villagers and the sh eer intolerance of their persecutio n, the misty id ea lism o f th e blu e li ght itself shining o n a mountain to p befo re th e di amo nd s th a t prov ide it s source are d espo il ed by greed y in vad ers (like the hunters who inva d e the parad isial fores t in 8 A ~'IBI ): all are recog nizable features of the Dis ney kingd om . Indeed, one co uld trace this relatio nship furth er into cer lain aspects of th e later, better know n Ri efcns ta hl films, TRI UMPH OF TH E WIL L a n d OL YMPIA . Th e arr iva l of Hitl e r's pl a ne o ver N ure mb e rg in the fo nn er s ugges ts the weig htl ess flig hts o f Peter Pan and Mary Pop pins over Lond on; the monumental lO\v-a ng le shots of certai n Na zi fi gures echo the cam era 's myth ic di scovery of Bambi's fat her, s tanding proudl y o n an impos ing cliff to witn ess hi s so n's birth ; th e mon stro us r<l ll y d ecor (sets by Albe rt Speer) and its d wa rfing of individual s is co mpa rabl e to th e pal ace in CI NDERELLA ; the to rch-bea rin g sequ en ce that ope ns OLYMP IA a nd th e eq ua ll y remarkable " lig h t s how" th at co nclud es it each find roug h co un terparts in FANTAS IA. As the latt er exa mple s urel y in d icates, Riefenstahl is fo rm ally mu ch mo re sop histi ca ted than Dis ney, <l nd this ro m parison is not mea nt to imply direct s ty listic influence in either direction or any prt'cise ideo logical equiva lence, but rather to isolate a particular aesth etic attitud e thJt is unlls uaJly opm to id eo logy becau se of its child -like innocence and its predil ection for primal my ths of uni ty and pcrk'Ctio n. L As a fur th e r indi ca ti o n - if not a d e mo n s tration- o f th e co mpatibili ty of these two temperam ents, it is wo rth no ting that , acco rdin g to Robert G ardne r (FIL M COMM ENT, Wi n te r "1 965), w hl'n Riefe n s tahl visited the United Stat es in "1 938, Dis-

, If RiefensLlhl's s t)'[(" ,lnd vis ion h,we any other con temporMY ("choes , thes(" ,He to be found, perh'lps, in some of the exhilarations of Michael Wadlt'igh 's WOODSTOCK, the T RI UM rt l OF Til E ..... ILL of S ixties cou nter-culture, w hich uSt'!s its s plit-screen images a nd stereo-sound to crea te an e pic portrayal of Conse nsus, w h ich the a udience is invilt"d to led n back and a bsorb li ke a th ree路 ho u r ba th . A cr ucial cross路 reference to Ride nsta hl and .....OO DSTOC K is, o f course, Cl'cil l3 . De Mille.

FILM COMME NT

65


DREAM MASTERS 1 CONTINUED

ney was " the on ly fi lm celebrity to greet he r p ubli cl y, oul o f th e sco res that pro fessed to admire her." (3) Ideolog ical subs tructures. Conscious a nd u nconscio us propaganda of all kind s are observabl e in the ca rtoon features. A characte ri stic and fa irl y innocuous form of

conscious propaganda ca n be fo und in the va rio us atte mpts to pers uad e ch ildren to " behave pro pe rl y" in SN OW WHIT E A N D T H E SE V EN DW A RFS (1937): ho u se ho ld cho res s uch as d usting and dis h was hi ng are s hown to be " fun "-" Whis tlc W hile You Work " (a lth o ug h S now Whit e a p pears to do mos t of the wh is tling, the a ni mal s mos t o f th e work )- wh ile another leng thy musical number is devoted to the

im portance of was hi ng lip before ea ting. Th e firs t o f Disney's ca rtoon features wa s regarded by many as an e normous finan cial ri sk, and it appears likel y th at a particular effort \va s mad e here to please the pa re nts as well as the children. Probably less conscio us a re the im plicatio n s be hind th e d ec is io n to h ave th e d war fs chase th e Wicked Wit ch u p a mOlln ta in and to h er d ea th (a bea utiful , blu rred fad eo ut of two buzza rd s circlin g do wn a chasm a fter he r) before they've ha d a chan ce to d iscove r th a t s he's fed S now Whit e a poison app le- in fac t, before they've bothered to inq uire into Snow White's welfare at all. Their ve ngeful pu rs uit is motivated by no thing but the fores t anima ls' mute warnings-that is, by pure hysteria-and th e Wit ch's evil has alread y been d epi cted so vividly a nd persua sively (to us, if not to the m) that it is virtually im pOSS ib le not to s hare the ir mob-like res po nse as th ey goad he r to h er doorn. C ur io us ly, SnO\路" Whit e, who is v isibl y yo ung eno ugh to be the dau ghter of any o f the dwarfs, act s like a mother towa rd s th em, a clever ploy perm itting various s ubliminal sat is fa ction s to ch ildren and paren ts alike. When the dwarfs need affect ion or g uidan ce, s he is mate rnal; when s he need s to be ave nged -or p rotec ted and preserved in a g lass ca sket for the Prince's arrival - Ihey ass ume the paren tal role. A sam pl e in s ta n ce of s u bmerged nationalis ti c propa ganda can be see n in PI NOCCHIO (1940). A qui ck s u rvey of the va rious natio naJities crowd ed tog eth er in th e plot re vea l a low e r-cla ss It al ian (S tromboli) and two pse udo -Eng lish tricksters (th e foxes ) as villains; 2 the " bad boy" who is Pi nocchi o's naughty co unterpart is a vul g;n Co ckn e y, as is the d e mo ni c coa chm an who tran sports the m both to Pleas ure Island; Ge ppetto, the "father," is apparentl y Swiss; Jiminy Cricket, whose attire and mo vem ents seem partially deri ved from the Chaplin tramp, appea rs to be a subtle blend of Eng li sh and American attrib ut es. Of th e re maini n g s peakin g 2. Otis Ferguson has observed that the It'ad fox ca n be traced back 10 Jo hn Barrymore, the gold fi sh to Betty

Boop.

66

JAN. - FEB. 197 5

parts, only Pinocch io him self a nd the ma ternal fairy watching over him com e across as " pure ly" Ameri ca n , and rCl th e r homogen ized s pecimens at that. The bebo p crows in DUMIJO (l94~) are common ly cited as an exarnp le of Dis ney's racis m; but it should be kept in m ind that thi s as p e ct becom es m o d ifi e d - if n ot eliminated - in fore ign -d ubbed versions, which are gen e ra ll y the o n ly vers io n s availa ble in mos t non - En g li s h -spea kin g co untries. (The same, of course, a pplies to ma ny of the nat ionalities in PINOCCHIO.) In French, for ins tance, the crows come across a s clochards as mu ch a s bl ac k stereo ty pes; the two cari ca tures become merged a nd con fused. If the racis m of SONG OFTI路IESOUTH (1946) is infinit ely more disturbin g and conseq uentia l, thi s is be ca use it bowdle ri zes American histo ry with s uch consummate ma s te ry that its tac ti cs go virtuall y un no ticed . Aided by the rich ly textured color photography o f G regg Toland a nd th e frenetic emo tio nal traumas o f th e p lot, the film cap tures a nd reflects th e co nscio usness of a child so a d roitl y th at all of its s ubm erged bi ases are ma de to ring li ke sim ple my th ic truths. The phys ical pain o f th e cartoon seq uences (e.g., Br'er Rabbit and the Bria r Pa tch ) alt ern a tes w ith the e motional pain of th e livC'-actio n (the d eparture o f the boy's father from the plantation corres ponding to the ex perience of th e recently路 ended war, wh en many fathe rs were away ); bo th lin es culminate in th e hys terical climax of the boy chasing across a pasture after Uncle Remu s, d eparting on a wagon for At lanta, before he is charged and gored by a kill er bull. Und e Remus, who has assumed the pa ren tal rol e of the miss ing father, has been o rd e red to s top seein g the boy by th e latter's mo th er after telling him stories (the interpo lated cartoo ns), which she thinks gets him into va rio us kinds of mischief and tro uble, but we kno w .:I re conven tional a nd resp ectable moral lessons that have the o ppos ite effect. Th e im poss ibility a nd s heer abs urdity of a black slave's being (in effect) " fired ," sad ly packing his meager possessions into a bandanna fixed on the end of a pole, a nd boarding a wago n for At lan ta, s uccess full y el uded criti cs a n d audi ences not o nly in 1946, but in 1972, wh en the film was reiss ued (to reap greater profits tha n ever before), and not because of a ny s lei g ht -o f-hand in the dia log ue: quite s imply, Uncle R~mu s's sta tu s as a s lave is ig nored when it no longer suits the sto ry's purposes. (His s tatus as a man is simil arl y held in check by a scene in th e plantation kit chen, when it's clea rly es tablished that he's interested in the presiding mamm y only beca use of her cooking.) He exis ts as a literal appen dage to the boy's ego - returni ng, in the last scene, to revive h im fro lll a coma - a nd is s ca led down througho ut th e film to fit this emo tiona. l logic. Need less to say, similar "improvements" in history abo und in Disney lan d

and Dis ney World - execu ted with Comparable skill, a nd usually received with the sa me lack of res istance. (4) Towards an aesthetic eva luation . For critics of the Thirties and early Forties, Disney wa s a n essential fig ure in th e arts. In 1930, Eise n s tein declared him to be the most inte res ting filmmaker in America , a nd over the decade th at fo llowed , Erwin Panofsky prais ed the earl y cartoo ns and "certain sequ ences" in the later on es as "a chemi call y pure d is tillat ion o f cin ematic possibilities"; G il bert Seld es offered many sy mpa thetic critiques; and even E.M. Forste r published a brief tribute to Mickey Mo use. Lewis Jacobs's assess men t o f Disney in The Rise of Ihe Americall Fi/III is certa inly more likely to raise eyebrows today than it was i111 939; " In the realm o ffil ms that co mbin esig h l, sound , and co lor Dis n ey is s till un s urpassed. The wise heir of fo rty years o f film traditio n, he cons ummates the cinemat ic con tribution s o f Melies, Po rter, G riffi th, an d the Europea ns. He ha s d o ne mo rc with the film medi um sin ce it ad ded sou nd and color than any other di rector, crea ting a for m that is o f g reat a nd vit al co nsequence no t on ly for \路" hat it is but for \Vhill it po rten d s. He is th e fi rs t o f th e sig hlso un d-colo r film virtu osos, and th e fac t Ihal he is s till yo ung a nd s till d evelo ping makes him a n exciting and im por tant figure to watch." But by the mid dle Fo rti es, a ft e r th e comme rcial faiJureo fF ANTAs lA and several government- s upport ed films led Dis ney to a more m ~ rcant il e attitud e to wa rd s h is productions, his critical reputation was alread y on the d edin e. And by the middle S ixt ies, one could sa y that he was mo re ge n e rall y regard ed as an y th ing bill a n artist-at an y rat e, something much closer to Henry Ford than to Jo hn Ford - to the extent that Richard Sc hickel co uld co nfl dentJ y assert in Tile DislleI) VersiOlI, without apparent fea r of co nt radictio n, that " Our e n vironment, o ur sens ibilities, the ve ry q uality of bo th our waki ng a nd slee ping h ours, a re all fo rmed large ly by people with no more artistic conscience and intel ligence than a cumq uat. " For Panofsky, Disn ey's " fall from grace" occurred when "SNOW WHITE in trod uced the hu man figure and w hen FANTASlA attempted to picturaHze The World 's G reat Music." Today this judgment sounds a li ttle too pat , altho ugh it is easy eno ug h to see wh at he meant. It was probably inevitable that once Disney too k on the challenge of cartoo n features he would come closer to the conven tio ns of non -an imated Hollywood films a nd further away from th e relat ive abs tra ctness and " purity" of the early " Sill y Symphonies ," at least in the overall breadth of his fil ms. But one also s uspects that Disney was ke pt in the Pant heon as lo ng as h e remained a no velty, and dis missed as soon as he beca me commonplace-a ruJing that


Above : PINOCCHIO. Below: AL ICE IN WONDERLAND. RighI : SNOW W HIT E AND THE SEvEN DWARFS.

Above: DUMBO. Below: Mickey Mouse i n the Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence from FANTASIA.

FILM COMM ENT

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DREAM MASTERS 1 CONTI UED has little to do with the intrinsic worth of his scpam!c films, and a great deal to d o with shifting fashions . O ne might add that the use o f the human fig ure a nd the musi-

cal p retens io ns of FANTASl!\ were al ready implicit in the anth ropomo rphism and uSe of mllsic in the earlier cartoo ns, a nd a case co uld certa in ly be made that w hat Dis ney lost in purism he ga ined in proficie ncy . SNOW W I·IITE I\ N D T H E SEVEN DWARFS is rich with a kind of picto rial bea uty that is lig ht years a head o f the crud e barnyard ef-

fects of th e earl y M ickey Mouse eHorts;

and it is more than incidentally graced by a score ( mu sic by Fr<lnk Churchill, word s by La rry Morey) th at is probably superior to

th at of a n y mu s ica l re lea sed the same yea r.·1 The fairy- tale cas tle occupied by the Witch - a lovel y construction that seems to combine a s p~cts of Brueg hel's To\.-ver of Babel with a dis tillation of almost eve ry other s torybook dream palace- is so rich in s u ggestion s that a near.rep Ji ca , o n

w hich fanner Disn~y employees colla ba· rat t!d , wo und up st!fving ad mirab ly as Xa nCldu in the powerful opening shots o f C IT IZEN KA N E: no t o nly th e lung-shot vis ta of it stClnding on Cl mounta in, but virtually the sa me lap d issulve to a n almos t id e ntica l g rilled win dow in th e s ubsequ e nt close r shot. In a more gene ral way, the v·,'a te r ef· fecl>; in th e bo ttom of a well and in a strea m are a nima ted with a translu cent brillia nce tha t recal ls some o f the wa tery di ssolves in Mu rna u' s SUNR IS E , w h ile the throbbing light s ilnd billows of magical smoke in the Witch's bbo ratu ry ~voke so me of the look of his FAUST. l At le.ls t thr ...... o f its so ngs-"Someday My Prince Will Come," " Hclg h-Ho," "One Song" - have e ntered the jazz rt.'pt'rtui rc dnd ~'r"ed as g raceful framt.'wo rks for improv l"-<lt ions b}' Miles Davis, Bill E\'ans, D,w e BrUbeck, 'l Ild m,lny o thers (a practice initiated by Brubc-ck, althoug h Da vis made it fa sh· lo nablc). O the r " Disney" song" to h,)Vc servcd this fu n('tion indudt' '' When Yo u \\lis h Upona Star" and "G iVe.1 Little Whis tle" from T'INOCC III Q , " Alice in Wondl·rI.lnd ," .lnd " C him Ch im Ch... reoe ·' from MARY POPP IN!o - thl' laliN p ... rfo rmed by Jo hn Col trane .

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JAN .-FEB. 19 75

If SNOW WHITE a nd PI NOCC HIO ca n be said to take on a related visua l aspira tion, this appears to be-a t least intermittently - a recrea tion o f the sile nt Ge rm an "ex· pressio nist" cin e ma in co lor a nd so und , simplified, abstracted , and " perfected " to the po int were c ha ra cters a re truly con · tinuo us with the decor, and actors a re no longer strictly necessmy, exce pt as d ise m· bodied voices fo r the s peaking pa rts. But SNO W WHITE s urpasses PI NOCC HIQ in it s s tyl is ti c integration o f c hara c te r with charact er, and o f characters with settings. The fo res t a nim a ls a re ca re fully indi· vidua ted, a nd ye t, lik e the c rowds in METROPOLIS, th ey often see m to breathe and move- implicitl y, feel and think- in a common pulse. The same paradox a pplies, o f co urse, 10 the seven dwarfs: th ey are both a gall ery o f distin ct typ es a nd the in· terwo rk in g p a rt s of a co ntinu o u s o r· gan is m, like fingers in a fi st. Perha ps the pinnacle of Disney's pictor· ial achievemen t is to be found in the Da nce

of the Pink Elephants in DUMBO (a film, incid en tally, tha t a ppea red not long after th e alleged d edine announced by Panofsky). This p rodigio us dream sequence, with its co ntinual shifts o f color, s hape, and scale to mat ch th e me ta morph oses o f drea m· e lephan ts into a va ri e ty o f apparitions - begi nning as champagne bubbles, a nd e n di ng as clouds- co uld probabl y be s tacked aga in s t a n y o f th e "Sill y Sym. phonies" for formal beauty, purity, imagination, lack o f pre te nsio n , and its use of mus ic: for its s urrealis t te rror, it even ap· proaches so me o f the bes t of Tex Avery. O n the oth er ha nd , one cann ot call the sequence an entirely orig inal one: some o f the beasties and their transformatio ns can be partia lly traced back to the ea rly so und mas te rpieces o f Max Fl eische r. No thing else in DU MBO quite equal s this, a ltho u g h sce n es o f a train a rri vin g in a small town at night and a circus tent being e rected in the rain have a s ullen poetry that un exp ected ly evo kes some of the p aint·

ings of Edwa rd Hopper. Th e re is a lell · de ncy fo r most o f the fea tures to brea k down into se parat e se<J uences. from the best ( 1) I NOCC liI O, OUMBO, ALICE I N WON D ERI.AND) to the worst (TIlE LADY ANa THE TRA MP, S LEEPI NG BEAUTY, THE SWORD IN THE STONE) . As Marie·Therese Ponce t and o thers have no ted, FA NTAS l A is nearly always discussed as a fea ture w he n it is in fa ct a co Uectio n o f s ho rts, a nd this a pplies to most o f the o ther "feature" ca rtoons as wel1. 4 One o f the mos t interesting things about SALU DOS AM IGOS (1947) is th e vario us tran · s itio ns between abs tract and co ncrete a p· proac hes to th e sa me s ubject. In li ve· action, we see Dis ney anima tors crossing sec ti o n s o f So uth Ame ri ca by plan e, s ke tchin g diffe re nt forms o f loca l color while th e narrato r rattl es o ff ca nn ed itineraries and cultu ral tidbits ("The mu sic is stra nge a nd exotic," etc.); eventually the s ketches become cartoo ns. Th e ca rtoo ns, in turn, go fro m abstract to concrete a nd

back again: each begins with a plane fl ying ove r not so muc h a co unl ry as a th ree· dimensional map, like the openin g sho t of Florida in DUMBO, with cities a nd co untries indicated by printed names- a chip o ff of Uncle Walt's globe so 10 s pea k. Th is becomes a more concrete locatio n as soo n as th e p la ne la nd s. A nd the n the ca rtoon mig ht turn relatively abstract again, as in the se mi-drippy fin al seq uence, " Wa ter· colo r o f Bra z.il ," which culminates in arty s ilhou ette e ffects a fter red drops of pa int turn int o s to rk s, ye ll ow drop s int o ba nanas, and the n the bananas into crows. Or on a more s ubtle level, the visually pro· sa ic a ntics o f Donald Duck as a naive a nd a ffabl e Ame rica n to uri s t s udd e nl y be· com es a kit sc h ex tra vaga n za of pictorial a nd color values, as duck and assorted pot· tery go toppling down a mountain s lope 4 . Poncet is probably the most exhaustive of thc French Disney critics; d . in particularhcrL'l'stll etiqut' du dessi" !l"imdA.C . N izet, 1952).


into the sea, wh il e the bay is lit by a s unset that rese mbles a hemo rrhage. Like some of the train shot s in DUMBO, it is calender art raised to a level of stupefied geniu s. Eve n more th <1n oth er Holly wood fea tures, Dis ney's arc manife s tl y facto ry products in wh ich the persona lit ies a nd e fforts of scores o f indi vidua ls are blend ed and abso rbed, including influ ences from previous films: mu ch as Howard Hawks horrow/:; from r ," ,\ In A NCA in TO HA VE AND HAVE NOT, the sequence abo ut Pedro the Plane in SA LUDOS Ai\'II GOS seems to owe someth ing tu Hawks's ON LY ANGELS HAVE WINGS. With so rnany ide ntities at play in the fea tures, it sho uld come as no s urpri se that so man y of then) are uneven. The extraordin ary thi ng is that s uch tea m wo rk often worked as well as it did . In BAMB I, a ly ri ca l g rasp' o f the tex tures, co lo rs, a nd sh apes o f plan t life is juxtaposed with a vulgar ant hropomorphism in the anima ls that implies an anti thetica l approach and a ttitud e towards nature-ana lago us,

perhaps, to the cosmetic "improvemen ts" made o n Hu g h Hefne r's Pl ayma tes over the yea rs, pa rticul arly when pubic hair was exclu d ed. Mo re than one commentato r h as compared Hefn er to Dis ney, particularly as a busine ss ma n with a ge niu s for spin-offs and a ca pacity to use va ri ous p roducts as ad ve rtise ments for s til l o ther prod ucts. Fo r those interes ted in tracing th e genea logy of PIny/lOy 'S rabb it sy mbo l and its multipl e manifestatio ns, it is tempting to recall all the ingenious repetitions of rabb it -shapes in the ho use of the March Hare in ALICE IN WO NDERLA ND (in the furniture, decor, family portrait s, etc.); Dis ney's ALICE appeared in 1951, the fi rst iss ue o f Playboy two yea rs la ter. I ha ve a special fo ndn ess for a chummy Disney horse who appears in drag bot h in th e Coo fy-ga u cho sec tion of SA LUDOS AM IGOS a nd th e seco nd half of ICHASO D AND fI.'IR. TOAD. (If it isn ' t exactl y the same

charac ter, th ey' re ve ry close re lative s.) Does my liking for that horse reflect a d isli ke or fear of real horses, or does it make me like real horses more? I s u s p ect it so mehmv manages to do both. I have no parti cular fondness for sco rpio ns. But when I see the mati ng mo vement s of a co upl e o f them sy nchronized to sq uare- dan ce music in o ne of the Tru e-life Aqventures, I feci that a crime is being co mmitted . Not so much a crime aga inst sco rpions- I ima gin e th ey co uldn ' t ca re less-as a crime aga ins t me and my relationship to scorp ions.

â&#x20AC;˘

A day a t Dis n ey land , Aug us t 1971. It loo ks even newer than it did in 1956, the first a nd onl y o th e r tim e that I vis it ed. Techn olog ically, it was and is one of th e most ex traord in a ry thi ngs in Ame ri ca. Who could b lame Khrus hchev for wanting to see it? Everyo ne appea red to ass um e at the time th at he m ust have been joking; but even cinema tica lly, there's much more o f

interest in Disneylan d than one could ha ve co nceivably fo und on the set of CANCAN at the Fox s tudios. In the Haunted House here--{)ne of the undisputed masterpieces of the park, and a relati vel y rece nt a d d iti o n - th e p rogrammed effects are nea rl y all heig hte ned d eve lopme nt s o f cine mati c possibi lities and principles. Yo u s tep fi rst into a circular low-ceili ng wa iti ng-roo m decora ted with family IX'rtrait s; the doors d ose, the Lig hts dim , the wa ll s grow higher and hig her and the fami ly portraits st retch o ut acco rding ly, until eventually it's like being at the bottom o f a we ll. Th e doo rs o pe n, a nd everyone gets into little cars-co ntinues on a jo urney up and down hiJls in a nocturnal setting, thro ug h a graveyard ; pas t a dis embodied and speaking female head that's clea rly a projected (bu t three-dimensional ) ima ge; countl ess o th e r de li gh ts. It is as " purely cin ema togra phic" as the rug ht o f Mep hi s to over we s te rn Euro p e in Murn a u 's FAUST, ju s t as th e " trip se-

qucnce" in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is partia lly echoed in a Trip into the Cyclotro n rid e in Tomo rrow la nd . O n yu ur way o ut o f the Hau nted Ho use, yo ur car passes a mirror wh ich revea ls that a grinning g houl is sitting next to yo u. Film is also cen trally used in the Trip to th e Moo n, to d epict simultaneously the reced ing Earth and the approaching sa tellit e. S traig ht movie theaters and projections o f va rious kind s arc in evidence eve ryw here. And what is Ma in S treet , U.s.A. , which s tand s at the entrance gate, but th e set fo r a nos tal gia film like STRAWBERRY BLON DE or MEET ME IN ST. LOU IS? Disney once gave an in teresting accO ll nt of its govern in g pri nci pl e: " It' s not apparen t at n cas ual gla nce that this s treet is on ly a sca le model. We had every brick and s hing le and gas lamp mad e five-e ig ht s true s ize. Thi s cos ts mo re, bu t made the street a toy, and th e imag ination can play more freely with a toy. Besid es, peop le li ke to think their wo rl? is so~)ehow more g rown up thiln Papa s was. Midn ig ht o r so, pass ing back th ro ug h the gates il nd into the cosmic rCilches of the Dis ney land pa rkin g lot, I look up a t a da zzli ng skyful o f stilTS, cVI..'ry constel lation in its a p JXl inted place-s tars poised a nd ready like raindrops abo ut to fall. Are they Disney's too? Ul timatel y, th e s tren g th s and weaknesses o f Disney'sa rt are bo th bo und li p in its well-prese rved and self-s ustain ing innocen ce, its refus" l or in abil ity to move beyond a child 's pers pecti ve. Wi thi n th ese bou nd aries , it s ca pac it y to el icit certain emotion s is un ca nn y; at leas t half o f the people I know were scared o ut of thei r wits by the Wicked Wit ch in SNOW WHITE when they were children-as I reca ll, J was pretty jumpy myself-a nd to recog n ize Dis ney's power and pre-em ine nce ilS the S upreme Heartcrus he r tod ay, all o ne has to do is \¡v itness the forcible separa tion of Dumbo from his mo ther at a kids' mat inee, where the scene wil l in variably produce a d isco nsolate chorus of how ls. And a par t from the terror, there is all the cute, cudd ly humo r, frequ e ntl y built aro u nd a kitsch dream of the Arcad ia myth or th e awkwa rdn ess or me re embarrass ment o f be in g a ch il d in certa in s itu a ti o ns; d., respect ive ly, th e nau sea tin g ce nt a urs m oved around to Beethove n's "Pastora l" in FANT/\ SIA, the turtle pain full y mak ing its way up a rught o f s tairs in SNO W WHI TE. The probable key to Disney's success is th at he has shown h imself ca pable of un d ers tanding the way that ch ildren think a nd feel better than any o ther filmmaker o f his time. The question that remain s is how w isely a nd how well h e put this s pecial u ndersta nd ing to li se. I d on' t think it's a ques tio n that children alone can a nswer, a nd I do n' t think it ca n be answered s imply; I s us pect that a lo t of us are going to con tinu e to be bo th e red b y it , a nd bo thered a lot, for a very lo ng time . :{. FILM COMMEN T

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TWo Avery fHm i with ,educt"

(1947), inset, and THE HALF, PINT PIGMY (1947), in which explorers George and Junior Bear

confronllhe .second

the imallesl of all.

DREAM MASTERS ll:

//

by Jonathan Rosenbaum

For sufferers from Disney piety, Avery offers lasting relief. Pa ris, latl.' J .lIltL.1t'\', 1m' de.ldlinE'.1 week away (later pos tpo'lwd), r Ul.'sda y mornil1g, .1 ca ble arrivl.'s: YES 1'0 DIS01 EY AND AVE RY A RTI CLE, TUI.., .. d.,~ ' .1fll..'rnOOn, rummaging th ro ugh pagl..''''llf fr,lntic notes ~nibb k'd las t September wh ile \\'.,tching dl..'\'t'll r\n'rv CM tOOIlS o n Frl..'nch rv (.1 li ttit.- lih' rt'<ld{ng <l book w hile riding.1 bicycl e) , ,111d la st Del't'll1ber, while sl..'l..'ing " progrcllll (If l'll'VI..' Il Il1llrl..' at a loca l thl..'ak r (notes in thl..' d.uk MI..' l..'ve l1 less leg ibl e), Tue sd ay night, .1 rdurn to the second progra m , in fe ril)l' to the firs t b ut s till acCt.'ss ible , more scribbling , g iggling, crazi(' ~ com ing out o f m y eyl..路...1Ild eMS. \Vednesd,lY, .1 fr('s h " mini-restiv.ll " \If si, Droopys COllh."S to town , How do yo u not.1h.' a cy clOlw ? Will y n ill y-or :, hou ld I Scly Ch ill y Will y?- I find m yself li ving in s id l:' c1 Te:\ 70

JAN.-FEB. 19 75

A verv C,l rtoon , It' ~ not a bit likl..' Dis ney land , If the world of Di s nl..' y is lik rilil y re du c ible 10 ,1 funh o ust;', Ihe v(' rv not ion of Averv la nd s lI ggl..' s ts some th i n g mu c h close; to <t nl.ldhoust.'-~l madho usl: w he rt' a w ist.'-cls<; dog naml..路d Gt.."Orgl..' ca n strip tht' ski n o ff il IiVt' chicken w ith .In aM~, rt'\'l:<tl ing black bril and panties und erneil th (HEN PECKED HonOEs, 1946); another d og's t'yes can turn in to an American rOildm.1p (C OCK-ADOODLE DOG, 1951); di sl..' mbodil'd s hoes ca n perform il l<1ye r-ped ing striptease la BlIilUeilo an enth usias tic burlcsq lie cro\\'d (THE I' Er\CHY COBBLER, 1950); a dog with an Iris h accent n<1t1led Spike Ciln go da ffy before yo ur eyes, drop his jaw o n the g ro und likl.' c1 slab of co ncrele, rattl e his retina s, SCfI..'am , b ulge o ul h is so ckets at leilst a fool

a

o r two, and a ll bu t slaver at th e mouth <1S he's herd ed into an ambu lillKe by Iwo m('n in w hit e coa ts (DROOPY'S DOU BLE TROUBLE , 195'1, a n od e to sad o- milsochis lic sc hizophrt'nia); cartoo n cowboys in a ca rtoo n saloo n can wa tch a real Western o n TV (DR AGALONG DRoo l'Y , 1954); <1 clown in a ne" circus ca n s ing "My Da rling C1ementin ~' " in Droopy'S voice (Tt-IE R E,\ CIRCUS, 1954); a d era nged sq uirrel ca n comment on hi s own cartoo n ("Y'k now, I li ke thi s en din g- it' s s ill y": HAPP Y-GO-NUTTY, 1944); il streetca r ca n make a n appa rentl y scheduled s top ins id(' .. t reetrunk (SCREWIJ AI.L SQU IRREL, 1944); Fairy Godmot hers ca n drink ma rti nis, ho p o n motor scoo ters, <"lI1d p urs ue Don Ameche-type wolves in p rl'l zl.'i -s haped zoo t s uit s (SW INGS HIFT CINDERELl. r\ , 1945); il cat, ca na ry, mo use,


and dog ca n grow la rger than skyscrapers ( KI NG SIL.E CANARY, 1947); the culprit in a iuncltic w hod unit canu itimately turn o ut to be the li ve-act ion announcer w ho introduces VOli to t hL' ca rtoon (WHO KI LLED W Ii O?, 1943); or" piano, tmctor, tree, and bus can a ll fall from the sky ( BAD LUCK

TOp left: The Country \l\blr's imp.1~sioned response to

BLAC KIE, 1949). 1

In deed , Disne y and Ave ry are comp lementary and contras ti ng fig ures in many important respects. If the fo rm er has been prod iSio u!' ly over-exposed, the latter, in recent years, ha s been jus t as prodig io usly neglec ted a nd un der-ex posed. (Notwi th stand ing the recent-a nd very exceptional- Avery prog ra ms in Pa ris and one or two in New York, the very notio n of a (olllprej,('Il::,iV!' Avt' ry retrospective in this day <l nd age is probilbly <lS rarefied and unlikely a~ a !'<lul Fejos Festival.) Acco rd ing to Manny Fa rb er's usefu l ca tegories, Dis ney is white eleph ant art in all its sta r-spangled tra ppings, w hil e Avery, essentially co ncerned with proving noth ing and wit hou t an ho nest pretens io n to his name, is an important fig ure in the ter mite range. Disney's exclusive focus on the experience of ch il d ren is nea tly balanced by Avery 's p reocc u pa ti o n with pec ulia rl y ad ult proble ms a nd conce rn s (mai nl y sex, s ta tu s, a nd proc urin g foo d )- the voices give n to his animals are nea rl y always g rmv n-up o nes. And if the aim towards " timelessness" in Disney features effectively means that mos t co ntempora ry references are either accid ental o r no n- consequential (excepting his propaga nd a films, the Depression uplift o ffered by T H E T HR E E LlTILE PIGS, a nd occasio nal vulga rities in the rest, s uch as th e reference to television at the end of TH E SWOR D I N THE STON E), the usual ten-

the City Red Ridi ng Hood 's nightclub .W in lInL[ RURAL RIDING HOOD ( 1949). Top fight: A dog- faced detec tive orders hi ~ ~ u Specl s tu lay ,lny weapons the)' ha ve on the t.lble , and wlI1(l, up WIth .1n JrscnJI. in WHO KILLED WHO ( 194J J.lefr : Ul,lckiedemonstr,l tes his jin)(ing powers in IMD LUCK BLACKtE ( 19491. first with a ftower pot, then .1 pianu, ,1 !filCtor.â&#x20AC;˘1n OCe,ln tiner ... Below left : The skinned duden in HE PECKEDHOBOE S( 1946). Below right: The Wolf's t.1ck-in- the-box head III SHOOTING OF DAN McCOO (1945). Bo1torn left: and right: Ohjects.1S Cre.1tures in THE CAT TI-IAT HATED PEOPI.E. COURTESY IOf A[) ,\\\ <;O"l

1. In all , I've see n two dozen Avery cartoons recentl y (after deducti ng overlaps), all o f them m ad e belw een 1942 and 1954 and all o f the m MGM . Const"q uen ily I can'l hope to be any lhing b ut incom plete here, and Avery' s per iods at W a rners a n d Univers.ll-which include his crea lions a nd/or developmen ls of Buj.;s Bunny, Da ffy D uck, a nd C hill y W illy-h.we to be om itt ed . For a full acco unt o f Ave ry's cMC't' r, olle eagerly .lW.1ils Joe Adamson 's Tt'x AI't'ry, Kill8 ofCartOl)lls, scheduled for p ublication in the nea r f ul u r{' . In t hc m ea ntim e, ch ec k out Adamson's in terview with Avery ill TakeOut', vol. 2, no . 9.

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DREAM MASTERS 2 CONTINUED d e ncy of an Avery cartoon, on the co n tra ry, is to be as con tempora neo us as poss ibl e, so Ih.11 one find s allusio n s to-or echoes o f- Mae West (as an Indian named Min nie HOI -ch.1) in DU~l B HOUNDED (1943), Thl' Lo:; t Wt,t'kt'lld (rebap ti z.ed Tilt' Losl Sqlll'akt'lld) in KING SIZE CANARY, and even Presidl'nt Truman a t th E' E'nd of DROO PY'S GOOD 01:.1:.0 (195·1), appearing o ffscreen as a no t vl.'ry t.)lented p ian ist. Inspira tio n frequently S<"I..·rns to come from no n-cartoo n so urcl..'S: HENPECKED 1·lo noES (1946), which g ives liS 01 sll1<lrllilllt· dog a nd a large dumb o nl.' w ho kCl' ps !i.l ying things like " Yea h , Gco rgc , I'm go nn a d o goo d Ihi s lime , Geo rgc," hil rks b01Ck 10 and parod ies Of Micf (/lui ,'vICII, w hil e THE FLEA CIRCUS pays g la ncin g tribut E' to Bus by Berke ley a nd DI{QOI'Y 'S DOUIlLE TROU BLE reflects P. G. Wode ho use by o fferi ng a but ler n<lmed Jl'l·VlOS. anI..' l.'\'l'n f i nd~ ,111 ,)lIl1sion 10 Dis ney in rill. Pb \ CIt Y COB BLER . i' sid e-s pliting and f.lirl), dl.'v,) :-t<lting parody of so me o f tl1l' M.l s tcr·... sl..· ntirnenlill cxc('sSl'~. We open w ith an un ctU{lu!o narra tor introducing us to the ~ tor y proper , hi s co nd l'sccnd in g voicl.' dn)\\'ning in bathl)s \,·hil l' the camer.l 1,1kL':' u:. on ,1 tour uf ,1 kilsch Disnl'Y cott"'gl.': " Onl..· co ld \\'inll.'r·s night- long, long .)gl Ihl.'rl..' li"l.'d .1 poor o ld s hoe cobb!l'r <lIld hb wifl., ..... S tinl'd !:)ob. " ... AII thl.'y h .ld to lv,t W.l'" (lilt' (TII:,I (If (1/"t'nd . . . whole u,lIc(/I! " O ul ~ idl' . •, flo ck of p.)tht'tic littl e bird s .1I"l' :- hi vering, .1nd w hcn the cobbler give!' Ihl.'m .1 (rust o ut o f the Goodness o f His Hl'MI , tht'y promptly lurn into " happy lilt l!..' "hlll'nl.1kL'r l'h'l.'s"- slig hll y dl.'lllonic vcrs ion:- t)f d'MaclL'ris tic Dis ney i T11p ~. AVl'rv held r'-:'.l!oon to be di s respectful : w hile Disl1l'Y in hi!' ft'.1 tllrl.'s \\'<)S generclily i:-.~ tling his bl'nign pronouncements from ~O Jlll' im.lgin""y \lo un t Olympus, Ave ry elnd hi:. k.lIn of .1nirn.llorS .lnd w riters ( usllall" Rich I h'g.11l.lIld Heck Allen) were commi'ngling intim.1tL'ly w ith thl'ir cas ual <l udi l'ncl' o n .) ~ tri (" tt \' 1lll'"t-,lI)d - po talol'$ k\'L'l . ~l'\'l'n o r e ig ht ,11inuies at .1 timl'. :-.Jot mu ch worr ied about good taste o r mo rl' th,'n .1 mOli icum of w ho lesome famil y s t,' nd.ud .... .m A"l'ry c"" loo n co uld get cheerful I.Hl g h :' lH11 o f ,1 hil lb ill y farmer with a s pel'ch impl·diml.'nt (" H ' lI o IhM Billy boy boy boy b n~ ' bny," in HILLY BOY. 1954 ), jokes .)bu ut r l',.,n s r\:'flect in g AVl' ry's b.,ckgro und (Ill' \\".h bo rn in Da lI.,...,), C in lk'rt..'lla in a bo ik r s uit ~;oing 10 " ·llr" on thl.' night-shift at ,1 warti nlL' munition .. f.Ktor\' (!) \\,I~GS HI FT CIXDE I{F I '-A), sonw Mclbesquc:. dl'Scribin g sl'xual dl'!'ire that dd,' bdid . •lI1d .lll\' number of r.K ia l and eth;,ic jl'''"· .... l.'Mh ;me as tranSp.Hl'nt nnd gond - n,lll1l"t'd .1 .. thl' la!'t. (One g l<1fing exception , in 11111/ WOL F, 1942: apart from Ado lf Wolf "nt! " Dl'r Flihrer d e r lx-tkr" scr.l\\'iL't.i o n.1 truck. 011 l' l'nco unters a ";\10 Dogs Allowed" sig n ,,·ilh " Dogs" crossed (l ut a nd re pla ced by "J c1p~. " ) ,\1 th l' S.)lllL' tim e, hi s lIIHI SU,ll1v frt't' im.lgill.ltio n .1Ild tas te for s urrec1li st juxtapositiPlb p(-"::.io n<1l1y recapitul illl' o r .111 72

JA .-FEB . 1975

ti c ipat e a conce pt-o r eve n an im age - from an Erns t o r a Mag ritte: 0111 explosive s hower of " defense bonds" in BLlTI. WOLF and a Rock of G ib r.1 lter gag in DU~·IB­ HOUSDEO are s trikin g a ppr ox imation s am"t fa It'fI/",' of iVlagrittc's Golamda (1953) and " TIlt' Cas tft· of IIIl' P yn'1 I('l'S" (1959)' respectively. (John Boorman . by th e way, makes ,) p l()y ful a llu sio n to th e latter pa intin g in Z,\RD OZ.) If Ih l' Di s ne y f.)ctory le01 l"lled somelhing conc rete from AVL' ry,

this may havl..' bee n how to use objects and animal s s urrea listica lly. The two hC01dless gi raffcs co nnected by thl.'ir necks and the alliga tor with a handle in HAL F- PINT PIGMY (1947) , and particularly the use of o bjects as C reil tures in THE CAT THAT HATED PEOPL E (1948), rnig ht wd l ha ve influe nced some o f th e fo res t beast ies in ALI CE IN WONDE I{LAN D ("1 951). To be sure, if yo u see as few as half a d oze n Averys at a stretch, you' re like ly to

Two Tel( Avery model-..heels: for Droopy in " Bullfight ," finall y refilled SENOR DROOPY (1949). and for l he IAbtfin NORT HvVEST HOU NDED POLICE (1946).

i.-===_ . .__ .:t=_3l'f: _.

-

.

,

AVERY PRODJCTloN

/#

II '·

·NoRTHWEST HOUNDED PolICE :

I

1

,

. 1

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notice repetitio ns of gags a nd ce rtain recurrin g o bsess ions (s ize, inso mnia induced by rackets, all kind s of insid e references to the cartoon yo u' re w<ltching), and as many as a dozen together is an ex perie nce prom otin g m ig raine s and ne rvo us ex haustio n. Eve n so, the frant ic pace isn't always s ustained by cons is tent loo niness (so me o f the best o f Max Fleischer ca rtoons o f th e late Twe nti es and earl y Thirties - notably KOKO' S EARTH CONTROL and the ex traord in aril y demented " s in g- along," STOO I'NOC RAcy - are eve n cf<lzier); th e blacko ut gags in th e Droopys of the ea rl y Fifties, o ften isolated like beads o n a s tring, a ren' t hnlf as funn y as the intrica te d evelopm ent s and va riations in the ea rli er ones. But in his prime efforts, Avery can rallie o f( a co mplex narrat ive situation so q uickly and efficiently that it's all one ca n

d o to keep abreast of it, and Sco tt Brad ley' s ca re full y sy nch ro nized mu s ica l sco r:~ -with their generous helpin gs of Ross ll1 l and o ther classical touchs to nes- are o ft en remarkable merely by virtue of the fac i that th ey don' t s tray behind the action .. Sex ual hysteria is a frequ ent OCC<lSlon for the s peed a nd fren zy, <lnd urrLE R U I~ I\L RIDI NG HOO D (,1949) is probably th e hig h point in AVI.· ry's manic se.x cy.clc. C~n'l ­ menting a t len g th o n thiS fn g ht e nll'l g series, joe Ada mso n offers an eJeg<lnt description o f a characteri stic sequence in TH E SHOOT ING Of D,\ N ,,·ICGOO ('l945)- <l Sl' quence, incidentally, th at rl'ca lis some of the finer excesses in L' ,\GE D'me "The 'lady that's know n as Lo u' gets in· troduced as the stripper sensation of the joint, and s he does one ro using chor us of ' Put Your Arms Around Me, Wolfi e, Hold

Me Tight,' which rouses the wolf no e nd . His eyes burn s tra ig ht th rough the menu in front of him , he s mashes his head with a mallet and turn s it into a j,lck- in-the- Box, he kicks himse lf behind the ear as part of so me perverse no tio n of a do nkey imitation, he slam s his head aga ins t a nearby }X)st and in the excit eme nt cho mps .'1way at the }X)s t as if it were a g i<lnt carro t, hc beats hi s chair aga ins t the table , he picks the tab le up and bea ts it aga inst the nOOr."2 On the other sid e of the coin is Avery' s nair for ridiculo us und ers tatement. The ty pica l utte ra nce s o f hi s bassl't - hou nd Droop y arc us uall y in Ihis ca tC)..;o ry, but my favo rit e example comes fro m his a rchri va l in DR ,\ GALONG DIWOPY. Whi le Droopy's herd of shee p move like a battalio n of law n mowers across the wil derness, d evo ur ing every s po t o f g ree n in th e ir path, the ca mera pans past them to a sign reading: <.. \ I [[ ! <.. OL" lin "II POLl \11 "~I\\ I) ;

IIIII~

111("\111'

After twe lve o n-a nd-off yea rs as Tex Avery's sto ry man at MGM, Heck Allen beca me a success ful wri ter o f Wes tern fiction und er th e alternating pen names of Clay Fisher and \'Vill Henry . He now has over thirty novels to hi s credit , including No SlI rvilJOrs, th e first expose o f th e Custer m y th , a nd th e books on w hi ch Rao ul Wa ls h's THE TALL MEN and J. Lee Thompson 's MACKENN ,\ 's GOLD are based . This interview was held in all seriousness on Ap ril Foo l's day, '1971. - Joe Adam son H ECK ALLE N: Tex ne ver und ers tood th e q uality Mld ex tent of his own genius. Otherwise he wo uld have s imply picked up his briefcase, go ne up 011 th e fro nt lot and said , " I' m Tt'x Avc rv. I ca n make th e funnies t godd amn Jive-a~tio n pi ctures you ever saw in yo ur life, <lnd we' ll get rich togeth er. " But he ne VI,:.· r d id . He is to ta ll y mod est. The mos t unbelievable th ing was that they d idn ' t a ppreCia te it, tha t they d idn ' t snare him and elevate him to the papacy of hllll'lo r on the fron t lot. The cartoo n busin ess is full of brillia nt people like that who neve r get heard of. Th!?ir trag iC flaw is that they' re hu ng u p o n th ese goddamn lillie fig ures nlllning aro und on that d raw ing boa rd . Tex was always to tally in charge of a nything he ever did . To this day, he works alon e . He just d oesn' t want to a rg ue with peop le . And I neve r a rgued w ith him . Well, how co uld you? I mean, yo u're sittin g th e re kn ocked o ut o n yo ur chair, l'llIg hing YO llT ass off all da y long-yo u can't very we ll a rg ue with a g u y th a t' s bringing tears to yo ur eyes. 1 thought, and s till think , that he ' s a ge nuin e , na ti ve America n genius. And he has done it all alone. He never had any help, as I see it. Now Ch uck jont'!:>, I don 't CMe how bril lian t C hu ck is-and I've heard e no ugh times that he i~ brilliant- he didn ' t do it aU by him self. He had , in this Mike Ma ltese,

a n ex tre mely able gag man a nd a goo d sto ry man . Tex never had anybod y. He laid th e pi ct ure s o ut for the godd a ml1 background man; he did eve ry thing fo r th e so-ca lled cha racter man , who draws th e mod els of the characters; if we had three pages of dialog ue, he wo uld scratcJ~ it o ut with hi s lead pencil, and I'd take thiS stuff a nd tran slat e it into Engl ish . But he did everything, induding so me of the voices. I He's really the origin al o nl,:·. -man band. Tex was a bearcat fo r dia log ue . God , he'd have twenty o r thirty takes on a line. Hell, I couldn't tell one from Ihe other. Bu t Tex wou ld even tuall y pi ck o ne, a nd I' d say, " Yeah !}lIs t the one!" Te x is a true , o ld-time Tex <l s boy- a lin ea l blood d esce nd an t of Jud gl' Ro y Bea n . I th in k Tex as g iv(' s nava l' to hi s hum or. His s tuff, and the s tyle he Sl'twhich I' m convi nced lit! set, and Jones and Frc1eng jus t fo ll owed-is ea rth y. W hat they' re s till doing with that dam n Coyo te and the Road runn er, this is fu ndamenta l Tex Avery s tuff. I th ink Chuck Jones was a kind of split perso nal ity in tha t business. He wa s an in· tell ",'C lual in a no n-intellectual busi ness. I don ' t think eit her Tex o r Fri z Fre le ng wo uld be ca ll ed intellectuals. The pl"Op le who built th e cartoon empire are not o ften found w ith a hig he r edu catio nal ba ckgro un d . So in that business, if yo u' rean in tell ec tual yo u don' t really belong. I. Only upon qucs tio ning did Tex I\ veryadmit th,lt he i ~ the voice o f Junior (ofCeorge and Junio r), .lnd the very s imilclr vo ice of Willo ug hby (t he huntin b d og in T il E Il ECKL. ING li ARE , TIlE CRA C KrOT QU AI L, .lnd O f fO\ ANI) II OUNO$) . At Warners, his voice pop" up fro m ti ml' to time embod ied in a hippo o r w.llru .. who l.lu g hs so ha rd he C.1 n hard ly take his nt""t brc.1th. Avery "Iw d~s the chuckle o flhe bulldog in !lAD LUC J" !l 1. AC KIE . Fo r anyone who wants it clue to ",h,lt t\ vt"r)"~ \'oice really sound s like, there a re the littl(· tIIld ll' " th,lt come o ut of a bo ttle in DE I'UTY OR OO rY . - Joe Adamson,

Ih en, while Sco tt Brad ley suppli es " I-lome o n the Range," continu es past dn endless stretch o f cows s mo th ering th e tt:.' rrain , a crowded assembly of ani mals so vils t thnt it mak es the la s t sho t o f Hi tc hcock's Tl-I E BIR DS pale by com parison; fi n <llly arriving a t th e ra ncher Sitting la zily on hi s fro nt rx> rch, surro unded by ac res o f beef, who tu rn s to us c,'1 s uall y and remarks: " Y' know- I ra ise «l ltle." If thl' bu lk of Avery's perpetua l-motio n ma chines tend to hold up well, this may be bec<l use, like th e class ics o f Se nn ett an d Keaton ,lnd Ch<lplin, th ey a rc us ually irrelev.mt abou l eve ryth ing {'xccpt motion , a nd because their hysteria is often bea ut ifu lly formalized (i .e ., "o rches trated ," sy nco pated , ba lanced , articu latl,:.' d as cleJn ly and clea rl y .1S noh_"S in a sca le). Accord ing to thi s latter crit erion, I ten d to prdl'r th ~ c.. rtoo ns that thema tica lly and plas tic.1]]y take off in a ll directions-SC I{EW BALL SQU IRREL, LlTILE RURAL RID ING '·IOOD- to Ih e ones thai move relentlessly an d predictab ly towards I'('duc t io ad absurdll m co nclus ions, like KI NG SIZE CANARY a nd IM LF- I'IN1' PIGMY. A good exa mple of rdati vely in tri ca te but 11 11 preciict<lblc plo tting is the hilario us IWCK-A- BYE BEAR (1952), even tho ug h it d evotes its entire middle st'Cl'io n - s uccessfull y-to vilfi .. tions uf ., ~ in ~ lc gag. For anyone s ufferin g from a n overdose o f Dis ney piet y, o ne Avery ca rtoon a d .. y is g uaran leed to deliver immed iate and lasting relief. Nex t to Ih e usual sad om'l!'ochistic rituals of Tom ilnd Jer ry and th e in creasingly formu larized prog ressions o f a Road Runn er, the best Avery e fforts 'In..' . .·'(plo. s io ns of ma ximal ene rgy Jn d ingenu ity w ithin a ve ry confin ed space- familiar voices leading us, like th e (k'Scriptions and dialogue in a Kafka tale, th roug h im possible landscapes. ::. 2. " T(>x I\vl'r)' ,md the Plea s u res of thl' FIL'sh ," "'wlllyuw/d No . 15, F.11l1 973.

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Tom and Jerrv s ta rted life in a s ho rt ca iled puss GETS ; HE BOOT (1941 ), an MGM cartoon produced by Rudolf ISing . Thedirectors, Bill Ha n na and Joe Barbera, wer(> un c n~ dited and eviden t Iv thi s wa s their fir st attempt at dir('cting -a fi lm together. Puss GETS THE BOOT is a v('ry slow cartoon in w hich the ca t is ca ll ed Ja s per and the mOllS(' is unnam ed, alt hough he wa s pat te rn ed a ft er Rud y Is ing's chc'lracter Little Cheeser. T hL' plot rL'vo lves around Mamrny Two -S hoes a nd thL' d is ruption of her hOLls('hold by "dat mOLls('. " Jaspe r is call('d upon to get rid o f the mOLlS(' but is in the end to ssL'd o ut un h is L'ar ( k icked , act ua lly) \\"hL'n he f<til s to gd his q uarry. The re is a series of g,lgS co ncerning broken d ishes thilt the mo use hL'dPS upon Jaspt:'r's to usle d he<t d . J,lsper is a considt:'r,lbl y mo re c<lt-l ike C<l t than Tom W d S to bt:' later; h is hCeld ha s morL' space between the eil rs, ilnd hi s tL'I:.,th are s nMiler and sharper. Tht:'rL' was mor(' ha ir on h is body <l nt! more "sel f lines" (c o lor ink linl's) "t' !", ratin g the g r..:.'e n a rou nd his pupils and the lig ht g ra y marks between h is c)lt_'s. Thl.:.' mOUSL" S ears were la rger and his bL'U y more pronounced than the later JL'rry, but he c han ged littlt.:' ove r IhL've,ll"s . The c.utoon W<1 5 <lnim,lIed by Is ing's s taff of the time , C M I Urbono , To n v Pilbian , J,lck landl.:.'r, Pel e Burness, a n ~i Bob Alle n , who <ll so d irected for Rud y. This fil m ow('s a lot to Ising's timing s ty le, w hi ch \\',l S bl'tter s uit e d to f,lIl l,lSV Iha n coI11L'd y. The early "Tom ,1 nd jl'rrys'~ s uffer from too mLic h del <lil and slow tim ing and d id nol improve notic('ably u ntil "1944. Bill H anna wa s d ire cti ng "Cc1pta in and the Kid s" carionn s on Iht' .V1 C \ '1 lot and Joe Barbera \\,,15 a s tun' Illan , llut from Van Bllrl'n 's in :-..s L'\\' York, w h('rL' h(' had been a gag man . Barbt:'ra lldd h,l d so l11t'thing to do wit h thl.:.' mc1kin ~ o f V,ln BurL' n's "Tom a nd Je rry" scriL'S (Tom wa s ,1 tall dark l11<1n a nd JL'n路v was a sho rt blond ma n), and it wa s prob"bly Barbera w hu t1st'd Ihe names for thl' Cdt ,1Ild IllllUSe chM,lClL'rs. Thl.:.' ir fir st p icturt' \\.,l::> quill' s ll co..'~s ful ; it Wd S hdd over a t SO Ill L' thl'clil'r:-o fo r ,1:-0 IOll h ,15 s ix weeks. The second pi c turl'. THE .\ II O:,\"I GHr 5:,\,\(K, wa s a lmos t ,1 p,H<lphra sL' of thL' firs l, w ith Tom gellin g thL' " boot" ,11 Ihl' L'nd bv Mcllllnw Two -S hot'S (S() n,llllL'd beC,HISL: hL'r fa c~' was nevel" ~hllwn: u n Iv s hots from Ihl' mid -sho uldL'rs dm\"n, e;路 cepl in the "l945 ",\RT-TIME PAL, w h t:.'n \1ikc Lah 'H.-ridl'nll y hrou).;h t he r he,ld do w n in to tht:.' (r.lIllL' for ,1 couple of feet during the chast:' sl'qllL'nCl'). Tht' third film , rHE NIGHT BEfOR E CIlIU ST:-'lAS, introdu ced all e lenwn t o{ pathn ~ int u thL' st'ries wh ich Il anna an d Barber" \\"l'rL' 11t:'\路L'r to r('peat. To m takL's p ity on jerry " ftL'I" hl' throws h im out into the snow un Christllla:5 eve and th<1\\'" him out. The nni lllation ,1t this po int in tht:' sl'rit's wa s hig h lig hted by thL' closeups of Ken \luse clnd the act ion seq ue nces 74

JAN.-FEB. 1975

The cartoon animator is an artist, too.

(Tom) and "DOll Mouse" (Jerry).

of jack l.:l nd e r a nd Pete Bu rness, among o thers. By "1942, when YA NKEE DOODLE :,.路tOUSE wo n the series' first Academ y Award , thl.:.' pacin g had beg un 10 quicken. Th is fillll in trod uced a n e lemen t o f topical ity w it h Jerry, a s a mo use-so ld ier, in a mock bCl tt le with Tom in Iht:' base ment to an incred ible Clrrcll1gement of SO llsas cmd o th er pa triotiC tunes arra nged by Scott Brad ley. Brildlt:,y,s m usic, w ith its PI.:.'PPY, jazzy sOll nd ( using s u ch t u nl' S a s " Th e Trollcy So n g," the " Hoedown" m us ic from o ne of the .Y1 GM Garland- I ~oone y m us ical s, cmd seve ral songs made popu lar by FClts Waller) , was becom ing a rl'a l a sset to the se ries. Y,\;.;rKEE DOODLE MO USE feat u red an imat ion bv Irv S pe ncl:.', soo n to eme rge ,lS thl:.' series/ best anima tor. He wa s g ive n mClin ly <lcl ion shots to do, s lich as Jerry throw ing ht:'ngrenad es (eggs) at Tom, one of them fo rming a mo naclc cl nd c ha in, .1nd To m "s unk " by a fly ing brick w hile fl o.lting o n Ih e tL'a kettle in a wash-tub. But t he s tilr a nill1<ltor <tt th is ti me wa s Ken Mu se, w ho got a ll the cl ose -ups and " pe rso nal it y" St:'q uL' n ces (md the big gag at th l:.' end w herl:.' Tom is fired up in to t he sky on a g iant sky-rocket

and burs ts into a m u lti -colo red America n flag . In THE ZOOT CAT, ano th er h ila rio us en try in "1943, Torn \Vears a zoo t s ui t, cui from a hammock, an d ca ll s on his g irl who dOL'S ,1n incred ible eye- pop pin g " take " (anima ted by Ke n M use) a t the s ig h t of her new ooy frie nd . The re is a good jitterbug sequence w it h Tom a nd his g irlfriend dan cing (Irv Spe nce), fo llowed by an imita tion o f C ha rles Boyer by TOIll Cat as he pl ays the p iano afte r s lipping o n Cl bililana pee l and bO llncing o ff the piano key ooa rd. The chan ge in perso na lit y occurs so q u ickl y thClt one laug hs a s much a t the "voice" as a t Ihe s peed of the tra ns fo rma tion. This sell ue nce was a lso h nnd led by Kl'n M ust:'. In 1944 TEE FOR TWO wa s made, a fil m with a g reat beg inni ng and a shock ing e nd ing. In the beginning To m is s win ging at a golf ba ll w ith his club in a sa nd Irap. ThL' scene opens w it h a slow pa n a Cl"oss a golf course w hich has bee n al m os t totally des troye d by ira te golfl'rs, il S we hear the jazzy theme by Bradley, each beat pu nctua ted by the so und of a club sw ing . On th e last bea t thL' ba ll pops ou t o f the hok and Tom cha st's it. Thro ug hout this mar-

~ T~ ;'i-'tr


vdo us scene (lr\' S pence). tht..' excitement of Iht..' mus ic and the ferocity o f Tom's club sw inging promise much. The film rambles alo ng, with jerry being washed in a golfball cll.....1n er, c1 golf ball go in g thro ugh To m' s teeth , and a woodpecker pecking the golf b"lI s to pieces. In th e ne,< H o- l<ls t gag, To m is cha sing Jerry, who laun ches a line o f an).;ry bees .1fte r th e ca t. w h o di v t..' ~ int o a water h.1z<l rd , bre.1 thing th ro ugh .1 tu be. Jerry puts a funn el o n to p o f Tom's breathing tube and whis tl es to th(' bees to fl v dov.,., th e tube. Thl...'y do so , <l nd Wt..' \\'~ it for a breathless mo ment (15 th t' cam era tru cks back from th e wat('r tO.1 longer .;;hot s ho win g tht..' (' ntirt., hok. Th t..' n il flt.'r WI...' h,Wl' waited j ll ~ t lo ng eno ugh , (Ill the wa ter in thl...' ho le fiiC"5 lip in the a ir, ,l nd there is the mo s t te rrifyin g d r'lw in g (Ke n Must.') o f To m be ing stung in his w id e open mo uth ,l nd throat by the an gry bel.. 's, acco mpanied by the mos t angui sht..' d SCrl. ... 11ll ever put on film . Thl.' sc('ne so und s ho rri bly painful when lk~ cribt..'d , but tu ~e l...' it b to laugh; it rL'ally wo rks , so that one 1.1Ug hs all th ro ugh the la st gag, which is 110 t .15 funn y (lS the

bee gag.

r

but fo rgets the pie, which falls o n top of his head . This sl"'q uence was animated by Ken Muse, who was especially good at d efinin g To m and jerry's perso nalities, with .1 g rea t deal of att entio n paid to th l't·xpn":'~ itlJ/ ~ on their faces. Th en th ('re is a SCene anim ated by Ed BClrge where jerry opens th e front d oor o f th e ho use and an old jun k-wago n horse wal ks in . TO I11 runs in and l11,l kes a long skiddin g run in anticipatio n of g rabb in g th e ho rse and heav ing him th ro ugh the doo r. Wt.' really feel the horsl. ." s weight in this sce ne; To m' s legs sc ra mb lt., a nd he doesn' t make much headway as he tries to run carr y in g the horst..' . It wa s Barge ' s hCl llmark to give Hl(>i~1It clnd S/.,fidity to the chara cters; one gets an ex l"r,lo rdinmy sen~ sa tion o f volumc a nd a th ree-dimensional 7 q uality in h i~ anim atio n. ~ The 11 t..·x t st.'q ue nce (a n ima ted by Ken ~ Muse) shows jerry press ing <l s t.1 mp pad ~ filk'CI with ink onto To m's fl.'e!, then snap ~ ping the pad o n his nose, cau sing Tom to 9 chase Jerry a llover the house (off-screen) . 1i: Whl'n Tom turns around , he gasps at th e < ink foo tprint s all over thL' wall s, chllirs , floor, and ceiling. HI.' then picks u p Jerry and throws him into the base ment. lerrv hems th e coal truck chute slid e into th~ bllsemcnt windo w Clnd ties the chute with Thi s is fo ll o wed by a ma rvel o u s St..' a ro pe and ho ists it up to th e living roo m quencc in which To m runs with the inkwindow. Mean whil e, To m hilS been fran stain ed curt ain to th e was hin g machine, tic<llly trying to cl ean up the hou se before dunks it in, puts il thro ug h the wringe r, Mamm y Two -S ho e s ge ts hom e. He irons it, and hangs it back up, never on ce finis hes, throws the cl eCln ing things besto pping his runnin g Ilclio n, his legs like hind the couch, and innocentl v fold s his a n egg-bea ter. This is one o f th e bt.~ t exhands ,1nd waits for her. Tlw c~c11 chute is ampl es o f a n actio n at which S pence exjus t o ut sid e the wind ow near w here Tom is cell ed : kee ping the character mov ing all sittin g. The coal s pills into the ho use <md the time he is d o ing sO lll e thin ~ , sor t of carries Tom away with it. (Ed Barge's ,lni"running in the air." milt io n o f the coal pouring in is a maz ing ly Aft e r To m re s ts fr o m hi s c urtain dd ailed ; u ne can almost fe,d every lum p. ) ad venture-and what a re s t ~ his to ng ue hangs almost to the floo r as hI.' pants- he From 1941 to 1945 th t..' conwd y in th e loo ks o ff to s tage right and dol'S a "ta ke ." " Tom a nd Jerr y" Cdrtoo n s improv ed . Jerry is up to his messy trich again , this Whether o r no t th e fast, fas t gags of Tex time jugglin g eggs in th e kit chL·n . To m Aw ry's cc1rtoo ns o f tht.' ~lI n l.' pt.'rioo "'('re looks \-\'o rried as he tries to keep th e eggs <In influenn' is no t know n. There is little di· from fa1ling to the floor; then Jerry throws rec t s te,llin g, but th e w ildn ess o f the them off-screen, Tom runs tu catch them "takl. ·. s," <lnd Ihe quality .1nd humo r o f the a nd th e n s tart s jugg lin g the m to av oid ex lrem t..' draw ings, are cert a inl y dro pping them. Jerry throws a spoon and "improved by associatio n ." Then in 1945 a pie in the air, and Tom c<llcht..·:-; them on Irv S pen ce left the MG M Cartoo n Departhis nose; the n Jerry pulls th t..' rug out from mentto wo rk for John S utherlilnd Producund er Tom's feet and a llihe s tuff goes fl ytions o n indus tri al cartoon s. Ht' \\,,15 rl...' · ing thro ugh the air. Tom zips o ut ,1I1d b.:lCk pl aced o n the se ries by Mi cha e l Lah , a in aga in with an egg carto n and c<ltches all good <lctio n Cl nim<1to r, but whust.· drawings the eggs before they can hit the ground Illc ked S pe nce' s car too ny fl air. So mc of L1 h's bt..'S t animatio n was o n s uch CMtoo ns <I S 1·t\ I{ T- I'I~-t E ~AL ,1 nd T R ,\~ H A ~~Y . Irv S pt'ncl...· ca ;11e ba ck in 1946 on th e picture S~RI NGTIM J; FOR THO MAS (for which he recei ved no screen cred it) . I-lere he anim<lted an in credible cha se and fi g ht st..'qu e nce, during which TOI11 drink s all th e wat er o ut o f a swimming poo l. gets sockt.'d with a pl ayg round sw in g , a nd is roas ted o n a ba rbequ e s pit- all in Ih e na me o f lo ve. Mik e L<lh s ubse qu e ntl y wo rked fo r CONTINUED ON PA GE 88

FILM COMMENT

75


The decline and pratfall of a popular art by Leonard MaJtin

Ja y Ward family portrail. From left : Rocket J. Squirrel ,

Bullwinkle Moose, Boris Badino v, Natasha Fatale.


Television cnrtoo n se ries are the MU7..ak of animation . There 's nothin g jarringly wrollg with tha t tirelessly uninteresting mu sic o ne hears in restaurants , airpor t lo unges, and eleva tors; the musicians play the proper notes at the proper tim e. But th ere's nothing particularly rigllt w ith Muzak eithe r, which is part of its design: to provide businesses wit h innocuous backgro un d mu s ic that helps s u bmerge (or camouflage) the sounds of regular operations . The essentia l differt..'nce between Muzak and TV ca rtoo ns is the difference between a subconscio us massage a nd a n in sis ten t assault of mediocrity . Wherea s Muzak is intentionall y bland , the ca rtoons produced by Ha nna-Barbera a nd their legion of im ita tors are conscious ly b.,ld: assembly- line s horts grudging ly exec uted by ca rt oo n ve terans who hOlte wha t the y' re doing. Most se rious of all, perhaps, is its effect on the a udi e nce: no o ne ac tua ll y listens to MUÂŁdk., iJu t lI1illiun::. of ch ildre n eagerly await new episodes of Magilla Gorilla a nd The Jackson F;ue . What 's missing here is not money but im ag in a tion. To criticize Han na -Barbera because their COl rtoons look cheap is beside th e point. Win so r McCay 's 1914 GERTIE THE DINOS ,\ U R lo o ks better-a nd ;s better- tha n Han na- Ba rbe ra 's prod uct, even tho ug h thi s black-and-white s il ent film is co mposed e ntirely o f line d ra,vings wit h Silllple backgro und s. The diffe re nce is eleme ntary: McCay mad e his ca rtoons with wit and care, and all th e tech niqu e o r money in th e wo rl d ca nnot replace those co mm od iti es. In deed , th e Bullwillkle cartoo ns from jay Ward Studios represent the apex of corne r-c uttin g, but no o ne cares, because they flmmt their cheapness, and s ubs titute verbal imagination for visual ingenuity . The cartoo n scripts a re so funn y that one is willing to forgive their ragged execution. When televi s io n became a fi xt ure in most American homes during the Fifties, the Hollywood cartoon studios were still at work producing a regular quota for thea trica l distribution. In 1953, for exam ple, Disney released fift ee n ca rt oons, including the feal urette BE N "NO ME; the Academy Award-winning Cin e ma Sco pe, S tereophon ic-so und TOOT, WHISTLE, PLUNK, AN D BOOM , a success ful d epa rtu re into sty li zed animation; two cartoons in the ne w 3D process; a nd the last Mickey Mouse short, THE S IM l'lE THINGS. MGM produced fifteen s h orts, includ in g Han n a a nd Barbera 's popu lar "Tom and jerry" series, and Tex Avery's wildly inve ntive films like TV OF TOMORROW. Paramount had eig ht new Popeye titles, seven with Casper the Friend ly Ghost, and fourteen o th e r animated reels. 20th Century-Fox distributed thir ty new titles from Paul Terry's Terrytoo n s u nit fea turin g s uc h co nti nuing cha racters as Mighty Mouse. Universal released thirteen Wa lter L1n tz products with

Woody Woodpecker a nd friends. Warner Brothers had th irty new Looney Tun es and Merrie Melodies directed by Friz Frele ng, C huck jones, and Robert McKimson. Columbia released ten new sho rts from the yo ungest of the cartoon co mpanies, UPA , including fo ur wit h Mister Magoo. ot counting one-sho ts and ind ependent releases, thi s accounts for we ll over one hundred new theatrical cartoons in the year 1953. By this time, televis ion was lx'ginn ing to have serious effects on th e movie industry. S ho rt s ubj ects had a lready beg un ol s low d ea th beca use of do uble-fea tures, chan ging d istribution patterns (includin g the end of block-booking that forced thea ters to take a studio's sho rts), and the cOll1petition of simila r material on the home screen. But ca rtoons were still in demand , a nd s till essentia lly the domain o f the movie companies. Animation was thou gh t too expensive to be feasible fo r TV. I Meanwhile, s tudi os ..ve re jea lo u s ly g uardi ng their film backlog, refus ing to compete wit h themselves by selling their most valuable properties to television. The first cartoons to appea r on TV were old sile nt shorts and Thirties efforts from ind ependent studios such as Van Beuren, Ub Iwerks, and harles Mint-.l. Aro und 1957, the dam burst, wit h several s tudios co nsu mmating major telev is ion d eals for their feat ure films and ca rtoons. Soon th e d aytim e ho urs on TV were fi ll ed with Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Betty Boop, and o ther ca rtoon s tars enjoy ing a new lease on life. The TV sale marked the end o f Popeye's theatrical ca ree r of thirty-four yea rs, alth oug h Paramount con tinu ed to make o the r theatrical cartoo ns, and always kept a ha ndful of Popeyes in re-release. These TV deals did not curtail production a t other studios-with one notable exception. In the spr in g of 1957, Bill Hanna Olnd Joe Barbera were twenty -yea r vete ran s with th e MCM car too n department , having been promoted to heads of produc ti on when lo ng- tim e producer Fred Quimby retired. Then o ne morning the telephone ra ng. " We were told to discontinue production a nd layoff the entire staff. Twenty years of work s uddenl y e nd ed w it h a single phone ca ll," they late r recalled. The two me n had become co-d irectors on the lo ng-r unn ing "To m and Jerr y" se ries at MCM , creating slick, enterta ining ca rtoon s which explored new ave nues of comic vio le nce, so lidified the cat-andmouse cartoon fomlUla, and maintained one trademark- neith er character spoke (pre-da tin g C huck jones' "Roadrunn er" cartoons, which have been cred ited w it h In the wake o f UPA's success wit h stylized ,lOim.ltion , most o f the major Holl ywood ca rtoon studios did assimilate some of thai company's COSICUlling ideas, retaining full animoltion in terms o f char.lcter movement and such, but incorporating incrc.lsingl)' impressionistic backgrounds and layouts, instead of the finel y detailed landscd[)Cs and folia);t' that had ah".l Ys populated s uch cartoons. I

in nova ting these sa me id eas). The series racked up an amazing seve n Academ y Awa rd s in the Forties a nd early Fifties. S uddenl y un e ll1pl oyed, H an n a and Barbera d('vcloped a proposOlI for what they ca lled " planned an ima tion" to gear cartoon-making for televi sion budge ls. MCM told them there was no future in cartoo ns for TV, and other exccu tivt..'s ex pressed sim ilar dj sinterest. Then George Sidney, who had worked with the team on the now-class ic sequence in I\ NC t-l OJ{S ,\ WE IG H where Ct..' nt..' Kelly dances with je rry Mouse, go t the m an entree at Columbia and a d ea l with the stu d io's telev ision s ubsid iary, Screen Cems. Their first product was a series of ca rtoo ns ca ll ed 1~llff ami Rfddy \vh ich so ld to NBC for in clus ion in a Sat urday morning show with a li ve host.~

In 1959, Hanna-Barbera unveiled th e ir complete ly anim<ltcd half- hou r show, Huckleberry Howul . This sy ndicated program was a tremendous success, and in troduced a likable cha racter naln ed Yogi Bear w ho soo n became the s ta r of his own half-hour prog ram . To thi s you ngste r, Huckleberry Hound wa s a mos t en tt!rtaining s how, but eve n then it was clear that the principal appea l of its cha racters was their voices. Using such expert vocal talents as Daws Butler, the studio gave it s cha rncte rs hi g hl y individuOlI and amus in g vo ices, w hose s im ila rity to t hose of falnous co med ia ns fe ll just sho rt of p lag iaris m : S nagg lep uss was Be rt Lahr, Doggie Daddy was jill1l11y Durante, etc. As H a nna-Ba rbera's o utput increased, however, eve n a ten-year-o ld began to recogni ze (a nd ti re 00 the repetition in eac h s how: th e same ca nned mu sic, the same gags, th e sa me sou nd -effects and gimmicks, a nd the same cha racters, o nly in different g uises. The Hanna-Barbera fornlat of a tall hero and a short s idek ick quickly wore o ut its welcome; and afte r Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo, Quick Draw McCraw and SabOl Looie, Lippy de Lio n a nd Hard y Har Har, Pete r Potam us, Wally Cator, a nd all the othe rs had presen ted th emselves for approvOl I, thi s viewe r sw itched the c hann el to re tu rn to Bugs Bunny. Ha nna-Barbera 's biggt..-'S t problem was ma ss production . At MCM th e duo p roduced about fifty minutes of film a yeM; at their new s tudio th (' quota became over a n hour a week! How was it possible to turn ou t so much animation so quickly? The essence of " planned anima tio n" was reducing . movement to an absol ut e minimum. Bill Han na once explained for ! Th is was not the firs t made-for -TV ca rloon . Other independent producers h.ld developed cartoon series with varying degr("('s of success. At one end of the spectrum \Vas a "cheater" series of filmed comic st rips, while .11 the othe r end was the successful syndica ted series Crusader Rabbit, which employed the tatents of one Jay Ward . But HannaBarbera were the first to make a major dent in Ihis area.

FILM COMMEN T

77


I tan na-Ba rbera ' ~ YogI Bear and Boo-Boo.

Hanna Barbera's Huc kleberry Hound .

TV A~ 'MA TlONS CO TINUED

reporter Digby Diehl: " Disney· type full .:mim.:ltion is cconomic.:lll v unfe.:l sible for te levis ion, and we discovered that \-ve could get <tw<ty with less .... The old thea t· rica l cartoons kept characters moving constanUy-no holds, no heavy accents. Free·flowing stuff is harder to watch be· cause of all that tedious detail. " "Ted io us detail" would include s uch niceties as Wil e E. Coyote's pupils d ilating as he senses that a giga ntic bo uld er is about to crus h him , or Bugs Bunny wriggling his eyebrows at the audience in anticipation of a trick he's abo ut to pull on Elmer Fudd. " Keeping characters moving constantly" was more it m.,tter of keeping characters moving according to their personality. Bugs' walk is different from Tweetie Pic's; PopeYl"s is different from Mister Magoo's.·l In Ilanni.. -Bilrbera car toons, there arc no nuan ces in the design or movement of characters' faces; wriggling an eyebrow wou ld probably throw off the budget fo r an l'nt ire series. What's mo re, Yogi Bl..'ilr walks the san1e way as Range r Smith, who walks the same way as Magilla Go rill a, \-vho . All o f the <1ction in ,1 H<1nna -B<1rbera cartoon takes place on thl..' same plane. There is no s uch th ing <'IS moving toward or away from the came ra (except, notably, in the ma in tit les for a series, whe re the animators co uld sp lurge). A critic once wrolL' that [JUMBO had "as many camera angle::. ,1:-\ CITUEN KANE," while Bob Clampett delig hted in having his Looney Tunes characters run amok inside the cartoon frame, dashing .1W,,:' into the background only to scr<lll1blL' frantica1iy right into the ca mera lens a moment later. One will nt..'vt;.'r find such mO\"l..'ment in a Han nilBarber., ctlr toon; working o ut the pe rspective dt..'t<1il wo uld take too long, and be3. Cf. G rim N.ltwick 's" Advice from a M,l ster," on page

78

JAN. - FEB. 19 75

sides, what purJX>se would it serve? When one read s Bill Hanna's commen t that planned an im ation was largel y a matter o f "getting away \,vith less," it is mindboggling to th ink what the credo mus t have been at Max Reischer's studio in the early Thir ties, \-vhen direc to r Dave Fleischer and his animato rs seemed to be trying to see how milch th ey co uld cra m into every frame. In the classic Betty Boo p SNOW WH ITE, it isn ' t e nough that icicles come to life to herald Betty's a rrival at the castle, whil e Bimbo and Ko-Ko literall y pop out of their s uits of armo r; after Betty steps over a s uit of flannel underwear s ubstituting for red carpet, a tin y mo use peeks out from under th e flannel flap a nd squeaks, " Hello, Betty!" This is not des igned as a major gag in the film; it is merely a throwaway in a scene already brimming w ith movement and humor. Fleischer cartoons of this period are ove rflO\vin g \vith id eas, just as Disney's Mickey Mo use shorts o f th e early Thirties p iled gag upon gag at a breat hless rate . One of the trea ts o f vin tage Hollywood cartoons is the fi ne mu sic on the sou nd· track. The major uns ung hero in this field is Ca rl W. Stallin g, who composed an orig· ina I score for every Warner Bro th ers car· toon , combining popular songs, classical themes , and orig inal ideas in order to complement <1nd enhance the vis ual humor. Many cartoons, from Disney's THE llANO CONCERT to Friz Freleng's RHAI'SODY IN RIVETS <1nd Walter Lan tz's "Swing Symphonies" - and even Ha nnaBarbera's own Tom and Jerry CAT CONCERTo-were bu ilt entirelv around famous p ieces of classic<11 music~ The mos t familiar music on the so und tracks of Hanna· Barbera TV ca rtoons is the sallle ca nned theme used for years o n Li sterine commer~ cials. Fin;)lIy, the g reat vintage Hollywood ca rtoons were qua lit y products, made by

men who cared, and aimed at adults as well as children . Quality was ev ident in the drawing , the backgro un ds, the level o f humor, the topicality, the use of good mus ic- in every aspect of creating the finished product. The you ngster watch ing these cartoons o n telev ision grew up with an attendant sense of q ual ity; they developed his se nse of humor, his ear fo r music( how ma ny kids were introdu ced by car toons to the HlIllgariall Rhapsody or the theme from Bar/1t>r of Seville?), and even h is sense of histo ry in deciphe ring or asking about once·topical gags. What ca n the Hanna-Barbera cartoons offer a child except a baby-sitting service? Add ing salt to the wo und , many people fear th at a steady diet of these cartoons will dictate future evaluat ions of quality. Disney veteran Ward Kimball told Mike Bar· rier in an inteview why he ed ited scenes o ut of THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE and THE BAND CONCERT when the class ic cartoo ns were s hown d uring a Mickey Mouse a nniversary prog ram on the Su nda y n ight Disney TV show. "The Hanna-Ba rbera Sa turday morni ng fMe ... has condi tioned kids to expect this kin d of quick timin g. Do away wit h all the disso lves and fades and all the artwork we used to throw into our ca rtoons. Comm uni catio n ha s to be s udden and quick nov./. " This paints a sad picture indeed, especiall y vvhen one sees o ther s uccessful ca rtoon stud ios like Filmation and DePatieFrclcng following i.n Hanna-Barbera's footsteps. (A t leas t DePatie-Freleng' s Pink Panther character has some s ubtlety in his movement and desig n; bu t their Saturday morning show now has a laugh· track to tell the kids when to be amused.) The q uestion remains, does it have to be this way? The dual obstacles to quality are money and time. As wit h live prog rams on TV, even crea tive talen ts are bound to wear


themselves o ut on a weekly g rind . But the true irony is in th e co ntras t betwee n the problems o f prod ucing animated programming and creating animated co mmercials. This too is identica l to the liveaction wo rld: more time, money, and creativity is poured into the making of a one- minute commercial than is used for the production of a hair-hour show. Thus, some of the best animation o n TV is in commercials. Quality an imation is also fou nd o n the two Public Broadcasting shows SesamL' Strt't't and Electric COII/IXII/Y, whic h co mmi ss io n s ho rt a nim a ted sequences fro m s mail , crea ti ve animation houses. These scg mcn ts, designed to impress th e mea ning o f certain lett ers o r n um bers o n yo ung child ren, not only inspire but del1l(llld ingenuity on the part o f the filmmakers, unlike th e ca rtoo nsfo r-cartoons'-sa ke that fill the co mmercial a irw.lVl.路s. Time r<:" s trictions Me diffic uJt to s urmo un t, bu t thl! money facto r is no t so one-sided . A fl!w individuals have shown that chea p an imation need not be tireso me (as in th e deceptively simple sty les employed on Srsnl1lL' Strt'et and in many COlnmerda ls). Ani mator-d irector Gene Deit ch crea ted the To m Terrific cha racter for Terrytoons' usc un Captaill Kal/garoo, and turned his liln itat ions into a n asset. These ca rtoo ns usc line draw ings for all characters, and sparse, impressionis tic backg ro und s to s uggest a city s treet, a pl ayground , or an ocea n. The major asset o f hero Tom Terrific is that he ca n turn him se lf into a ny kind o( object at whim; thu s, th e keys tone of th e series is a purely visual idea. Clever di rectio n, e nd ea ring to ng uein -chcek vo ice work , and d :,erviceable music score lIsi ng just a n acco rd ian add up loa pleasing and enter taining C.1rloon with more verve a nd innovation than most TV outings--on a sma ll budgt:.'l. Of co urse, Deitch's grap hic format fo r TOIII Terrific was Inerely an ex tensio n of the s ty le IlMd e famo us by UPA in the late Fo rties and early Fifties (De itch was UPA's New Yo rk chief bcfo rt! join ing Terry too ns). At th at lime, such ca rtoo ns as GERA LD MCnOING Ba iNG, MAD ELE INE, and Ihe " Mister M<l goo" series were co ns ide red revolutionary in th eir s ty li zed approach. Critics hai led th e s tudio prod uct as il refres hing change fro m tht! so-call ed lit erali sm of Disney, while Disney a nswered back with so me limited-anim atio n e nd eavors like TOOT, WHI ST LE, PLUNK, AND BOOM a nd PI GS IS PIGS, scoring o n the 5<1me gro und as UPA bu t maki ng it clear th at this was a di.:'yice to be used fo r special occasio ns, and no t a way of life. S imilarly, UPA d iscovered that this unique sty le of design ing ca rtoo ns was not appro priate for every ki nd o f s ubjec t. Moreover, an attemp t to duplicate the s uccess of the classic GERA LD MCnO ING BO ING revea led that even brilliant desig ners, directors, and anima to rs were los t witho ut a n idea worth d eveloping; most o f the " McBoing Bo ing" sequel s we re

lifeless exa mples o f fO rl1"'1 vvitho ut content. Iron ically, an ea rl y Fifties UPA cartoon like the Magoo SLO PPYJALOPY seems pos iti vely lavish tod ay when compa red to sta ndard TV fare, including th e cartoo ns prod uced by the very sa me UPA in recent years. After a series o f h rn ny and well mad e Magoo s horts for thea trical release, th e com pa ny (with few of its stal wa rts s till o n th e s taff) prod uced a series o f a hundred and fifty fi ve- minute "Magoos" fo r TV us ing Hanna-Barbera techniques, with pn:.'Ciictab ly blea k res ults. The s tudio fared better with half-ho ur and ho ur-long Magoo spedals, and a se ries of Dick Tracy TV ca rtoons spiced \vith a gall ery of co lorful characters. A few UPA veterans (directo r Petc Burness, designer-directo r Bill Hurtz, writer Bill Scott) tea med up w ith producer Jay Ward in th e late Fifties to crea te Rocky mid His Friellds , a limited-an imation half- ho ur w ith a differe n ce: h u mo r. Co mbinin g sharp comedy writ ing with a g<.'neral air of irreve re nce (Rocky and Bullwinkle fre q uently talk back to th e na rrator o f their adven tures) and a ste rling cast o f voice pla yers, Rocky soon ea rned as big an ad ult follovving as it had a mong the smallfry set. The BlIl/wi/lkle Show was an ex tens ion o f Rocky's format , but \vhen o rig inally broadcast on N BC ea rl y S unda y evenings, a Bull winkle puppet m.e. go t too po inted in his sa tiric barbs a t the ne two rk and th e progra m re turn ed to fu ll animati o n, in which th e netwo rk brass felt th e same kind o f 5<1 tire was less th rea ten in g, since fewer people wo ul d tend to take a cartoon se ri o us ly.

Only o n th e Rocky sho w wo uld a fairy tale involving a gro up of mice in an o ld s hoe co ntain the (o llow ing passage: th e head mo use warns his fri ~ nd s that th ey may be dispossessed, but they have nowhere to go. Ano th er mo use asks, " What about Dis ney la nd ?" "Na h," rep lies the leader, "Co usin Mickey's got that place all sewed up," pointing to a painting of MM on th e wall (from the wa ist down) . The animatio n in these hig h-spirited cartoons is so metimes dow nright in ept, with no co ntinuity fro m one s ho t to th e nex t. But in addition to the irrt!sistibl e humo r o n the so undtra ck, Ward a nd crew had lea rned an important in g redient for l1"'\ak ing funn y cartoo ns: d es ig n funny- look ing cha ra cte rs. Thu s, W<l rd 's "cast" is th e weird es t loo kin g bun ch s in ce Max Fleische r's menage rie o f the ea rl y Thirties, whe re be in g cross-eyed wa s the no rm . And happily, they have voices to match, wi th Bullwinkle's d ialog ul.路 spokc n by Ward 's co- p rod ucer Bill Scott. Th e s to ry of Ja y Ward Productions is, sadly, laced with the bitter iro ny of television real ity. Ward has n't ha d a new show o n TV s in ce Ct'orgt' of ti,e JllllglL' seve ra l yea rs ago, beca use he rehlses to be trend y a nd g ive th e networks th e pab lu m th ey want for weekend mo rnings. Ins tead , he ha s spent mos t o f his tim e th e pas t few years producing co mm erical s fo r Q uaker Oats cereals fea turing Ca p' n C runch and a cas t of characters no less e nd earin g th an the loo ni es who popu lat ed hi s hal f-ho ur prog rams. Quaker has give n Ward amazing freedom in the creat io n of these oneminute spots, and needl ess to 5.;1Y, eno ugh

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FILM COMMENT

79


TV AN IMATIONS CONTINUED

money for him to turn o ut a finis hed prodL1ct mu ch hand some r th a n a ny o f hi s shows ever we re! The s tudio is able to do pcncil-tl'st dry runs for thest' co mm ercials, a luxury it co uld no t il fford und er netwo rk budgelsa nd lim e restriction s; and all o f Ih e work for th l's...路 co mmcrcial s is d o ne inho use under thl' s upt.路rvis io n o f Bill Hurtz. unlikl' m o~ t of th e h.llf-ho ur shows, where animiltio n was fannt'd o ut to low-quality Mexiciln studi os to save Illoney. Need less to say, th e Cilp' n Crunch cOllll11 erical s are bette r in .... vc ry way than mos l of tht' shows they int .... rrupt. \"'ard is not the only produ cer capab le of crt'at ing good cartoo ns for td l..'v ision . But th .... fact rema ins that in terms o f ent erta intnent and humo r, no one has come close to his tr<'l ck- record . Chuck Jones' half-ho ur s peC ia ls ( II OW T H E G RI NC H S TOLE

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Jones' budgets ilrc rcin the business, and Dr<,d ,lCt every time. wh,e/tler based o n Dr. Seuss or co nceived as orig inal stories, tend to be terribl y "cute" a nd se lf-conscious. jones is a master of personality animation, but the perso nali ty he seen1S to fa vor is that of S niffles, hi s firs t ca rtoon s tar back at Warner Brothers. Without writer Michael Maltese to provid e brash, violent gags for chara cters like Bugs Bunn y and Wil e E. Coyo te, jo nes has reverted to his ow n. mo re perso nal sty le, which is far mo re limit ed in appeal and more diffi cult to sus tain over thirty minutes' tim e. O ne can o nly wish that jo nes would take his skill (and television clo ut) and find so me way to rejuvenate Bugs and the Warners cartoo n ga ng fo r TV. Lee Me nd elso hn a nd Bill Melendez's half-ho ur specials a rc ge nera ll y well done, although severely res tricted by the g raphic aridit y o f th e C harl es Sc hulz co m ic s trip . But per haps the twod imensional nature o f the characters is esse ntial to P(YIlllltS' appeal : one per mit s the s us pension of disbelief in order to accept s uch unu s ual look in g "childre n" who speak like mature adults; add in g a third dimensio n, and asking us then to believe in these charac ters, wo uld be an unbea rab le s tra in on all of liS. The Pt.'fIlIllfs programs largely overca me this dil emma, and fo und voices that s uited Ihe charac ters, but one insuperab le problem remains: s tretching a fo ur-panel strip to half-ho ur length withou t lett ing the sea ms show. Bob C lampe tt , anoth e r Warners graduate , temporarily abandon ed animatio n in th e ea rl y days o f TV to crea te the popular children's puppet show Time for Bl'tIlty. Some years lat er, he revived these characters in a series o f half-hour cartoo n progra ms ca ll ed Bl'tIlly mIll Cecil , s la rrin g Cecil th e Sea-Sick Sea Se rpe nt , hi s pal Beany, Ihe villainous Dis honest John , and Pt'I111 11tS

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left eh.ulie Brown .md llnu~ III the Mendelsohn- ' ''elendez PEANUTS. Right : Tom Terrftc. with Mighty M,lnfred the \-Vonder 00)0(. Iw Gene Deitch.

a rot,di ng cast of assorted fr iends. The BeallY c.-.rtoons are full of clever gagwrit ing, heavy on the puns, and the kin d of ad ult referenccs thtlt ~ave BlIlIwillkle its widl' ap peal. Thl'rl' is also a hea lt hy s u pply of vis ual in1ilgination at work , and a s urprising amount of or iginal mus ic for various episod es. Yt't soml'hmv, BCflIlY doesn't work as well as o ne wo uld li ke; it p rod uces s miles , not laugh s, beca use every thing go ing on in the prog r<lm is so bla ta nt ly self-consc ious. EVl.'n the s tar character, Cecil, is o nl.' st('p removed from credib ility: hL" S s u pposed to be.--. h.md puppet, so one nl.'ver sees the lower portion of his body, just a long neck leading (one s upposes) to the arm o f rl puppetl.'l.'r- as it in fact does during th e main title of each show, revea ling Bob Cl<lmpctt ,15 the man behind the SCl' nes. The Bmlly staff incl uded s uch brillia nt cartoon directors as Jilck Hannil h and Jack Kinney , responsible for the best Dis ney shorts of the Fortit:.'s. But Cecil is not as funny (nor as fJe:\ ible) a character as Coofy, and Dis hon es t John's vi ll ainy becomes mono to n o us in cl way Donald Duck 's tcmpl.'r tantrum s se ldom d id. Wh,lt 'S more, Clam pl.'lt co uldn't provide th c budge ts that Disnl.'y I<wis hed on his c<lrtoons; without the ilbil ity to move chara cters a round co ns tantly, cnjoy th e liberty o f cutt in g and camera ang les, and devote enough time to Olll' brief t'pisod e to make it work just right , even the bes t an imation l11l'tl found th emselves unfai rl y connntO'd. Like Jones, Clampett ha s never topped the work he did while at Warner Brothers in the For ties . Tex Av~ry hets managed to continue making q uality a nim ation- in cumml'rdais. His long-running series of s pots for Raid insecticid e (produced more recent ly by another veteran, Ja ck Zand er) wit h the s pray m ist turnin g into vario us instr uments of death for percn niall y hapless in sects, showed the kind o f vis ual imag inatio n missing from so many TV ca rtoon s. Iron ically enou~ h , Avery animated Bugs Bu nny for a scries of Kool-A id commercia ls in the Sixt ies, soml' twenty years after

he hel ped to create the charact('r at \Vi1rners. Even Max Fleisc her fo und himse lf associa ted wit h televi sion , s u pe rvising an upd ated version o f Dllt of the InkweJl in the Six ties that in total cou.ldn' t compare to the fluid animat ion a nd florid invention of (lIIC ten- minute " Inbvell" film mad e in 1921. As for the basic idea o f comb inin g liveaction a nd a n imation, th is was jus t too tim e-co nsum ing for a se rie s of ma ssproduced cartoons, so the inkwell g immick was li mit ed to Ko-Ko's entrilllCC and exit in most five-m in utes entri es. Oddl y enough, one o f an imation 's most successful and least innovat ive veteran s, Wa lter L<lI1tz, never got into te levis ion a nimati o n pe r se. In s tead , he crea ted c1 half- hour Woody Wooripl'ckcr Slrow by stringing togethe r old theatrica l cartoo ns with newly-an imated in troductio ns a nd , bes t of all, li ve-actio n segments in which he expla ined how cartoons \Vl.'rl' made. Altho ugh he lacked the Iikabk' folks iness of Walt Disney, Lantz did a fin l' job on these seq uences, building the perfect framework in which to show his cartoons, in troduced eac h wL'ek by Woody , p rocJ,limin g, " Here's my boss, Walter Lantz ." As it happens, his ca rtoons, wh ich almost always looked ta cky in theaters, came off beautifully on te levision , beca use even these 10\\,l'r-budgeted effor ts were bettl.'f made than most of the made-for-TV compet itio n . And like every car toon st udi o, L1ntz's had a fu ll orchestra playing o riginal sco res for his shorts, an all- importilnt factor in com paring thea trical and televisio n ani mat ion. A p ioneer of a later generat ion, Jo hn Hubley, has refused to co mpromisl.' wit h television, so his wo rk in that medium ha s bee n sparse. The UPA veteran and crea tor of Mr. Magoo is pro bab ly best re mem bere d by childre n of the TV era as th e O"l'ator of th e Marky Maypo commercials, re ndered in the same vis ua.l and a ural sty le as h is 1110re prl.'st ig ious theat ri ca l fil m s ~'l OON BIRJ) and THE I-ID LE, but no less en terta inin g. A few ye a rs ago the Hu bley s tudio, ru n by Jo hn an d h is wife Fait h, did

land a steildy ass ignmen t, producing SL'gmen ts for Pu blic Broadcasting's Electric COJlll'mlY (c hidl y th e tettaJllaH spots), bu t a not her projL'cll'd se ries fo r General Food s (DiS, abo ut the eclrt h) wa s cu rtailed aftL'r o ne show. Hap pily, the Httbl eys have just comple ted a m ini -sl.'ries for CBS ca ll ed Riri('rs of tl,(' Cnroll:.'!'/, about the eig ht stages of man's lifL' sc heduled for ai ring in early 1975. Hubley, likl.' Chuc k Jones, will not be nd to thL' L'conom ic pressLrrt' of tell.'vis ion. Refl.'rring to the S<lturday-morn ing st<lndard fodder, he told Vnrietlf, "' I know ho\\' thilt s tuff is mad e. It 's assemblv- li ne s tuff which can have no feeling, no-' personal <It tention. As a fil mmaker .1Ild artist , /'111 not interested." Alas, the networks d on't seem to bl.' in Il'rl's ted in any thin g bll t . Ye s, they will sponsor occasional half-hour s pecials and pay good 1110tley, bcca usl.' tht'se arc program s which air in prime-t iml' and Ciln be repl.'atl'd for several years, netting a hand 50111(' profit. Yes, they will occa Siona ll y co mm issio n a quality s how for prestigl" s s<l ke, as whell ABC hirl'd Jones to prod uce Till' Cllriosity ShOJI. But thl' r u les for a weekly ca rtoon series arc more strict: the product mu s t bL' man u factured chea ply, and earn rat ings <lnd attract s ponso rs im mediately. If it does n't, it 's drnpped. It 's muc h cilsie r to sch ed ule a sl.'vl.'ntl.'l.'nth s('ason of reru ns for TIlt' )etStJl/5. A distu rbing new trend ha s stud ios like Film<l tio n doing an imated programs based on live characte rs from prL'viously filmed shows, s uch as Stnr Trek , I Drcn", of )l'rlIIH ic, MIf Fa vor;//, Ivl(/rlinll , and I.n55it'. Th is red~t ces a nim atio n to thl' ultilllCl tc kvL-'l of non-art, a)1 d se rves no earthl y p ur pose -except to make ct'rta in p eople a lo t o f money. Well, Walt Dis ney m.ldl.' ,1 lot of money, and so did Warner Brothers, and MGM , and eve n Jay Wa rd. The mon etary goal is simply an inadeq uate eXCU SL' for the garbage that masqucrades <IS Clni mation on network TV. C reil tive peo pl e have shown that it d oesn't have to be th is way. Whe re are yo u, Bull win kle, now th at we really need yo u? : ~: FILMCOMMENT

81


An extraordinary journey through all the wonderful worlds of Walt Disney His films have been seen throug hou t the world. His cha racters have entertained a successio n of generations. The technical excellence of his work set a standa rd for the industry, and he single-h and edly raised the anim ated cartoon to an art form . Nowthe whole , f ab ul ous s tor y of this amazi n g genius 'swo rk is here-i n THE DISNEY FILMS, Thi s is the book for everyo ne w ho has ever been touched by the Disney

magic. Incl uded are special sections on his feature films , (wi th all the classics from Snow White to Fan tasia to The Jungle Book). hi s short su bjects, his television shows, h is brilliant ed uca-

tional and nature film s, and the films re leased since hi s death , as well as accou nts of th e creation of Mickey Mouse and the host of other delightfu l ca rtoo n characters. l eo na rd M alti n , author of The Grea t Movie Shorts and one of the most respected figures in the world of movie history and critici sm , has produced a com prehensive and profu se ly illustraled book th at will delig ht film buffs , sc ho l ars , and of course the millions Di s n ey e nt ertained. Over 200 illustra· ti ons.8V2" x11".

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LONDON JOUR AL CONTINUED FROM PACE 1

One wonders how Stra ub will resolve the rd ated problem of camera placement in his 1\-1os ES AND AARON film : will he reveal the nt..'Cl.'ssa ry facial dis to rtions o f th e Sing· e rs in cJose ups, or pre serve the ope ra ho use illus ion o f relative rl.'post:.' in long sho ts? October 15: At long la st, a Fassbinder film I can celebrate! MARTHA, inaug urating a season of new German cinema at the I ational Filrn Theatre, pushes the ca mpy and d is tancing e ffects of THE Bln·ER TEA RS OF PETRA VON KANT and ALI until they serve up thei r riches t fu sions and clearest con tradictions. Practically any give n mo ment of this sta rtling ma sterpiece is eno llgh to warran t a scream o r a giggle, and s tagger· ing uneasily between these extremes enco urages us to appreciate th e horror sto ry (v irgin Iibra ria n loses fa t he r, rna rries sa di st) in a ll its var iolls and ove rl ap pin g aspects. A pa rod y o f bou rgeois marriage, info rm ed by Fassb indcr's cha rac te ri stic em pathy and compassio n; an improbable meeting gro und for Hollywood in the Fifties and Dreyer (with some scenC:.'S s uggest· ing eith er a Minn elli remake of GE RTRUD or a Sirk ada ptation of Georges Bataille, with intermitten t traces o f VM,IPYR); a f<.'Stiva l of nuid camera movements, bala ncing d eepfocus e ffects a nd candy-box colo rs; and a mounting se nse of the monstrou s as Heln1Ut 's insane d eman d s and accelera t· ing cru elt ies agai ns t his fra g ile wife fit v," ith incrl.'a s in g s nu gness int o th e com monplace ba nalities o f soap opera. Helmut is played by Karlhein z Bbhm, the creepy hero of PEE PI NG TO M- fles hed o ut here to s ugges t a hulking s lab o f res pec ta ble g ranit e - w hi le Martha is ex· pe rtly incarnated by s pind ly and sparrowlike MargH Cars tensen, in a frea kis h man· ncris t perfo rm a nce of near-epic p ropo rtions. People who don ' t like thi s film call it self-indulgent, which I take to OR'an not boring enough to qual ify as classicis m no r quite rigoro us eno ug h to register as either meas ured o r monolithic. I s uppose fi ve minutes or so could be dropped from the film without serious d amage; but considering th e fact that th e film virtually li ves in its excesses, I can' t imagine pre ferring a tamer or san", r vl'rsion. ove mber ·1: Lau ra Mulvey a nd Peter Wo llen ' s PE NTHES ILEA: QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS is clearly a nd unaba s hedl y a theoretical film , whi ch mean s that only a handful of peo pl e in London seem in· terested in seeing it . No matt er. Split into five autonomo us "o ne- take" seq uencesactually two reels each, with se mi-in visible ROPE-li ke junctures- this amb it ious and difficult wo rk exp lores a series of didactic poss ibilities, how to co n vey informatio n th roug h so unds a nd images, and in vites us to compare and juxt(1pose the alternati ves at every level. S tar tin g wit h a mime of Kl e is t's PelltJu'S iim filmed in one stat ic and alienat-

fe,ln Simmons 10 GUYS AND DOllS

in g lo ng sho t, the film s ubsequen tl y reverses itself in a seq uence featurin g words and camera movements, w here a lec ture about the film's s ubj ect by Woll en whil e moving through a garden terrace and living room is accompanied by the "s ubtext" o f the camera's independent path thro ugh the sa me general space, zeroi ng in on the cue cards left behind by Wollen for some witty, playful , a nd pa rad ox ica l e ffec ts. Next comes a leng thy presen tation of di ve rse art objects relating to th e Amazo n my th (fro m anden t sculpture to Wonder Woma n frames) accom pa nied by Berio's " Visage" and se parated by animated wipes and maskings; th en a simultaneous recitation of a feminist text and pro ject'ion o f a s il e nt feminist film; and fina ll y se· quence number five wh ich p rese nts fo ur TV mo nitors repl ayin g the fo ur previous sec tions (eve ntu ally s u pp lan ted by new material) while th eca mera period ically isolates ind ividual sc reens and so und tra cks. Initiall y somewhat soporific-befo re the overa ll d esign becomes ev id ent- but ul timately fasc in ating, J>ENTHESILEA offe rs just as much as one is wil ling to bring to it , rewarding inte ll ect ual co lla boratio n bu t scrupulo usly aVOiding the discourse of il lu sio ni st na rrative while ex pl orin g " the s pace between a story that is never to ld and a hi s to ry th a t ha s neve r ye t bee n made" -con tra sting diverse presentat ions of texts and relative s urfaces that acc umu late around a hypo thetical s ubject. Nove mber 16: Samuel Fuller's FORTY GUNS on BBC-2. Co ncludin g a series o f three Fuller Wes terns- I SHOT JESSE JAMES and THE IJARO N OF AR IZON A were s ho wn the prev ious weeks- thi s ro u gh gem is brutall y dis torted by the BBC's infuriating habit of (1) cu lting off both s id es of the CinemaScope frame and (2) re-editing the fi lm in th e process, so th at now (for in s tan ce) th e ce lebra ted endless tra ck ing sho t through th e town is marred by a cut. This sort of tampering is nothing new, o f co urse: only three weeks ago, BBC- 2 had

th e lo usy id ea of b roadcas tin g Do,,zh enko's EA I{TH w ith added sO llnd effects-a barrage o f twi ttering birds and crickets, moaning peasa nts, etc.- wh ich sabotaged the film even if one turned the vol ume off, because it necess it ated s howing it at the wro ng s peed . Since FORTY GUNS has a partially incomprehensible plot to begin with, th e losses tend to be strictl y fo rmal rath er than narrati ve (a part fr o m th e inev it able ce nso r's cuts). But ""hat s till co mes thro ugh '.vith remarkable clarity is how-in striking co ntras t to the mys te ry· pla y conce ntra tio n and unswerving narrative p rog reSSion in I 51-lOT JESSE JAM ES-FO RTY GUNS is s uch a works hop of IIIICOlllillll01l5 formal id eas. Virtually every character, scene, and shot stands at an oblique ang le to every other, s plint e r in g an a lrea d y n o t-so· lll cid s tory lin e into a thick e t o f un eve n, a u tonom ous slabs jutting o ut in every conce iva bl e direction . This caco ph o n y of styles, like that o f Godard 's in th e late Six· ties, is c uri o ll s ly e no u g h an a tt em pt ed nega tion o f s ty le. So powerful is the force o f the dialectic in each director's work that th eir s trateg ies often seem to derive from the premise th at no s ing le approach is poss ibl e, the re fore (!very possible approach is II fCessary. No wonder that the ideology of both direc to rs' film s is so amb ig u o us: CHI NA GATE is as full of pa radoxes as LA CHINO ISE. Refusing to s tand s till long eno ug h to sustain a consis ten t s trategy, FORTY GUNS seems to be nefi t rath er than suffer from its abb rev ia ted s hoo ting schedul e - a te n days ' wonder w ith a ll fort y of its g un s (fig uratively) firin g a t separate targets, res ultin g in o ne of th e mos t n o n - lin ear m ov ies in th e hi s tory of Ho ll ywood. Perhaps it is the one Fuller fi lm that most renects his legend ary s hooting method of beginning every shot by firin g a gun and end ing it with th e co mmand " Fo rget it": it is hard to think o f a more s uccinct parody of exis tentialism . ..:-: FtL M COMMEN T

83


From the celebra ted docum entary fi lm maker and cinema historian

THEAFI?

Basil Wright

by Austin Lamont

An idiosyncratic history & apprecia tion of the movies .. .

WTIlIER

On December '1 6, the House o f Rep resenta ti ves ddc<1t c d an I.?n"b l in~ b ill which would have provided tht:.' American Film Institute w ith d irect federal fund ing.

... from Vitascope to Video, from Melies to Lasl Tango "A big, b ri ght, breezy mo ns ter of a book . . o ne trusts his eye, his en thus iasm, his experie nce" - Rober t Mazzocco, N ew York Review of Books " He is one of the treasures of o ur ci nema [a nd ] a brill ia nt teacher ... he has a lovely w it .. ," - London T im es " His pages b urst with ent h us ias m ... hi s can vas is large and always alive. - Kirkus Reviews 1I

709 pages (including a 22-page index) • $15 • Knopf ~

84

JAN.·FEB. 1975

The bill , HR17021, was defea ted by a Iwoto-o ne vote. The I-Io llse defeat kilk'I.:i any Se nat e action b u t the b ill ma y be r('introduced in the 1975 Cong ress by it s original sponsor, Rep resentative John Brademas of Indiana. Most o f the pro ple in thl' non -t heatrical film commun ity who have heard of thl' AFI have heard so meth in g negative about it , and have heard d isappo inting t hi r~ gs about its di rector, Geo rge Stevens, Jr. 1 hl' plain truth , as thl' AFl's rccord ckarly shows, is that Steve ns is mainl y interes ted in the Ho llywood fi lm industry; <md even when the AF I had money, thl' film commun itv outside of Ho llywood got li ttle of it, despitl' the ir obvious need s." ' ''' hen Ihe AF I was fo unded , one purpose was to coo rdi lldte, serve , a nd aid the film com mu nity as an umbrell el org,1I1ization. It didn ' t. The fi lm com rTHlni ty found out that the AF I wasn't rl'ally interested in se rvin g thl' no n -t hea trica l secti o n , that Gco rge Steve ns, Jr. d id n' t live u p to hi s com mi tment s to them , and th at they would have to do their own coo rd inatin g and get their aid elsewhere. And so they have. One recen t exarnpk' is thl' COl11l11 it tee on Film and TV Resou rc/.:.'s and Sl'rvict."5 (Thl' Moho nk Confl'rence) which was co nceived a nd o rgan izl:.'d o u tside of the A FI and funded by fo u nda tions; their report is du e in ea rly s p ring. A seco nd is the Associa tion o f Ind epende n t Vidl'o and Fi lmmake rs, a new trade association in 0Jl'W Yo rk fina nced by members' due s a nd a fou ndatio n gran t. The A FI directly fund s onl y two ch ief ac ti vities; the AF I Cata log, and thL' Center for Advilncl'd Fil m S tud y in Beverl y Hill s. Mos t of the res t o f its activitil'S, incl ud ing its grants to independen t filmmake rs, a re handled by co ntract (no t by grant) from th e Na tio nal Endowment. Under the defeated bill, the AF I wo uld nu longer have had any th ing to do with

the Nationa l Endow men t for th e Arts. A reading of th l' b ill gives il hint of w hat the new AF I wou ld have been li ke . ThL' bill p rovided for about fi fty per cen t gove rn me nt rep resenta tion on the AFI Board of Trus tees. It dl so gave the AF I powe r to " undertake and coo rd inate ... the prod uction of fi lms for charitable, patriotic, l'd lIca tional, or other p ubl iC purposes"; the AFI could also co nt ract out s uch film s . It so u nded ve rv m u c h as if the AFI was planni ng to bL:comt' <1 producing o rga n ization , per ha ps simil.1f to the Na tional Film Board of Canada. If this did happe n, the AF I as it wa s origina lly con cei ved would have wit hered away, w hich co uld have mean t abando n ment of, amo n g other th ings, the u n fi n is hed AF I Cat,llog - a serio us loss. Rep resentat ivl' Brademas, s pon so r o f the AFI bill, ass u res us that the Natio nal Endowml'nt for the Arts wo uld continue to makl' fil m grants, but no longL'r to tIll' AF I. T he En dowmen t's Publ ic Med i;"! Panel, which screens all vidl:.'O .lnd fi lm appl ica tio ns, is made li p of a broad ly represen tative gro u p of film experts w hosl' decis io ns have been fa ir to the entire film community, and w hose gra nts hnve been \veJ I-ad minislL'red . The film community it self ha s bt..:.coll1e more ex pe rienced at coope rat ion and in mak ing g ro u p dec ision s. But perha ps an umbrella o rga n iz<l ti on would s till be needed , a nd so me of the th ings it migh t want to look into are more coo pera tion betwcen Hollywood and the non- th eatrical fi lm comm u nity; dis tributi on of no n -t heatrica l fi lms; fu rth er development of regiona l fi lm s tu dy ~en t e rs and cincl11.1t hequl's; s tron ge r loca l him organ iza tions; accrl'd it atio n fo r film schoo ls; and a cod~ of eth ics fo r fil m fes tiva ls . Th e best way to keep in fo rmcd abo u t any future bi ll is th rougJ~ yo ur loc,a l fi l ~11 organization. Meanwlll lc there s s tili somethin g yo u Cel n d o: wri te to S C' n a t ~ r Pel! a n d ask th at fu nd ing for the Pub li c Media section of the Na tio nal Endowmen t fo r th e A rts be inc reased in the futurc. Th a t's w here th e non - theat ri c., 1 film comm u ni ty's leadersh ip is c0I11.i n9 fr~m no \\', and that's where leadershi p In fi lm will be co ming from in th e fu ture. Yo u can gct f urth ~ r in format ion o n the AFI bill, or regis ter yo ur op inion, with a ny of t he fo ll owi ng Rep rese nt a tives and Senators: Jo hn Bradl'mas, C h<li rma n , H Oll se Select S u bcom mitt ee o n Ed u ca ti on. Was hing to n DC 20515. C laibo rne Pe n, Chai rman , Scna te Spt'cia l S u bcomm ittee on Arts <lnd Hu ma nit ies, Wa shing ton DC 20510 ~~~ TH E FOREMOST AU THORI TY ON

Aus tin LamonI. the former M,ln.l ging Editor of FILM CO ~I~I£S T, h.1 S returned to filmmaking .

FILM CARE AND REPAIR

• Film public.l tions documen ting th is ,lrc Film Society Review, January thro ugh May, 197 1; Film Qutlrkrly, Summer 1961 and Winll'r 1971-72; FilM COMMEST, S ummer 1971; Scrt.'t'/!. S ummer 1971 ; and Varie ty, August 20and Novi;'mbcr 27, 1974.

FILMTREAT INTERNATIONAL

SCRATCH REMOVAL . INSPECTION COMPlETE FILM REJUVENATION PEERLESS PROCESS FOR NEW FILM PROTECTION 130 SAlEM51 . GlE NOAlE CA 9120) . 21312' 2·2181 2SO W6' SI • HEW YORK NY 10023 • 21211" ·2SOO


"WHAT IS THE BFI?"

by Verina Glaessner

For fift ee n da ys in Se pt e mb e r, th e staid f<l ca de o f the Briti sh Film i nstitute wa s r ent by th e f i r s t str i ke in it s forty· year hi story. The strike gn ined o ffi -

cial. w hit e-coll ar unio n recog niti o n, a nd was t he result of action tclkL'1l not by any rad ical m in o rit y b ut by a majority o f the I nstitu te's staff. Sta ff members who had

s pent mos t o f their working lives wi th th e BFI- the very la st pcoplt..' w h o expected or wis hed to beco me in volved in th e w h o le ritu a l of in d u s tri a l act iv-

is m- we re picke ting, wi th placards a nd leafle ts, in fron t of th e In s titut e's t w in Dean S tree t entra nces. Thl..' s trike g.1i n ed pres tigious suppo rt from, illl10n g o the rs,

Alexande r Kluge, O tto Prcmi ngcr, and R. W. Fassbindcr. ("W ha t," Preminge r asked as he s ig ned the so lidilrity d oc ume nt , " is the BF!?") Aga in s t th e ex pe cta ti u n s o f mcln y a cy ni ca l BFI-wa tcher, the impossiblL' had happened : the s taff had unit ed. Wo rk gro und to a halt in th e arch ive, the in fOrlnat io n d epartmen t , the reg io nal branc h es. T h e edi to ri a l o ffi ces of the BFI's publicat io n s, Sight alld SOlilld a nd The MOllthhl Film Blllldill, were deserted . The Na tional Film Tlwa tre was picketed: a udiences fell off, s il e nt film s we re run witho ut Inu s ical accompa nim e nt , and Les li e Il a rd cas tle , th e t h ea tre's con tro ll e r, wa s see n p e rfo rmin g u she re tt e's d ut y. The sm.l l1 FT cinema was closed fo r a tim e. The iss ue which so reso u nd ing ly a nd un ex pectedl y provoked w hat no a mount of rheto ri c had bee n nble to achieve wns the a brupt a nd in e pt di s m issa l of Kevin Go u g h - Yate s, th e "c ti ng h ea d o f th e Arc hi ve. T h e s taff cl a im ed w ro n g ful di s mi ssa l; the uni o n backed th e s taff. (Gou g h-Yate s has s in ce bee n replaced o n th e BFI payro ll , a nd the case i::. ilwa itin g ilfbitratio n .) But Go ug h-Yates' di s mi ssa l was less a reaso n for s trikin g tha n a clerks' la s t s tra w. Three yea rs ago , the s mall , rad ica l BFI Members' Ac tion Group ex pressed a nd ca pita li zed u pon s tirrings of di sco nten t whe n it ca ll ed fo r the res igna ti on o f th e In s titut e's Gove rn o r s. · (T h e BFI is V(>fin.l G lac:.s ne r, formerly the film editor of Timr Oul (London), is now frec-I,mcing . ' Sec Ian C.lmeron ' s Lon d on Jou rnal in the NO\lcmbc r-OeCt'mber 1972 F I LM CO MM ENT.

la rgely s tat e-a id ed , a nd is rul ed by an ap po int ed grou p consisting o f a Director and so m e twen ty Governors .) To th e s urpri se of man y, the Action G ro up's in ce ndia ry d ev ice ca ug ht fire, a nd S tanl ey Reed res ig ned as Directo r; to the s urprise o f SO lne, hi s re p lace men t by Ke ith Lucas, formerl y a TV a n d film d es ig n e r a n d min o r academ ic, failed to clea r th e air. Co ncess io n s to th e m<liai se e nd e mic among s taff and members hip s impl y raised a s to rm o f the ir ow n . Mu ch of th e discontent s temmed fro m an info rma tion bottle-neck; but the publi ca tion o f a BFI Nt"wS fo li o pac ked w ith intram ura l puffery co u ld no t sati sfy th ose se rio us ly co nce rn ed wit h eit he r lI sin g o r ma nagin g th e va ri o u s departml'nt s. An d no soo ne r had th e principl e been accep ted w h e reby tw o memb e r governor s , elected by the membe rs h ip, wo ul d be in cl uded o n th e boa rd th an the ma nage men t ra tified th e electio n o f ico las Ga rnha m, the mos t acti ve and recalcit rant , for o nl y o ne yea r ins tea d o f th e us ual two. By now, s taff fee lin gs we re turnin g from muted pess im is m to palpable o utrage. One point less ly m ega lo mani aca l proposa l h ad Lu cas him se lf ass umin g heads hip o f th e Archi ve-a move th at co ul d have vir tu a ll y iso lated th a t body fro m all internatio na l coope ra ti o n . That the sc he me was se rio us ly s uggested a t a ll, a nd th en persisted in des pite \v id es prea d o ppositi o n, bo th esca lat ed a nd jus tified the s taff's fee lin gs of pe rsec u ti on. The prin cipl e o f co n s ult a ti o n (a lways prev iously ack now ledged) see med fina ll y to have bee n ignored , espec ia ll y w hen o ne d e pa rtm e nt head fo und he r jo b adve rti sed in the nationa l press. As the fina nci a l year drew to a close, and s ta ff membe rs we re att e mptin g to run th eir d e partments o n frayed-s hoes tring b ud ge ts, so me £SOO wa s be ing s pe nt o n a cha nd e li er, a nd th e Dean S treet offices were be in g give n a need less face- li ft. To be s ure, Lu cas' deci s io n s wcre anyth ing b ut rand om_ His wa s th e rea lit y o f the ti me -and-mo ti o n s pecial ist. O ne of hi s firs t moves-a nd o ne wh ich the staff saw as co unt er-p rod u ct ive, bot h economi ca ll y and psyc ho logica ll y-was to im port Alan Hill , a charted acco untant. But Lucas (w ith hi s id ea l of " pan-institutio na lis m ") a nd the Archi ve (w it h it s va unt e d a ut o n o m y) co ul d hardly be expected to coex ist peacef ull y_ Mi c hn e l Pye, in th e SUllday Ti,/1(' s, pe rce pti ve ly n o ted " th e d e lica te bu s in ess of pers u a din g d edicated e n thu s ias ts to operate lik e cffi cie nt civil se rva nt s. " H owever d e li cate th e Direc to r 's a ttempts to run the BFllike a b us in ess, th e o pe ra ti o n p roved fri ghte ning ly waste ful o f th e ~ ta(f' s tal e nt , k n ow le d ge, an d skill , and threa tened to co rrode any pos itive role th e BFI mig ht pl ay wi thin Britis h fi lm culture. It 's th e s taff' s re fusal to be-

co me produ cti ve automaton s th at ha s w id cned the gap between cinema s p ecial is t a nd b u s in essma n; and the cha s m has never been so ga ping as it is now. Mo re than o nt.' a necdote (pt:.·rhaps a pocry ph a l, but ce rta inl y cred ible) circula ted by th e s taff por tra ys me mb e rs of th e Gove rn ing board as woe full y l.lCki ng in savo ir-fillll-slic h as the o ne abuu t a n ew appoin tt..·e w ho ph o ne s up (1 depa rtme nt he.l d fo r ad v ice on th e best book to tell him a ll he n eed s to know abo ut th e cinema . Lucas was o ri gina ll y se lectt..·d .1S a kind o f hi g h -p owe red p ro, b u t sOllle o f hi s mant..·u vers 5e('111 less tha n profess io na l. Wht-'n he nam e d a wo rkin g part y, he neg lected to te ll th e m th ey we rc s up posed to rubbe r-s tamp d ecis io n s ht..' had alrendy made; w h e n th ey p rocet..·ded co n sc ien ti o u s ly \'l ith th e ir ta s k, they fo un d everyo ne of their ma jo r decisions ove rturned . As one s taff me mbe r CO I11 mented: " I wo uldn ' t have m inded if he'd s pent a yea r look ing at the In stitut e and a t the \vo rkin gs of va ri o us depa rtmen ts, a nd th e n co me tu hi s conclu sions. But the scope o f th e Archi ve was s impl y red efin ed w ith o ut cons ulta ti o n." J 0 depa rtme nt was ilnmune. It Ina y be Ih e In s ti tute's s tr ucture tha t isat fa ult , ra the r tha n th e way it is be ing mana ged . But the creat io n of a welter of co mmittees a nd s ubco mmittees, s taffed by min o r celebr it ies d abb lin g in th e ce llulo id arts, ha s don e little to co unt e r th e iso latio n o f th e gove rnin g bod y a nd di rec to r from th e de partme nt head s a nd o th e r s taff- let alo ne fr o m the use rme mbe rs. Pe rhaps because the Governo rs a re unpaid , the pos ts seem to a ttract (with so me exce pti o ns) the w rong peop le for the wrong rea so ns. The appa llin g wa s te of e ff o rt ca n ' t be s to p ped until most of th e Gove rno rs a re drawn from the ra nks of those no ta bly co mm itt ed to an urge nt co nce rn fo r th e devt..'iopment oHilm in Brit-i <l n-and the re a rc pl ent y to choose fr o m- or until th e duti es n ow resti ng w ith th e Director a nd Gove rnors d evolvc u po n Ins titute s ta ff me mbe rs. To fun cti o n creat ively, the BFI must run on e nthus ias m- espec ia lly w ith the cu rrent d ea rth of petrol. A t th e 1110 me nl , Ihat e nthu s ias m is sa d ly di ss ipatcd . :{..

COMING ATfRACfIONS Interviews with Joseph Losey, Mel Brooks, M~rtin Scorsese, John SchleSinger, Dusan Makavejev, Gloria Katz and WiUard Huyck, A. 1. Bezzerides. Articles on Paul Maz ursky, John Ford's wa r documentaries, George Stevens' wartime com e dies, Na thanael West's B-Pictures, Ernst Lubitsch's THE MERRY WIDOW (with a memoir by Samson Raphaelson). FILM COMMENT

85


BOOKS EAC H MAN IN HI S TIME BY RAOUL WALS H Farrar, S tr<llls and G iroux, New York , 1974; ha rd cover 510.00; 3n p<lgcs. ind ex, illu sI'rati o n ~ .

REVI EWED BY GEORGE MORRI S R':lO UI Wal sh's autobiography wo n'l set

any lit crilry prt.·cedents, but as o ne of the handful of first· h(lI1d recollections o f major A mcriGl11 directors, it is reasonably info rm at ive, imllll.'l1sely en terta ining. a nd in va luable to Ihe film his toriiln. In its intcrtllillg ling of Iht:' perso nal a nd the specific w it h c1 genera li zed historica l ovt:'rvicw, the book i ~ no t unlike the stru c-

of slich Wal sh classics as T H E ROAR ING ilnd CE;-':TLEMAN JIM . The book furth er pcuallcl s Wal s h '~ (Mee T in that tangy ep isodes in the directur's yo uth are d escribed with the relish o f the a necd o ta l s to'1,- tdle r tha t n.wors Wal sh's best Thir· ties a nd Fo rties film s, w hc re<1s <1 mellow· ness e me rges in th e late r stages of the book , simil ar in to ne to th e seren it y of such laic masterpieces ,1 ~ THE rALL ME N and lJA NO OF ANGELS. Co n'lpared to Frank Ca pra's clarion ca ll to his o\\,n g reat ness, \'' 'alsh 's chro nicl e is a mod el of u nprelc ntio usness and self dface me nt. Altho ug h his penchant for ir· relevant anecdotes ilnd a matory da llia ncl.'S threat e ns to interrupt th e easy flow o f th e narra tive', these indulgences ultimatel), beCO llle (l S important in th e ove rall structure of the book ilS the)' elfe rcvealing abo ut the m a n himself. Like h is films, Wals h is so damned likable, his r,l UCOUS hum o r so infectio us, that any overly .1IlalyticCll c rit icis m wo uld be niggling. (I il'tmld like to co rrect the ca ption und e r the illus tratio n tha t id entifie" the actress with Clark Gable a nd W.:l lsh as Jane Russell. The actress is Jean WilI l.'~, ,1 nd thl.' £iiln , a lso in correctly iden tified ilS THE TALL MEN , is 1'1-1£ KING AN D FOUR QUEENS.) Walsh o fk rs no startling insights into the d evelopme nt of thl! Ame ric,'ln Cinema, the grow th of w hich pilril liei s hi s o wn ca ree r. It is intt..'res ting, how(,ver, to s peculate once aga in o n the tw is ts of f,lte th,l t hurled so many e<1r1y pion ee r~ of film into their lifelong professio ns. Afte r a yo uth of sailing, cowp unch ing, wrang ling, a nd a s tint as an ass istant to a Fre nch s urgt.'on in

IU f('

TWE ~ TIES

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JAN. -fEB. 19 75

OZU : H IS LI FE AND FIL MS Butte, Mo ntana , the co mbinatio n o f a bad knee a nd a touring productio n o f 711t' BY DONALD RI C HIE Unive rsit y o f Ca lifo rnia Press. Be rke ley, Clall smml co nspired to initiate Rnoui Wal sh Los Angeles, London , 1974; hard cove r into the "ctin g profess io n . Wa lsh 's attempts to land a job acti ng on the New 51 4 .50; 275 pages, illu s tr ations , York stage, his accep ta nce o f movie work bibl iog rap hy, ind ex. RE VIEWED BY JO AN MELLEN in a day whe n res pectab lt:c' acto rs shunned Donald Ric h ie o n Cl' compared th e film acting, his ea rly acting cho res fo r fOfln of hi s w itt y com ic nove l, Compall Pat he at Un ion Hill in New je rsey, a nd hi s iOll s of I III' Holiday, to t h n t o f an Ozu fortuito us a lig nment w ith Biograph a nd m ovie. low he has g ive n u s a t last his D .W. G riffith , all manage to illustrat e the full - lengt h s tu d y o f Ozu . It is n fa scina thalcyo n days when film began to e m e rge in g purs uit of the directo r, pe rmittin g u s as a force to be recko ned w it h , when luck to wit ness two arti sts CIt work and the and accident co uld pa rln)' a man into a m e rging of kin d re d se ns ibiliti e s, Ri chie 's sixty- yea r career. and that of his natural s ubj ect. O z u. Eac h The first ha lf o fWalsh's a uto biog ra phy is views the world thro u gh th e ir o n ies o f th e most e nterta ining, the seq ue nce re111OllOlloawnre, thnt om nipre se nt se n se o f counting the directo r' s encount er a nd th e una lt e rab ilit y a nd sweet tran s ien ce journey w ith Pan cho Villa be ing co ns id ero f things ns th ey are . It is th e m ood tha t ably more than that. The last part o f the add s c ha rac ter is ti c tran sce ndance and book frequentl y lapses into the reatation peace to O z u's work , as in th e bitte r upo f " famous peop le I have known" that lift at th e e nd o f TOKYO STORY o r the lim mars so many autobiographies. Walsh al so it ed h a rm o n y e nj oyed by th e marri e d co upl e at t he end of THE FLA VO R OFGREEN telescopes events a nd time to the po int that TEA OVER RI CE and by the m idd le-aged the reader w ho is unfamilia r with Walsh's actor and actress of FLOAT ING wEEDS. filmog ra phy a nd it s chro no logy, w ill get MO ll O flO aware is th e le n s thr o u g h the impressio n that OBJECTIVE BURMA which Ric/lie views Oz u , and so the ex(1945) was film ed in 1941 . and SALTY pe rie n ce o f rea din g his book beco m es O' ROURKE, (also 1945) in the late Fo rties. a na logo us to watching a n O z u film . The T hese re se rvations a re ad mitt edl y mino r, in the lig ht of the ab und ant love of s truct u re o f Richie's book parallels that of an OZ l! film . We fo ll ow OZ l! thro ug h life and work tha t filters throug h every th e co n s tru c ti o n o f h is scripts , which , page o f Each Mml ill His Time . I don' t belilc kin g an y " pl o t" as we kn ow it , arc li eve there ca n be any d o ubt, followi ng th e co mpo se d of what Ric hi e c hri s te n s Museum o f Mod ern Art's s uperb re tros"e m ot io nal m od ule s." Beg innin g fr o m pective of Walsh 's Cil reeer earlie r this year, so m e p e d es tria n s ituati o n , and before that Rao ul Wals h belongs in the Pa ntheon writing an y dialog ue, Oz u wo ul d creat e of the A me rican Cin ema. The d e pth o f a ca rd for each sce ne. Richie vis ua lizes vis io n a nd the co ntinua l ex plorat ion and Ozu a nd hi s ubiquito u s sc ri ptw riter and re fin emen t of perso nal the mes spa n five fri e nd Kogo Noda "sea ted a t th e bi g table d ecad es. To those critics who believe in th e ir Ta te s hin a vill a , m ovin g abo ut , a s Walsh 's ca reer culminates in the th ree obt ho ug h in some ex tend ed game of do us e ss ive masterpiece s o f t he la te ble so litaire, lar ge and mu c h scribb led - o n and ske tc hed-ove r manila Fo rties - r u RsuE D, CO LORADO TER RITORY, ca rd s. " Th e rea der becomes a secret a nd WHITE HEA T- I e ntreat tha t they o bse r ve r, a voye u r a s Oz u and oda , re-view the Fifties films to which the term lo ng into the nig ht , wri te nnd drink , with "culmina tion" more a ppropria te ly a pplies. Oz u pla yfull y judgi ng a sc ript's va lue by In the maj estic leis ure o f the e pic cattl e th e numbe r of emp ty w hi s ke y bott les drive in THE TAll MEN , in the my th ica l lin ed up the Ill o rn ing a ft er. co nfronta tion between cavalry and Indians " Sc rip t" is fo ll owed by "S hootin g ." in A DISTANT TRUMPET, in the helpless ness We join Oz u o n the se t a s Ri chi e m ed iates and incom pre he nsibil ity of I1lnll aga inst th e wo rld of Oz u 's film s w ith that of the God 's nat ure as well as m an's in nl E j a pan ese c ultur e fr o m w h ich th ey NAKED AND THE DEAD , a nd consumma tely, e merg e : " H e u ses roo m s as a pr oin the resig natio n and ang uish o f Clark sce nium ... a nd s ince hi s fi xed ca mera Gable 's Ha m ish Bond in BAND OF ANGELS, po s iti o n precl ud e d hi s fo ll ow ing hi s we a re allowed the highes t privilege o f the c ha rac te rs about. their e ntran ces and a rtis tic ex perie nce, a glimpse into the infi exit s are ofte n a s th ea tri ca l-loo k in g ns nit e. they are in rea i japa nese life." "S hoo tin g" a lso co nt a i nsa fin e sec ti o n on O z u's s hot co mpos iti o n a nd a very ger main e THE SILENT PICTURE d isc uss io n o f "e nryo" o r rese rve. It reTho <Illy """"'IMf1lrly drmd "'i'eIy 10 fe rs to a formal re lation s hip be t wee n .. '" 4 MtO'J <I .. sieN lI'dion pidun people, closest to o ur no tion o f "standin g o n ce re mon y," and it de fin es the ty pSU O,er yur (USA) U.O' per Jm (Omsus)

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ical attitud e o f Ozu's cha r.lcters to wa rd eac h o ther. "E nryo," Ri chi e s u gges ts, permeate s th e world of the Oz u film , co n ce rn e d as it is wit h the li ves o f Japa nese who know eac h o ther and, in fac t, w h o u s ua ll y belo n g to the sa me fa mily. La st, a nd least important to O z u, Richie s hows us the prin cipl es of Ozu's "Ed iting . " Oz u 's work took precede nce ove r a ll p e rso nal clements in hi s life. Accordingly, only a fter reconst ru ctin g the ty pica l Ozu film d ocs Rich ie cons id e r t h e man in a " Biograp hi ca l Film ography." Here we are offe red a po rtrait o f Ozu as th e s pOiled Marna's boy, a ma n who neve r married an d w ho w illfull y reno un ced a hig he r edu ca ti o n by spe ndin g the da y of hi s Middle Sc hoo l en tran cc

exa minatio ns at the rnovie s, viewi ng THE PRISONER OF ZEN DA. Su rprisin g ly, he was a hea vy drinker fro m his yo uth . The man c m e rges as a mo st unl ike ly crea to r of th ose film s cha racter ize d by calm and s taid formal ity which find pr ofo und calm in acce pting thin gs a s they are and life as a d im ini s hed thin g. Richie expl o res the man in term s of wha t he d id , as Ozu presen ted hi s chara cters, w ith out psychologisms . Thi s too is fittin g, for t he heavy drinke r obsessed with his mo th e r was a lso a clever and subtle reade r o f the po liti cal ex ige ncies o f hi s time. Ri chi e d ea ls a mpl y w ith th e iss ue o f m o ra lit y in Oz u 's work . Ra is in g th e qu es ti on of the ex te nt to w hi ch Oz u affirm s tradit io nal va lu es, he pers uades li S to ,v ithh o ld easy judgment by co nside r-

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ing carefull y Oz u's determinatio n o f tha t e lus ive co ncep t, " traditi on ." My se n se of Ozu is that his cha rac te rs are no t allowed nearly so w id!.:' a ran ge o f choice as Ri chie s ugges ts. But , like Ozu, Ri chie ba lances hi s jud g ment s with a feeling for the evan!.:'SCl.' ll ce of hi s s ub ject. it s re fu sa l to be reduced to cd tl.'go ries. O ne of th e bea utif til aspects o f I~ i c hi l" s criti cism is tha t w hil e, as a pene tra tin g cr iti c, h e ex ha u s ts h is s ubj ec t me ti cul ou sly, he, unlike:., ma ny, prod uces t he feeling of leavin g it ope n, providin g s pan.' fo r the reade r's ow n ex perien ce of Oz u . If Ozu e mb o di es th e purpor ted " real Japa n ese fla vo r," Ri c hi e ha s uniqu e ly ca ptured the ta s te o f OZl! in it ve ry lovel y book . •;~

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s hoot accurate ly with o nl y hi s ca rs to guide him . The final b loody end o f the film (so mewhat confus ing in the bad ly cut ilnd sp li ced pr int I S<1\\,) is s upposed to be grandly tra g iC, I s uspect, but I co uld no t help seein g it as a Turkis h var iation o n the kind o f ba ld e rda sh I kn ew and loved in old-fas hioned Ame ric<1n film s like r..-I OON OVER BUR1Io-IA, in which a b lind Alber t Basserman manages to kill a cobra with a bu ll w hip. Clin cy 's int e ntion s are plil inl y more se ri o us than that. w hi ch Illilkcs th e weak llt.'ssC!:> o f A<..:I th e more d isa ppoi nting. Go re n was sorry that Ill.' had been unable to gel it print of C un ey's must recent fi lm fo r me to see because in UMUT SUZLAR (T H OSE WITHO UT H O PE) , h e expla in ed, the di rec to r wa s moving into a new , poetic phase, one that is appa rentl y eve n m o re ev id e nt in the unfini s h ed film . POt'fic is an adject ive that sca res m e eve n w he n it is used to di sc uss poetry, and I had a ne rvous s us picion that I kn ew what Gore n m ea nt. In U M UT, G iin ey's ca mera h ad indica ted a fondness fo r fa ces, a will in gn ess to linge r in s il e nces over th e charac ters in co nle m-

pl ati o n . By AC I , th a t d evice had beg un 10 go so ur - too man y "sig nific<1nt " poses, h eld too lo ng with ins inuatin g mu s ic und er. Did he, I as ked Gore n, tnt..'an that Guney was using more closeups w itho ut dial og ue, more emph asis o n th e s low, s upposedl y mean in gful sh ot. The ans''o'e r was yes. That was presum ably what my Istanbu l acq uaintan ces- most o f the G un ey d e tr ac tors had see n UMUT SUZ L/\ R- l11ennt by excess ive art in ess, and know in g my own prejudices we ll , I s us pec t that Ctin ey's poet iC juur nl'y is one th at I wou ld not find co mfortable. S till , to be fair to my firs t info rmant in Ankara , UMUT a nd AC I a re pl ainly major film s in th e co ntext o f the Turkis h movie b us in ess. Beyo nd th a t. th ey - p a rti c ul a rl y UMUT - a re ce rtainl y goo d e n o u g h to co mmand an audi e n ce ou ts id e Turk ey. They are not mn s te rpi eces by a long s ho t - not at a ll in th e PAnt E R rA NC HALI league-but th ey are int e res tin gly co nceived, well perfo rm ed films which d is pla y n fine visua l se nse, a n almos t ta ctil e preocc upation with the intimac ies of Tu rkis h li fe and a conce rn , at o nce loca l and universa l. fo r man ill ex f remis. ·.~:

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TOM&JERRY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 75

A very's unit, for which he d id SO lnl' o f his bes t work , parti cul ilrl y on Butch Ihe Bull· dog. [n the two yl'MS that fo llowl'd 1946, Irv S Pl'llCC'S risl' wa s 11'-..'leo ric. H I:' combined dements o f craLY ca rtoon dra wing w ith ,1 nl'W ~ moothnl' s:;, of lin\;.' a nd anima tion Ihat 500n s u r p'l ~~l'd l'Vl'n Ke n MU Sl"S ac· wmpl is hed draughts rn " ns hip . It is hard to imag inl' 1948, thl.' pl.'.,k Yl.'ar of "rom and Jerry," wi thout S pl.' n c l> '~ Illa rvelou s tim· in g. MO US E CLEA:-'; I.-"': C, m y ccllldidc1te for the bl.'s t cartolln of thl' s l'ril.'s, is nol onlv il g rl',ll s howcasl' fo r Ihl' animtltors, b ut in · Il.' g rtl!t..'s s iory " n d g,lgS bl'clutifllll ~ ' . Tum is told no t 10 Illl'SS up thl' hOll!w by :VlalHm y rwo-S hoes or " WI..' w ill be minus one Cell ilrollnd here when [ gl.'l bilck." JI..' rry se izes the o pportunil y 10 gl.'l rid of Torn by p rocel'd ing to s p rl.'ad cigardle as hes on the carpd fmlll .111 a s htrilY, Tom (a n imalt..'d by S pl'n cl') does c1 m.1t'vdous run n in g s kid ,1Ild SW L'l'PS up the <1 Shl' " w ith <1 wh is k broom into cl du s tp,lI1. Jerry con tinu es tu s prl'cHi c'S h ('5, b"ngi n g on thL' a s htray's s pring door like ,1 base drum , rOIll is so Illtld Ihal hl' rl',l(hl..·.., fo r thl:.' neMest thing ht..' ca n find which bel big , ripe Tl.'chn iculo r tOlllatn , ,1I1d h u r[~ it ell jern"s hedd. Thl' rt~· s ulta nt s pbt i:-; s urel y the l~e:-;t tOtnclto s pl<'ll l'Vl.·r ,1Il im ,1It..'d (In' S p~nCL')' It hit ..; the wa ll , ::.preilds rl.'d tOl1l.l ln iu icl' w ay up Iht.' wa ll ina fl;.'\" frilnll..' ~, <l nd 111t.'n a secondMY splat folio\\':-. this by.1 fl'W fr.lInes . C rl'.lt work! l <1Il1 is agitall.'d w hl'n he SCl'S this (lnd run s to gt't a b ud,l.'I of SOc1p and w,lter. Jerry put ~ b lul' ink in Ihl' ::::olutiu n a nd Tom ru bs off Ih I:.' lom.,tn juicl' onl y 10 It.-ave blue ink in its pl.,ce. Th\.' s ub::::l.'quent " tClke " is perha ps Ih l.' third bl':-t I\'l' l'vcr Sl'e n, clfler Ihl' wolf's in ;-...:ORTl tWEs r 11 0U:-"':OED POLlCE ( Ed Lant.') and Pllrk\' Pig':-. in KITTY KORNERED ( Rod Scr ib n-er). To m sel.'S tl1L' b [ut' in k in th l' s lliutinn .,nd COVl' rs his eyes, not belil'ving it, Ihen ::IOi!'ly uncovers Ihl'lll . Pnp· Pop- p o p · l'o p , f{llir se l s of eyd1.llls pop o ul , followed by the .l n vil -likl' cra s h of Tom '..; icl\\' hitting Ihe g round ( Ir\' S p en ce), rhl.'n Tlllll run s in Whl'l) Jl'rry is Clbout to squirt inh. fmlll hi!> foul1t,l in pen o nto thl' curtains. I h' g r,ll-.:-- thl' pl'n e1\vay from Jerry and p[ay full y pulls ,11 thl' refi[ 1 kvL'r. S PLAT! A b ig s pot "PP\.',lr:-; on Ihl' ( url .1 in :-., Ilt w hi c h Tom dOL'S ,lnolhl.'r " telh.l', " ,1 b it morl' s u bdued Ihan the l.1s l

s peaks in a Negro dialect, "No , Ma'<'l111 , 1 <'l in ' l seen n o cat, n o pl" ce, no h ow, ;\)0000000 MA ' AM! " elS he g l.'lS o ut o f the coal and s huffles illon g. Only Tom 's head is black thou g h, the resl of his bod y is Ihe n o rma l g rey and white , 50 M<1mm y Two·S hot's is not fooled fo r to o long and s h ou t s " H ev you! Co me ba c k here! Tho mas! Co n; e hack hl.' rc!" a nd bl'g ins to p ick up pieces o f co.,l and h eave thern at TOIll. (This funny sL·quencl;.' was ilnimakd b y Ril l' Pa tll:.'rso n , w ho had a k nack fOf ilnima tin g lllu s h-mouth dialog ue and ., peculia rl y s pikey way of handling <1ction.) The las l sce ne in /I.-l OUSE ClfA ;..! I:-"':C is Tom running away from the COil I. Firs t hl'ducks o ne chunk, then g racdully " lrv S pences" hi s bod y away from thl' next o n e, then ducks a third , does a "Nya ·Nl'a· l\Jyc1" w ith his fin gers in his ears, th e n runs toward the h orizon , followed by a lump of cOill grilce· full y arcing towa rd him , When he and the coal are both dots in th e dis til n ce, the coal hits him o n the heild , he bo u ncl.'s oncl;.' " rid the n fall s fl<1t on the g round , fo llowed by a n iris o ut o n hi s pros trilt e form, I hil vc tried to d escribe w h ill I con s ider 10 be the best "To rl'1 il nd Jerri' ci1l'toon s . The sa me o bse rvat io ns C<'ln be applied to il l· mos l any of the '1948·1954 films; Ihl' sa ll1L' an imCltors worked o n tht'm . Irv S peIK l', a " wild g raceful dan ce "; Ray P<1lkrso n , " mu s h - m o ulhl'd s pike s"; Ken Mu se , sc holarl y, mil s te rful C harilcl er ma n , a nd Ed Barge, jus t so lid, The yeM 1948 <1l so y ielded s u ch titles as KITTY FOI LED , HIE

TRU CE HURTS, PROFESSO R TOM , and OLD ROCK!.\! ' CHAIR '1011.1 , s urely o n e o f th e bes t s tories, in which Tom <'lnd Jerry leam up agtl in s t Ih e s u per·s peed ca t Lig htnin ', whom Mc1mm y Two·S hoes hired to take Tom 's pla ce. In il hilil rio us sce ne a nimated by Irv S pe n ce, Tom s hoo ts iln iron into the s leeping Lig htn in 's o pen mo uth , il n d then ga in s complele contro l over h im w ith a mag net. Some o the r s uperio r titles in this series arl.' HEAVENLY ['U SSr CAT AN D THE 1\'I ERM OUSE, CUE IJ ,\LL CAT, SLEE PY-T IME lUM , NIT· Wlrry Kl'rrY , TRIPLET TROUBLE, MOUSE FOR SALE, ilnd DESIGNS ON JERRY , in w h ic h Je r r y bl'COIl1t.' S in vo lv ed with <1 s tick· fi g ure ca l and mo use. Some p e ople crit icize the " Tom and Jl.'rr y" cartoons for their "sen sele ss viol l'nct.'" b ut th e bes t " Tom and Je rrys" ha ve "vio lence w ilh sl:.' nse ," fo r neve r has animated sla ps tick been carrll'd oul w ith more pep, more feelin g and w ith better move me nt Ihiln these venerabll:.' bas tion s o f good fun . Co mpare thl'l1l w ith th e " H e fman and K<'ltnip " serie s d o ne b y Pi1ramOllllt in th e late Forl ies a nd Fift ies <'lnd il beco mes apparent Ih<'ll there are no mu sical sco res like Scott Brad ley'S, just repl.'liti vl.' th e mes , ra t her mundan e s to r y ideas in w h ic h Yo tl h a rdly eve r fe e l iln y sy mpath y for Katnip, ellld a Ihoroug hl y d es te s table hero , H erman the Mou sc. Abo ut the o nl y good t hin g one can say aboul Ilk'Sl' cartoo ns is that they have oc· ca siol1<'llly creat ive " lakes" by Stich peo ple "s John C enitelli a or Dave Tl'ndlar. ••~ :

onL' .

Mamllw TWIl -S hoe s is jus t abo ul 10 open Iht.' fron t door w h e n it b ursts Opl:.'l1 and s he is cMrit..'d hl'el d over heels by the aVa l<'l Il Chl' of LIl,'1 wh ich eng ulfs her. S he pops out of thl' ( Ila t Lov ered with du s t , s putlerin g, " Boy w hl'n I g L'l ho ld of that low-down, good for nOlhin ' , . ," Then rom 's hl.'ad pops o ul of thl' cOcll and Sh l' :-',lyS " Hey, yo u! Has you "'l.·l.·n d no-good c.ll Mo und he re?" Tom 's Iwad is all black w ith ((M[, and Mamm y- Two·S hoes mis· takt.':-; him for a blclck 111.1n . Tom Ihen 88

JAN. -FEB. 19 75

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CORRECTIONS : Roger Greenspun on LETTER FROM AN U NKNOWN WOMAN

fro m paga n ru ins, see med to o ffe r her a compa n io n s hi p in e nd ura nce and th e musty ince nse to be a comfXl und of longunanswered prayers. There was no gentler no r less cons istent heretic than Isabel; the firme st o f wo rs hi p pe rs, gaz ing at da rk altar-p ictu res or clus tered ccmdl es, could not ha ve felt more intimately the suggestive ness of these objects nor have bee n mo re liable at s uch mo ment s to a sp iritua l vis itatio n. Pansy, as we know, was a lmost a lway s he r co mpan io n, a n d o f lat e th e C o u nt ess Ge m in i, ba lan cin g a p in k para sol, had len t brillian cy to th eir equi page; but she still occaSionall y fou nd herself alo ne when it suited her mood and where it s uit ed the place. On s uch occasions she had several reso rts; the mos t accessible o f w h ich pe rh ap s was a se a t o n th e lo w

The grelTllin s we re \.vo rki ng overtim e o n o ur las t iss ue . T he cha rt adapted fro III Ray mond Ourgnat' s "The Famil y Tree o f th e Film Noir" h il d Iwo egregious errors; PORTRA ITS AN D DOUBLES, listed as a film title in th e MI DD LE -C LASS M U RD ER sectio n, sho uld h.w(' been th e till co f a different sectio n, and th e tit lt...os benea th it

boxed accordin g ly; and the s ub head ing " Lo ver Kill s Belove r," w ith the two film s be nea th it, sho u ld no t be there at aiL We're

so rry abo ul t hose m is takes; we ' re al so more than a littl e e mbarrassed. In the proo fread ing and I<lyo ll! o f Roger G rccl1 s pu l1 ' S il r l icle on L En ' ER FROi\'1 AN

there were m orc th an the usual number o f Iy pogr<t phi cal erro rs,

U N KNO W N W OMAN

a co upl e of the pho to captions were misInbcled, a nd the o rder o f severa l pa ragra p hs wa s ho pe less ly s cra m bled . S taff cha n ge s (we we re be twee n a ss is ta n t editors at the timl') and an unus ually busy New Yo r k Film Fe s tival s ched u le had someth ing to d o with the ad dled stat e o f the edi tor's mind; but apolog it.'S are more in ord er tha n excuses. We thi nk it on ly fair to Mr. G reenspun and to our read ers that the a rticl e be rep rint ed , as it is below, with cor rectio ns. - Ri chard Corli ss Readers of Henry Ja mes' Por /m it Uf{/ L{/dy mily recall il passage late in th e novel, jus t aft er Isa bel Archer d iscovers the d epth s of her h usba nd 's com plicity wit h the malignant Mad ame Me rle, d iscove rs indeed th at her ow n marriage wa s a calculated prod uct of thil t com plici ty. The parag raph is lo ng, but it is especia lly bea u tifu l: "Isabel took a drive alo ne that afternoo n; she wis hed to be fnr ,HV<ty und er the sky, where s he co uld dt.'Sc~ n d fro m her carriage <ln d tread u pon th e daisies. She had long before this take n o ld R OJ11~ int o her confide nce, fo r in a world of ru ins the ruin o f her happine ss s ee med a less unn atu ra l c.lt tl s tro ph e . S he res tl' d he r wea riness upon th ings th at h ad crumb led fo r ce nturi es ,m d ye t s till were u pright; she d ro pped her secret sa dnt.'ss into the s ilence of lonely p lacC'S, w here it s vcry mod t.' rn q uality detnched itself and grew objcct ive, so that as s he sat in a sun-war med <m g le on a winter's dilY, or stood in a mo uldy church to whi ch no o ne ca me, she co uld al most smile at it and thi nk of its s mallness. Sma ll it was, in th e la rge Ro mil n reco rd , and her ha u n ting se n se o f the co ntinuit y of th L' human lot eaSily ca rried her from th e less to the g reater. S he had become dee pl y, ten d erl y acq uainted w ith Ro me; it int erfused a nd mod erated he r pass io n . But she had g rown to think o f it chiefl y as th e place where people had suffered. This was "v hilt ca me to her in the starved chu rches, w he re the marb le co lu mn s, tran s ferred

VI

j ~ ~

6 0

l:

:( Joan Fontai ne and Louis Jourdan in Max O phu ls' l En[ R FR OM AN U NKNO W N WOM AN .

parapet which ed ges th e wid e gra ssy spiKe be fo re th e hig h, cold fro nt o f Sain t Jo h n La te ran , wh e n ce yo u loo k acro s s t h e Ca mpagna at the far-trai lin g o utli ne o f th e Alban Mo un t and at the mig hty plain , between, which is stil l so fu ll o f all that ha s passed from it. After the d eparture o f her co us in and hi s co m pa nio n s sh e roamed mo re than uSlml; she ca rried her so mber s piri t from o ne familia r shrine to the o ther. Even w hen Pa nsy and th e Co untess were with he r she felt the touch of a va nis hed wo rld. The carriage, lea ving the \vall s of Rome beh ind , rolled thro ug h narrow lanes where the wild ho neys uckle had beg u n to tangle itself in the hedges, or wait ed for her

in quiet pla ces wh ere th e fie ld s lay nea r, whil e she strolled furt he r and fu rther over the flowe r-freckled turf, or Sel t on the sto ne that had once had a use and gazed thro ugh the vei l of he r pe rson a l sa d ness at th e s pl e n d id sa d ness o f th e sce ne - a t th e de nse, war m ligh t, the far grada tio ns and soft co n fus ions of colo ur, the motio nl ess s he ph erd s in lone ly a tt itud es, the hill s w here the cloud-s had o ws hact th e lig h tness of a blush." ! The evoca tion of land sca pe painting toward whi ch the passage build s is hardly gfil tu ito us, for ja nH.:'.S is at pa in s to p lacL' hi s hero in e- gaz in g "th ro ugh the veil of her perso nal sad ness at the sp lendid Sadl1l'SS of th e sce ne"- in essen tia l re lati on to a la nd scape und e rstood as a rt, to equate Isabd 's feelings with what s he sees, to objecti fy, in deed to p icto ria lize he r s itu atio n a s at o nce th e raw material for and th e ach ievemen t o f artistic fo rm . Without w ill in g it, b ut by li ving thro ug h th e m ise ry he has ca u sed he r, Isabel has o ut -d istanced her aes thete hu sba nd , G il bert Os mond , th e co nno isse ur o f coins, to beco me a bett er work o f art than any he co uld imagine. The most adm irable o f those high -sp irited America n g irls who manages to recrea te the s p irit o f Euro pe mainl y by he r un s uspected capacit y fo r su fferi ng, Is.-l bd beg ins to fit in to the brilliant " po rtrait" tha t is the fulfillme nt o f james' g reat novel. I ilm rem ind ed of Isa be l Archer- he r look if no t her situat io n- by the moment in L ElTE R FRO M A N U N KN O W N W O :-'-I A N when th e heroine, Lisa, as a full y grown yo ung woman, first confro n ts the pia nis t Stefan Brand on the s treet o uts ide h is apartm ent. It is winter. Lisa, wearin g black, stand s in the d istance. And Stefan , notici ng for the firs t time a new and mystcrio us bea uty to add to h is s tring o f conq uests, beg ins hi s li ne o f easy chalt er. The even ing co nti n ues th ro ug h d inner, tht.' marvelo us visit to an a lmo s t d e se rt ed a mu se me n t park (th e fil m's mos t famo us set p iece), and fi nally th e sedu cti o n o f Li sa th a t res ult s in the bdby who wil l ca use the first g reat change in her tife. But it is no t the even t tha t co ncerns me so much as the fig ure o f Lisa, in black, alone at the end o f a darke ned s treet, e merg in g fo r the first ti me no t as a selfeffacing love-sick child but as a co mpelling ima ge, so me thin g to ma ke a ma n turn nro und and take noti ce. Li ke Isabel Archer, s he ha s bee n in a s pecia l se nse "o bj ecti fied. And ilS with Isabe l, th e q uality of Lisa as object d erives fro m the in tensity of an in ward. s tate o f being. In Isabel's C,15 (> , suffe ring; in Lisa 's casc, devotio n. Stan d ing in bl<lck agai nst the d arkn ess, she ha s bl'co me th e ty pe or fig u re o f th e wo man who loves and all but hopelessly wa it s for her love's return . Fo r O phuls, as for Ja mes, th is trans for mation of the poi nt-of- view character in to a character to be vie\-ved represen ts a major dramatic co up. And for Ophuls, it is one of /I

I . Henry James, TIlt路 Portrait ofa lJldy, cd. Leon Edet. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Compa ny, 1956, pp. 423-424.

FILM CO MME T

89


GREENS PUN CONTINUED

the ways in which Lisa's s to ry differs from the stories of her gra nd er sisters in other mov ies, Mad a me de and Lola Mo nt es. They 100 ma nage a kind of ca nonization, beco ming martyrs to their v.layward passions. But o n their way to apoth eosis they d o no t quite achieve the recogn itio n in speci fica lly h u man te nns that gra nts Lisa a curio us equality with the man she so d ogged ly adores, and for which she seems to have been strivi ng fro m birth (that seco nd birth s he s peaks o f, the birt h of her con sciousness) until w ish ed - for dea th . T he impul se shows itself everywhere, in th e

rec kl ess ness w ith w h ic h s he ruin s eac h cha net.' a t conve ntio nal happin ess, in the woman of mys tery she makes of herself in purs uin g he r d es ire ("S he is not like the o the rs," exclai ms the propr ie tress of the s hop w here Li sa mod els to a woul dbe admi re r, " I do n ' t un de rs tand tha i girl"), in the ve ry picture she c rea tes as a tee nager with her nose pressed aga in st a g lass d oo r she ho ld s o pen so tha t Stefa n Bra nd may pass thro ug h . In so me n'leas ure it is how Lisa looksthe love- lig h t in Joa n Fonta ine's eyesth a t is importa n t , and that so co n s is te ntl y o utrages m o d e rn au di e n ces un acc u s to m e d to th e ex po s it ion o f a romanti c ideal. Th e a u d ie n ces have it w rong. They are reall y see ing a Ro mantic id eal- capital " R"-a nd per haps the m os t s tunnin g ex press io n the mo v ie s have g ive n u s of a form of a wa re ness that in o ur litera ture goes back a l leas t to the Keats o d es, w ith th e ir den se swee t savo rin g of a joy p e rp e tu a ll y o ut o f rea c h -a nd d y in g. " And th o ugh yo u didn ' t k now it, yo u were g ivin g me some o f th e ha ppies t moment s o f m y li fe ," w rites Lisa in he r le tte r, reca llin g he rse lf as a yo un g g irl, alo ne, in bed, in a dark roo m , li s te nin g to Stefa n pra cti ce hi s pi a no-a ll una wa re o f th e fat e s h e is fa shio nin g fo r him in her adoring mind . S he is vi rtua ll y a heroin e o f de privation . Be fo re the movie is ove r he r triumph will ha ve bee n to have made so me th ing, no t o nl y o f he r love, bu t a lso of her d e pri va tio n . It is s urely no o rig ina l observation to see so me o f th e la te Op hu ls mov ies as machines fo r the crea ti o ns o f hero ines. Madame d e, Lo la Mo nt es- from fool is hn ess or promisc u it y to a kin d o f sa inth oo d , ~ sa inthood direc tl y based upo n th e precond itio ns of fooli s hness o r pro m isc uit y. La c kin g e ith e r o f th ose m o re fbmb oya nt o ptions, the middl eclass Vienn ese Lisa resol ut e ly d oes with o ut. "S he is not like th e o the rs ... eve ry t've nin g as soo n as the s hutt e rs are closed , off s he goes s traight home." And Li sa adm it s tha t he r e mploye r was ri g ht : " I was not lik e th e ot h ers. Nobod y wa it e d for me. O ff I went - not home, but to Ihe o nl y pla ce that had ever see med home to me. Nig ht after ni g ht I returned to th e sa me 90

JAN. -FEB . 19 75

s po t. ... " T hi s is w h e re S tefa n firs t spea ks to her, " I' ve see n yo u before-a fe w ni g ht s ago- ri g ht th ere wa itin g- th e re," pi ck in g up the ve ry te rm s o f he r d evotio n , as if dete rmined pathos we re it s own rewa rd . Lisa has no t lacked for practi ce. As a c hild , before he r fat her die d , s he took imag ina ry journeys w ith him via travel fo ld e rs-a n anecd o te s h e te ll s Stefa n during a make-be lieve sce nic tra in trip in t h e win ter am u se ment p ark. Mi ch ae l Ke rbe l, in a va luab le essa y on LETTER FRO M AN UNKNOWN WOMAN ,l sees th e make-be lieve train trip asa me taph or for th e cha ra cte rs' " in ab ili ty to progress," a nd he sees th e am use me nt pa rk ge nerally as a d e mon s tra ti o n of Li sa's e ntra p me nt in h er ow n illus ions. S he pre fers the pa rk in the winte r beca u se the n yo u can ima g ine ho w it will be in th e s pring: " Beca use, if it is s prin g, the re's no thing to imagine, nothing to wish for. " On these points I think Kerbel is wro ng. Lisa is quite witho ut illusions, even as to the ma n she loves. The day her hea rt really goes o ut to S tefan is the day s he, as a yo ung girl, first hea rs hi m nub an a rpeggio in that glorio usly schmaltzy co ncerto theme that is, so far as we ca n tell , virtually the on ly piece he knows how to play. It is no t illusion tha t s nares Lisa, but imagination , the irreducible a ppeal of no t ha ving what yo u want. As fo r lack o f progress, w here is th ere to go? S te fan trave ls a lot , p icks up b us in ess me n's wive s in America, eve n climbs mo untains-a ft e r w h ich , he ad mit s, th e re is n o thin g to do but co me down . The film's two real train trips a re both disasters, o ne taking Lisa's lover a nd the oth er ta king he r son o ut of her life-in

up to he r last- posthumo us-a ppea ra nce in the movie.) And she sees him as a fig ure in a wa x muse um . " Would yo u pay a pe nn y to see me?" he asks. " If yo u'd cO l11e alive." Bo th ~re on d isplay: Lisa fo r what she was and never e ntirely ceases to be; Stefa n for w hat he mi gh t, if h e we re no t hi s ir red eema bl y di sso lute self, o therw ise become. In fact , as o pposed to fa ncy, bot h their positio ns are ex tra vaga nt an d wildl y unwise. They both waste their tim e. But the alternat ive 10 wasti ng time is sav ing it , whi ch is \vo rse. Li sa 's pe tit -bo urgeo is s kpfdt he r and he r aris toc ratic husba nd are conservers, both prud ent and in the ir own ways kind ly me n . It is no l by accident that they p~rform th e o nly rea l acts o f willful cruelty nccessary in ca rrying o ut the film 's ge neral f.'I te. The ti me-w,l s tcrs have the deepe r visio n, even about ti me. It is LiS<l who mo re than o nce has the in sight to un ders ta nd her life as " meas ured ."

â&#x20AC;˘

Time is o f co urse th e key to every thing: " \'\'e'l1 co me fo r yo u a t fi ve. That will give yo u th ree ho urs." " I don ' t min d bein g kill ed - b ut yo u know how I hat e to get up in the morn ing." " By the timc YO ll rea d this let te r, I may be dead . I hav\,.' so much to tell YO ll , and I have so littl e tim e. " I count fi ve ways o f figuring time just in the fi rst half-doze n important lines of the screenpla y. Before th e movie is over there will be several more- including the marve lo u s concei t o f a cl os in g time for the all -wo man o rches tra in the amuse men t pa rk cas ino. A typicall y Ophul sian geseffect, foreve r. Lack of progress, Ophuls' ture: even the mu sidans who play fo r the celebra ted circula rit y, is a slippe ry a ffair. d a nce of life grow tired a nd mu s t h ave th eir tim e off. To be o ut of time is to be Tuming in place may s uggest me re Hell , as in LA RON D E. O r it may promote a grea te r d ea d , like th e g hostl y n a rra to r, a voice wisdom, as in LElTER FR O~1 A N UNKNOWN from the past , \", ho addresses the d a rWOMAN, w he re Lisa 's profound est activity ken ed movie th ea ter at the beginning of LE PLA IS IR . O r like LiS<l , who, with he r lette r is in one sense to spin a round he rself a viable pla ce fo r lov ing. The waltzing, twirling, to Stefun , beguiles away his time, th ough s tay -a t-ho me lovers of MADAME DE a re his life ha ngs in the b.:l la nce, a nd if he is to s urely prefiguring Heaven, as are th e vaca save it he has o nl y th ree ho urs left. ti o nin g w h o res in th e las t part of L E Moll y Haske ll , in a brilliant s tu d y o f I'L A IS I R . J In Op hul s' cos mology, as in any MADAME DE, '" has identified " delirium and cos mology worth th e nelme, Heaven and de terminism" as " the t",,,in compone nts o f Hell a re mirror images of o ne .m o ther. the direc tor's s tyle." Let me apply this in But if the lInillll sioned Lisa is ha ppily s ig ht to LET TE R FR O M AN U N KNOWN WOMA N, no t tosty le exactl y, but toa matte r go in g now he re, s he is no t w it hout an itinerant a nd a ce rt a in atti tud e towa rd of con tent that is virtually a justification fo r travel: tfm e tr<l vel mostl y, as be fits the acstylo. In the fam o us opera- house sequ en ce, tive mind . S he cngelges Stefan in he r at titudes. " I see yo u as a littl e gi rl ," he tell s just before Lisa, after years of separatio n her. ( Li sa wit h a ca ndi ed ap p le in th e from him , aga in sees Stefa n , a gray ing and am use ment p<lrk; bu t s he neve r reall y rat he r tired S tefan, sh e meditat es: "The s lops presen ting herself,1s a little girl, right cou rse of o ur lives ca n be changed by s uch littl e things. 50 ma ny passing by, each in 2 . FILM CO MMENT, Vol . 7, no. 2 , Summer 1971 , pp. 60 and 61. te nt on his own proble ms. So man y faces 3. Like Euryd ice among the blessed spirits in th a t o ne mig ht cas ily have been los t. I Elysium, or Papageno feeling the first stinings of a know now, nothing happ ens by cha nce. desire for marital bliss-offered as musical lessons in a nd LETTE R. O ph uls' the ater¡going heroines tend to leave early ex.'K1ly the operas they should be hearing out to the end .

MADAME DE

4. In FavoriU M (1IIi~ : Critics¡ Choict, ed . Philip Nobile. New York, Macmillan, 1973, pp. 133-145. This is

the best single study of Ophuls 1 ha\l(' seen.


Every moment is meas ured , every step is counted ." Then she recognizes S tefan and : "Sudd e nly, in that o ne mo men t, eve ry thing was in d anger, eve ry thi ng I tho ught was sa fe. Somew hen:.' out there were your eyes, and I knew I co uldn ' t escape th em. It was like the fi rst time I saw yo u. Th e years between were melting away." It is not the luxuriance o f the se ntiment that engages me-th o ug h I rath er like it- so m uch as the po tential o f the " mo me nt" fo r bo th measure a nd da nger, for bo th tim e's inexo ra ble pass in g a nd the ins ta nt a neo us fl as h . The firs t pre pares fo r th e second , and the seco nd makes bea rable the firs t. The dangerous rnome nts are the only escape from tim e tha t O phuls offe rs, a nd th ey arc finllil y the jus tificat io n for falling in love . All of LA RON D E isa n (inte ntionally ) un s uccess ful a tt em pt to s in1Ula te th e m - whi ch may be why each o f the pse udopass io nate love rs in LA RON DE find s h imself ca ught short by tim e. Stefan, th e tattered roman tic voyager o f L ETTER FROM A N UN KNO WN WO M AN, hies a lillie o f the same ga rne in his canned sed uctio n chatt er the n ight after the o pera: "Th is is just the hour for a little late s upper. O r is it too late? Well, it makes no difference. You ' re here, and as far as I' m concerned , all th e cl ocks in the wo rld have s topped ." And so o n, until

pet uaLly seeing her for the first time-she nevertheless comes to stand fo r something that moves him , whether he wills th e motion o r not. So it is no t un fair to say that if LE1TER FRO M A N UNK N OW N WOMA N creates the irnage o f its heroine, it also creates the will o f its hero. By Lisa's exa mple it brings the prodiga l classicis t S tefan, the mightha ve- been MOL.l rt , into a n acceptance o f Ro mantic (a nd romantic) res ponSibil it y. The duel her letter fo rces upon hi m is no more than jus t recompense for a lifetirne o f sedu cin g othe r men's wives. But it a lso grants him an u nprecedent ed rewa rd: it allows him to remember her. In the co urse of th e movie, Lisa en ters S tefa n's apartm en t three times. The firs t tim e, as a yo ung girl, she snea ks in a nd explores th e sacred preci ncts unti l she is s urprised by Stefan's mute serva nt, John . In th e co nt ex t of Max Ophuls' ci nt' ma the passage is ra ther specia l: ten tati ve, uncertain, the subj ec tive ca mera ad vancing as if un s u p po rted by th e cra nes an d d o llies - those d ated ins trum e nt s o f m o tionpictu re destiny that Ophuls helped make immortal. The ca mera is preoccu pied with the comforta ble clutter of the rnu sician's bachelor apartment. And th is ti me th e rich O phu ls ia n d eco r fun cti o n s as an impedim ent - ex press ive o f nothin g so

Lisa, in sheer disgust, run s away. He is o f cou rse wrong abo ut the cl ocks. One will toll its bell for him in a little whil e, as soon as he p uts d ow n th e lett cr he has almost finished rea din g. But in his talk he at least pa rodies Lisa's pass io nate reckless ness; and he knows the terminology, if no t th e tcrms, o f the role he is atte mpting to pl ay. Lisa, by her own admiss ion, li ves in a state o f s us pended an imatio n until Stefan in eac h o f hi s ra re appearances aWllkens her. Stefan lives a flamboya nt imitatio n of the same co ndition . His rheto ric and hcr reality have a lo t in Commo n. But while the talk is all for him , by him , and - th ro ugh her-abo ut him , the images are generally for he r. Durin g the long fl ashba ck tha t constitutes vir tuall y all but the begin ning a nd e nd of th e m ovie, it is Lisa's co nscio us ness, Lisa's express ive face, Lisa's fig ure tha t occ upy the scree n . And al thoug h th ere is never a hint that Stefa n penetrat es her mind - though li fting her veil is his characteris tic gestu re, he is per-

mu ch as the need to ge t th ro ug h it , to make contact as it were with the sp iri t o f the place. The spir it remai.ns all too ha rd to fin d, and Lisa is d iscovered th ro ug h her cl umsiness in holding onto things. She d oes not e nter the apartme n t aga in until her one nig h t of love-\ovhen she beco mes ano ther o f S te fan's co nq ues ts, a fact that th e cam era no tes fro m hig h lip th e buildi ng's s piral staircase, the pOSit io n LiS.l used to occu py when jealo usly wa tching the parad e o f women to the love r's lair. Not hing remarkab le happens this time. It is a seductio n o ffered and acce pted, II kiss, a blackout. Lisa's sex ual victo ry bdongs no t to Lisa but to the his tory o f o ne- night stand s. Surel y that is how it is mea nt to be. Fulfi ll ment is ty pica l. But d ep riva tio n is unique, perso nal, creative, th e cilrefull y nur tured sum o f a lifetime o f no t gettin g whll t was wa n ted . The on ly moment when th e film is contro lled by ne ithe r Lisa's visio n no r her image is the only mo ment v..,hcn potential and actual me rge. Lisa lives for it;

eve ntually she will begin to li ve so as to recreate it. In itself it is esse ntially nothing. Th e th ird tim e, Lisa e n te rs Stcfll n's a pa rtn1e nt as a wo man of the wo rld - a wo man in love who has made her wager li nd now m ust lose it. Stefan ins tead ra mbles on abo ut clocks a nd o ffers a cha mpagne s up per. But he has tro ubl e openin g th e bo Ult.., and pro lo ng ing th e co n versation; and in the oddes t way he seems d etermined to hold o nto Lisa, to keep her interest in the poo rl y managed l i'/t'-il-fi'/t', by the very mea ns most likely to lose her. In fact s he d oes d isilppear, but no t witho ut leaving a remin der, a bunch o f f1mvers s he had bought just for her vi sit . They sit th ere, th e token o f Lisil, on a little checkerboa rd table, together with a vase a nd a bu rning ca nd le. S tefan has mentioned that he wo rships a godd ess, not a go d , and now the goddess has es tablished an altar of so rts in her priest's ow n lodg ing . This is a ud acious, but a pposit e, conSidering the nature of his wo rship. Stefan doesn' t play the piano a nymore, but he still flirts (which has always been his H.'al metier a ny way), and the impulse of the final portio n of th e film is to raise his flirt ll tion into somethi ng different but the same- to change it from an obsess io n to il co mmitment co nscio us ly acce pted. Li s.:l 'S letter, a mora l tale if eve r there was one, pro vid es the impetu s to S te fan's reforma tio n. It has been worki ng all th ro ugh the movie, and in the fi nal lovin g recriminatio ns: " I had co me to tell yo u about us, to o ffer yo u my w ho le life. But you d idn ' t even remember me .... If onl y yo u co uld have recognized what was always yours, yo u co uld have fo u nd w hll t was never los t. " The logic o f that las t stat ement may have s lig htly pu zzled S tefan, as it does me. But its ima g inati ve fo rce is inesca pable, especially for a miln who thinks of hi s li fe as a sea rch- for so me un known ideal, o r just for anoth er woman. In the special environm ent of Ophuls' movie, I don 't think it mll kes much difference. Th e trea tment of Lisa's las t vis it to the apar tm e nt ra th er cas ullll y reve rses th ~ treatm ent o f the firs t. It is now Stefa n who seems o ut of place in his own ho me, at a loss fo r where to find the cham pagne g lasses, how to p rod uce the ice- in th e 1110st de mea ning way, hung up o n the sorts of n'a terial para ph ernalia that Lisa had o nce been so concerned to spiritualize. Lisa had been discovered by S tefan 's serva nt , John . S tefan is in (1 se nse fo und o ut by Lisa's serva nt s, us. But a S te fan serio us ly on th e sk ids is路 alread y a Stefan ripe for rege nera tion. And in the s uperhea ted mo ralit y that att end s th e end o f LEITE R FRO ",,'I AN UNKN OW N WO MA N, ripen ess is all. So Lisa depart s, leaving a modes t shri ne behind her. It is a noble d eparture, wo rt hy o f the end of Madam e d e, ..vho comes to rest, together w ith her well-traveled earrings, on d isplay in their own s mall chapel. But LEITER FR O M A N U N KN OW N W O M ,\ N di ffers sig nifica n tl y from M A DAM E DE, and FIL M COMME NT

91


GREEN SPUN CO NTI NUED

Lisa's s hrine is no l exactl v inviolat e. For o ne thing, Sh.'fan doesn' t rea ll y kno w il exists; he sees it as a little tablt." with ,1 candle, a Vil se , and S OIlll' flowcrs o n it. For another, Lisa is no t vet finis hed . S he has still to wandi..'r of( into Ihc nig ht , to contra ct her so n ' ~ filtal diseasc , and to write he r long, engilg ing , ilnd illso fat al leiter. In thc co mplt~ , c, chill1 ge that c nd ~ thc fil m, it seems reil:-.on .. blc ilt leas t to consider thill Lisa, by the cruciili process of occ upy ing his lilst few ho un. , d ft.'Cti ve] v kill s Stefiln . ~ f'eo plt." who ~., : e thl.." movi~ as overl ~' sc ntil1lentill wo uld do bettt." r to rea lizl! thelt it is almost a ~ much co ncernl..'d with tht." a fft'ctionale combat, as with the u nres trained affectiun:" of love. If Li ~,l ~ct s hers agilins t Stefiln , hI! gets his ow n in return . Ha ving ,l cceplt..'{.i the dud (hav ing had to il cccpt it lJeCClU <;t' Ill..' hil.., wc1s tl!d hi s gdawc1Y timt' read ing a lclt er), he has <lCceplt!d his roll' <lS seduccr. The clock chi nll' .... The ";1.'.Conds for the dud arri ve. S lef.1n w ,llk~ to thc littl e checkt..'r-board tab le, pull .. c1 flower fro m thl..' va~I.." mah.t.' . . it inlo <1 bo utonniefl..' , and goes u ut to Illl..'t..'i his doom . That flower, pres umably pMI o f th e .. acrl'd o ffpring Li ~Cl had left for herself, becomes a jiltll1ty d cro ration in a gentkman 's 1,1 PI..'1. The Un kno wn \o\'oman- that nw . . lt!rious lad v o f the g h<ld () \\' ~, th a t im,;),;e o f roma;lti c fidditv- ha . . been takL' n o n for w hat she a lso ;dW<l V~ h.l';; bCI..' n : th e Unkn o \\'n Woman, li kL' the Unkno\\'1l Soldier, one of so many, L'ndlt's5 Iy fo rgdtabk-, remarkable chien v for her .1no nvmit v. Actuali v, Sh.'fan docs 11is bi's l fo r he ;, ju:.! as s he h,15 ,llways d one for him , and his best is no t SUlkknl y to b('cOI11l' .1 repent<lnt wu uld -h.lVe-bee n cunnubi ,ll companion . Rath('r, it is to go out with ,l ~ much of his own s ty le cl S hecan mu ster. ~ l'Clr him in mind if no t in bod y, Li sa re.lll y b thl..' o n(' thin g he ha s becn searching fur .111 these YI..'ar" , Unknown but perfectly fa mili ar, unatlail1ablL' but al ways within reach, ~hl.." could never h,wt." ocl'n ('xdu sivd y his life. So .;; he bI.."C0111(,S so methin g lllllre <; pl' cial. S hl:' be comt.'s hi s dl'ath . o f th l:' O phul ~ (,lIlo n, LETTER FROM A~ u:.; . . " O W, W O M A~ h< 15 ,1 happy end ing : everybody of ,lil Y importance dies. In s uch less ha ppy mo viL's ilS L,\ RO ~ I) E and LO LA "'-I ONTES t.'vl'r\'bod v hil S to go on living. The cursc t hat I hre,llt..:n<.; all the P,lSsionate pt.'o plein Ophuls i.:-. repetition- the d.uk obvt.'r';;;l' to the s us taining dance Ihat i,; ; th('ir glory. The old man who cannot bring him sl'if to .;top d ,lI1cing in th e firs t episod e of LE I'L A I<" IU illus trate s thi s most poignantly; but 1.01.1 ~1ontcs grown sick from reliving her P,lS t. o r <ln y o f the couples caught in th e cl',lsdl..'sS bo rin g sexual ex chan g e of L ,\ RO'XIJ E , w ill ai go do. For Ophuls, pa ss in g tillll'- ,l ge- offers neither pence nor forgetfulness, but rather In

Il'nlh

5. Whether Stefan survives the duel, which takes place after the movie ends, seems to me about as pertinent a question as how many children had Lady Macboth .

92

JAN.-FEB . 19 75

a continu ation that eventually beco mes an acc umul <lti o n o f mem o ry and de s ire. There is no ev,1d ing this destin y. But there is a way o f arrest ing it. of ho lding it pe rpetuall y in abeYill1ct.'-by bt...>('orning not its victim , but its cXillllple. It takes only iI ce rtain reckl e,;;sl1 ess, which the loving but unfo rtunatel y prag matic Lola Montes lacks, but which the protagonists in LETTER A Wl\! i\ ~ U~ K N OW N WOM AN have in abund ance. It takes a willing ness not to escape. Stefan and Lisa even sharI..' a cl..'ri ain gallows st:'nSe o f humo r- which makes this in c1 se rio us way the witties t of Ophub' 1,111..' movies, and informs the romanti c : :o turv with an in tellectual toughness and reso;lance that is no t quit e what you 'd expect ilt the end -and as the end-of s uch unrlXluited devotion. Everyo ne admires, or at It.'ast res pects, the spectaculnr vis ual program s th.lt satu rat e Ih e Ophul s film s. In thi s re 5p(' c.t,

ent a classic moment for Ophuls, before the wo rl d held close in memory lx.--g ins to cra ck, and the ornate flats of the setti ng open tip to revenl the intric<tte sOlll1d-s t<tge milch inery that in the later film s justifies the Romantic fiction . This tim e, no jus tific.ltion is necded. The Romantic fiction is s uffused with mea ning as perfectly achieved as in thl..' dl'Scriptive P,l ss<t ge from Henry Jam es with wh ich I began. For I1ll' Ophuls is no t a brilliant d eco rator, but ,1 mil stcr fabulis t. I lovl' his s tories, o r the s to ries he chooses to te ll - jus t as I lovl..' his perfo rme rs, ilnd his seltings, and the g r,lcious ness o f the backg round Illus ic, the theme s <tnd w<t lt zes, upon whi ch h e float s hi s m o vie s. And Ophuls returns that love with e1 vis ion of a cruel and ,ll\\1a ys dan gerous, but absolutely cohesive, universe.: ;".

t ET TE R FR O M A N U NK N OW N W O M A ;\.' I S

mo re mo des t, technically less ilud ,lCiulIS than an y o f the pos t-war European films. But I am inclined to think it not g reiltcr but a more satisfClctory who le. It s mos t go rgeou s e Hects-the cam·;o ra lookin g d o wn th e s pira l s t<1irc;) st:' lea din g to Stefan 's apartment, the ocaut ifll1 dissolves th ro ugh da rk ness fro m rail roa d station to hospit il l that mark the clim.1Clic changes in lisa's life-these feed ill1ll1ediatt'i v into a narrative prog reS Sion of l' x trao~dinilfY richness and efficiency. This Illa y rcprt's-

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WAR ER BROTHERS

their spectacu lar drop to ea rth is extended for nea rly a full-min ute's tim e, and the imwi th egg-yokes, m ig ht be int e rested in poss ible pro lo n g me nt makes the o ncefindi ng o ut that the most up-fron t articulafearsome falli ng seem rid iculo us, and fi tion of this ra ther bizarre egg- fetis h comes na1~y hila rious as Bugs a nd the d og app ly around in BOO BY- H ATC H ED (1944), an extheir brea ks, gr ind to a halt, and land un tremely well -paced accounting o f 1110 lherharmed. on the gro und below (Avery had love a nd <l d oleh il hal f-hatched d uckling, an egg-with-legs na med Robes pierre. u~ed t h l~ gag. be fore, with a fo rever-fall ing a ircra ft 111 h iS 1940 aero na u tics-s ur vey Tash lin 's y uk s abo ut sc refl m ing ~E I ~ I NG li ERO, a nd Bob C1a mpctt rep ea ted teeny-bo ppers in the Fi ft iC'S rock-and-roll It WIth Bugs Bunny and a g reml in crewing satire T H E G I R L CAN'T H EU ' IT a rt:' preora long-casca di ng pla ne in 1943's FAL LI NG dained by ea rlier rol lick in g cartoo n laughs H A RE). Eve n mo re "distantiated " is T H UGS at a wMtimC' e ra's fando m: in SWOONE R W ln l D I RTY M UGS (1939), a n ins ig ht ful CROONE R (1945), bobby-soxer he ns vaca te Ave ry trea ti se on movie gangs terd om at their egg- laying pos ts. ca use shu tdow n at Wa rn e rs, w he re the d og fa ced m o bs te r Flockheed Eggc ra ft , to fa int, nip Qut , o r Ed wa rd G. Ro b-'e ill -so me s uccessfu ll y me lt -la- pu d d les a t roos te r imita tions of holds up a phonebooth ("O pe rato r, Ihis is Frankie Sinatra, Bing Crosby. a s tickup!"), an d during a d iffe rent pho ne I~ his i ntro to th e Edi nb u r g h Fil m conversation, violates the sp lit -screen cfFes ti va l mo nograph o n Mr. Tashlin , Robe rt f~c t by .Ica n in g ove r th e d ivvy in g Mu nd y no tates t hat the d irecto r " uses dmgonal- line, and furtively leads h is s hi fty Brech tian devices of distan tiation" in h is fell~w-gangs ters to crack a sa fe, but tells feat ure comed ies, an d Ih is Tash lin does, the ir Ger man Ex pressio n isl s had ows to b ut as far as the se ma nti cs go, the stay behind , a nd in the end , gets turn ed in "Brechtian" biznis is so methi ng o f an ex o n S til tc's Ev id e n ce vo lu n teere d by a n pos t /ncto ascr ipti o n , d o nch a thi nk ? If eye-w itness in the th eatre's second- row (" I Tas hlin we re k n owi ngly e mul a tin g kn?w he d id it- I sat through th is picture anybody's "d evices o f d is ta n tiatio n," it h~ l ce"). ~v~ r Y.'s syn tactical jap ing o ften probably wo uld be Ihose of h is ea rlier co- d irectl y Intt mlda tes the viewer: in the cartoon-p ractitio ner Tex Ave ry, a n a rt is t T H UGS film , eve n in s p ec to r S h erlock w ho has demolished more fo rma l screen il(f=.H.A.) ~o mes expresses his dis p leas ure lusio ni sm, and has exposed more levels of Wit h the viewer' s tattle-ta iling, and th e inar l i f~ ce pe r fo ol o f fi lm th a n nlly ca rcerated Ed wa rd G. (being made to stay mov u~- I1l <l k e r, li ve- action o r cartoon, beafter schoo l a nd blackboa rd " I' ve bee n a fo r~' or ~ ir~ce. Fo r exa lnple, in th e stun ni ng n? ugh ty boy" o ne h undred tim es) sti cks ;u:' n a l fll1 lsh o f Avery's H ECK LI NG H A R E hiS tong ue o ut at th e audience jus t before (1941), Bugs Bun ny plu m mets down fro m a the iris-o ut. lofty pin nacle precipice and fa ll s screa ming Wh e~e Ha rman -Ising a nd Friz Freleng th ro ug h the sky, along wi th the doltis h were s ttck lers fo r tig ht so un d-a nd -image can ine nimrod w h o's bee n tra ilin g h im synchroniz.:,tio n, Tex Avery, like any o ther th ro ugho ut the fi lm, and their fall, at first, se lf- res pec tin g Mode rni s t , go t m o re is vertig ino usly terrifyin g, th eir scream- mil eage by ha ving his sound - and imagein gs ?nd th eir a rm -flailin gs reall y blood - tracks fall o u t o f proper alig nm ent , so that curd hng-bu t Tcx Ave ry's vis ual d ictio n is when the narrato r gus hes Longfellow in di s tinc tly mod e rni sti c, so e nfo rces o u r VI llA GE S M IT HY (1936), he has to bide his awa reness that we' re wa tching a cartoo n: tim e w hi le wa iti n g fo r th e ex pec ted "s prea din g chestnut tree" to th ud int o fra ~l e, and w hile wa itin g fo r the vill age smit hy to s tand. The fa iry-godmo th er in C IN D EREll,\ ME ETS A FElLA (1938) doesn't a rrive on sc hedu le e ith e r, s ince the o ld .. cron e was o ut galava n ting at som e bee r ~ jo in t the nig h t befo re, a nd o nce s h e is i bum's- ru shcd in at last. her maladrOitl y ~ percolated magic ",'and s parks Santa Claus ~ and reind eer instead o f a luxury pum pkin ~ coac h . Most o fte n, a t Wa rn e r Bro th e rs ~ A very wo rked \vith pre-exis tent tex ts, s~ ., @ that his za ny ca rtoon imagery a mid mod amI bo w dl en·ze trad itionally sim ~_l~~~::1~Frrz Freleng 5 ret-:ular supportmg- ernLZC " .. pering adap tat ions of C harl es Perrau lt (in l 1937's L IT TLE R E D WA L K I NG "10 0 0 ), o f ~ Mo th e r G oose (i n 1940's G A N DER AT , ~ M OT H ER GOOSE, so that we finally sec who ~ fntllal'd a ll those chil dre n who live in a ~ shoe), of Harriet Beecher Stowe (in 1937's ~ UNC LE TO M 'S BUNGA LO W, so that d urin g (QI the mellerdramatic fi nale, Topsy and Littl e Eva ca n ham it up on ice floats that were CONTINUED FROM PACE 16

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FILM COMME NT

93


LETTERS

ad d , to diss uade glibn ess in h is own comments on Chabrol in " Paris Journal. " C ha rl es Wolfe Univers ity o f Western Ontario

jOllathml Rose1lballm 's reply:

To th e edilor: Contrary to Jonathan Rosenbaum's introduction to hi s interview vvi th Jacques Rivette (F ILM COMMENT, Sept.-Oct. 1974), the first majorCnhiers critic to embark on a feature film was Claude ChabroL not Ri vette. Chabrol shot LE BEAU SERG E between December 1957 and February 1958, fin ished editing in May, and presen ted the film at the Lacarno festivallhat yea r. Ri vette began work on PAR IS NOUS

in the s ummer of 1958 w hil e Chabro l film ed hi s second feature, LES APPARTIENT

cous rNS. This information is confirmed in

Cla ire C1011Z0t'S Le CiIl t'lII a Francais rlepuis In Ilouvel/e vaglle and C uy Braucourt' 5 Cillema d'alljollrd 'Illi volume on Chabro!.

All this may seem trivial, but it reflects a general mi sunderstanding o f Chabrol's cr ucial role in the transit ion of the Cahiers critics from writers to filmmakers. Chabrol firs t realized what he and his colleagues had been asserting in print: a feature film co uld be made for very little money. He also made more tangible con tribution s, ra ising money for Rivette's first short (LE COUP DE BERGER , 1956), Eric Rohmer's first 35mm short (VERONH)UE ET SON CANCRE, 1958) and first feature (LE SIGNE DU LION , 1959), and Philippe de Broca's firs t feature (LES JEUX DE L' AMOUR , 1959.) C habrol also helped finance Ri vette' s PARIS NOUS APPARTIENT (1958-60) and whe n that project over-ran its budget gave Rivette th e leftover filmstock from Lt":' COllsillS. I appreciate Rosenba um 's s trategy in at te mpting to call attentio n to an important French filmmaker neglected by No rt h America n critics \vith th eir accus tomed bias towa rd Truffaut, Godard , and Resnais (a bias born of that triumvirate's rise to fam e at Ca nn es in 1959.) In deed Rose nbaUlTl couJd have poin ted ou t the vital rolc lE COU P DE BERGER p layed as the firs t of a series of shorts by the Cahiers gro up betwee n 1956-58, and made his po int with equal force . As it s tand s, ho weve r, his commen tary obscures the facts at the expense of a filmmaker whose conhibutions and achievements h,lVt:' received little seri ous atten tion in North America. Many of ChabroJ's fi lms have yet to receive commercial relea se here, and those that have often suffer glib a nd misinformed criticism. Rosenba um has done little, I might 94

JAN.-FEB. 1975

As far as da tes arc concerned, I stand corrected; my own hasty references- Roy Armes' Freuclt Cill ellla Sillce 1946, the "June 1957" setting o f PARIS NOUS APPARTIENT - may well have been less rel iable tha n Mr. Wolfe's. I apologize, 100, for a certain unexplained flippancy about Chabrol exp ressed in so me of my Paris Journal s, wh ich I'll try to acco unt for below. But if Mr. Wolfe will forg ive me, I don' t thi nk he's exactly diss uading g libness himself w he n he ass um es that Chabrol was a " major" (Wolfe) or "important" (Rosenba um) Call iers criti c. This is a common ass umption , but what s upports it? Next to, say, Bazin, Godard , Ri vette, Rohmer, Fieschi, al lier, Bellour or even MouJlel, his work for tha t magazine s trikes me as m inor indeed- unless one accepts h is littl e polemic on "Little Themes" or "Evoilltioll dll film policier" as major p ieces of criticism. The his torical role of Chabrol in the Nc'>v Wave is indisputable, and I'd be the la st to deny that thi s phenomenon wa s made possible by econo mic as well as aes thetic factors . But what has Mr. Wolfe to say abou t the wo rth o f Chabrol's film s, except to ass um e it? Admittedly, my less than kind re marks about DOCTEUR POPAUL and NADA are equally suspect; i. e., w hat had I to say about their worth, exce pt to deny it? Clearl y discu ssion must begin on a higher plane if it is to proceed anywhere at all. My biases on the matter are as follov,'s: (1) If I haven' t written more o ften about Chabro l's films, this isn't beca use I haven't been seeing them; I' m still ca tching up wit h LANDRU and LA ROUTE DE CO RINTHE, but I have gotten to !wen ty-hvo of his (by [n ), co unt) twenty- nine 1l10vies. J used to keep going in the hopes of findin g another work as povver ful and/o r as formall y in teresting as LES [JONNE$ FEMMES; now the most that I look for is the rough equivalent of a James M. Cain novel- a nd someti mes I don't get that much , either. ... I revelled in the baroque excesses of LA RUPTURE, and was disco ncerted only w hen I discovered that certain Eng lish and American critics were be ing very so lemn a nd serious about them. I also like the way Chabrol uses Jean Yanne's vu lgarity, and his us ual very effi cien t manner of telting a tale. I'm less sy mpath etic to the pomposity of TE N DAYS WONDER, with it s conceit of turning Welles' Arkadin in to Zeus, Hitchcock 's Antho ny Perkins into Christ and Ma rlene Jobert into Stephane A udran w hile sq uashin g all the

minor virtues to be found in the Ellery Queen novel. (2) Pe rhaps the best general case for or agains t recent Chabrol has been put by Robin Wood : "The savage derider of the bourgeoisie ha s become its elegaic poet. " Since I happen to find the French bourgeo isie loat hsome, I'm not temperamenta lly suited to app recia ting elega ic poems o n th e sub ject, altho ugh if I found C habrol even half as interesting as Ozu, I'd probably cha nge my m ind. One certain ly can't ca ll Chabrol un crit ical of th e bourgeoisie---JusTE AVAN T LA NU IT is s ubversive eno ugh to make out a case for murder- but I think it's fair to say that his sensibility is closer to that of M. Homais in Madame Bovary than it is to Fla ubert. (3) Certa i~ly, all of Chabrol's films sho uld be distributed in No rth America; to mv min d , even the worst of his movies is b~tter than the bes t of most of the ot her C1audes (Be rri , Lelouch, Sautet, etc.) But to s uggest that an y of the recent ones arc within hailing d ista nce of the la st films by Bresson a nd Rivette-w hich are unava ilable in North Ame rica, while NADA is not- is too reactionary a position for me to consider. I regard the former (LANCELOT DU LAC, OUT 1: SI'ECfRE, CEUNE ET JUUE VONT EN HATEA U) as landmarks in the history of cinema; if Mr. Wolfe thinks the same case can be made fo r DoCfEU R POPAUL or NADA or even BLOOD WEDDING , I'd like to hear his reasons. STATEMENT OF OW N ERS HIP, MANAGEME NT AND CIRCULAT ION (Act of August U , 1970: Sl'Ction 3685. Title 39. United States Code) l .titlt' Ofpublieatioll Film Commen t 2. da te of filill g O ctober 1, 1974 3. freq ll(7/cy of iss ue bimonthl y 4 . localion of brow" offiCI' of publicatioll 1865 Broa dwa y New Yo rk N Y 10023 5. loca tioll of the hcodql/Orters or gl'f1eral bIi S illt'~ offices of tile pI/MiS/las 1865 Broadway New York NY 10023 6. "milt'S am/ addresses of publisher, editor, mId busill tSS

malwgeT: publislla The Film Society of Lincoln Cen tt.'r 1865 Broadw.1Y New York NY 10023 eliitor Richard Corliss 1865 Broadway New York NY 10023 busint'ss mallager S uzanne Cha rit y 1865 Bnl.l dway New York

NY 10023 7. OWlie r The Film Society of Lincoln Center 1865 Broadway New York NY 10023 8. blOW"

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The author of the definiti ve History of Broadcasting in th e United Stat es has w ritt en the definit ive hi stor y of t lw nonii cti o n film - from the earl y experiment s o f the Lum iere hrot l1l'rs, thro ugh the works o f Flaherty and Ri ei enstahL to the lat est tre'nd s in direct cinema and cinpma verit e. "A spl end idl y succ i nc t d isti ll ati o n of the d0ve lopillent and achi eVl' men ts of the docu mentary." - Basil W right " Ex traord in aril y co ncise and informati ve." - George C. Sto ney, New York Uni versity

A HISTURY OFlHE NON-FICTION FI

ERIK BARNOUW \\" th 'I S7 ph otograph ... _SIO q-;

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

FILM COMME N T

95


WARNER BROTHERS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 93

g round o ut by an au tomatic ice-c ube making mac hin e), of Publ ic Doma in folk-

lore (in 1938's

J O H NNY

SMIT H

AND

that the ot henvise glwn beheading ca n be g reeted with a football cheer: "Give 'im the ax, the a"(!"), and of Jo hn S teinbeck . Appo,entiy, Ave,y found trcm e ndou s mirt h in Steinbeck's arc he type -trog lody te Lenn y, who mu st have seem ed to con1b in e the comic qual it ies o f both th e ultimate mental-defective a nd th e ultimate rube: in his wonderful spoof O F FO\ AND HQU ;""' D S (1941), th e <Xl fish, Le n ny- li ke bl(X)d ho u nd repeatedl y asks tu knu\v an elusive fox's w hereabouts from the s llloothta lkin g fox h i m self r OKER- H UNTAS, so

("Which wa y d id he go, G eorge, wh ich wa y did he go?"), and the bozo is repeatedly scn t off heedlessly ga lumphing over th e sa me picket-fence a nd ove r th e sa me precipit o us cliff-edge (inc identally, thi s fo x-a rath e r debona ir, "city s licker" -kind of fox, was a trickster w ho w as likt' e no ugh to Bugs Bunn y, w hom Avery had more or less perfected with A W ILD H ARE the yea r before, for Friz Freleng to late r do a fairish remake of OF FO\ AND HOU NDS asa Bugs Bunn y pictu re-retitled , appropriatel y, FOW 8Y PRO XY) . Avery's affect io n for Le nn y d idn ' t s top with hi s Warners period, and he we nt on to direct seve ral other Of Mia alld Mel/ spinoffs at MGM , s uch as the George and Junior Bear film s, and a lso LO N ESOME LENNY (1946), w he re he a ll ows a diffe rent Le nn y- like perso nality to crus h to d eat h his mos t obnoxiou s cha racter- th e lite ral snot-nose, Screw y Squ irre l (an d the muti lated Screwy ra ises a s ig n : "SA D END ING, ISN'T ITr'). " For the benefit o f the fig ht -fans in the aud ience," th e narra to r freeze-frames a car toonily blur-lined fist-fight in Avery's DANGE RO US DA N M C FOO (1939) , and to his quea sy e mbarra ss me nt , learns how often hi s comba tant s a rc hitting ea c h other below the belt, konking innocent bys tand ers. In Avery's pictorial calendar review H O LIDAY HIGHLIG H TS (1940), the two n10ppets exempl ify in g Valen tine 's Da y hu g each other with an alarming ly ad ult lewd ness, and the April Fool 's Da y calen dare ntry is nothing a t a ll (dt this, the narrator g igg les idiotica ll y unt il the th eat rcmanagement s lides a warn ing in: TAIN'T FUN NY, M'GEE!). Reversin g a ud ience expt'ctat ion s freque ntl y and s mash ing ly in th ese blackuut vis ual sa llies, Avery sometimes slips in g:ratis pin ches of a n ironic social o utl ook: in the Ju ne Grad uation Dayof H OLlD ,\y I-tIG HLlG HTS, an idealistic professor magisteria ll y presen ts a d iploma to his studen t, and Ihl:.' kid scrams off with it to .lake hi s ri g htful pla ce i n the nearest 'bread li ne-and he finds hi s s tarry-eyed Protessor a step ahead o f him in line. Most lamen tably, time is not permitti ng me to d iscuss Tex Avery's ot her news reel documentaries : the improbab le exo ticism 96

JAN. -FEB. t9 75

of ISLE OF PI NGO PONGO (1938), the geyser that turn s o ut to be a li ttle sq uirt in DETOUR ING A M ERICA (1939), the lion- tamer who lost his head over his work in DAY AT THE ZOO (1939) o r th e s upersen sitive microphon e in BELl EVE IT OR ELSE (1939), lowe red down to record a niggling s pecies of insect that is calling to it s sp ouse (" Hey, Mabel'''). Even worse, Bob Clampell 's phantasmagoric styl ing and s p lendifero us exaggerations ca nnot be stud ied in a ny more depth , at lea st not in th is n o w-uncon tro ll able art icl e, though one wis hes to thank Clampctt fo r the nebulou s figme nts a nd appari ti o ns that a ppear to Po rky in PORK Y IN WAC KYL AN D (1938), "nd for t he somewhat less abstru se vis ion s that ap pea r to th e " Fats" Waller cat in TIN PAN ALLEY CATS (1942), and for the freaked-out cam e l hallu cinati ng other ca me ls in the sweltering arid climate o f PORKY IN EYGPT (1937), and for the co metary, blue-streaked draft evas io n o f Daffy Duck in DRAFTEE DAFFY (1944) , a nd for th e tee nsy-weensy Russian Kremlin grem lins who appear in a weightless zigzag sin gle-file formation in the sky a nd proceed to di smantle H itler's airplane pi ece by p iece in 1944's RUSS IAN RHAPSODY a nd , las tl y, for hi s bogg lin g bla ckface SNOW W HITE parod y COAL BLACK AND DE S EB8E N DWARFS (1943). There's not quite enough time to do full jus tice to the postwar Jones- Mc Ki msonFrel e ng trium v irate of ca rt oon di rectorst here was, for in s tan ce, Robert McKimson's a nth ropoidal omnivore with the s ub-Cro- Mag nan IQ , the Tasman ian Devil, in whose melees w ith Bugs Bunn y, s uch as in BEDEV ILLED RABBIT (1957), the e ntra nces, if no thing e lse, were excellent th e Ta s manian Dev il would chomp through anyt hin g in its path, gna w through trees and buzz-s.1.W through solid rock whil e in a shape of a tornado -y fu nnel. Aft er Clampett left Warner Brothers in the middle Forties, Friz Freleng had exclusive dibs on the Tweet y a nd Sylves ter stories, which Frele ng would IllOst ofte n beg in by with the sight of the g rubby un kempt sc rou nge Sy lves ter u s in g a garbage -ca n lid as a platter as he serves h im self tmsh and fish bones picked oul from th e as hca n h eap- th is piti full y eked -out repa s t pro bably be ing the onl y explanation as to w hy Sylvester would find as measly a tw it as Tweety ever palat able in the first place (this vision of Sylvester, more co mmonl y known , contras ts viole ntl y with Chuck Jones' spineless craven cat). Pe rhaps Sy lvester' S fin es t hour find s him caterwauling in his typical back-a lley setting, as Fre leng combines his pos twar Sylvester characte riza tion \" ith h is ea rli er mus ical themes: keeping Elmer Fudd aW<lke all night in BACK ALLEY O P ROAR (1947), Sy lves te r, in stead of the usual fe'line yow ling, dances a sailor's hornpipe, s ings "Yo u' ll Never Know Whe re You're Going Till Yo u Get The re" in marchtime, and docs a n "Angel in Disg uise" number

that must have been inspi red by Spike Jones' bandsme n (he accompan ies hi mse lf with firecracke rs, and by clunking h imself in the head w ith bricks). Even 1110re is left unsa id of Friz Freleng's postwar work with Yosemite Sam-a \'\'es te rn des perado who , in many ways, is th e exact an tith es is of Elmer Fudd - co unt ering Elmer's hairless dome and hairl ess body in that S<lm was a handle- bar - m o u s ta ched character colI/pll'f拢'ly covered wi th red ha ir (except for the nose, there's nary a nesh tone or a terra-cotta visibl e). And , unlike the often sZlppy and g utlL.>Ss Elmer, Yose mite Sa m was risible a nd fallible by virt ue of his over路 aggress ive ness, o utwittable a nd outsmartab le by virt ue of his easily ga lled and co nsternated , any thin g -yo u -can - do-I ca n -do-bette r d esire to prove his gum ption " nd g us to: in !-IIG f-I - D IVING H A RE (1948), Bugs Bunn y ca n hornswaggle Yosemite Sam aga in and agai n to do th ose dare- devil , death-defy in g d ives from the platform's dizzy ing heig hts by s imply darin g him to "step across this line" (" Ah' m a' steppin '," Sam would foo lha rdily say. and down he'd go). Freleng made seve ral ot her Yosemit e Sam pictures wo rth talkin g about- befo re the merry-go-ro und broke down in 1962 o r 1963. : ~.4 CONT RIBU TORS TO " TH E HOLLYWOOD CA RTOON "

Greg Ford ha s asse mbled retros pective's on the Ho ll ywood ca rtoon for t he New York C ultural Ce nte r and Phi ladelphia 's Anne nbe rg Sc hoo l of Communic<ltions. More rece ntl y, he assembled this iss ue. Richard Thompson , crit ic and teacher, is /101 the Richard Thompson w ho worked in W<lrner Brothers' an ima tion unit. Joh n Ca ne makcr, a n acto r, singer, and an im ato r, is preparin g a retros pe ctive program o n Win sor McCay. He writ es for Filllllllakas Nl'w~lcll a and appears rcg ubrl y o n th e WC BS- TV series , TIlt' Pah'h work FalHilil. Mark t...an ger is in the doctoral program al Columb ia Un ive rs ity's Sc hool of th e Arts . 1. Klein has been an imimator at the Disne y St udi os and a s tory ma n at Paramo unt. Jonat ha n Rose nba um, o ur London corre s pondent, is ass is tant e ditor o f The M()IItllltl Fillll 8111/Ctill. Mark Kau sler, designer a nd collector of anJm" ted film s, was rt.:'spon sible for two exception,ll sequcnce5 in Ralph Ba ks hi's films: the Maybe llin e seq ue nce in !-IEAVY TRAFF IC, a nd th e "cat and th e cockroac h" sequence in COONSK IN. . Lcon<lrd Maltin is a uthor o f The Dl:wey Filll1:' and e d itor of TV MOl/ii'S, publi shed in an expanded edi tion by Sig net. Jot:' Adamso n is th e author o f Grollcho, I-iarpv, Chico, alld SOllletimes Zeppo, and has p repared a book on Tex Avery.


MACMILLAN AUDIO BRANDON

J4 MACOUESTEN PARkwAYSourlt, MOUNT VERNON, N.~ 1000 8400 BROOkfiEld AVE. J868 PiEdMONT AVE. 2~2 PR~RAM DRiVE BRookfiEld, ill. 60~1J OAklANd, CAlif. 94611 DAllAS, TEXAS -ri229 1619 NomiI ChEROkEE. Los CAlif. 90028


. - - - - - - - -- - - -1Now Available in 35 mm and 16 mm 1 - - - - - - - -- - - - , "A REMARKABLE DETAILING OF THE 'EMANCIPATION' OF A YOUNG WOMAN. ONE THAT WILL FASCINATE AND STIMULATE US. Once agai n, as we have w ith Be rg man, Fellin i, De Sica , Chabro l, we must thank a fo reig n film-make r fo r exploring the pe rsona of a wo man w ith such perception and in suc h unive rsal term s that we can clai m her as our own." -Judith Cri st. New York Magazine " Uncommonly engrossing. A fine, thoughtful and stimulating film that observantly mirrors the traditional subordination of women with truthful, biting irony." -Howard Th ompson, N. Y. Times

" HONEST AND POWERFUL THE MOST FORMIDABLE DEPICTION OF ONE WOMAN'S DRIVE FOR SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND SELF - EXPRESSION' SINCE JEAN-LUC GODARD'S 'MY LIFE TO LIVE'. DON'T MISS IT." -.li m D'An na WR VR •

MARGARETHE VON TR OTTA IN VOLKER SC HLOND ORFF 'S

AFREE WOMAN A SAD COMEDY

Film Comment, Jan-Feb 1975  

Hollywood cartoons are featured.

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