Sunday, January 17, 2010

008 I'm Just a Jitterbug

Title: I'm Just a Jitterbug
Studio: Lantz
Date: 1/23/39
Alex Lovy
Story - Victor McLeod
Frank Marsales - Chuck Lowry
Merle Gibson - Hicks Lokey
Series: A Walter Lantz "Cartune"
Running time (of viewed version):

Synopsis: An insect known as the jitterbug is created at the cartoon studio , and after everyone leaves at 6, and then another 6 hours pass, he comes to life, and sings a song so everything in the studio can dance. The clock's cuckoo wants to sleep so he shoots them all with a machine gun until they are silent.

Comments: This cartoon is a bit disappointing. There just isn't much to it. It's coolest for all the animation stuff in the backgrounds (drawing board, a background in the context of itself, a book called "Animated Cartoon", the Lantz staff (presumably), a drawing of the forgettable Lantz character Willie Mouse on registration punched paper, etc. The frogs are boring and ugly, there's lots of shots of characters singing but not doing much else (especially the frogs). Bunch of crappy book references; Old King Cole, Pied Piper of Hamlin, Jack and Jill, Story of Pocahontas. Some of the Jitterbug dancing looks abnormally fluid. Like they had reference film and were copying it closely. The things dancing just seem like random choices.

There is a memo relating to this cartoon that showed up on Cartoon Brew:
"September 26, 1938
Dear Gang:
We want our Jitterbug Cartoon to be one of the best cartoons we have ever produced. Prizes ranging from $2 to $10 will be given for gags or ideas submitted. Winners names will be posted on bulletin board, and they will receive their money AS SOON AS PICTURE GOES INTO PRODUCTION.
Submit all suggestions in writing and sign your name, so that if we didn't use your idea in this picture, you will be paid accordingly, should we decide to use your suggestion in another cartoon. ALL SUGGESTIONS MUST BE IN BY FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30.
We anticipate a great deal of publicity on this picture, so let's all get behind it and make it a knockout.
W. L.
(Cartoon based on popular song by same title)
Decca Record - Vocals by Ella Fitzgerald
An artist draws his conception of what a jitterbug looks like, and after the artist leaves for the night, the jitterbug comes to life. He tries to arouse the characters that are on the artist's drawings, the painters'and inkers' desks, and the fairy-tale bookshelf - but to no avail.
Finally he gets an idea and starts a hot rhythm on the drums, as was demonstrated at the recent jitterbug contest. The hot rhythm of the drum awakens the characters in the cartoon department, and they join in the spirit of the swing music.
Little Boy Blue joins in with his hot trumpet; the Pied Piper dances the Lambeth Walk, The Fiddlers Three of Old King Cole join in - or the Cat and the Fiddle. Peter Pan enters into the spirit of the thing, as do Piccolo Pete and Yuba with his Tuba.
Suggest any type of character, musical or dance gag, plot or idea that will work into the above synopsis. Suggest gag dances of jitterbug variety for funny characters.
Copy of song with lyrics will be found on main bulletin board."

edit 7/14/12
Article on Lantz on this:

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