Wednesday, December 29, 2010

157 The Mad Maestro

Title: The Mad Maestro
Studio: MGM
Date: 12/30/39
Hugh Harman
Series: -
Running time (of viewed version): 7:38

Synopsis: Misfit orchestra short.

Comments: Not the last cartoon of the year because of the M I use to identify MGM in my list comes before the W I use to identify Warner Bros. If I'd used S for Schlesinger... this still would not be last. A shadow appears in the title card. Far more cartoony than recent MGM output; the previous cartoon was the dire war film Peace on Earth and the one before that was the arty Blue Danube. This feels like a mix between a Lantz and WB cartoon (possibly because both studios later made more famous (to me at least) conducting cartoons that have some commonality with this (more than Tex Avery's MGM conducting cartoon). I'm not sure if the conductor is a dog man or a bear man (other dog men in the cartoon have more pronounced snouts). I think the hair on the harpist is meant to recall Harpo Marx. A good and generally funny cartoon. For some reason the orchestra is in the orchestra pit. In my experience, an orchestra should be on stage when they are not providing music for some other endeavor (play, opera, silent film, headlining singer, etc.). The character designs are a bit conservative in this (not for Harman's MGM cartoons at the time, but compared to the later orchestra shorts), although the bear shaped conductor here does bear a certain resemblance to Wally Walrus as conductor in the Lantz attempt. There are some smeary inbetweens that seem more advanced for the time period than I would expect. Big man small instrument, small man big instrument. There's a big reddish brown haired dog on a tuba in a group shot who looks like he could be Droopy's dad. There are at least three different tuba players. There's one shot where the conductor is rushing past the players, and they are still paintings. Very flat and bright for backgrounds at the time; odd. And again when the little guy gets blown away.

Publicity photos from the short below:

1 comment:

  1. Credited to Harmon, but apparently supervised by Friz Freleng, who by this tine was chomping at the bit to get the heck off Metro's Culver City lot and back to the warm embraces of Leon and the gang over on Sunset Boulevard.