Friday, January 29, 2010

017 It's an Ill Wind

Title: It's an Ill Wind
Studio: Warner Brothers
Date: 1/28/39
Ben Hardaway & Cal Dalton
Story By Melvin Millar
Animation Herman Cohen
Musical Direction
Carl W. Stalling
Series: Looney Tunes
Running time (of viewed version): 7:26
Synopsis: Porky and not-Donald-Duck (Dizzy) go fishing; it starts to rain; as Californians they decide to freak out and run inside a derelict yacht club along with a mistreated dog, where they are scared by nothing to be scared of.

Comments: The second of two WB cartoons released this day. The second Porky of the year. Not-Donald-Duck is for some reason a whole lot like Donald Duck. Much better than the Lone Stranger, tho the earlier cartoon was prettier. I don't really like the Thurston Howell Porky fishing outfit tho. Not Donald is pretty annoying; his schtick works in a single cartoon, but I'm hoping he's not around too much.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

016 Hamateur Night

Title: Hamateur Night
Studio: Warner Brothers
Date: 1/28/39
Fred Avery
Story by
Jack Miller
Paul Smith
Musical Direction
Carl W. Stalling
Series: Merrie Melodies
Running time (of viewed version): 7:42

Synopsis: Various shenanigans occur at an amateur talent night.

Comments: The amateur night in vaudeville may actually have survived more than regular vaudeville; few specialize in vaudeville style stage acts, but people amateur it up all the time (see, for example, Evening at the Apollo). Here, the MC sounds oddly like David Lander (Squiggy/the lead Weasel in Roger Rabbit). I think this type of amateur night may have been more connected with movies tho, based on the marquee, which doesn't even mention the amateurs. And vaudeville was largely dead by this point. The premise (yet another show biz based one) is a good excuse for a bunch of largely unconnected gags, aka Tex Avery's specialty. The painted crowd members look abnormally wooden; I think they're too brightly colored. They still look tasty, just inappropriate. Egghead is very unlikeable. And an audience which inexplicably turns into eggheads at the end shoves a bit more unlikeability at the audience than is wise. THe line "Look at my feet, they're all crooked and everything" is delivered in a very funny manner. The Katherine Hepburn chicken gets felt up like Princess Leia on Endor; that's not a cheater screen either, it lingers. And then she gets shot for laughing like a jackass. Very much in spite of Egghead, this is a good cartoon.

This marks being slightly more than 10% through the cartoons of 1939, and the month isn't even done yet. Which makes January above average in terms of releases. I guess they didn't take much vacation time over the holidays...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

015 Seal Skinners

Title: Seal Skinners
Studio: MGM
Date: 1/28/39
Credits: (none on print; but it's in the Friz Freleng at MGM section of the LTGC disc...)
Series: A Captain and the Kids Cartoon
Running time (of viewed version): 8:31
Synopsis: Homesick seal escapes trainers; Captain and others attempt to reclaim her for the huge reward. As they work against each other, the seal escapes.

Comments: It's a bit off put-ing that the first Looney Tunes Golden Collection short for 1939 is a black and white MGM cartoon directed by Friz Freleng. This has significantly longer generic titles than the copy of Petunia Natural Park I looked at. The ice totem pole when the seal arrives in the arctic (via the sewers) looks great. The cockney (?) voice on the adversary uboat captain (Tom Silver, I think the kids say) is quite irritating. While the seal has a husband and kids who she wants to return to, she flirts real hard with the adversary dressed as a seal. This feels like a fully formed golden age cartoon, but it's not especially good. The music gives it a real MGM feel. There are lots of camera moves in this. There also seems to be double exposure for a cross fade in the first gull crowd shot, which is another bit of off put-ing. The crowd looks a bit Milt Gross-like. Influence from the forthcoming Milt Gross shorts?

Monday, January 25, 2010

014 One Gun Gary in The Nick of Time

Title: One Gun Gary in The Nick of Time (or One Gun Garry in the Nick of Time if you believe the tv title)
Studio: Terrytoons
Date: 1/27/39
Credits: (none on print)
Running time (of viewed version): 6:20
Synopsis: Dopey cowboy with indian companion saves a girl from an escapee, then runs from her.

Comments: Based on the titles, it appears the title might be The Nick of Time, but it may be a double long separated into two parts on the reissue print title. Yowp checked and says Boxoffice has the longer version listed. Nothing interesting happens in the cartoon. It's ugly in characters and boring in backgrounds. It's not the worst constructed story of the year to date. But it may be the worst overall effort so far. Even the audio is concertedly uninspired. The characters are better constructed than in Krazy's Bear Tale, but they're far more boring. I think the damsel is made of 5 spheres and some straws, and has about 6 cels per shot she's in. It's hard to believe this is from the same studio that put out The Owl and the Pussycat two weeks earlier.