Saturday, February 27, 2010

029 The Birth of a Toothpick

Title: The Birth of a Toothpick
Studio: Walter Lantz
Date: 2/27/39
Burt Gillett
Story -- Vic McLeod, Kin Platt
Music -- Frank Marsales
Frank Tipper -- LaVerne Harding
Series: Walter Lantz Cartune
Running time (of viewed version): 7:15

Synopsis: In part we follow how a toothpick comes to be, but mostly we see a guy (Big (Dan?)) in romantic love with a tree (Sylvia).

Comments: I think the narrator is the Screwy Squirrel voice; it is close if it is not. A woodpecker shows up briefly. The trees move nicely when they grow or are on trains. I doubt this is the first appearance of the gag of a giant tree being turned into a single tiny toothpick, but I am uncertain. Nature boy Dan looks a bit Terrytoonish. I don't have very much to say about this cartoon. Again, not the worst Lantz cartoon so far. This cartoon pops up as a credit for Ed Benedict; I'm not sure why tho; the Lantz Encyclopedia lists the animator credits as Ed Benedict and LaVerne Harding, but both opening versions I looked at for the cartoon list Frank Tipper and Verne. I am trying to find out the basis for the Ed Benedict animator credit on this cartoon. Burt Gillett was a director at both Disney and Van Beuren before his time at Lantz. In spite of all the above text, I maintain that there really isn't much to say about this cartoon...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

028 Gold Rush Daze

Title: Gold Rush Daze
Studio: Warner Brothers
Date: 2/25/39
Story by
Gil Turner
Musical Direction
Series: Merrie Melodies
Running time (of viewed version): 7:11

Synopsis: A stuttering city slicker is looking for gold, and is told many a tale of the old gold rush by a '49er, who ends up with the urge yet again.

Comments: There is a morse code heart beat; I wonder what it actually says (or if it was just designed to sound real). A '49er must have been a rare sight by 1939, like someone today who remembers WWI going on. There is a joke about marking horses in a time limited spot that pre-dates metered parking; the idea of a policeman marking my car with an X makes me angry... The menu on Miners Cafe is unreadable. The cartoon has a real ugliness to it, with its movements-which-plod-when-they-aren't-way-too-fast to its comfort with a style of dog men I don't find visually appealing (the doctor dog and cook dog are interesting looking tho; apparently the fatter the dog, the better it works). The stitching together of the random mining gags doesn't exactly work, either.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Boxoffice, February 25, 1939

p31 French version of Snow White to be shown in the US.

p32 "In Good Company -
This is called "The Vultures." It is an original painting from "Snow White" which means, of course, Walt Disney did it. Recently selected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there the canvas now hangs. In fast company, too."

p33 Ferdinand the Bull won the Oscar.

p40 "Walter Lantz Is Training Cartoonists in School
Walter Lantz has organized a school for screen cartoon animators as a means of supplying his cartoon organization with new talent. Lantz, who produces for universal, has signed Myrna Myling as instructor, and intends employing the most proficient students when the three-month course has been completed."

p84 "Fleischer Studios Are Crowded
Miami - With story men and gagsters of the Fleischer Studios having to work up their plots , situations and lines in a house adjacent to the recently completed new studio, it appears that another doubling will be started there in the near future.
It will be remembered the originally announced plans for these new Miami studios were doubled in size shortly after the ground was broken last spring. Now with animators, in-betweeners, opaquers, inkers, etc., overflowing the $300,000 studios into which Max Fleischer moved his organization this fall, a second doubling is awaiting architect's plans.
Following signing of the recent contract for a Miami premiere for "Gulliver's Travels," full length, all-color feature, announcement is made the release will be available around Christmas time."

(I don't understand the punctuation or grammar, but that seems to be how it appears.)

p95 "Short Subject Reviews"
"The Magic Bean
Universal (Walter Lantz) 7 1/2 Mins.
Minor cartoon material which should prove suitable for the youngsters. It's a travesty on Jack and the Beanstalk with the baby mouse attempting to steal the hen that lays the golden eggs. He gets caught by the cat giant, but all the excitement turns out to be a scene for a motion picture."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

027 Jitterbug Follies

Title: Jitterbug Follies
Studio: MGM
Date: 2/25/39
Credits: None listed on print
Series: Count Screwloose and J.R. The Wonder Dog by Milt Gross (?)
Running time (of viewed version): 8:44

Synopsis: Count Screwloose is running some sort of amateur night scheme but is prevented from running off with the money by some toughs; he instead tries to get his dog to take the prize by dressing up as an ostrich.

Comments: Probably the most beautiful looking black and white cartoon so far, the soundtrack on this bonus cartoon on the Marx Brothers DVD of At The Circus is strangely full of pops. Note At The Circus wasn't released until October 20th, which makes me doubt the cartoon would have been shown with it in theaters (tho it is not impossible). Yet another "putting on a show" cartoon, like Hamateur Night and Soup To Mutts. Yet another theater marquee opening shot. In spite of the name, there isn't really jitterbugging in the cartoon, although there is some swing music. Ostriches seem popular, but this is two cartoons in a row with penguins. Mercifully, the Captain and the Kids was now done; Mama's New Hat was the last of the series. It's too bad I had to watch three of them in quick succession. The penguins have cartoon human nose styled beaks; that violates my conceptions of how cartoon penguins should look (though Opus proves if you're exposed to a wrong looking penguin long enough or early enough, you can accept it). The penguins try reciting/enacting a funnied up bit of rhyming coupletry known as Bingen on the Rhine. There's little holding this cartoon together except momentum, but that and Milt Gross's lovely look are enough to hold together for 9 minutes. Just as long as you don't examine the story.

Addition: Original art for the series titlecard from Van Eaton Galleries :