Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Title: Golf Chumps
Joe De Nat
Series: Krazy Kat
Running time (of viewed version): 6:36
Synopsis: A documentary narrator vocally follows Krazy Kat around a golf course.
Comments: Opens with a parody golf song ("Oh a golf ball is a harmless little thing, but baby how you will attack it, with your driver you will take a mighty swing and (zingle how?) you whack it; into a muddy creek it goes, and finds a trap so sandy, oh you putt putt putt then you dump it in the cup but isn't golf just dandy?"; there are more in the cartoon). Very much like a Goofy How To, with the narrator (tho there's a lot more singing, and the narrator isn't serious enough). Both presumably based on a certain type of live action short. This narrator has very poorly written lines. I'm not sure if the caddy is a specific caricature; he looks very specific, he has a very specific voice, and his golf bag is full of (gardening tools?). Gangster golfer is an Edward G. Robinson caricature. Many of the drawings are good, tho the animation is generally pretty bad. The bit with the dog orderlies carrying the hippo (really fat dog?) to golf looks like a scene from a WB cartoon to me. There's a photo of a golf ball animated in this. I believe there was a quote in Of Mice and Magic about someone feeling a Columbia cartoon just wasn't right without a crowd marching in perspective; well, here the crowd is only three people, but the background, middleground and foreground are all moving at different rates, and it's easily the best looking animation in the cartoon. The trio fighting is a cycle. Krazy pulls a series of faces and makes ughing sounds in one scene; this would later be done by Bugs Bunny (perhaps others too, but I'm picturing Bugs doing it). It ends with a "Golfers is the cwaziest peoples" line.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I have in my notes that this time marks the crossover between Fleischer releases produced in New York and Miami. Unfortunately I didn't mark the reference down and can't relocate it at the moment. A diagram above shows the Miami facility (from Cartoon Brew, and I assume that's from the version in _The Fleischer Story_). I'm assuming the note means the cartoons after this date were completely animated in Miami, as evidence from BoxOffice indicates Fleischer had been in Miami long enough by this point to realize they needed to build an adjacent cafeteria they had not realized they'd need in the original planning stage. At any rate, no reason not to learn a little more about the Miami facility from the Cartoon Brew link below:
Monday, March 29, 2010
Title: So Does an Automobile
Series: Betty Boop
Running time (of viewed version): 6:14
Synopsis: Betty Boop works in a garage for anthropomorphic cars.
Comments: Betty looks oddly tall, thin and stiff in this, as we close in on her final appearance. There are several other humans, and they look comic strippy. "Jitterbuggy" is amongst the many text jokes. This cartoon supposedly marks the NY/Miami crossover. Guess the gators were soon to get Betty. Or that Mae Questel wouldn't move to the swamp and for some reason Marjorie Hines wasn't good enough to keep that franchise going (tho she was an acceptable Olive Oyl apparently). Same difference, really. The title song is catchy enough, but ends quickly and Betty walks from point A to point B to point C during it, which is a bit staid. The car hospital gives a chance for a series of spot gags involving cars, but they're not the best executed gags. They'd work well as a series of lushly painted trading cards or model kits, but they don't quite work here. Still, it feels more like a Betty Boop cartoon than My Friend the Monkey did. And for a public domain DVD, this viewed version looks very nice. (Blogger was being a pain today; it took multiple attempts at different times of day to upload the images).
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Title: Happy Tots (it may be "The Happy Tots"; without the original title, I'm relying on BoxOffice, which lists it as simply "Happy Tots", and the notice on the backs of cels; note this print has renamed the cartoon "Hot and Happy")
Credits: None listed on viewed print
Series: Color Rhapsody
Running time (of viewed version): 6:03
Synopsis: It's time for the town/kingdom to dance, and for the star girls to rain down stardust. (Not much of a synopsis, but there isn't much story to speak of.)
Comments: This cartoon marks the 25% complete for the year mark for this blog. Only 118ish cartoons to go. There is an odd transition in the viewed version from the Color Rhapsody intro to a later animated title card with what looks like video text. This has yet another self referential "Movies are your best entertainment" banner. I think this still counts as a jitterbug cartoon, tho the word isn't used, while the Charleston is (and the Charleston seems to be agreed to be a predecessor to jitterbugging, not part of it); perhaps it was just the squares at Mintz's studio doing their best to understand those dern kids. (Actually, as Screen Gems appears in the pretitle, I suppose Charles Mintz may have been out by the time of this release; however, the cel notices credit him still for cels from this cartoon.) I'm assuming they were trying to capitalize on the fad just like Lantz and MGM (tho MGM's Jitterbug Follies only used it in the title), and the several other studios that mention it in passing in the cartoons. This is far more successfully as a story that has no story than the Lantz jitterbug installment, although the characters are much uglier in this; they also have a more antiquated look than the Lantz characters, which is par for the course for these '39 Columbias. The cartoon switches from dancing music to sleepy music near the end tho; even this does not make it feel more slapped together than the Lantz jitterbug cartoon. There is identical movement in the group of almost identical trumpeters; this is a bad thing, and it isn't limited to the trumpeters, tho it's less problematic when people are (line) dancing. The town flag looks like it could almost be a modern Japanese merchandising mascot. The king's retainers have a very Stooges relationship, with their face slapping, eye gouging and three of them being. There are some interesting shots right in a a row from odd angles; the drawings are also of much higher quality than most of the cartoon (in both how they look and how they move). I wonder why they put the extra effort in for two consecutive shots. The king becomes grumpy and cruel, slapping his jesters at the end to get them to take his train for no given reason. The end title rings are reminiscent of some other rings, I think. If they derive from a common source, I wonder what it is.
There are many cels from Happy Tots online, properly identified to the cartoon. I assume there are many more out there that have never touched the internet or have but have lost their attribution (or no longer show up; I was aware of another one that I can no longer find; anything sold on eBay not going into an online gallery meets that criteria after a few weeks). There are many cels from the Color Rhapsody series on the market, tho they tend to be centered around a few cartoons (there will be a similar note to this later in the year for another instance of the phenomenom); presumably Screen Gems grabbed a clutch from a few cartoons and got them out there (unfortnuately, the selection seems almost random; there are some terrible cel choices). These commonly had the following on the back of their frames, helping them to be easily attributed now:
"This is guaranteed to be an original painting used in the actual production of the Charles Mintz Color Rhapsodies cartoon "HAPPY TOTS"; is certified as being the original and only copy of this particular painting in existence and is sold pursuant to a license from Screen Gems, Inc.
Copyright by Screen Gems, Inc"
Two unpictured at http://www.thegremlin.com/miscellaneous.html
Other studios also released cels in a similar manner (Disney's Courvoisier releases being the most well known), but the Columbia releases seem to have the best level of self attribution.