Monday, May 31, 2010

Photoplay, May 1939

Photoplay, May 1939

Completely not cartoon related, the following article, concerned with Gone With The Wind, is an interesting demonstration of the completely insane writing style that was apparently acceptable in 1939. The thing reads like it was written by a fawning drunk via telegram.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

071 Bola-Mola Land

Title: Bola-Mola Land
Studio: Walter Lantz
Date: 5/28/39
Director ... Alex Lovy
Story ... Victor McLeod, James Miele
Music ... Frank Marsales
Animators ... Frank Tipper, Dick Marion
Series: Crackpot Cruise (apparently, they made a series based on the previous cartoon named Crackpot Cruise; as it was less than 2 months old when this came out, I wonder if it was a sudden decision to make it its own sub series and they just quickly added a new series card).
Running time (of viewed version): 6:52

Synopsis: A bunch of gags from many places, some of which are Bola-Mola Land.

Comments: The backwards Corrigans are a reference to Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan, who in 1939 flew from Long Island to Ireland, claiming he was trying to fly to Long Beach (almost certainly a lie, as he had been denied permission to make a transatlantic flight). The reference filters down to us more famously in the form of Wrongway Feldman on Gilligan's Island, played by celebrated voice Hans Conreid. The buoys have a vocal joke going on, and it's not the only gag of that type in the cartoon. This is more audio based humor than in the average '39er. There's an African nudist camp, where all you can see are Homer-muzzles and eye whites; I'm not sure if it would get more complaints about the concept of nudity in a cartoon or the general racial joke. It transitions into an Eskimo joke, which ends up just failing visually as all they do is change the background. In 1939, the popup ads they were worried about were billboards. The Icky Toothpaste sign really reminds me of Wacky Packages. There is a joke about how wet and rainy California is compared to Arizona. The rest of the country doesn't get it, you provincial jerkwads. The rubber tree gag could have been more adult... The doubletalking Siamese twins are like a joke on the Jack Benny show, except there it was one guy who said incomprehensible things. That was funnier than this version. I wonder if the Eat Dine Dance sign on Bola Mola Island is a reference to a specific real world place as opposed to general restaurant signage.

Friday, May 28, 2010

BoxOffice 5/27/39 and "How To Eat"


Wherein it is revealed that Leon Schlesinger produced animation for Warner Bros., Republic, and MGM...

p59 "...
The NLRB has set June 12 as the tentative date for a hearing on the Screen Cartoon Guild's petition for certification as bargaining agents for the cartoonists at Metro. Motion picture painters are slated to hold their annual election June 19. The Pacific Coast Labor Bureau has mailed out questionnaires to the painters as a step in collecting data for a survey of film industry employment conditions." It's unclear if painters includes cel painters or not.

p61 "Hurry "Old Glory"
To meet a July 4 release, Leon Schlesinger has his cartoon staff working day and night shifts on "Old Glory," first in a series of patriotic cartoons. Running eight minutesm the subject wull have a musical score supplied by the Warner Vitaphone 50-piece orchestra. Warner releases."

p63 "Options
_ Walter Lantz
WILLIE POGANY, portrait artist, signed to take charge of colr effects and backgrounds for the Lantz cartoon output for Universal during the new season. Pogany will also create characters for the series, which will be filmed in technicolor.

p64 "Schlesinger Does Cartoon Sequence for Republic
Leon Schlesinger is preparing a cartoon sequence for Republic's "The Fighting Irish." The cartoon producer just completed a similar chore for a Robert Benchley short, "How to Eat," at Metro."

The "How to Eat" animated segment is about 15 seconds long and is pretty boring

BoxOffice December 17, 1938 says "The Fighting Irish" was to star Pat O'Brien as Knute Rockne. So, it's almost certainly the 1940 movie, "Knute Rockne, All American". I have not bought a copy of Knute Rockne to check the animation (hey, it actually came out in 1940, right?).

It is theoretically possible there was an error in communication and the story is meant to refer to "She Married a Cop", which involves fighting and Irish people and definitely contains a Schlesinger animated sequence. If there's no animated sequence in the Knute Rockne Story, I'd guess this theory is correct.

p65 "After spending nearly a month here, Hal Horne, new vice-president of Walt Disney Productions, and Richard Condon, eastern executive, terminated their visit to return to New York. They have been huddling with Disney concerning the status of production and other studio matters."

p77 "Milwaukee
Einar Dessau, director of the Tubord Breweries, Ltd., Copenhagen, Denmark, and holder of patents giving him the irght to manufacture animated sound cartoons, was a local visitor en route to California."

I fail to find any more useful information about Einar Dessau and animation.

p126 Short Subject Reviews
"Short of the Week
The Hockey Champ
RKO (Walt Disney) 7 Mins.
There's more comic ingenuity displayed in this subject than you'll find in a carload of cartoons. And just about every foot of it is good for gales of laughter. Donald Duck is seen as just about the fastest and fanciest thing on ice skates. His performance is in itself a howl to behold. Sighting his three prankish nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, who are enjoying a friendly little hockey by themselves. Donald proceeds to challenge them - one against three. It's a walkaway, Donald's favor. His ego overcomes Donald and he offers to lick the stuffin's out of the nephews, blindfolded. But that's where the tide turns. Taking advantage of Donald's obstacle, the nephews and the animators pull out the screamingest pack of tricks seen in many a hockey season."

"Musical Mountaineers
Paramount (Betty Boop) 7 mins.
Meagre cartoon fare that has little in the way of humor. Betty is enjoying herself on a farm until she decides to get rid of the scarecrow. When she does, all the crows descend on the farm and house. Pudgy pints out that she should put on the scarecrow's clothes. It works."

Note that BoxOffice got the title wrong; this is not a review of Musical Mountaineers, but The Scared Crows. It makes you wonder if they bothered to actually watch, or just made a judgement without watching and simply read a synopsis.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

070 Lucky Pigs

Title: Lucky Pigs
Studio: Columbia
Date: 5/26/39
Credits: None on viewed print
Series: Color Rhapsody
Running time (of viewed version): 6:50

Synopsis: Impoverished Peter Pig wins sweepstakes, is rich for a short time, then is impoverished again by taxes.

Comments: The "who's a horses ass" musical refrain crops up in relation to the sweepstakes ticket. It may be the first appearance in the '39s of the refrain, but I'm not certain of that. Yet another Mrs. Meany type character. Her elbows sticking out with her face covered are... perhaps a bit controversial. The dog delivering the winnings is almost Warners-esque. I wonder if rural cartoons are squalid because the makers thought it was funny, or if they just romanticized squalor. Same question as the Beverly Hillbillies, I suppose. It's kinda like if the Tea Party made a cartoon, except they would romanticize the rural life more. I'm not sure if the department store floorwalker is a deer or a fox. I think a deer based on regular ears, but he looks like a fox in his greed shot. The tax men are foxes altogether tho. Sounds like Mel Blanc as the horse at the end. Remember, kids, poor people are bad, but if they become rich, they're good. Lots of irising. The manicurists look like blonde versions of early Betty Boop styles.

Monday, May 24, 2010

069 Naughty But Mice

Title: Naughty But Mice
Studio: Warner Bros.
Date: 5/20/39
Charles Jones
Story by Rich Hogan
Animation Phil Monroe
Musical Direction
Carl W. Stalling
Series: Merrie Melodies
Running time (of viewed version): 7:58
Looney Tunes the Chuck Jones Collection Mouse [Blu-ray]

Synopsis: Sniffles gets drunk on cold medicine, befriends an electric razor, and is almost eaten by a cat.

Comments: Lindy's, Gotham, La Conga, Tro(cadero, presumably) are all signs on buildings below the opening clock tower; they're all old restaurants in LA, (see and following; relatively, 3656 Wilshire, 7050 Hollywood at Sycamore, (not listed), 8610 Sunset) so I assume the clock tower is/was a real landmark in downtown LA as well. Looking at Lindy's address on Google Street View, however, I can't locate a plain clock tower, and a Google satellite view doesn't show anything that looks like a clock tower shadow in the immediate vicinity. It may just be an imaginary crunching together of places in the cartoon, or perhaps the bell tower is no more. Or maybe I'm just missing it. I'm pretty sure the Savoy was a nightclub, thus the drinking place here. Ah, but I can only put off having to deal with Sniffles for so long. Yes, a Sniffles cartoon. Why couldn't Jones take a hint from almost every other cartoon series of the year and do his best to minimize his starring charater... Radium hair pins; for cancer hair? Electric needles; for ... uh... electrostim? Magnetic flasks, electric waterbottles, saturated irium tweezers, repercolating percolators, 2 killowatt clocks, these are the things in this drug store. Sniffles is sick and drunk instead of sickly sweet in this cartoon. The very Jones-y looking cat tries to use the UFO catcher to pick up Sniffles (called a toy steam shovel, because people hadn't imagined seeing UFOs very much at the time). As much as I hate Sniffles, I have to admit that Lantz's Babyface Mouse is worse. Strangely, the electric razor seems to be sentient, and not just in a pink elephant fashion. There's lots of standing around drunk in this cartoon, which I would need to have lots of repetitive photos to accurately represent.