Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Famous Popeye: John Gentilella

I think I may have possibly found one solid reason for why the Famous Studios output needs to be properly researched. And he is John Gentilella.

I don't know much about this man's life story, except that he animated for Van Beuren and Terry before his 12+ year tenure at Famous.

John Gentilella was responsible for a lot of the wonderful animation in the Famous Popeye the Sailor shorts. Rewatching these cartoons, knowing which scenes he did, I can safely say this man could hold his own to the best on the West Coast. The animation of Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl in these scenes are wonderful, filled with life and feeling. John also seemed to have a knack for handling many of the fight sequences too, as he is a master of fluid movement.

Having to pull these clips from VHS recordings from the 1980s (some of them unfortunately time-compressed) reminds me of how badly we need these and the Fleischer Popeye films released on a proper collection. Maybe some day, but it's been over 20 years, so I can't see it ever happening anytime soon. These are from some of the best Popeye cartoons done at Famous and I think John is a strong reason they are so.

If anyone is wondering why Popeye's voice sounds screwy, that's because it's not Jack Mercer voicing him, as he was drafted in WWII. I'm uncertain to who's voicing Popeye in these clips.


THE ANVIL CHORUS GIRL (1944)


FOR BETTER OR NURSE (1945)


KLONDIKE CASANOVA (1946)





I owe a huge thank you to Bob Jaques for introducing me to Johnny Gent's style. He has been very generous with his time and knowledge in our discussions of New York animators. He helped me pinpoint another great, Marty Taras, who is going to be a highlight later on.

You'll have to rewatch the FOR BETTER OR NURSE clip again, because I reuploaded it with a little bit more, with Bluto saying "You runt! Now nobody goes to the hospital!" at the request of Bob. He said: "I love the way Bluto forces out the word “runt”. It’s an animation flourish that I feel separates the good from the great." I agree with him completely.

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