Sunday, September 24, 2006

Crazy Possum Dancing - Mike Lah

There's three animators that have a really stylized way of moving their characters in the classic cartoons... Art Davis under Frank Tashlin's direction, Carlo Vinci at Terry's, and Mike Lah at MGM. This kind of animation was essentially a predecessor to television's limited animation, but it still has all the benefits that make full animation great.

Mike Lah has a long history with the MGM studio. He was first in George Gordon's short-lived unit at the studio in the early 40s. He then went to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera's unit as a brief replacement for Irv Spence. He and Preston Blair were assigned to direct three Barney Bear cartoons before being knocked back down to an animator again for Tex Avery.

This scene, though, is not from an Avery short, but one of Dick Lundy's best Barney Bear shorts, "The Impossible Possum". This is the kind of animation I like best, when it's timed perfectly to the music, but you can watch it with the sound off and the it is still perfect. Few animators even in the Golden Age were capable of making their animation special and in a class of its own, and Lah was certainly one of them.

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