Saturday, April 9, 2005

Art Davis at Lantz

Since you older animation historian-type fellers are reading this blog, maybe you can tell me something. Who exactly came up with this view that anything done by Walter Lantz's studio after 1952 is bilge?

Leonard Maltin has mixed views, but not negatively biased, in his essential book Of Mice and Magic (BTW, I formulated my opinions on these shorts long before I read Maltin's book if you believe it!). When you hear a parrot parade on specific animation topics you can usually find their examples in Maltin's book, but not in this case. I am guessing that it's just lumping Paul Smith's output with those of Don Patterson, Alex Lovy, Jack Hannah, and Sid Marcus.

It's OK if you don't like them, but I don't really care what you think unless you've made an effort at seeing the films. The same goes for the Terrytoons, which I'm afraid I somewhat do fall into the 'parrot parade' on (more on Terry in a later post, I promise!). I will also go on a rant about how Woody Woodpecker was still a great character long after 1952, and how Lantz was turning out the best cartoons after Warners and MGM's golden ages.

Woody Woodpecker: Post-1952

Anywho... Art Davis was doing literally the ONLY cartoony animation in the 1960s for Sid Marcus' unit at Lantz. I thought you guys would like seeing the scenes he did from two of the studio's most popular cartoons.

These first two are from Chilly Willy's HALF-BAKED ALASKA (1965). I dare you to tell me you don't remember this one! My personal favorite is Chilly about to play the piano in the second clip. The music and animation builds up for some grand performance, with Chilly smarmily warming up his fingers. This kind of staging is what makes Chilly's performance hilarious!

This next bit is from one of the fabled 'Holy Grails' at the Lantz-O-Pedia, Walter Lantz's personal favorite, THREE LITTLE WOODPECKERS (1965). Artie handles everything up until Splinter says "Oh goodie,Santa's here!" Then it's handled by Ray Abrams. He drew his characters nicely, but pretty conservatively, which was typical for any 1960s product. He worked in Tex Avery's unit at MGM in the mid-40s where his work probably said something more of his draftsmanship.

You'll also notice, unless you are severly hard of hearing, that Splinter & Knothead are voiced by June Foray here. She was their original voice artist for Paul Smith's uses of the characters (GET LOST, RED RIDING HOODLUM, and INTERNATIONAL WOODPECKER, which are actually pretty funny films even though the latter two are hideous looking), and they usually just used Daws Butler and Gracie Lantz for them afterwards, like in the SPOOK-A-NANNY TV special. But Sid actually went out and got June back to do this pretty neat cartoon! Now that's care for your product!

Speaking of Daws, that's him as the "steeeyuuupid" wolf. He could do the Pete Puma voice just as well as Stan Freberg!

Let me know what you guys think of this!