Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dem Lambs is Jitterbuggin'!

Here's a segment from one of my all-time favorite cartoons, "Much Ado About Mutton". This scene looks like it's animated by Marty Taras mainly by the way the characters move and look. This was right before the cartoons at Famous became more 'refined' with cleaner animation but more stock poses and gestures.

I like the Famous Studios cartoons and think they're underrated. I definitely like the cartoons of the 40s better than anything Terry did and they are on average better than the last few years of Fleischer output (1940-42 roughly). All of the Blackie the Lamb cartoons are hilarious and feature wonderful animation by Taras, Tendlar, and Gent, and I hope to highlight them in the near future.

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.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Sheik Boogie Woogie

Walter Lantz's Swing Symphony series was possibly the most 'politically incorrect' one to ever exist in Hollywood animation. Every entry contains either racial stereotypes, sexy gals, booze drinking... And alwaysgreat music and animation.

Shamus Culhane's "Abou Ben Boogie" is no exception. I believe a piece of this film actually had the Miss X's gyrations cropped out before release... It looks lifted from "Greatest Man in Siam" as the movements are almost exactly the same.

Much of the Miss X and Ben Boogie dancing I believe is animated by Pat Matthews. There is also a lot of Grim Natwick (I'm certain the guy who looks like Farmer Alfalfa is his) and Emery Hawkins in this clip.

As you can tell, my copy of this cartoon is in pretty sorry shape, and I would grateful if someone could help me find a better one. (Preferably one with no audio dropout in the first half!)

Abou Ben Boogie
Uploaded by thadk