Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Crazy Barnyard Dog

The Goofy Gophers are known for their extreme politeness but in “Gopher Broke,” written by Tedd Pierce, they’re almost sadistic. They try to drive the barnyard dog (seen in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons) insane so they can get at the vegetables harvested from the farm where they’re living.

In the climax scene, the gophers lace up a pink corset around the drugged-up dog, tie a balloon to him and let him float away to the top of a telephone poll. The dog wakes up, sees a bird, and looks around to see where he is.

That’s enough to drive him over the edge. Here are some of the drawings to show him going crazy. Some are held on twos, others on threes and aren’t on a cycle to heighten the jerkiness.

This cartoon was the product of the later version of the Bob McKimson unit, with Tom Ray, Warren Batchelder, George Grandpré and Ted Bonnicksen animating.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Twiddle Blows Up

There are plot holes the size of Texas in Tex Avery’s last theatrical cartoon, “Sh-h-h-h-h-h” (released in 1955) but there are still some fun, familiar routines. Tex’s love of sign gags surfaces all over the place, as well as the obsessiveness over quiet (found in his MGM shorts “Deputy Droopy” and “Rock-a-bye Bear,” among others, and “The Legend of Rock-a-bye Point” at Lantz). But if the Hush-Hush Lodge Mr. Twiddle is staying at is so insistent on quiet, why didn’t the psychiatrist and nurse get evicted? And how didn’t they know he was there; they gave him the travel folders to go there.

Ah, well. Twiddle is told by the psychiatrist he’ll blow up. And that’s what happens at the end of the cartoon when he becomes infuriated with the noisy doctor and nurse in the next room.

After the blow up, the screen is filled with four different coloured cards (on twos) and then we see smoke where the little man stood.

Don Patterson, La Verne Harding and Ray Abrams are the credited animators.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

He Had Problems With Ginger Ale

His claim to fame in radio was reporting from Normandy Beach on D-Day, but George Hicks was a newsman who got the facts wrong about his own career.

Hicks claimed he was the first announcer on the Jack Benny radio show but that wasn’t the case. In fact, he technically wasn’t even the second. Ed Thorgersen was the announcer on the debut show on May 2, 1932 and for a number of weeks thereafter. Jimmy Wallington announced a few broadcasts as well. Like the two of them, Hicks was an NBC staff announcer and he was assigned to the show starting in early August. He was gone three months later because the programme moved to another network.

No recordings of any of the 1932 shows but the premiere exist, so we have no aural indication of Hicks’ work with Benny. But he did reminisce about it in later years and it appears he was the first announcer who kibitzed with Benny, much like Graham McNamee did with Ed Wynn.

Here’s an unbylined story which ran in the Niagara Falls Gazette of February 9, 1958.

Benny's Birthday Reunites Pals
A mild-mannered man with a deep, resonant voice and graying temples, who shared with Jack Benny the creation of some of the Waukegan Wit's famous gimmicks—the character facets that moulded Benny as he is known today—will help Jack celebrate his 40th birthday on CBS Television's "Shower of Stars" Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on Chan. 4.
George Hicks was Benny's first announcer on the old Blue Network, from May to October in 1932. In those days Benny played second fiddle to George Olson and his band ("Love in Bloom" hadn't been written yet). Jack was virtually unknown except to vaudeville, audiences and the Broadway musical comedy theater, and Hicks was Jack's foil as the comedian developed the character traits that make up Jack Benny as he is known to millions today.
Still one of broadcasting's best-known announcers and narrators (he does the commercials on CBS Television's "United States Steel Hour" and the narration on "U.N. in Action"), Hicks will be flown from New York to Hollywood to appear with a cavalcade of Benny old-timers on the hour-long "Shower of Stars" broadcast Feb. 13, when Benny will—very reluctantly—take leave of his thirties and become a 40-year-old.
And George Hicks, like many others at the party, will swap old times with the peerless comedian.
Hicks was a rather shy, naive youngster from Tacoma, Wash., when he broke into radio in 1928.
He started as an assistant to the late Graham McNamee in sports broadcasts, then became a newscaster of considerable stature by himself. He covered the first undersea broadcast from a submarine, the arrival of the Graf Zeppelin in New York on its round-the-world trip, and—during World War II—the invasion of Normandy, broadcasting from the attack force command ship Ancon off Omaha Beach.
But back to the early thirties men like Hicks were general announcers, in addition to pioneering newscasters, and George, when he wasn't backstopping Graham McNamee, was given other microphone chores. That's how he came to do the Canada Dry stint.
"The show paid no commercial fee and we had an old-fashioned carbon mike which required a deep voice," Hick recalls. "That's probably why they picked me for the assignment.
Ed Was There
"Benny was just making his start in broadcasting in those days. He had been on a show titled "Broadway's Greatest Thrills," emceed by Ed Sullivan, on the station that is now WCBS in New York, on March 29, 1932. As a result of his appearance (in which he introduced himself by saying "My name is Jack Benny. There will now be a short pause while everyone says, 'So What?'"), Canada Dry signed him to do a show titled "George Olson and His Famous Band, With Ethel Shutta, also starring Jack Benny."
Mary Livingstone, Don Wilson, Rochester, and the others identified with Jack weren't to come for many years, Hicks notes.
"Mary was just as close to Jack as she is now," he recalls, "but she wasn't in the cast. She used to drop around between rehearsals and we'd go out for coffee and cake. Ethel Shutta had the role Mary takes now—Jack was always trying to date her up. She was Mrs. George Olson, you may remember, and she always turned Jack down as George grinned overbearingly at him."
He Was Shy
Hicks himself was a combination of Don Wilson and Dennis Day, as their characters were later developed, on Benny's show. Being young, he was a little shy working with a famous bandleader and a big star, and his awe sometimes overcame him. As a result, the commercials didn't always come out of his mouth the way they were written in the script. He faltered or stumbled, lousing up the timing, and sometimes mixed up the words.
"Jack had a lot of fun with me on this score," he recalls.
"But our greatest laughs came when we kidded the commercials. Later in radio and television other comics were hailed as having a fresh approach when they kidded the commercials, but it was Benny's show that actually started it."
The president of Canada Dry at first protested the liberties that were being taken with his product, but when he learned that both the critics and the public liked it—and were buying the product he relented.
Hicks left the show when the series left the Blue Network, on whose payroll he was, and went to CBS. On CBS the program remained until January 1, 1933, when it was shifted to NBC, where it stayed until Benny returned to CBS Television in 1948.
Hicks lives today in Jackson Heights, a suburb of New York City. He is a grandfather and paints as a hobby.

Hicks stayed with the Blue Network, later renamed ABC, doing a Thursday night, five-minute look-back-at-the-news programme until the start of June, 1949. He ended up back at NBC News broadcasting a daytime news summary. The network used him in publicity literature but harkened on his radio work during the war. Radio was fading away, television had taken over, and a new guard was coming in. Hicks ended up back at ABC in 1953-54. He died of cancer at his home in Queens, New York, on March 17, 1965, age 60.

Jim Garner

A publicity biography planted in a newspaper said on the night of his TV starring debut on Sunday, September 15, 1957:

He was understudy to John Hodiak in "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial," he was a tough gunslinger doing battle with Clint Walker in the "Cheyenne" series, spent 14 months in a combat regiment in Korea, got the Purple Heart, studied business administration at Oklahoma U., was in the Merchant Marine on a seagoing tug, out of New Orleans, he's 6'3", weighs 200 lbs., shoots golf in the 70's and has brown eyes.

His show was an instant hit. J. Don Schlaerth of the Buffalo Courier-Express got this reaction, published almost two months later on November 17th:

At Alfred Hitchcock's recent Hollywood party, comedian Jack Benny, a shrewd and high-strung individual in real life, expressed concern over the 7:30 to 8:30 ABC-TV show seen locally on Ch. 2.
“Sure I’m worried about it.” Benny snapped. “Who wouldn’t be. People want Westerns right now. I don’t know what can be done about it except to put on good shows. We’re working harder than ever to do just that. I hope well be able to outride that horse,” he quipped with a tense smile.

Benny outrode the horse. But the star on the horse ended up having a pretty lengthy ride in show business.

The star was James Garner, who passed away last night at the age of 86.

Benny knew show business, but his response was only half right. The show didn’t succeed because westerns were popular. It succeeded because of Jim Garner. Over the years, he had a knack of picking roles where he played relaxed, likeable guys who had a sense of humour about themselves. He demonstrated the same thing in a series of commercials for Polaroid cameras that were so convincing, people thought the actress portraying his wife was his wife (she was the then-unknown Mariette Hartley).

Here’s the earliest entertainment column I can find about him. It’s from the North American Newspaper Alliance, and dated November 25, 1957.

James Garner Tops New Crop Of Actors

HOLLYWOOD — This has been a most profitable year for Hollywood in at least one important respect — the discovery and rapid development of fresh new talent. That goes for both motion pictures and television. But if you ask anyone in the behind-the-scenes know here to pick the one outstanding newcomer for 1957 you get an unwavering answer: “James Garner.”
A tall (6-3), lean, broad-shouldered twenty-nine-year-old roving Jack-of-all-trades from Oklahoma, Garner never had the slightest notion about professional acting until he drifted into Southern California 18 months ago. On a hunch, based on his looks, Warner Brothers signed him, put him into two feature pictures — “Darby’s Rangers” and “Sayonara” (in which he steals the show from Marlon Brando) and now he’s occupied on a regular basis starring in the TV weekly hour-long western, “Maverick.”
Since his debut over the airways two months ago, Garner has become such a favorite with Sunday-night audiences that he recently accomplished what Hollywood sages insisted was “the impossible.” He knocked both Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen off their proud first-place rating pedestals and took over the bulk of the viewing audience — the first time the twin killing was achieved since these two popular toastmasters began battling each other.
Hudson Wins
Earl J. Hudson, former nationally prominent chain theater operator, who has been heading ABC’s TV operations on the West Coast for the last four years, as responsible in a large measure for the sensational Sunday-night upheaval. Among those who heard the dour warnings about any program attempting to displace Sullivan or Allen — much less both—Hudson paid no attention. After carefully scrutinizing Garner and the western's format, he decided to make his daring move with “Maverick.” Bowing Sunday, Sept. 22, the series has been climbing steadily ever since.
Success of “Maverick,” which is not titled for an unbranded steer but for Garner’s character name, is traced mainly to the fact that it has been written into an extremely adult type of sagebrusher. Garner's bold man of the plains smokes and drinks — not to excess of course—and he plays cards and romances the ladies occasionally. What’s more, the folks out front seem by the Trendex reports to like his worldly interpretation so well that a sweeping analysis and revamping of most of the other western stalwarts (about 20 in the running) is already under way in the various TV camps.
It was during the Japanese location phase of the feature picture “Sayonara” that Warners’ TV division decided to go ahead with the “Maverick” series. One look at the footage from Japan convinced the studio and ABC-TV executives that Garner was the man to play the part. So, when he finished his marine captain role with Brando, he was flown home ahead of the company and placed before the cameras as Bret Maverick, reamer, fighter, lover, gambler.
From Garner’s personal-life standpoint, it was a natural. The Garner who left his Norman, Okla., home at sixteen, joined the Merchant Marine, then the Army and in between drifted from one coast to the other, slipped into the Maverick character as though it had been tailored for him.
“This Maverick deal is just like doing the story of my early life all over again,” Garner remarked a few days ago. “Until I landed in Hollywood, settled down and fell in love with the girl I married, I was a roving character.”
Friends and working associates are impressed immediately by Garner’s determination and especially his outspoken self-confidence.
While preparing for his first start in the series last August he was laughed at when he predicted in all seriousness: — “I’ll clobber both Allen and Sullivan within three months. If I don’t do it by then we'll change the character and the plot. But I know it can be done.”

Garner announced on March 19, 1960 he was quitting “Maverick” because Warner Bros. stopped paying him ($1,500 to 1,750 a week, depending on the source). The company said it had suspended him because a writers’ strike meant there were no episodes to shoot. The whole thing went to court. It didn’t hurt Garner a bit. He won the suit, went into movies and then became one of those rare people who had more than one huge TV hit in their career. Many people know him best for a six-year run as Jim Rockford on “The Rockford Files.”

He once admitted to the Orange County Register in 1997 “I never wanted to be a star; I just wanted to be a working actor. When I started in this business at 25, I gave myself five years.” It was 43 years when he did the interview. And he kept going. He co-starred in the 2004 romantic weeper “The Notebook.” Still he carried on, with roles on camera and on mike. A 50-plus-year career isn’t bad. It’s within Jack Benny territory, in fact. Not bad for a guy who started as TV newcomer in a freshman western. Charm can go a long way.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Cartoons of 1945, Part 2

The end of World War Two was not altogether, I suspect, a time of celebration for cartoon production companies. Overseas markets were open again but currency restrictions in Europe meant profits weren’t returning to the head office in the U.S. Technicolor film stock was still in short supply. And now that studios weren’t making propaganda films for the military, what were they going to do with all the people who were working on them?

You won’t find answers in the pages of The Film Daily, the New York-based trade publication. It gave less and less attention to shorts, perhaps reflecting the overall attitude of the studios toward them. The paper has fewer cartoon reviews and stories in the second half of 1945 than even a year earlier—even though some terrific cartoons were being made. Even the stories about Disney dealt more with the corporate side of things, though there were mentions of “Make Mine Music,” “Uncle Remus” and a proposed “Little People” feature. Perhaps the most interesting item is about Disney applying for a TV license. Paramount’s W6XYZ and Don Lee’s W6XAO were already on the air.

United Films, later known as UPA, proposed a series of shorts on Juliet Lowell’s “Dear Sir” and added to its staff. One studio newcomer was Lew Keller who the paper reveals had been at Warners. Keller had worked on “Dumbo” at Disney.

Morey and Sutherland moved into the commercial industrial business in 1945. The Sutherland studio eventually became one of the top industrial producers, attracting a lot of talented people.

Hugh Harman worked out a co-production deal and even had titles for four live action/animated projects for United Artist release. Never happened.

Harman’s MGM masterpiece, “Peace of Earth,” was proposed as a remake subject at Metro. The resulting cartoon bore no resemblance in tone to Harman’s cartoon. The idea bubbled around for a while. It was talked about again in 1951 after a U.N. conference and finally the short was redone by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera and released as “Good Will to Men.” The idea of a Nobel Prize for the original, incidentally, may have originally come from a Variety story of December 14, 1939 which said Metro was submitting it to the Nobel Prize Committee of the Academy of Sciences at Stockholm as an entry.

Before we get to The Film Daily, here are some newsy items from the pages of Variety.

Screen Gems/Columbia: Ray Katz replaces Hugh McCollum as manager (July 3). Henry Binder hired as assistant general manager after three years in the Navy (Oct. 4). Both had been Leon Schlesinger’s right arms.
MGM: Tex Avery to make fun of Pete Smith cooking shorts in “Way Down Yeast” (July 6); Bill Hanna, animators and inkers go to Torrance Naval hospital each Sunday to show how cartoons are made (July 16); Rivets the Robot to appear in “Rivets Stay ‘Way From My Door” (July 23); feature with Margaret O’Brien planned, Tom and Jerry live action/animation one-reeler rushed intro production (Aug. 9); all-star cartoon, “Phantoms of the Uproar,” to be directed by Hanna, Barbera and Avery (Aug. 14); short planned called “Our Vine Street Has Tender Wolves” (Oct. 10); Scott Bradley to score “Lonesome Lennie” and “King Size Canary” (Oct. 23); cameraman Eugene Moore returns from Army (Nov. 7); animator Bill Schipek returns from Marines (Nov. 9); animator Tom Ray returns from Army (Nov. 26); Imogene Lynn cut “Carry Me Back to Ol’ Virginie” for “Uncle Tom’s Cabana” (Dec. 3), new, all-war vet unit of Bill Williams, Ralph Tiller, Jack Cosgriff, Chuck Couch, Vonda Branson Wise and Kathleen Coyle set up to handle the Barney Bear cartoons (Dec. 5); all-vet unit finishes “The Bear and the Bean” (“unit to continue in the inker department under producer Fred Quimby” (Dec. 21).
Lantz: film editor Davie Lurie promoted to production manager (July 13); finishes 22-film contract for the Navy (Sept. 6); animator John Walker back from the Navy (Sept. 13), “Woody Woodpecker’s Xmas Follies” planned as all-star cartoon for GIs overseas (Oct. 4); “Woody’s Birthday Party” planned as all-star 5th birthday celebration (Oct. 9); selling home on lake (“Newly painted, partly furnished. New electric range and Coldspot refrigerator. Private dock and rowboat $9,000”, Oct. 15); series of three-reel live action/cartoon featurettes planned (Dec. 3); plan to produce “Rip Van Winkle” (Dec. 6).
Dave Fleischer: combines production company with composer Peter Tinturin’s (Aug. 30).

One particular review below in The Film Daily is quite puzzling. The review for “Book Revue” calls the cartoon “Book Review” and lists it as a Merrie Melodies short instead of a Looney Tune. When it was re-released as a Blue Ribbon, the title card called it “Book Review”—and gave it the Merrie Melodies theme and opening. Even more odd, the review states the story was by Michael Sasanoff. But the original credits, and the 1946 Copyright Catalogue, reveal Warren Foster was the writer. How did Sasanoff’s name get in the review? Another mystery we’ll likely never solve.

July 3, 1945
Cuba Honors Walt Disney
Cuba's appreciation of Walt Disney's services in "good neighbor" relations was expressed in New York through a humidor cabinet made of 35 rare Cuban woods representing the art of the islands republic's best cabinet makers. Ned E. Depinet, president of RKO Radio Pictures, accepted the cabinet on behalf of Walt Disney.

July 5, 1945
Phil M. Daly column, New York
• The Army is using Walt Disney's "The Three Caballeros' as the basis of a promotional campaign to sell War Bonds to the armed forces stationed in Central Latin-American and other Spanish-speaking countries.

July 10, 1945
Leo Katcher to Disney As Story, Talent Head
Leo Katcher, who formerly was associated with David O. Selznick and Samuel Goldwyn publicity departments, has been appointed by Walt Disney to head the East Coast story and talent department of his production organization. This is a new departure for the company which previously had no New York office to deal solely with property purchases and the signing of talent.

July 11, 1945
Phil M. Daly column
• The UAW-CIO plans an early Fall release for a one-reel color cartoon, designed to further better racial relations.

July 18, 1945
New Pal Series to Be Produced in Holland
West Coast Bur., THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Arrangements for the production in Holland of a series of new-type stringless puppets will be completed by George Pal, Puppetoons producer, who leaves for New York next week to meet Stanlat Kag, his Holland studio manager. Series, which will not conflict with Pal's Hollywcod-produced shorts released by Paramount, will be made in the Dutch tongue to be later dubbed in English in the U. S. studio. While in the East, Pal will purchase new studio euqipment for shipment to Holland.

July 20, 1945
Orders Cartoonists To Join Coast Strike
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood — The Screen Cartoonists Guild is the first of local organizations affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America ordered to join the studio strike. The Guild's executive board was scheduled to hold a meeting last night to consider the order.
Members of SOBG, SPG and story analysts are also expecting like orders. It is known that members of SOEG will be called upon to vote on the order.
Commenting on statement by major producers that they will ask the Superior Court to enjoin the members of SOEG from leaving their jobs if the order comes, Attorney William B. Esterman, co-counsel of the Screen Set Designers, maintains that California law forbids court interference with the right of individual workers to refuse to work for an employer. Producers declare injunction would be sought on the basis of the contract now existing between SOEG and the major studios which specifically forbids a strike or participation in any strike even though other unions may be out on strike.

July 23, 1945
SOEG Wires Lindelof for Further Strike Advice
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood— Officials of SOEG who have received orders from L. P. Lindelof, head of the International Brotherhood of Painters, to instruct their members to join the studio strike have wired him, asking him to advise them on some undisclosed issues broached at SOEG's executive board meeting.
SPG and the Screen Cartoonists Guilds have also received walk-out orders and are expected to call general membership meetings to consider what action to take.

July 24, 1945
"Make Mine Music" Next Walt Disney Feature Pic
Formal joint announcements were made yesterday by Walt Disney Studio and RKO Radio that the next Technicolor feature to be made by the former and distributed by the latter will be titled "Make Mine Music," which will be readied for release early in 1946. With the exception of one portion of the picture, all sequences will be in cartoon form. Each voice and band behind the individual numbers will have marquee importance, and Disney is declared to be setting his course for another new entertainment expression.
First name personalities he has signed for the opus are Dinah Shore, Benny Goodman, together with his band and quartette, and the two ballet luminaries, David Lichine and Riabouchinska.

SOEG Votes to Observe Studio Strike Picket Line
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood — Screen Office Employes Guild officers voted to recommend that the membership observe the studio strike picket lines and a general membership meeting is slated to be held later in the week. Paramount and Warners are not affected, inasmuch as their office employes have their own organizations.
Members of Screen Cartoonists Guild were scheduled to hold a meeting last night to vote on recommendations of its executive board that the order from L. P. Lindelof, president of the International Brotherhood of Painters, be carried out.
SPG's meeting on their order is expected to be held later in the week and promises to be real hot inasmuch as there is a strong division of opinion among the members on the action that should be taken. Members of Screen Story Analysts Guild are also to ballot on Lindelof's instructions.

July 25, 1945
Screen Cartoonists Join The Coast Studio Strike
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood — Screen Cartoonist Guild members yesterday joined the studio strike. Picket lines were observed at Warner Bros.' Van Ness Ave. plant and at M-G-M. About 25% of the Guild's 800 members are involved in the walk-out and of this number only 92 left their posts, the remainder being given special picket line passes to complete work or naval subjects at Warners and M-G-M.
Late yesterday Superior Court Judge Emmet Wilson issued a temporary restraining order requiring members of SOEG to remain at work pending a hearing tomorrow at which time SOEG officials will be asked to show cause why the order should not be made permanent. The order was sought by the major producers who contend they hold a no-strike contract with SOEG members who have been ordered by President Lindelof of the International Brotherhood of Painters to observe picket lines.
The SPG executive board has recommended that its members walkout and general membership meeting will be held Friday night.

Disney Recapitalization To Stockholders Aug. 23
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood — Proposals to amend the articles of incorporation of Walt Disney Productions, Inc., as the initial step in a plan of recapitalization, will be voted on at a special stockholders meeting called for Aug. 23. Stockholders will be asked to change the articles so that the company will be able to offer to preferred issue stockholders an opportunity to exchange each share of preferred stock for $10 principal amount of the company's 4 per cent debentures Series A., due July 1, 1960, and two shares of common.
Debentures will be unsecured obligations of the company, with a fixed maturity and fixed interest rate issued under an indenture in which the Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association will be named as trustee.
At Stockholders' Request
Move, according to an accompanying letter from Walter E. Disney, president, is made at the request of many preferred holders and is designed to place the capital structure of the company on a sounder basis.
At the special meeting, stockholders will be asked to increase the authorized common from 600,000 shares to 1,000,000; to increase the authorized number of directors from six to seven; to permit issuance of $2,500,000 principal amount of debentures, of which $1,550,000 would be the Series A 4 per cent and the balance reserved for future sale, subject to restrictions intended to benefit debenture holders.
Also, to eliminate fixed sinking fund payments for the retirement of preferred stock; to substitute a requirement that after Feb. 1, 1947, the company set aside each year for preferred stock retirement 10 per cent of net earnings after debentures sinking fund requirements; to permit preferred stock acquired by the company and cancelled to be credited at its par value on preferred sinking fund obligations, and to change the voting rights of preferred stockholders so that they may elect one director so long as 10,000 or more shares of preferred stock are outstanding.
Surplus at $754,520
In the financial data accompanying the meeting call, it is disclosed that the company's balance sheet as of June 30, 1945 shows the total surplus account to be $754,540.24 as compared with $256,227.52 on Sept. 30, 1944.
Disney said that since the common stock is closely held, it has no quoted market value, but that in May, 1945, Atlas Corp., a large preferred stockholder, purchased from the company for investment at $10 per share, 25,000 shares of common and took an option on 25,000 additional shares exercisable at $12.50 per share on or before Dec. 31, 1940. No members of the Disney family have sold or propose to sell any of their common stock, he noted.

July 31, 1945
Ralph Wilk column, Hollywood
• • "Man, the Builder," first Hugh Harman feature-length Animaction film slated for Technicolor, is in the sketching rooms. Harman recently completed a series of ship-building Animaction films, directed by Robert Y. Allen for the Office of Education. Series of shorts on medical subjects will go before cameras next.
• • "Dear Sir," The first in the cartoon series to be made by United Film Productions from the material in the best seller book by Juliet Lowell, was test-screened at the Hollywood Paramount. United Productions plans 10 pictures a year to be made out of the material in the book and from additional material in the hands of the author.

August 1, 1945
Lantz Plans Educationals At Universal's Studio
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood — Walter Lantz, cartoon producer, has made arrangements with Universal for use of its studio facilities in connection with the live action educational subjects he is making. Educational cartoons will be produced at the Lantz studio in Universal City. Lantz plans to enlarge his present building, or construct an additional structure for educational film production, as soon as material is available.

Resume Para. Cartoons
Production activities on Paramount cartoons will resume in full swing at Famous Studios on Aug. 6, it was announced by Sam Buchwald, general manager. The studios have been closed for two weeks to permit a general vacation for the entire studio personnel.

August 2, 1945
Ex-Disney Men Change Co. Title to United Film Prods.
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood — Name of Industrial Films organized in 1943 by Stephen Bosustow, Dave Hilberman and Zachary Schwartz, all former Disney men, has been changed to United Film Prods. United has just completed a cartoon based on letters in the book, "Dear Sir," by Juliet Lowell as its first subject for theatrical distribution.
The company is working on animation films for both theatrical and non-theatrical fields and on love action subjects for non-theatrical field. It is considering a story treatment based on an undisclosed American classic to be made into a feature length cartoon.

Levy in London to Map Distribution for Disney
London (By Cable)—William B. Levy, Walt Disney Productions distribution exec, has arrived via Pan American clipper. Levy will remain overseas for two months, visiting the Disney offices in London and Paris for conferences with the company's European reps. Plans will be mapped for the post-war distribution of the Disney product throughout the British Isles and the Continent.
The Disney Studio at present is completing the French language version of "Pinocchio" which was dubbed in France and .is probably the first film to be dubbed there since the outbreak of World War II.

August 7, 1945
Ralph Wilk column, Hollywood
Marc Connelly has been signed by Walt Disney to write the screen play for a cartoon-live talent feature to be based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor and the Nightingale."

August 8, 1945
Re-release for "Pinocchio"
Walt Disney's feature length contributions will be "Make Mine Music," in Technicolor, combining show business names with Disney characters. Cast thus far includes Dinah Shore, the Andrews Sisters, Benny Goodman, Nelson Eddy, the Pied Pipers, the King's Men, Sterling Holloway, David Lichine and Riabouchinska. Re-issue of "Pinocchio" is also included on the 1945-46 schedule....
One-reel shorts, totaling 143, include 104 twice weekly issues of Pathe News, 18 Walt Disney Technicolor cartoons...

August 9, 1945
Ralph Wilk column, Hollywood
WALT DISNEY has signed Maurice Geraghty to develop an original story he recently purchased from this writer called "Little People," which will come to the screen as a full-length feature. Preceding it in Disney's production schedule is "Make Mine Music" for RKO Radio release during the 1945-46 season.
"Little People" deals with the fairies, gnomes, leprechauns and other pint-size denizens of fantasy with which Irish legend is steeped. Some of the backgrounds will be filmed by Disney in Ireland.
• •
Walter Lantz, whose Cartunes are distributed via Universal, is making a series of special drawing to aid the National Safety Council in its safe driving campaign. Lantz is using his character, "Woody Woodpecker," in the art.

August 13, 1945
Ralph Wilk column, Hollywood
Inspired by the La Cienega children's carnival attended every week-end by such Hollywood great as Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, George Murphy, Preston Foster, Sol Lesser, Peter Tinturin, Albert Dekker, Connie Moore and a host of others. Producer George Pal will caricature all these figures in his next Jasper Puppetoon for Paramount.
• •
Boris Gorelick, outstanding artist, and Lew Keller, formerly with Warner Bros, cartoon department, have joined the staff of United Film Productions. Keller is in production design and Gorelick has been signed for animation.
• •
Walt Disney has purchased film rights to "The Magic Bed Knob" by Mary Norton.

New Disney Insignia For Shipyard Workers
Washington Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Washington—West Coast shipyard workers will henceforth be entitled to wear a special war-effort insignia, created by Walt Disney, Artemus L. Gates, under-secretary of the Navy, revealed.

August 21, 1945
Ralph Wilk column, Hollywood
INCLUDED in his production plans for 1946-47, George Pal yesterday announced his writing staff was preparing a series of Technicolor Puppetoon subjects based on the greatest collection of narrative poems in Engiish literature, Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." One of the first will be woven around Chanticleer The Cock, one of Chaucer's most famous characters. Goeffrey Chaucer, who lived in London in the late fourteenth Century, is known in literature as "the father of English poetry."

August 24, 1945
Local 1461 Backs Coast Cartoonists in Strike
Unionized screen cartoonists in this area belonging to Local 1461 of the International Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America, AFL, have thrown their support to Hollywood cartoonists involved in the studio strike. The membership of Local 1461 has voted for an assessment of one per cent of weekly wages to raise funds to help the West Coast cartoonists who are on strike.

Walt Disney Prods. Plans Recapitalization
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Stockholders of Walt Disney Prods, have voted to amend the company's articles of incorporation, as the first step in a re-capitalization plan. Amendments authorize an increase in the number of shares of common stock from 600,000 to 1,000,000; increase in directors from six to seven; permit issuance of $2,500,000 principal amount of 4 per cent debentures, and effect changes in present preferred stock sinking fund arrangements.
An offer to exchange one $10 4 per cent debenture and two shares of common stock, $5 par value for each share of outstanding preferred stock, $25 par value, which it is expected will be made shortly, will call for voluntary action on the part of stockholders, since an affirmative vote to change articles of incorporation does not bind a shareholder to accept the exchange offer. It is believed, however, that a very large number of holders of outstanding preferred stock will accept proposal.

August 29, 1945
Five Specials Among ‘U‘s’ 55 for Next Season
Short subjects scheduled [at Universal] include...13 Walter Lantz Technicolor Cartoons,

Metro Jumps Shorts To 54 for Next Year
Offered for 1945-46 by Metro...are the following one-reelers: 16 M-G-M cartoons...

Ralph Wilk column, Hollywood
At least 10 new cartoon characters, primarily designed for use in educational pictures are being developed by Walter Lantz, the producer. Characters which "click" in these subjects will be transferred to Lantz's "Woody Woodpecker" and "Andy Panda" series released via Universal, in effect, the commercial pictures planned by Lantz will serve as a "proving ground" for characters and ideas in general.
As manpower becomes available, Lantz will increase his production staff at his Universal City studio, with the added personnel to concentrate on educational pictures. Architects are already at work on plans for a new studio which will be built adjacent to his present plant.

August 30, 1945
N. Y. Cartoonists Guild Ready for Picketing
The Screen Cartoonists Guild, Local 1461, International Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and. Paperhangers of America, is prepared if necessary to picket film houses in this city out of sympathy with the studio strike, it was disclosed yesterday by Pepe Ruiz, its business agent. The Guild has offered its assistance to Herbert Sorrell, head of the Conference of Studio Unions, which called the 25-week-old walkout, said Ruiz, who added that his union was awaiting word from the Coast on the offer of help.
Ruiz said the Screen Cartoonists Guild was "backing the strike 100 per cent" and intended to do all it could to help the cause of the members of the craft who are on strike.
The Conference unions are affiliated with the painters' international.
As far as could be learned yesterday District Council No. 9 of the painters was also awaiting word on a proposal to picket theaters here.

September 7, 1945
Architects have started preparation of plans for the new Walter Lantz studio, adjacent to the present plant at Universal City. The new studio will provide facilities for his educational film activities.

September 12, 1945
Reeder Joins Disney in Exec. Realignment
Resignation of Walt Disney as resident of Walt Disney Productions become to chairman of the board and the appointment of John F. Reeder, vice-president of Young & Rubicam, as vice-president and general manager were announced yesterday. Roy O. Disney, now vice-president and general manager, will become president.
Walt Disney plans to resign the presidency officially at the next meeting of the board of directors in order to devote his full time and efforts to production matters exclusively. Roy Disney will devote most of his time to sales and marketing policies and other company developments.
Reeder has been vice-president of the Y & R advertising agency since 1936, headquartering in New York where he served also as contact supervisor. He will assume his new post on the Coast about Oct. 1. A graduate of Dartmouth, Reeder has been in the advertising business since 1925 and formerly was advertising manager of Cadillac Motor Car Co.
From 1940 until 1943 he was a lieutenant-commander in the U.S. Navy.

Leahy in Disney Post
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Fred Leahy has been named production and studio manager of Walt Disney Productions in line with the expanded activities planned by Disney in the feature field, which involves greater use of live action in combination with cartoons. Leahy spent 15 years with the Paramount studio, followed by three years at M-G-M.

September 18, 1945
Belgian Industry Will Mark Golden Jubilee
Brussels (By Air Mail) — The 50th anniversary of motion pictures will be commemorated here Nov. 30-Dec. 6, inclusive, under auspices of the Chambre Syndicale, the Association of Theater Managers, and Co-operative Press Association.
A highlight of the celebration will be exhibition of the first Belgian cartoon ever made, — "The Unexpected Voyage" — , which the producers, Gordinne et Fils, will make available with English titles, in addition to versions in the French and Flemish languages. Film is approximately 1,312 feet in length.

September 20, 1945
WLB Recommends Level In Cartoonists' Wage
A recommendation that New York wage rates for cartoonists be brought to the level of those on the Coast has been made by a Regional War Labor Board panel in the case involving Famous Studios and the Screen Cartoonists Guild, Local 1461 of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America.
The recommended increases range from $5 to $10 per week. The panel asked that the contract be for two years, with the right to reopen it on wages at the end of the first year. All wage increases would be retroactive to March 14.

Walt Disney to Expand His Foreign Sales Staff
Walt Disney will expand his foreign sales organization in all countries, William B. Levy, world-wide distribution head, said yesterday. Levy returned recently from England.
Approximately 90 short subjects and eight features, produced since 1939, have never been shown in many European countries. Foreign revenue from these unplayed pictures, Levy said, should total between $5,000,000 and $10,000,000.
"Snow White" played 37 weeks at the New Gallery Theater in London and "The Three Caballeros" is in its 16th week. "Pinocchio" opens in December.
Levy said that the Disney Paris office was intact and that it operated throughout the Nazi occupation.
Disney will make two features, yearly. Levy said. Next two will be "Make Mine Music" and "Uncle Remus."

October 3, 1945
Lantz to Tour Nation To Study Cartoon Tastes
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood — Walt Lantz, Universal’s Cartune producer, leaves Hollywood Nov. 2 on a nation-wide tour to contact exhibitors and exchange-men to determine audience tastes in cartoons and get reactions to ideas for new characters. He will also survey requirements of the educational picture field.
While in New York Lantz will confer with Ashton B. Collins, advertising agency head, for whom he is producing his initial educational Cartune, "Reddy Kilowatt."

October 4, 1945
M-G-M to Make Cartoon Sequel to 'Peace on Earth'
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood — As a sequel to "Peace on Earth," a cartoon preachment against war released in 1939 and which was shown to delegates at that United Nations Conference in San Francisco, M-G-M will make "The Truce Hurts," a post-war story starring cartoon characters Tom and Jerry. It is aimed at setting an example for world peace. Fred Quimby will produce and William Hanna and Joseph Barbera co-direct.

October 29, 1945
Coast Tele Station Permit Sought by Disney Prod.
A permit to erect and operate a television studio in Los Angeles is being sought from FCC by Walt Disney Productions. If the application is granted, the studio will be constructed on the 51-acre site of the Disney Studio in Burbank. Coincident with the proposed project, the Disney office here said that the U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service has approved erection of a transmitter atop Mt. Lowe, permit for which is incorporated in the Disney application to FCC. Programs from the Disney studio would be wired to the transmitter.

West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Tony Stamford, radio producer, has checked into the Walt Disney studio to handle a radio-tele talent surveying assignment for the Burbank organization. Stamford will devote six weeks to the job.

October 31, 1945
Cauger Funeral Today
Kansas City — Funeral services will be held in nearby Independence today for Arthur V. Cauger, head of the film distributing service company bearing his name and the man credited with giving Walt Disney his start as a creator of animated cartoons. Cauger opened the old Kansas City Slide Co. in 1910 and later used animated cartoons as an advertising medium.

Chile to Award Disney Its Legion of Merit Medal
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Walt Disney, holder of the Brazilian Order of the Southern Cross and Mexico's Aztec Eagle, is to receive the Legion of Merit Medal from the Chilean government. Presentation will be made to Disney today by President Juan Antonio Rios at a dinner to be given by the city of Los Angeles honoring the chief executive of Chile.
Disney is being honored, according to the citation, for "your splendid work as creator of a new art in the motion picture field, and for your efforts towards humanity, understanding of Latin-American countries without distinction of races or languages, and also for the friendship that you have shown on many occasions toward the Republic of Chile.

November 1, 1945
Back in Civvies
JOHNNY VITA, former Terrytoons background artist, from Signal Corps.

November 14, 1945
Morey and Sutherland Expand in New Fields Morey and Sutherland Productions, Inc., producers of the "Daffy-Ditty" short subjects for United Artists, has launched an expansion program to include commercial and educational subjects. Jack Sheehen, formerly with Walt Disney, has joined the organization as vice-president in charge of sales for the new department.
The commercial and educational subjects will be released in 35 mm. and 16 mm. versions and will embody live action, third dimensional and flat animation and slide films.
John Sutherland, president, said in New York yesterday that the first subject had been completed for the Aireon Manufacturing Corp., titled "Railroading by Radio," showing how radio communication is used in transportation. The studio facilities in Los Angeles, he said, had been increased to take care of the new enterprise.
The company's contract with United Artists is for five years. Two of the "Daffy-Dittys" have been released and two others have been completed and are ready for release. These subjects are in Technicolor. New York office has been set up in the Guaranty Trust Co. Bldg. at 44th St. and Fifth Ave.

Disney Stockholders Weigh Recapitalization
West Coast Bureau of THE FILM DAILY
Burbank — Walt Disney Prod, is offering holders of preferred stock a recapitalization plan involving exchange of preferred shares for debentures and common. Holders have privilege of exchanging each share of preferred for $10 face amount of 4 per cent debentures due July 1, 1960, and two shares of common.
Under the plan, debentures will be a senior funded obligation of the company, unsecured, with interest payable semi-annually. All company common was held by Disney family members until last May when Atlas Corp. bought 25,000 shares of common at $10 a share with option to buy 25,000 additional shares at $12.50.

Ralph Wilk column, Hollywood
George Pal plans a Puppetoon operatic short.

Back in Civvies
WALLY HAYNES, from the Army, cutter, Walter Lantz Cartunes, Hollywood.

November 29, 1945
Lantz Due on Monday
Walter Lantz, producer of Universal Cartunes, is clue in New York Monday to confer with home office executives in regard to his new type of short subjects which will combine live action with the cartoon characters. They will go into production early next year.

Back in Civvies
NED ARNOLD, from the Army, maintenance head, Walter Lantz Cartunes Studio, Hollywood.

December 28, 1945
Terry Cocktail Party Today
Paul Terry's cocktail party, commemorating his 30th anniversary as a producer of film cartoons, takes place this evening in the Sky Garden Room of the St. Moritz Hotel. Officers and executives of 20th-Fox will be amongst the 300 on hand to salute the dean of film cartoonists.

Comet to Hake Nine Pix in 18 Months
United Artists Get Six for ‘46 Release
Nine pictures in the next 18 months will be produced by Comet Productions, Inc., newly-formed producing company headed by Mary Pickford, Buddy Rogers and Edward Peskay. The pictures will be released by United Artists, with six to be made in 1946. Rogers will be co-producer with Ralph Cohn on four of the films and will co-produce two others with Hugh Harman, who formerly headed Harman-Ising Productions which made cartoons for M-G-M. Cohn, who served three years in Army Signal Corps, formerly was a Columbia producer. The Harman-Rogers pictures, patented under the title of Anim-Action, will combine animated cartoons with live talent in color. In this group are "Joe Miracle" and "Haunted Horse."
The four Rogers-Harman pictures are "Singing Village," "Fighting Irishman," "Little Iodine" and "Adventures of Don Coyote." Each Comet picture, according to Miss Pickford, will be directed toward "whatever will be the best quality and best length for the screen." Other titles are "Widow From Frisco," "The Bat," "One Rainy Afternoon" and several well known pictures in which Miss Pickford once starred.


July 9, 1945
"Wagon Heels" (Merrie Melodies)
Warner Bros. 7 Mins. Recommended
Plenty of laughs are evoked as Porky Pig, a scout for a wagon train heading West, tangles with a bad Injun who is terrorizing the white men. Porky gets the worst of it until he finds that the Redskin is ticklish. He works on this weakness to bring about the villain's downfall. The Technicolor short is a recommended cartoon.

July 11, 1945
"Booby Socks" (Phantasy Cartoon)
Columbia 7 Mins. Very Good
Here is a black and white cartoon travesty on "the Voice" using a singing cat as the prototype of Frank Sinatra. All the young felines swoon as he passes them except one. He does his best to win her over until he discovers that it's a mechanical toy.

"Kukunuts" (Fox & Crow Cartoon)
Columbia 7 Mins. All Right
Produced in Technicolor, this cartoon features the fox as a castaway on a desert island whose dreams of a dinner of crow after a diet of nothing but cocoanuts almost comes true. The crow makes his appearance but is to[o] sly for the fox and gets away from the island in the nick of time.

July 19, 1945
"Anchors Aweigh" with Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson, Jose Iturbi
M-G-M 140 Mins.
To Kelly also goes credit for creating the film's dance sequences, one of which is an impressive number in which he has a cartoon character as a partner. In its use of "flesh" and animation this sequence outdoes Walt Disney.

July 20, 1945
"No Sail" (Walt Disney)
RKO 7 mins. Very Funny
The latest of the Donald Duck cartoons in Technicolor is generously sprinkled with laughs. The quacker is teamed with another of Walt Disney's prize comedy characters, Goofy. The story casts Donald and Goofy adrift at sea where they face almost certain death. How they manage to save themselves provides a hilarious finish.

"The Legend of Coyote Rock" (Walt Disney) RKO 7 mins. Most Amusing
This Technicolor cartoon starring Pluto is a flight of fancy certain to make a strong impression on audiences. In story and treatment it is one of the better Walt Disney items. The tale tells of a mean coyote who inspires the legend of a rock formation in his image. Pluto is cast as a lambs' guardian who is kept on the alert preventing his charges from falling prey to the coyote. A most amusing subject, this.

July 25, 1945
"Tops In The Big Top" (Popeye)
Paramount 7 mins. Tops
Packed with action and clever situation this Technicolor treat has Popeye in the role of a circus performer who is nearly put out of the way by Bluto, Olive Oyl's jealous suitor, when he places a steak on Popeye's head as he puts it into the lion's mouth. In a whirlwind finish Popeye evens the score. Highlight of the cartoon is Bluto's trapeze performance using Olive Oyl as a yo-yo.

"Jasper's Close Shave" (Puppetoon)
Paramount 8 mins. Excellent
Inspiration and music borrowed from the famous opera, "Barber of Seville," has spruced the imagination of George Pal's production staff to effect a superlative Technicolor short. This one has Jasper at the mercy of the Scarecrow and the Blackbird when he discovers a hair on his face and believes he is old enough for a shave.

"Lamb In A Jam" (Noveltoon)
Paramount 8 mins. Fairly Amusing
Delightful Technicolor adds a notch of satisfaction to this second of a series featuring Blackie, (the lamb), and the Wolf. The Wolf turns out to be a "sucker" for all of Blackie's counter-propositions in his attempt to secure a Winter coat.

August 7, 1945
"Crow Crazy" (Andy Panda)
Universal 7 mins. Good
The crow outsmarts Andy Pandy and his dog, Milo, in this Technicolor cartoon, as they attempt to rid their cornfield of him and his cronies. The crow fools Milo, the dog with the "Mortimer Snerd" voice, into believing that a goat and a bull are crows for the laugh spot of the short.

August 9, 1945
"Treasure Jest" (Fox and Crow)
Columbia 6 1/2 mins. Funny Cartoon
In this Technicolor cartoon, the Fox and the Crow transfer their tiffing to an island where the latter’s racket is charging a fee to dig for treasure that isn't there. When the Fox refuses to shell out, the Crow makes things tough for him. It’s slam-bang from there on, with the Fox coming up with the winning hand at the finish. There is much amusement in this mad-paced short.

"Hot Foot Lights" (Color Rhapsody) Columbia 7 mins. Fair Cartoon
Here is a fairly entertaining cartoon in Technicolor. The setting is a theater where the audience is treated to a number of acts in which the characters are patterned after such life-and-blood performers as W.C. Fields and Jimmy Durante. The attempts of a member of the audience to cross up the performers add to the amusement.

August 13, 1945
"Fresh Airdale" (Merrie Melodies)
Warner Bros. 7 mins. Very Humorous
Here is an extremely amusing Technicolor cartoon about a mutt that lacks all the qualities that has won the dog the title of man's best friend. The canine of the story is a mean, selfish, vicious type who lets the poor innocent cat take all the blame for wrongs committed by him, while he steals the glory for every good deed performed by the feline. A [] comedy booking.

"Hare Conditioned" (Bugs Bunny)
Warner Bros. 7 mins. A Howl
Once more Bugs Bunny is the central performer in a Technicolor short that is excruciatingly funny. This time the screwy rabbit tangles with a department store manager who is bent on stuffing him after his services as a demonstrator have been terminated. Of course, Bugs carries off the victory. To say the pace is furious is an understatement. A sure-fire laugh grabber.

September 12, 1945
"Old Sequoia" (Donald Duck)
RKO 7 Mins. Fast and Funny
A real laugh-getter, this Disney cartoon puts the versatile duck in the role of a forest ranger who is warned by his superior that a number of trees are being lost in the area, and that "if Old Sequoia goes so will Donald." Donald attempts to rout two smart beavers before they get the famous tree but falls victim to their cunning.

"Canine Patrol" (Disney-Pluto)
RKO 7 mins. Cute
This cartoon, "dedicated" to the dogs of the U. S. Coast Guard, has Pluto, on patrol duty at a Coast Guard station, attempting to prevent a newborn turtle from swimming at the restricted beach. In an effort to get rid of the turtle he nearly sinks under a bank of quicksand. The turtle saves him and they strike up a great friendship.

October 4, 1945
"The Enemy Bacteria"
Walter Lantz 30 mins. Gripping
This subject, produced in Technicolor by Walter Lantz for the United States Navy, Aeronautical Department, is gripping and holds interest to the end. It combines live action with animation and was designed to impress Navy medical personnel with the dangers of carelessness. One of Surgeon Milburn Stone's assistants tears a rubber glove and neglects to replace it before entering the operating room. As a result bacteria is placed on an instrument that the assistant hands Surgeon Stone. The patient, Joel Allen, is infected and crippled for life. Director Ray Taylor handled the live action and Virgil Miller the photography.

"The Bashful Buzzard" (Looney Tunes)
Warner Bros. 7 mins. Funny
An amusing animated cartoon in Technicolor that is filled with action. The story is about a mother buzzard who is successful in getting all but one of her young to scout for food. The backward one, a goofy character, is constantly running in to difficulty. At the end, however, he fools everybody by lugging home a dragon, no less.

October 18, 1945
"Jasper and the Beanstalk" (George Pal Puppetoons)
Paramount 8 mins. Rates Well
George Pal's variation on the story of Jack and the beanstalk is a very entertaining Technicolor item. The hero is played by Jasper, with the Scarecrow as the giant. The beanstalk materializes from some "magic" beans Jasper gets from the Scarecrow in return for a Jew's-harp. Jasper rescues a beautiful gal from the villain and brings her back to earth with him. Of course, it's all a dream. A recommended filler.

October 19, 1945
"For Better or Nurse" (Popeye)
Paramount 7½ mins. Okay
The latest of the Technicolor cartoon series is sufficiently diverting. The story has Popeye and Bluto out-doing each other in an attempt to land in the hospital where Olive Oyl is a nurse. The gal's admirers try every possible means of self-injury to no avail. Thev make the discovery at the finale that Olive is a nurse in a cat and dog hospital. Here indeed is a case of love's labor lost.

"Peck Up Your Troubles" (Merrie Melodies)
Warner Bros. 7 Mins. Reasonably Amusing
A feud between a cat and a woodpecker provides the material for a moderately funny cartoon in Technicolor. The villain tries every conceivable trick to snare the feathered tidbit, the bird winning out with the help of a ferocious bull dog. The short has some good touches.

"Daffydilly Daddy" (Little Lulu)
Paramount 8 mins. Fairly Entertaining
In her latest escapade Little Lulu is called upon to deliver her pop's entry in the flower show. She is beset by difficulty after difficulty in carrying out the errand. When the flower is damaged, the day is saved for pop with the help of a fast-working plant health food. The Technicolor cartoon contains some amusing moments, with the appeal directed primarily to children and women.

"A Sunbonnet Blue" (Blue Ribbon Cartoon)
Warner Bros. 7 Mins. Good
Action in this one takes place in a hat store where a group of mice are having a party. The hero and heroine do a song and dance in the spotlight. The "Ratz" Bros. do a clever bit. Then the "dirty rat" tries to steal the heroine and is caught by the hero. There's plenty of novelty in associating various hats in the store with human occupations of the rats.

November 2, 1945
"Mess Production" (Popeye)
Paramount 7 1/2 Mins. Humorous
Here's another chapter in the rivalry between Popeye and Bluto for the attention of Olive Oyl. The scene is a plant where the gal works as a welder. When she is accidently dazed by a blow meant for Popeye, she walks among the machinery at risk of her life. It is Popeye who rescues her and wins her affection. The Technicolor cartoon has enough humorous situations to please the customers.

"A Self-Made Mongrel" (Noveltoons)
Paramount 8 mins. Passably Amusing
The misunderstanding between a talking mongrel and his master over the latter's determination to give the animal polish is productive of some fairly diverting interludes in this Technicolor cartoon. When the mutt insists he is just a ferocious watch-dog and intends to remain that way, his master puts him to the test with results that make a liar of him.

"Wild and Woolfy"
M-G-M 8 Mins. Very Funny
In this Technicolor cartoon the wolf, a desperate bandit who rides a contortionist horse, holds up the Good Rumor man for two popsicles, tries to kidnap a beautiful entertainer in a Western saloon, has the sheriff's posse running ragged in a merry chase, but is always thwarted in his plans by a midget character who rides a midget horse.

November 28, 1945
"Nasty Quacks" (Merrie Melodies)
Warner Bros. 7 Mins. Okay
Daffy Duck's antics make this a most amusing Technicolor cartoon. The screwy quack-quack, abusing his position as a little girl's pet, gives his mistress' father as much trouble as possible. The man tries to dispose of his tormentor but is licked at every turn. When an animated filler is wanted, this should serve nicely.

December 13, 1945
"Simple Siren" (Phantasy Cartoon)
Columbia 6 1/2 mins. Poor
The laugh content of this animated cartoon is very limited indeed. The short is about a siren who tries every possible lure to attract sailors unaware of her villainous intentions. Her efforts to draw the seafarers into her web boomerang time and again. This "Simple Siren" is a weak sister.

"Book Review" (Merrie Melody)
Warner Bros. 7 mins. Excellent
Primed with Technicolor, the Michael Sasanoff story offers Daffy Duck an opportunity to give an excellent impersonation of Danny Kaye. The cartoon's locale is set in a book store with the characters involved in a satire on the book titles.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Destination: Supermarket Window

Here’s the opening shot of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon “Destination Meatball.” Fred Brunish was the background artist, though Woody is on cels and I suspect one of the animators put the line-up looking in the window on a cel as well.

The cartoon was released on December 24, 1951 (even though Boxoffice reviewed it six weeks earlier). Brunish was dead six months later.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Funny Fish

The best part of the Scrappy cartoon “The Bad Genius” (1932) is the fish in the bowl that tag along to provide comic relief. Well, some Scrappy fans may like the weird ending where the knocked out baby Oopie is strung up like a marionette and performs.

Oopie forsakes his practicing on the double bass to go joy-riding—with the Yippee the dog pulling him on top of the instrument while the infant balances the bowl of fish on his head.

The ride is stopped by a rock on the road and Oopie and the fish fly into a nearby hog trough.

I love how the fish are on top of Oopie’s head when it comes up from the mud and spit mud at Scrappy.

The fish shake hands (fins?) in congratulations. Naturally, because Scrappy’s face is now black, the fish shout “Mammy!” at him, then jump away to return later in the cartoon.

Sid Marcus and Art Davis get the animation credits with the story by Dick Huemer.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Star of the Star Theater

American TV viewers finally said “Ahhhh, shaddap!” to Milton Berle. But for a few years, he really was Mr. Television. Sales of sets zoomed shortly after the debut of the Texaco Star Theater as people stayed home on Tuesday nights to see what outrageous thing Berle would do next.

But the problem with outrageousness is you have to keep topping yourself and there’s only so far you can go before people have had enough. And that’s what happened to Milton Berle. Within a few years, his show was off the air. But he took his routine to Vegas and made guest appearances on other variety shows as “himself”—the self-satisfied, attention-grabbing comic with corn in his trunk. He survived to eventually become a nostalgic representation of a kind of show-biz long dispatched to the past.

In 1950, Berle was still at the top of his TV game. NBC would sign him to a 30-year contract the following year. So it’s no surprise National Enterprise Association radio-television columnist Dick Kleiner would feature him as one of the “funnymen” in a series of articles. This appeared in newspapers on February 19, 1950.

From Flop to Hit:
Milton Berle Finds That TV Takes to His Talents Very Well


New York—(NEA)—The Milton Berle television show is perhaps the nearest approach to totalitarianism this side of the Iron Curtain. Berle is the show. And the show is Berle.
Berle picks out the guest stars. Berle plans the routines. Berle checks the music. Berle supervises the set design. Berle masterminds the costumes. Berle runs the rehearsals. Berle plots the camera positions.
Berle does everything to bring out the best television performance out of his cast. And he then sets out, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to steal the show from them.
His dictatorial tendencies are tolerated by his guest stars and his associates for the basic reason that the guy knows what he's doing. He proved it when he hitched his Hooper-rating to a skyrocket and zoomed to the top of the video heap in not much more than a year.
BUT THE STRANGEST thing about the most-rehearsed show in the business—it averages 36 hours of rehearsal a week—is that there is no script, as such. Berle himself comes on in a wacky costume, and ad libs his way through about five minutes of what he calls “heckler jokes.”
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Do you like this costume? Don’t laugh—I only look this way for an hour, but what can you do? I’ve seen some of your faces before—on a bottle of iodine. That's a nice suit you're wearing, Buster. That style's coming back now.”
That, accompanied by posing and mugging and occasional trips into the audience to snip off a stooge's tie, has made Berle the highest paid personality in television.
But, actually, Berle isn't doing anything on television that he hasn't done before.
“I've been doing the same things for 30 years,” he says, truthfully. He was a success in night clubs but tried about a dozen different radio, programs without scaring Hope or Benny. Television, however, seems to be the medium that best captures his style.
THAT'S BECAUSE he is primarily a visual comedian: Like most comics, be does have writers to supply him with verbal gags—in addition to the ones he is accused of swiping. But his jokes are not extraordinary. Here are a few typical samples:
“I'd like you to meet our band leader, Allen Roth. His band played at the Barkley wedding—Shirley and Irving Barkley of Brooklyn. I don't know what I'm doing today—this morning I got up and gave my seat to a lady in the subway.
“Thanksgiving always reminds me of my brother—he never thanks and I keep giving. That brother of mine spends my money like it was going out of style tomorrow.”
But Berle's biggest laughs come from his clowning. One of his pet routines is to stick his hand in a guests's mouth and lead him off stage.
On one program, the guest was Bert Gordon, the Mad Russian. Berle pulled the hand-in-mouth business, and out came Gordon’s false teeth.
BERLE IS, of course, highly pleased with his success. When he first went on the Star Theatre, back in June, 1948, he was to be master of ceremonies for four weeks. The policy was to have the MCs rotate.
It continued for a few weeks—night club comedian Henny Youngman (Berle calls him Henny Oldjokes) and George Jessel had cracks at the job.
But the people wanted Berle back. By September, he had the show for keeps, and had won awards as the top TV comedian and master of ceremonies, to boot. By now, he glories in the label he himself helped to popularize, “Mr. Television.”
The self-styled Babe Ruth of television—or, perhaps, Sultan of Swipe—has some definite ideas about what brought him to the top and how to stay there. For one thing, he feels that a successful show must have a “cog” (in this case, Berle) around which to revolve.
For another, he insists on variety from week to week, so that the audience won't get tired of seeing the same thing, repeated endlessly. He should know about surprises—his video success, to television executives, is one of the biggest surprises of all time.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Hungover Sun

The sun gets up in the morning—and it apparently had a rough night. These are some of the drawings from “Morning, Noon and Night,” a 1933 Fleischer cartoon.

The cartoon was an attempt to score classical music to birds, flowers and butterflies and other things generally best left in the province of Mr. W.E. Disney. But, unlike Mr. Disney, the Fleischers add drunken cat rowdies and Betty Boop. It’s not the best mix but the musicality shows some dexterity.

Tom Johnson and Dave Tendlar received the animation credits on this short.

Monday, 14 July 2014


“Interesting to behold is the evolution of the tropical butterfly,” says Robert C. Bruce, as we sit back to enjoy another phoney travelogue. “Let’s watch this curious transformation as from this lowly, insignificant little cocoon emerges a full-grown butterfly, vividly marked with all the gorgeous colours of the rainbow.”

And one after the next, butterflies are spat out of their cocoons (Treg Brown handles a blown-up balloon to get the sound of the stretching of the cocoon). But the third one is a shaking runt.

“Well, I’ve been sick,” the quasi-butterfly tells the audience.

The gag is from “Aviation Vacation” (1941). Tex Avery used it in other cartoons. If anyone knows the origin of the phrase, let me know.