Friday, 27 November 2015

Roll Up the Scrim For Louis Armstrong

Bimbo and Koko try to escape from an alligator in “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You.” Swinging on some vines doesn’t help. Instead, they roll up a curtain which reveals the great Louis Armstrong and his band playing the title song.

Louis says something I can’t decipher over the music. He gets sets to play. That’s enough for the plot (?) so the cartoon curtain rolls down, and Bimbo and Koko resume trying to escape.

It’s a kick seeing Louis this young. His orchestra is hot in this cartoon but the gags aren’t as strong or strange as in some of the other Fleischer music-based tunes like “Minnie the Moocher” or “Snow White.”

Willard Bowsky and Ralph Somerville get the arbitrary screen credit.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

By Word of Mouse Backgrounds

Simple was in, in 1954. Here some stylised backgrounds by Irv Wyner for the Warners cartoon By Word of Mouse

And some longer ones. How many universities were called “P.U.” in animated cartoons? I like the two-tone shadow effect on the building.

And an inside joke.

Friz Freleng directed this from a story by Warren Foster.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Art of the Insult

The Round Table at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel was known for its sophisticated witty repartee, or its catty put-downs covered in self-congratulation, depending on your viewpoint. The Round Table was also known as the “Vicious Circle,” and this was the title of Margaret Case Harriman’s account of the intellectual humour of the denizens thereof, published in 1951 by Rinehart.

One would think the clever waggishness of the Round Table would be viewed upon favourably by radio critic John Crosby, not only because he was an adroit purveyor of words, but because he dealt daily with the pedestrian and obvious verbiage in sitcoms, quiz shows and soap operas. However, his column of July 14, 1951 bespeaks a tiredness with the former as well as the latter. Still, he manages to mine some nuggets of wit from the ranks of radio programmes, which he passes on to his readers. One of them involves someone in the social sphere of the Vicious Circle—“the glamorous, unpredictable Tallulah Bankhead.”

Once, during the rehearsal of “The Big Show,” the producer was trying, over Tallulah Bankhead’s strenuous objections, to cut a few of her lines just as a matter of timing. It was an epic battle, I’m told, but the producer finally won though he didn’t escape entirely unscathed. Groucho Marx, who was within earshot, took the cigar of his mouth just long enough to mutter: “The Timing of the Shrew.”
I don’t know why I’m telling you all this except that too many people are reading “The Vicious Circle” and quoting too much of it to me. Said Noel Coward to the highly tailored lady: “You look almost like a man.” Retorted the highly tailored lady to Noel Coward: “So do you.” The art of insult, especially that one, is still around in different form, though perhaps not so succinctly expressed. Said Tallulah to Bob Hope: “Hope, leave this stage until I call for you.” Said Hope to Tallulah: “Don’t lower your voice to me. I knew you when you were Louis Calhern.”
The art of insult which I inspect annually along with dumb women jokes, political jokes, and tax jokes, has declined a little in the past year. But there have been a few — all of them, I expect, modifications of Max Beerbohm’s or Oscar Wilde’s but still, I think, at least as quotable as those in “The Vicious Circle.” There was that one on “This Is Show Business,” for instance.
BERT LAHR: I told this same joke recently at the Capitol theater and you could hear them laugh across the street.
CLIFTON FADIMAN: What was playing over there?
Then there was Ronald Colman on the Jack Benny program.
COLMAN: I never told you this, Jack, but I heard the first radio program you ever did.
BENNY: Gee, Ronnie, I didn’t know that. The very first program?
COLMAN: Yes. How have they been since?
Well, after all, there were some pretty old jokes in “The Vicious Circle,” too, but they were on the whole more vicious. People just don’t insult one another with the zest they once used, so we’ll have to turn elsewhere. (If Bennett Cerf can get away with this, I can try, too.) I rather like Groucho Marx’s brief patriotic oration which ran: “We owe a great deal to the government. The question is, how are we ever going to get the money to pay for it?”
That last is known as the tax joke which in sheer numbers is far out in front of my joke file. Radio and television actors and writers make much more money than is good for them; the government takes it away for their own protection and this solicitude preys on their minds. Pretty soon they write hokes about it. Or if they get real mad, they vent their spleen on the politicians. “My boy friend is out making speeches to draft Eisenhower. He wants to draft Eisenhower before Eisenhower drafts him.” (Gene Autry show).
Or if they get too depressed to write jokes about either taxes or politics, they can always fall back on the woman driver joke. “Well, I signaled for a left turn and then changed my mind and signaled for a right turn. Then I decided to take a short cut down the sidewalk because there were too many manly drivers cluttering up the street. Well, this weasel was hogging the sidewalk and I was late getting to the beauty parlor so in order to avoid an accident I just ran over him.” (Red Skelton show).
It’s been a good year, all around, for women jokes. Gracie Allen returned the eight day clock George bought her because the eight days were up and at least one girl bought “Little Women” for a friend because he was marrying a midget and Dave Garroway broke the news about the perfume that was driving women mad–it smelled like money—and my friend Irma . . . well, let’s not get into my friend Irma or we’ll be here all day.
We started with Groucho and we’ll finish with Groucho:
GROUCHO: If you like the sea, why aren’t you a sailor instead of a landlubber?
CONTESTANT: That’s not a very good way to raise a family.
GROUCHO: The fish manage pretty well.
I plan to collect them all in a book some day but not until the winter after the Christmas jokes are in. “Second Story Jackson is in jail again.” – “What’s he in for this time ?” – “He was doing his Christmas shopping early.” – “Early?” – “Before the store opened.” (Duffy’s Tavern.)

Crosby was so oft quoted in his day—though not as much, perhaps, as the Algonquin Round Table—it would have been nice if someone published a collection of his columns. Interestingly, someone did, in a way. After writing this post, I happened upon an issue of Swing magazine, which had reprinted this particular column and several others. Swing was the publication of WHB (“Your Favorite Neighbor”) in Kansas City. It was a pretty ambitious publication for a radio station and while it may not have engaged in the slicing wit of a Benchley, Woollcott or Parker, it did have the sense to give readers a monthly dose of Crosby. You can leaf through PDF scans at David Gleason’s exemplary repository of old broadcasting publications HERE.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Tex Avery used long limo gags in his cartoons and Bob Clampett does the same thing in “It’s a Grand Old Nag” (1946).

It has a sunglasses and an Oscar hood ornament. The sunglasses remind me of Clampett himself in photos from the late ‘40s and early ’50 when he was producing A Time For Beany.

The topper gag is when the limo turns a corner, it turns out to be fake, with Charlie Horse (Stan Freberg) churning the pedals while director Retake (Dave Barry) does nothing because he’s Important in Hollywood.

I doubt Bob Clampett had a phoney limo but I’ll bet he had cash-flow problems like other cartoon producers of the time. This was the only short he made under a deal with Republic.

Monday, 23 November 2015

The War of 1620

Tex Avery’s Jerky Turkey may have been set in 1620 during the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock as they fled religious persecution but because it was released in 1945, there are some decidedly un-1620 references in it. America was at war, you know.

If you’ve seen enough animated cartoons from that period, you should get all the dated references. If not, allow us to help you along with the assistance of E.O. Costello and his Warner Brother Cartoon Companion, at one time a go-to source on the internet.

Kiser? C? Mr. Costello writes:

KAISER, HENRY J. (1882-1967)
Industrialist who reached prominence in World War II for his ability to mass-produce ships, cutting the time for building Liberty cargo ships down to one day. His shipyards launched 1,490 vessels by the end of the war. Hence the joke at the end of The Weakly Reporter (Jones, 1944) in which a sign on his office door at a shipyard reads “Out to Launch - Back in 10 Minutes”.

During the Second World War, a government-imposed gasoline rationing program was implemented in the United States. Rationing was especially strict for those living in the eastern seaboard states, because at the time, most petroleum was carried by tanker -- an impractical mode of transport with enemy U-Boats operating off the US coast. Until the “Big Inch” pipeline was finished, gas supplies in the East were generally considered “tight”. Depending on need, citizens were issued one of a number of different “gas cards”, entitling them to a certain quantity of gasoline each week. (One had to present a ration book as well when purchasing gas. Ration book coupons were valid for only a set period of time; so you could not save them up for rainy -- or sunny -- days.)
To get a classification and the necessary rationing stamps, you had to appear before a local board, often comprised of your neighbours, who would likely know something of your actual need for gasoline. You had to certify that you needed gas and that you owned no more than five tires; any in excess of five were confiscated by the government to alleviate rubber shortages. The rubber shortage was, in fact, a major reason for rationing, since the government wanted to keep driving, and thus the demand for tires, as low as possible.
An A card would have had the lowest priority in the rationing system, entitling the holder to around 3 gallons per week. (Some sources say 4, apparently reflecting varied rations depending both on the stage of the war and the geographic location of the rationee.) B cards were issued to persons essential to the war effort, including industrial war workers, and therefore entitled the holder to more gas: most sources say around 8 gallons per week. C cards were granted to those who were deemed vital to the war effort, such as doctors and railroad workers. X cards entitled the holder to unlimited supplies and was the highest priority in the system. Clergy, police, volunteer firemen, and civil defense workers all fell into this category. (Something of a scandal erupted when 200 Congressmen received X cards.) T rations were available for truckers.

It would appear the Mayflower is part of one of the American fleets.

Land ho! The spyglass reveals a pun and pans over to a war reference. Mr. Costello informs us:

Slogan often seen during World War II in an effort to convince people to save gas. See entry for Gasoline Rationing.

Military draft classification gags. E.O. informs us:

Draft rating indicating that one was physically unfit for military service. The Wacky Worm warns the audience in Greetings Bait (Freleng, 1943) that those with weak stomachs and 4-F constitutions should not watch his fight with a crab. In Holiday for Shoestrings (Freleng, 1945), a shoe with a fallen arch which is labeled 4-F has its arch fixed, and its classification changed to 1-A, the rating indicating “physically fit for military service”. The horse in The Draft Horse (Jones, 1942) is rejected by the U.S. Army and is classified as 44-F. Bugs, after surviving a near-death experience in Falling Hare (Clampett, 1943), has a heart pounding in his chest which is labeled 4F. In the Blue Danube sequence of A Corny Concerto (Clampett, 1943) the buzzard rejects the little version of Daffy Duck by applying a big 4F sign to his rump.

Quasi war references: people bought stuff on the Black Market that they couldn’t get due to war rationing, while longshoremen were told to “use no hooks” on cargo being removed from ships so it wouldn’t be damaged.

And Tex and writer Heck Allen made a rare political comment on a war that never seems to end.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Benny With An 'F' (for "Farewell")

Unfortunately for TV audiences, Jack Benny’s second “farewell” special really was his farewell. Benny died before a third one could be filmed.

Jack was seemingly inexhaustible. He always seemed to be on the road, even while his TV series was still running. At age 79, he hit the publicity circuit to push his “second farewell.” Here’s a story from the Associated Press. I’m posting it because of the little historical connection. The column was published on January 16, 1974 and is by Jay Sharbutt. More than 25 years earlier, Sharbutt’s father Del was one of the announcers who appeared at the start and near the end of the Benny radio show, touting the benefits of Lucky Strike cigarettes (replacing John Laing in the 1948-49 season).

The special, incidentally, featured Dinah Shore, who appeared on the first Benny TV show in 1950.

Benny to say Adieu Again
AP Television Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Benjamin Kubelsky a native of Waukegan, Ill., was in town the other day to catch a few shows, observe the snows and publicize an NBC-TV special he’ll star in come Jan. 24.
The show’s title is “Jack Benny’s Second Farewell Special.” Mr. Kubelsky, who uses the alias of Jack Benny, emphatically denied the title is the McCoy and that he really plans to retire, from show biz after some 62 years in the profession.
“Naw,” he said, lighting a cigar and propping a foot on the coffee table in his hotel suite. “This has nothing to do with retirement. There’s only one gag about it in the show.”
He said the title exists only because he found that audiences in Las Vegas and elsewhere recalled his “First Farewell Special” on television last year and laughed when he urged them to watch his second adieu.
“And I tell you,” Benny said, “it’s tough enough for an audience to remember your last show. But when they can remember a title — well, I told my manager if we don’t use the title again we’re crazy.
“Now I tell the audience we’re going to do the third, the fourth, the 90th farewell. But it all depends how this works out. I don’t know. I had another funny title they laughed like hell at.
“Shows how they do remember things. I was going to call it ‘Benny with a Y’ ...”
Benny with a cigar was asked if he wouldn’t give show biz “retirements” a bad name it he persisted in “farewell” specials.
“No, it’s been done before, of course,” he said, citing the famous cases of Harry Lauder and Sarah Bernhardt, who made so many farewell tours their bye-byes could stretch from here to China.”
“The first one who did it was Madame Schumann-Heink, the opera singer,” he said. “She was always making farewell appearances.”
Obvious question, but why do performers do that sort of thing?
“Well, they didn’t do too many,” Benny insisted. “But the minute you do a couple, you see, right away it becomes funny to the public.
“Performers do it because they figure if they say it’s a farewell, they're going to do a helluva business.”
Lest the Federal Trade Commission rap him for false and misleading retirement notices, he quickly added: “Don’t forget I didn’t call my special last year a farewell. I said it was my first farewell.

‘Benny with a Y’ is a play on the TV special ‘Liza with a Z’ (broadcast in 1972).

At last check, the farewell special was on a video web site but could have been taken down by the time you read this. Do a web search and enjoy it if it’s there.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Cartoons of 1950, Part 2

Walter Lantz must have figured it was time to get back to work. His studio had made one year’s worth of cartoons for United Artists; the last one was released on August 19, 1949. Heck Allen had written some others and director Dick Lundy timed them but the Lantz studio, more or less, shut down. Why is something I’ve never been able to determine. U-A simply re-released the 12 Lantz cartoons it had received. Universal, meanwhile, worked out a deal to re-release the old Lantz shorts it had distributed. Finally, Lantz cancelled his deal with U-A and went back to Universal.

That may have been the highlight of the cartoon world in the last half of 1950.

Walt Disney had released Cinderella and next on his list were Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. But Walt knew something the major movie studios couldn’t see—television could give unprecedented exposure and profits to his studio. He wavered about when to jump in and finally did it with a 55-minute Christmas special which was nothing more than a big commercial for Alice.

TV would soon be where the action was when it came to animation, but things weren’t quite there in 1950. Syndication companies, within a few years, would buy up backlogs of old theatrical cartoons to sell to stations, though some were already running on kid shows (like the one hosted by Willie the Worm on WCAU). Animation for TV consisted of NBC Comics and Crusader Rabbit, where characters barely moved. Then there were programmes like Chester the Pup out of Chicago, where an artist (Sid Stone, in the case) made sketches; Variety reported Chester’s mouth moved but “mechanically.” The trade paper confuses things by referring to puppet shows as “cartoons.”

Here are Variety’s animation-related stories for the second half of 1950. Note again that MGM announced all kinds of titles it had no intention of making. They were for publicity purposes. And there is very little on the East Coast studios.

July 10, 1950
MGM Cartoonery Will Take Mass Vacation
Metro cartoon department will shut down July 28 to permit entire department personnel to take annual two-week vacation simultaneously. Maintenance and repair crew only will be in department during hiatus. Pete Smith over weekend launched "Curious Contests," fourth on his 1950-51 Metro program. Script was written by Joe Ansen and Dan Brodie.

Lucille Bliss, who is the voice of "Crusader Rabbit," cartoon series bowing on KNBH Saturday, will move her base from Frisco to complement her activities in pictures and recordings.

"Little Miss Quacker" will be title of Metro cartoon starring Barney Bear.

July 13, 1950
Lantz Shifts Back To UI Distribution For ‘Woodpecker’
Walter Lantz has inked new deal with Universal-International, through whom he formerly distributed his cartoon program for 22 years, and henceforth will release all his cartoon product through Valley company. Producer bowed out of UI about two years ago, for a three-year United Artists releasing agreement, but fulfilled only one year's commitment of 12 cartoons for UA. He cancelled his UA pact last week in NY.
UI deal calls for delivery of six "Woody Woodpecker" specials per year. In addition, UI will handle distribution on worldwide basis of all Lantz cartoons, both new and in excess of 260 oldies.

July 19, 1950
Walt Disney is prepping "Peter Pan" as an all-animation feature in Technicolor, for probable release in 1962. Producer, now having story whipped into shape, is making extensive voice tests of Bobby Driscoll, moppet, for the voice of the James Barrie character. Disney's researchers have discovered that in the nearly half century the play has been treading the boards, both in England and U.S., no boy has ever enacted title role. Part has been played by actresses—Maude Adams for years, Betty Bronson when Famous Players-Lasky made it as a picture in 1925, and Jean Arthur currently on NY stage. If Disney puts Bobby in for Peter's voice, it will set a new precedent. Producer has already set Sammy Cahn and Sammy Fain to collab on musical numbers for film.

Warners will boost its short subjects program for 1950-61 season to 46, from last year's 42. This is exclusive of cartoons, which will remain at 80.

July 20, 1950
William MacMillen, Jr., Eagle-Lion topper here from east to seek product for his company and generally survey company's operations, will huddle, among others, with number of producers who have been releasing through Film Classics and who held out when FC threw in with EL on distribution combine. Under these producers' deals with FC, they now are free to make deals wherever they please, and MacMillen is interested in confabbing with them on possible alignment with his company.
EL topper yesterday, meeting, with other producers, had talk with George Pal on puppet producer joining company with his "Adventures of Tom Thumb," combo animation-live action feature in Technicolor. Pal has been working on 81m off and on for more than a year, and released his two all-live-action fi1ms, "Rupert" and "Destination Moon," through EL. Understood talks also revolved around EL possibly helping finance production.

August 1, 1950
Disney Will Reissue ‘Snow White’ For Yule
Walt Disney is readying "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" for reissue. General plan is to put it out in early spring, but film also is slated for Christmas week showings in number of key cities. There's possibility that full reissue date may be pushed ahead for this holiday period. Picture will be sandwiched in between release of "Treasure Island" and "Alice In Wonderland." "Snow White" was the first feature-length cartoon made by Disney, in 1936.

August 2, 1950
UI Releasing Lantz Footage In Italy
Universal - International has closed deal for release in Italy of six Walter Lantz cartoons in fall. This is one of first foreign deals U I has set up since cartoon producer returned to fold as term producer three weeks ago. Package constitutes first time that any Lantz cartoons have ever had any playing time in Italy. Under terms of pact, Lantz's product will be pushed strongly in foreign countries, as well as domestically.

August 3, 1950
Lantz Loading Up On Cartoonists To Speed UI Deal
Walter Lantz, cartoon producer, will start reassembling a staff of cartoonists during the next week, so he can get underway immediately on his new Universal-International deal. Pact with Valley studio calls for six "Woody Woodpecker" specials annually. Lantz will take on at least 16 staff members, to augment personnel he already has, including animators, inkers, background artists and painters. Producer yesterday started introductory work on first film, which will tee off series. Activity is his first since before he left for Europe last March. Lantz, with UI for 22 years, swung over to United Artists for release two years ago, on three-year deal. He cancelled contract with UA a month ago, to return to UI.

August 8, 1950
Cartoonists, Prods Pow-wow Tonight On New Pay Pact
Negotiating committees of Screen Cartoonists Guild and Cartoon Producers Association meet tonight at SIMPP offices to discuss terms of a new union contract. In previous sessions, producers offered two dollar weekly increase for classifications in the $60 or less wage brackets, while the Guild asked for 15 per cent tilt overall.
Producers involved include: Walt Disney, Metro, Warners and Walter Lantz; who have been insistent on contract to run to Dec. 31, 1951, while SCG wants a shorter ticket.

Quimby Calendars 3 Cartoons At Metro
Fred Quimby, head of MGM's cartoon department, has set three Technicolor cartoons to start when department resumes work Aug. 14. These are "Little Wise Cracker," "Two Mousketeers" and "Caballero Droopy." Work also will be resumed on six cartoons interrupted by department's en masse vacation, "Duck Doctor," "One Cat's Family," "Triplet Trouble," "Smitten Kitten," "Little Runaway," "Rockabye Bear."

Cartoonists Find a Bonanza In Blurbs
Expanding use of cartoons for spot announcements on TV has proven a windfall to members of the Screen Cartoonists Guild. Currently, about 100 of the 600 members are steadily engaged in turning out video animations. Many of those who switched over were formerly top men in the Disney, Metro, Warner, and Walter Lantz organizations, but the total manpower deflected from films represents only about 20 minutes a week of screen entertainment, according to a survey recently completed by SCG.

August 10, 1950
Producers Concede Points At Parley With Cartoonists
Screen cartoon producers have made further concessions to the Screen Cartoonists Guild in continued discussion of a new contract for cartoonists.
The producers continue to refuse a horizontal wage hike, and stick to their original offer of five cents per hour for all regular workers getting under $60 weekly. If accepted, about 130 of the 500 SCG members would benefit. Producers also offered contract extending to Sept. 30, 1951, instead of three months later, and will make the wage tilt retroactive to last June 22.
SCG will present the latest producer offer to membership at next month's meeting. Delay is occasioned by the large number of members currently on vacation.

MGM Cartoonery Back In Harness Monday
Entire staff of Metro's cartoon department headed by Fred Quimby returns to work Monday following annual vacation of the group. Four pictures are slated for preparation, including Barney Bear's "Wise Quacker;" Droopy’s “Caballero Droopy;” and two Tom and Jerry subjects, "Cat of Tomorrow" and "Two Mousketeers."

August 16, 1950
Bulk of TV film production being done so far by March of Time is concentrated on a series of 60-second tele shorts. They are being made for use by the parent corporation, Time, Inc., which is now studying its approach to the TV field. William Geer, who is supervising these TV briefs, and Joe Stultz, MOT animation director, are in charge of this activity.

August 17, 1950
Don Dewar Dusting Argosy To Devote Self To Telepix
Donald Dewar yesterday resigned his post as veepee of John Ford's Argosy Productions, to become active in his television company. He had been with Argosy ever since its inception some years ago.
Dewar henceforth will devote himself exclusively to Telecomics, TV outfit in which he is partnered with Dick Moores and Jack Boyd, animators at Walt Disney's. Deal has been set with NBC for 15-minute-five-days-a-week program, which chain is now selling nationally.
Format carries a cartoon strip technique, and is composed of five different strips with as many lead characters.

August 21, 1950
Lantz Will Sell, At Cost, TV-Trailer To His Cartoons
Walter Lantz is making half-minute Technicolor trailer for distribution to exhibs playing his product. Briefie will be sold to theatremen at cost of print, and is general in pattern, so it can be used whenever one of producer's "Woody Woodpecker" cartoons is to be shown.
This marks first time that a trailer has ever been put out for a cartoon short. Project was finalized after Lantz had talked with several hundreds, who greeted the idea with enthusiasm. Under Lantz's new deal with Universal-International, producer will turn out six "Woody" specials annually. Deal also calls for company to bally series. First order calls for 2500 prints.

August 25, 1950
Sutherland Rolling 41 Vidfilm Blurbs
John Sutherland Studios yesterday teed off its most ambitious television film program to date, with start of 41 one-minute commercials for seven different sponsors.
Headed by 17 subjects for Crosley Appliances, lineup includes six for General Foods, four each for Wildroot and Cream of Wheat, seven for Kaiser-Fraser, two for Baystromite Furniture Co. and one for Owl Rexall. Negotiations are under way for others, with several at inking stage. Films are of various sorts, some straight animation, others straight live-action, and number combo animation-live-action.

August 28, 1950
16-Notion Christmas Preem Planned For ‘Cinderella’
Walt Disney will toss a simultaneous international preem of "Cinderella" on Christmas Day in 16 countries abroad. Multiple-nation opening, most extensive ever staged by a Hollywood producer, will cover most parts of the world. Cartoon feature is being dubbed in five languages other than English, and for countries not familiar with any of the six languages there will be titles in tongue of that land.
Already set are Christmaa Day bookings in capital cities of Australia, India, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Egypt, France, Holland, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Cuba and Mexico. Languages in dubbed versions will be French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Swedish. There is a possibility that other countries and other languages will be added to lineup in time for further bookings. Gala preems are skedded for each city.
Jack W. Cutting, In charge of Disney's foreign versions, is prepping all foreign dubbings, and otherwise is formulating all-out international opening. Cutting makes his headquarters in Paris. He has arranged for French version to be made in Paris, Swedish in Stockholm, Spanish in Mexico City, Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro and Italian in Rome.

August 29, 1950
Metro cartoon department headed by Fred Quimby has launched production of new Tom and Jerry subject, "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son."

August 31, 1950
'Trouble' At MGM
"Triple Trouble" has been scheduled as a Tom and Jerry Technicolor cartoon by Metro cartoon producer Fred Quimby.

September 1, 1950
On The Ball
Topicality, often sought in feature-length productions, is expanding to the short subject field. Coinciding with Red Cross First-aid classes being reactivated, Metro has announced a new Tom and Jerry cartoon to be titled "First Aid Kitty."

September 6, 1950
Color, AFM Decisions Defer Disney TV Try
Not until video has reached the color stage and the American Federation of Musicians' ban on the use of music tracks has been removed will Walt Disney go into the TV medium, the cartoon producer has indicated in answer to new pressures to release his old product to tele. Disney asserted that color and music are both prime elements in his pix and that without them so many values are lost he feels he'd be hurting himself to allow use of his product.
In any event, producer is unwilling to allow his pix on tele at the moment because of the exhib relations problem it would cause. Theatremen have naturally reacted strongly against competition of similar product on TV to that which they're buying for their houses.
If and when he's ready to turn to tele, Disney has stated, he'll develop special characters different from those familiar to theatre audiences. He has had an experimental department working on tele projects for some time.

September 8, 1950
Disney Underwriting NY Exec Peek At ‘Alice’
Walt Disney will invite RKO home-office execs and sales officials to the Coast within the next six weeks to gander his all-cartoon feature, "Alice in Wonderland." Producer, who plans national release on the picture during the Christmas season, will defray expenses of the RKO group to the Coast.

September 15, 1950
Cartoon producing studios are anticipating being called upon by the government to make training and propaganda films, just as they were during World War II. When and if move goes through, it will boost employment for cartoonists to a peak untouched since World War II, when practically every cartoonist in film colony found steady employment. More than 800 men and women were engaged in this program.
Feelers already are understood to have been put out by government regarding cartoon studios making their services available. Value of military training aids via cartoons was made apparent in 1942-45, when hundreds 9 films were turned out, showing, through animation, the why and wherefor of the instruments of war in the most minute detail. Cartoons for training purposes were found vastly superior to use of live-action instructions.
Warners, Walter Lantz and John Sutherland already have been approached for bids, government setting forth its problems. Proposals also are understood to have been made to both Lantz and Sutherland for use their equipment and studios. Nothing definite along these lines, however, has been determined. Walt Disney, who converted to 97 percent his entire facilities to war production during last conflict, hasn't yet been contacted by government, but it's cinch that sooner or later he will be. His know-how along these lines is so pronounced that government is sure to call upon him.
Metro, too, is understood not yet in communication with the government, but this studio also undoubtedly will be drawn into war work, to augment its own program. In every case, regular programs will continue along with whatever war orders are received.

September 19, 1950
Disney Promotional Parley on 'Alice' Tieups Concludes
Full-scale promotional campaign to pre-sell "Alice in Wonderland," Walt Disney feature-length animation special, has been worked out in a series of studio meetings that wound up yesterday. Campaign includes use of all types of merchandising articles to plug "Alice" and will be going full swing months before picture hits its general release.
Week-long studio session, presided over by Roy O. Disney, prexy of Disney productions, way aimed at coordinating all exploitation, advertising and publicity efforts and bringing them to a peak when film is released late next summer Forty reps of merchandising organizations, the Disney NY sales force and the staff of C. J. La Roche Advertising Agency attended the huddles, as well as Walter Branson, RKO western division sales manager, and Herb McIntyre, western district manager.

16 Color Cartoons On Metro Schedule
Fred Quimby, head of Metro's shorts department, has outlined schedule of 16 Technicolor cartoons for the 1950-51 season. First four releases will be Tom and Jerry subjects carrying titles of "The Hollywood Bowl," "The Garden Gopher," "The Framed Cat," and "The Chump Champ." Group of 16 cartoons will include eight Tom and Jerry's, three Droopy's, and five novelty subjects. In addition, company will rerelease six cartoons of runner years.

15 Mins; Mon.-thru-Fri., 5 p.m.
NBC-TV, from New York
In "NBC Comics," the network has come up with a kid show that should hold the continued interest of moppet audiences. Fifteen-minute filmed program comprises four three-minute cartoon serials, all of which are accompanied by off-screen dialog and sound effects. Strips include "Danny March," a private eye actioner; "Space Barton," an interplanetary adventure story; "Johnny and Mr. Do Right," built around a schoolboy's experiences, and "Kid Champion," a boxing yarn.
For the preem Monday (18), "Danny March," "Space Barton" and "Johnny" shaped up as average cartoon material. They were clean and wholesome but lacked the fire and dash of some of the better newspaper syndicated strips. Best of the quartet was "Champion." Its theme of a rising young fighter was familiar, but the opening installment packed plenty of action. If subsequent panels are as exciting as the first, "Champion" alone could carry the whole show. Gilb.

September 27, 1950
Marian Richman and Daws Butler dubbed voice tracks for Courneys Productions' chimp starrer "Chimplock Hums and the Net of Fate," series satirizing Sherlock Holmes for Bing Crosby Enterprises.

September 30, 1950
Cartoonist Nix Majors' $2 Wkly. Pay Till Offer
Offer of a $2 raise for all cartoonist makings making $60 a week or less, received from the Cartoon Producers Association, has been nixed by membership of Screen Cartoonists Guild. Instead members voted for further negotiations in view of continuing increase in the cost of living.
Cartoon producers entered the blanket raise retroactive to June 22 and continuing until Sept. 30, 1951. In the association are Disney, Warners, Metro, Walter Lantz and George Pal.

October 4, 1950
Cartoon Producers Cut Up a Casaba
United Productions of America, producer of cartoons for Columbia release, commercial and television films and animations, has declared accumulated dividend of $2.52 on its preferred stock of record May 1, 1950.

October 11, 1950
Disney Speeds 'Alice' For August Release
Hollywood, Oct. 10.
Animation on Walt Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" is coming along so rapidly, the producer revealed this week, that the all-cartoon Technicolor version of Lewis Carroll's classic is expected to be ready for RKO release by next August. Feature has been in active preparation and production the past two years. Picture is said to be the most complicated cartoon feature ever undertaken at the producer's Burbank studio. Majority of the Disney cartoon equivalents are based upon sketches of Sir John Tenniel, who illustrated the original “Alice” books. Inasmuch as the Tenniel decided to retain their characteristics. Voice of "Alice" will be 12-year-old Kathryn Beaumont.

October 24, 1950
Lenard Kester has joined Jerry Fairbanks Productions as art director of animation department.

October 27, 1950
Film Cartoonists Accept Wage Hike, Wind Year Parley
Minimum wage scale increases ranging up to $5 weekly, which were offered by the Cartoon Producers Association, have been accepted by members of the Screen Cartoonists Guild. Acceptance brings to an end negotiations that have been strung out for more than a year and new pact terms are now being formalized for inking.
Wage increases are retroactive to Oct. 2, 1950, and the contract runs through Dec. 31, 1951. Union shop conditions and preferential hiring are provided. All cartoonists receiving under $60 a week get a blanket $2 increase. Those under $50 and up to $60 will receive an additional $3, according to years of service and classification. From $60 up, raise is a straight $5.
Ben Washam, prexy, Milton Tyre, attorney, and William Littlejohn headed the SCG negotiating committee, while William Walsh chairmanned producers committee. Companies in the association are Disney, Warners, Metro, Walter Lantz and United Productions of America.

Metro is coming out with a comical cartoon mystery, "Private Cat's Eye," but it can’t be any funnier than some of the private eyes on screen and radio.

October 30, 1950
'Cinderella', 'Valley' Dubbed For Dualing
Berlin, Oct. 29.—John W. Cutting, in charge of all foreign versions for Walt Disney, is here completing German dubbing for "Cinderella" and Beaver Valley." This makes total of eight different foreign languages in which cartoon feature has been dubbed, and seven for "Valley." Others are Dutch, Danish, Spanish, French, Swedish, Portuguese and Italian for former, minus Italian for "Valley."
"Valley" will be shown on all programs with "Cinderella" in all foreign situations, with exception of Italy.

November 3, 1950
Disney, Bergen To Telecast On Yule For Coca-Cola
Walt Disney and his cartoon characters will combine with Edgar Bergen and his wooden men to put on an hour television show for Coca-Cola Christmas Day. NBC is trying to clear 4 p.m. time on 62 stations for the fantasy to be called "One Hour in Wonderland." For Disney, it will be his first TV appearance, while Bergen and his stooges will do a special Coca-Cola show Thanksgiving Day.
Complementing the pen-and-ink characters on the show will be Bobby Driscoll, star of Disney’s "Treasure Island," and Kathryn Beaumont, who was chosen from among 300 candidates for the title role of "Alice In Wonderland." Novel device, the magic mirror, created at the Disney Studio, will be used to integrate the comedy sketches, flashbacks and other elements of the extravaganza. Trailer of "Alice," to be released next year, will be shown as advance exploitation for the picture. Entire show will be put on film to achieve simultaneous showing in the various time zones.
For Coca-Cola it will serve as a Christmas gift to its consumers; for Disney it will be an experimental effort to reach the millions who never go to theatres. Coca-Cola will participate in a vast campaign with Disney to use all media in an effort to build up the largest audience ever to see a television show.

November 6, 1950
MGM Repacts Quimby
Fred Quimby inked new term pact over weekend as Metro short subjects department head and cartoon producer.
Producer joined studio 25 years ago to organise its shorts department, and has chieftained it ever since.

Sutherland Studios Expand For Video
John Sutherland studios, anticipating heavy television activities is expanding its facilities. Construction of five new office and a sound recording room has started, and studio has purchased additional sound equipment.
Sutherland also has just purchased a new animation camera and equipment, specially made up by Acme Tool Manufacturing Co. Dan Gordon, writer, has been appointed to work out of firm's NY office and work with agencies on prepping TV material. Ross Sutherland is now to devote his entire attention to Gotham activities of company, with John Sutherland to commute between studio and east.

November 9, 1950
AS IT TAKES more than a year to make a one-reel animated color cartoon, the Metro cartoon department puts on the drawing-boards today a new Tom and Jerry, "The Little Church Mouse." Subject, which has a Christmas motif, is penciled in for release during Christmas week, 1951.

November 21, 1950
Marv Miller Talking
Marvin Miller has been signed by United Productions of America to do all the voices in all of company's forthcoming cartoons.

November 28, 1950
Metro slapped a Dec. 5 start on a new Tom and Jerry cartoon: "O Sole Meow."

November 29, 1950
Continued distribution of Walt Disney's aborts and features plus joint production of "The Story of Robin Hood" in England next year, is provided in the new contract inked yesterday between the producer and RKO. The two firms collaborated on the production of “Treasure Island” in Britain last year.
Pact, inked by Roy Disney and Ned Depinet covers the worldwide release of "Alice in Wonderland," skedded for next summer's distribution and also covers 36 new cartoon shorts plus three in "True Life" adventure series.

November 30, 1950
UPA Invades Live Field With Thurber 'Carnival' In '51
United Productions of America will invade the feature-length field next year with "Thurber Carnival," utilizing the cartoons and short stories of novelist-humorist James Thurber. Film will be half-animated, in color, and half with live actors, to be lensed in black-and-white.
UPA proxy Stephen Bosustow announced that Thurber currently is huddling in NY with John Houseman, who will produce, on the material to be used. Already pencilled in for the film are the Thurber short stories "You Can Look It Up," "The Greatest Man In the World," "The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery," "The Unicorn In the Garden," and "Mr. Pebble Murders His Wife." UPA's John Hubley will be supervising director and will personally direct the animation and legit producer T. Edward Hambleton will be associated in the production.
Film will mark the first time Thurber's cartoons have been used on the screen. Writer already has earned screen credit for penning "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and has also scripted "The Catbird Seat," comedy-murder yarn now owned by Norma Productions.
UPA, which produces an annual series of cartoons for Columbia, has had three Academy Award nominations in "Robin Hoodlum," "Magic Fluke" and "Flat-Hatting." "Carnival" will be made up at UPA's Burbank studios.

December 4, 1950
WB Up: Briefies 25% For '51-'52
Edward Selzer will be in charge of cartoons. Total of 39 cartoons will be included in next season's program.

December 8, 1950
UPA Opens Plant To Public On Anni Today
United Productions of America, cartoon outfit, will hold open house, starting tonight, for five days at its Valley plant, 440 Lakeside Blvd., to celebrate its seventh anniversary.
Exhibition of animation technique will be shown, as well as screenings of product. Company does both commercial work and Columbia's cartoon program.

December 13, 1950
New cartoon animation technique that will cut 10% from the cost of animated cartoons has been patented by Eddie Nassour. Device involved is called a Regiscope. It controls the movement of figures used through an electrical impulse, thus permitting same flexibility in figures as in animated cartoons. Third dimension effect is claimed for the device.

Hill-Range Using Animated Vidpix To Exploit Their Songs
Hill & Range is going into animated vidpix as a song exploitation method on a big scale. Following a successful experiment with television cartoons of their "Frosty the Snowman," they have just completed a cartoon vidfilm of "Peter Cottontail," their spring plug song, which they will distribute free to video stations all over the country.
"Frosty" cartoon, which was distributed free to every video station, was a three-minute, 16m film in Walt Disney animated style. Soundtrack was done in the capella method, in which voices are used to sound like musical instruments, thus keeping the American Federation of Musicians out of the picture. According to Hill & Range officials, response of the stations and the public "was terrific." Cartoon was used as. a spot, on adult shows, as a film feature filler and especially on kiddie shows. On some shows, soundtrack wasn't used and live talent sang the song in accompaniment to the film.
"Frosty," incidentally, is the only new Christmas song this year that has developed into a full-scale hit. Gene Autry's Columbia record has sold about 600,000 copies, and other diskeries report strong sales on their versions. Song is among the top five on sheet sales. In addition, an entire line of Frosty the Snowman toys are being marketed in major department stores.

December 21, 1950
WALTER LANTZ YESTERDAY delivered to Universal-International what is probably the first trailer for a one-reel cartoon ever turned out. Total of 1500 Technicolor prints of 45-second briefie will be struck off for delivery to exhibs throughout country. Trailer plugs Lantz's forthcoming series of six "Woody Woodpecker" cartoons for UI release, and can be kept by exhibs permanently, for use whenever one of cartoons is booked.

December 26, 1950
Tele Review
Mon., 4 p.m., KNBH-NBC
Hollywood's first picture produced by a major studio for television and budgeted far beyond any previous videopus was spread across the nation yesterday at 4 p.m. to top off a day of festive joy for the youngsters. That it played to perhaps the biggest audience in TV history must be conceded, but more importantly it proved what can be done with skilled integration of cartoon characters and live subjects with the end result superb entertainment. The inkwell imps of Walt Disney were here making their debut on the channels with the little wooden men of Edgar Bergen to the undoubted delight of millions of youngsters and elders as well. High fun in fantasy and comedy, it skipped along blithely through the fastest hour in television. Both Disney and Bergen played themselves and deployed their characters like toy soldiers on the living room floor. No prompting of audience laughs was needed to keep the hilarity rolling. It exploded the fallacy of comedy producers that live reaction is a necessary adjunct to filming. Through the device of Disney's magic mirror, with Hans Conried as the eerie figure bringing to life for the youngsters, including Disney's two daughters, highlights from past cartoon classics, was unfolded footage from such standouts as "Snow White," "Song of the South," Uncle Remus, Donald Duck, Mickey, Pluto, Goofy and a preview of the mad tea party from Disney's forthcoming "Alice in Wonderland. In the live section were the Firehouse Five Plus Two, Bobby Driscoll and Kathryn Beaumont. Production and special effects were of the highest order and sharing in the credits were Bill Walsh, writer-producer; Lucien Andriot, camera; Paul Smith, music score, and Ernst Fegte, settings. CocaCola commercials were tasteful and effectively novel. As a Yule treat for the kiddies, this may become an anual event. It was worth every cent of the $100,000 poured into it and institutionally a ten strike for CocaCola.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Walk This Way

You know the old gag when two people are talking, one says “walk this way,” and the other copies their walk?

How old is it? It goes back to the days of silent comedies. One of them is in the animated film “Down the Mississippi” (1920). The maid character says it to a cat (who is treated like a human). I like the animated lightning bolts that are used as a take.

The cat stomps its foot while it thinks then walk that way.

The cartoon was released as part of the Paramount Magazine by Famous Players-Lasky. It was drawn by Frank Moser, who later went into business with Paul Terry and found himself walking this way to a lawyer’s office and suing when Terry cut him out of the studio in 1936.

Thanks to Devon Baxter for the frames.