Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Today's (1947) Radio Quiz

Sam Berman was commissioned to draw caricatures of NBC’s top stars that could be used in the network’s advertising starting in the 1947-48 season. Below, you see an edited two-page ad crowing that 19 of the top 25 radio shows (according to the Hooper Report of November 15-21, 1947) were on NBC.

Can you name the stars of the 19 shows based on Berman’s drawings?

Remarkably, even though we’re talking about an aural medium, most of the stars should be easily recognisable to fans.

I’ll give you number 8 because I suspect the only people who will know are either those really familiar with Berman’s drawings or have memorised 67-year-old radio ratings. It’s Jay Jostyn in his role as “Mr. District Attorney.” Number 14 is a little confusing because he really should have dark hair. Number 9 is pretty clever.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Try a Tex Tux

Occasionally, background artists in old-time animated cartoons would put the names of co-workers in their work; Paul Julian at Warner Bros. may have been the most famous for this. Here’s an example from Tex Avery’s MGM cartoon “Hound Hunters” which refers to Avery himself.

There’s one scene when Junior runs down the street before turning and running toward the audience. Unfortunately, the versions of the cartoon that are out there are fuzzy so you can’t really see all the names of the businesses.

This building features a hotel, Molinari and a shoe store.

Stokes Delicatessen is on the right. Bob Stokes worked at several studios in the ‘30s and ‘40s. I’d love to think “Hanna-Barbera Hardware” is on the building on the left but I can’t read it.

Here we have a cleaner on the left with “Tex Hotel” and “Tex Tux.” Polamari is on the right.

Alas, this one is unreadable.

This one isn’t readable, either.

Hopewell and Goode is next to what looks like the Cheriet Dairy Lunch.

And, finally, Crenshaw’s Groceteria, Inc. is the last business as Junior turns the corner.

Although he’s not credited, presumably the backgrounds are by Johnny Johnsen.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Cartoon Commercials of 1948

Here’s a cartoon you wouldn’t have seen on Saturday mornings or in syndicated packages.

That’s because it’s a little over a minute long. This is a frame in a Sponsor magazine story from March 1948 about TV commercials. With television growing, albeit there were maybe a dozen stations in the U.S. at the time, the demand for non-live commercials was growing, too.

The John Sutherland studio had signed a deal with the United Fruit Company in February 1947 for a series of 60-second cartoon spots. Said Sponsor about this particular little fully-animated film:
He [Sutherland] has been able to take the Chiquita Banana character right out of the singing commercial radio spots and bring her to life with full color, comedy, and sales effectiveness. These pictures are basically for motion picture showing but even though they're in full Ansco color they can be effectively scanned for TV without loss of impact. Not that all color motion pictures make good TV fare. Some are shot without regard to how they'll show up in black and white and wash out when scanned by a television camera. However, many agency and motion picture men watch their gray scale when shooting color and the result is as good a picture in black and white as in full color.
Daily Variety reported on May 14, 1948:
FOURTEEN SHORTS which John Sutherland produced for United Fruit Co. in 35m Ansco are to be switched to Technicolor, for reduction to 16m. Ansco is reported by producer not particularly conducive to reduction from 35m to 16m, since finished product becomes fuzzy
And on May 17, 1949:
John Sutherland will adapt 22 one-minute Technicolor shorts originally made in animation for United Fruit Co., to television, in black-and-white.
If you’re familiar with the seven-to-eight minute “educational” shorts Sutherland did for Harding College that were released by MGM in the late ‘40s, you’ll notice the similarity in character design style to the Chiquita frame above.

There’s another cartoon ad frame in the same issue of Sponsor.

The studio which made the above spot for International Salt Co. isn’t mentioned but it was booked through ad agency J.M. Mathes. Cartoon Films, Ltd. had made some animated ads for International’s Sterling Salt in 1940-41; they were designed for movie theatres. Sponsor reported Mathes billed $4,050 to $6,750 (90 feet at from $45 to $75 per foot) for animated commercials. Something tells me this one wouldn’t go down well today.

The same edition of Sponsor has a story featuring a cartoon character plugging something, but not in cartoons. Bugs Bunny was used by the maker of Chuckles in a radio campaign. I would like to think Mel Blanc voiced the spots but I’ve never heard them. Oh, if those transcriptions were around today! Bugs looks great in the trade ad, similar to some poses in the Bob McKimson cartoon “Easter Yeggs.”

This post gives me a chance to once again plug Mike Kazaleh’s cartoon ad posts at Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research web site. Those 1950s animated ads can be a lot of fun. This past weekend, Mike also linked to a UPA industrial short featuring the voice of Stan Freberg. I won’t guess at the animators on it, but Pat Matthews and Bobe Cannon were at UPA then. And there are some General Electric spots featuring Mr. Magoo; to the right you’ll notice a trade ad for the commercials.

You can see the post HERE.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Good Weekly TV is Impossible

People wanted to hear and see their favourite stars. That’s why there was no turning back to silent films when talkies came in for good. And, for the networks, there was no turning back to radio as a primary entertainment medium once television arrived for good. Besides, there was simply far more money to be made in TV than radio. And the networks were in it for the money.

Still, it must have been hard to conceive or perceive around 1950 that radio, really, was finished. After all, it had been around for a full generation. It had stars, big stars. One of them was Jack Benny, who doesn’t seem to have grasped that network radio, as everyone knew it, was ending. He was mistaken that TV was only a fad and would co-exist with the kind of radio that would remain a full-fledged, big-time, dial-twisting box of show business.

He was astute enough to realise the inevitable about TV in the days before it was possible to tele-view something in Los Angeles and New York at the same time—that he and everyone else in radio would have to go into the new medium. And he was astute enough to understand television ate up material faster than radio. But he also thought he would remain in both radio and TV. That ultimately wasn’t his choice. The home audience decided that wouldn’t happen. It abandoned network radio before the networks abandoned it themselves.

This column is from February 5, 1950.

Matter of Simple Mathematics
Benny Tells Why No TV for Him

Associated Press Staff Writer
New York—Jack Benny doesn't claim to be a mathematical wizard, but he can tell the difference between four million and 85 million—even without his glasses.
That's the current ratio between television sets and radio sets in the United States. So the CBS comedian is content to perch on radio's throne a while longer before bidding for a place in video's growing but much smaller domain.
Benny, always at or near the top of Hooper radio audience ratings and always one of the leaders, says that when television has 10,000,000 or 15,000,000 sets in use “we’ll all have to get in.”
The Waukegan wit may take a whirl at television next season—Rochester, Maxwell and all—depending on the plans of his sponsor. But he expects it to be on an occasional basis, perhaps once in three months, “to make it an event.”
When he goes into television regularly, Benny says he will hold out for an every-other-week basis, and probably will ask to be relieved of his radio program.
“It's impossible to do anything good on television on a once a week basis with our type show,” says Benny, in from Hollywood for a brief New York stay.
Benny explains that although everyone in his radio show has been with him from 11 to 18 years, there still are major changes to be made as late as Saturday rehearsals for the Sunday night broadcasts.
“It takes us a whole week to prepare the radio show,” he points out. “So how are you going to do all that, and learn lines and positions by heart, and do a good television show every week.”
Meanwhile, Benny says any very good radio program will not have too much trouble from television for some time to come “although a mediocre radio program will not be able to compete with even mediocre television.”
After the novelty of television has worn off with a viewer, Benny says, it had better have a good program on the air or he will turn back to radio. That's provided, of course, radio has a top notch show going on at the same time.

Benny stopped making radio shows in 1955. It boiled down to money. His sponsor was putting it in television. But, in a way, Benny didn’t leave radio altogether. Those local radio stations didn’t fill all their time with news, disc jockeys, contests for housewives, play-by-play sports and Sunday religious broadcasts. There was a place for the past, too. Some stations ran copies of transcriptions of old network radio shows. A whole new generation got to hear, and become fans of, Jack Benny. But not in prime time, and not on a large, nation-wide hook-up funded by big-money sponsors. Those days were gone.

Remember, Doc, Keep Smiling!

Happy Easter, Bugs! Three consecutive frames from “Easter Yeggs” (released 1948).

The only credited animators are Izzy Ellis, Dick Bickenbach and Chuck McKimson.

And here’s Elmer Fudd’s Easter home. Layout by Cornett Wood, background by Dick Thomas.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Crusader Rabbit

“Crusader Rabbit” wasn’t the first made-for-TV animated cartoon series but it was arguably the first popular one. Crusader appeared on stations across the U.S. through the 1950s. And Hanna-Barbera borrowed the Crusader cliff-hanger format when it came up with “Ruff and Reddy” in 1957; whether it was coincidental, we’ll let you decide.

The book every TV animation fan should own, Keith Scott’s The Moose That Roared, has a full chapter on Crusader. I don’t think you’ll read anything in this post that Keith didn’t research first-hand, but I needed an excuse to put up the Crusader trade ads you see below. So allow me to pass on some little notes about the show.

Keith’s book reveals that Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, living in the San Francisco Bay area at the time, took their idea for Crusader Rabbit to NBC. The network sent them to Jerry Fairbanks, who won two Oscars producing shorts for Paramount and had signed a television film production contract with NBC in January 1948. In the financing deal to get Crusader made, Fairbanks ended up owning the negatives to the cartoons.

The trades started taking notice. This story is from January 25, 1949 and appears similar to a Daily Variety blurb from the 14th.

New Cartoon Series Set By Fairbanks
West Coast Bureau, RADIO DAILY
Hollywood — Series of 130 open-end five minute films employing a newly-developed animation technique will be made available to stations and sponsors within a few months by Jerry Fairbanks Productions, it was announced yesterday.
The method eliminates many of the most costly features of theatrical animation, Fairbanks said, yet retains the illusion of movement. Closeups are featured, with backgrounds kept to a minimum.
Titled “Crusader Rabbit,” series will be animated by Television Arts Production, new Berkeley, Calif., firm headed by J. Troplong Ward, San Francisco radio producer, and Alexander Anderson, formerly with Terrytoons Films, will be completed at the Fairbanks studios here.

Things seem to have sat for a bit until Daily Variety reported on September 7th that production was about to begin.

Crusader didn’t make it on the air in 1949. Radio Daily reported on February 17, 1950:

New Cartoon Series Set By Fairbanks Making Another TV Series
Hollywood—Filming of 65 additional "Crusader Rabbit" video programs was scheduled yesterday at Jerry Fairbanks Productions following completion of the first group of 65 five-minute shows. The series, designed as a daily program for children. is being readied for early distribution.
Television Arts Productions of Berkeley is doing the animation and films are being completed at the Fairbanks studios where scoring, voice-dubbing, editing and narration are added.

The publication further announced on June 30th:

Film Cartoon Series To Be Sponsored On KNBH
West Coast Bureau of RADIO DAILY
Hollywood — "Crusader Rabbit," first series of cartoon programs filmed especially for television, will make its video debut July 15 under the sponsorship of Carnation Milk Company. Program will open on KNBH in Hollywood with additional bookings throughout the nation scheduled to follow sometime during the Autumn.
Starts August 15
Starting at three showings a week on KNBH, the program is set to be telecast five times weekly beginning August 15th. Jerry Fairbanks Productions has completed 130 releases of the series and has started work on a second weeks' supply. The children's show is being placed by the Erwin Wasey and Company advertising agency.

But there was a delay for some unknown reason. The show debuted at 6 p.m. on August 1, 1950. Now NBC Films was ready to sell Crusader (and other Fairbanks productions, including musicals and sitcoms) to its affiliates. Here’s part of a trade ad below.

Weekly Variety only had one review of the cartoon. The DuMont station in New York City, WABD, bought Crusader to air on its “Funny Bunny” programme starring Dick Noel in a full-sized rabbit costume, puppets and a record-playing pumpkin. In its April 21, 1954 edition, Variety liked the costumed rabbit but not the animated one. It decided: “Here, though, show planners made an unwise move in choosing material of that ‘to be continued’ variety. Small kids are wont to forget what the story line was yesterday, but they will note that the story seems incomplete today.”

There was a legal mess ahead for Crusader’s creators. Jay Ward and Alex Anderson’s company TAP sued Fairbanks, his company and NBC. The network had bought the cartoons from Fairbanks, then sold them back for $175,000 but Fairbanks defaulted on the payments. So NBC decided to sell the cartoons. TAP sued to stop it and demanded $500,000 in damages (Broadcasting, June 1, 1953). A company called Consolidated Television Sales agreed to make the payments for Fairbanks (Broadcasting, July 6, 1953). TAP responded by suing Fairbanks’ company, Consolidated and NBC for $400,000 (Broadcasting, Oct. 26, 1953). Things got more complicated when Shull Bonsall bought Consolidated (Variety, March 3, 1954), meaning he now owed the 195 Crusader cartoons which were still being sold across the U.S.

Blocks of old theatrical cartoons started making their way onto TV and they proved to be a gold mine for syndicators like Associated Artists Productions. No doubt seeing those dollars floating around, and the fact his original cartoons (now owned by Shull Bonsall) were still being shown, Jay Ward got the idea to revive the rabbit. Billboard reported on October 20, 1956:

Filming Starts on Crusader Rabbit Again
NEW YORK---Crusader Rabbit, the indestructible cartoon character that sneaked onto TV about four years ago and made something of a hit in syndication about two years ago, is now back in production. The group that originated the show has just set up Crusader Rabbit, Inc., to distribute the new series. They are said to be planning production of about 260 more five-minute episodes, of which six are said to be in the can already.
They are reported to have sold the new show to American Bakeries for about 15 markets, with the possibility of 20 more. They have also sold “Crusader” to the RKO Teleradio stations. WOR-TV here plans to use them on its 7-7:30 p.m. show, “Crusader Rabbit and Terrytoons,” which also uses the “Baker Bill Terrytoons” [sic] bought from CBS-TV Film Sales.
The new Crusaders are being produced in color at a cost said to be around $4,000 an episode.
Bagnall Pix
The original group of 190 films is still being distributed by George Bagnall Associates. Bagnall acquired distribution of the series about three years ago, when Shull Bonzall bought Consolidated TV Sales and turned its catalog over to him. Consolidated acquired it from Jerry Fairbanks, who had become associated with the production of the animated show after NBC turned it down.
“Crusader” was probably the first and is still one of the few animated programs produced specifically for TV.

Billboard of December 29, 1956 revealed the series had gone into full production, would debut in February, cartoons had been sold in 53 cities (American Bakeries sponsoring in 28 of them) and 46 items, including games and stuffed toys, were being merchandised.

That’s when Shull Bonsall decided to play hardball with Jay Ward.

Money talks. And Bonsall had more money than Ward. Money to spend on lawyers. Bonsall threatened to bleed Ward financially dry by tying up Crusader in court—unless he handed over the character rights for a nominal fee. Keith Scott’s book says the fee was only $50,000. Ward had no choice but to accept.

Billboard from September 9, 1957:

260 ‘Rabbit’ Cartoons Put Into Product’n
HOLLYWOOD—A new series of “Crusader Rabbit” cartoons are being put into production by Shull Bonsall and TV spots. Total of 260 of the episodes, each four minutes in length, will be turned out on 35 mm. color.
Bonsall bought all the rights to the series, including the characters, merchandising, and 195 films now in syndication, from Alex Anderson and Jay Ward’s Television Arts Productions last week.
Films will cost about $3,500 per episode, or $900,000 for 260 segments. They can be used separately, or be put together into 15 or 30-minute shows. Merchandising deals have been made with Dell Productions and others. First of the new films will be ready for showing the end of this month. No distribution has been set so far.

TV Spots was a company incorporated in 1951 by Bob Wickersham as an outgrowth of his own company. He had been a director at Columbia’s cartoon studio. Bonsall apparently bought it in 1954.

Here’s another Billboard story, this one from February 10, 1958.

Tv Spots Inc. to Produce New 'Crusader Rabbit' Series
A new Crusader Rabbit animated tv series, designed to appeal directly to adult as well as juvenile viewers, is being produced at the Hollywood studios of Tv Spots Inc. and will be offered to stations and sponsors by Regis Films. Both companies are owned by California industrialist Shull Bonsall, onetime associate of Jerry Fairbanks, from whom the rights to Crusader Rabbit were acquired. Tv Spots also is active in producing filmed commercials, such as the "Mr. Moo" spots for American Dairy Assn.
The new series is being filmed in 35 mm Eastman color film, from which 16 mm prints are available in both color and black and white, under the supervision of Mr. Bonsall as executive producer. Two units now are turning out 1,400 feet a week of completed animated cartoon film, said by Mr. Bonsall to be the highest output of any company in the country. By March 15 a third unit also will be on the job at Tv Spots, a total of 60 artists, scripters and animators turning out an unprecedented total of 2,400 feet of complete animation or six five –minute episodes, per week.
A total of 260 episodes will be produced, William H. Buman [sic], vice president and general manager of Tv Spots, said. Each story sequence will comprise 20 five -minute episodes, or they can be combined in units of four into five 15- minute programs if desired. Production cost for the full 260 –program series will total about $1 million, he estimated.

Bill Bauman quit a year later and was replaced by Bob Ganon, who was in charge of the “Calvin and the Colonel” cartoons in 1961 after Creston Studios spun off from TV Spots.

To the right, you see a trade ad from 1958 selling Crusader. No, that’s not Shull Bonsall on the phone. But Lucille Bliss, the original voice of the rabbit, didn’t mince words about him years later when she related how she refused his offer to voice the character after knocking Ward and Anderson out of the picture. She, more or less, accused him of maliciously trying to ruin her career.

Competition became pretty fierce for TV cartoon syndicators. Crusader was up against A.A.P. and its hugely popular old Warner Bros. and Popeye theatricals. Felix the Cat was brought out of retirement. UPA decided to get into the TV animation business with Dick Tracy and a watered-down version of Mr. Magoo. Hanna-Barbera eventually produced cartoons (Wally Gator, Lippy the Lion, Touche Turtle) that weren’t part of a sponsored half-hour. Ken Snyder came out with the educational “Funny Company.” Al Brodax had sub-contractors churn out new Popeyes and several other series. Crusader changed hands. Below you see a 1967 trade ad from Wolper Television Sales offering the old TV Spots cartoons. They moved into the hands of Metromedia in 1969, and were still being offered to stations five years later.

Crusader appeared in Japan in the mid ‘60s and Australia and Germany (on an Armed Forces TV station) in the early ‘70s. But by 1975, the cartoon was being talked about in nostalgic terms in newspaper columns looking back at kids shows of a whopping 20 years earlier (which, somehow, doesn’t seem as ridiculous as “‘90s kids” being nostalgic for the past 20 years later).

Meanwhile, back in 1957, Bonsall made one mistake. His deal was for the Crusader Rabbit show alone; he let Anderson and Ward keep all their undeveloped properties that TAP had hoped to put on the air some day. One involved a dopey moose and a flying squirrel. They went farther than Crusader Rabbit ever did.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the first Crusader Rabbit cartoon.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Hoola Boola

George Pal’s Puppetoons were a sensation in the 1940s. Seven of them were nominated for Oscars and spawned stop-motion animation elsewhere, particularly at the Sutherland-Moray studio. Pal had to end production in 1947 because the Puppetoons became too expensive. Animation studios simply weren’t making enough money because theatres only wanted to pay low rentals on their films.

Pal never put credits on his shorts so whether he did the actual layout/staging, I couldn’t tell you. But it was really ingenious at time. I really like some of the work in “Hoola Boola,” released by Paramount in 1941. Castaway Jim Dandy lands on an island and falls in love with native girl Sarong Sarong. He’s captured by cannibals and put in a pot to be cooked. Suddenly, there’s lightning. The scene cuts to an up shot of the horned monument where something appears.

There’s a close-up of a large mask, twirling in dance. The shot cuts to Jim Dandy in the pot. Little creatures sprout up in front of him then start to dance.

Then they run toward the camera and chase away the natives. What are they? I have no idea. But I sure admire the sets. Pal even has some of the characters rendered in silhouette.

The mask walks toward Jim Dandy. You know what’s coming. It’s Sarong Sarong in disguise, saving her man.

Daily Variety helps us where the lack of credits doesn’t. It reported on March 3, 1941 that shooting had begun and the story was written by Peter O’Crotty, the first of five the ex-Warners gag-man was contracted to write for the studio (the ever-restless O’Crotty quit after less than two months at the studio). On April 24th, the short was reported to be in the cutting room. On June 24th, final editing was done. Variety revealed the short used “7,000 puppets. Thurston Knudson directed the music, consisting of ‘Aloha’, ‘Tomi Tomi’, ‘Hilo March’ and drum rhythms furnished by Augie Goupil” and his Royal Tahitians. There’s no word who supplied the voices.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

If I Had a Gun...

“If I had a gun, I’d shoot myself,” says down-and-out Woody Woodpecker, putting a finger to his head. The finger turns into a gun.

He fires. The bullet actually goes through his head. But it happens in two drawings so you just get the effect; you don’t see it.

Woody has real expression in these United Artists releases, like “Wacky Bye Baby” (1948) Woody’s eyes grow wild when he realises what he’s done, his pupil slowly turns to look at the gun and then Woody fumbles with the weapon before throwing it away in panic. Here are some of the drawings.

Les Kline and Pat Matthews get the animation credits on the cartoon but Matt Yorston says this scene was done by Ed Love.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

TV Cliches

There’s a reason TV sitcoms of the ‘60s featured a wife who was a witch, a Martian crash-landing in suburbia, an astronaut with a genie and a car that had been someone’s mother. Everyone was tired of what had come before on TV and radio, over and over and over again.

I’m afraid I’m not a fan of most situation comedies from radio’s Golden Age. Plots are contrived. Characters don’t react the way anyone really would. There were exceptions, of course. The best shows manage to avoid or overcome those faults, generally through great acting and dialogue.

Critic John Crosby was no fan of radio’s (and, later, television’s) triteness and he apparently found a kindred soul in one of the industry’s writing fraternity. He summarised some all-too-familiar basic sitcom plots in his column of July 3, 1955.

Comedy Writers Deserve Spanking
By John Crosby

NEW YORK—I read in “Variety” that Lou Derman, a comedy writer, has told off his fellow comedy writers, and high time, “The lush days of comedy writing that began with radio and carried over into television are approaching their zenith—and why?” asks Derman plaintively.
And then goes on to answer his own question. “We deserve a spanking, the whole pack of us. We've allowed our shows to become unbearably dull, repetitious, predictable, wild and sloppy. We've ignored the public mood. A public that's tired of watching story in and story out about—
“Bringing the boss home to dinner and forgetting about the wife's birthday and getting into this disguise so husband won't recognize me and is my wife killing me for her insurance policy? And did he forget my anniversary? And the old boy friend and the girl friend and let's make him think he's going crazy and bringing the boss home to dinner.”
Well, of course, that's by no means all the situations. There's the other one—and how could Derman have forgotten it—about bringing the boss and the boss's biggest enemy home to dinner the same night and having to serve them in separate rooms, husband and wife dashing back and forth, eating like crazy.
Or how about the guy who takes a potential customer to lunch, the potential customer being a very pretty girl, and pretty soon the news is all over Oakdale that Jim Hughes was seen with . . . Could we conceivably do without the matchmakers—the husband and wife who are trying to pair off old Uncle Jim and the widow next door who makes such good humpelfingers?
Or how about the wife who cracks up the car and is trying desperate stratagems to keep her husband from finding out. Or the husband who wants to go on a fishing trip with the boys and the wife decides she's going to go along this year. Or the guy next door who has bought his wife a mink coat and good old Jim hides it in his closet and then Jim's wife finds it and thinks Jim bought it for her and . . . . Or the wife who wants to learn how to play poker and wins all the money.
Or the father playing baseball with his son and he breaks the neighbor's window and runs like a thief. Or the teenage girl who wears mother's diamond clip to the school prom and loses it and . . . . Or 13 year old Johnny whose superior intelligence bails his father out of that mess at the country club. Or the idiotic secretary who by sheer imbecility traps the most dangerous bank robber in the whole world.
Or ... well, that's enough. Anyway they are going to be tough to get away from those old situations. The decline in comedy writing or, at least, its sameness, has driven NBC to attempt a nationwide search for new comedy writers. More than 1,000 aspiring young comedy writers leaped to the call and submitted comedy material. At least 30 writers were considered to be promising enough to have been asked for additional material.
If they unearth one Robert Benchley, NBC will have done very well. Maybe even that is asking too much. If they could unearth just one situation comedy format in which the husband and wife don't even know the people next door and have no intention of meeting them, it will have been worth while.

By the ‘60s, producers got the idea that if you start with an outrageously ridiculous premise, like seven castaways with endless amounts of clothes on a desert island, the audience will accept any kind of plot and characterisation, if the writing is clever. That attitude brought some of the best-loved TV of a couple of generations ago.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Dancing Monkey

John Irving Pettybone wants to find a place to conduct his Dixieland record. He puts it inside an organ grinder’s box.

Suddenly, the organ grinder’s blasé monkey jumps into an insane dance. Here are some of the drawings. You can see the organ grinder’s reaction.

This is from “Dixieland Droopy” (released 1954). Tex Avery used the same kind of gag later in “Cellbound.”

Walt Clinton, Grant Simmons and Mike Lah are the animators in this cartoon. I suspect Lah, who did the great possum dance in “Impossible Possum,” was responsible for this one, too.