Tuesday, 18 September 2018

That's Not Quiet

Tom is suspicious when he hears growling noises coming from a bulldog that’s he’s drugged in Quiet Please. It turns out to be Jerry imitating the dog.

The best part of the Tom and Jerry cartoons was the expressions. Check out Jerry’s below.

This cartoon won an Oscar. Ray Patterson, Irv Spence, Ken Muse and Ed Barge received animation credits.

The Sexy Cow

If June Foray were with us, she’d be celebrating her 101st birthday today. Alas, she died just before she could turn 100.

Let’s celebrate for her instead. Here’s a syndicated newspaper column from February 17, 1962. Misspelled names have been left intact.

She's Tops Doing Voice of Sexy Cow

Hollywood—There's a little lady in Hollywood with a unique talent—when it comes to sounding like sexy cows no one in town can touch her.
Tiny, 4-feet, 11-inch June Foray is a member of a small group of small actors, all ex-radio performers who make a good living doing voices for commercials and TV animated cartoon shows.
Because of their size, these talented voices were in deep trouble in the early fifties when television almost destroyed radio. Even with lifts in their shoes the voice actors were too small to land parts in motion pictures and panic set in.
A few like Mel Blanc, June Foray and Dawes Butler sneaked in TV commercials, but jobs were scarce. Today, with the booming commercial field and TV cartoons, the voice actors are reaping gold.
June Foray, for instance, does three or four recording sessions a day. She's a sexy cow for a dairy commercial, then she switches to a tired housewife dying for a couple of cans of chow mein. June plays so many parts, she finds it hard to distinguish her voice sometimes. "People who know me can spot me," she says, "but I have trouble myself."
On the Sunday night Bullwinkle show June plays Rocky the hero, and Natasha, a sexy, evil woman, a Charles Addams type. Recently fans saw June in the flesh on the Stan Freberg Chinese New Year's Eve Show as a nasal sounding housewife in a chow mein commercial.
June is a Freberg follower and rolled off the female voices in "St. George and the Dragonet" and "The United States of America." Walt Disney will page her to do little girls and then he'll change pitch for a Calvin and the Colonel TV episode. June even dubs voices for dramas like Thriller when a call goes out for a New England telephone operator.
It all began in Springfield, Mass. when her mother enrolled June in dramatic school. "At 6 I had a low, sexy voice," said June, so she was told she had talent.
June's idea of heaven is to be 5 feet 3. "I stopped growing at the age of 13 and I developed such an inferiority complex," she said. "I felt people took me out because they felt sorry for me. I felt sorry for me. I didn't want to be petite."
In radio she met other small people and finally stopped worrying about her height. The group worked steadily changing voices many times a day on different shows like "Smile Time" with Steve Allen, "Corliss Archer," "Red Ryder" and "Screen Director's Playhouse."
A few of the taller radio actors like Hans Conreid, Bea Benedaret and Mel Blanc didn't have to stand on boxes and jumped into the infant television business.
Today, this same group comprises the voice business in Hollywood. Not a single newcomer has cracked the tight little ring. "It's a shame," admits June, "but there's no proving ground foe youngsters with talented voices. The old pros have a corner on the market."
There's a reason for this. Costs have risen and ad agencies want voice actors who can, do a number of parts and do them quickly and efficiently. The pros, like June, can be counted on for a quick, effortless, expert job. Why bother to experiment when sufficient talent is on hand? This applies not only to agencies, but to TV studios and record companies.
There is a good deal to be said on voice acting benefits. Money from residuals comes pouring in, the work is varied and abundant, and an actor has all the privacy of an average citizen. This last part pleases Miss Foray no end. Married to writer Hobart Donovan, June lives quietly and says with a smile that she's quite an intellectual. Her moments away from a mike, she spends reading or gardening.
"I'm really a woman of the soil," she said. Maybe that's why I can sound like a sexy cow."

Monday, 17 September 2018

Cartoon Bambino

Babe Ruth likely wasn’t impressed with how he was caricatured in the Ub Iwerks’ cartoon Play Ball (1933). He has a pig nose.

Ruth did have thin little legs like you see here.

The cartoon stars Willie Whopper, who was prone to tall, unbelievable tales. In this one, Willie leads the Cubs to a World Series victory over the Yankees (we said “unbelievable”) and, at the end, is in a ticker tape parade superimposed over live action footage. But Babe’s in the car with him, even though he lost the game! Well, it is Babe Ruth we’re talking about.

The kid characters all have adult voices and Willie opens things by hitting black men on the head in a circus target game. One of them has a head designed like Bimbo in the Fleischer cartoons.

This was apparently the first Willie Whopper released. It got favourable reviews in the Motion Picture Herald: “A very timely cartoon on baseball that kept everyone interested and laughing.—Erma L. Raeburn, Arcade Theatre, Newell, S.D.” “Good cartoon and that's unusual.—Mayme P. Musselman. Princess Theatre, Lincoln, Kan.” “A good cartoon.—D.E. Fitton, Lyric Theatre, Harrison, Ark.” “This is a very good cartoon comedy with Willie as the hero of a ball game. These cartoons seemed to be improving and they are more entertaining. Running time, 8 minutes.—J. J. Medford, Orpheum Theatre, Oxford, N. C.”

Willie was gone a year later. MGM dropped the Iwerks studio in favour of Harman-Ising.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Squared Circle Benny

There was a knock on Jack Benny when he started his career that his gags weren’t “television”. Some critics seemed to think verbal gags were bad because they were “radio” gags and that TV should be littered with sight gags to take advantage of the media.

Jack did have problems with making some of his familiar routines “television” gags. The start-up of the Maxwell and the trip to the Benny vault were far more effective on radio. The listener could imagine what was happening better than any set decorator could devise (even if money was no object).

Still, Jack’s TV writers were his radio writers, so dialogue gags were natural—especially on those shows where they revamped old radio scripts.

An interesting example is a show late into the Benny TV run in 1962. The whole first half is, more or less, two scenes of dialogue. The second half has a good percentage of sight gags. As you can see in the newspaper story below, Jack was the one who came up with the visual routines, not his writers.

Jack and the writers also took a huge gamble. After the opening scene with Maudie Prickett doing a role that likely would have been played by Elvia Allman on the radio show, the rest of the show features (to the best of my knowledge) amateurs—four wives of celebrities and two wrestlers. Their performances could have easily come off as flat, but they’re not bad. About the only other professional in the show is Roy Rowan, the radio announcer who plays a ring announcer. (Veteran Charlie Cantor is also credited. He’s not in the version of the show on-line, so perhaps he used his punch-drunk voice in the deleted middle commercial).

Jack’s stunt man should have got a credit of some kind. He takes a bunch of falls and does a nice nip-up in the wrestling scene.

I would like to have seen KTLA wrestling announcer Dick Lane hired to do something on the show; Lane had played Benny’s publicity agent on the radio programme and was pretty funny. However, he may never have been considered by the writers or perhaps there was a TV conflict.

The TV Key column from King Features Syndicate talked about the making of the episode. This appeared in newspapers on December 3, 1962.

TV Keynotes
Benny Laughs It Up at Rehearsal; He’ll Referee Wrestling Bout


HOLLYWOOD — When Jack Benny entered his Beverly Hills office for a morning reading of his Tuesday, Dec. 11 CBS show, he was neatly dressed. Normally for reading sessions Jack doesn’t worry much about his appearance, but he walked in with a bouncy step and pretended surprise when he saw Mrs. Phil Silvers, Mrs. Kirk Douglas, Mrs. Groucho Marx and Mrs. Milton Berle sitting with scripts on their laps.
The ladies were to play themselves in a sketch about a charity function in which Benny is not invited to donate his services as a comedian. Benny is very upset at the omission and forces the girls to let him do something for their show — namely referee a wrestling match.
After a little chit-chat with the ladies, a report on a dream he had about song writer Sammy Cahn and a few jokes with two bull-necked men sitting at the opposite end of the room—wrestlers Count Bill Varga and Gene Le Bell—Benny was ready to begin the reading. Count Billy had already memorized his lines and didn’t have a script, but Jack gave him one anyway in case of changes.
The reading went along smoothly with the ladies having an equal share of lines—no favorite in this script. The only interruptions ether came from Jack laughing over a gag, or one of the writers chuckling. The four writers—George Baker, Sam Perrin, Hal Goldman and Al Gordon—seemed to take turns laughing, and it perked up the reading. Announcer Don Wilson’s big bray also boomed and Count Billy needed his script after all.
Jack’s Second Thoughts
At one point Benny read two lines, laughed, and then had second thoughts. “I don’t think I can be that cheap,” he said. “If you want laughs, you’d better be,” countered writer George Balzer. Benny let it go and the reading continued. Thirty minutes was all it took, and the ladies, plus the wrestlers, read as well as the pros. The most talk centered around a change in a commercial involving a sight gag switch.
Then Benny stood up and walked about the room, pulling his ear occasionally. “Fellas,” he said to the writers. “I think we ought to switch the ending.” He outlined his idea of a windup with himself and the two wrestlers, and it sounded better than the original. The writers bought it.
Benny also wanted to add business in his role as a referee in the charity wrestling match. He saw laughs as he climbed through the ropes, stumbling into the ring, and he had visions of the two hulks tossing him out of the place. Jack wasn’t going to let such golden opportunities pass by.
Jack seemed pleased with the whole show idea. He would have pretty wives of celebrities to insult him in the first part, and scenes with the wrestlers would bring the big boff laughs in the last half. The switch at the end gave it another boost.
Wives Not Nervous
None of the wives appeared to be nervous about doing the show. Mrs. Kirk Douglas comes from Denmark and was hesitant about her slight accent, but was assured it wouldn't matter a bit.
After the reading Benny spent 15 minutes posing for a still photographer with the four wives. “Normally,” he said. “I don’t go for the crazy ideas suggested for pictures. However, I like this one.”
Then Jack sat down in front of rolls of green stamps and prepared to pay off the wives. Apparently ideas to show Jack’s stinginess never run out.
Posing with the wrestlers was very simple. Count Billy merely grabbed Jack's coat lapels and the famous Benny pained expression appeared. Sold.
“All right,” said Jack, winding up the business. “Everybody out.”

Saturday, 15 September 2018

The Merriest of Genii

Max Fleischer took out a patent on the rotoscope in 1915 and within a few years he found a good use for it. The first “Out of the Inkwell” cartoon was released as part of the Goldwyn-Bray Pictograph on September 30, 1919. Yet Moving Picture World reported on June 7th that year there had been a preview of Fleischer’s life-like cartoon clown “a couple of months ago.”

The rotoscope brought about animated movement that had never been seen before. Here is an article full of praise from the New York Times of February 22, 1920. Part of this was quoted in Donald Crafton’s book Before Mickey, but let’s take a look at the whole story. The writer is unbylined.

MANY persons have been delighted by the little black-and-white clown who, one of the merriest of genii, occasionally comes out of Max Fleischer’s inkwell. He has been seen most frequently on the screen of the Strand Theatre, where after a long period of anonymity among other numbers of the Topical Review, he has at least won his own place on the program.
This little inkwell clown has attracted favorable attention because of a number of distinguishing characteristics. His motions, for one thing, are smooth and graceful. He walks, dances and leaps as a human being, as a particularly easy-limed human being might. He does not jerk himself from one position to another, nor does he move an arm or a leg while the remainder of his body remains as unnaturally still as—as if it were fixed in ink lines on paper. Also he has an exciting habit of leaving his own world, that of the rectangular sheet on which he is drawn, and climbing all over the surrounding furniture.
The neat appearance and movements of the clown, and his defiance of the laws of pen-paper-and-ink, led an investigator to Mr. Fleischer at the Bray studios, where the little fellow is being made. It was learned, first, that, whereas most animated drawings are made with four or five separate pictures for each foot of film, there are fifteen or sixteen drawings of the clown in each film foot. This means, of course, that his arm, say, in going from a horizontal to a vertical position, does not make the complete movement in one or two jumps, and so appear to move jerkily, but is pictured at four or more points of its progress and seems to make the whole movement without interruption. Patience and pains, therefore, account for much of the clown’s naturalness. But not all. There is another reason.
Mr. Fleischer explained that many pen-and-ink drawings were made from the imagination. An artist, for example, will simply sit down and, with a certain character in mind, draw the figures that are to make it animated. If he wants an arm to move he will draw the figure several times with the arm in the positions necessary to give it motion on the screen. The probability is that the resulting movement will be mechanical, unnatural, because the whole position of his figure’s body will not correspond to that which a human body would take in making the same motion. With only the aid of his imagination an artist cannot, as a rule, get the perspective and related motions of reality.
Mr. Fleischer does not draw his clown from imagination. He draws him from life. A real man dressed as a clown poses for him in the principal positions to be assumed by the animated figure.
But how about his climbing and running all over the room? Some think that in the scenes with obviously real backgrounds, a cut-out figure or a doll is substituted for the drawing, but neither is the case. The figure who slides down table legs and climbs into chairs is drawn, just as he is when he remains on his sheet of paper. Mr. Fleischer prefers not to make public the full explanation of how the trick is down, but it may be said that a certain method of superimposing the drawings of the clown upon photographs of the real background are employed. Spectators may be assured, therefore, that no dummy substitutes for the clown when he takes his hazardous journeys around a room.
The clown is the result of a number of years’ work by Mr. Fleischer and also J.R. Bray, President of the company which bears his name, and with which Mr. Fleischer is associated. Some fifteen years ago both Mr. Bray and Mr. Fleischer were employed in the art department of the Brooklyn Eagle. Mr. Bray decided to “go into the movies,” and invited Mr. Fleischer to join him, but the latter at that time preferred to stay where he was. He lost track of Mr. Bray for about twelve years, and then learned that he was making a success of his venture. Also he had begun to observe animated drawings on the screen, and felt that he could improve on them. So he set to work, and for two years he and his brother struggled with the first out-of-the-inkwell man. When their set of drawings was complete Mr. Fleischer took it to Mr. Bray, who liked the subject and its execution. The two men then co-operated to make the drawing still better, and at the end of six months had achieved gratifying results. Developments have followed, and now 300 feet of film showing the clown can be made in three weeks by the combined work of four or five men. It may be seen that a somewhat tedious and expensive process still preceded each emergence of the clown from the inkwell, but those at the Bray studios feel that he is worth while in more ways that one, and they promise that he or some creditable successor will continue to appear from time to time.
A year after this article, Max and Dave Fleischer set up their own studio and worked out a distribution deal with Margaret Winkler. The Fleischers then set up their own distribution arm, Red Seal, the failure of which we documented in this post.

The watermarked screen grabs are courtesy of silent film historian and archivist Tommy Stathes. The frames shown, from a 1924 short called “A Trip to Mars,” are from one of his DVD releases. He doesn’t seem to update his web site all that much but you can find out more here.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Multiple Screening

What was one of the great animators of the Walt Disney studio doing in 1950? This:

This is Multiple Screening, a live action/animation short made for the Pennsylvania Department of Health in 1950 by Tempo Productions. It was co-directed by none other than Bill Tytla.

Tempo was founded in New York as Zac-David by Dave Hilberman and Zack Schwartz, both formerly of UPA. Hilberman is the other director on the cartoon, and the stylised design you see above owes more to him than Tytla. Nowhere is Tytla’s work evident. He was wasted on cycles and extremely limited animation (there are stretches of this short with nothing but still drawings and background pans).

In this scene, Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Smith, average Americans of a half-century ago become current (1950) versions of themselves in a dissolve. Not exactly the chernabog transforming in Fantasia.

Eric Barnouw wrote the script for what’s a pretty uninteresting piece of film.

Tempo made animated commercials in addition to industrials—and then got caught in the blacklist, thanks to the hate-mongering magazine Counterattack, which scared off corporate clients and forced the sale of the company in 1954 and Hilberman’s temporary departure to England.

Tytla was interviewed about his career in 1968. You can listen to him by clicking here.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Sorry, Wrong Number

Tom gets hit on by a telephone operator who comes out of his candlestick phone’s earpiece in Trouble, a 1931 effort by the Van Beuren studio.

Tom never exhibits a lot of emotion (other than shaking in terror or nervousness) in these cartoons. In this one, after the operator tells him she’s got the wrong number, he gulps and blinks his eyes, she winks and he rolls his eyes. Why? Because it’s a Van Beuren cartoon. It doesn’t have to make sense.

Tom and Jerry are ambulance chasers in this one. Jerry strums a banjo while they sing about accidents, broken legs, a railroad bridge, and rhyme “banana peels” with “automobiles.” Whether it’s a Gene Rodemich original, I don’t know.

It's Mae Day

Forget that “Mary Ann or Ginger” thing. Who would you pick—Betty Boop or Olive Oyl?

The best part about that is you’d be picking the same person. For a good portion of time, both cartoon characters were played by Mae Questel.

Mae would turn 110 today were she still with us.

I’m not going to go through a list of “she did this, she did that.” She worked steadily for decades after winning a Helen Kane sound-alike contest in the late 1920s. If it wasn’t in radio, it was on the stage. If it wasn’t the stage, it was in movies. If it wasn’t movies, it was on TV.

Mae appeared in the ne plus ultra of vaudeville at the age of 21. She was in an act at The Palace with, of all people, New York Yankees pitcher Waite Hoyt in 1930. Later that year, she sang on a bill headlined by Helen Morgan. Still later that year, she wowed the reviewer for Billboard, who wrote of her October 22nd show at the Orpheum in New York:
Mae Questel, boop-boop-a-doop girl, went over like a house afire. Her impersonation of Irene Bordini mimicking Maurice Chevalier in song was eaten up. She sang this number in both French and English. Her delivery of I’m Dangerous Nan McGrew took the house by storm.
In 1931, she appeared periodically on The Pleasure Hour on the NBC Blue network and that led to her own 15-minute show on NBC Red. The radio show she was on that I’d love to hear was on a March 1947 episode of CBS’ musical anthology series Once Upon a Tune. How’s this for an unbilled cast: Questel, Minerva Pious, Parker Fennelly, Everett Sloane and Arnold Stang!

Questel knew the real and fake Fanny Brice. Whether she played opposite the real one, I don’t know. But she played opposite the fake one in the movie “Funny Girl.” Questel talked about that and even some cartoon things in this story from the Tribune syndicate, October 22, 1968.
Betty Boop’s Alive, Well...

Many Chicagoans who have heard Mae Questel over the years now have an opportunity to see her in “Funny Girl,” the movie currently playing in the United Artists theater.
“A number of people will overhear me talking in public, and say, ‘I know you. You’re . . . you’re . . . you’re . . .’ and then they keep trying to figure out why they know me,” she said. The problem is Mae hasn’t always been seen as well as heard.
Earlier in her career she created the voices for animated characters such as Olive Oyl, Little Lulu, Little Audrey, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and Betty Boop. “Paramount was looking for a girl with an unusual voice,” she recalls. “They picked me to do the Betty Boop cartoons in the early ‘30s. They took a caricature of me for the series.
“The process of animation has come a long way since then. If you recall, Betty didn’t have much facial expression.” Mae then screwed up her round face and went through Betty’s repertoire of expressions.
The actress, who has boundless energy and never is at a loss for conversation, plays the role of a friend of Fanny Brice’s mother in the movie. “Fanny Brice,” Mae said, her blue eyes getting misty. “Yes, I was lucky enough to know her. I even used to mimic her in cartoons.
“You know, Baby Snooks, which Fanny played on radio, came near the end of her career. The network contacted me and asked me to be ready to step in for her. However, her agent, William Morris, put his foot down. He maintained that Baby Snooks will always live with Fanny Brice, and he was right.”
Of the many people with whom Mae has worked, her closest friends were Sir Cedric Hardwicke because “he was charming, droll, and so witty,” and Gertrude Berg, the unforgettable “Molly Goldberg” with whom Mae played in “A Majority of One.”
“Of course, I knew Gertrude better than almost anyone I worked with because I worked with her the longest. She was a beautiful woman,” commented Mae, who only recently learned that Gertrude Berg left a letter in her will requesting that if her life story is done Mae will play the lead.
“The music is finished and the lyrics are completed for the story,” said Mae. “The story will center on Gertrude’s early life and tentatively is titled ‘Molly and Me.’
“It’s sad that the people we’ve mentioned aren’t here anymore,” she continued. “Time passes on. I think we are all so lucky if we can live to an age when we can look back, admire the milestones, and still enjoy what we’re doing. I love my work, and I have two sons of whom I’m extremely proud.”
Then Mae jumped up and did an imitation of her grand-daughter, Melissa, in a perfect 4-year-old’s voice saying, “You mean, Grandma, you mean you’re not going to see your picture with me?”
“Melissa is a complete ham,” she said. “At the drop of a hat she’ll get up and sing and dance.” Like grandmother, like granddaughter.
Off the top of my head, I can’t pick a favourite performance by Questel in her many cartoons. She sang a fair number of enjoyable songs. If your Flash player will work in your browser, you can hear one at the bottom of this four-year-old post about her.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Topping the Toppers

What happens when the insultee gets the best of the insulter?

That question was answered in several columns by comic Joey Adams for Family Weekly, a weekend newspaper magazine supplement. Here’s one that appeared on April 25, 1976. Some of the comebacks are pretty funny.

By Joey Adams:
When the Insult Artists Get Squelched...

In this era of masochistic comedy, some of our greatest personalities have considered it an honor to show up at roasts and be carved to pieces by friends who don’t unintentionally hurt the ones they love. It’s all premeditated murder, written and rehearsed especially for the occasion. But nothing is more devastating to a professional comedian than to be squelched by an amateur—or even by another comedian when he isn’t expecting it.
Imagine, for example, how insult artist Don Rickles felt when he shouted at a lady pest at ringside: “If you were my wife. I’d give you poison’-only to have her answer, “If you were my husband, I’d take it.” That’s why every comedian worth his weight in laughs is constantly prepared for battle. Bob Hope once told me he never went out of his house unless his writers prepared him with ad-libs. But even the best sometimes get topped. Here are a few instances that are among my favorites:
Fred Allen to Max Asnas, who was the owner of New York’s Stage Delicatessen: “Your corned beef gives me heartburn.” Max: “What do you expect in a delicatessen—sunburn?”
Henny Youngman to a waiter: “My glass is empty—what do I have to do to get some water around here?” Waiter: “Why don’t you set yourself on fire?”
Jackie Gleason to restaurateur Toots Shor: “When I walked on stage, the audience sat there open-mouthed.” Toots: “You mean they all yawned at once?”
Eighty-two-year-old Jack Benny to an audience in a moment of seriousness: “I have a violin that was made in 1729.” A heckler in the audience: "Did you buy it new?”
I remember listening one night to Don Rickles devastating a room full of stars. To Orson Welles he said: “Who makes those tents you wear?” To Dean Martin: “You could build a skating rink with the ice cubes you use in your drinks each week.” To Ernest Borgnine: “Look at you . . . Anybody else hurt in the accident?”
But when he picked on Jackie Gleason, he got more than he had bargained for. “You are three of my favorite comedians,” Don said to the fat one. “I wish you were just one of mine,” Gleason snapped back.
Johnny Carson at one Friars Club (for performers) dinner, introduced Howard Cosell as “a legend in his own mind.” He went on. “Just because it’s free, Howard, you don't have to eat everything that’s put in front of you. At least stop eating while I'm talking.” Howard looked up and said, “I couldn't take you on an empty stomach.”
Milton Berle’s tongue can be declared a lethal weapon. He has put down everybody, even the Mayor of New York (“You look good, Abe—you've taken off a little height”). But even Berle was left without an answer once. Milton has a habit of picking on anybody at ringside who is smoking a cigar. Pretending to wave the smoke away, he groans. “Don't you ever inhale?" But one night a man was ready for him. “Not with you in the room,” he answered.
Alan King was in a particularly vitriolic mood at the George Burns—Walter Matthau dinner. He introduced George Jessel as the oldest member: “His idea of an exciting night now is to watch his leg fall asleep.” To Milton Berle: “I think the world of you—and you know the shape the world is in right now.” To Walter Matthau: “Someday you'll go too far—and I hope you stay there.”
Then he started on Henny Youngman: “I would like to introduce Johnny Carson.” he said, “but I am forced to introduce Henny Youngman. A man who started out as a small-time night-club comedian and never lived up to his promise—take Henny Youngman, please . . .”
Henny finished with the toastmaster very quickly: “One thing about you, Alan—you’ve never lost an enemy.”
Those squelches are love pats compared to the time I heard a minister devastate a profane comedian. It happened at an officers’ club in Vietnam. After a pointless and blasphemous story, the alleged comic noticed all eyes were suddenly fastened on a quiet man at the end of the table. “For God’s sake,” blustered the storyteller, “are you a chaplain?” With a slight smile and deliberate emphasis, the chaplain answered. “Yes, for God’s sake, I am.”
Bob Hope told me that when he visits service hospitals around the world he likes to “louse up the joint.” It’s what they want. “One thing they don't want is sympathy.” Bob explained. “They want me to walk into a ward filled with guys harnessed to all kinds of contraptions and say: That’s all right, fellows, you don’t have to get up for me.’ ”
Only once was Bob caught without an answer. We were going to St. Albans Hospital with a troupe of minstrels to cheer up the boys who had just come back from Vietnam. Most of them couldn’t leave their chain or their beds. As we approached one of the wards, ready to throw our punch lines, we heard someone singing above the clatter of our entrance. Then I saw that the singer was a wounded serviceman. He was pushing himself towards us in a wheelchair by the power of his two arms—the only useful limbs he had left.
“Say,” Bob greeted him. “were supposed to entertain you, and here you are meeting us with a song." And the crippled serviceman answered: "When I stopped looking at what I had lost and began looking at all I had left, I could sing again!” What could Bob Hope say to top that?

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

A Standard Cartoon Rule

Screwy Squirrel runs afoul of an established cartoon rule in Happy-Go-Nutty when he hides in a tree from Meathead the dog. He quickly zooms in....

....and quickly zooms out and away.

What’s the problem? Meathead shows up, reaches in, and pulls out a skunk. He eventually catches on and zooms away.

Cartoon Rule 514 states that “In cartoons, skunks always stink.” This particular skunk parodies the Lifebuoy radio commercials that tells you that if you use Lifebuoy, you’ll never have to worry about....

Sound editor Fred McAlpin throws in the soap commercial’s foghorn in the background to emphasize the gag.

Tex Avery doesn’t waste time getting characters on and off screen. He goes from a character drawing in one frame to brushstroke lines in the next. Hanna-Barbera eventually did the same thing on its TV cartoons.