Thursday, 22 March 2012

Cat Concerto Expressions

“Personality animation” is one of those terms that gets batted around that doesn’t quite mean what it says. Felix the Cat had a personality, expressed through animation, but no one ever calls the action in the Felix silents “personality animation.”

So let’s set aside the term altogether for now, and look at some of the drawings one of Joe Barbera’s favourite cartoons from his MGM unit, ‘Cat Concerto.’ One of the reasons it succeeds so well—and certainly did with the Academy of Motion Pictures—is due to the personality exhibited by Tom and Jerry. Like good silent film actors, you know what they’re thinking. Here are just a few of the emotions they display in the cartoon, thanks to animator Ken Muse.


Snooty superiority


Self-satisfaction


Gleeful abandon



And to counter-balance the intricate posing above, there’s a take that must be by Irv Spence.



Dogs and humans excepted, all the characters seem to have similarities in head construction. Occasionally, that posed problems. Here, Tom looks more like a giant mouse than a cat.

Only three animators are credited in this cartoon; Ed Barge is the other.

3 comments:

  1. So much of Kenneth Muse in this cartoon as he does about like 75% of the animation. He did the entire opening of Tom walking into the stage; up to where he reacts to his fingers flat on the piano. He did the scenes of Jerry playing with Tom's chair as he's playing the piano; and the music finale where he has to pretend to play the piano as Jerry is hitting the piano wires.

    The Ken Muse animation finale deserves some praise; you can feel Tom's exhaustion from miming it as it's just wonderful. So little Spence in this short as he did the mousetrap scene, the finger stretch scene, and other minor shots such as Jerry's chin being smacked by the piano the piano felt and nothing else. Ed Barge did a pair bit; such as the scissor sequence, and Jerry being attacked by piano felts.

    Dick Bickenbach did uncredited animation. He did Jerry taking out the piano felts as he starts off the finale.

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  2. I can't question that Dick handled Jerry starting off the grand finale. Jerry falling on the piano frame knocked silly and taking out a couple hammers, however, has Irv's fingerprints all over it.

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  3. Eric Goldberg called this a Bick scene but looking at it; it does look like Bickenbach; it's his way of drwaing the pouty mouths and it's similar to his animation he did on "Mouse in the House" or "The Invisible Mouse". Bickenbach and Spence drew similar; this is not how Spence draws Jerry.

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