Friday, 9 March 2012

The Serenity of Book Revue

Leave it to Bob Clampett to lull the audience into false sense of serenity, only to suddenly splatter them with silliness, pop culture references and outrageous poses. That’s just what he does in “Book Revue.”

The cartoon opens with a shot of a book store in the evening, with a lamp on a separate cell in the foreground. The store looks photographic.

Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ plays peacefully over a pan of books. The one on the right is “The Life and Times of Bugs Bunny.”

The pan fades into the next scene. Then, wham! We’re hit with a drunken cuckoo, staggering and spilling his flask.

And then the cartoon really gets going.

Tom McKimson and Cornett Wood get credit for layouts and backgrounds in one of Clampett’s most acclaimed shorts (released in January 1946).


  1. IIRC, the background for the opening was borrowed (and colored, if it wasn't already), from Clampett's 1941 "A Coy Decoy".

    That was done during the period that Warners' background artists were indulging in their most intricate and realistic efforts. By 1946, the studio was still far from entering the UPA period of background, but the style had become to infer more with the backgrounds than to literally represent the scene in the Disney style, so Clampett reusing the 1941 drawing here (along with Stalling's score) really creates a quiet/somber mood that makes what comes after it more jarring for the audience.

    (Avery and Johnny Johnsen did something similar by cribbing the "Of Fox and Hounds" background for "Outfoxed", opening with the intricate background pan and music that belied what was to come, and Freleng would borrow the Johnsen opening again for "Foxy by Proxy").

  2. Just like the opening for "Tin pan alley cats".

  3. Absolutely, it starts very quiet and atmospheric, much like being in a closed store at night.

    Then he pulls a Clampett on the audience and plays crazy jazz music as the drunk cuckoo stumbles out of his clock. Like he's saying 'just kidding! This is going to be fun!"

  4. J.L., you could be right. I haven't seen that cartoon in ages.

    Scrawn, I get the impression Clampett was not only borrowing from, but making fun of, the old Harman-Ising 'come to life' cartoons he worked on in the '30s with the serious establishing shots then the surprise goofiness.

  5. "Goofy Groceries", Clampett's first color short, also had that opening before the stuff comes to life.