Monday, 28 May 2012

Touché and Go

Pepé Le Pew devolved in a few short years from an Oscar winner to a cliché. Or perhaps that should be “Le Cliché.” By the late ‘50s, his cartoons are indistinguishable from each other. A cat accidentally gets a white stripe of paint down its back. The cat runs away, stopping to catch her breath with the words “Les Pant.” Pepé talks and talks and talks. And hearts find their way into the design. In every single cartoon. Sometimes they’re trails of smoke, sometimes they’re bubbles, other times they’re in Maurice Noble’s backgrounds. Jones loved gags coming out of the artwork. Here’s an example in “Touché and Go” (1957).

Not knowing my French geography, I’m not sure where this is supposed to take place (do they have cliffs near the French-Italian border?) but here are more of Noble’s backgrounds.

Do they have volcanic islands in the Mediterreanean?

Noble has a number of underwater backgrounds as well, as Jones quickly cuts from one to the next while Pepé is in a scuba mask.

Phil De Guard did his usual fine job constructing these.


  1. The collisions of the African, Asian and European plates does create islands of volcanism in the Mediterranean, though none really that close to the southern coast of France. But we're dealing with a talking skunk here, so I guess this is scientifically accurate enough.

    Meanwhile, sort of on the subject of animated science lessons, it's interesting that when Chuck was off working on the "Gateways to the Mind" animation for The Bell Telephone Hour in 1958 and Abe Levitow was given partial control of the unit, he and Mike Maltese took the opportunity to do "Really Scent", which basically is a cry out from Jones' crew that even they were tired of the repetitious scripts, since it basically took every aspect of them and tried to reverse the themes as much as possible. Of course, once Chuck returned, it was back to the formula stuff, though Mike only had to do one more before fleeing to Hanna-Barbera.

    "Touché and Go" is one of those blends-into-all-the-other Pepe cartoons, but the ending is nice, and it does give Milt Franklyn a chance to use some of the more sedate closing music scoring he tried out when he took over from Carl Stalling (some of Franklyn's initial efforts in 1954 just drift away into nothingness, when a bigger send off before the end title music would have worked better; by 1957 he was more judicious on when he would use the quieter endings, and this cartoon is a good example).

  2. The topography of southeastern France is rugged indeed -- Mussolini should have known better than to invade France where she had such defensible terrain manned by some of her best troops. I visited the Mediterranean coast in 1962 and can vouch that the stylized art captures the regional essence well.

  3. J. Lee’s comments explain why “Really Scent” was my favorite entry of the series! I love it when, once a formula is established, it is “played with” – if not outright lampooned!

    Pepe (…and Jones) really missed his calling by limiting himself to fruitless romantic pursuits.

    He should have been more like Casper – where he tries to help someone at a particular endeavor – but frightens them away with his scent. He would be UNAWARE of the reason for the folks’ flight, and that would make him all the more determined to help!

    He could have been Loopy DeLoop with B.O.!

    The more I think about that, the more I like it!