Monday, 16 July 2012

Balloon Land

Ub Iwerks’ “Balloon Land” (1935) is almost the quintessential early ‘30s cartoon. It has:

● Squash and stretch (the cartoon stars balloons, after all),
● Singing and dancing (and a Carl Stalling original song),
● Billy Bletcher as a bad guy,
● Pointless celebrity caricatures (and a Joe Penner “You nasty man!” reference),
● The camera coming in for a close-up of wide-open mouths,
● Characters using whatever is at hand to violently attack and vanquish the bad guy.

Being an Iwerks cartoon, it’s also odd and confusing in places, but you kind of give that a pass because, well, it’s an Iwerks cartoon.

Maybe the best part about this cartoon is the designs. I have no idea who is responsible but the balloon-shaped homes, trees (with faces on them) and characters are a lot of fun. And so are the gratuitous appearances of Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin, doing a flop-footed dance.




And the Pincushion Man has a truly imaginative design. Compare this with what you see on the screen in those crappy Buddy cartoons Warners released at the same time.



Iwerks cartoons, especially toward the mid-‘30s, weren’t exactly known for their gags, but there’s a really good one with a row of babies marked “Alarm.” Take the milk bottles out of their mouths and they start crying, like an alarm. And, being a cartoon of the ’30s, the camera zooms in to the open mouths.



I only have a version of this cartoon from those cheap collections of public domain cartoons so the screen grabs aren't pristine. But you get the idea. Here’s a much better version, in all its blue-and-red Cinecolor glory (sorry if it opens with an ad; I didn’t upload it).

2 comments:

  1. strange how the balloon men and women are created...
    then they use the stuff to throw at the villian...
    oo-er..

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  2. Since I have some sort of ad blocking deal on my end, I didn't get the ad anyway!

    ReplyDelete