Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Not the MGM Lion

What’s the point of being paid by MGM if you can’t make fun of the MGM lion? That’s what Tex Avery does in “Batty Baseball.”

A player sliding into home plate suddenly stops in mid-air. He demands to know what happened to the opening credits of the cartoon, “the lion roar and all that stuff?”

The player then opens his mouth wide, in approximation of a lion roaring, rolling his head before resuming its regular shape. The first four drawings are on ones, the rest are on twos.

This cartoon was released in 1944. I wonder if Avery would have handled the animation and timing differently in later years, with one huge lion take interrupting the player’s spiel.

Picking out 1940s MGM voices for me is a bit of a challenge. The player’s growly voice isn’t the same as the growly voice in Avery’s “The Cat That Hates People,” at least that I can tell. The umpire-baiter is Kent Rogers and the narrator is John Wald, who was the announcer on “Fibber McGee and Molly” in the ‘50s when Harlow Wilcox stuck to playing himself as commercial pitch-man.

The credited animators are Preston Blair, Ed Love and Ray Abrams. Mark Kausler reports this scene is by Blair.


  1. This looks like Preston Blair's animation. Mark Kausler

  2. This is a gag that's about as closely tied to the studio it was made at as possible (i.e., going over all the other studio opening logos, it's hard to see Tex doing as well asking about the zooming WB shield or any of the other standard titles than with the Leo gag). It was also Avery's second run at using the opening for a gag, since Tex's arrival at MGM also heralded the brief use of "Repeating Leo" and the Tiger Rag for the studio's opening credits.

    (It's also one of the very few cartoons during the Golden Age to go with a 'cold' opening -- the Fleischers did it once, with "Betty Co-Ed", and Gene Dietch gave it a try in the 60s with his T&J effort, "Tall in the Trap", which also eliminated Leo's roar completely when the credits finally arrived.)