Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Lantz Camel Dance

The best part of Shamus Culhane’s “Abou Ben Boogie” doesn’t show up until about halfway through the way into the cartoon. We have to live with Ben Hardaway’s sign-puns and goofy-looking characters until Miss X appears and the great dance sequences begin.

It’s a shame Lantz only made two Miss X cartoons (this was the final one). The movement is superb in this and you can really feel Miss X and Abou Ben Boogie pulling each other on the dance floor thanks to the posing and timing. And their dance sequence is wisely interrupted by a comic dance by a camel introduced earlier in the cartoon. There’s some great rubbery movement here, thanks to that great animator Pat Matthews.

The camel is hiding in a mummy’s wrapping (did they have mummies in Arabia?) and is unravelled into action.

Culhane and layout man Art Heinemann go in for a solid background so nothing distracts from the action.

The camel twirls like a ballerina—in perspective. Nine drawings on twos. The head comes right at the camera and so does the toe.

Next, a butt wag. The camel turns his head to see the audience.

Next a little high-step off the stage, vaudeville style (the camel is wearing a straw hat), followed by a slip-step.

Landing his body parts perfectly to Darrell Calker’s beat, the camel flips over and then his hump turns into feet and he walks out of the scene. Great work.

Pat Matthews and Paul Smith get the on-screen animation credits. Matthews, as far as I know, did the Miss X dance sequence in this one which I’ll have to post some time.

Just a note about Matthews. His name wasn’t really Pat. The 1940 Census shows he is John R. Matthews; his son is named Pat (but has John H. crossed out in the report; see below). In-laws were living with him on Laneer Drive (you can see he was renting a house for $35 a month). He was at Disney at the time and the Census reports he was making only $888 in a 46-week year.

1 comment:

  1. Great mixture in this cartoon of stylization borrowing from both Disney, Avery's initial 'Red' cartoon and Chuck Jones' unit at Warners and the moves he was making away from the standardized cartoon 'look' and character design during the period when Culhane was at the studio (the opening layouts and background by Art Heinemann and Phillip DeGuard along with the titles' lettering actually seem to anticipate the Warners 'look' as it would evolve in the 1950s, when Phil was working in Jones' unit).

    Now if only they had given poor Miss X a nose in the front facial shots... ;)