Friday, 18 January 2013

Not Just Spooks

Recognise this silent film star?

A little over 20 years later, he’d be on TV, bald (what hair he had was grey) and interacting with a cartoon woodpecker. Yes, it’s Walter Lantz. And in the 1920s, to show you what’s old is new again, he was interacting with cartoon characters in silent film shorts for the Bray studio. He and Gerry Geronimi (later of Disney) came up with the Dinky Doodle series, where Dinky and his dog (and other drawn characters) would appear in Walter’s real life world.

The shot above is from “Just Spooks” (1925). I digress for a moment to mention an attempt is being made to preserve this old cartoon. Check HERE.

The old-fashioned combined animation/live action in this short is still effective and it’s pretty funny in spots. The story starts out with the premise that Walter is painting a picture of a meadow. Except he’s not. He has no paint on his brush and there’s no canvas in the frame he’s supposedly painting on. Dinky, his dog and a cow watch. The cow’s great. Its head and body stretch. Its tail stretches to gives a thumbs up.

It mimicks Lantz’s expressions.

Lantz shakes his first at the animal. It responds with horns that form fists.

It gives Lantz the bird.

And it licks the eyes off its head. The eyes roll stretch, then roll back up the enlongated tongue onto the head.

It editorialises about Lantz.

And it gallops off into the distance (one drawing is out of sequence).

The cartoon is supposed to be “just spooks,” but we get a cow for the first couple of minutes and then a mosquito before the ghosts show up.

The series lasted a couple of years. You can read about it on Tom Stathes’ site. Lantz was soon off to Hollywood and, eventually, gained a studio but lost his hair. What would the cow think about that?

No comments:

Post a Comment