Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Thrifty Tex

Tex Avery re-worked and re-used gags over and over, and his spot gag cartoons of the ‘50s were no exception. All of them seem to have a mother-in-law joke, including the fine “Field and Scream.” Two of them refer to “The Thrify Scotchman model.” You know, Scottish people are cheap. Yuk, yuk.


The Car of Tomorrow


TV of Tomorrow

This may give you an idea how involved Avery was in gagging his cartoons—“Car” was written by Roy Williams and Rich Hogan while “TV” was written by Heck Allen. I doubt they came up with the same “Thrify Scotchman model” term independently. That Western the Scotsman is watching got some mileage, too. It’s a running gag throughout “TV” and surfaces in “The Three Little Pups” and “Drag-a-long Droopy.” A thrifty use of gags.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

I'm Flabbergasketed

Hollywood made a couple of movies about Al Jolson and one about Eddie Cantor. It’s a shame it didn’t do the same thing with Jimmy Durante.

Jimmy’s life had enough drama and atmosphere to make a good film (especially with a little dramatic embellishment). So it’s a shame that some studio didn’t work out a deal when it had the chance. Durante’s biography was written in 1949 by one of W.C. Fields’ drinking buddies, Gene Fowler, and United Press columnist Virginia MacPherson learned an option on it was being pursued in Tinseltown. She talked with Durante about it. A couple of things about her column are interesting. One is that she, like everyone else it seems, wrote Durante’s quotes in his dialect. The other is that Durante didn’t get a cent from the sale of any books. Fowler got it all. That just doesn’t seem quite fair. Dem’s da conditions dat prevail, I guess.

MacPherson obliquely refers to the fact that Larry Parks played Jolson on the screen because Jolson was too old. The immortal Keefe Brasselle was Cantor for the same reason. But she’s right. Who else could play Durante but Durante?

The column is from 1949.

‘Flabbergasketed’ Jimmy Watches ‘Schnozz’ Sales
By Virginia MacPherson

HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 23. (U.P.)—Jimmy Durante whose life story “Schnozola” has hit the best seller lists already, says he’s “flabbergasketed” anybody’d shell out three bucks to read about him.
“I really am,” rasped the little guy with the big beak. “An’ dat’s a fack. It’s sold more ‘n 50,000 awreddy . . . Imagine! All does people gittin’ on de inside o’Durante.
“I’LL BE ENTERTAINING at the Greater Los Angeles Press club. Maybe I oughta take a few copies down ‘n peddle ‘em, huh?”
Jimmy doesn't get a penny of the proceeds from all this—those go to author Gene Fowler and the publishing firm.
“But what I’m gittin’ outa dis, honey,” he twinkled, “couldn’t be bought wit money.”
DURANTE SPENT months “spillin’ my heart out” to Fowler, who lolled in an easy chair, turned on a wire recorder, asked a question now and then, and just listened happily while the “Schnozz” spun his yarns of the old days in show business.
“I didn't have any idea what he was gonna put in," Jimmy added. “To tell de troot, I t’ink he left out a lotta good stuff.
“AND I DON’T like the pitchas he put in. A lotta dem are just gags. Day don’t belong in a book like dat. But what the heck . . . It’s a helluva good writing job.
“I’ve read it free times myself awreddy. And dere’s parts of it dat jist make me cry. Jeez, it sure brings back the memories . . . it sure does.”
IT’S PROBABLY gonna bring him a lot more ‘n that. MGM, 20th-Century-Fox and Paramount studios are scrambling for the rights to put it on the screen.
"Dis story’s gotta be told,” Jimmy nodded. “Not on accounta Durante. Heck, dere’s more about Lou Clayton in it dan there is about me.
“But it’s a nice story about me and my Missus and Eddie Jackson and Clayton... all the people who've been wit’ me fer years. It’s a kinda family story. Make a good pitcha, I betcha.”
THE MASTERMINDS are already looking around for a young feller to play Durante’s part. At which point MacPherson, the No. 1 Durante fan in these parts, will register an official complaint.
All the “Schnozz” needs to look 20 years younger is a little hair. What he’s got left is white and kind of wispy. But Mac Factor’s wig experts could remedy that in two shakes.
HE WAS NO BEAUTY when he was 16 and he’s no beauty now. But the same old gleam is still here.
“Da’s ‘cause I’m still havin’ fun,” Jimmy says modestly.
“And I’ve kept me shapely figger. No bulges around Durante’s diagram.”
No sir, the idea of anybody else playing Durante is something we don’t even like to think about. It’d be nothing short of heresy.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Real Gone Brushwork

A bunch of things go into making “Real Gone Woody” (1954) the best cartoon made by Paul J. Smith. Mike Maltese’s story helps. So do some neat backgrounds by Ray Jacobs. Woody’s pretty attractively drawn in the first scene (though the action isn’t all that exaggerated). There’s some great use of brush strokes to indicate speed. Here’s the fight scene with Woody and Buzz. The characters go in a spin cycle with outlines and brush lines.



Then Woody zooms over to Winnie.



The characters become nothing but lines in the climax at the end when Woody and Buzz each grab Winnie and pull her into their cars. Here are a few examples. I like the surprised reaction of Woody in third drawing below. He has his leg up.



The action moves faster and faster and so does Clarence Wheeler’s score. Smith has the camera pull in and then things stop for the plot twist.

The animators are La Verne Harding, Bob Bentley and Herman Cohen. Harding stayed with the studio for many years, the other two were journeymen.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Cat-Tails Background

“Cat-Tails For Two” is the first Speedy Gonzales cartoon, evidently thought of by director Bob McKimson as a one-shot character, like the crow in “Corn Plastered” (1951). Speedy was rescued a few years later by Friz Freleng, redesigned by Hawley Pratt and sent on his Merrie Melodies way to the podium at the Oscars. That assured Speedy of his continued appearances in cartoons, eventually to be bastardised into a ridiculous and boring series with Daffy Duck in the mid-‘60s. The less said about those cartoons, the better.

The short opens with a pan over a dockside background, painted by Dick Thomas from Bob Givens’ layout.



“Cat-Tails For Two” was the final cartoon released by Warners for the 1952-53 season (August 29, 1953). If you’re curious about the origin of the name Speedy Gonzales, feel free to check out this book on the web. The term was known on the Great White Way; Walter Winchell reported in his column of December 2, 1952 that “Paul Hartman was In and Out of ‘Two’s Company’ so fast the Lindians are calling him ‘Speedy Gonzales.’”

Thanks to Matt Hunter for some memory-jogging background for this post.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

No Shock Comedy

The Jack Benny show tried something novel on its season-opening broadcast of 1949-50. It had the Benny cast and incidental players talk about him for the first 22 minutes before Benny himself appeared on the show. The writers built up the gag so Jack’s appearance came as an unexpected, but inevitable, surprise.

Not everyone liked it. The novel show was panned by a columnist for the New York World-Telegram for not being “surprising.”

Frankly, she didn’t know her typewriter ribbon from a hole in the ground.

Harriet Van Horn doesn’t seem to have understood either audiences in general or the Benny show in particular. She appears to have been another culture vulture who detested much of radio and television, but was quite willing to accept a good salary covering them.

You can read her column below. It’s from the December 4, 1949 edition of the Pittsburgh Press, which would have been responsible for the sub-headline about a “girl columnist,” which strikes me as superfluous and an unnecessary put-down based on gender.

Jack Benny Slapped Down For Late Start on Radio
Comic Is Given Verbal Spanking By Irate Girl Columnist
By HARRIET VAN HORN

It’s traditional in the theater that the star make his (or her) entrance only after the proper atmosphere of expectancy has been created.
A tingling hush, and almost tangible tension—and on sweeps the great one! It’s a fine moment in the theater, in its way every bit as exciting as that glorious split second just before the curtain rises.
In radio, fine old traditions have been mightily abused. One night Jack Benny, returning for what must be the 100th year in radio, postponed his entrance until seven minutes before the end of the show. By then it didn’t matter a thought that prompts the irreverent sequitur: would it matter if he hadn’t come on at all?
No, I don’t think it would have. After all these years the Benny show runs by automatic pilot. Namely, the familiarity all listeners have with the established characters and their established responses. Pavlov’s dogs, obediently drooling when the master ran the bell, demonstrated no more faithful adherence to the principal of the conditioned response than do members of Mr. Benny’s company (Not to mention the studio audience).
There is almost no spontaneity left in the program. Its pattern, plotted on a graph, would change scarely at all, week after week, year after year. One can almost envisage the jokes being turned out a full season in advance, Willow Run style. Faithful designs by experienced hands.
But where is the “shock” element, the swift and stunning surprise that’s half of every laugh?
I find it not, except occasionally in the remarks of Dennis Day. Here is one of the funniest men in radio. Listening, nobody at my house managed more than a bored smile—until Dennis and his shrewish mother came on.
She said “This year, Dennis, I think you should insist that Mr. Benny pay you in American money.” Seems she found it inconvenient to run down to Mexico to cash his checks.
Dennis protested loyally. Had not Mr. Benny come to his rescue when he was ill and needed an operation? “Yes,” conceded his mother, “but I still think you took a chance letting Rochester take out your appendix.”
There followed numerous jokes about Dennis’ incision being held together with scotch tape. Surprisingly, each one seemed funny. Other repetitive jokes, such as the one about Mr. Benny buying everybody a dinner at the Brown Derby, gathered only moss. When he finally made his entrance—having driven to the studio on a sight-seeing bus with the most noxious, offensive conductor I’ve ever heard, on the radio or off—Benny revealed that he’d forgotten his script. Left it on the bus.
He had no cause for alarm. Mary, Dennis, Phil, Rochester and all the rest of the cast could manage without him indefinitely.


Miss Van Horne decries the lack of spontaneity on the Benny show but then praises the routine between Dennis Day and his mother (played by Verna Felton), ignoring the fact the scene isn’t spontaneous in the slightest. Each word has been, like everything on the Benny shows except the occasional ad lib, carefully checked over and weighed by Benny and his writers. There is no “shock” element any more than there is a “shock” element in a performance of The Tempest or La Scala. The audience knows what they’re going to get. That’s why they go to see the performance. Radio is no different. I doubt Miss Van Horne would compare a theatre audience watching The Importance of Being Earnest to Pavlov’s dogs for reacting predictably to scenes it is intimately familiar with. After all, it’s the uplifting THEATRE, not something common like, ugh, radio.

The challenge the Benny show met—and won—year after year after year was to have enough familiar elements that they didn’t need to be part of each broadcast, and when they appeared, to make them a bit different to surprise the audience. Benny had to have learned from someone like Joe Penner, who had three catchphrases and after burning out the audience with them, had nothing else. Of course the conductor (played by Frank Nelson) is “noxious.” That’s the idea. He’s supposed to conflict with Jack. The conflict is the comedy.

Miss Van Horne apparently never really understood the job of a radio/TV columnist. She once complained to Esquire magazine about the prospect of reviewing “I Love Lucy” or “Gunsmoke” 20 times. Didn’t she understand that isn’t the job of a columnist? One writes about a subject if they have something to say about it. They don’t write about a TV show solely because it’s a TV show. If “20 times” is another bit of her facetious exaggeration, like her crack about the Benny show being on “100 years,” it falls flat.

If anything, Benny’s writers proved the remark of her opening sentence, not disproved it. Jack made his entrance “after the proper atmosphere of expectancy has been created.” His audience was delighted with the surprise. Jack didn’t abuse “fine old traditions” at all. He reaffirmed them.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Cameraman Who Wrote a Cartoon

He wrote one cartoon and vanished from Hollywood forever.

The Leon Schlesinger studio began expanding its release schedule in 1937 and that meant it had to hire cartoon writers. And it hired them from everywhere. Dave Monahan ran into Tedd Pierce and got a job. Ernie Gee was a high school buddy of Bob Clampett’s, hired after Howard Baldwin came from somewhere but wasn’t to Clampett’s liking. Warren Foster had worked for the Fleischer studio and came recommended by assistant animator Mike Maltese. And then there was Fred Niemann.

Niemann’s name appears on one short—“Now That Summer is Gone” (1938), directed by Frank Tashlin. Then, he vanishes, never to appear in connection with animation in Hollywood again.

So what happened?

We’ll get to that in just a moment. First, some biographical notes compiled from census and other U.S. government records and some clippings from various newspapers.

Fred Stepina Niemann was born March 14, 1912 to Fred William and Ida M. (Stepina) Niemann, who had become married in Chicago in 1909. The Niemann family owned a prosperous table-making company. One of Niemann’s uncles apparently killed himself in 1905 after shooting a woman who may, or may not have been, his wife. Another uncle was sued for $50,000 by a woman for breach of promise. Niemann’s dad deserted his mother and she won $50 a month in a divorce in October 1916, though census records in 1920 list her as a widow. She married George Griffiths, a construction company owner, before 1930. Niemann went to the Boys’ Latin School, Culver Military Academy and Brown University. He married Laura Leppler in Wilmette, Ill. in 1935. They were still in Chicago in September 1936. By then, Niemann had his own business, Fred S. Niemann Productions, specialising in (as the Brown Alumni Monthly put it) “films for business and television,” even though all of Chicago’s pre-1939 experimental TV stations had signed off for good. There’s nothing to indicate any of Niemann’s films had anything to do with animation. Regardless, something induced him and his wife to move to the West Coast, and the pair are mentioned in a social story in the Los Angeles Times on Feburary 8, 1938.

How did a man like this get hooked up with the Leon Schlesinger studio? Was it because Schlesinger and brother-in-law Ray Katz had family in Chicago? Did he try to pitch an industrial film partnership with him? After doing all the research you’re reading here, I decided to look at the one cartoon where Niemann got credit. It’s on a DVD with a commentary by animation historian Mike Barrier. I should have listened to it first because it would have saved me some time; Mike had already dug into the subject some years ago (he interviewed Tashlin, for one thing) and came up with some answers.
[Niemann] worked for several different directors but he and Tashlin were certainly the ones that hit it off the best. Fred was not your typical cartoonist. He was from a very wealthy Chicago family and attended Brown University. He was movie-smitten and came to California hoping to become a cameraman but union restrictions kept him out. Fred and Frank Tashlin were extremely different people from very different backgrounds. Tashlin was from New Jersey and worked as an errand boy in cartoon studios in New York and they found each other very compatible and remained friends. Fred did not work at the Warner Bros. studio more than a year or so and then he went back to Chicago, started his own motion picture company and had nothing more to do with animation.
By 1940, Niemann was divorced, and living with his mother and step-father in Chicago where he owned a commercial photograph business. He got engaged on New Year’s Eve 1940 but his fiancée married someone else in 1941. Niemann had other problems dating back to his stay in California. The Daily Globe of Ironwood, Michigan published this story on December 15, 1944:
ARREST FRED NIEMANN ON CHARGE OF FRAUD
Fred S. Niemann, 32, of Chicago, arrested by Ironwood police Wednesday on a fugitive warrant for check fraud in Los Angeles, was placed on $500 bail bond in Ironwood municipal court before Judge C. C. Keeton Jr. yesterday. Being ill he was taken to Runstrom’s hospital where he is under police guard.
Charges were withdrawn by police in Los Angeles the following month and Niemann was off the hook.

In Chicago, Niemann resumed making industrial films. Among the titles I’ve been able to find—“Skid Row,” a documentary of Skid Row Chicago produced about 1950; “The Church Moves In” (1950), a documentary about the work of the Chicago Christian Industrial League in a run-down part of Madison Street; “The Vicious Circle” (1951), tracing the downfall and rehabilitation of a man who used alcohol to attempt to escape from reality, “The Choice is Yours” (1952, 23 minutes), featuring young people questioning a science teacher about alcohol and “Behind the Skyscrapers.” The latter three were produced for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

Niemann died in Chicago on March 29, 1997 at age 84. His Chicago Tribune obituary refers to his work “as a gag writer and story man with Merrie Melodies Cartoons.” The sad thing is he only got one credit, and it was removed from the screen when the titles were lopped off in 1947 and the cartoon was re-issued as a Blue Ribbon. Fortunate, we have historians like Mike Barrier who had the foresight to talk to many people involved in the Golden Age of Animation—famous and obscure, some who are no longer with us—who can provide us with some insight into the people who made those wonderful little films.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Popeye Killed Harpo

In “Sock-a-bye Baby,” Popeye tries to keep New York City quiet so the baby in the pram he’s taking care of can sleep. The topper is none of the loud city noises (cars, construction, a ship’s horn) will wake the child but the drop of a pin will.

The gags are really good and the violence is funny. Oh, and there’s a celebrity caricature. Popeye kills him with one punch.



Harpo develops a halo and he and his harp ascend to wherever Jewish vaudeville harp players go in the afterlife.

The best gag is an old one. Felix the Cat used to travel through radio wires in silent cartoons in the ‘20s. Here, the force of Popeye’s punch travels through a radio outside a store, and all the way into a city in the distance where it comes through the microphone and knocks out the singer, who’s belting out a version of Johnny Green’s “Out of Nowhere.”



Sammy Timberg has a nice violin arrangement of In “Rock-a-bye Baby” over the credits. Seymour Kneitel and Doc Crandall get the animation credit.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Retrieving Larrimore



“Easy, Rover. That’s no way to retrieve a duck,” says Daffy to Larrimore the Dog in “To Duck or Not to Duck” (1943). “Look!” And Daffy then flips under him and grabs the dog’s mid-section (which sags under the weight) by the beak. Here are a few of the drawings.



Then Daffy throws him to the ground. A few more drawings. Fine rubbery animation here.



Chuck Jones made some fine Daffy cartoons in the ‘40s before he changed the duck’s personality to a bitter fall-guy, er, fall-duck. I like the old Daffy better. Tedd Pierce wrote the story.

There’s some interesting smear animation in this cartoon from Bobe Cannon, who gets the only animation credit.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Alice Pearce

When Frank Sinatra called columnist Dorothy Kilgallen “the Chinless Wonder,” he wasn’t being complementary. But there was an actress who seems to have given it to herself and relished the title.

Anyone who watched sitcoms in the ‘60s—or reruns of them years later—will recognise the shrill cry “Abner! Abner!!!” Gladys Kravitz shouted it at her uninterested husband (who was usually reading a newspaper at the time) as she witnessed something unexplainable going on next door at Darren and Samatha Stephens’ home on “Bewitched.” The nosy neighbour role was originated by Alice Pearce, who credited her lack of chin with giving her plenty of work as a character actress. Considering she was dying of cancer at the time “Bewitched” debuted in 1964, her chin was the least of her worries.

Pearce hadn’t achieved notoriety as Mrs. Kravitz when Parade magazine profiled her in its issue of October 11, 1964; she had only appeared on two episodes at that point. But the article captures her positive attitude toward life.

Alice Pearce the Chinless Wonder
HER FADEAWAY CHIN BRINGS HER TOP ROLES EVERYWHERE IN SHOW BUSINESS
by LLOYD SHEARER

HOLLYWOOD.
Most people who are born with or acquire a handicap let it get them down.
They waste years of their lives getting pickled in the vinegar of their own depression. They develop an introverted and sour personality. Disgruntled, irascible, disappointed, they become envious and irritable, constantly bemoan the unkind fate which made them too tall, too short, not pretty or handsome or rich enough.
There are some persons, however, who not only conquer their handicaps but turn them into assets.
Take the case of Alice Pearce, 46, formerly of New York City and now of Los Angeles. A receding chin has led Alice to Broadway, TV and film success as the bird-brain of all time. Thanks to her fadeaway chin, Alice earns from $20,000 to $30,000 a year playing lame-brain and idiot parts.
She has just finished working in five major films, the latest opposite Jimmy Stewart in Dear Brigitte, and has more TV character offers than she can handle. “Women with fadeaway chins who look weak and silly,” Alice says, “are apparently hard to come by.”
Alice Pearce was not born with the runaway chin-line which is today her stock in trade. She was born in New York City of a firm-chinned, wealthy and intelligent family. Her father was a foreign banking specialist, and when Alice was a child she was taken to Brussels, Belgium, where her dad represented the Chase National Bank.
“One afternoon when I was 9,” the actress recalls, “I was playing in a park in Brussels. 1 was showing off on a swing. I think I was trying to impress some boys. I went way up, lost my grip and slipped out of the swing.”
Alice landed on her chin with such impact that its growth was permanently retarded. All the dentists and bone specialists of Europe could do nothing for the girl. From that point on she was destined to go through life with an underdeveloped chin.
“Every girl wants to be beautiful," Alice Pearce declares, “especially in our society where we put such a tremendous emphasis on physical beauty. In our culture, according to the advertisements, to be beautiful is to be automatically happy.
Supposedly doors open for you everywhere, men swoon, beauty is the key to success.
“None of this is true, but like every other young girl, I was brainwashed by this concept, which, of course, made me unhappy. As a teenager I was sent off to boarding school, the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. At first I was self-conscious about my chin. Youngsters can be cruel, and I was afraid my classmates would make fun of me. They didn’t. They were very kind.
“As a result I didn’t develop any trauma. I was unhappy for a while, but I refused to let my chin or lack of one bring on an inferiority complex.
“When I got to Sarah Lawrence College, I looked in the mirror one day. I took inventory of myself. The most unusual thing about me was my chin. I decided to take advantage of it and become a comedienne, so I studied dramatics.
“While I was in college, I dated boys. Some of them actually phoned for a second or third date, and that was very reassuring to my ego. It proved that the boys were interested in me as a person, in me as a character, not because I had a pretty face.”
After graduation, Alice Pearce prepared herself for a theatrical career by a season of summer stock in Maine. Leonard Sillman, the producer, watched her work, and because comediennes are the rarest of breeds, signed her for her Broadway debut in New Faces of 1943.
“Luckily for me,” says Alice, “my weak chin caught on promptly, and I was signed for one bird-brain role after another.”
Alke was brought to Hollywood for a feature role opposite Fred Astaire in On the Town. After that she worked in Look, Ma, I'm Dancing, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Small Wonder, a flock of other Broadway and Hollywood hits. Returning to New York, she put together a one-gal night club comedy act. It played the Blue Angel in New York for 67 consecutive weeks.
Alice’s private life was equally fruitful. In 1948 she married John Rox, the composer (It’s a Big, Wide Wonderful World), and the marriage was a happy one, dissolved only when Rox died of a sudden heart attack in 1957.
Last month Alice Pearce got married again, this time to Paul Davis, a former Broadway director who now runs one of the leading art galleries in Los Angeles.
“I've never had any trouble with either men or women,” she says. “And frankly I think it's because of my chin. Everyone likes me to begin with because they feel sorry for me. When eventually they get to know me, they enjoy me for whatever good qualities I may have. I think this is particularly true of men. They say I’m fun to be with, that I'm not vain or self-centered. More important, I’m not competing against them.
“As for women, no woman has ever been jealous of me—not with my chin. Matter of fact, a physical handicap like mine makes me very, very popular with the girls. They take one look at me and say to themselves, ‘She’s no competition.’
“People with handicaps have an advantage in a competitive society. Unless they’re truculent or arrogant or just plain ornery, the first impression they make is a very sympathetic one. They arouse kindness and understanding and generosity. People want to lend them a helping hand.
“Look at me. As a chinless wonder, I've done very well. If I’d sustained no accident as a kid, if I had developed an ordinary chin, today I’d probably be just another starving, middle-aged character actress.
FEAR OF GROWING OLD
“Even if I had developed into a beauty—and I might have, because my mother was a beautiful woman—I’d be haunted by the fear of growing old. That’s the trouble with all beautiful actresses. Time eventually robs them of their beauty. They see it going, and they become desperate. They go in for plastic surgery, face-lifting, wrinkle-removing. How to stay young becomes their prime obsession.
"If a woman has never known great exterior beauty, she doesn't have to worry about its disappearance.
“Young girls won't believe this, hut many an intelligent man would rather marry a girl of charm, wit, character and achievement than a beauty contest winner who has none of these. Beauty is transient. Character is not. People who surmount handicaps generally develop character.
“If you were born with one, you should be grateful, not sorry. Take it from a chinless wonder who knows.”


Pearce died in 1966 and her part was taken by radio veteran Sandra Gould, who played the character a little more snarky than Pearce. In a way, there was a third Gladys Kravitz. In one episode, Endora (deliciously played by Agnes Moorehead) changes Gladys’ voice briefly to a little girl’s. That voice belongs to another wonderful actress named June Foray.

Pearce was voted a Best Supporting Actress Emmy posthumously for her work on “Bewitched.” Had she been around to accept it herself, she might have said she won it by a chin.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cat and Mouse Flip Out

It seems everyone is blushing at one point or another in “The Office Boy,” a 1932 Flip the Frog cartoon. And with good reason. There’s plenty of bathroom and sexual humour to go around.

It’s really hard to pick the most outrageous scene but I stopped halfway through and declared a winner when a mouse and then a cat go up the secretary’s crotch during a chase.



Earlier, the office manager closely stares at a “Private” sign attached to the secretary’s butt. Later, she gets her butt slapped by the boss. That’s after she loses her dress altogether when it gets caught in the roller of a spirit duplicating machine. It’s all about as subtle as a moving van through a plate-glass window.

There are some cute gags with inanimate things coming to life, such as a letter and a face Flip has drawn on a window he’s cleaning. And, later in the cartoon, a fan shaves all the fur off the cat only to put it back on when the cat chased the mouse in the reverse direction, though the way it happens really doesn’t make any sense.

The credits say “Drawn by Ub Iwerks” but more than one person had to work on this because the animation is inconsistent. I suspect Grim Natwick deserves some credit; Natwick created the big-eyed, gartered Betty Boop and arrived at Iwerks’ studio in 1932.

Monday, 21 January 2013

What a Hole

Variations on the same gags can be found over and over in Tex Avery cartoon. There’s one in several cartoons where a character has a hole blasted through his body (or a part of it). Here are some examples.


Señor Droopy (1947)


Ventriloquist Cat (1950)


The Cuckoo Clock (1950)


Garden Gopher (1950)


The Chump Champ (1950)


Daredevil Droopy (1951)

All these shorts were written by Rich Hogan, who had been one of Avery’s writers at Warner Bros. He came over to MGM in 1941, and returned to the studio after the war.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

1930 Cartoons on Parade

A week ago, we posted some snippets from The Film Daily about developments in the animated cartoon world for the first half of 1930. This post features the second half. And I’ll give you advance notice there’s not much of historical value. All the big changes in the industry happened in the first half of the year.

Perhaps the most interesting item in the trade paper was a report by a committee of the Society of Motion Pictures Engineers which outlined the changing state of the movie industry. The lengthy report read, in part:
Sound motion pictures have introduced certain fundamental changes in the previous order of motion picture programs. Overtures played by an orchestra have largely been eliminated, the value of the newsreel enhanced, the value of comedies lessened, but greater importance has been given to cartoons. The general length of program remains one of approximately two hours duration.
In other words, the two-reel comedy was already dying but cartoons were more popular than ever. And while it gives credit to sound, it would seem the real credit should go to Walt Disney for finding an imaginative way to use sound and creating a viable sound character the audience could identify with. Then other studios made the own carbon-copy versions of falsetto-voice animal singer/dancers.

Still, there are some interesting obscurities and reports of things-that-might-have-been. There’s an ad for animators and in-betweeners for a studio that had been set up in the Hardy Building in Hollywood. The studio’s listed in the 1931 Film Daily Directory, but who was behind it isn’t mentioned. The studio proposed to make something called “Scoop Scandals.” I can’t find out a thing about them. The office building once housed Rodney Gilliam’s Kinex Studios, which made stop motion pictures.

The star of the silent age, Felix the Cat, was having sound added to some of his silent pictures but, oddly, creator Pat Sullivan opted to try to make films with a new character, Hypo the Monk. Two drawings of the monkey were copyrighted on May 17 but I’ve seen nothing to suggest the cartoons were made. Sullivan died in 1933.

Maybe the most interesting snippet is the revelation that the Van Beuren Studio hired a gag man; so little is known about cartoon writers of the era (Disney possibly being an exception). Puzant K. Thomajan didn’t stay in the animation business long, it appears. The 1940 census (Van Beuren closed in 1936) lists him as a proof-reader at a book publisher. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on June 29, 1902 and died on March 21, 1990 in Carlstadt, New Jersey. And several of his homilies are on the internet, such as “A hearty laugh gives one a dry cleaning, while a good cry is a wet wash.”

With that bit of trivia, let’s get into the snippets. Below them, I’ve posted the cartoon reviews found in the various issues. Yes, they wrote two different reviews for Van Beuren’s “Laundry Blues.” One contains a term for the Chinese not used in polite circles. Some of these cartoons are posted on on-line video sites, no doubt versions that were restored by Steve Stanchfield of Thunderbean Animation, who deserves tremendous credit for rescuing these obscure cartoons and putting them in a viewable condition that people can see, and maybe even enjoy, today. A few of the titles contain links to reviews at Andrea’s fine blog “Classic Cartoons.”

July 7, 1930
Getting Noise-Makers in the Cartoons
GETTING just the right sound to heighten the comedy effect of an Aesop Sound Fable scene or incident is an art that has been developed to a high degree by John Foster and his staff of humorists who prepare these Pathe reels. In putting over a sound effect it is seldom done with the instrument that you would expect to give forth the noise you hear. A large whistle blown by a bassoon player may provide that seriocomic squeal for little Milton Mouse and the spilling of a glass of water may sound like the Niagara Falls. The Aesop Fable sound department of the Van Beuren Corp. has accumulated 137 different sound devices. These devices are the queerest looking collection of what-nots imaginable, made out of every conceivable material, including cowhide, tin, horn, steel, brass and horsehair. Even the hollowed skull of an ox was utilized to provide comedy sound effects In "Swinging Saps." In this collection are 23 varieties of wooden instruments, 14 of which are used in one scene of "Sky Scrapers," which is in the making.
—New York "Telegram"

July 21, 1930
Mintz Speeding Up "Toby" Productions
Charlie Mintz, producer of the "Toby, the Pup" cartoon series for Radio Pictures, is back from the East and will speed up production and pass on new material prepared by Arthur Davis, Sid Marcus and Dick Huemer, major artists, and Joe De Mat [sic], musical director.
Animation for "The Milkman," third of the "Toby, the Pup" cartoons, has been completed, according to the report from Mintz. It is now in the recording room. "The Prospector" is the title of the fourth "Toby," on which animation has just started at the Mintz studio.

August 24, 1930
German Cartoon at 8th St.
A German sound song cartoon, the first produced by Paramount will be shown beginning today at the 8th St. Playhouse in conjunction with "Melodie des Herzens," first Ufa talker. The first Ufa sound shorts also will be on this program.

September 21, 1930
NEW SULLIVAN CARTOONS WILL MAKE BOW IN SPRING
A new series of synchronized cartoons, known as "Hypo the Monk," by Pal Sullivan, creator of "Felix," will be introduced next spring by Copley Pictures, it is announced by Jacques Kopfstein.

Chas. Mintz Finishes Four in "Toby the Pup" Series
West Coast Bureau, THE FILM DAILY
Hollywood—Four of the 12 one-reel cartoons, "Toby the Pup," being produced by Charles Mintz for RKO, have been finished.

2,000 Mouse Clubs
Circuits are getting such good results with Mickey Mouse Clubs, kid stunt on the Disney-Columbia cartoons, that there will be about 2,000 of the clubs in a year, sez Edward J. Vaughn, representative of Walt Disney and organizer of the groups.

10 Years for Terry
Paul Terry lays claim to being the only cartoonist with 10 successful years in creating animated screen drawings.

NINE "FELIX" COMPLETED BY COPLEY
Nine of the dozen synchronized "Felix" cartoons planned for the present season have been completed by Copley Pictures. The series is based on the cat character created by Pat Sullivan and syndicated in more than 300 daily papers.
Titles of the finished subjects are: "False Vases," "One Good Turn," "Oceantics," "Teetime," "April Maze," "Romeo," "Woos Whoopee," 'Forty Winks' and "Sculls and Skulls."
Work is practically concluded on the tenth of the series and the remaining subjects goes into production shortly.

PLAN NATIONAL PRIZE DRAWING CONTEST
Plans for local drawing contests, with prizes contributed by local shops or by the theater, have been worked out by the Van Beuren Corp. in connection with "Aesop's Fables." Similar stunts have been employed before with success, and interest has been revived through the recent publication of the story, "How Aesop's Sound Fables Are Made," in a national magazine. Van Beuren announces that, in addition to supplying exhibitors with details of how to conduct contests, if enough interest is aroused it will offer a special prize for the best drawing submitted by all theaters.

October 16, 1930
Frank Marsales, who is scoring music for "Looney Tunes," the animated cartoons being produced by the Harman-Ising studios, was formerly musical arranger for Paul Whiteman and Paul Ash. He also made a world's tour with the "Ingenues," who were featured in the Ziegfeld "Follies."

December 21, 1930
Organ Background For Cartoon
The first Aesop Fable cartoon synchronized with organ music has been made at the Ideal Studios in New Jersey under the direction of Gene Rodermich [sic], musical director for van Beuren. The organ was played by Emil Velazco.

December 24, 1930
Fleischer Employes Get $10,000 Bonuses, Raises
Max Fleischer is distributing $10,000 in Christmas bonuses to 100 employes of his cartooning organization. Half of the amount is being handed out now and the other half will be in salary increases over the year.

December 30, 1930
Puzant Thomajan, former gag man with Harold Lloyd, has been engaged by Van Beuren Corp. to originate gags for the Aesop's Fable cartoons.

REVIEWS

July 6, 1930
"Hungarian Goulash"
Educational
Time, 5 mins.
Clever Cartoon
A cleverly contrived number, with he classic music of Franz Lizst made to provide harmonious accompaniment for the lively antics of the Terry-Toon creations. Anybody who enjoys cartoon comedies will jet a great deal of hearty satisfaction out of this one. In addition, because of its music, even the high-brows should find it hard to resist the affair.

Toby the Pup in "The Museum"
RKO
Time, 7 mins.
Peppy Cartoon
A few new wrinkles, as well as a good round of merriment of the usual sort, are provided in this new cartoon creation produced by Charles Mintz. Toby is ordered by a rough-looking individual to polish up the exhibits in a museum. He goes at his work to the tune of some jazzy music which results in the various statues, skeletons mummies and other dead numbers being brought to life and cavorting all around the place. An ingenious and neatly executed short of this type. Ought to please very nicely.

July 13, 1930
Krazy Kat in "Alaskan Knights"
Columbia
Time, 11 mins.
Fine Cartoon
Krazy Kat in his best form. Disporting in the Alaskan locale, among snow, dogsleds and saloons full of grizzly miners, Krazy has plenty of leeway for his comical antics and he delivers the laughs in regular style.

"Cannibal Capers"
Columbia
Time, 6 mins.
Corking Cartoon
One of Walt Disney's best "Silly Symphonies" to date. After the little band of cannibals have disported awhile in highly amusing fashion, a ferocious lion turns up and the whole gang takes to its heels. The cannibals' intended victim, however, jumps out of the boiling pot and gives the lion the run-around, winding up by getting hold of the lion's false teeth and using them to scare the jungle beast out of his skin.

"Bully Beef"
Educational
Time, 9 mins.
Usual Cartoon
One of the Paul Terry-Toons, being a parody on the front-line trench stuff, with the animals dodging the heavy artillery and carrying on in approved cartoon style. The gags are cleverly handled, and the incidental music by Philip Scheib adds considerably to the entertainment value. It will please the kids.

July 20, 1930
"Jungle Jazz"
Pathe
Time, 8 mins.
Usual Cartoon
Another in the Van Beuren cartoon series, showing Waffles Cat and his pal, Don Dog, facing adventures in the wilds of Africa. Thrilling experiences with gorillas, apes and a python are recorded. Finally the cannibals get the adventurers and are stewing them in the pot when Don Dog pulls a fast one and saves their lives. The incidental music emphasizes the funny situations. The usual line of cartoon comics made for the delight of the kids.

August 3, 1930
"Snow Time"
Pathe
Time, 8 mins.
Fair Cartoon
One of the Aesop Sound Fables, with the dogs, cats, birds and hippos having a big lark skating and singing till a little pup is overcome by the cold and falls exhausted in the snow. The St. Bernard is brought up with his barrel filled with Scotch, which the frozen pup empties. Then they all want to horn in on the liquor, but it is too late. Just a lot of clever foolishness done in the typical Aesop manner that will get the snickers. The sound effects are ludicrous and add to the merriment.

"Barnacle Bill"
Max Fleischer
Time, 12 mins.
Good Cartoon
One of those silly but funny animal animateds, with Barnacle Bill, the tough sailor, calling on his girl and making violent love to her. All the neighborhood tries to horn in, and meanwhile the musical accompaniments and funny cartoon effects make this one extremely laughable. Winds up with the girl's old man coming back and bouncing Bill out on his ear. It will please the grown ups as well as the kids, for it is very cleverly handled.

August 24, 1930
"Laundry Blues"
Pathe
Time, 9 mins.
Chinese Aesop Fable
A hodgepodge of animated cartoon events in Chinatown. Opens with a quartette of laundrymen who sing and dance as they work. A Jewish customer comes in and tries to get his shirts on a kosher ticket. The chinaman refuses but agrees to wash and iron the man's beard. Another chinaman starts a riot by hitting sour notes on a saxophone while trying to play. After the riot is over the quartette emerges from the ruins to go on with its singing. Okeh.

"Monkey Meat"
A Paul Terry-Toon
Educational Time, 6 mins.
Ordinary Cartoon Stuff
Monkeys have their play in this brief cartoon specialty. There is nothing of a story in evidence, so it's just a matter of showing the monkeys playing various instruments to the tune of "I Am Always Blowing Bubbles." In one scene there is a Rhino sitting on a bubble and enjoying himself until it breaks, and that is about the most amusing item. Just an ordinary synchronized cartoon that will go as a filler.

Oswald, the Rabbit, in "Cold Feet"
Universal
Time, 7 mins.
Snappy Cartoon
In this clever number, Oswald and his friends take to the Swiss mountains and have a fine time playing various musical instruments and cutting many capers. It's a snappy cartoon with good musical accompaniment.

August 31, 1930
"Laundry Blues"
Pathe
Time, 9 mins.
Clever Cartoon
A very clever Aesop Fable, with the cartoon animals down in Chinatown. A quartette of harmonious laundrymen is featured, and their funny antics as they do their work to the accompaniment of weird Chink music and singing is among the best bits seen anywhere in the modern sound cartoon. Winds up in a general riot when one Chink tries to do a Rudy Vallee on the saxophone. Very clever, and also very funny.

September 7, 1930
Krazy Kat in "Honolulu Wiles"
Columbia
Time, 7 mins.
Ace Cartoon
Here's a darb in the Krazy Kat series. It shows the clever cartoon character disporting among the Hawaiian sunshine and other native attractions. Everything, from the palm trees and sea waves to the dusky grass-skirted hula maidens and the very islands themselves, fall a-swaying to the tune of a rollicking assortment of Hawaiian music. A topnotch number of its kind that will tickle the folks by and large.

September 14, 1930
Mickey Mouse in "The Shindig"
Columbia
Time, 7 mins.
Okay
A barnyard setting supplies the locale for this Mickey Mouse performance, which consists of the animals conducting a hoofing spree, with Minnie Mouse doing honors at the piano. Right up to the usual standard of the Mickey Mouse cartoon series.

September 21, 1930
"Fried Chicken"
Educational
Time, 6 mins
Very Good
With various animals aiding in the entertaining, this Paul Terry-Toon offers a good assortment of new tricks in cartoons and also plenty of comedy. The number is built around the song "Swanee River" and every movement of the birds, chickens, cows, et al, is synchronized with the music. The funniest sequence is where the steamboat in order to pass a bridge submerges in the water and comes out again after the distance is covered. Another particularly funny scene is where one of the animals milks a cow, which is being carried by an albatross, in the air.

"Arctic Antics"
Columbia
Time, 9 mins.
Ace Cartoon
Swell cartoon entertainment is this Walt Disney subject, one of the Silly Symphony series. Delightfully goofy stuff. Against an Arctic background cartooned native animals go through the gestures of singing and dancing. The characters move in synchronism with the music. It's packed with laughs for everybody from six to sixty, and then some.

"Farm Foolery"
Pathe
Time, 9 mins.
Neat Cartoon
The latest of the Aesop Fables shows the animals down on the farm disporting themselves to the tune of jazzy music and goofy songs. There is featured throughout a quartette of barnyard animals, and other cartoonic comics are the dancing chickens, the waddling ducks, and funny dogs and cows. The sentimental motif is introduced with a dog making love to an enormous pig. Clever foolishment pepped up with appropriate harmonies.

"The Glow Worm"
Paramount
Time, 5 mins.
English-German Song Cartoon
A novelty among song cartoons in that it is bi-lingual, opening in German and closing in English. Subject matter concerns glow worms, caterpillars and such, cavorting in harmony with off-stage singing, with a change of characterizations for the English and the German. Each version is preceded by an announcement in German telling what is about to take place. Then the words are flashed on the screen in both German and English. Rates fair and probably more suitable for the foreign country than here.

"Frozen Frolics"
Pathe
Time, 7 mins.
Clever Aesop Fable
Aesop Fable wherein Don Dog and Waffles take a trip to the North Pole, to the accompaniment of a lot of goofy musical effects and funny animal antics. In their travels they meet up with a Teddy bear ballet, a family of funny dancing penguins, singing walruses, and syncopating bears with an audience of applauding seals. Arrived at the Pole, they find a barber in possession, who leaves them in possession of the prize. But a tough looking bear appears, which Don finally licks, and returns inside its skin to scare the life out of cat Waffles. Clever cartoon work jazzed up with the incidental music and funny animal sounds.

"Frolicking Fish"
Columbia
Time, 6 mins.
Excellent Cartoon
An undersea exhibition that keeps the patrons chuckling all the way. All sorts of fantastic fish are put through a dizzy series of dances, drills and whatnot, in tune to some unusually fitting music. The chief amusement is provided by a villainous octopus chasing a fish, but the wicked one is given the k.o. in the end when the smart little fish drops an anchor on him from a sunken vessel. One of the best of the Silly Symphonies series.

October 5, 1930
"The Booze Hangs High"
(Looney Tunes No. 4)
Vitaphone 4268 Time, 6 mins.
Comical Cartoon
Another of the cartoon creations that clicks as usual with its nutty comicalities performed to the tune of rhythmic musical accompaniment and some synchronized vocal efforts. The idea is taken from "The Goose Hangs High" and the adaptation of the lyrics from this piece to the purposes of the cartoon is quite entertaining. Activity in this instance is provided by the fantastic animals, including "Looney," engaging in the usual dancing and musical-instrument burlesquing.

"Henpecked"
(Oswald Cartoon)
Universal Time, 7 mins.
Up to Standard
Oswald continues to hold his own among the cartoon stars in this latest of his escapades wherein he makes so much noise on a piano that a one-legged bear is roused to retaliation. After Oswald has calmed down, a flock of his relatives drop in on him and raise some more whoopee to the discomfort of the old bruin. Has the usual number of clever quirks in both idea and drawing, and is highly entertaining all the way.

"Swing, You Sinners"
(Talkartoon)
Paramount Time, 8 mins.
Clever Cartoon
Something out of the ordinary in cartoon subjects. With "Sing, You Sinners" for its musical background, the caricatures carry out the idea of a ghostly nightmare haunting a would-be chicken thief. The idea in its entirety, from adapted lyrics to cartoon work, is clever and ought to be a treat for audiences anywhere.

October 12, 1930
"The Detective"
Universal
Time, 7 mins.
Good Cartoon
Oswald the funny rabbit gets himself pinched when Cock Robin is found murdered, although our hero is innocent. The audience is let in on the mystery, for they see the robin shot by Mr. Worm, after the villain had tried to kidnap little Worm. So things look bad for Oswald at the trial, till he hits on the idea of playing harmonies on his bow and arrow. This puts the judge and jury into a series of jazz steps, and they bring in a verdict of not guilty. Clever cartoon work with a nice comedy slant.

"Circus Capers"
Pathe
Time, 9 mins.
Good Aesop Fable
An Aesop Fable, showing the funny cartoon animals rushing into the tent show after the street parade ballyhoo. They go through the usual routine of the circus, showing all the bare back riders, trained animals and other thrilling numbers, all done with the comedy touch. A story thread is worked in with the love of the clown for the bareback rider, he being crashed from a cannon and landing through the net to find his gal in the arms of his rival. An unusual novelty is introduced here by someone with a fine voice singing "Laugh, Clown, Laugh," as the clown goes through the dramatic stuff with funny facial contortions. The combination gets the laughs.

October 19, 1930
"Midnight"
Pathe
Time, 7 mins.
Peppy Cartoon
This Aesop opens with a quartet of cats serenading the heroine while she does a silhouette dance behind a drawn curtain to their music. Finally old Alfalfa gets annoyed and calls on a bunch of canines, who engage the felines in combat. The dogs in a warbling number do the "Sextette from Lucia." Clever number, with the synchronized sound effects pepping it up with a lot of comedy touches.

"French Fried"
(Terry-Toon)
Educational Time, 6 mins.
Swell
A farmer chap similar to the Aesop Fable gent is the leading actor in this cartoon number. The action takes him by airplane to France, where he sports around the town and winds up in a Parisian haunt. As he is putting on a neat Apache dance, some native roughnecks kidnap him, but the farmer is saved by the timely arrival of his faithful dog. Appropriate music and effects help the neat idea along nicely.

October 25, 1930
"Monkey Melodies"
(Silly Symphony)
Columbia Time, 7 mins.
Good Cartoon
A little love episode in the jungle, with two simians as the sweethearts and an alligator as the menacing villain, provides the framework for this cartoon comedy. Entirely well done both in action and in synchronized score.

"Jumping Beans"
Educational
Time, 9 mins.
Neat Cartoon
A Paul Terry-Toon exploiting a cowboy hero who feeds the villain jellybeans with disastrous but hilarious consequences. The incidental music by Philip Scheib is real harmony, and enhances the funny cartoon antics and increases the laugh voltage. Clever animation, up to the standard of this series.

November 2, 1930
"Fowl Ball"
Universal
Time, 6 mins.
Nice Cartoon
A typical Oswald cartoon, with the hero leading a band of bullfrogs in some very good syncopation. The harmony is interrupted as a pelican swallows the various members of the band, and finally Oswald. Then interior views of the pelican show the orchestra undismayed, and assembling under the leader's direction for another concert. Good cartoon work, and funny antics.

November 9, 1930
"The Big Cheese"
Pathe
Time, 7 mins.
Pip Cartoon
One of the best of the Aesop Fables, and incidentally one of the best cartoonatics seen this season. The animators put some real thought into this one, and came up with a gag ending that is a wow. All about a tough dog in training at the Canine Athletic Club. The champ fighter goes into the ring battle with everybody fully expecting a murder, but the champ goes into a syncopated dance that will get the laughs. Cleverly gagged, and the incidental music fits in perfectly.

November 16, 1930
"A Jolt for Gen. Germ"
Paramount
Time, 6 mins.
Commercial Cartoon
This is a Max Fleischer cartoon designed to advertise Lysol and it entertains very satisfactorily while it advertises. A story is in back of the cartoon work, the plot dealing with an army of germs descending upon the country, with old Gen. Germ also acting the villain after the heroine, whereupon a courier is dispatched to- a drug store for a bottle of Lysol and a sprinkling of this liquid immediately wipes out the germ army, general included. Sound effects are employed to enhance the action. The cartoon work is excellent.

November 30, 1930
"Gypped in Egypt"
Pathe
Time, 8 mins.
Good Aesop Fable
This Aesop Fable has the cartoon cat and dog on an adventure in Egypt. They fall into an ancient town, and find themselves surrounded by mummies and skeletons that come to life. There is a funny fire sequence, with all the skeleton riding pell-mell to the fire in chariots. It finishes with a wild ride in an elevator to the top of an obelisk, where they step off the platform into space. A nightmare of goofy antics cleverly worked out for the laughs.

"Office Boy"
Pathe
Time, 7 mins.
Burlesque Cartoon
An Aesop cartoon which is a sort of burlesque on the office wife idea. Milton Mouse is in love with the stenog, but the boss is playing up the cutie, so Milton has to take a back seat. But the boss' wife comes in and catches her hubby in a dance with the girl, so this leaves the road clear for Milton and the heroine to elope. The fade-out is a cute idea, with the two on a train singing "Fascinating Baby."

"The Navy"
Universal
Time, 6 mins.
Neat Cartoon
This Oswald cartoon has the animated hero as a gob calling on the girl whom the captain is also courting. Oswald pulls some funny stunts in the course of his serenading, till the captain chases him on board the boat. A swift kick from the captain lands him back on the clothes line outside the window of his love, where he resumes his courting and everything is jake. Oswald is as funny as ever, and the cartoon ideas are cleverly executed.

December 7, 1930
Mickey Mouse in "The Picnic"
Columbia
Time, 7 mins.
Pip Cartoon
There seems to be no end to the original antics and laugh-producing stunts emanating from the Walt Disney workshops and performed by the sprightly Mickey Mouse and his chief co-worker, Minnie Mouse. This latest number is in the pip class and not only stirs up loud merriment but even elicits a healthy round of applause, which is some tribute considering that the public has been regaled with a considerable quantity of cartoon comedies in the past year or so. In the present subject Mickey takes his Minnie for a picnic in the woods, where they disport themselves while the animals of the forest raid their lunch, until a rainstorm chases all of them to cover.

December 21, 1930
“Alaska”
Universal
Time, 7 mins.
Neat Cartoon
A clever burlesque on the old-time Klondike saloon. Oswald, the funny rabbit, is a tenderfoot, and has a tough time trying to hold up his end with the hardboiled guests in Dirty Dalton’s Saloon. The synchronized musical effects are especially well handled, the big kick coming on a song “Pop Goes the Weasel,: which is put over by some comic variations by the different musicians. Walter Lantz and Bill Nolan, the cartoonists, did a good job.

December 28, 1930
“Winter”
Columbia
Time, 6 mins.
Fair Cartoon
This Disney Silly Symphony doesn’t stand up with previous releases. The synchrony is well done and the animation up to the average but it lacks gags for laughs. Much show, skating and slidin, with the usual animal antics for nothing particularly clever.

“Pigskin Capers”
Educational
Time, 7 mins.
Nice Cartoon
A Paul Terry-Toon with the animals in a football scrimmage and doing a good parody on the regular football procedure at the college games. The synchronized music and funny sound effects are good, and put this over with pep and a nice quota of laughs.