Friday, 18 April 2014

Hoola Boola

George Pal’s Puppetoons were a sensation in the 1940s. Seven of them were nominated for Oscars and spawned stop-motion animation elsewhere, particularly at the Sutherland-Moray studio. Pal had to end production in 1947 because the Puppetoons became too expensive. Animation studios simply weren’t making enough money because theatres only wanted to pay low rentals on their films.

Pal never put credits on his shorts so whether he did the actual layout/staging, I couldn’t tell you. But it was really ingenious at time. I really like some of the work in “Hoola Boola,” released by Paramount in 1941. Castaway Jim Dandy lands on an island and falls in love with native girl Sarong Sarong. He’s captured by cannibals and put in a pot to be cooked. Suddenly, there’s lightning. The scene cuts to an up shot of the horned monument where something appears.

There’s a close-up of a large mask, twirling in dance. The shot cuts to Jim Dandy in the pot. Little creatures sprout up in front of him then start to dance.

Then they run toward the camera and chase away the natives. What are they? I have no idea. But I sure admire the sets. Pal even has some of the characters rendered in silhouette.

The mask walks toward Jim Dandy. You know what’s coming. It’s Sarong Sarong in disguise, saving her man.

Daily Variety helps us where the lack of credits doesn’t. It reported on March 3, 1941 that shooting had begun and the story was written by Peter O’Crotty, the first of five the ex-Warners gag-man was contracted to write for the studio (the ever-restless O’Crotty quit after less than two months at the studio). On April 24th, the short was reported to be in the cutting room. On June 24th, final editing was done. Variety revealed the short used “7,000 puppets. Thurston Knudson directed the music, consisting of ‘Aloha’, ‘Tomi Tomi’, ‘Hilo March’ and drum rhythms furnished by Augie Goupil” and his Royal Tahitians. There’s no word who supplied the voices.

1 comment:

  1. This one scared the crap out of me when I was a lad and would watch on WABC-TV, Ch 7 in NY every morning before trudging off to school!