Friday, 11 July 2014

Greek Smack

Ugly designs, jerky animation, an unstructured story and constant BOINNGGGGG!s—that’s what you get in the Gene Deitch Tom and Jerry cartoon “It’s Greek to Me-Ow!” (1961).

And, for some reason, every impact in the cartoon requires a wild camera shake. It happens constantly and you’d swear the film was shot during an earthquake. Granted, Shamus Culhane did the same thing in a few Woody Woodpecker cartoons in the mid-‘40s but not every time.

Here’s Tom bashing into Jerry’s mouse hole. The camera moves in, out, diagonally, up, down, everywhere.

This is Tom pulling his arm out of Jerry’s mouse hole and smacking himself in the face.

Judging by the bottle cap near Jerry’s entrance, there were soft drinks in ancient Greece.


  1. Italian animator Bruno Bozzetto did similar camera shakes in his films. Often to the point you can barely see the edges of the platen holding down the cels in the camera stand. Of course I don't suppose the Czech cameraman wasn't going to be that daring here but it is quite an interesting thought to see how such an oddity could occur.

  2. I'm recalling a passage in Joe Barbera's My Life in Toons where he mentions smacking the side of an animation camera filming explosions and impact scenes on "Super Friends" in order to wring more movement and action out of the limited animation. Might be a similar scenario here.

  3. It's very reminiscent of Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons. Since Rocky & Bullwinkle aired first in 1959, could this have been inspired by that style?