Thursday, 22 September 2016

Singing to the Cheese

The best Van Beuren cartoons are weird Van Beuren cartoons. They’re kind of like half-baked Fleischer cartoons. The early Fleischers have inspired funny moments that come out of nowhere. The Van Beurens toss in some scenes that are just odd.

“The Tuba Tooter” (1932) is one of them. The cartoon consists of stuff swaying and dancing to the 1927 tune Schultz is Back Again. The Fleischers would have that going on and then some quick bit of business would jump onto the screen. The Van Beurens settle for swaying and dancing alone. The weirdness is the gag.

In one scene, a fish in a bowl sings to a hunk of swiss cheese under glass. The cheese comes to life and dances. The poor cheese doesn’t have eyes or a mouth. It just spawns arms and legs because that’s all it needs for dancing. The fish claps its fins to the beat.

The Van Beuren characters in the Gene Rodemich period sang with a vibrato. If you look at the third and sixth drawings above, you can see a wavy mouth line. The animators altered this with a “straight” drawing and cycled the two so it would like the mouth was vibrating. Pretty clever.

The guy with the raspy voice speaks as Schultz getting off the boat and Jerry getting out of bed. He’s in pretty much every Van Beuren cartoon in the early ‘30s. I guess we’ll never learn his identity at this late date; I’d like to think it was Rodemich himself.

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