Thursday, 19 January 2017

Captain of the Keyholes

Remember how Phil De Guard’s backgrounds morphed during action from right to left in Duck Amuck? Well, it happens again in Boyhood Daze (1957), a cartoon almost choked by Maurice Noble’s stylised designs.

A paper airplane against the wallpaper becomes Ralph Phillips piloting an aircraft, and the wallpaper becomes a cloudy sky.

You want symbolism? You got symbolism. A dreamy door with a keyhole fades into a number of keyholes, as Ralph pictures himself escaping his bedroom for his imaginary world. Milt Franklyn plays Captain of the Clouds in the background.

Someone once asked me if Ralph Phillips was Chuck Jones’ answer to Gerald McBoing Boing. Hardly. Not only were the UPA backgrounds far more stripped down, Gerald was a very innocent boy. Phillips thinks he’s a little adult. Gerald wants to be a part of the world which doesn’t want him. Phillips wants to be in his own little world with him at the centre of it as champion.

This drawing just screams late-Warners Chuck Jones.

Ralph is played by Dick Beals, while Abe Levitow, Dick Thompson and Ken Harris are the animators in this short.


  1. Never has a drawing of a day-dreaming boy manage to creep me out growing up than one drawn by Jones in his later years.....

  2. Okay, evidently I dig this more than most people...

  3. I dig Noble's ambitious, eye-catching designs, too. Noble may have been a show-off, but at a very high level. With that said ... I prefer some of Hawley Pratt's shadowy, atmospheric designs of the era, especially in the Oscar-winning "Birds Anonymous."

  4. Jones' 1957-60 one-shots and limited series such as with Ralph are high on the cuteness factor, but never go overboard, thanks in large part to the stories (and sometime dialogue) Michael Maltese was giving him, which included things like the above transition designs. Once Maltese is gone and the designs start smothering the story lines, the cuteness quotient starts rampaging towards the levels Chuck would have even when he revived Warners' star characters in later years.

  5. Ralph could be compared to Walter Mitty, or their own Don Knotts live/animated Mister Limpet when he's daydreaming of being a fish.SC