Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Old Paint-a-Tunnel Gag

If the gag works for Chuck Jones and the Roadrunner, it’ll work for Mike Lah and Droopy, right?

In Mutts About Racing (1958), Spike tries getting the edge on Droopy in a car race by painting a tunnel against the side of a mountain. You know the gag. The difference is, other than you can barely see what’s happening thanks to the huge CinemaScope screen, is that Spike’s car breaks up into little pieces, then Spike does the same. The cracking-up-into-pieces bit is an old Tex Avery gag; in fact, Avery used the paint gag in one of his Droopy/Spike competitions.

Ed Benedict laid out the scenes in this cartoon and Fernando Montealegre painted the backgrounds. By the time this cartoon was in theatres, the two were making TV cartoons at Hanna-Barbera with stylised backgrounds toned down from what you see here. The MGM studio was winding down when this cartoon was made as even Dick Bickenbach, normally the layout man in the Hanna-Barbera unit, did some animation on this short. Irv Spence is credited, but he had left MGM in August 1956 for a job at commercial house Animation, Inc.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, yes. The days when CinemaScope determined the layout. I like the anticipation of Spike's eyes bulging twice just before the shock take. Spike's non-stop jig as he's getting the paint out of the trunk is interesting, and his upper body movement is very fluid. Tell me, back in the 50's did all race car drivers keep open can of paint in their trunks?