Friday, 2 June 2017

Fade To Black

Until Shamus Culhane came along in the mid-1940s, the directors at the Walter Lantz studio don’t strike me as guys who were all that experimental. But here’s an example from the short “Hollywood Bowl,” directed by Elmer Perkins in 1938.

It’s one of those Hollywood caricature cartoons and among the likenesses is conductor Leopold Stokowski. Vic McLeod’s and Alex Lovy’s story turn him into a bit of a magician; white gloves fly out of a box and append themselves to musical instruments. But the interesting part is when Perkins fades out the background so there is nothing but black.

Then the background fades back up. It’s a pretty ingenious way of handling the scenes.

Frank Tipper and Merle Gilson are the credited animators.

Incidentally, Lantz once related to Hedda Hopper that Stokowski threatened to sue the studio because he didn’t like a scene with his fingers in a permanent wave curler machine.


  1. This is amazing - these scenes look remarkably similar to the live-action orchestra sequences seen two years later in Fantasia with the musicians in silhouette and only the instruments visible. Those last three images of Stokowski shown here are duplicated exactly in the film. Now I have to wonder if Disney and his staff perhaps screened this particular cartoon, and were inspired by it.

  2. I remember of having read in an issue from the now-extinct Cartoonist PROfiles magaazine (R.I.P. Jud Hurd), an article about Shamus Culhane, which also included references of the animated commercials from shampoo Halo (manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive), which were directed by him.