Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Ed Looks at Camera

If there’s one cartoon character who gave reaction looks to the camera more than Wile E. Coyote, it had to be Ed Jones the Typical American Sportsman in Tex Avery’s “Field and Scream.” A bunch of gags end with him just staring at the camera.

Other fishermen zoom into his secluded early morning fishing spot.

Fish ask Ed where the kid was that was reeling in their brothers and sisters before Ed got there.

A fish jumps out of the lake, attracted by the lures on Ed’s hat, and swallows Ed’s head.

Ed tries the middle of the lake. The other fishermen zoom in when he catches something.

Ducks are attracted to the Marilyn-esque decoys of Ed’s and fly away with them.

Ed’s elephant gun develops an elephant’s trunk and stuffs Ed’s mouth full of grass.

What would an Avery cartoon be without a mother-in-law gag? Ed dresses his as a deer. She’s shot off frame and brought on before being hauled away. Even she stares at the camera.

About the only time Ed doesn’t stare at the camera is at the end. That’s because a deer has shot him and is driving away with him in Ed’s car.

Ed was designed by (and likely named for) Ed Benedict. Avery was into stylised designs by the time he made this cartoon (Ed has a zig-zag of hair on his thumb). The short was copyright 1953 but wasn’t released until 1955, when Avery’s career at MGM was as dead as Sportsman Ed. The graphics may be modern but some of the gags are old (a boat’s “horsepower” gag is what you might expect).

Grant Simmons, Walt Clinton and Mike Lah were the animators; Simmons and Lah had their own companies by the time the cartoon hit theatres. Johnny Johnsen did the backgrounds.

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