Friday 28 September 2012

Ed Benedict in Dixieland

“Dixieland Droopy” (released 1954) is a cartoon where Tex Avery and writer Heck Allen mix together some old plot standbys—obsessive/compulsive behaviour, fleas and Droopy. The latter is the most puzzling as the main character in this cartoon is a jazz conductor wannabe named John Pettibone. Why Droopy was stuck in a part against character type is curious.

It’s hard to get excited about the fleas, only one of whom is an actual character and only at the end of the short, so the only thing worth watching are bits of really funny animation and the attempt at stylised characters and backgrounds.

The characters are by Ed Benedict and although he once grumpily denied he had a discernible style, you can’t miss Ed’s work if you look at the ice cream truck driver.

You’ll see in the drawing above that background artist Joe Montell (perhaps from Benedict’s layouts) includes a Clinton furniture store, named for animator Walt Clinton.

Here are some of the other characters. The dancing monkey and the dancing ice cream truck (which crashes into a brick wall) are the funniest parts of the cartoon.

Avery uses sound as a gag, too, muffling the fine Dixieland music when the jamming musical fleas are in a pipe or behind a door. And when Droopy gets slowed by some tar, the music slows down, too.

Mike Lah and Grant Simmons are the other credited animators.


  1. This apparently was Avery's only CinemaScope cartoon (at least according to the listings in various MGM cartoon fimlographies -- it's not letterboxed on the WHV Droopy DVD set), as opposed to the two shorts Tex did that were remade for widescreen after he left. The silence/noise gags are funny, and Benedict's angular designs probably made life easier for the animators working in the widescreen format, but I always felt the one where the butcher chops Droopy's tail off seemed to have snuck into the cartoon from the Famous Studios' mid-1950s story department.

  2. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    This Droopy short is actually a tremendous show, thanks to the Tex Avery's direction and the Ed Benedict's designs.

  3. I love it for the designs, animation, and of course Scott Bradley's amazing score. I swear it was like he was a second or third director for MGM just for how much character his scores always have.

  4. Tex Avery himself said it best: "This was a cutey-cutey. This was almost a Jones."