Thursday 29 November 2012

A Chinese Goulash

Shamus Culhane brags about the climax of the Woody Woodpecker short “The Barber of Seville” (1944) where he quickly cuts from pose to pose, but the audience keeps up with the action because they all know the famous opera lyrics “Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!”

Culhane recalled how writer Bugs Hardaway yelped that the scene looked like “Chinese goulash” during pencil testing but Walter Lantz himself figured it would look fine when animated and painted.

Here are the cuts as Woody yells “Figaro!” Remember, these aren't static poses as Woody is singing; the mouths and bodies move. 24 frames equal a second.

Six frames.

Six frames.

Five frames.

Ten frames.

28 frames, as the “o” is elongated.

La Verne Harding and Les Kline get animation credits, but Emery Hawkins is in here, too. Woody pokes his head toward the camera, sprouts multiple eyes in a speedy head-poke take and the customer’s butt backs into the camera, all things you’d find in Lantz cartoons around this time.

1 comment:

  1. Judging from his autobiography, Culhane and Frank Tashlin seem to have bonded during their brief time together at Disney and Warners, in terms of their love of Sergei Eisenstein's quick-cutting techniques (the design of Shamus' early Lantz cartoons, as opposed to the speed, is actually closer to the stuff he was working on with Chuck Jones at Warners, but Chuck's pacing wouldn't get that rapid for another couple of years). Unlike the 30s quick-cuts though, the well-done funny poses here are an added touch to the speed, even if it took at least to the era of videotape pause buttons for viewers to fully appreciate the animators' work.