Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Brunish Banquet

It’s been a while since we visited the work of Fred Brunish, who exclusively provided background drawings in the Walter Lantz cartoons through most of the mid to late ‘40s (before that, Lantz also employed Phil De Guard and Terry Lind, though Brunish began at the studio in the ‘30s). So let’s look at the opening of “Banquet Busters” a 1949 release where Lantz and director Dick Lundy rely on Brunish to set the scene. And save money, because the first 33 seconds of the cartoon consist of camerawork across Brunish’s drawings, with the exception of a candle burning (by Sid Pillett?). It’s cheaper than animating.

The cartoon opens with a pan down some skyscrapers with the camera resting on a shot which shows a decrepit building between the towers. The layout artist isn’t credited, but the concept could have come out of the Ben Hardaway-Jack Cosgriff storyboard.

Here’s Brunish’s next background. Lundy dissolves to it and the camera trucks in and stops to allow us to read Hardaway’s attempt at humour on the window.

Finally, there’s a left-to-right pan across a very long background drawing, finally resting on a hungry Andy Panda. Actually, the drawing eventually continues to a table where we find Woody Woodpecker and a mouse.

Lantz had the foresight to donate many of the production materials from his cartoons to the UCLA Film and Television Archive, including backgrounds. I hope these are in the collection.

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