Friday 29 July 2016

Columbia's Quiet Boulevard

Columbia’s “A Hollywood Detour” (1942) does a pretty good job imitating a Warner Bros. Hollywood caricature/spot gag cartoon (it even includes a Mel Blanc hiccough) but there’s one thing that’s a little different.

Director Frank Tashlin (another Warners connection) includes a long pan of a crowd along a street. But he’s showing how out of control the traffic situation is on what the narrator describes as “a quiet boulevard” by not only adding a police siren to the soundtrack, but by tilting the camera around as it pans across the painting. Tashlin re-uses animation of a car (seen in the distance in the second frame below) as it fills the camera to allow him to go back and re-pan over part of the background a second time.

Adding to the Warners feel, besides the story structure and even a few gags, are the presence of Ben Shenkman’s celebrity caricatures and Frank Graham as the narrator. Even some of Paul Worth’s music selections (“Little Brown Jug” with a W.C. Fields caricature), are reminiscent of what Stalling would do at Warners.

Unfortunately, the background artist is uncredited, but (s)he provides some very nice watercolours.

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