Wednesday 31 January 2018

Univac, a Mynah and Bill Cullen

Bill Cullen, I suspect, noted the irony of being picked to host NBC radio’s game show Walk a Mile. Cullen contracted polio as a youngster which left him limping for the rest of his life.

He may have had trouble moving on foot but he sure got around. For a while in the 1950s—and this is before he became host of The Price is Right—Cullen was commuting from New York City to Los Angeles. He was emceeing shows in both cities.

Cullen is still my favourite game show master of ceremonies. He was always friendly and amusing, and came across as enjoying his job, especially when it got a little silly. Here’s a fan magazine story, from the Radio-TV Mirror of January 1955. You’ll note the reference to Cullen’s first wife. I imagine the constant travel and work didn’t do wonders for their marriage. The fuzzy photos accompanied the article.

Bill Cullen is a star with many, many points — most of them the rib-tickling kind

The neighbors gathered, and one said, "That Cullen boy, he'll never grow up to be President."
"Not even a senator?"
"No, he gets to the point too fast."
"Well, he's clever and good with his hands. He might be a surgeon."
"Young Bill? For every appendix he took out, he'd sew in a kitchen sink, a small convertible and a portable radio."
"How about a lawyer?"
"He's got too impish a sense of humor." .
"A garbage collector?"
"Too much responsibility."
"How about a radio star?"
"Hmm . . . why not. We can always turn him off." And so the neighbors, bless them — having decided Bill's fate — went back to their living rooms and tuned in Myrt and Marge while they waited for young Bill Cullen to grow up and become a star.
"They're still waiting," says Bill. "Every time someone calls me a star, I feel like asking for a show of hands."
The neighbors, however, had a couple of good points. Bill's smart enough to be a lawyer, studious enough to be a doctor, friendly enough to be a politician, but he couldn't have been any of those things. He just naturally fits in where he is, for Bill is innately cheerful and happy-go-lucky. He's fun whether you're with him in a studio or his own living room. He's good for the unexpected and a lot of laughs. But, although he "horses" around a good bit, he also works like one.
For eight months, he commuted six thousand miles each week. From CBS-TV's New York studios, where he participated in I've Got A Secret, he would hustle out to the airport and fly to CBS-TV's Hollywood studios, where he emceed Place The Face. He then about-faced and flew back to New York to do four hours on NBC's Roadshow. Of course, Bill was still doing his other shows: NBC's Walk A Mile, CBS Radio's Stop The Music, Mutual's It Happens Every Day, and CBS-TV's Name That Tune.
"Bill has a problem," says his agent Marty Goodman. "Bill is not only popular with the audience, but sponsors like him, too. It's a very pleasant kind of problem."
Toni, for example — which sponsored Place The Face — decided to hold onto their time, but replace The Face with Name That Tune. Bill, figuratively, just stayed at the microphone while one crew went out and another came in. One week, he was daring someone to remember a face — the next week, to remember a song. And it might as well be noted that, when Place The Face returned temporarily to a Saturday-night slot, Bill was called in again!
Ten or so shows a week can keep a man mighty busy, but Bill doesn't take a chance on having any spare time. He has hobbies. He has been — and, in some cases, still is — a musician, mechanic, aviator, artist, poet, photographer, fish fancier, playwright, comedian, magician, airline owner, and maybe a few other things. And he doesn't dabble. He jumps in head first where it's deep. He buys books and studies. He buys equipment and works.
"This accounts for Bill being right at home with everyone he interviews," says Mert Koplin, producer of Walk A Mile. "Bill is never stumped by a man's or woman's occupation. He talks almost anyone's language."
He never took up doctoring as a hobby (there's a law against it), but he has read enough medical books to know a knee cap as a patella. So nurses and medics like to talk to Bill . . . and so do engineers and housewives (Bill can cook up a fine meal), plus pilots and mechanics.
One day they thought they'd stump Bill with a contestant who worked on the Univac, the electronic brain, but Bill had read quite a bit about it.
"Matter of fact, I had been thinking of buying one," Bill said. The man noted that a Univac costs more than a million dollars. "I offered him ten per cent — and the rest of my life in easy payments."
The man explained that the Univac was large and required a room twenty by thirty feet. Frankly, there are already so many hobbies and gadgets in Bill's apartment that it's unlikely he could squeeze in another measuring only twenty by thirty inches. Last summer, Bill had to chop a hole in a bookcase to make space for a fish tank in the den. He had already sealed off access to the fireplace with another fish tank.
"I've grown to hate fish," he now admits, ruefully. "They're incredibly cannibalistic. They attack the young and weak and sick."
Bill boned up on fish, but he admits he had picked up the hobby inadvertently. He had originally bought them to use as subjects for color movies. Matter of fact, he had no intention of making movies, either, when he first walked into the camera store. He had seen a couple of flood-lights he liked in the window. The clerk asked Bill what kind of photography he did. Bill told him mostly "still." The man said the lights were for movies.
"So, in order to buy the lights, I first had to get a movie camera and a projector and a splicer and tripods and a mess of other things," Bill says. "The fish came afterwards."
But fish, of course, aren't gadgets. Gadget-wise, Bill owns magic paraphernalia, a flock of cameras, recording equipment and a lot of other hard stuff — including musical instruments and art materials — all jammed into shelves and closets. In one closet, there is a fine, sensitive altimeter which he once used in his private airplane.
"It's a good thing to have around the apartment," Bill says. "Every once in a while, I plug in the altimeter and check our altitude. It gives me confidence in the building."
Although Bill at the moment owns no plane, he hasn't by any means given up flying. He's an excellent pilot and, for a year or more, owned several planes and ran a small airline of his own. However, it got too expensive for even a high-rated radio star, and Bill sold all the planes. Now, when he gets a free day, he goes out to the airport and rents one.
"I just get up and roam," he says. "It's just a question of getting away from everything in that big quiet."
While Bill goes up mostly for relaxation and rest, he occasionally has gone sight-seeing or visiting friends in New England by plane. And there was that Friday he told his pretty brunette wife Carol to dress for dinner and then proceeded to drive her to the airport. Carol, conscious of their both having dressed nicely and properly for dinner out, turned two eyes curled with question marks at Bill, as he led her to the plane.
"We're flying to Boston for dinner, naturally," he said.
And they did. And, after dinner in Boston, they came back to Manhattan to see a movie. Naturally.
"It sounded like fun, going to Boston just for dinner," Bill recalls, "and it was."
This is the one thing Bill's friends find most consistent in him: He is fun. Bill's verve is as constant off the air as on. But he's no freak. Bill can be upset.
"He can be disturbed about something, but he swallows it up in front of you and smiles," says Millicent Holloway. "He just doesn't like to give others a hard time."
Millicent and her husband have been friends of the Cullens for years. She also assists Bill with a lot of his work and so knows him well. She recalls riding across town with him. Their cab stopped at a traffic light and Bill's eyes suddenly welled up with tears. He was staring at an old man on the sidewalk. The old man was tired and poor and wearing hand-me-downs which drooped to his feet. And there was so obviously nothing anyone could do for him any more.
"I got it, too," Millicent says, "and my eyes got real heavy and wet. Then Bill took it upon himself to pull us out of it and he swallowed it right down, and in the next block he had me distracted and chuckling about something."
His sensitivity to others is just one of many nice traits. He's also generous to an extreme. He has turned to Millicent in the office and said, "Please call the florist and have him send poinsettias to my mother. And, while you're at it, have them sent to Carol's mother and yours, too."
When a friend is hard up, Bill comes galloping up on a white steed. He's created jobs for friends who needed immediate help. He'll go to bat for someone in the business who needs a door opened. And then, too, Bill is brave.
Bravery is a word seldom required in talking about radio people. You meet few ravenous lions in studios, and not many dressing rooms are heavily mined, but everyone in the business says Bill is brave. He talks up and talks back, when he thinks he's right. And he talks up and back to producers, sponsors and other powerful men.
"Mostly it boils down to one thing that he is defending," a friend says, "and that is the right of the individual to act as an individual. You can make him angry by saying, 'Bill, you've got to do this my way.' He believes people need lots of elbow room for thinking and doing. And, incidentally, he'll fight just as hard for another person's right to the same privileges."
These somewhat serious dissections of Bill may come as a shock to many of his friends and fans — and to Bill, too. Bill, especially, for he refuses to be visibly impressed by Cullen.
Some of Bill's friends have, from time to time over the years, tried to take a good photograph of him. They'll find a fat cloud in the sky and tilt his chin up against that, and take special light readings, and figure this is going to be a picture worthy of Bill Cullen. But, just as the shutter clicks, Bill sticks out his tongue or crosses his eyes or wiggles his ears. Bill just can't take himself seriously in that sense. He will take your problems seriously, but not his and not himself.
Consider that apartment of his. You wouldn't dare walk in and ask him, "What's new?" You'd be liable to get an answer.
"The mynah is new."
Now a mynah — which everyone needs in his home like a hole in the roof — is a kind of starling that looks like a black crow. It is a rare bird and costs about $500 without cage, automatic drive and other accessories. What makes the mynah worth $500 is that it can be taught to repeat words better than a parrot. Now, this mynah that Bill took unto himself goes by the name of Henry — and calls everyone else "Charlie."
"Henry's simple to take care of," Bill says, with a wry smile. "You have to keep him out of drafts but, again, the room can't be too warm for him. And, if he isn't asleep on schedule, he's in a bad humor. His meals are more complicated than a French chef's. Henry's bananas have to be mashed. I must peel his orange, then break it into small segments, then peel the skin off the segments and then pick out all the seeds. And he doesn't eat domestic bird seeds. Only the expensive, imported kind."
Bill got Henry mostly for professional reasons. He hoped to teach Henry some phrases and then use him on radio and TV.
"As you know," Bill explains, "someone always has to say with enthusiasm, 'And here's Bill Cullen.' Well, I feel sorry for the guy who has to say that, especially with enthusiasm."
So Bill decided to train Henry the mynah to say, "And here's Bill Cullen." He made a recording of it and instructed his maid to keep the record going all day. Henry was kept in the same room with the phonograph, and the maid would bring in her ironing or whatever it was, and she played the record over and over. This went on for a week.
"With no results," Bill says. "I was ready to give up, but I figured I'd give the bird one more week."
The middle of the second week, Bill came in the front door, stopped suddenly and cocked his ear.
"I heard it over and over again, 'And here's Bill Cullen. And here's Bill Cullen. And here's Bill Cullen.'"
Bill grins as he explains, "It was the maid. She'd learned the line perfectly."
Now, in the interest of domestic science, Bill is trying to help the maid unlearn the line and give it to the mynah. And, when she does and he does, you'll meet Henry on the air.
"Bill's imaginative," says Mert Koplin, "and he's very much alive. From Bill, you expect the unexpected."
And Bill's friends generally expect to be surprised. He is seldom routine. For birthdays and holidays, he makes plans. But, any other time, he is likely to phone after six in the evening and say, "Let's get together tonight."
And, no matter where they go or what they do, an evening with Bill is guaranteed to be fun. At home, he likes to get the fireplace in business and roast weiners and toast marshmallows. He may call on his friends to act out in slow-motion a couple of scenes for a home movie. He tells a good story and he sings pretty well, with a warm, resonant voice.
"I've got five good notes," he says, "but I can't get above middle C."
If you want to talk seriously about politics or wars or people, you'll find Bill well-read and interested. If you want a sympathetic ear for your troubles, you couldn't ask for anyone more sensitive. But one thing's sure: When it's all over, and you leave Bill — you'll be smiling. For Bill Cullen's fun. He just will not leave you with a frown.

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Screaming Jazz

Jerry Mouse is part of a jazz band in Rock ‘N’ Rodent (1967). Maurice Noble is listed on the credits as the design consultant.

When Carl Brandt’s soundtrack is filled with jazzy horns, a calm female mousey patron screams in delight. The last two drawings of her alternate in a take.

She returns to normal, but her hair sways in time to the music. Something about it reminds me of the Grinch (Chuck Jones version).

Ben Washam, Ken Harris, Dick Thompson, Dow Towsley and Tom Ray animate this cartoon with Abe Levitow directing and Jones, no doubt, keeping an eye on things. Story by Bob Ogle. Mouse scream by June Foray.

Monday 29 January 2018

Doggone Dance

How can you tell the dog is a pointer in Tex Avery’s Doggone Tired? Easy. It points. With its nose.

And with its hand.

Then the dog launches into a deadpan tap dance. It’s not really a cycle; there are 11 drawings exposed either on ones or twos and the same sequence isn’t used for the few seconds it’s on the screen. The dog taps twice with each foot but in different spots on the ground. These are only a few of the drawings.

Bobe Cannon, Walt Clinton, Grant Simmons and Mike Lah are the credited animators. Rich Hogan and Jack Cosgriff got story credits.

Sunday 28 January 2018

He Knows His Stuff

Jack Benny drew crowds with his movies in the 1930s but his films don’t do a lot for me. When star spectaculars with contrived plots were big, he was put in those; to the right you see a still from Man About Town. Others took advantage of his radio persona. It’s pretty much agreed To Be Or Not To Be was his best.

Thus the movie magazines wrote about him. Here’s a feature article from Modern Screen of November 1939 where he talks about comedy, humour and his daughter, to whom he was extremely devoted.

The other stockholders are three damsels who run Jack's life! Yet he's glad to sit on this Exchange

THERE IS an unknown woman in the life of Jack Benny. Her name is Thalia and she is said to be of Greek origin. Mary Livingstone is not jealous of her — at least, not in the ordinary sense. Thalia is the Muse of Comedy, folks, and Jack has been crazy about her all his adult life. The other women in the Benny scheme of things are, as you well know, the aforementioned Mary L. Benny and Miss Joan Naomi, the adored, adopted charmer of five, who winds Pop around the little finger and selects the daily neckties. These two ladies shall be mentioned in their places, but it is the laughing muse to whom we shall give our first attention.
Jack Benny has been consistently funny on the radio for a long, long time. He has been tops in all kinds of radio polls for a greater length of time than Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis have been winning Academy Awards. Now, with the happy release of "Man About Town," it seems that Benny has learned how to be equally funny in pictures. His previous movie operas haven't been nearly as good as his radio programs. The reasons for this heretofore sad state of affairs will become apparent as we go on talking about him and the gentle art of "how to be funny."
"How to be funny." I'm quite sure that, by actual statistics, there are nine million people in this country who would like to know the trick. Being naturally funny isn't enough. Belly-laugh jokes, sly puns, sophisticated wit — these are not enough. A comical voice (what is professionally known as good delivery) is a help, as witness the laughs Jack's Mary can get by merely opening her mouth. But it isn't all. Material — is that it? It's exceedingly important, and Jack Benny employs two smart gents named Ed Beloin and Bill Morrow, paying them salaries which aren't chicken-feed, babe, to help him whip up good material. But that isn't all, either. Let's listen to the Old Master himself, who seems to have the recipe.
"Why is Rochester funny?" he asked. "Rochester is funny because he has a God-given delivery. That asthmatic, smarty- pants, untutored, Aframerican voice is marvelous! But that's only part of it. Then, too, Rochester is gymnastically funny. His dancing has some comic sense; it isn't merely a series of gyrations. But he is funny chiefly because he is my servant and treats me with no respect whatsoever. Now how can he get away with this? He, a lowly colored boy, and me, his boss, and a member of the superior white race. Especially how can he get away with it in the South? We can get away with it because I, in my radio character and to a lesser extent in my movie character, am a combination of all the unattractive, small, nidgy-nadgy, laughable, ridiculous characteristics which Mr., Mrs., and Miss America run across daily in friends, relatives, ex-boy-friends and neighbors. I'm a tightwad. I fancy my violin-playing, when actually I'm incapable of mastering Little Nellie's First Music Book, let alone 'Love in Bloom.' I'm a braggart about physical and romantic prowess or else I'm the type that all girls are safe with. I'm not grotesque, nor villainous, nor idiotic. I'm merely a combination of small, unattractive traits, slightly exaggerated. And that's why I'm funny, or at least I think so."
You get the point — do you not? J. B. sits down and figures out how to make people laugh in the same way that the soup, tomato juice and bean tycoons sit down and figure out how to make people buy soup, tomato juice and beans.
"None of us would be funny," continued my favorite comedian, "if there were not a situation into which our various characters and cracks would fit, nicely and comfortably, without dragging gags in by the ears. Because a joke alone is not enough. We've left many a tasty joke on studio and cutting-room floors. An audience knows when a joke has been forced upon it and is apt to keep a very straight face about it.
"Once we cut a marvelous joke from a program — a joke about Eddie Cantor. I'm not going to tell it for we shall find a use for it some time. I ran into Eddie the following week and I said, 'Eddie, I had a swell gag in Sunday's program about you. Then, I dunno, at rehearsal, it didn't quite seem to click, so we left it out. But I think I'll put it in next week.' And Eddie said, 'Jack, when in doubt — remember that sterling word, "don't." A gag that is never told never lays an egg.' "

YES, J. B. certainly knows his stuff. His weekly radio program goes into work along about Tuesday of each week. In the meantime, Benny has been worrying ever since the preceding Sunday. Was the last program as good as the previous program? Maybe they shouldn't have made this crack, maybe they should have made that one. Oh, well, to work, now, to work! And Benny, Beloin and Morrow sit down with plenty of coffee, cigarettes and nice new pencils to chew.
They engrave doodles on nice white paper. They ejaculate "Lousy!" at intervals. They stay up all hours. They finally get a rough idea. Wednesday, they bring their erasers and shape things up. They scribble down the sides of the pages and get a little bit enthusiastic. Thursday they get a little bit depressed.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, they cut and change and rewrite and rehearse and take aspirin. Benny watches the cast like a cat. The cast is his only barometer. If shrewd, comedy-wise people like them seem to be amused and enthusiastic, things stay in. If the cast seems a little cold, things come out. Flash ideas are carefully analyzed. It's not easy because nobody ever really knows, you see, until that program goes on the air. That's what makes it all so exciting, so nerve-racking, such a wonderful life, and such a head-aching bore, all at the same time.
Making a picture is a lot harder. And that's why it has been difficult to transfer the neat, sure Benny technique of being funny to pictures. He is his own radio director, but he cannot, obviously, be his own movie director. Many more elements enter into making a feature-length production. Many popular radio comics have flopped in pictures. J. B. didn't flop because he kept on a-figurin' and a-worryin' how to make a hit. "Man About Town" is only the first. "The New Yorker" is the tentative title of the second.
Now all has been about Benny, ze arteeste. Now for Benny, himself. When I told all my friends I'd just been to see Jack Benny, they asked, "Is he as funny in real life?" I said, "No." He is extremely serious about his job of being funny. He is, personally, a pleasant, shrewd, well-tailored person, with thick gray hair, fine teeth, an authoritative voice, and excellent manners. He gives the impression of being easy-going, with a certain steely quality underneath. I mean, you feel that he'd do anything to help a pal, but he wouldn't let anybody put anything over on him. The aura of show business surrounds him in a way that is hard to describe, for both his manner and dress are very much on the conservative side and he never calls anybody "Toots." But if you bumped into him in Tibet, you'd know he belonged to that screwball group of folk who can read "Variety" without employing an interpreter.

HIS whole face changes when he talks about his daughter Joan. That indefinable wise-acre quality which all expert showmen acquire disappears. A grin, which he tries to subdue, starts spreading over his amiable features.
"You know," he said, "when Mary picked her out — three months old she was — I didn't say anything. But the little thing — she was actually the homeliest of all the babies in Rabbi Wise's home in New Rochelle, New York. I know enough about babies to know that at three months, they're beginning to look something like human beings, aren't they? But Joan was so thin — hadn't filled out at all. Her eyes would cross occasionally and she had these bumps on her face that looked like mosquito bites, only they weren't. Impetigo or something, I think. Anyway, I must admit that, much as I wanted to adopt a child, I felt just the least bit dashed when I first looked at her. But I figured Mary knew what she was doing. Mary said, 'I want that one.'
"I'm not the sentimental type, but I've often thought since that Mary must have known something instinctively, must have felt something, that no one else could know or feel about little Joan. Why did she pick our baby, when there were so many prettier babies? There must be something to this maternal instinct."
Today, of course, Miss Joan is the type that wins prizes in the baby contests. She is dainty and graceful and coming along right smart with her tap-dancing. "Oh, sure, she's headed right for the stage," says Pop, which is exactly the opposite of what most show folks will admit that they hope for their children. Joan turns on the charm for Pop, after being perfectly matter-of-fact with Mary all day — just as all smart little daughters do. She says funny things, which Mary and Jack have learned to take, in Miss Joan's presence, with perfectly dead pans. There was the time Jack was telling Mary about the excellent colored comedian named Eddie Anderson he'd discovered in Hollywood's Harlem. Yep. Rochester! Joan wanted to see Rochester, too. The day arrived when she did. And she turned to Jack and, in clear, ringing tones, exclaimed, "Why, Daddy, he isn't colored. He's just plain dark brown." She remembers every last living thing that she hears and recalls the names of people she has met for a moment months ago. All this is amazing and delightful to her father and mother.
"And people say, 'How swell of you two to adopt a baby!' " says Jack. 'Ye gods! Phooey! We wanted a baby. We felt that nothing mattered a great deal if we could not have one, and the swell part about it is that she is healthy and cute and smart and unspoiled. The last is Mary's doing.
"We've been talking about adopting a boy," he went on. "I dunno. Sometimes, we go in and look at her having her supper in the nursery and we think, 'aw, the poor kid. She must be lonesome sometimes.' I've often thought I'd like a son to be a pal, friend and all that, you know, when he got to be fifteen or sixteen. But then I think, migod, by that time, I'll be hobbling around on crutches, and the doctor will long ago have said no more coffee and cigars, Jack, just weak tea with lemon and two cigarettes a day. So we still don't know.
"Our main problem now is how to tell Joan she is adopted. It would be wrong not to, we think. We've been paving the way in small things: letting her choose a puppy, and making much of the fact that she chose that one pup out of a kennelful of dogs. It isn't an easy task, but we feel that if we do it gradually, she will accept it naturally with no danger of emotional complications."
I guess I don't need to say much about Mary after all this, do I? Mary is inseparably bound around with each detail of Jack's professional and domestic life, and has been ever since 1927. Jack is the worrier, the less stable, the more unpredictable member of the family. Mary is the one who smooths him down or comes forth with the flip crack at exactly the right time. She has her own spot in the sun, lesser in size and glory than her husband's, but if she stays off the radio program for two weeks, the complaint letters have to be delivered in trucks.

SHE handles the marriage-career-and-child triangle with great cleverness, which is sumpin' when you consider that divorce bombs are continually bursting in the Hollywood air because other wives aren't as smart as she is. She puts her foot down occasionally when pleasure is continually pushed aside for business. While I was talking with him, a press agent popped in and asked could Mary give half an hour for an interview.
"Don't ask me!" said Jack, throwing up his hands. "She says she's on vacation. I tell you — you call her yourself. You can do more with her than I can." Which is probably an accurate picture of the situation when Mrs. B. puts her foot down.
Nice folks, the Bennys. A mighty nice guy, Jack.

Saturday 27 January 2018

Cartoon Reviews of 1961

The Alvin Show was “dubious.” Cartoons on The Bugs Bunny Show were “still reasonably funny.” Calvin and the Colonel was out of date. Those were some of the opinions expressed by writers in Variety and Daily Variety reviewing half-hour cartoon shows on the fall 1961 schedule.

Our “Cartoons of 1961” post a few weeks ago was so long, I’ve decided to cut part two in half. This post will feature reviews; the next one will be made up of stories and squibs (and it’s still long).

The 1961-62 season saw networks take a chance on several animated series in the hope they’d have bought the next Flintstones, which turned out to be a big success in its first season. The others were not, at least not in prime time. Alvin, in particular, proved to be gold mine for the Bagdasarian family when it wasn’t seen at night. It was reworked into a new cartoon series in the ‘80s with needless female characters and then a series of feature films with butt-ugly CGI versions. Oh, and there were country and punk albums, too, weren’t there? I’ll take Clyde Crashcup instead, thanks.

There is also a review of King Leonardo, the first half-hour of animation made for Saturday morning network television (it replaced Ruff and Reddy, which had a human host and included old Columbia theatrical cartoons), as well as two features from Japan which were dubbed for the North American market.

July 11, 1961
Alakazam The Great
(Full-length Adventure Cartoon; Pathe Color)
American International Pictures release of Toei production. Features voices of Frankie Avalon, Dodie Stevens, Jonathan Winters, Arnold Stang, Sterling Holloway. English dialog version produced by Lou Rusoff. Screenplay, Rusoff, Osamu Tezuka, Lee Kresel; camera, Harusato Otsuka. Komei Ishikawa, Kenji Sugiyama; editor, Salvatore Billiterri; music, Lea Baxter; music coordinator, Al Simms. Reviewed July 7, 1961 in New York. Running time: 84 mins.
Considering the dearth of product (other than Disney's) suitable for the moppet trade, this brightly reedited, dubbed and scored Japanese cartoon feature should do quite nicely at the summer bo. Story is an Oriental fairytale of universal appeal — about an arrogant little monkey who learns humility the hard way. Since almost all the characters possess at least a couple of magical powers, it's fantasy of the kind of extraordinary proportions best handled by imaginative animators.
The Toei animators are imaginative, and while the pictorial style is hardly avant-garde, there is much that is attractive even to the adult eye. Producer Lou Rusoff’s English version also has bounce of its own, with the voices of Frankie Avalon and Dodie Stevens singing a couple of jaunty — if not memorable — Les Baxter tunes, and Jonathan Winters and Arnold Stang providing the voices for several supporting characters. Winters is especially good when sounding off as Sir Quigley Broken-Bottom, a large, fat gluttonous pig who'll eat almost anything, "excepting, of course, ham."
Picaresque tale opens with Alakazam being named king of the animals, and thereby becoming a little more than somewhat big-headed. He tricks Merlin the Magician into revealing all his magic, and then sets out to conquer the world. For this arrogance, the local human king sentences the monkey to make a long pilgrimage to learn the moral facts of life. It's these misadventures which comprise the bulk of film and provide it with the kind of surprises and suspense which don't permit the small fry time to become restless.
The color (Pathe) print viewed by this reviewer seemed of uneven quality, but producer reports that corrections are now being made for the release prints. Amby.

August 9, 1961
Magic Boy
Artistically adept but dramatically routine cartoon fantasy. Fast-paced number especially suited to tastes of tykes and trimmed to neat twin-billing essentials.
Hollywood, Aug. 2.
Metro release of Toei production. Executive producer, Hiroshi Okawa. Associate producer, Hideyuki Takahashi. Director of animation. Sanae Yamamoto. Screenplay, Dohei Muramatsu, from original story by Kazuo Dan; camera (Magicolor), Selgo Otsuka, Mitsuaki Ishikawa'; editor. Shintaro Miyamoto; art supervisor, Seigo Shindo; music, Toru Funamura; sound, Hisashi Kase; animators, Akira Daikuhara, Hideo Furusawa, Yasuji Mori, Masao Kumagawa. Reviewed at the studio, Aug. 2, '61. Running time. 76 MINS.
With "Magic Boy," the Japanese animators display their drawing and coloring prowess in a fast-paced, though dramatically unimaginative, full-length adventure-fantasy cartoon that probably will appeal to the tykes of any land. Trimmed to a swift and snug 76-minutes, it should fit attractively into any package assembled and aimed at moppets by Metro, and is especially valuable as a lower-berther for summer distribution.
Famous for duplication, the Japanese artisans here again prove their skill as following a proven formula. With a forestful of sweet animals, a lovable little hero, a handsome prince and a wicked witch, their little tale is almost pure Disneyland with an Oriental accent. The scenario by Dohei Muramatsu, from an original story by Kazuo Dan, takes a normal, but especially courageous, Japanese boy invests him with magic powers acquired during a three-year course given by a helpful hermit, and pits him against the forest's evil sorceress in a hectic great debate to the death.
Unlike the animal heroes of U.S. cartoondom, the animals of "Magic Boy" don't talk, which makes sense. They merely cheep, squeal, grunt and tug human arms to warn of neighborhood peril. Unfortunately, though, the animals bear a striking resemblance to the stuffed toys of the average department store, and little more in the way of personality. Luckily, the stress is on the human characters.
The artwork, while perhaps not as exacting as recent U.S. cartoon endeavors, is beautifully colored, and the animation, under the direction of Sanae Yamamoto, is smooth and expressive. Sound, engineered by Hisashi Kase, is vivid, and the novel music score by Toru Funamura is exciting and surprisingly international in theme (even incorporating a guitarish Latin flavor on occasion).
A title tune, written by Fred Spielman and Janice Torre and sung by Danny Valentino, tells the gist of the story in a melodic, tv-commercial way. Voice dubbing (the Japanese characters speak perfect English), naturally less of a problem in a cartoon, doesn't Interfere at all. Tube.

August 23, 1961
Were mere ballyhoo the unerring gauge for success, "Bullwinkle" would undoubtedly be the hit of the 1961-62 network television circus. But week-to-week mass popularity requires far more than the initial impact of creative, aggressive publicity so, fresh and witty as Jay Ward's animated satirical menagerie may be, this moose may have trouble keeping off his antlers when NBC displays him on a more adult timetable this fall, commencing Sept. 24. The new series, fortified with several promising episodic embellishments, is an extension of "Rocky And His Friends," late afternoon (adult cocktail hour) kiddie staple on ABC for the past two years.
Mass adult acceptance of "Bullwinkle" and his chums will be a matter of comic infection (are they funny?) and romantic affection (are they lovable?). Well, they are pretty funny. Perhaps not consistently as sharply satirical and slyly sophisticated as some tastes, particularly those of cartoon-conscious collegiate, may require, but, by cartoon standards, as funny as they come.
However, these characters are not quite as lovable as they could be and, indeed as all animated characters must be to catch on big. It is a case of character personality sacrificed to the temptation of the quick and easy gag and the frenetic storyline. For example, "Rocky," the squirrel, has no distinct personality — he makes no vivid impression, fails to tickle the imagination. Artistically and storywise, this reluctance to emphasize character over situation may be advantageous, but commercially it is risky, and "The Bullwinkle Show" could suffer the consequences. A typical "Bullwinkle" outing includes a pair of short escapades and a "Mr. Know-It-All" section spotlighting the title hero, a "Fractured Fairy Tale," an "Aesop & Son" fable and an adventure with "Dudley DoRight Of The Mounties." The "Fairy Tale" and "Dudley" numbers look especially promising.
Voice work on this series is exceptionally fine, artistry and animation certainly highgrade for tv. The battery of writers under the gifted Bill Scott obviously contains many fertile imaginations. With all of this knowhow, the series has the foundation for great popularity. A little ironing out here and there, and it could be attained. Tube.

September 20, 1961
Voices: Jackson Beck, Sandy Becker, Kenny Delmar, Ben Stone, Allen Swift
Producer: Leonardo Prods.
30 Mins.; Sat., 10:30 a.m.
NBC-TV, from N. Y.
With cartoon shows coming into their own bigger than ever this season, "King Leonardo and His Short Subjects" is going into its second season of network color presentation. It's essentially a moppet-aimed show, but the central characters have some double-edged remarks that titilate adult viewers as well.
As with several of these shows, "Leonardo" has several main characters who do not all appear at once on the same seg. The season opener, for example, featured "The Hunter," a takeoff character pegged to joshing the tv detective series. Kenny Delmar provides the lump-in-the-throat, dimwit voice for Hunter and does a good job at it. Also on the show were Leonardo, the king and Biggy Rat, his prime adversary, both voiced effectively by Jackson Beck, along with the king's faithful servant, Odie Colognie and the ruler's beatnik brother, Itchy Brother, spoken humorously by Allen Swift. Animation by Total Television Prods. is bright and cleverly-conceived.
Missing from the segment were two other regular characters, Wizard the Lizard, voiced by Sandy Becker, and Tooter Turtle, spoken by Swift. Also shown during the show are some non-format cartoons of a less witty nature involving the now old-fashioned antics of various animals to musical backgrounds.
Most annoying, however, is the volume of commercials spiced throughout the show. If it weren't for the fact that some of the General Mills and Kool Aid material was in cartoon form it would probably drive the kids right onto another channel but as it is, only the adults are presumably effected. But there is a saturation point even for kids.
When the show itself is permitted time, there's considerable entertainment and it stacks up as a solid effort, especially with the good lead-in it has from the Shari Lewis show. Kali.

With voices of Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, Bea Benaderet; guest, Hoagy Carmichael
Producers: Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera
Directors: Hanna, Barbera
Writer: Jack Raymond
30 Mins., Fri., 8:30 p.m.
ABC-TV (film)
(Wade; Wm. Esty)
"The Flintstones" matured sufficiently during its first season to be worthy of an adult as well as a juve following, and it carries enviable momentum into its second semester on ABC-TV in the same Friday evening berth. While basically a situation comedy that owes a certain debt to Jackie Gleason's "Honeymooners," it has the comfortable license to roam into the realm of the preposterous because its characters are animated cartoons rather than live actors. But wisely, Hanna and Barbera never let it get so far out that it loses touch with the plausible.
The satirical framework—that of depicting modern life in prehistoric terms—seems plenty durable, and of course it affords endless possibilities for sight gags, such as naming a piano a "Stoneway" and using the serrated fin of a dinosaur as a staircase. The Stone Age situationer stacks up as rough competition for anything slotted against it.
Hoagy Carmichael was a guest voice (and cartoon character) in the season's initialer, which was on the whole an amusing episode. Barney, Fred Flintstone's simpleton friend, has taken to writing verse, and in the belief that there may be a fortune in it the two go into the song writing business. Flintstone isn't going to let anyone know that they're just tyros, and so they're taken advantage of at every turn.
Enter Carmichael, who sees what the bumblers have let themselves in for. Good-naturedly he writes a song for them based on one of the favorite exclamations of Flintstone, "Yabba Dabba Doo." The boys have their moment of glory when the song is performed in a nightclub, but Carmichael brings them back down to earth with the information that only one published song in 5,000 ever makes any money. Intended or not, the advice was a public service to all the amateur song-writers watching.
The animated blurbs, with the Flintstone characters, are as enjoyable as anything in the show. Les.

September 27, 1961
Producers: Jay Ward, Bill Scott
Directors: Bill Hurtz, Ted Parmelee, Lew Keller, Gerard Baldwin, George Singer, Ernie Terrazes
Writers: Chris Hayward, Lloyd Turner, Chris Jenkyns, Al Burns, George Atkins
30 Mins., Sun., 7 p.m.
NBC-TV (film)
(D-FS; Grey)
CBS-TV's venerable hound of video, "Lassie," has some powerful competition in NBC-TV's new cartoon entry, "Bullwinkle." The disarming moose and his animated buddies—Rocket J. Squirrel; Peabody, the genius dog; Dudley Doright of the Mounties; Natasha Fatale. Boris Badenov; etc.—come out of syndication with a strong kid following, and there's a level of wit and whimsy that's going to capture a lot of adults.
Show has several regular segments, including two Bullwinkle episodes, cliffhanger style; "Fractured Fairy Tales," voiced by Edward Everett Horton; "Aesop's Fables," voiced by Charles Ruggles; "Peabody's Improbable History;" and "Adventures of Doright the Mountie."
Example of the show's sophistication was in the moral of the initialer's "Aesop's Fable," the story of a sick lion who caught a cold every time he roared like a lion because what he really wanted to do was sing like a human. The moral: "Psychiatrists are good but they've never cured the common cold."
General Mills commercials were in the satirical groove of overall proceedings, with one for Cheerios titled "Open Oat," a live-action takeoff on David Susskind's "Open End." Bill.

With Donald Duck, Professor Ludwig Von Drake
Producer: Walt Disney
Director: Hamilton S. Luske
Writers: Bill Berg, Joe Rinaldi, Milt Banta, Larry Clemmons, Otto Englander, Dr. Heinz Haber
Music: Buddy Baker
60 Mins., Sun., 7:30 p.m.
NBC-TV (color; film)
(J. Walter Thompson)
The difference between color and black & white was never so forcefully demonstrated as on Sunday night's (24) premiere of the new hour-long "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" on NBC-TV. Seldom has the spectrum been so handsomely or imaginatively tinted up or such prismatic razzmatazz executed so beautifully. By the same token as black and white viewing, one could easily have wondered what "wonderful world" they were talking about.
The first half-hour of the new series, devoted exclusively to an evocation of color as the extra dimension to tv enjoyment, could henceforth serve as the definitive "demonstration piece" for RCA in its bid to get tint tv swinging into the bigtime. (It's only poetic justice that RCA and Eastman Kodak should be sponsoring the Disney series in its switchover to NBC and tint from its b & w tenure on ABC.) Greater exposure of this half-hour, everywhere and anywhere, will get those sales rolling.
If there were some misgivings as to when Disney will "get on with the show," for its all-round entertainment quotient is still dangling on a promissory note, the color splash — for those owning sets — more than justified this initial "introductory offer" and offering.
With Disney himself on deck to extoll the tint virtue, and with a Donald Duck kin, Ludwig Von Drake, making his bow for a lecture spiel in the earlier tradition of the Jack Pearl accented comicalities, it was an altogether persuasive and imaginative documentation of the origins of color and the use of tint in creating moods. It was a perfect blending of showmanship and salesmanship.
The second half proved a humorous exploration into the wonders and mysteries of mathematics in a Donald Duck "Mathamagic Land" sequence, blending animation and live, in which Disney's famed creation tries to dig those digits. Mathematics in relation to music (with a then & now jam session of Grecian hepsters and a horn section circa '61); mathematics in relation to games (chess, baseball, billiards, etc.;) and some mathematical hijinx with stars, circles and triangles provided some enlightening and ingenious vignettes out of Disney's creative bag ef sight & sound tricks.
The portents for the 7:30 to 8:30 showcase are promising, giving NBC a new lease on Sunday night in the highly competitive '61-'62 season. But for the first show, the big difference was color. Rose.

September 29, 1961
(The $1,000,000 Derby)
Wed., 8:30-9 p.m., KABC-TV
Filmed by Hanna-Barbera Production for Bristol-Myers Co. and Kellogg Co. Co-producers and directors, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera; teleplay, Harvey Bullock; camera, Frank Paiker; editor, Joe Ruby; animator, Ken Muse; music directors and composers, Bill Hanna and Hoyt Curtin.
Cast: Voices of Arnold Stang, Allen Jenkins, Maurice Gosfield, Marvin Kaplan, Leo De Lyon, John Stephenson.
Add another telecatoon to burgeoning field with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera's new concoction of animated cats. Coproducers and directors earlier did much to start the ball rolling with their popular "Huckleberry Hound." Thus, it is something of a disappointment to note new series' premiere episode doesn't quite live up to its predecessor. Show has every delightful element of a kiddie funny but, for the 8:30-9 p.m. timeslot, needs more depth to successfully capture all-family audiences.
General theme, patterned after comedy vein of Damon Runyon's New York characters, involves "Top Cat" ("T.C.") as leader of a lovable gang of alley cats which maneuvers itself through kind of slick activities that generally turn out less profitable than planned. Animation is appealing and, coupled with popularity of several known comics as voices, some charm comes through. Arnold Stang has just the right twang for title voice, with Allen Jenkins, Maurice Gosfield, Marvin Kaplan, Leo De Lyon and John Stephenson fitting well as regulars. Dale.

October 4, 1961
With Arnold Stang, Allen Jenkins, Maurice Gosfield, Marvin Kaplan, Leo DeLyon, John Stephenson
Prods.-Dires.: Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera
Writer: Harvey Bullock
30 mins.; Wed., 8:30 p.m.
ABC-TV (film)
(Young & Rubicam; Leo Burnett)
Is ABC-TV pushing a good thing too far? On the strength of its click with "The Flintstones" last season, the web is now riding with another "adult" animation series out of the Hanna-Barbera studios which previously made its mark with the "Huckleberry Hound" and "Quick Draw McGraw" kiddie-slanted cartoons. But where the moppets are fixated by virtually anything on the tv screen, adult audiences are at least one notch more discriminating and a follow-up to "The Flintstones" would have to be doubly sharp in order to justify another cartoon show.
"Top Cat," on the basis of its introduction last Wednesday (27), did not measure up to the demands of a prime nighttime entry. Based on the antics of a hip-talking flock of easy-living felines, "Top Cat" registered as a simple comic strip with no point of view to give it a special cutting edge. However, there's always the calculation that the millions of grown-ups who turn to the comic strips before the editorial pages in their daily newspapers will find entertainment and intellectual stimulation in "Top Cat."
The scripting for this series strikes a jivey, wise-alecky note in a diluted neo-Runyonesque style. The opening show had occasional flashes of wit, but the patter was generally a routine brand of hip jargon. The characterizations of the various cats were amusing in an elementary sort of way and the story of their attempt to enter a horse in the big race was hardly an example of originality.
Since "The Flintstones" has already exploited the novelty appeal of the cartoon genre, "Top Cat" will have to come up in subsequent weeks with a fresh angle to rate in the bigtime competition. Herm.

October 5, 1961
Tues., 8:30 p.m., ABC-TV;
Filmed by Kayro for Lever Bros., Whitehall Labs. Producers-Writers, Joe Connelly, Bob Mosher; animation producers, Bob Ganon, Sam Nicholson, Gerry Ray; art director, Norm Gottfredson; animators, John Sparey, Bob Bemiller, Tom MacDonald.
Voices: Charles Correll, Freeman Gosden, Virginia Gregg, Beatrice Kay, Paul Frees, Barney Phillips, Gloria Blondell.
"Calvin And The Colonel" seems to bridge the missing link between the animal kingdom and human society, and, in so doing, achieves a flexibility and liberty of comment and situation that makes it perhaps the most promising and most noteworthy of the rash of new animated network series in this year of the cartoon.
"Calvin" is a strong, clumsy and slow-witted bear. "The Colonel" is a sly fox. The supporting characters are animals, too. But, unlike Donald Duck, Yogi Bear, Bullwinkle and most all cartoon characters, these are essentially human beings — animal only in basic appearance. And, by being animal in basic appearance, they have a freedom of expression not available to human animated people (like the "Flintstones" or "Magoo") in these touchy times. It's easier and less offensive to point up human foibles with humanized animals.
Whether writers-producers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher will fully exercise this advantage remains to be seen, but there is evidence on the premiere that the series will have more to offer than mere absurd comic situations. If cartoons click this season, "Calvin" should ride the crest of the wave.
Much of the charm of a cartoon is the voices. In the voices of Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden (erstwhile Amos 'n' Andy), Connelly and Mosher have attained a perfect relationship between voice and character. What's more many of the lines written for the show seem clever enough to inspire repetition and imitation on the part of the viewer, just as used to be the case with Amos ‘n' Andy. The opener indicates room for improvement, but it's a promising start. Tube.

October 6, 1961
(Wed., 7:30-8 p.m., KNXT-CBS)
Filmed by Format Films for General Foods . Producers, Herbert Klynn, Leo Salkin , Bud Getzler; directors, Osmond Evans, Rudy Larriva, Alan Zaslove; writers, Salkin, Ed Nofziger, Cal Howard, Bob Kurtz, Dale Hale, Jan Strejan, Chris Jenkyns, Al Bertino, Dick Kinney, Bill Danch, Tedd Pierce, Jack Cosgriff; camera Jack Eckes; cutting, Joe Siracusa.
Cast: voices of Ross Bagdasarian, Shepard Menken, June Foray, Lee Patrick, Johnny Mann, Bill Lee, William Stafford, Res Dennis.
The surroundings aren't going to be very compatible for the frolicking chipmunks. On one side is "Wagon Train" and the other flanking is Steve Allen. Worse still, it looks like one of CBS-TV's weakest rating nights. Rather than buck them at their own game, General Foods chose a kid show and don't let that 7:30 slot fool you. They used to schedule these kind on Saturday mornings. For the smaller sizes, sheer delirium; adult-wise, nyet. The three inky Imps, Alvin, Simon and Theodore, are vignette in panelled antics, like trying to make an eagle fly, contesting at archery, gondoliering in Venice and inventing a game called baseball, which was infantile thinking and probably hooted at by the sub-teeners. The animation is skilled, the characters spirited and the matched voices infallible.
From the list of credits submitted by Format Films, the payroll must be the largest numerically of any half-hour show on the air. Animated cartoons being a costly item, around $65,000, it behoves the chipmunks to start foraging fast in the Nielsen pasture to keen the cost-per-thousand below the danger line. Helm

October 11, 1961
With the voices of Charles Correll, Freeman Gosden, Virginia Gregg, Beatrice Kay, Paul Frees, Barney Phillips, Gloria Blondell
Producers: Joe Connelly, Bob Mosher
Writers: Connelly, Mosher
Animation: Creston Studios
30 Mins.; Tues., 8:30 p.m.
ABC-TV (cartoon)
Amos 'n' Andy are back but this time instead of worrying the NAACP they'll probably bother the ASPCA. In their resurrection, the comedy team, so long popular on radio and tv and who in later years touched sensitive points because of their portrayal of stereotype Negroes, have been put into the guise of animals to cash in on tv's current cartoon trend. Nothing much else has changed.
The plot and characterization are cut from the same cloth and even though they're on screen this time out as a slow-witted bear (Calvin) and a crafty fox (The Colonel) the cartoon series smacks of bygone days. The Creston Studios, however, must be complimented for its nifty animation efforts but much of its good work is dissipated in the use of a laugh track. By the sound of it, the track loved the show.
The series opener, called "The Television Job," had to do with the lazy Colonel being forced into a job delivering tv sets and how he, through some fast talking, gets Calvin to do the heavy work— and without pay. Familiar?
No matter how you slice it, it's still Amos ‘n’ Andy, and times have changed. Gros

With David Seville
Voices: Ross Bagdasarian, Shepard Menken, June Foray, Lee Patrick, Johnny Mann, Bill Lee, William Stafford, Res Dennis [sic]
Executive Producer: Herbert Klynn
30 Mins.; Wed., 7:30
CBS-TV (animation)
{Benton & Bowles)
With cartoon shows in boomsville, subject matter is getting harder to find. "The Alvin Show" is pegged to a group called the Chipmunks which was a big disk seller on the Liberty label and which now finds itself starring in a half-hour variety-type show Wednesday evenings (7:30) over the CBS web, with its inascible leader Alvin getting top billing.
It will be a tough nut for these pleasantly-animated fellows to crack, figuring that they are slotted against such stalwarts as "Wagon Train" and the new Steve Allen opus. There may be some interest here for the younger set who haven't graduated to the oater leagues, but for the graduates "The Alvin Show" doesn't offer very much.
Format is basically a variety show with the munks singing tunes In different settings and performing blackout and longer skits. The show doesn't lack humor, but it's pretty weak funny stuff, spiced with sight gags and the byplay between David Seville, a songwriter human who sort of manages the group, and the misbehaving of Alvin and his cohorts. It's all animated nicely and the voices are effective in the variety of their ranges and characterizations.
Perhaps one of the more successful elements of the show didn't involve the chipmunks but a nutty inventor instead. He seems slated to become a regular on the show along with a knowing but downtrodden assistant. For the opener they invented baseball in a sometimes amusing fashion. They are animated humans. In all it's a mildly diverting show, with the munks doing all the General Foods commercials, designed to fit CBS' pattern of trying to innovate a comedy and light programming image along with their other material. It's [sic] appeal is limited and dubious. Kali.

October 12, 1961
(Tues., 7:30-8 p.m., ABC-TV)
Filmed by Warner Bros. for General Foods, Mars Inc. Producers-directors-writers, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng; original story, Michael Maltese, Warren Foster; editor, Treg Brown; animators, Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Tom Ray, Robert Bransford; voice, Mel Blanc.
Years of theatrical exposure lend these characters of Warner Bros. animated zoo the security of proven public acceptance. Yet the same aging public that has supported "Bugs Bunny" and the rest of the Looney Tunes crew lo these many years is apt to be growing less and less enchanted with these essentially static characters, thus passing this show on, by default, to youngsters less familiar with and more susceptible to the changeless nature of their madcap merriment.
Unlike some of the newer, trickier cartoons that have descended on the animal-happy medium this year, the "Bugs Bunny" show, now a tv two-year-old, adheres to the elementary storylines and techniques of the traditional theatrical cartoon. Bursts of witty dialog indicate adult potential in the script department, but the episodes seem inevitably and irresistibly to evolve into the old-fashioned cartoon "chase," with resultant body disasters and facial disfigurations followed by astonishingly rapid and complete recoveries. That's the way the tykes like it, though, and at 7:30 most of them are still masters of the rabbit-eared box. Tube.

October 18, 1961
With Mel Blanc Voices
Producers-Directors: Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng
Writers: Michael Maltese, Warren Foster
30 Mins.; Tues., 7:30 p.m.
ABC-TV (animated film)
The Warner Bros. cartoon menagerie, well established via feature exhibition and maybe even overexposed in tv syndication, will meet some stiff competition for the adult audience at 7:30 this semester with the reruns of "Gunsmoke" ("Marshal Dillion") [sic] slotted against it on CBS-TV. How well the cartoon series will bear up with the Junior set in its second season on ABC ought to depend on whether or not there is a surfeit of Bugs & Co.—and animationers, in general —in video today. In the Chicago market, for instance, the independent station, WGN-TV, has two "Bugs Bunny" shows daily off the old theatrical releases. The question is, how much can the traffic bear? It would stand to reason that an 11th "Bugs Bunny" show per week—even though tailor-made for tv—might be superfluous. The Chi situation may be an isolated instance, however. Incidentally, last season the network "Bugs" met the syndicated "Bugs" head-on in the Windy City, and the local entry won the honors a good share of the time.
The hazard of over-exposure is unfortunate because the ABC "Bugs Bunny" is an amusing and skillfully produced show. The troupe of Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, the Road Runner, et. al., makes for an all-star cartoon cast, and the especially-for-tv scripts are satisfactory vehicles for the usual animated cartoon nonsense, the familiar slapstick and the standard miracles that can only happen in fantasy-land. Somehow, repetitious though their antics are, they stand up all right and are still reasonably funny.
Opening installment for the new season was pegged on a "Reading Out Loud" theme, with the WB cast enacting absurd variations of the "Hansel & Gretel," "Robin Hood" and "Jack the Beanstalk" tales. The "retellings" bore only a coincidental resemblance to the original stories, but they afforded a context for the silly business. Bugs Bunny is a first-class emcee and standup comic in his own right. Les.

Friday 26 January 2018

Crumpet Land

There are no walls in Christopher Crumpet’s Playmate, a cartoon designed by T. Hee. Just what seem to be standard UPA settings.

Mr. Crumpet’s office has grey backgrounds, perhaps emblematic of grey-flannel suits of the business world back then. Or maybe I’m reading a bit too much into it. Jules Engel gets the usual “color” credit.

There’s limited animation and cycles aplenty in this cartoon. In the scene below, only Christopher and his father’s heads move from side to side. Everything else is frozen.

The designs are pleasant, and the story by Hee and director Bobe Cannon is pleasant. Frank Smith, Barney Posner and Alan Zaslove provide the animation.

Thursday 25 January 2018


Where else would you get this but in a Fleischer cartoon? A bear, swinging on conjoined tails of two monkeys, lands on an elephant and turns it into a camel.

From Betty Boop’s May Party (1933), with animation by Dave Tendlar and William Henning.