Friday, 12 October 2018

The Almost Return of Miss X

Pat Matthews left his mark at the Walter Lantz studio by animating a couple of cartoons with “Miss X,” Lantz’ equivalent to Red in the Tex Avery cartoons at MGM. Miss X waving her butt while dancing in see-through pantaloons was a bit much for theatre owners, even during the WW2 years, and Lantz dropped her from his cartoon roster.

Matthews left Lantz around 1948 to work at UPA. Besides theatrical cartoons and TV commercials, UPA made industrial shorts; that’s how the studio got its start. One of them was The Sailor and the Seagull, a 1949 short for the U.S. Navy to sell sailors on reenlistment. This was before UPA decided limited character movement was the right movement; the short features lovely, flowing animation that you can find in its earliest theatrical shorts for Columbia.

There’s a dream sequence which feature Miss X-ish harem girls. Were they animated by Matthews? I’d like to think so. He should have been at UPA at the time.

Here are some frames. I wish the resolution was better than this.

There’s an inside joke at the end of the cartoon. It features the names of UPA staffers, likely some of the ones who worked on this cartoon. Matthews’ name isn’t among them, though.

Bobe Cannon was a director, Willie Pyle and Jack Schnerk were animators, Bill Hurtz was a designer, Jules Engel got credited for color, Herb Klynn was eventually the studio production manager who later founded Format Films. There are no credits on this cartoon.

It also features some early cartoon voice work by Daws Butler as the seagull and a few other characters. The McGinty character in the frames above is played by John T. Smith, using the same “What, no gravy?” voice heard later in Chow Hound from Warner Bros.

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