Monday, 4 February 2019

The Hat Flip

Jack King wasn’t the Komedy King at Warner Bros. (It was apparently funny at one time to substitute a “K” in words that started with a “C”). He was enticed by Leon Schlesinger to leave Walt Disney in 1933 for a job as the head animator, then ended up directing when Tom Palmer’s cartoons needed major surgery for Warners to accept them for release.

Here’s a gag from Alpine Antics (1935). In this scene, a turtle clacks away in a nice little ice dance, with his reflection on the frozen pond. He skates away but his reflection skates in the opposite direction.

What’s the gag? The turtle’s toque flips over in the air and lands back on his head.

Yeah, that’s the gag.

No storyman is credited. Tom Armstrong was the story director at the studio, but I’m under the impression that everyone contributed gags to the Schlesinger cartoons in those days.

The best part of the cartoon is Billy Bletcher’s villainous laugh and the song “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” by Harry Woods on the soundtrack.

This cartoon stars Beans, as there was a mistaken belief at Warners that a plucky boy cat was what cartoon audiences wanted. Maybe it was, but not in the stories being concocted by the studio. Beans was eclipsed by Porky Pig in 1936, the same year King took his flipping hats back to Disney.


  1. King's cartoons did get better in his final decade at Disney, but there was no question the Tashlin-for-King swap in the diretor's seat was a major upgrade for Schlesinger (and it would have been interesting if he had stayed at Warners if the Avery sensibility would have eventually seeped by osmosis into King's cartoons, as Freleng would adjust his style to mimic the success of the studio's most adventureous director).

  2. My vote for King's best WB cartoon, A Cartoonist's Nightmare.