Tuesday 30 April 2019

Woody See Him?

Woody and Buzz Buzzard realise they’re seeing each other. The animator responsible gives us arm waving, multiples and dry brush in this scene from The Great Who-Dood-It (1952).

This is one of Don Patterson’s Woody cartoons. The characters have thicker ink lines than they had in the late ‘40s and the acting isn’t nearly so nuanced as it was at the Lantz studio a few years earlier. There’s even one scene where Buzz is talking but his mouth doesn’t move.

Monday 29 April 2019

Blow Your Head Off

Short gags, long gags. Tex Avery and his writers (Heck Allen or Rich Hogan) would use both in their MGM cartoons.

Here’s a short one from Ventriloquist Cat (1950). Avery and Hogan see how many variations they can do on a cat luring a dog into some kind of violent danger.

Dialogue is unnecessary in this short scene. You can get the idea from these frames. Ol’ Tex ends it with something else familiar—a stare at the camera (sometimes the stare would be interrupted by blinking, accompanied by a Scott Bradley piano chord).

Walt Clinton, Mike Lah and Grant Simmons are the credited animators.

Sunday 28 April 2019

Who Bites Nails and Plays With a Garter?

Sidney Skolsky profiled Jack Benny several times in his syndicated “Tintypes” column. We’ve posted one of his feature columns before, so let’s post the other two. You can see how he dipped into his archive and re-used or re-worked lines.

The first is from September 9, 1931, before Benny looked at going into radio. The next one is from December 3, 1937. He was a radio star now and making his name in some, frankly, lightweight pictures. Basically, Skolsky compiles bits of trivia and biography and weaves them into a column. (Some other trivia for you: Frank Nelson, playing Virgil Reimer, who in real life joined the NBC sound effects department in March 1936, called Benny “an old tintype” on an early ‘40s broadcast).

JACK BENNY. His real name was Benny Kubelsky.
When he entered show business he made his first name his last and forgot all about the Kubelsky.
He had the name changed legally to Benny.
He was a St. Valentine's Day present to the family in the year 1894. Was born in Chicago, Ill., although his home town is Waukegan, thirty-six miles away. His mother went to Chicago for the event so Benny could tell folks he was born in a big city.
Is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weights 150 pounds. His hair has been graying for thr past ten years. His right eve is bluer than his left.
His father ran a saloon in Waukegan and he worked there for a short time. But the theatre interested him more than the saloon, and still does. Presently he had a job in the only theatre in the town. Started as a doorman. Then became a property man. Then became a tiddler in the orchestra, conducted by Cora Salisbury. When the theatre closed he and Cora went into vaudeville. Theirs was a violin and piano act.
He bites his nails, never gets a manicure and changes shoes three times a day.
Eats everything that isn't good for him and bolts his food.
Played in vaudeville with Miss Salisbury for about four years. The act never got to New York. During that time he didn't utter one word on the stage. If there was a curtain speech to be made to the audience—which wasn't often—Miss Salisbury was the speechmaker.
Then came the war. And it was an all right affair for Benny.
He joined the Navy and was put into the Navy Relief Society. It was this organization's duty to entertain and make money for the sailors. He played in "The Great Lakes Revue." In this show he spoke for the first time on a stage. He was ordered to do so, and he had to obey orders.
This gave him courage. After the war he did a single in vaudeville, telling a few gags between violin solos. Today he uses the violin for comedy bits only. He made his reputation as a smart monologist.
On Jan. 14, 1927, he married Sadye Marks in Chicago. She is not of show business. Often, however, when playing vaudeville she appears in the act with him. He doesn't do anything, on stage or off, without her advice.
His pet name for her is Doll. Her pet name for him is Doll.
Generally sits with his legs crossed and toys with one of his leg garters.
On stage he appears to be the calmest of the current crop of smart fooling monologists. His style is succinct, dry and ironic. He seems to be very much at home before the footlights. He's just a good actor. As a matter of fact he paces his dressing room before going on and is nervous when delivering his chatter. He doesn't smoke. Whenever he puts a cigarette to his lips, in an effort to learn how, the wife laughs at him.
Generally wears a blue or gray double-breasted suit. Has bad taste when it comes to socks and ties. His wife has to buy them for him. He has more dress suits than street clothes.
Does things on the spur of the moment. He has packed and left for Hollywood or Europe on only twenty-four hours' notice.
The word he uses most is "Marvelous." Every act he introduces on the stage is marvelous. Everything he likes and describes to a person is marvelous. Once, when playing in San Francisco, Aimee McPherson sent him the following backstage: "Enjoyed your performance very much. Like everything about you but the word marvelous. Am sending you a list of words that you can use in place of marvelous. Outside of that, Mr. Benny, you were marvelous."
His two favorite humorists, the guys who hand him a laugh in type, are Stephen Leacock and Robert Benchley.
Generally writes most of his own material. Can write gags for himself but not for others. Often he buys material.
Sleeps in pajamas, using both the trousers and the jacket. Is a sound sleeper. No matter what time he goes to bed he awakes early in the morning. Takes a cold bath every morning. His wife always travels with him.
He resembles Phil Baker so strongly that the two of them often pass for brothers. He also looks very much like Jack Warner and in Hollywood is often mistaken for him. Strangely enough, Baker doesn't resemble Warner.
He is really a funny guy for he's very fond of his in-laws.

Doorman to Comic, Rise of Jack Benny
He's Never Been on a Horse But He 'Rides Again' on Nearly Every Radio Program

TINTYPE of a comic—Jack Benny when he first entered show business, made his first name his last name. His real name was Benny Kubelsky. . . He has had his name legally changed to Benny. . . On the radio he has fun saying he hails from Waukegan. . . Fact is, he was horn in Chicago on St. Valentine's day, 1894. . . His parents went there so he could tell people he was born in a big city. . . He is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds. . . His hair is graying and thinning. . . His right eye is bluer than his left. . . When broadcasting he wears eye glasses. . . His program sounds as if everyone on it was having a good time, because they are. . . He starts work on his Sunday program on Tuesday. He sits around with his writers and they start talking about a magazine article or a movie, and then someone will say: "I got a line," and the secretary puts it down . . . During [a]performance, Benny will occasionally throw a kiss to the audience after generous applause . . . Don Wilson serves as applause leader . . . Benny had a struggle in show-business before he became a big success on the radio . . . His initial job in the theater was a doorman . . . Next he became a property man, then a violin player in the theater's orchestra, conducted by Cora Salisbury . . . When the theater closed, he and Cora went into vaudeville with a violin and piano act ... In those days he did not play the fiddle for laughs. Benny had to join the navy to speak on a stage. During the World war the Navy Relief society put on a show called, "The Great Lake Revue." Here Benny spoke for the first time on a stage. He was ordered to and he had to obey orders. Jack was never ranked with the big headliners of vaudeville, never starred in a Broadway show . . . He is married to Sadye Marks . . . She was not connected with show business but is an important member of his radio show . . . You know her as Mary Livingstone . . . His pet name for her is Doll . . . Her pet name for him is Doll Face . . . He bites his nails, seldom gets a manicure, and often changes his shoes three times a day. He is hardly ever seen without a cigar, either smoking or holding it . . . Everything he likes and describes to a person is marvelous ... He has never been on a ranch . . . He has never been on a horse--except when he got a good tip . . . Yet he's the most famous cowboy in the country today . . . Giddyap—Buck Benny rides again.

Saturday 27 April 2019

Makin' Educational Whoopee

Kids watch TV for the same reason their parents do—to be entertained. They don’t watch it to be lectured to or educated.

But there were parents groups that felt it was television’s job to do that, and in the least low-brow way. Producers and programmers had to find the way to straddle that line—to make something kids wouldn’t turn off but gave them something other than Popeye punching out Bluto for the umpteenth time. Cy Plattes of General Mills found an answer.

Thus Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales was born.

The story-lines driving the cartoons were similar. Tennessee would come up with a brainstorm and fail miserably to execute it. He and sidekick Chumley would then go to see Mr. Whoopee who demonstrated how to do it properly. Off went Tennessee who would make his idea work—but something else would go wrong to end the cartoon.

The “Whoopee” portion was the education aspect that critics loved because, well, because it was education. Kids liked it because the education was given by a cartoony voice (Larry Storch as Frank Morgan), and not some adult teacher talking down to them.

Here are two of a number of newspaper stories written about Tennessee. The first is from the King Features Syndicate of November 22, 1963, the other from the Newspaper Enterprise Association starting around February 8, 1964. Note that “TTV” does not stand for “Total Television,” at least not yet. It has a different meaning, no doubt to kiss up to networks and parent groups. Neither of them explain why Tennessee Tuxedo doesn’t have a Tennessee accent.
C.B.S. Airs Educational Cartoon

(TVKey Writer)
New York—Many of today's infants go from mother's milk to the T. V. tube and by the time they are ready to start their formal education television has done as much to prepare them for learning as their parents. This is an area where T. V.'s responsibility is not simply a matter of petty network jealousy or rating wars, but a vital part of our country's future.
Children, like adults, are attracted to mass audience programming and ambitious and praiseworthy projects like "Exploring" and "Discovery" are fine for F. C. C. hearings, but the youngsters prefer cartoons. As the prisoner said on his way to the electric chair: "Dis never would have happened if dey had held classes in saloons."
C. B. S. has apparently recognized the need for spoon-fed learning and has backed a fine cartoon show called "Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales" on Saturdays at 9:30 A. M. I happened to catch it a few times with my youngsters and I found it a delightful combination of education and fun.
The main characters in this zoo-based cartoon are Tennessee, a cocky penguin; Chumley, an idiot walrus; and amusing but intelligent chap called Mr. Whoopee; an aptly named zoo-keeper, Stanley Livingston; and Flunkie, his assistant. Two of my favorite comics, Don Adams and Larry Storch provide the voices for Tennessee and Mr. Whoopee with top actors Kenny Delmar, Bradley Bolke and Mort Marshall rounding out the cast.
The program is financed by one of the big three cereal companies and was supposedly inspired by that wonderful child's habit of asking why about everything. Each week Tennessee and his friends escape from the zoo and venture into the outside world to solve a puzzling “why.” It ranges from “why does a telephone work” to “Why do things grow on the desert” and just about any subject is up for grabs on subsequent shows.
Produced by ex-advertising men who got tired of writing ads and simply earning a living, “Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales” may be the TV answers for helping youngsters in the 4-10 age bracket get something out of the tube besides eye strain.
According to one of the partners in TTV (Teaching Television), they research each “why” in the Golden Book encyclopedia and, through the cereal sponsor, offer prizes to teachers who can suggest a good “why” for Tennessee to explain.
What makes this spoon-fed education palatable to the kids is that the educational portion is lively and animated rather than a cut out to film clips provided by the industry that is about to be discussed. Another attempt in this field has used industrial films for the education segment of the show and the result has been a sloppy, uninteresting presentation.
Walt Disney's high budgeted N.B.C. program is always at its best when it informs the youngsters while entertaining them, and it's a pleasure to report that this fine approach to education is now available for the small fry on a Saturday morning network program. I sincerely hope that "Tennessee Tuxedo" is a popular success and attracts hundreds of imitators. We need them.
Penguin Teachers Kids

HOLLYWOOD (NEA)—Hey, Ma! I've got news for you. That "know-it-all" cartoon penguin named Tennessee Tuxedo on television every Saturday morning is helping educate your kiddies.
The kids don't realize they are being slipped the educational needle. And that's the big idea.
So keep mum, Ma, about reading that Tennessee Tuxedo is produced by a company named TTV, the initials meaning "Teaching Television," which the name of the penguin also means.
Early ratings of the new show indicate the kiddies are getting out of bed Saturday mornings and dialing TT, oblivious to the fact that it is a significant breakthrough in visual education.
As an example of programming in the public interest you can almost forgive the sponsor's message.
In case you are unaware of Tennessee Tuxedo, he's the sort who is always sticking his nose into other folks' affairs. As a result, he keeps finding himself in situations he cannot handle.
Mistaken for a famed architect, he is given the job of building a bridge. The bridge collapses. In the doing, Tuxedo and the junior viewer absorb a few basic tenets about the bridge-building art.
When Tuxedo is unable to repair an automobile the ensuing fun, graphically and with juvenile simplicity, explains the working of the internal combustion engine.
In similar vein, other plots lead TT into the fields of irrigation, firefighting, astronomy, telecommunication, farming, navigation, deep sea diving, etc. The idea for the show came from Cyril Plattes, a Minneapolis industrial public relations and marketing specialist who surveyed interest of junior age levels. He found “an unbelievable hunger” for information about the world junior lives in.
“So,” he says, “we decided to use the cartoon as a carrier for a good comedy show with an educational message.
Tennessee survived on Saturday mornings for three seasons before super heroes and fantasy shows started taking over the schedule, then moved into syndication.

If they were ever to revive the series today, producers would likely ignore Larry Storch and turn Mr. Whoopee into some kind of Siri/Alexa thing on a tablet and toss in some CGI effects. Maybe cartoons were more fun way back when.

Friday 26 April 2019

A Tale of Two Deer

Rudy Ising goes for Disney “realism” to open the 1934 short Tale of the Vienna Woods. With gentle classical music in the background, the sun rises to enlighten a forest. There, a little deer’s reflection can be seen in a pond as it drinks water.

The animator is trying to make the deer look somewhat like a deer.

Later in the cartoon, the deer looks like a cartoon and wags its tail like a puppy.

Only Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising get screen credit. Nothing for the animators, composer Scott Bradley or the woman turning the storybook pages in live action at the start.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Taking the Scissors to Tex

Some kids who watched Warner Bros. cartoons in the black-and-white TV days saw them over and over so many times, they had them memorised.

That’s why I was very surprised when I read Joe Adamson’s wonderful book “Tex Avery, King of Cartoons” that there was a gag in Cross-Country Detours where the narrator announces “Here is a frog croaking.” The frog then kills himself.

Tex and writer Rich Hogan add a quick follow-up gag.

What was surprising was I had never seen this gag in all the years I had watched the cartoon. The local station cut it.

Remember, this is before ridiculous network edicts about editing out gun violence. This is the only example I can think of where the local station chopped something out of a cartoon.

Perhaps kids had bigger connections to frogs back then. How many old comedy shows or short films do boys have frogs? In my case, there was a small swamp behind the house across the street. We could catch tadpoles. You could hear the frogs at night. 50 years later, the area is filled in and is a condo development. The land is too valuable to be a swamp.

Johnny Johnsen’s panorama backgrounds are a highlight of this short, along with the lizard stripping scene (which our local station aired).

Wednesday 24 April 2019

The Gangster That Gangsters Loved

Sheldon Leonard looked like a gangster. Sheldon Leonard sounded like a gangster. Guess what parts Sheldon Leonard played?

Well, yes, he did more than underworld and shady characters; he was even a cartoon lion for a while. But Leonard was smart. He knew supporting roles like that wouldn’t lead to huge amounts of fame or fortune so, instead, he turned to television producing. He turned out to be one of the most intuitive producers of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.

The odd thing is that real gangsters loved his romanticised portrayal. Here’s a story from early 1952. There’s also a mention of my favourite role of Leonard’s where a few times every season, he’d appear on Jack Benny’s radio show and give confidential racing-form type tips on the best elevator, restaurant table, sleepwear—everything except horses (“Who knows about horses?” he asked Benny on one show set at a race track).
Film Gangster Is A Hero To Some Fans

Associated Press Staff Writer
Hollywood, Jan. 8. —Sheldon Leonard isn't a gangster, has never been one, and doesn't intend ever to be one. But judging from roundabout compliments he has received, he's a sort of hero to shady characters in real life.
"I play 'em the way they figure themselves to be," Leonard explained the other day. "Omnipotent — with a cold detachment."
You probably have heard him as that hollow-voiced race-track tout on the Jack Benny radio program. His unchanging opening line—"Hey, bud ... Where ya goin'?"—never fails to get a big laugh. For this reason, Sheldon calls it "the most rewarding role in show business for the amount of energy expended."
He's also a reformed counterfeiter on Phil Harris' program, the boy friend on Judy Canova's show, and a hobo on a broadcast called "It's always Sunday."
Has Two Children
He has played assorted gangsters in about 35 movies and is used to being told: "I'll never forget the way you kicked Alan Ladd in the head in 'Lucky Jordan' . . . and the way you slapped Lauren Bacall in 'To Have and Have Not.' "
The real-life Leonard is dark-complexioned, with brown eyes, wavy hair, and, a worldly savoir-faire usually associated with gangster roles.
The father of two, he is a respectable member of the Parent-Teacher Association, whose other members frequently compliment him on his outlaw portrayals. A graduate of Syracuse University, where he majored in speech, Leonard tosses around shrewd observations on gangster portrayals.
"We tend to satisfy masochistic urge in certain women. We're all merchants, and I'll sell whatever is commercial. But I've skimmed the cream off the heavy type of thing. There's a more rewarding market, I believe, for the Bill Bendix type thing from now on— the likable mugs."
In a picture called "Decision" he plays a sympathetic character for the first time. He's devoted to a hunchback brother and wins the love of Anne Gwynne. Yes, Sheldon says he's tired of playing gangsters.
"This fishy, glacial exterior isn't acting. You just sit there and let your complexion and eyeballs sell the character."
Leonard never gave up appearing on camera altogether. In fact, he starred in Big Eddie, a show with a fine cast but survived only ten episodes before being cancelled in 1975. But it was as a producer of The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Spy and other shows where he made his mark—besides being the gangsters’ pin-up boy.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Looney Tunes Hidden Gag

Background artist Dick Thomas paints a reference to another Warner Bros. background artist in Calling Dr. Porky (September 1940).

The certificate on the wall refers to Lenard Kester, Friz Freleng’s background man for a period in the early 1940s. Kester never got screen credit at Warner’s. Harvey Deneroff’s history of the Fleischer studio strike reveals Kester was hired by Max and Dave as as an opaquer at age 17, moved to inking and then background painting, but continued to receive $17.40 a week.

The 1940 Census shows he had worked for 16 weeks in 1939, getting $500 during that period. Where he was, I’m not sure as he didn’t join Schlesinger’s until March 1940.

His work was still being exhibited as late at 1996. He died in Los Angeles on January 13, 1977.

Monday 22 April 2019

Zooming Cat Head

Van Beuren loved those zooming heads to end cartoons. Here’s the ending of Rough on Rats (1933), where the little kittens sway and meow to the chirpy song in the background.

The black kitten looks angry but changes its expression as the head zooms forward to greet the audience.

Historian/animator Mark Kausler believes the first time this was done was in The Fly’s Bride, a 1929 Fables cartoon by Van Beuren.

Sunday 21 April 2019

Keep Smiling!

Bugs Bunny gets conned into making the Easter Bunny’s deliveries in the Bob McKimson-directed short Easter Yeggs. He has to outwit an anti-social brat and Dick Tracy-hatted Elmer Fudd over the course of seven minutes.

With the brat and Elmer disposed of, writer Warren Foster comes up with a lovely way to wrap up the cartoon. The scene pans over to a large egg, which the Easter Bunny picks up for delivery.

A fuse attached to the egg is revealed. Ah, ha! Now we know Bugs is going to get his revenge.

“It’s the suspense that gets me,” Bugs tells us (a little too quickly, in my opinion; as suspense hasn’t been allowed enough time to build). Then the blast. Cut to the aftermath.

Through the whole picture, the Easter Bunny has been telling Bugs “Remember, keep smiling!” (Stolen from Mel Blanc’s postman character on the Burns and Allen radio show). Now it’s Bugs’ turn, then he laughs as the iris closes.

For whatever reason, this cartoon was not released at Easter. It appeared in theatres starting June 28, 1947.

Rochester and the Future

Rochester was a great character.

Sure, Jack Benny paid him next to nothing, and had him do just about everything for him. But Rochester really ran Benny. He wore his clothes, drank his booze, smoked his cigars, sat around if he didn’t feel like working, ran around with women when the plot called for it (and faithfully stuck with Susie when the plot called for it), and caroused with his Lodge buddies, winning cash from them on occasion. In the later years, the writers gave Rochester a buddy (played by fine character actor Roy Glenn) to set up his jokes.

Eddie Anderson’s distinctive voice no doubt helped his character, too, though I understand he exaggerated it for radio.

Benny showed his genius at casting when Anderson’s one-shot appearance as a stock porter character was so popular, he found a way to put him in the show on a regular basis. Anderson soon got cast in Benny’s films and critics praised him. There were even gags on the Benny show about Rochester’s fan mail.

When the Benny series went off the air in 1965, Rochester appeared in a couple of specials. Benny died in 1974. Here’s what Anderson was doing post-Benny. This syndicated column appeared January 5, 1976. Anderson died in 1977.

Eddie's Not Living In Past At 70, He Wants To Produce
Copley News Service
HOLLYWOOD — Eddie Anderson, who for almost 30 years as the sassy “Rochester” served Jack Benny well, turned 70 last September, but he’s not living in the past. Instead, he’s looking forward to producing a picture from a script he's writing.
“It’s a comedy,” says Anderson, “Integrated.
“I can’t tell you whether it’s going to be like ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ or any of the other recent comedies or not because I haven’t seen them.”
A studio or so is interested in the project, Anderson continues, and so are one or two friends with money who might bankroll the production.
Asked whether the humor in his picture will be more visual or verbal, the comedy star doesn't seem to understand the question. One gets the feeling that his hearing’s not perfect, but, otherwise, Anderson seems to be in lively good health.
He says he is, continuing:
“I’m 70 years old, but a man’s true age depends on how he feels, and I feel fine.”
Anderson, whose pebbly voiced, pert-mannered Rochester made him almost as well known as Jack Benny during the three decades they worked together in radio, television and films, was born in Oakland, Calif., and entertained in vaudeville and nightclubs before Benny’s radio show signed him for a single performance. “I first met Mr Benny when I went for an interview for the part,” Anderson remembers.
“It was supposed to be a one shot, but he got so much mail about me that he kept me on.”
As a result of his success with Benny, Anderson not only worked in pictures with his radio and television boss but also appeared in a number of others without him, notably “Jezebel,” “Cabin in the Sky,” and even “Gone With the Wind.” His final film appearances to date were in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World” and “Divorce, American Style,” in which he played a cameo role.
“But,” Hollywood's most uppity butler assures, “I get calls to work in various television shows, and someday I may do a spot.”
Since Anderson eschews the paths of glory, living quietly in a solid but less than fashionable section of Los Angeles and ignoring the premieres and glittering party scene, it’s a miracle that his fan mail finds him.
Yet he receives encouraging quantities of it, much from young people and college students to whom he’s a new personality.
Since Rochester was a comedy figure and a white man's domestic, one would imagine that he’s been target for the kind of criticism that killed “Amos and Andy.” But Anderson says all the mail he's received has been complimentary.
“Mostly people just write and say they’ve enjoyed this performance or that, or that they thought Rochester was funny,” he claims.
Like most rational fathers, Anderson is extremely proud of his children, including two daughters in college, a son in high school, and another son who was a star athlete until he fractured a knee.
“That’s my son Billy,” he says. “He made quite a mark in sports. He played at Compton (Calif.) Junior College, and then he played two seasons with the Chicago Bears. And he was on the all-Army team.
“Billy had been hired by the Chargers, but then he fractured his knee and that put him out of football. “He was a good all-around athlete. “Now he’s manager of a maintenance company, and he’s doing well at that, too.”
So far, none of Anderson’s children has shown any desire to become a performer, though their father thinks. “All of them have indications of talent. “But I don’t care whether they go into show business or not.”
Asked how he spends his own free time, Anderson claims, “I stay pretty busy working on my script.”

Saturday 20 April 2019

Canadian Designs in Motion

A wonderful book by John Halas and Roger Manvell called “Design in Motion” was compiled in 1962 and looks at examples of animation design styles from various parts of the world.

Unfortunately, little of the book is in colour.

Here are some examples from Canada.

Unlike the United States, Canada didn’t have huge movie studios that owned theatres and released or distributed features and short films. Pretty much all the movies in the Golden Age were American or British imports. Cartoons came from the U.S.

This situation brought about the Canadian government forming the National Film Board in 1939. Its function was to make films (generally short films) about Canada for Canadians, eventually allowing their release elsewhere. I’m sure there wasn’t a kid in the 1960s who didn’t see at least one NFB film at school.

Being a government agency, independent animators gratefully received federal funding for their work or experiments. Their work began to be exhibited at international festivals and receive praise. Here are some examples from the Halas/Manvell book:

Gerald Potterton has had a fine career. Besides his NFB work, he animated on The Yellow Submarine, directed Heavy Metal and contributed to Sesame Street and The Electric Company. My favourite film of his is the live-action The Railrodder (1965), a silent film starring Buster Keaton (with musical and effects accompaniment).

Norman McLaren headed the animation portion of the NFB in the early days, and later won an Oscar for Best Documentary for the stop-motion allegory Neighbours (1952).

Kaj Pindal, correct me if I’m wrong, directed or animated a series of anti-smoking public service messages that aired on Canadian TV some 45 years ago. The narrator on them was radio talk-show host Pat Burns, who smoked like a proverbial chimney in real life.

We’ve posted other bits from the book before (see some drawings of the NBC Peacock by Bill Littlejohn for Playhouse Pictures in this post. You can read the book at ARCHIVE.ORG.

Friday 19 April 2019

Ginsboig, You Say?

“Ginsberg’s house is burning down,” sing the cats that fill an apartment building in the Terrytoons cartoon Hook and Ladder Number One (1932).

“Ginsberg” is the cue for some Jewish jokes, including a fire call-box with a ball on top that grasps its head and moans “Oy! Oy! Oy!”

With that, the Jewish part disappears.

Film Daily called the cartoon “An outstanding number in the Terry-Toon series.” That’s even though the animation is stiffer and cruder than any Fleischer cartoon of the same period. But it has plenty of mice and turns into an opera about half-way through, a format that was glommed onto Mighty Mouse by the studio some years later.