Thursday, 12 September 2019

Popcorn Chicken

Tex Avery used exaggerated takes. Bob Clampett had animators who could stretch parts of characters in all kinds of ridiculous directions. Of course, this was in the late ‘30s and into the ‘40s.

Toward the middle 1930s, you wouldn’t find this very much in animated cartoons, certainly not at the Harman-Ising “We Wanna Be Disney” studio. In The Lost Chick (released in 1935), a pair of squirrels feed the little bird all they have in their home to eat—popcorn. The chick backs toward a fire with predicable results.

Here are some frames. The animation of the popcorn exploding inside the chick’s stomach is pretty tame and not all that funny.

The characters still look like something out of a Merrie Melodies cartoon a few years earlier; the designs would get more sophisticated by the end of the decade as Harman and Ising did their best to imitate Walt Disney’s shorts.

MGM pushed the Happy Harmonies cartoons in all the major film publications; to the right, you see a full-page ad. They generally got favourable reviews; the “Motion Picture Reviews” newsletter published by the Women’s University Club in Los Angeles called it “A delightful color cartoon.” One small town theatre manager wrote in the Motion Picture Herald “Every one of this series seems better than the previous one. They are bringing out some of the two and three-year-old kiddies and their parents. They are enjoyed as much as the feature.” Another said: “One of the best colored cartoons of the year. Give it preferred time.” Still another proclaimed it was “Delightful. In fact it's so good, I'm thinking of repeating it.” Another raved “You will not see a better all-color cartoon than this. I only wish they were all as good.”

The cartoon was one of the last in red-green Technicolor; the studio switched to full colour with The Old Plantation.

My thanks to Devon Baxter for the frame grabs.

1 comment:

  1. The cartoon DOES make the chick seem to be ready to fart or poop out popcorn. LOL!