Friday, 18 October 2019

Takes of the 1920s

Here he is, that noted silent film star—Walter Lantz.

Long before Lantz hosted the Woody Woodpecker Show on TV, he co-starred on screen with his cartoon creations Dinky Doodle and Weakheart (a dog) in a series of animated shorts for Bray. Lantz’s acting won’t evoke memories of Buster Keaton, but it’s serviceable for a cartoon.

Tex Avery may have been noted for exaggerated takes but the man who was his boss on two occasions was doing it back in the mid-‘20s. In Just Spooks (1925) there are a bunch of imaginative ideas. Here’s a big eye take. Unfortunately, Lantz doesn’t start with small eyes and make them huge in four or six frames. Instead, he does a fear take with two drawings alternating, one with wiggly lines. Carlo Vinci was doing the same thing more than 30 years later at Hanna-Barbera.

There is a growth take. It’s pretty good but the timing isn’t crisp. Lantz cuts away from it too soon with the characters still in mid-air. Here’s how it starts and ends.

Clyde Geronimi gets screen credit as Lantz’ assistant.

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