Monday 26 September 2022

Van Beuren Craziness

The early days of sound animation in New York were fun days. Stories sometimes didn’t really exist, gags were strange. The Fleischer cartoons were ahead of everyone else, but there was enough weirdness at Terry and Van Beuren that made their shorts entertaining in spots today.

They loved morphing gags in New York, even if they didn’t make sense. Here’s a fun example from The Night Club, a late 1929 Van Beuren cartoon that’s desperately in need of restoration. A cop is following a crook. The cop swirls and, first, turns into some kind of creature rotating his feet with his hands, and then a three-headed, one man orchestra. One has a round nose that grows and shrinks as he plays the sax.

There’s a switch in the next scene. The crook turns unto a spider. The cop stretches back, flips on his head and passes out. The crook laughs (with lines that would fit a silent film but were superfluous in sound) and it’s on to the next scene.

Why do the characters do this? I guess it amused the animators.

John Foster and Mannie Davis get the “by” credits, with Carl Edouarde providing the score.

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