Friday 17 March 2023

Piccolos and Birds

Van Beuren’s cartoonists just didn’t have it in them in 1932.

Walt Disney had raised the bar for animation with Flowers and Trees and the Disney shorts starting looking more polished with more sophisticated animation. Audiences loved it.

Other studios tried the same thing. Van Beuren’s Feathered Follies (1932) has singing, dancing animals and nature settings, all Disney elements. The drawing is far more primitive-looking that what Walt’s people put on the screen (though better than the Aesop’s Fables that emerged immediately after sound came in). But I don’t care. There’s always some weirdness in a Van Beuren cartoon that I find appealing.

Here’s a really fun design for a bird, which scoops up a caterpillar in its mouth and plays it like an accordion before swallowing it. The song Piccolo Pete is on the soundtrack. I know this song was in another Van Beuren cartoon (a Cubby Bear short?) but I can’t find the reference. Someone here will know because Tralfaz readers are smart.

Check out this bird with flute piccolo holes in its beak.

Unfortunately, the cartoon missed a chance to do the four-conjoint-mouths-singing gag, a Van Beuren speciality.

And I don’t care what studio it is, I like this gag. A bird walks along the top wire of a fence which turns into a bar of music, with a vine forming a treble clef. The notes become birds and fly away.

The soundtrack includes “I Ain’t Got Nobody” sung by Margie Hines as a worm and Cal De Voll’s “The Whippoorwill” over the opening credits, listing John Foster, Harry Bailey and music man Gene Rodemich. Here’s a neat version of the main tune.

1 comment:

  1. Love how happy the smiling caterpillar is to be a part of the circle of life!