Thursday 30 March 2023

The Great Lov-aire

Charles Boyer’s Oscar-nominated performance as the womanising Pepe Le Moko in Algiers (1938) inspired a lot of Boyer impressions (almost always including the word “Casbah”), not to mention the basis of Pepe Le Pew at Warner Bros., though Mel Blanc didn’t impersonate Boyer.

However, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera employed Boyer’s voice (by Jerry Mann, I suspect) in Solid Serenade (1946), a cartoon best known for Tom singing “Is You Is, Or Is You Ain’t, My Baby.”

In this scene animated by Mike Lah (who drew Tom with more angles and little teeth), the cat mistakes Killer the dog for his girl-friend cat, emoting a la Boyer “You set my soul on fire.” Of course, his eyes are closed, so he doesn’t know it’s the dog.

Scott Bradley plays “That Old Feeling” in the background.

Toodles (or whatever name she is here) strolls over. Tom opens his eyes and realises something is wrong. The reactions are all in pantomime.

Cut to a wider shot as Tom extricates himself from the scene.

Besides Lah, Ed Barge and Ken Muse are credited animators, though Ray Patterson was responsible for the opening and Pete Burness turned out footage as well.

Note: This post was written before Keith Scott's book on cartoon voice actors came out. Jerry Mann is pretending to be Boyer in a soundtrack re-used from The Zoot Cat (1944).

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