Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Gander at Mother Goose Is Fine in Small Doses

Release date: 5/25/1940 (according to BCDb)
DVD-Blu-Ray Availability: Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 5 DVD set, Disc 2

You may view the complete version of this cartoon HERE.

Life has kept me away from this blog, and my quixotic goal of completing it. At the rate I'm going, it may be 2025 before I'm finished--assuming that blogs, the free Internet and my sanity still exist at that future date.

A Gander at Mother Goose and its successor, Circus Today, are the calm before the creative storm for Mr. Avery. After these spot-gag efforts, his next work will change the rules of Hollywood animation--to the extent that the film, seen out of context, might not pass as anything special to the casual viewer. And you're not the casual viewer, or else you'd be looking for expensive sneakers on eBay instead of visiting this blog. So welcome to this obscure, toasty corner of the world.

A jolly swing-tinged arrangement of "Mutiny in the Nursery," the Harry Warren/Johnny Mercer collaboration that first showed up in the 1938 film Going Places, leads us into the cartoon proper--after, of course, a rare appearance by the rainbow-rings WB logo:
A thing of beauty.
 Avery tosses his first spitball into the balcony.
Robert C. Bruce, the long-suffering, ever-patient father figure who chaperones us for most of Avery's spot-gag pictures, chimes in with some warm, reassuring twaddle about turning back the pages of time and reliving cherished memories of our collective childhood days. Lovely but deceptive images back up this bogus introduction, as do Stalling's syrupy strings.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Bear's Tale: Splintered Shards of a Fractured Fairy-Tale

Release date: 4/13/1940 (according to BCDb)
DVD-Blu-Ray Availability: Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 5 DVD set

You may view the complete version of this cartoon HERE.

Still riding high, Avery & Co. return to one of the director's pet projects--trashing Disney-style fairy-tale cartoons. Light on narrative (much like Uncle Tom's Bungalow and Little Red Walking Hood), The Bear's Tale is a fourth-wall demolition derby, with the director adding his gleeful voice work to a spicy, chaotic stew.

I'd like to know who really wrote this cartoon. It's far too sophisticated, cool calm and collected to have come from the likes of "Bugs" Hardaway. I assume this title card is a typical example of Leon Schlesinger's rotating credit system.

The cartoon manages to avoid actual animation for about a minute, via novel credits that make maximal use of still images. Pages keep turning, as narrator Robert C. Bruce fools us into getting all snuggly and comfortable--as does the music of Carl W. Stalling, who was by now a master of easing us in via familiar snatches of classical and popular tunes.
 Avery kids journeyman director Mervin LeRoy, who helmed everything from Little Caesar (1930) to The Bad Seed (1956), and had a hand in a long list of enjoyable classic Hollywood product.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Cross Country Detours: Getting It Right

Release date:3/16/1940 (according to BCDb)
DVD-Blu-Ray Availability: WHV DVD of the film Virginia City

You may view the uncensored version of this cartoon HERE.

In which the Avery unit achieves its apotheosis of the spot-gag format; a cartoon this well-constructed and funny makes up for several of the limp-dicked efforts in this vein, including some dreadful ones which fall like dead bodies through the 1940 and '41 releases.

Perhaps Avery and his men were refreshed by the one-cartoon break from this highly formulaic cartoon ritual. Maybe the gag writers had a good day at the races. Whatever caused it, Cross Country Detours is a solid, witty and playful cartoon that shows Avery's hand and sees him enjoying his work again.

The combo of Lou Marcelle's* calming narration and multi-layer tracking shot is de rigeur for this cartoon genre, and away we go...
We enter Yosemite National Park, where a well-meaning animal lover chooses to violate the orders of a sign--never a good idea in Tex Averyland.