Saturday, September 20, 2008

Taken For A Ride Pt.3

Continuing 'Taken For A Ride' (1931 as listed in 'Of Mice and Magic' - the copyright reads 1930) and finishing it's spectacular grave yard sequence. I suppose it's a little over ambitious to cite this film as an equal to 'Swing You Sinners'. After all, SWS has armies of ghosts and a jazz score which greatly enhances the otherworldly bacchanal going on in that picture and, on the surface, appears to dwarf Joe De Nat's diminutive contribution to TFAR . Without a doubt, SWS has the better music but, then again, they are different pictures. I will elaborate on this in my next post. At any rate, TFAR is a cross-pollination of two genres: the gangster and horror/mystery film.  This is a curious subset of cartoon making which occurs more often in what today are regarded as the B-studios of the 30's (although Mintz Studios was, in my opinion, plainly producing A-quality product at this time). Another example, from what really was a B-studio, was 'The Haunted Ship' (a Van Beuren Aesops Fable from 1930) which combined two cartoon genres: the underwater cartoon with it's varieties of fish, treasure chests and shipwrecks,  and the supernatural cartoon with it's skeletons and phantoms . Of course there was one other genre: the stage musical. Almost every cartoon of this period had at least a one musical number. TFAR does too, thus making it a combination of three genres!

Krazy slips out from under the tombstones. Claustrophobia fears often appear in cartoons of this vintage. 'Bimbo's Initation' (Fleischer Talkartoon 1930)  is probably the best example. It's also interesting to note that Krazy's fear of the supernatural is underpinned by a real fear of bodily harm. After all, as the previous post illustrated, these spooks are armed!

A suspenseful moment as krazy creeps past rows of tombstones. Note the effective use of cast shadow to heighten the mood. 

He knocks on one.

Skeletal arms emerge gesturing to a bottle. What is it? Castor oil? Bootleg gin?

The arms recede as Krazy locks tombstone to grave. 

Three graves slide past as Krazy hurdles over each one. The idea that this all may be the doings of gangsters has now plainly given way to the supernatural. The gangster's costume (of the previous post) may be alive but so too are the real graves!

The third tombstone switches direction blocking Krazy's path.

Reverse angle as a distinctively Mintz skeleton emerges. He motions:  "Shhhhhhh"

The skeleton beckons to the gangster's hideout and a totally different genre!

Part 4 Coming Soon!


Anto + Jonat said...

Dear Uncle John,

Thank you for this incredible blog and especially for bringing out this amazing piece of animated weirdness. I'm studying animation in Paris right now and I'm writing my thesis about mystery and mythology inside those old cartoons - and about contemporary artists who were inspired by them.

I was actually wondering if you would be nice enough to allow me to use your images of Taken For A Ride, as I'd really like to talk about that in my text. Or, even better, if you know how to have access to such films - here in France it's not really easy. Anyway, thanks a lot for all the good things you show here.

You can contact me at : jonat.martin AT

(oh and don't pay attention to my blogger account, it's a stupid private joke but I don't have another one.)

J.V. (AKA "White Pongo") said...

Thanks! Regarding the use of copyrighted materials, the laws differ from country to country. 'Taken For A Ride' is copyrighted Columbia pictures. The DVD-R from which I've taken these images can be purchased by clicking 'Cartoon Research Garage Sale' in my links and asking for Mintz Vol.1. The format is NTSC (region 1). These may not be playable where you are.