Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween: Midnight Frolics

Topping off my Halloween Cartoon countdown today is the Color Rhapsody "Midnight Frolics" which was released Nov.24, 1938. The 16mm print above is a real beaut but was unfortunately transferred a little dark thus obscuring the opening of the picture. I have included frame grabs from a different B&W print (which I've tinted blue) to help explain what is going on through the dark section. Happy Halloween!!

The camera pans down to a ruined front gate. The tree blows in the breeze a la Iwerks.

The camera pans right from the front gate over a dark tree-lined path to an old house. Lightning flashes intermittently. The image above is the film's proper color palette (on 16mm anyway). This film would look amazing on 35 - anyone out there seen it?

Camera trucks in on the house.

Cross dissolve to the front door of the house.

Camera trucks in as the door falls inward.

Truck-in continues through darkness until the house interior is revealed.

Camera pans left to the window shade.

The wind blows the shutter across the keys of the organ.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween: Boo Boo Theme Song

Clockin' back to 1933 for today's post and a wonderful forgotten cartoon: 'Boo Boo Theme Song'. The Screen Song cartoon was released Oct.3, 1933 (ten days earlier than Mintz' Studios' Halloween offering: 'Krazy Spooks'), and credited to Willard Bowsky and Myron Waldman. This happens to be a cartoon that I only discovered recently as it was not a 16mm direct transfer but a VHS dub of a 16mm transfer. Oh, we're getting into a pretty sick area, folks.

'Dekayo Factory'? Is this the door to my apartment?

The essential ingredient of Brown Dekayo. I am not above the cheap jokes.

Here's a depressing bit: the ghost spider is almost completely blown out. Good enough of an example of how bootleg is no threat to something properly mastered from studio or archival 35mm elements. Anyway, I've reproduced it here ... watch the eye strain!

The film contains a number of ghost animals. Barely visible here is a vulture (?) who mans the bottling line of 'Dekayo'

The spider almost looks like a proto-design for the later Dave Tendlar directed Color Classic cartoon 'Cobweb Hotel' doesn't it? Here he is below for comparison.

Of the 'Funny Boners' I unfortunately can't say: the print (like most of the 16mm Screen Songs) has had the live action musical performance removed. I did, however, discover a typo in 'Of Mice & Magic' while checking this film's release date. It credits The Funny Boners as performing on 'Down By The Old Mill Stream'. Actually that film is performed by The Eton Boys. The same credit is given in 'Fleischer Story's list of Screen Songs.

Of particular interest to both Betty Boop & Popeye fans is the short scat vocal by original Popeye voice William 'Red Pepper Sam' Costello. It certainly calls to mind another, better known, 'Red Pepper Sam' vocal from 'Betty Boop M.D.' which was released a year earlier: Sept.2, 1932.

As with some other cartoons I've posted I should note the appearance of a racial stereotype occurring at 3:40 & 4:26.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween: Seeing Ghosts

I'm bumping past the 30's today because I just couldn't let Halloween go by without posting this gorgeous Terrytoon from 1948: Seeing Ghosts! It took the Terrytoon Studios a while to catch up with the business but once they did they were doing some really beautiful stuff. Actually some of the animation may have come from an earlier film: Happy Haunting Grounds (1940). I've never seen it and it doesn't appear on the 'Garage Sale' discs so I don't know. Below however is a piece of a layout drawing (top right) which was published in Nat Falk's book ('How To Make Animated Cartoons', 1940).

While this particular drawing doesn't occur in 'Seeing Ghosts' (that I can see - perhaps I missed it?) fans of 'Lights Out' (Gandy Goose, 1940) and 'Ghost Town' (also Gandy, 1944) will recognize animation reused in the film. Of course the whole thing is based on a Disney cartoon from 1937: Lonesome Ghosts! So, not exactly original territory and Terry sure as hell was gonna get mileage out of the animation, but in spite of that this is a beautifully realized cartoon with a very 1930's style ending! One thing for sure, the cartoon has an unbelievably sumptuous color sense!

Yum. Yum.

Look at those condoms fly!


Ghost Love.

Is that my name carved on that tombstone! I'm freakin' out, man!

Here's a new wrinkle: a real ghost appears. At least it's real in the sense that it is more faithful to a traditional mythology of ghosts as unaware wandering spirits...

"I ... am shakin' ... mister!"

Moral of the story: A career in House Decoration means eternal torment. Who says cartoons aren't educational!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bonus Halloween Treat

Figured this blog needed less hot air (namely mine) and more hot-jazz: namely 'Growlin' (Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra) recorded January 21, 1935. Great music for mixing your morning wolf-bane or dragging a skull around in hell!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Halloween: Krazy Spooks

I really love the early Charles Mintz cartoons. Like the Fleischer and Iwerks Studios their aim, in my opinion, was to entertain their audience through surprise action and sheer hypnotic movement. And there was quite a lot of movement too - all delineated with practically inhuman speed and skill. These were toy characters, after all, and they moved in a way sensible to that goal. On that note I am posting what, sadly, is an incomplete print of the 1933 film "Krazy Spooks". It's a bit of a cheat actually as the only spook to make an appearance is a disguised parrot. There are other problems too: namely the issue of 'floaty' timing which in later years would become a real problem at Mintz. However, in spite of it's banal story line (which includes a cute dog with the regrettable name of 'Happy') it still brims with atmosphere worthy of note, some strong layout and design and an unbelievable ability to move and rotate objects solidly through space. It's fun ... and hypnotic. Enjoy.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Halloween: A Mad House

Well, the leaves are changing and the goblins are out going through my garbage which can only mean it's time again for my annual Halloween Cartoon countdown! To kick things off here is a real head scratcher from 1934: A Mad House. I can't imagine what audiences could have thought of seeing something like this mixed in with the feature program. Leave it to Terrytoons to wait until the film is more than half over to introduce a story line! Still I can't help but find myself humming it's contagious soundtrack. Enjoy!

It's a mad house ... A MAAD HOUSE!

First the back-story: a grandfather clock is stroking his beard and walking around.

Skeletons are doing stuff.

The Van Beuren piano playing skeleton often moonlit at Terrytoons.

Do Yo Stuff!

Terry skeletons did a lot of pool playing for some reason in the 30's

The villain finally arrives. See, the skeletons were integral to the plot!

Holy smokes! "Hello, Disney Features? Your animation is ready."

Did I mention the cartoon has cute (?) puppies?

Moral of the story: if you are a mad scientist bent on de-materializing animals ... or is it re-materializing ... or ... what the heck is this guy trying to do? Anyway don't leave large mallets hanging around your lab.

And here's the whole thing ... in Terry-motion!