Archive | April, 2010

Do Not Fold, Spindle, Mutilate, Stretch Or Squash Me: The Spirit Of My Favorite Cartoons Realized As Flesh-and-Blood Personalities….

11 Apr
CGI version of Yogi Bear

Need there be any better example of why "updated", live-action versions of our favorite cartoons don't work? From

by Kevin Wollenweber

There has been talk on so many cartoon or classic movie-related websites coming from disgruntled fans of older animated characters who justifiably wince at these beloved older characters being reinvented as live action figures, in some way believable by a more sophisticated movie-going audience.  I know I cringe at the possibilities on the table of yet another reincarnation and reinvention of Tom & Jerry, now as CGI figures, along with Yogi Bear, with Booboo being rumored to receive the voice talents of Justin Timberlake!!  Huh?

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Freeze Frame Friday 4/9/10: Ripples Of Tiles, Waves of Wheat

9 Apr

Grandpa Mouse "swimming" in a flood of grain

Fantastic effects: A cantankerous old mouse swims desperately against literal "amber waves" of grain, the highlight of the occasionally confusing THE FIELD MOUSE (above); meanwhile, the Wallace Beery-inspired Papa Bear holds his own against a similar "tide" in A RAINY DAY ( below, right)

by Rachel NewsteadPapa Bear fights a "tide" of roofing shingles

If ever there were an argument for the full restoration of the Harman-Ising MGM cartoons, it can be found not only in that favorite of  Kevin and mine, Circus Daze, but in the two cartoons we’ll be discussing this week: The Field Mouse (1941) and A Rainy Day (1940). The grainy images I’ve included here hardly  do them justice; I can’t begin to image how they must have appeared on movie-theater screens. Continue reading

Going Upscale

7 Apr

Frame of pampered cat from "The Aristo-Cat"

Houston, we have a domain.

Because we wish to attract more traffic–and because the old URL was so devilishly hard to type–the Test Pattern has moved to a pricier neighborhood, so to speak. As of midnight last night, the address is Fortunately, those of you who have our old address bookmarked (if there are any out there) will still be able to use it–you’ll be rerouted here.

You may already have noticed the blog has a different look. This is a new WordPress template called “ChaoticSoul”, and not only is it sleeker than the one we were using, it’s the only new template that didn’t require us to put our “Cecil as test pattern” header up all over again.

We’re planning a few more “tweaks” as finances permit–like the ability to embed our own video and audio–but for now, make yourself comfortable in the new surroundings.

“Remember…Keep Smiling!”: It’ll Be Hard NOT To In EASTER YEGGS (1947)

4 Apr
Bugs and the sad-eyed rabbit from EASTER YEGGS

If Bugs knew what he was in for, he'd be even more skeptical than he is in this scene from EASTER YEGGS (1947).

by Rachel Newstead

Easter Yeggs

Release Date: June 28, 1947

Director: Bob McKimson

Writer: Warren Foster

In Short: If you sub for the Easter Bunny, make sure you have a good hospital plan and a bullet-proof vest….

Every Easter, I have a tradition.

I do my hair, put on my makeup, select my best outfit and go to the local Radisson for brunch. Then I come home and watch today’s cartoon.

Like most traditions, the roots for this one are long and deep; decades ago, long before I knew enough about animation to dislike Bob McKimson, Easter Yeggs would make me hold my sides with laughter. For me, such a reaction happens rarely enough that I make note of  it when it does;  if a cartoon makes me laugh repeatedly, I mentally enshrine it among the Classics, to be viewed and viewed again. Easter Yeggs has never failed to raise a laugh from me, not even after thirty-five years of viewing. Continue reading

Buddy Says ‘Bye-Bye’: Buddy The Gee Man (1935)

4 Apr
Buddy with false mustache, scowling in mirror

Agent Buddy examines his clever undercover disguise in BUDDY THE GEE MAN

by Rachel Newstead

Buddy The Gee Man

Release Date: Aug. 24, 1935

Director: Jack King

In Short: In his very last appearance, Buddy’s one of the Feds, and investigates a prison warden who hates music. An act, of course, unforgivable in a Buddy cartoon….

Say the name “Buddy” and “Looney Tunes” in the same sentence to an animation fan–try it. I dare you.

But before you do it, I highly recommend a good, solid industrial headset to drown the resulting eardrum-liquefying screech of outrage.

Let’s face it, of all the Looney Tunes characters, Buddy is not only the last one we’re likely to remember, but the one we most want to forget.

But how fair is that, really? It’s something I never really gave much thought, until this recent e-mail question from Kevin:

…do you really think that Buddy is a wholly uninteresting character? I guess I’m getting more out of the soundtracks than you are out of the visuals….

Such a simple question, yet so difficult to answer. Kevin has an annoying way of doing that with his questions, making me ask myself why I like what I like. I mean, there are Buddy cartoons I actually enjoy, but the character….

I suppose the best answer would be “yes”–with qualifications.  I do think Buddy is completely uninteresting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I dislike the cartoons that feature him. They can be quite enjoyable, almost despite themselves. But they would be just as enjoyable, I think, if Buddy weren’t there.

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Still Here–And Boy, What I Have In Store….

2 Apr

by Rachel Newstead

If I have one flaw, it’s this: one little comment is often enough to send me into a depressive tailspin.

I didn’t react well to Bob Jaques’ recent comments on my recent Freeze Frame Friday post. Though I know, intellectually, that he was only trying to be helpful, I became so self-conscious over the last week or so that it has become difficult, if not impossible, to write anything without second-guessing myself. Consequently, I haven’t been around much lately.

Fortunately, the bout was temporary and my confidence has returned. It has not, however, returned quickly enough to do a Freeze Frame Friday this week. That feature will, however, return on April 9, with a look at a cartoon that is perhaps Hugh Harman’s single finest work, The Field Mouse. There’ll also be a bit of a surprise. What that will be, I’d rather not say–you’ll have to, as they used to say on TV, tune in next week.

I can, however, give you an idea of what’s in store over the next few days:

  • Buddy has to be the “Rodney Dangerfield” of cartoon characters, but is that reputation deserved? You’ll find out what I think tomorrow when I talk about the last–and possibly the best–Buddy cartoon, Buddy The Gee Man.
  • As you might have already guessed, I love early television as much as I do cartoons, and have a little piece for your consideration about the man who invented the home video recorder–in 1928.
  • If you ever needed proof that Pinto Colvig was as much an actor as a voice man, you need look no further than the 1942 Ding Dog Daddy, which I’m going to review.

The time I’ve spent away hasn’t been entirely unproductive–in addition to enjoying some unseasonably warm spring weather for Wisconsin, I’ve been haunting Stu Shostak’s Shokus Internet Radio site. I have to tell you, this is one of the net’s little undiscovered treasures, especially Shostak’s own Stu’s Show. This week our friend Mr. Shostak has as his guest the king of oddball radio, Dr. Demento–a man who introduced me to the novelty records of a fellow named Benny Bell.  It’s been airing since Wednesday, but repeats will run for the next few days.  I strongly urge you to catch Stu and The Demented One tomorrow at 7 PM Eastern Daylight Time. You were warned….

More Sound and Vision Of An Innocent Quality From The “Wide-Eyed” Age

1 Apr
March Of The Wooden Sodiers

The wooden sodiers come alive, in Hal Roach's 1934 film BABES IN TOYLAND (a.k.a. MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS)

by Kevin Wollenweber
Well, obsessing as I often have far too much time to do over comments I’ve made about memories of visual effects in movies or cartoons, I think I figured out what is so surreally humorous or interesting about “under-cranked” or time-lapsed photography used in comedy or to enhance action.  First of all, the best such photography occurs when the subjects can be taught to play along with the effect.  If, for example, you’re trying to convey unbridled chaos in a crowd situation, you could slow the camera down and have the actors in the crowd move at regular speed, but they should do so as if oblivious to their surroundings.  In so doing, if, say, the situation is for crowds of frantic shoppers to move along tightly populated  aisles of merchandise, grabbing at things over and around other shoppers also grabbing at things, they should do so as if they were “programmed” to do what they are doing, like the wooden soldiers in the Stan & Ollie version of “BABES IN TOYLAND/MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS”. Continue reading