Tag Archives: music

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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Before He Was “Tex”: Avery At Lantz (1930-35) Part Two

10 Feb
A sailor's tattoo getting tipsy

He may be incognito on this cartoon, but but this gag has "Tex Avery " written all over it: a sailor's tattoo gets a little woozy from the sailor's shot of booze in SHE DONE HIM RIGHT (1933)

by Rachel Newstead

Music, under the leadership of a superb musical director, can become as much a part of an animation studio’s house style as its character designs and layouts.  This is particularly true when one musician stays for decades, as Scott Bradley, Carl Stalling, and Winston Sharples did.  Some (like Stalling) are so good, we fans often forget anyone had come before (“Norman Spencer?? Who’s he?”) and try our level best to forget anyone who came after (pity poor Bill Lava).

To a certain extent, the Walter Lantz studio also fell victim to this thinking. On the rare occasion one hears “Walter Lantz” and “music” in the same sentence, it’s usually to praise the fiery, brassy swing of Darrell Calker.  Calker did contribute much to the style and mood of the early Wooody Woodpecker and Andy Panda cartoons, and one can’t imagine the Swing Symphonies without his involvement. Calker, however, was just one of many.

Our "hangdog" singer with the detachable features, from SHE DONE HIM RIGHT

In the previous decade, Lantz experimented with several people, trying to get the right sound. Frank Churchill from Disney, Frank Marsales from Harman-Ising/Schlesinger, Nathaniel Shilkre, and even onetime animator Victor McLeod each had his turn at the podium. However,  one man would leave his imprint as deeply on the Lantz cartoons of the thirties as Calker would in the forties: James Dietrich.

You’re no doubt wondering what in heaven’s name this has to do with Avery; in the case of today’s cartoon, a great deal. Avery’s gags shone when combined with the right musical score, and in She Done Him Right, Dietrich’s music made the glow even brighter. Continue reading