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Category Archives: Animation

Nine Nations, Animated

My review of the shorts collection Nine Nation Animation has been posted at DVD Talk. This package of animated shorts from Europe includes the cute (and weird) German short Please Say Something, excerpted below.

The clip has French text, which is in English on the DVD.

Magoo, You’ve Done It Again

Here’s the first half of the Count of Monte Cristo episode of the animated series The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, which ran on NBC (in prime time!) in the 1964-65 season. I’m getting acquainted with this show since reviewing the upcoming Mr. Magoo on TV Collection DVD set from Shout! Factory. The box also includes the other two Magoo series, The Mr. Magoo Show (1960-61) and What’s New, Mr. Magoo? (1977), along with the 1970 special Uncle Sam Magoo. That’s a lotta Magoo!

The Famous Adventures show, which puts Magoo in various well-known historical events and pieces of literature, might be the most interesting one. Unlike the others, I’d never heard of this show and don’t remember it at all from my childhood. There aren’t a lot of gags relating to Magoo’s blindness, but it’s a lot of fun with a kicky, ’60s feel.

Piggies

Before we took in Contagion at the theater today, this animated commercial for the Mexican food chain Chipotle was playing. As they describe it:

The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

It’s totally charming, and the Willie Nelson song playing on it adds a haunting edge to the cute-style animation.

Politically Incorrect Theatre

The spouse and I spent some time a couple of nights ago looking up all of the Warner Bros./Looney Tunes “Censored Eleven” on YouTube (thank you, Tivo Premiere). We found ten of the eleven, including a nice print of the 1936 Merrie Melodie Sunday Go To Meetin’ Time seen below. Directed by Termite Terrace stalwart Friz Freleng, this is a typical faux-Silly Symphonies outing of the day with lots of great gags and fun music. It was placed amongst the eleven for its stereotypical treatment of black characters, but for the most part the humor is pretty benign. African-Americans may find it offensive, or they may find it a fascinating little window (as I do) on how mainstream culture viewed black communities in the 1930s.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Warner giving all of the “Censored Eleven” a tasteful presentation on DVD. It’s supposedly on the way later on this year (originally planned for Warner Archive, but now I hear it will be a full-fledged retail release). Whatever the case may be, outright censorship is never the answer when it comes to politically incorrect pop culture of the past. Complain all you want, but let me be the judge of whether something is offensive or not.

Betty Boop in So Does An Automobile (1939)

With my Flick Clique post yesterday, I (once again) forgot to mention that I’ve taken to having certain movies preceded with a vintage cartoon from the same year the movie was released. For Greta Garbo in Ninotchka, I selected the late-period Betty Boop So Does An Automobile. At this point Betty was redesigned to have more human proportions, and she’s considerably less saucy than in her early ’30s efforts. It’s still a charmer, however, with lots of the jazzy anthropomorphic gags that Max and Dave Fleischer were famous for.

Either Orient Proposition

The 1935 cartoon The Chinese Nightingale was part of the “Happy Harmonies” series produced by Rudolph Ising and Hugh Harman for MGM. Once one gets past the stereotypical characters, it’s quite a charmer with a uniquely decorative look rendered in orange and turquoise two-strip Technicolor (apparently at this point Disney still had the exclusive rights to three-strip Technicolor, which produced a more realistic spectrum of color). The Happy Harmonies at their worst were totally derivative of Disney’s Silly Symphonies, but they had lots of appeal on their own. They’ve popped up individually as extras on random DVDs, but I’m dreaming that Warner Archive will assemble all onto one easy-to-play set.