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Category Archives: Animation

Color Me Intrigued

Things I Didn’t Know Dept.: in 1967, animation legends Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera created a pilot for an anthology series called The World-Color It Happy. Check out the opening credits below, and wonder how something with Woody Allen amongst its writers and a nifty theme song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David never caught on with TV execs. Strangely, Hanna’s autobiography doesn’t say a word about this project. Where’s the rest of it?

Playing with the Queen of Hearts

Normally I don’t go for sexy cartoon art, but Amy Mebberson’s Disney Retro Pinups are a gorgeous exception. They have a lot of flair and go well beyond the realm of (it gags me to type this) “fan art.” Check out more of Mebberson’s work at her weblog. (via the comments on this Cartoon Brew post)

Weekly Mishmash: January 4-10

Jaws (1975). Back in the summer of ’75, I was too young to see Jaws. I distinctly remember my dad, older brother and uncle going to see it while my mom, aunt, younger brother and I had a fun filled dinner at the local Farrell’s ice cream parlour. I finally got to see it a few years later and was blown away. A recent re-viewing confirms that it’s an extremely well made suspense thriller that maybe has been tainted a bit by the “blockbuster” mentality it subsequently spawned in the industry. The movie actually boasts a flawless cast (even the nepotistic Lorraine Gary does a good job in the wifey role), and Spielberg perfectly evokes a ramshackle seaside town dependent on the summer tourist trade. It didn’t make us want to avoid swimming in the ocean, but we had a blast nonetheless.
The Last Mogul (2005). A blah documentary on a fascinating figure deeply entrenched in Hollywood history. Lew Wasserman was a powerful (and shady) agent turned mogul whose encyclopedic career peaked when he was appointed studio head at Universal in its ’70s and ’80s heyday (the film even touches on the making of Jaws). I suppose one could fashion an interesting documentary on this enigmatic fellow, a la Robert Evans with The Kid Stays In The Picture. If only it were half as slickly entertaining as Kid… Alas this one plays a bit like a static old A&E Biography episode, complete with stodgy narration and the same blurry photos used repeatedly. Although only produced four years ago, I noticed that most of the people who knew Wasserman best are now dead (coincidence?).
Looney Tunes New Years Day Marathon (Cartoon Network). With our Ti-Faux running overtime, we recorded 12 hours of this — and, as of yesterday, we’re only halfway through. Sure, these are the faded and “dubbed” mid-’90s prints, but I’ll take any Looney Tunes I can get. Why don’t they show this stuff more often? Better yet, wouldn’t it be cool if Warners, Disney and all the other studios got together and started an all retro cartoon network? I’d never leave the house if that happened.
The Love Bug (1968). This dated yet charming vehicle (there, I had to say it) closed out my Disney live action film viewing marathon. I saw this as a wee tyke and thought it was fun. Now it seems too talky and slow-going in the first half, but by the climactic race’s end I was won over by how the filmmakers endowed delightful personality on a mass of metal and rubber (the title VW, sillies). By this time I was so Disneyed out that the sequel, 1974’s Herbie Rides Again, went unwatched on the DVR.
Mommie Dearest (1981) and Disco Dancer (1983). Observations on re-watching Dearest: 1. In kabuki-ish makeup, Faye Dunaway doesn’t really look or act like Joan Crawford at all. She’s so over the top, in fact, I’m not surprised this was a career-crippling role for her. 2. Dunaway’s costumes by Irene Sharaff are absolutely stunning. 3. The many scenes with Dunaway abusing little Mara Hobel are admittedly difficult to watch. I know it’s acting, but they’re almost too effective. 4. Christina Crawford seems like a spoiled brat who deserved it all and more. This and Disco Dancer made for a very kitschy week. Both revolve around entertainers, and both are about as subtle as Paris Hilton in a thong. On the latter, I’ve already said what needs to be said — dorky to the extreme!
Paranoid Park (2007; added 1/12). After the greatness of Milk, director Gus Van Sant’s previous effort comes across as average and “been there, done that” to me. The thin plot follows a disaffected Portland teen in shifting time perspectives as he accidentally causes a death. Van Sant uses a lot of slow-mo or long takes of skating kids, or the back of someone’s head as they’re walking — but where those techniques were effectively used in 2003’s Elephant, here it just seems self-indulgent (and, given Van Sant’s fascination with high school boys, more than a bit pervy). The film does have its share of good scenes, but overall it suffered from too much padding and a familiar story not strong enough to hang a feature length film upon.

Not Even a Mouse

When it comes to yuletide cartoons, honestly, how can you pick just one? The 1941 Tom & Jerry cartoon short The Night Before Christmas was C’s pick for some holiday-themed viewing last night. Sweet sentiment, wonderful background paintings, and classic animation are in abundance on this one. It’s available commercially on the Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection, Vol. 2 DVD set. Happy holidays, everyone!

Greetings from Termite Terrace

Even if it’s not strictly a Thanksgiving cartoon, I always associate Friz Freleng’s 1940 Merrie Melodie The Hardship of Miles Standish with the holiday. An overlooked fave in the Warner Bros. canon, maybe because I just can’t resist a good Edna May Oliver impersonation. Keep an eye out for the cursing Indian:

Like many others, we at are taking a little break during the holiday. Have a great weekend, people!

California Girl

Swindle magazine interviews L.A.-based artist Amanda Visell (via the wonderful Grain Edit). Looking around Amanda’s website, I’d say she has the “twisted ’50s animation study” look down pat. Lovely, lovely work. I would so love to have a framed print of this one in my bedroom:

Amanda Visell