In the spirit of past commercial/industrial/educational animation we’ve highlighted – Disney’s VD Attack Plan or The Story of Menstruation come to mind – we present Gillette’s new series of animated web tutorials on How To Shave.
I always love an excuse to post an obscure Walter Lantz cartoon from the 1930s featuring swing music, rotoscoped dancers and un-P.C. stereotypes, set against the backdrop of an animation studio. The excuse this time is a Lantz in-house memo (below left – click thumbnail to enlarge) that collector Eric Calande just sent me. Lantz asks the staff (“Dear Gang”) to contribute gags to this cartoon, with prizes ranging from $2 to $10 for the best ideas. Note that the memo is dated September 26th 1938 and the cartoon was released January 23rd 1939. From board to screen in four months!? Perhaps the rush to cash in on “a fad” necessitated a production crunch. Also note the set up to this premise pre-dates Friz Freleng’s Looney Tune You Ought To Be In Pictures by a year.
Though the Jitterbug character never reappeared, the concept of this cartoon was the basis for several other swing music cartoons, and the forerunner of the Swing Symphonies series Lantz initiated in 1941. Despite the title card, this was not an Oswald Rabbit cartoon – it was actually one of Lantz’s miscellaneous Cartune series (it was released to TV in the 1950s in the Oswald television package). Frame grabs from the original titles are posted below (click thumbnails to enlarge)
Dreamworks Animation announced its release slate today. Here’s what’s coming up:
How to Train Your Dragon will be released on March 26, 2010. Written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois about a teenager who fights dragons as a way of life.
Shrek Forever After will be released on May 21, 2010. Directed by Mike Mitchell.
Oobermind (formerly titled Master Mind) will open on Nov. 5, 2010. Directed by Tom McGrath and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey; It’s about a super villain (Oobermind) who falls into despair after defeating his foe, the super hero Metro Man.
Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom will be come out June 3, 2011. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Panda will feature the return of the original voice cast including Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman.
The Guardians, based on forthcoming books by William Joyce, will be released on Nov. 4, 2011. The world’s five unlikeliest heroes – Jack Frost, North (aka Santa), Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny), Tooth (the Tooth Fairy), and Sandy (the Sandman) band together to stop an ancient spirit called Pitch (the Boogeyman) from plunging the world into eternal darkness. Sounds intriguing.
Puss In Boots will be released on March 30, 2012. Antonio Banderas is back as Puss, who tackles an evil Humpty Dumpty and a street-savvy Kitty who have stolen the famed Goose that lays the Golden Eggs.
Another Madagascar sequel will be released on May 25, 2012.
On Nov. 2, 2012, the company plans to release one of three projects currently in pre-production: The Croods directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco, about a caveman; Truckers about a society of tiny beings living in a department store; or an untitled Super Secret Ghost Project, about â€¦ ghosts.
The latest film by Oscar nominee Tomek BagiÅ„ski (The Cathedral, Fallen Art) will be released to theatres in Poland next month. The Kinematograph is based on one of Mateusz Skutnik’s steampunk Revolutions graphic novels. For more info check the Platige Image website.
I hadn’t seen this before, but thanks to You Tube we now know that long before Robert Smigel and TV Funhouse, a short-lived British sketch comedy show The End of Part One (1979-80), also featured a parody of limited animation TV cartoons:
Animation writer Antony (Tony) Peters passed away this past Sunday in New York. He was a longtime Asifa-East board member and veteran animation story artist on several Rankin-Bass classics, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Willie McBean & His Magic Machine and Tales of the Wizard of Oz. He also wrote episodes of Rocket Robin Hood and Grantray-Lawrence’s Marvel Super Heroes cartoons of the 1960s. Since then, he produced dozens of industrial and commercial films out of his studio, Instant Miracles in New York. David Levy has posted a proper obit on the Asifa-East website.
I met Tony once about fifteen years ago in New York and told him I was a big fan one his work on the 1960s Paramount cartoons. We both agreed his best film was The Itch (1965) – he was quite proud of it, in fact. So was Howard Post, its director, who told me how he decided to tell the story with Ronald Searle-inspired art style – and how he convinced actress Hermione Gingold, appearing on Broadway at the time, to come in to record, uncredited, the part of the wife. It hasn’t been shown much at all, and is one of the best cartoons the studio ever made — so here in tribute to Tony Peters, is The Itch:
Animator Hans Perk (whose wonderful Disney-centric blog is an essential read) has just posted a very rare find: a 1932 Disney party invitation to celebrate the switch in studio distribution from Columbia Pictures to United Artists. Hans points out that the invite is written by “Mickey” himself and suggests to current writers for the Mouse that “This is how Mickey should talk.” I agree.
I went to the movies last night (Terminator Salvation). Saw posters for what looked like a new animated film, Aliens In The Attic. But alas, as the trailer below shows, the film is actually a hybrid. The posters played up the CG aliens, not the live action cast (which includes teen queen Ashley Tisdale, comedians Kevin Nealon and Andy Richter). It looks stupid – and probably is. I thought you should be warned.
The CG characters were created at Rhythm and Hues.
It’s rare when Disney comics get a write-up in The Wall Street Journal, so today’s piece on the popularity of The Donald (Duck, that is) is long overdue. Disney’s comics are indeed more popular in Europe, and the standard characters (aka Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto) are more well known today to children internationally than they are here in the USA. Susan Bernofsky does a good job explaining why Deutschland digs the Duck.
The Little Mermaid reunion in Burbank last night was a blast. Co-Directors John Musker and Ron Clements (and panelists including Andreas Deja, Reuben Aquino, Mark Henn, Duncan Marjoribanks, moderator Tom Sito, among others) told great stories on how the film got made and the highs and lows of casting, production, test screenings and the ultimate public reaction to the final product. (Asifa-Hollywood recorded the panel on video).
During the Q & A portion, John Musker mentioned seeing a remarkable (and a bit scary) You Tube video of Nick Pitera and his cover of Part Of Your World. Check it out below:
Even more interesting is Pitera’s “duet” of A Whole New World from Musker and Clement’s Aladdin.
Opening today in New York, L.A. and San Francisco is a wonderful documentary on the career of songwriters Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman – the Sherman Brothers of Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Winnie The Pooh, Charlotte’s Web and Snoopy Come Home fame. I saw this film the other night and it was very entertaining (loaded with their songs) and very enlightening (loaded with surprisingly intimate information about the duo).
It’s a really good film, but publicity for The Boys is not so good – and I think the film will only play for one week (in L.A. at the The Regent in Westwood, the AMC Meteron in San Francisco and Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Houston Street in NYC). Check it out this weekend – you’ll be glad you did.
I don’t actually recommend this film, but in the interests of animation history (and as a connoisseur of animation “worsts”) I must note the public screening this Saturday of Once Upon A Girl (1976) at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood. The program begins at 10pm preceded by several hardcore porno-toons, including the silent-era classic Buried Treasure.
Once Upon A Girl was created in the wake of Fritz The Cat. If you ever wanted to know what an X-rated Filmation cartoon would look like… here it is. Strangely enough, it was actually made by a bunch of Hanna Barbera artists led by Don Jurwich. Larry Huber, Joel Seibel, and Barry Bunce are among the familiar names in the animation crew. And yes, that’s voice actor Hal Smith – in drag – as Mother Goose in the live action scenes. Here’s a censored version of the trailer: