Here, courtesy of Hulu, is an excerpt from last Friday’s telecast of ABC’s The View which featured the first meeting, 69 years after the fact, of the voices of Disney’s Bambi and Thumper – Donnie Donagan and Peter Behn. If anyone locates the whole View segment online, let us know:
Not every animated film is aimed at families and children. Coming next fall from Spain, Perro Verde Films and Cromosoma are coproducing a serious adult animated feature about the friendship between two senior citizens living in a nursing home. Arrugas (Wrinkles) is based on an award winning comic book by Paco Roca. I’m not expecting UP, but its heartening to know that somewhere in the world such subject matter can be produced, hand drawn, in feature length.
I saw Rango and I recommend it, despite its flaws. SPOILERS AHEAD: The first 20 minutes – up to the early scenes in the desert town of “Dirt” – and the last 15 minutes (when Rango leaves town, crosses the road and meets the “Spirit of the West”, through to the end) are fun, innovative and an almost perfect mix of art and entertainment. That’s 35 out of 100 minutes worthy of current inflated admission prices. The remaining middle section is a mash-up of western movie cliches and spaghetti westerns – with a dash of Apocalypse Now and a pinch Chinatown – that goes on a bit too long. The characters are ugly, but that’s okay – they are supposed to be grizzled desert creatures. The “emotion capture” reference footage technique won me over, though I thought Verbinski relied on way too many close ups…
…but that’s me. How about you? Comments are open below to our readers opinions – but only if you’ve seen the movie. What did you think about Rango?
P.S. Having seen the movie, I can attest that the behind-the-scenes book, The Ballad of Rango; The Art & Making of an Outlaw Film, written by longtime entertainment reporter David S. Cohen, is a perfect companion to the film. As with most of these tie-in’s, it is loaded with incredible artwork that preceeded the CG images on screen and Cohen’s text goes deep into Verbinski and ILM’s creative process. Regardless of your opinion of the film, the book is an important document of an unusual production. If you loved the film, the book is a must-have.
Loved the first one — and the second one does not look like it will disappoint:
Disney fans like to look for “hidden Mickeys” – but here’s one they may have missed. When Disney’s mouse became an overnight sensation in 1928, almost every competing studio included a Mickey-like mouse (or a Mickey-like fox or Mickey-like bear) in their films. Now it turns out that these ersatz Mickey’s weren’t confined to Hollywood cartoons.
The frame above is from a 1930s Japanese short called (roughly translated) 2nd Class Lt. Norakuro and Mickey Mouse Play Disturbance. It was recently revealed on the Japanese site, Toy Film Project, which is documenting Japanese home movie films.
Norakuro is a Japanese comic series created by cartoonist Suiho Tagawa (1899-1989), which ran from 1931 up until the early ’40s, about a black dog in a canine Army, very much inspired by the Imperial Japanese army at the time. The comic stopped when World War II broke out, but the cartoons remained popular. It was animated several times – a series of short-films in the ’30s, two TV series (1970-71 and 1987-88). This cartoon is believed to be in public domain (if you can find it) – Mickey Mouse is still protected by international trademark.
(Thanks, Nicholas Pozega and Charles Brubaker)
Please forgive me for posting this. It’s a contender for Worst Animated Feature of the year. From Australia, NSFW, submitted for your approval: Little Johnny.
Once each year at the DeMille Barn in Hollywood, the Animation Guild, ASIFA-Hollywood and Women In Animation present An Afternoon of Remembrance, “a non-denominational celebration of departed friends from our animation community”.
This year the event takes place this Saturday, March 5th, at 1pm (A reception precedes the memorial at 12 noon). Tributes will be paid to many, including:
Alex Anderson, Frank Frazetta, Heidi Guedel Garofalo, Chris Jenkyns, Kihachiro Kawamoto, Betty Kimball, Satoshi Kon Rudy Larriva, Bill Littlejohn, Carl Macek, Robert McIntosh, Tom Ray, Pres Romanillos, John Sparey and others.
The Afternoon of Remembrance is free of charge and is open to all. No RSVPs necessary. Food and refreshments, 12 noon, Memoriams, 1 pm. The Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) is located at 2100 N. Highland Ave. (across from Hollywood Bowl) in Hollywood, California.
Haven’t seen Rango yet, but apparently the villain puffs a cigarette and the film is rated PG due to scenes of smoking. This has incensed the folks at Smoke Free Movies to start a campaign to get the animated film an R rating.
They took out an ad in the Hollywood trade papers last week to call attention to Rango and 21 other Oscar nominated films from 2010 (which include Alice In Wonderland and The Illusionist) that include scenes of characters smoking. Here’s an excerpt (below) from their full page advertisement published in the March 3rd Hollywood Reporter. See the full ad here.
Animation writer, musician and most notably, movie memorabilia dealer Eddie Brandt has died. He passed away week ago Sunday, Feb. 20th, of colon cancer at age 89.
Brandt was a piano player for Spike Jones and his City Slickers, who drifted into writing animated cartoons – first for Bob Clampett on the animated Beany & Cecil cartoons, then for Hanna Barbera on Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles, Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor and The Catanooga Cats. He was best known for the past 44 years as the proprietor of Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee, the best video store in Los Angeles (Mural, above, in front of the store by Howard Freeman). His store will live on – but he will be sorely missed.
The store sells vintage movie photos and posters, and rents videos. Brandt’s is well known to have tens of thousands of movies in stock – practically every movie in existence. Mark Evanier has a nice remembrance of Eddie on his site. TCM did this tribute (below) to his store.
The winners of this years Academy Awards were announced tonight in Hollywood.
Toy Story 3 won for Best Animated Feature (Director Lee Unkrich, above).
Toy Story 3 also won Best Song, “We Belong Together” by Randy Newman.
Best Animated Short went to The Lost Thing by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan.
Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland won for both Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
A complete list of all nominees and winners is posted here.
(Pictured below, in size place, 24-hours before winning the Oscar, The Lost Thing’s director Shaun Tan, Brewmaster Jerry Beck and The Lost Thing’s key animator Leo Baker.)
Apparently the Fleischer estate has lost a court battle for the rights to Betty Boop, a character created by Grim Natwick at Max Fleischer’s studio in 1930. Fleischer Studios has been co-licensing (with King Features) the property (along with Pudgy, Grampy, Binmbo and Ko-Ko the Clown) for several decades now.
The Fleischer Studio tried to sue Avela Inc. over its licensing of public domain Betty Boop poster images (for handbags and T-shirts). The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (based in San Francisco) ruled against the Fleischers, saying in their decision, “If we ruled that AVELA’s depictions of Betty Boop infringed Fleischer’s trademarks, the Betty Boop character would essentially never enter the public domain.”
According to court documents, the Fleischer Studio originally assigned its rights to Betty Boop to Paramount Pictures on July 11, 1941. Paramount assigned those rights to Harvey Films, Inc on June 27th, 1958. Harvey actively licensed the character in the early 1960s. On May 15th 1980, Harvey Cartoons transferred “Betty Boop and her Gang” to Alfred Harvey and his brothers. Judge Susan Graber said there was no break in the chain of title.
So where does that leave Ms. Boop? No longer represented by the heirs of Max Fleischer and King Features Syndicate? Does this make Harvey Comics – or by extention, its current owner Classic Media – the owner of the property? Or is the character now in public domain.
For the record: The master film elements to original Fleischer Betty Boop cartoons are still owned by Paramount Pictures (and are maintained at the UCLA Film and Television Archive). Many of those films have legally entered the public domain, many others have not (they are still protected under copyrights held by Paramount/Viacom). We hope that someday the studio deems it fit to restore and release these classics on DVD.
UPDATE: Interesting analysis in the comments by animation historian David Gerstein:
Rough analysis (could be wrong):
The Betty Boop character is a Fleischer trademark.
But–Betty Boop 1930s movie posters were not copyrighted (or not renewed?) as standalone items, so are public domain.
Fleischer tried to use its active trademark on the character to stop a third party’s use of the ancient PD art. Judge said this was a no-go.
What I take from the judge’s ruling is that the trademark only applies to new, modern uses of the character. It can’t be used to stop people from redistributing old PD Betty images/items. Fleischer tried to say trademark trumped copyright; the judge is saying that it doesn’t.
This is actually pretty major. In recent years, Warner has used the active trademarks on Looney Tunes characters to quash third parties’ reissues of PD 1930s/40s Looney Tunes content (of which there is a lot). If the Betty decision is not reversed on appeal, then Warner is stripped of its strongest weapon against the public domain.
It can use the trademark against those who would create new Bugs Bunny items, but not against those who would exploit old PD material that Warner failed to protect.
The issue of whether Paramount legitimately sold the active Betty trademark to Harvey appears to be entirely separate, though very interesting.
Anima Studios (Kung Fu Magoo) and Illusion Studios have been producing a hand drawn movie adaptation of Hanna Barbera’s Top Cat (we first reported about it here in June 2010), primarily aimed at the South American market where the character is still incredibly popular. Warner Bros will release the movie – in 3D – to Mexican theaters this September and here’s our first look at the posters (click to see enlarged versions):
(Thanks to BleedingCool)
Something we are not showing at the Rankin-Bass tribute on Tuesday is Thundercats, the studio’s 1985 response to Filmation’s He-Man. As you may know, Warner Bros. (who now own the property) is preparing an update for Cartoon Network. And from the look of things, they may have improved upon the premise:
Forget the Governor’s Ball and the Vanity Fair bash – I’m having two Post-Oscar parties next week in L.A. and mine feature cartoons!
CARTOON DUMP – Monday February 28th at 8pm
Our monthly live comedy/cartoon revue, Cartoon Dump, goes on as usual Monday evening at 8pm! Instead of honoring the Best Animation of the year, we take pride in ripping the Worst Cartoons Ever Made! Join me, Frank Conniff (MST3K), Erica Doering, J. Elvis Weinstein, Mighty Mr. Titan and special character guest Emo Philips (as our resident Cartoon Musicology Professor) and stand-up comedy guest Kyle Kinane at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd. â€¢ Free Parking! â€¢ Advanced Tickets here â€¢ Phone: (323) 666-9797 â€¢ Map & Directions. Tell us you’re coming on Facebook!
ANIMATION TUESDAYS – Tuesday March 1st at 8pm
This month we welcome guest curators Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh of Screen Novelties as they spotlight rare Rankin-Bass goodies from their collections, as well as highlight work from the studio’s unsung heroes: the Japanese animators who were responsible for much of their aesthetic. Capping off the evening is an incredibly rare screening of the studio’s first AniMagic feature Willy McBean and his Magic Machine (1965), which follows the rollicking adventures through time of a boy and his monkey pal. Join us as we pay much-due tribute to these godfathers of pop-culture!
TV Ontario, a public broadcaster in Canada, has an amazing archive online and here’s one for us. It’s an episode of Talking Film (1980) which compiles two interviews, one with Chuck Jones, another with Friz Freleng, with interviewer Elwy Yost originally conducted for a series called Saturday Night at the Movies. Much of it we’ve heard before, but there are a few new nuggets of information and opinion – and its certainly worth a view to spend a few more minutes with Chuck and Friz:
(Thanks, Mark Conolly)
Long before The Princess and the Frog, the Genie and Pochahontas, Eric Goldberg animated this smokin’ Limara body spray commercial for Richard Williams:
(Thanks, Clint H)
Ryan Mauskopf (aka “Professor Soap”) is an illustrator, animator and musician living and working in New York City, currently the lead Graphic Designer for The Onion News Network‘s online videos. Not much happens in his film, Spirit Quest Journey, but I think that’s the point. Just a bunch of aliens walking on the moon. It makes me smile without doing a thing.
Designers Sean and Lisa Ohlenkamp decided to rearrange the bookcases:
(Thanks, Travis Gentry)
You never know where you’ll find animation history. The Coca-Cola website has just posted this obscure model sheet of their Sprite Boy mascot of the 1950s, for a proposed animated theatrical commercial. Click on image above for larger picture. The Coca-Cola Company used this character in its advertising in the 40’s and 50’s (see left). He was conceived by the soft-drink staff artist, Haddon Sundblom, famed pulp cover painter and pin-up artist who created the Coke’s version of a Santa Claus. The model sheet is labeled “Minitoons” which I believe may have been Walter Lantz’ title for a series of Coca-Cola theatrical spots. No cartoon featuring this character has ever surfaced – but interesting, huh?
(Thanks, Devlin Thompson)
Here’s one I hadn’t seen before (Thanks, You Tube) and I thought I’d share. It’s a Russian anti-war fantasy fable by Anatoly Petrov from 1978, with a great use of rotoscope.
(Thanks, Jason Deeble)
Someone just posted on You Tube several of the rarely seen 1963 King Features Snuffy Smith cartoons that were animated by Jim Tyer. Tyer is a real cult figure around here for his absolutely outrageous cartoony animation, way-off model, celebrated by the best in the business and rightly so. Not even limited animation could suppress his looney drawing style – and Tyer-philes will feast upon these links:
P.S. While we’re at it, check out the eight-minute Snuffy Smith pilot from Format Films: Snuffy’s Turf Luck. Not a very good film, but it was the first of the series, and directed by Jack Kinney and animated by Harvey Toombs (both long-time Disney veterans). Note Doodles Weaver doing his horse race routine in the cartoon. Mike Kazaleh theorizes: “I’m guessing that Joe Siracusa brought him in. They would’ve worked together when Joe (and Doodles) were in the City Slickers (Spike Jones). Or maybe Jack Kinney brought him in. He’d used Doodles earlier in Hockey Homicide. Note too that they added the Wm. Pattengill animated opening from the Paramount cartoons. I wonder if this cartoon had other titles when it was shot.”
(Thanks, Mike Kazaleh)
I don’t think we’ve ever done this before – post an entire episode from a current TV series – but this episode of The Simpsons must be seen by all loyal Cartoon Brew readers. So stop what you are doing for 22 minutes and watch Episode 14 of Season 22: Angry Dad: The Movie:
We’ve been pretty frustrated with Disney merchandising the last few days. But when Disney does something right, let’s be just as quick to note that. This “how-to” commercial for the Disney Cruise line, in the style of the old Goofy theatrical shorts, is right on the money. Hopefully they’ll make more commercials, and actual cartoon shorts, like this in the future.
(Thanks, Paul Dini)
Talk about Disney merchandising Fail. This is taking “urban” fashion to the extremes of bad taste: “roflerskatez” found this wallet for sale in Taiwan yesterday and posted it on Tumblr. It’s Chip and Dale with a lyric from a 50 Cent song called My Gun Go Off. Despite the copyright notice, this is (I hope) a knock-off.
(via Reddit WTF)