MR. BUG AT MOMA

mrbugad.jpg

Long before Paramount Pictures was affiliated with Nickelodeon Movies… a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… they had an animation studio. And before that, they contracted animated shorts and features from the Max Fleischer studio.Mr. Bug Goes To Town (1941) was the second feature film from Fleischer Studios, produced at their state-of-the-art animation facility in Miami Florida. It had the misfortune of not only being produced during a tumultuous rift between brothers Max (the producer) and Dave (the director), but during a period of heated battle between Max and Paramount Pictures. Paramount released the film during the first week of December 1941 and audiences stayed home in droves due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and our imminent entry into World War II.The film has been unjustly neglected for 65 years (so much so its latter day owners forgot to renew the copyright; the film is now in public domain and is widely available with inferior image quality). It was reissued as Hoppity Goes To Town and has become a cult favorite to a younger generation of animators and animation buffs. On New Year’s Day 2007, Mr. Bug Goes to Town will be presented at The Museum of Modern Art. If you live in, or are visiting New York City during the holidays, I urge you to GO!Here’s one reason why: The Museum has one of the only existing original Technicolor prints (with its Paramount logos and original titles intact). Most of the bad dubs on video (and the Internet) are so far from its original intended presentation, it’s pathetic. This print was shown at LACMA (L.A.’s equivalent of MoMA) several years ago and it absolutely blew my mind. The film was meant to be seen in a theater, and the vibrant colors of this print show it to be on par with anything Disney did during the same period. You’ve got two chances, Monday, January 1st at 11:00am and 2:00pm.The film also has a clever story, wonderful songs (by Frank Loesser, Hoagy Carmichael and Sammy Timberg) and great animation – and it’s a great way to start the new year.