Hello my friends and Happy Saturday morning. Welcome back for another selection of classic cartoons.
Today's cartoon selection begins with the Pink Panther short, In the Pink (1967). This film has everything I love about Pink Panther cartoons with a generous amount of creative slapstick and some great pantomime. With these cartoons, the filmmakers really helped keep the spirit of silent comedy alive long after the silent era had passed. This movie opens with some reused animation from Pink Panic (1967) where the Pink Panther gets out of the shower. Pink Panic was only released a few months earlier. This scene was animated by Norm McCabe. As McCabe also animated the final gag, we both start and end with his animation. Art Leonardi animates very little of this cartoon. He animates the very beginning of the shadow boxing scene (up until the shadow first punches our pink buddy out) and then Manny Gould animates the rest of the scene.
Next is Popeye's 20th Anniversary (1954). This cartoons title refers to Popeye's anniversary of when he first appeared on movie screens, which was in 1933. However the character himself had been around longer, first appearing in the Thimble Theater newspaper comic strip in 1929. As Popeye is not much for public speaking he brings along some of the movies which made him famous. The movies he brings along are the cartoons, Tops in the Big Top (1945) and Rodeo Romeo (1946). I do not know who voices the Bob Hope caricature (if any of you do let me know), but he does not sound like Bob Hope at all.
Cartoons revolving around caricatures of famous movie stars were very common during the golden age of animation. Even with this, Hollywood Steps Out (1941) remains one of the best. Much of this was due to the work of a man named Ben Shenkman. Shenkman specialized in celebrity caricatures and before this film, he had modeled the celebrity caricatures in Columbia's Mother Goose in Swing Time (1939), and the Warner Brothers cartoon, Malibu Beach Party (1940). Hollywood Steps Out stands up as his best work. The majority of voices in this movie are provided by Kent Rogers, who is best known to cartoon fans for voicing Beaky Buzzard. Mel Blanc's voice is only heard briefly here as the Jerry Colonna caricature. Sara Berner provides the female voices. This cartoon rightfully appears in Jerry Beck's book, The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.
Next comes a classic Bob Clampett cartoon with Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, Tick Tock Tuckered (1944). This was a remake of Clampett's earlier, Porky's Badtime Story (1937). In that film Porky had been teamed with the short lived Gabby Goat, in this film Gabby is replaced with the much better known Daffy. This short shows how far Clampett had come in his directing style. Tick Tock Tuckered is fast moving, constantly funny, crazy and just a pure cartoon gem through and through.
Up next is the Aesop's Sound Fables short, Western Whoopee (1930). The mouse hero and his girlfriend bare more than a passing resemblance to Disney's Mickey and Minnie. This was something that certainly didn't go unnoticed at the time. Due to the characters used here and in other shorts, Walt Disney sued the Van Beuren studio (who made this cartoon). This resulted in the end of these two mice.
Now comes the real Mickey and Minnie in Mickey's Mellerdrammer (1933). This is a top notch parody of old melodramas and never fails to get a laugh from me. This cartoon features Mickey in his earlier simple country mouse mode with a full on barn yard setting. I love this little touch to the 1920's and early 30's Mickey cartoons. According to J.B. Kaufman and David Gerstein's book, Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History, notes the the cartoon was almost finished by December 1932 when the studio decided to rework the whole movie. Some scenes were cut, some were added and most were reworked and reanimated.
Some Resources Used
The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes edited by Jerry Beck
Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons by Leonard Maltin
Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History by J.B. Kaufman and David Gerstein