ANIMATION ANECDOTES
August 30, 2013 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #125

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Clampett Stories. The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (1946) directed by Bob Clampett features Daffy Duck as famous detective Duck Twacy. Exactly thirty years later at the San Diego Comic-Con, Clampett showed the cartoon and answered the question whether he had any copyright problems because of its parody of Chester Gould’s famous comic strip. “I stayed away from his characters in that except for one instance when I used ‘Flattop’. But if I had a bunch of his characters, I think I would have been in trouble. Chester was rather pleased with that picture. It was sort of a tribute to him. On the other hand, Dr. Seuss was disappointed over the additions we made to Horton Hatches The Egg (1941). We never had any contact when making the picture because he was back East and I got the rights through his publishing company.” At his presentation, Clampett also shared that censors removed a scene from Gruesome Twosome (1945). Two cats, including one inspired by comedian Jimmy Durante, are sent by a girl cat to bring back Tweetie Pie for dinner. “When the two cats first appeared in the horse suit, the first cat (the Jimmy Durante one) comes out and says, ‘I’m the horse’s head’. Then the second cat comes out the back and says, “I’m the…I’m the…’ and slaps his hand over his mouth.”

Charles Bronson Vs. The Roadrunner. Action star Charles Bronson who appeared in some extremely violent films was appalled by the violence in cartoons. “It’s frightening. I watched a ‘Road Runner’ cartoon with my little girl. They dropped aa rock on the coyote and falttend him but he popped right up again. That’s really shocking to me because when a child grows up with that sort of thing, he’ll feel he can go around hitting people on the head with a hammer and they’ll be all right. The difference between someone seeing ‘Death Wish’ (1974) and my child seeing a violent cartoon is the age. My movies are rated and the people who see them are not children. ‘Death Wish’ wasn’t that extreme. It was clean violence. When I shot a man, he was shot and that was the end of it.”

screensong49Mouse Size. “In the old days of cartooning, the characters didn’t have much relationship to reality. You could put almost anything into animation and the public accepted it. But whoever heard of a four foot tall mouse? That was the problem. Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Clarabelle Cow and all the rest were drawn to scale. They were believable because they were of a relative size. Then along comes a mouse as big as they are and it stopped working. The more we got into reality, the more Mickey became an abstraction. When our pictures began to use psychology and realistic stories, Mickey Mouse became an outcast,” Disney Legend Ward Kimball commenting in 1968 on Mickey’s 40th anniversary.

Fleischer’s Bouncing Ball. In the October 1, 1977 “TV Guide” magazine with a cover feature on the new television show “Rosetti and Ryan”, it stated that the mother of star Tony Roberts was “the off screen hand that moved the bouncing ball in Max Flesicher cartoons”. Roberts’ dad was a veteran radio announcer named Ken Roberts (who narrated the Famous Studios bouncing ball cartoon, Madhattan Island (1947).

Credit Where Credit Is Due. Artist Mike Royer may be best known for his work assisting Russ Manning on “Tarzan” or inking Jack Kirby’s later comic book work or even some of his Disney promotional art but he also once worked for the animation studio Grantray-Lawrence. He did as much work as any other artist on the “Spider-Man” series but he did not receive any on-screen credit because Grantray-Lawrence had a policy that only artists who worked at their studio full time could receive credit at the end of the show. Royer did his work at home to meet his commitments illustrating stories for Gold Key comic books. Royer also worked on the original series of “The Marvel Super Heroes” cartoons for Grantray-Lawrence in 1966 and since he did his work at the studio, he is listed in the credits.

Melendez’s Philosophy. In 1979, an Emmy award winning animated adaptation of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” was broadcast on CBS. The director was Bill Melendez who at the time commented, “My philosophy on any project is to be faithful as I can to the input of the creator. All of the characters were carefully delineated by (author C. S.) Lewis and we have simply injected his characters with life. The animators were inclined to give these characters baggy pants and the like, to add some humor to the story. I said, ‘No, that’s not part of the story’. Going through the wardrobe into Narnia was very real for these kids and I have the feeling we’ve done the story just right.” Melendez also contributed to the story adaptation.

Live Action Bakshi. Ralph Bakshi wrote and directed a live action movie entitled Cool and Crazy (1994) about high school sweethearts who marry but the wife drifts into a deadly affair with a bad boy. Bakshi had been developing the film since the late 1960s and when I talked with him in the late 1970s, the film was titled If I Catch Her, I’ll Kill Her and Paramount was going to produce it. I asked him if this meant that he was forsaking animation. His reply? “I will never make a live action film out of disrespect for animation.”

Walter Lantz Reviews Fritz the Cat. Animation pioneer Walter Lantz was not pleased when Ralph Bakshi’s animated feature “Fritz the Cat” (1974) was released. He told a “Variety” reporter that “In the old days, we couldn’t even show the udder of a cow…It just doesn’t seem right to use animated animals for this kind of pornographic purpose. The people who make these films won’t be around fifty years from now, the way a few of us still are.”

Broomhilda. Early in 1978, it was announced that Russell Myers was going to produce an animated special featuring his witch character, Broomhilda, from his popular comic strip. Broomhilda (voice of Jane Webb) had already appeared in short segments of the show “Archie’s TV Funnies” (1971) and would later appear in Filmation’s Fabulous Funnies (1978) voiced by June Foray – but the animated special was never produced.

16 Comments

  • Ken Roberts was also the announcer on “Love of Life,” and even more importantly, “Love of Chair,” the drama that asks the question: “Can a boy from a small chair in a strange room find happiness as a standout at a sit-in?”

    • Oh, a classic indeed Greg!

  • I never bought Ward Kimball’s theory that Mickey Mouse’s “outcast” status was due to his size being so unrealistically out of proportion to that of his co-stars. If that was true, what are we to make of Bugs Bunny, for example, who is equally out of proportion. whatever problems the studio eventually encountered working.with Mickey, I don’t think they had anything to do with his size.

  • Mickey’s problems seemed to be more associated with his early success, in that by becoming such an icon, he could no longer do anything all that interesting on screen, and simply served as the spoke for stories involving more interesting characters (and Disney’s ideas about what should go into his shorts also hampered the character. Warners had the same problem with Porky in the 1939-40 period, to the point it was obviously driving Bob Clampett crazy having to use him in every cartoon. But the wildness of the stories in the 1940 kept his cartoons interesting, because they cast Porky as the sane anchor in a sea of lunatics.

    (And on a related subject, Bronson’s comment shows how much the PC police already had infected the discussion on what could be shown in cartoons by the mid-1970s. Because of that, you could revive the Warners characters, but it was hard to make a Warners cartoon because of all the studio and network censors hanging over your head, and as a result, they suffered the same neutering Mickey suffered in the 1930s.)

  • I always had a feeling something might have been cut from “A Gruesome Twosome”. I mean that “I’m the horse’s head” is SUCH an obvious lead-in for a “horse’s ***” joke. I’m assuming the footage is lost, much like the “Don’t touch that dial” joke from Baby Bottleneck.

    I’ve heard that Charles Bronson quote before, and it’s parents like him that piss me off. You don’t want your child to think you can survive violence like in cartoons, THEN EXPLAIN THAT TO THEM YOU LAZY FRICK!!!!!

    • I think the cut footage actually improved the joke. The fact that “I’m the horse’s head” was an obvious lead-in to something that everybody in the audience of that time knew was totally unmentionable was in itself funny!

    • Thinking of Tex Avery and Chuck Jones with their variations of the “You’re in the Army Now” gag, spotlighting the lyric “you *** ** * *****” via pointed absence.

      Jones, by the way, pulled a fast one. If you zoom in on the frames in “The Draft Horse”, the tiny type has the G-rated “by digging a ditch.” That might have been a sop to the censors, leaving Jones able to disown responsibility for what audiences THOUGHT was there.

  • Having seen a handful of Filmation’s “Broom Hilda” shorts, I was personally appalled that Russell’s characters suffered the same low-budget lameness that infected much of Filmation’s work. Given the wild hilarity in his original strips, I think DePatie-Freleng would have done the characters justice had Russell gone to them first before ‘Archie’s TV Funnies’ – or even Abe Levitow’s team, when they blessed us with “B.C: The First Thanksgiving”, had they been allowed to stick around for a while longer.

    • It wasn’t something Russell approached FIlmation about. They decided to do a show based on newspaper strips, and after it got greenlit they sent their lawyers to get the rights from the syndicates.

      Interesting that Broom Hilda and The Dropouts (by Howie Post) were the newest strips to be animated in those shows. All the others were decades old.

    • Interesting that Broom Hilda and The Dropouts (by Howie Post) were the newest strips to be animated in those shows. All the others were decades old.

      That is true. The unusual mix resembled something of a small town newspaper’s offering as far as what they could afford to cared to keep for their older readers.

  • The Coyote should have been prancing around, picking daisy’s and give the Roadrunner lots of hugs and kisses just like in real life!

    • Funny. :)

  • “Animation pioneer Walter Lantz was not pleased when Ralph Bakshi’s animated
    feature “Fritz the Cat” (1974) was released.”
    “FTC” was released in 1972. The 1974-released film was Robert Taylor’s “The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat.”

  • Among Royer’s lesser-known but no less vital accomplishments, he illustrated the covers of the 1970′s “Crusin’” oldies compilations, with each year from 1955 to 1969 represented by a panel of a romance comic telling the story of a couple named Peg & Eddie. I’m pretty sure each one was done in an homage to a different artist; the 1969 one looks a lot like Ross Andru & Mike Esposito.
    And wasn’t Royer also in charge of the model sheets for “Winnie-the-Pooh?”

  • No fofe nse to his films but good riddance Charles Bronson.

  • He probaled hated rock and roll music too.

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