Animated Stooge. “During the era in which the Three Stooges made a cameo in ‘Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’, head stooge Moe Howard had a company that I thought could help us,” stated Disney producer Harry Tytle. “Always on the look-out for potentially expensive scenes to animate with cheaper alternatives, I was anticipating a section of ‘101 Dalmatians’ where there were extensive automobiles chasing through the countryside.
“I had discovered that Moe Howard had a company that had licked this problem. Ub Iwerks and I, along with other technical people, went to see Moe’s process. Unfortunately, Ub decided we wouldn’t be able to use the technique, but I got a kick out of making the visit.”
In the film The Three Stooges in Orbit (1962), a method was featured using live footage appearing to be animation and it was first called called “Cinemagic,” It was developed by comic book artist Norman Maurer, Moe’s son-in-law, who first used it in the 1959 low-budget sci-fi film The Angry Red Planet (below). This process was later known as “Colormation” and “Animascope”.
“The animation process my dad invented filmed live actors dressed in special costumes and makeup, and through a patented chemical process, turned the frames into realistic animation,” stated Jeffrey Scott, the son of Norman Maurer.
For the Disney animated film, animators created a white model of the car, with bold black lines, before recording it and running the footage through the Xerox process. When Cruella is seen driving her car from a snow ditch, a sand-like substance was used for it to drive through.
Bakshi the Thief of Books. At the age of 15, after discovering Gene Byrnes’ “Complete Guide to Cartooning” (originally published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1950) at the public library, Bakshi took up cartooning to document his experiences and create fantasy-influenced artwork. He stole a copy of the book and learned every lesson in it.
Get Out of the House! Cartoonist Craig Yoe shared the following information with me. Often it is a challenge to clear a theater in order to clean it and bring in a new audience. A theater owner told animation producer Paul Terry, “We run the feature and then we put on a Terrytoon and that drives the people out of the house.”
Good Answer. It seemed like Mickey Mouse was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow since his cartoons and merchandise made so much money. A reporter for “Men Only” magazine in November 1951 asked Walt “What has Mickey made over a quarter of a century?” Walt quipped, “Me!”
Jessica Sparkles. Costume Designer Joanna Johnston in Entertainment Weekly magazine from Feb. 15, 2013 who designed costumes for both live and animated characters in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988) stated: “It was too expensive to animate Jessica Rabbit in sequins for the whole movie. The compromise was that she wear sequins on stage and satin the rest of the time. At my young age, I was really upset that she wasn’t going to be in sequins all the way through.”
Animation Censorship. In the January 4, 1958 issue of TV Guide, Walter Lantz was interviewed about censorship to his older cartoons before they could be seen on television.
The animated short Abou Ben Boogie (1944) was completely rejected because of a little harem girl wiggling her hips. That particular rejection upset Lantz because the cartoon contained an expensive musical score written by Don Ray and Gene Paul who had such hit tunes as “Mr. Five-by-Five” and “Cow Cow Boogie”.
Also it was decided at the time that cartoon human beings can kiss animals but animals couldn’t kiss human beings.
At the end of Knock Knock (1940) where Woody has a nervous breakdown and is taken away by woodpeckers in white coats was cut. “It’s the one time where editing damaged a picture. We lost the whole ending and the viewer is left up in the air,” fumed Lantz.
When Lantz and the Leo Burnett agency eventually made their edits and re-dubbing, the cartoons were sent over to Thomas Kersey, manager of ABC-TV continuity acceptance in Hollywood.
“I didn’t change a single frame of what they gave me,” he said. “But in television, there are 50 million continuity acceptance editors. You can’t please everybody. The best I can do is try to use common sense.”
Foxy Bluth. In an interview with animation historian John Cawley, Don Bluth commented “I drew with great excitement, thinking how good it was to work on a Disney feature. When ‘Robin Hood’ (1973) was completed I decided it did not look the greatest of films. The heart wasn’t in it. It had technique, the characters were well drawn, the Xerox process retained the fine lines so I could see all of the self indulgence of the animators, each one saying ‘Look how great I am,’ but the story itself had no soul.”
On “The Fox and the Hound” Cliff Nordberg died while the film was in production. Several scenes of animation were stolen during a midnight break- in and had to be re-animated by rotoscoping the original pencil tests. Scenes that Don Bluth worked on included the barn sequence with the widow milking the cow and playing with Tod as well as the scene where she grabs the hunter’s gun and shoots it. Though Don and his crew did substantial work on the film, he (and those who left the Disney Studio with him) had their names taken off the project at their request.
Stout’s Little Dinosaur. “The Land Before Time” (1988) was based upon artist Bill Stout’s award-winning children’s book with a very, very similar storyline, The Little Blue Brontosaurus (1984)…but not officially.
“I didn’t work on that film (“The Land Before Time”) but I did do some of the film’s advertising art. I wish that Lucas and Spielberg had honorably acquired the rights — but they didn’t,” wrote Stout. “A producer friend of mine saw a copy of The Little Blue Brontosaurus on Kathleen Kennedy’s desk when ‘The Land Before Time’ was in development. I was pretty close to Kathy, Steven and George at the time.
“I don’t know why they did this…Were they expecting me to sue them? I know from working with them that they keep a contingency fund on each film to deal with situations like this. I was very disappointed in them. Not only was I cheated, but their production of ‘The Land Before Time’ torpedoed my dinosaur film with Jim Henson.”