Two Forgotten Warner Stereotypes. Two Crows From Tacos (1956) directed by Friz Freleng is basically about two incredibly stupid Mexicali crows who chase a grasshopper who constantly outwits the duo. Most of the animation was done by Art Davis with some work from Virgil Ross primarily on a scene with the cactus.
The crows were later redesigned as cats to capture the Mexican mouse Speedy Gonzales in Mexicali Shmoes (1959) and were back to being crows in Crows Feat (1962) where they are outwitted by Elmer Fudd.
In the original cartoon while most people believed the voices were provided by Mel Blanc and his stereotypical Mexican accent, Jose Crow is actually voiced by Don Diamond and Manuel Crow by Tom Holland.
Diamond began his career around 1946 in radio where he discovered he had a real knack at dialects, especially Spanish that he had picked up after being stationed in New Mexico during his military service.
In fact, he was so good at the dialect that people suspected he must be Hispanic but actually his family heritage was Russian. He often portrayed Hispanic characters in films and television like the role of Corporal Reyes for fifty-two episodes in Disney’s “Zorro” television series being produced at the same time as this cartoon. He supplied the voice of the toad Toro in DePatie-Freleng’s “Tijuana Toads”.
Holland was not Hispanic either but another actor with a knack for dialects and supplied the voice of the toad Pancho in DePatie-Freleng’s “Tijuana Toads” as well as voicing the Japanese Beetle in the DePatie-Freleng “Blue Racer” television series. In addition, he did Slowpoke Rodriquez in some of the Speedy Gonzales cartoons.
Cheshire Cat Madness. Disney legend Ward Kimball remarked in an interview with animation historian Charles Solomon, “I didn’t realize it at the time, but the Cheshire Cat is the maddest things in the whole picture (“Alice in Wonderland” 1951) because he was underplayed. He didn’t move much. He’d finish a word and accent it with a quick flipping back and forth of the tail then he’d go into that grin. I didn’t realize it was so mad until I saw it on the screen with an audience.”
John Lasseter on Hayao Miyazaki. In a 2002 interview, animation legend John Lasseter whohad known another animation legend Hayao Miyazaki for over twenty years gushed, “He’s a talent on top of the pyramid. He’s the greatest animation director living today. The greatest director living today. He doesn’t just make movies. He makes movies for a reason.” In Miyazaki’s animated feature Spirited Away (2002), the hopping lamp that welcomes visitors is a nod to Luxo Jr., the desk light that is the mascot icon for Pixar, as well as a tribute to Lasseter himself who created the character.
Wendy’s Leg. “The first sexual images I can remember from film were in (Disney’s animated feature) ‘Peter Pan’ (1953). In one scene, where Wendy had to cross over a rock and she lifts her dress and you see her calf, and that’s absolutely wonderful… She had a wonderful leg. I’m serious. It was really a shock. I said, ‘This is it. I’m in love with Wendy’,” said American filmmaking legendary director Martin Scorsese in a 1982 conversation with screenwriter Paul Schrader (who wrote or co-wrote many of Scorsese’s films) who replied, “Old Walt sure knew where the buttons were.”
The Voice of Stitch. For Disney’s animated feature “Lilo &Stitch” (2002), the voice of the mischievous Stitch was supplied by co-director Chris Sanders. “When I was a kid, I used to do this weird voice to entertain myself and annoy others. Dean (DeBlois, the other co-director) has a little dog named Theodore that looks a lot like Stitch. We brought Theodore in, and he ate cookies and drank water and grunted and panted and made slobbery noises in front of a microphone. We mixed a little of that in where Stitch is being horrid and licking stuff. I really relied on Dean to coach me through doing the lines of dialog. It’s the only time in my life I really had to act so it was a very, very tense moment.”
Saturday Morning Economics Lesson. “Economy is the key word to remember in Saturday morning cartoons,” stated writer Roy Thomas who was working on the DePatie-Freleng 1978 “The New Fantastic Four” animated series. “I wanted to do an underwater fight with a shark, but DePatie-Freleng told me that Universal (who produced the live-action movie “Jaws”) was already perturbed about their Misterjaw (a shark character in a series of thirty-four of 1976 cartoons for “The Pink Panther and Friends”). So, I changed the shark to an octopus, but the viewer will only see it as a head and two tentacles above water. Underwater scenes are tough to do and eight arms are much too expensive and difficult to animate.”
Chuck Jones and Disney Dalmatians. In the November 17, 1979 edition of the “Des Moines Register” newspaper, animation legend Chuck Jones stated, “Animators must avoid being too florid and get rid of the fat. I admired Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” (1961) but if I had done that, I’d have just one dog who was named Spot because he had just one spot.”
Scary Snow White. From “The New York Times” newspaper February 6, 1938: “British censors have decide that children under 16 cannot see Walt Disney’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ unless they are accompanied by an adult. The Sunday Graphic (British newspaper) says that British children are apparently held to be more easily upset by fairy stories than their ‘tougher’ American cousins. It is understood that the British distributors will cut the offending shots which, it is feared, will give children nightmares.”
Hirschfeld on Snow White. In “The New York Times” newspaper for January 30, 1938, artist Al Hirschfeld wrote a column where he commented unfavorably on the recently released Walt Disney animated feature, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”:
“The characters Snow White, Prince Charming and the Queen are badly drawn attempts at realism. The illusion created by a well directed pen line is an art not to be confused with the gingerbread realities of a Snow White. Disney’s treatment of these characters belongs in the oopsy-woopsy school of art practiced by etchers who portray dogs with cute sayings.
“These awkward symbols do not articulate, and the lovely voice with which she is given only heightens the effect of a ventriloquist’s dummy. Prince Charming lifts Snow White and places her on his white charger. The horse is badly drawn because Snow White and Prince Charming are badly drawn.”