ANIMATION ANECDOTES
March 23, 2018 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #355

Bobby’s Girl. Bobby’s Girl is an unfinished animated feature film from around 1986 produced and co-written by Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi. It was to be a parody of 80’s teen films like 16 Candles and The Breakfast Club but it was never completed when Tri-Star (who had previously purchased rights to the film for $150,000) cancelled its production following the firing of Jeff Sagansky, Tri-Star’s former president who championed it.

Bakshi reworked the idea into a potential prime time animated series titled Suzy’s in Love which didn’t attract any interest. In the summer of 1986, Bakshi talked to writer Charles Champlin at the Los Angeles Times about the project and his return to Hollywood.

“I was tired of animation. I’d done what, eight or nine films in a dozen years. I wasn’t sure there were audiences for animated features anymore. I couldn’t compete with George Lucas. I had four teenagers and I wanted to see more of them; watch them grow up. We reduced our standard of living considerably. I poured all my anger on to the canvases. I painted very privately. I’d turn the canvases to the wall when the kids came in the room.

“I didn’t want to follow in Walt Disney’s footsteps. I didn’t want to follow in anybody’s steps. I want to make animation to make people laugh their heads off. (On Bobby’s Girl) I am working with six gag writers and a team of animators. Their average age is 24. I’m the oldest guy in my studio (48) and I used to be the youngest. They’re quick and good and then don’t always agree with me and they don’t mind saying so.

“No more rotoscoping. Bobby’s Girl and the films to follow will be the way animation should be done. The actual running of the studio will be done by the MBAs. I used to worry about whether there were paper towels in the johns while I was trying to make movies. No more.

Bobby’s Girl will be a teenage film rated R. It’ll reflect my time, my teenagers, their phone bills and will take a poke at the current teenage movies which have relatively little to do with the way young people really are. I’ve yet to do the movie that satisfies me. But I haven’t been so excited since I started Fritz (the Cat). Animation hasn’t been exploding as it should. That’s why I came back to town (after officially leaving August 24, 1983).

“I feel a little bit like Sinatra. You have to quit before you’re appreciated. Now I feel there’s life after death.”


Price as Rattigan. Actor Vincent Price at the age of 75 thought playing Rattigan in The Great Mouse Detective (1986) would be an interesting challenge so he agreed to audition for the job. “The first time in 45 years I’ve done that. I only do things these days that challenge me and are fun,” said Price to writer Bart Mills in 1986. “Rattigan finds himself hysterically funy. He’s in the marvelous tradition of Disney villains. He’s mad, mad, mad.

“As I worked on Rattigan, the animators fell more and more in love with him. He began getting more footage. He got a song. They let me go overboard as far as I could go. I would get in the sound booth with the director of the scene. The director would urge me on, telling me to make it bigger and bigger. To get that big sound out. I naturally gestured and made faces. I’d come back four months later and see more of the film and find that my gestures and expressions had crept in. The eyebrows especially.

“(In the 1950s film Champagne for Caesar), my character was an actor who took himself absolutely seriously and yet could see how ridiculous he was. He was Howard Hughes’ favorite character. He gets shot in the arm and says, ‘Oh my god, it’s real blood!’

“Rattigan is the same. For instance, every once in a while one of his frightened henchmen call him a rat. He’s furious because he thinks of himself as merely a large mouse. So he feeds the poor henchmen to his pet cat. I do adore Rattigan.”


Razzle-Dazzle Dumbo. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art did a retrospective of Disney animated features in July 1986 called “Disney Magic”. For the show notes for Dumbo (1941), animator Bill Hurtz told writer Charles Solomon, “Exciting as making Fantasia (1940) had been, there was a great sigh of relief when we went to work on Dumbo. It seemed like a vacation. Everyone was eager to get back to the stuff they knew, the slapstick with the belly laughs, the razzle-dazzle of animation.”


Charles M. Schulz

Cartoonist Charles Schulz. In 1991, cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of PEANUTS, told a reporter that he gets “mildly infuriated when I am described as the ‘next Walt Disney’. I don’t want to be Walt Disney. He was a producer, not a cartoonist. I am a cartoonist! People complain about limited animation in the specials but we’re not working with human characters. If that were the case, why would we need cartoons? You don’t want it to flow smoothly; you want it to look like a cartoon.”


Babar: The Movie. In Maclean’s magazine, August 7, 1989, there was an article about Babar: The Movie (1989) mentioning it cost five million dollars and was released its first week in a hundred theaters across Canada in both English and French versions making it the largest domestic release in Canadian history. It opened in 450 theaters in the United States.

Nelvana’s chairman, Michael Hirsh was quoted as saying, “The movie will attract parents as well as youngsters in the same way that classic Walt Disney movies have the power to take adults back to their own childhood. Generations have grown up with Babar. He is like a Snow White.” The article stated that eighty artists in Canada and France worked on the film for over a year and created more than 150,000 animation cels.


Chaplin Animated 1990. In Maclean’s magazine, August 7, 1989, an article mentioned that Canada’s Nelvana was working on thirteen half hour animated episodes based on Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp character. The HBO series would be called “Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp in Modern Times”. The show was scheduled to air sometime in early 1990. Chaplin’s heirs gave Nelvana permission to use the Little Tramp character in the production. The show would have the tenderhearted Tramp responding to the tough times and problems of the 1990s, such as being homeless.

We have no image of Nelvana’a proposed Charlie Chaplin series – but we highly recommend seeking out Charlie in FELIX IN HOLLYWOOD which is on several DVD compilations

13 Comments

  • “Bobby’s Girl will be a teenage film rated R. It’ll reflect my time, my teenagers, their phone bills and will take a poke at the current teenage movies which have relatively little to do with the way young people really are. I’ve yet to do the movie that satisfies me. But I haven’t been so excited since I started Fritz (the Cat). Animation hasn’t been exploding as it should. That’s why I came back to town (after officially leaving August 24, 1983).

    Right on my 6th birthday!

    While Ralph didn’t get to make his film, the prolific Japanese studio Madhouse put out their “Bobby’s Girl” in 1985 (technically the title is “Bobi ni kubittake”, sometimes translated as “Bobby’s in Deep”), which fittingly used a cover of Marcie Blane’s “Bobby’s Girl” as it’s end theme. I wonder if Ralph had considered using that tune for his film?
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xajs92

  • The movie that Price refers to. in which he plays the self-aware, hammy actor, is HIS KIND OF WOMAN.

    Bob

  • I’m surprised to hear that “BOBBY’S GIRL” was never finished, because I could have sworn that I’d seen the name on either the Netflix list or Amazon as being available on DVD. It sure sounds like a great premise for an animated feature, especially coming from Bakshi. It especially sounded interesting that he wasn’t going to resort to rotoscoping for the characters. In what kind of an animated cartoon universe was he going to place his characters?

    • And how “unfinished” was it? Was it already being animated? Or perhaps only some pre-production drawings? Or was there not even a finished script, yet?

    • There’s a film called “Bobbie’s Girl” from 2002, that might be what you saw.

    • Dan: According to “Ralph Bakshi: Unfiltered”, there was at least a preliminary script written, and some designs made. It doesn’t sound like they didn’t got to the animation phase before the new heads of Tri-Star axed it.

      Thank goodness for “Mighty Mouse” a year later; even though I wasn’t a big fan, it’s hard to deny it was a stepping stone to getting wacky cartoons back in fashion.

    • “Thank goodness for “Mighty Mouse” a year later; even though I wasn’t a big fan, it’s hard to deny it was a stepping stone to getting wacky cartoons back in fashion.”
      Certainly came at the right time when cartoons were the most blandest imaginable on TV in the mid 80’s.

  • “(In the 1950s film “Champagne for Caesar”), my character was an actor who took himself absolutely seriously and yet could see how ridiculous he was. He was Howard Hughes’ favorite character. He gets shot in the arm and says, ‘Oh my god, it’s real blood!’”

    I haven’t seen the original Bart Mills article, but I don’t believe Vincent Price is here discussing his very funny CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR role. [For one thing, Price’s character in CAESAR was a soap company magnate, not an actor.] I think Price’s comments reference his character in RKO’s 1951 HIS KIND OF WOMAN. In a comic tour-de-force, Price plays movie star Mark Cardigan, a ham to his very core. The Cardigan character does indeed get shot in the arm and dramatically (and hilariously) responds as Price describes. Hughes owned RKO at the time and famously meddled in the production of HIS KIND OF WOMAN, but it is apparently true that he admired Price’s performance.

    • In the original Mills’ article, Price talks about CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR because the Disney animators screened the film primarily to see Ronald Colman’s performance to determine if that was the direction they wanted to go with the Holmes character but were enthralled with Price’s comedic portrayal. The design of Rattigan, of course, was meant to be a parody of Ron Miller.

  • No doubt about it, Vincent Price’s performance as Rattigan (supported by Glen Keane’s dynamic animation) is the best thing about Great Mouse Detective.

  • “Chaplin’s heirs gave Nelvana permission to use the Little Tramp character in the production.”

    …so what happened that caused the series to still not be produced?

    Not that I think a cartoon show based on Chaplin is a good idea. It’s a terrible idea… and I wish that CGI TV series (which I’ve never had the heart to see more than short clips of) never happened.

    “The show would have the tenderhearted Tramp responding to the tough times and problems of the 1990s, such as being homeless.”

    Oh, yes, those problems sure are specific to the *1990s* ! The Tramp NEVER struggled with homelessness in Chaplin’s original films! 😉

  • Great anecdotes as usual. The Vincent Price segment raised a question for me. Who exactly would ask Vincent Price to audition for a part?

    • Michael Eisner?

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