Long before Pixar and and Toy Story, another “Sheriff Woody” roamed the wild west. And when he did, he was accompanied by master animators Freddy Moore, Ed Love and Pat Matthews (to name but a few). This “Sheriff Woody” was Woody Woodpecker and today we’ll take a closer look at one of his best cartoons – at least in my humble opinion.
It may be debatable as to when there was a “golden age” of Walter Lantz Cartunes – but the studio’s 1948-49 United Artists releases were a true high point. Case in point: Wild and Woody (1948). Here’s a film that’s as good as any turned out by Warner Bros. or MGM – with fast paced gags (Heck Allen and Ben Hardaway), and funny animation both in drawing and action.
Devon Baxter, who suggested I do this post, wrote me about his interest in the cartoon:
Dick Lundy brought a whole new look to Walter Lantz’s cartoons around the mid-forties. Around 1947, they seemed to share a slickness that was reminiscent to Disney and Tex Avery’s MGM cartoons. Wild and Woody is my favorite Woody Woodpecker that he directed. The animators really get to shine here. I often go back to some of the scenes and analyze a certain artist’s work, for instance, the pose-oriented action of Buzz checking his golf score, animated by Fred Moore.
Lundy casts this cartoon primarily by sequence, with a few shots assigned to other animators. Moore handles the introduction to Woody, ruthless outlaw Buzz Buzzard and the law enforcement of Rigor Mortis, Arizona. Pat Matthews’ wonderful animation is shown during Buzz’s encounter with the new sheriff Woody and into the saloon, with Buzz making a great entrance. Ex-Disney/Avery animator Ed Love handles the entire drinking section with the two (with effects animation by Sid Pillet). The last half of the climax where Woody has his large hand cannon placed behind, all the way to the end is handled by veteran Lantz animator, Les Kline.
Above: A great Pat Matthews drawing from scene #20 in Wild and Woody.
Below: Courtesy of Mark Kausler, the actual draft for this cartoon which breaks down which animator worked on what scene. The full cartoon is embed below that.
To help decipher the credits under the animator column (on the far right): The first scenes were “Free” = meaning they required no animation. “Fred” is Fred Moore, “Ken” is Ken O’Brien, “Verne” is LaVerne Harding, “Pat” is Pat Matthews, “Ed” is Ed Lov and “Les” is Les Kline. “EFX” or “Sid” is for effects man Sid Pillet.