ANIMATION ANECDOTES
May 4, 2018 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #361

Red. In Boxoffice magazine in 1945 it stated, “(Red Hot Riding Hood 1943) had the greatest number of bookings of any MGM short subject in its 18 year history – over 15,000. It is expected that it will garner 3,000 more bookings before its popularity wanes. Since the release of Red Hot Riding Hood, the MGM studios have been swamped with requests for the next appearance of ‘Red’.

“She will be in Metro’s forthcoming The Shooting of Dan McGoo (1945). The voice of Imogene Lynn, featured soloist with Artie Shaw’s new orchestra is heard singing ‘Put Your Arms Around Me Honey’. The studio plans to present ‘Red’ in modernized versions of story book characters. In Swingshift Cindy she will be a modern Cinderella who is a rug-cutter while in Uncle Tom’s Cabana she will play Little Eva, a swingster from the bayous.”


Thumper’s Advice. In the Los Angeles Times April 6, 1992 animator and producer Don Bluth said, “I like to give an audience a little ‘take home’ that they can think about later. I’d like parents and children alike to go home from our movie and say, ‘You know what? I know what that means’. When I saw Bambi (1942), I remember the phrase, ‘If you can’s say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’. Thumper said it. And I still try to do that each day. I do something I was taught by a little rabbit.”


George Lucas and The Land Before Time. Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine #6 (Winter 1989) featured an interview with animator and producer John Pomeroy about The Land Before Time (1988): “George (Lucas) was involved from the very beginning of the film, fine tuning some of Steven’s (Spielberg) ideas. Then in May 1987, we had a screening of the unfinished film in London with just the producers and Steven and George. The production was at a critical point, about halfway complete, just enough there to determine if we were on the right track. Overall, it looked great but some things were missing with the characters and their personalities.

“While he was in London, we had a two-day marathon story session with George and during that time my respect for him went up several decimals. Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, George and myself sat down and I won’t say we re-wrote the story but we made major structural changes. We were all very happy with the results and eighty percent of the finished story came from that story meeting.”


Pytka and Space Jam. Joe Pytka directed the animated feature Space Jam (1996) and also created the storyboards for the movie based on his NIKE television commercials “Hare-O-Space Jordan” and “Hare Jordan” which first united basketball star Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. Pytka directed all of the live-action sequences with Jordan and producer Ivan Reitman supervised the entire movie.

“I finished the movie and am still actively involved in the film,” affirmed Pytka after the suggestion that Reitman really did most of the direction. Pytka’s only other feature directing experience was the racetrack comedy Let It Ride (1989). Reitman had originally considered directing but passed because of a schedule conflict with another production that turned out never to materialize. Warners had more than 200 U.S. and international merchandising partners sell Space Jam products.


Belle’s Differences. From the L.A. Daily News November 30, 1991, Kirk Wise, co-director on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991) said, “We were absolutely aware that comparisons to The Little Mermaid (1989) would be inevitable because we were working in the same realm: A Disney fairy tale with a strong female lead. We didn’t want Belle’s characterization to go in the same direction as Ariel’s. Ariel was definitely the All American teenager, while we pictured Belle as a little older, a little bit wiser and a little more sophisticated. In addition, Belle is very protective of her father unlike Ariel.”


James and the Giant Peach Character Designs. From Newsday April 16, 1996, animator and producer Henry Selick talking about his film James and The Giant Peach (1996) said “I wanted the puppets to look like bugs but act like humans, not the Jiminy Cricket where he is basically a little green man. We enlisted the aid of children’s book illustrator Lane Smith and we ended up using the centipede much as he envisioned it.

“However, his approach to the grasshopper was a little too weird, a little too Picasso-esque. It almost looked like it had been in an accident. The character is now reminiscent of (author Roald) Dahl himself, right down to the sandals. The hardest creature to design was the spider because real spiders have no faces. There are mouth parts, fangs and eight eyes. We went through forty or fifty designs become coming up with the most rewarding character in terms of visual adaptation.”


The Black Planet. The Black Planet (1982) is a 78 minute animated feature film produced in Australia by Fable Film Productions. It was written, produced, directed and animated by Paul Williams (not the musician). During the 1970s and 80s, animator and cartoonist Paul Williams produced a collection of Australian flavored shorts and three hand-drawn animated features. One of them, The Steam-Driven Adventures Of Riverboat Bill (1986), was written by Cliff Green, famous for his screenplay of Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975).

A good synopsis of The Black Planet doesn’t seem to exist on the internet so here is what was on the press sheet. The distant planet Terre Verte is rapidly running out of energy. Two unfriendly islands are engaged in an arms and space race and warhawks Senator Calhoun and General McNab feel that a missile strike on the other island will decide who gets the planet’s energy reserves.

The President’s intentions are entirely peaceful so General McNab alters the X-19 rocket, intended to probe the newly discovered “Black Planet” into a lethal I.C.B.M.

Energy conservation inspector Freddy Fairweather and feminist Marigold Muffet unwittingly fall into the plot and Senator Calhoun sends them on a suicide mission into enemy territory.

Freddy and Marigold become involved in countless amazing adventures, including a submarine battle, imprisonment, escape in a hang glider and a train chase. Meanwhile, the villains continue with their dastardly plan and the X-19 is launced on its deadly mission.

With an incredibly dramatic twist, the tables are turned, the rocket lands on the Black Planet and Terre Verte is saved from holocaust. “It is an exiting and engaging plot that is perfect for the whole family” according to the press sheet.

Here’s the opening minute off the long lost VHS release:

3 Comments

  • The following post is brought to you in Living Colour on Cartoon Research. (Insert Laramie Peacock *here*)

  • Oh yes, the “RED” cartoons, a very clear memory of mine from months of seeing these titles on early morning TV–a wolf chasing a pretty girl around, literally snapping at her heels, eyes bugging out and tongue and nostrils flaring…only Tex Avery could come up with that kind of frenetic energy, along with Preston Blair’s animation of the curvaceous beauty.

    One thing ya gotta say about MGM cartoons, no matter what the subject matter, they sure did look good, which is why I still hold out hope that the complete output of the studio, including those classic Tex Avery efforts and the “censorable” titles, will someday be restored so we can further examine them in our own homes and on CARTOON RESEARCH. Even the HAPPY HARMONIES had their amazingly eye-popping moments. The animated world is an amazing one in some of the best films, and if characters, human or animal or insect or whatever, are too real, they pale in comparison to the wackily grotesque animated characters.

    I felt that the “RED” cartoons allowed for the curvy girl to be as expressive in her efforts to get away from her pursuer as the wolf is in his obsession with her, and the sound effects were superb. Each time I listen to those cartoons, now, I can still picture what is going on. I used to think that, despite the fact that Frank Tashlin had his own technique, Tex Avery’s timing might have been somewhat an influence in Tashlin’s live action comedies.

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