LA PETITE PARADE
Released March 6th, 1959. Director: Seymour Kneitel. Animation: Tom Johnson, Nick Tafuri. Story: Irving Spector. Scenics: Robert Little. Music: Winston Sharples.
I couldn’t let 1959 go without a little close up on a “cult cartoon” Paramount produced during this season. La Petite Parade isn’t really anything special, but for those of us who grew up watching the “Harveytoons” syndicated package, the film was particularly memorable due to its repetition of Monsieur Renior’s “Grand Procession” tune (Ra-ta-ta-ta-tum Army, Ra-ta-ta-ta-tum Navy, Ra-ta-ta-ta-tum, Department Sanitaire…”).
I’ve stated that this is a “cult cartoon” and that’s because, in all my years of writing about cartoons, certain films got stuck in the minds of the baby boomer generation. I Love To Singa, One Froggy Evening (which has been elevated in recent decades from “cult” film to bonified classic), Sunshine Makers – to name but a few – they all have something memorable in them that makes them stand apart. This film is one I get asked most to identify or asked where one could find it.
By the late 1950s, theatrical animation shorts had changed. Audiences expectations for a cartoon short had evolved. By the late 1950s, some Hollywood animation studios (MGM, UPA) had closed or were near death. On the flip side, independent animated shorts, from both America and from foreign countries, began appearing in theaters – and some of these were being nominated for (or winning) Academy Awards.
La Petite Parade sort-of fits in with the new thinking. It was the third of the newly minted Modern Madcaps series and was typical of the kind of material Kneitel was now looking for. Something a little sophisticated (the French aspect), something the average Joe could identify with and be annoyed at (a garbage truck dumping a pile of trash in from of your home – every day), and a silly song for the kids.
But it also had something most other contemporary Noveltoons and Modern Madcaps lacked – an original idea at its core. To that we must credit Irv Spector who submitted the story, originally titled “La Hole In Zee Street”, to Kneitel in November 1957 (see pages of his original treatment and outline below – click to enlarge). The film was a follow up to L’More L’Merrier (1957) featuring the same French Match Maker character, Monsieur Renior.
Next, Spector would do story sketches – and later a full story board (examples and samples below):
The film was produced in 1958. The cue sheet (below) was submitted on January 27th 1959. The finished film released on March 6th 1959. The final product is embed below.
NEXT WEEK: Paramount Cartoons 1960