Taking a quick break from what is a flurry and dubbing and packing things here related to Thunderbean…
The Cinevent Film show is in Columbus Ohio, starting today. I’ve been debating going down this year since things are so busy with orders. It would be the first time I’ve missed it since 1983! It’s nice to see old friends though, and you never know when a rare 16mm cartoon shows up! If you’re near, it’s a great show to see films (ALL shown in 16mm) and a great dealer’s room. If I end up going I’ll be selling Thunderbean DVDs and showing some sneaks of stuff we’ve been transferring…
Here is info on the show: http://www.cinevent.com
It’s nice to get a look at a film you like and haven’t seen in a while; The Little King cartoons, for some reason, don’t make it off my shelf often, so they’re always a nice surprise. I just watched my old 16mm print of this tonight and smiled throughout.
The second to last of the series, Art for Art’s Sake (1934) is a surprisingly fun cartoon. The King takes a break from his kingly duties to (which seem to entail holding a string & skating behind his royal limo) and heads to an unnamed art museum. There, he seems determined to tease a large woman throughout the rest of the cartoon. Later, back at the palace, he reveals to her a portrait of himself, then terrorizes her by chasing her through the palace, even into the basement, where a growing a shrinking skeleton scares her even further.
One of the most interesting things about this cartoon is the Little King’s much more aggressive personality. Instead of his somewhat gentle and passive nature, (as seen in both Soglow’s original strip and the rest of the series of cartoons), he is more of a mean trickster, enjoying building each assault on top of the last. I wonder what Soglow thought of this portrayal of his hero? It is one of the more enjoyable of the series- so maybe the Little King’s personality is a factor in the minimal success of the series.
On the animation side of things: While varied, I think that some shots in this cartoon have some of the best animation of the series. The posing is especially fun, and the timing, while a little floaty and even at times, is generally well executed. The shot layout is especially dynamic here; often the approach seems very reflective of the original strip. The inking on this short is especially nice as well- there must have been a lot of former Fleischer inkers coming to VB and working to raise the bar.
As in the strip, the charm and humor are often in both the drawing and the idea combined. There’s a fun sequence a little more than halfway through the film where the King hides behind the women he’s teasing, leading to a whole series of funny poses and action. I especially enjoy the attempt to follow the original look of the comic strip closely.
The direction (by George Stallings) features a cross dissolve at the conclusion of some of the gags, often slowing down the after gag moment- and softening the impact of the scene rather than allowing it to conclude sharper and making the film feel more like a series of short vignettes.
This was on the Complete Animated Adventures of the Little King Thunderbean DVD. When we produced this set, my friend Chris Buchman did a nice series of bonus features, including some shots of where the strip likely inspired the animated short. Here is one related to this cartoon.
I think this print of ‘Art’ was either my 16mm or my Chris Buchman’s print. Mark Kausler provided a rare print that, even though dark and contrasty, had the original title sequences- the only copy I know of on this title. We’ve been debating going back and redoing some of these sets for HD, but there’s nothing in progress on this one as of now.
There’s actually a Fred Ladd ‘Redrawn’ version of this cartoon- and someone was kind enough to put it up on line. The original back and white version is below it.. I suggest watching the real one first!
The recolored version:
Have a great week everyone!