As I lick my wounds from furious debates over slight color variances on menu screens on different LCD Televisions, I’m finding comfort in attempting to make complete Noveltoons titles out on many prints with splices in different places. This isn’t new ground on either of these fronts, in fact, it’s almost identical grounds from about nine and ten years back, doing the first version of Grotesqueries and working on the Noveltoons DVD. Heck. There are weeks where I think I should just buy a boat and feed birds instead of all this…..
It’s all minutiae in the bigger picture, and by the end no one should even be thinking about about the struggles of trying to put one of these kinds of projects together; it should just look good by the end, and all the issues related to getting it where it needs to be never entering in the viewing experience. Just like animation.
There’s a scene in Dick William’s Thief and the Cobbler that didn’t make it into the ‘final’ release. It’s at the end of a sequence where the Grand Vizier (voiced by Vincent Price) goes down the stairs inside a Turret. The camera pulls back as the walk down the stairs, hand drawn bricks turning in perspective. It’s an amazing pencil test. If I’m feeling down about working on one of these things I’ll watch something beautiful to remind myself that the tasks on these old film things are not so hard comparatively! I’ve been working on my own short here for years and look forward to that particular work to balance out some of these labor intensive detailed tasks.
This week’s tasks here at Thunderbean include still trying to get the master done on Grotesqueries, working on getting the rest of the title animation coordinated for the Rainbow Parades, doing the digital ‘final’ on many of the Puppetoons, Noveltoons and Flips as can be done, and giving the go ahead for scanning various materials. The little staff is also busy still trying to catch up orders and pre-orders, the hardest task of all. That’s going well, although still not caught up entirely.
But, the heck with all of that for a minute, instead, let’s look at a Dinky Duck cartoon!
I thought I’d jump back into some of the archive discs and pull out something unusual. It’s a Living (1957) is one of the most unusual Terrytoons, from a time period of unusual Terrytoons. This self referential short, directed by Win Hoskins and Gene Deitch, unapologetically enjoys the brightly colored wide-screen universe it proposes as being ‘real life’ as opposed to the square screened past presented in the film’s Terrytoon featuring Dinky being chased by sharks. It’s an amazingly accurate and biting portrayal of what Terrytoons were actually like, and when Dinky steps out of the screen in disgust, one had to wonder if, as in Avery’s Red Hot Riding Hood if the filmmakers are wanting the audience to feel the same way about the previous direction and limited subject matter of cartoons in general.
I especially enjoy Allen Swift’s performances in this film, sped up or not….
Dinky, sadly, retired after this picture, and after being put though the ringer both in front of and off the camera in this short, it’s not a surprise. Dietch would present many other ideas at Terrytoons with varied success, but this is perhaps the only short to so biting attack the limited brains of executives at large media corporations. Art Bartsch gets the main credit for layout and design, and it’s a highlight of the film. Poor Dinky seems astonished at the inner workings as we are watching it, and at least they gave him a good going away party with this film.
I especially love the complete list of people that worked on the short in the titles.
This version is scanned from a 35mm IB technicolor/scope print *and* a 16mm IB Technicolor/scope print to fix some footage missing from the ending, both prints courtesy of the collection of our own Jerry Beck.
I would love to hear people’s thoughts about this particular short. What did you like? Thoughts on the animation and design? Story? Thoughts on the industry in general at the time, or on Terrytoons/ CBS?
The most important thing is that it plays wonderfully for an audience. I run this short in my animation history class every year; Jerry runs it in his class at Cal Arts as well. We showed it one year at the Redford Cartoon Festival here in Michigan, and the gags all got the laughs in the right places. What could be better than that?
Have a great week everyone!