Large Association of Movie Blogs
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, September 23, 2022

This Weekend's Cartoons

Totally stumped for a topic today, but always Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we're sticking with the animation theme of recent posts.

This weekend's cartoons were released to movie theatres on September 23-25. First, here's a clip from Friz Freleng's Bunker Hill Bunny, which hit the Bijous, Roxies and Radio City Music Halls on September 23, 1950.

The following transfer of Bunker Hill Bunny from DailyMotion is not nearly as sharp as the clip but will do in a pinch. Freleng's unerring comic timing is in top form throughout the cartoon.

What would life be without a travelog parody spot gag cartoon? Noting that it would be life without a travelog parody spot gag cartoon, here's a signature travelog parody spot gag cartoon The Land Of The Midnight Fun, directed By Tex Avery and released to theatres on September 23, 1939.

Now we transition to the black & white Looney Tunes series.

Also released theatrically 83 years ago today, Jeepers Creepers, one of the many black & white Looney Tunes directed by Bob Clampett.

Unfortunately, did not turn up a single Daffy Duck opus (in Cinecolor or Technicolor) that was released to theatres on September 23-25.

However, did find, of all things, an Elmer Fudd starring vehicle. That would be Each Dawn I Crow, directed by Friz Freleng, released theatrically on September 24th, 1949. It is in a sub-genre, along with fellow WB cartoons Tom Turk & Daffy and Holiday For Drumsticks, featuring a storyline involving poultry finding a way to not end up as tonight's entree. Most notable: a marvelously grotesque gag with a rooster chain-smoking cigarettes.

Also a September 24 theatrical release, A Feud There Was (1938), directed by Tex Avery and starring "Elmer Fudd, Peacemaker" (who still looks like Egghead). It tops Clampett's Looney Tune Naughty Neighbors as the last word in gags about "Hatfields-McCoys" feuds and bearded hillbillies.

Hare Splitter, a Friz Freleng classic that strikes this viewer as a rather twisted Valentine's Day cartoon, hit movie theatres on September 25, 1948.

One imagines there were cartoons from Tex Avery's stretch directing Merrie Melodies in the latter 1930's he would prefer to forget. This, in movie theatres on September 25, 1937, was very likely one of them. Still, Tex managed to get a couple of signature "breaking the fourth wall" bits and a joke about a rum-soaked alcoholic sailor parrot voiced by Billy Bletcher (see 1:39) into the mix.

We know this is just a small sample of animated cartoons that debuted on September 23-25 and that today's post invariably involves omissions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Buy This Book!

Ordered my copy in hardcover and CAN'T WAIT TO READ IT! And can't wait for volume 2!

Thanks for your superlative work, Keith!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

And This Blog Loves June Foray

Today is the natal anniversary of voice artist extraordinaire June Foray, born on September 18 in 1917, the same year that brought John F. Kennedy and Dizzy Gillespie into the world.

Before her plum role as the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, June had a myriad of credits. Here she is on The Johnny Carson Show.

Of course, thinking of June Foray gets us thinking of cartoons by Jay Ward Productions, especially Rocky and Bullwinkle!

Am mystified as to why the previous graphic does not include one of June Foray's funniest characters, Nell Fenwick from Dudley Do Right!

June is all over the Jay Ward cartoons, playing numerous and varied roles, especially in the Fractured Fairy Tales.

Her "Marjorie Main" voice is particularly hilarious.

Being, as always, Way Too Damn Lazy To Write a Blog, today we'll post clips, beginning with June's appearance with Darrell Van Citters, author of The Art Of Jay Ward.

June is in a tie with Friz Freleng for the longest career in animation and was still working into her nineties.

The sheer number of credits across genres - radio (The Stan Freberg Show!), feature films, television, animation, recordings - is stunning, akin to opening a Wiki entry for Allan Dwan.

Remain positively floored by both the June Foray IMDB page (which very likely does not feature all of her numerous credits), her entry from Behind The Voice Actors and the extended Television Academy interview.

Must also note that there are numerous terrific posts about her on the Cartoon Research website. Many are from Greg Ehrbar's Animation Spin series, including the following:

Many of us first became familar with June Foray's ability to ace any role with her contributions to Warner Bros. cartoons.

Check put the bravura performance in Tugboat Granny.

June was extremely active in ASIFA-Hollywood, the society devoted to promoting and encouraging animation and in establishing the Annie Awards, as well as the creation of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2001.

Recall reading that filmmaker Gavin Frietas was producing a documentary about June a few years ago. Don't know if this film is commercially available for viewing on Blu-ray or DVD. Here is a clip from it which was posted on Gavin's YouTube page.

No doubt more background on June, as well as other Michael Jordans of the voice acting field, will be in Cartoon Voices of the Golden Age, 1930-70 Vol. 1, the much-awaited book about the greats of voice acting by Keith Scott, character actor-voice artist-impressionist, film and radio historian and author of The Moose That Roared: The Story of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose. It can be pre-ordered now and will be officially out on Tuesday, September 20.

Friday, September 09, 2022

And Now, Many Words From Our Animated Sponsors

For today's posting, we pay tribute to the classic commercials of yesteryear, beginning with Jim Henson's hilarious Wilkins Coffee ads.

The "I Want My Maypo" commercials by John Hubley's studio no doubt sold tons of cereal.

We at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog have a sneaking suspicion that, from his extremely hyper, overenthusiastic and frequently unhinged behavior, Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird was actually cuckoo for COCA PUFFS.

Mr. Magoo was cuckoo for STAG BEER!

Those of us in a certain age group don't remember friends, lovers, places we lived and six month sections of our own lives but have perfect recall of the Choo Choo Charlie theme from Good & Plenty commercials.

What could be considered the worst, most noxious ear-worm EVER, even more than 1960's bubblegum teenybopper records by the Ohio Express and The 1910 Fruitgum Company? That would be the equally uber-catchy (and equally uber-annoying) ditty from the Oscar Meyer commercials.

Never could come close to falling in love with Oscar Meyer Wieners or Oscar Mayer Bologna ("my bologna has a first name"), but certainly tried.

UPA produced a series of very cool "cartoon modern" spots for Oldsmobile.

And, speaking of very cool ads, here's one for American Oil animated by the one, the only Rod Scribner. Thanks for posting, Mike Kazaleh!

Among the ubiquitous characters in animated ads from the early years of television were the Ajax Elves, produced by Shamus Culhane's studio.

Another sponsor with animated ads (IIRC, also created by Shamus Culhane Productions) was HALO SHAMPOO! If you, dear reader, are among the classic comedy geeks who have binge-watched episodes of the The Colgate Comedy Hour starring Martin & Lewis (and hope a kinescope of the February 22, 1953 Colgate Comedy Hour starring The Ritz Brothers turns up), you've seen lots of Halo Shampoo commercials!

It would be an understatement to suggest that classic cartoon characters pitched products, especially cereals, all the time.

Yogi Bear not only starred in his own commercials, but had his own cereal. I remember OKS and they weren't half bad!

Since Quaker Oats had to compete with Kellogg's, Cap'n Crunch, which stays crunchy, even in milk, was invented.

Quaker Oats execs were golf pals with Jay Ward, so the studio that made Rocky & His Friends, Hoppity Hooper and George Of The Jungle went on to produce numerous Cap'n Crunch commercials, prominently featuring such ace voice artists as June Foray and Daws Butler.

After the success of Cap'n Crunch, Quaker Oats tried out LOTS of cereals. Two were Quisp & Quake. The question remains, how could Quisp cereal not sell, with Daws Butler enthusiastically claiming "it's from outer space!"

Another short-lived cereal: Quangaroos

Who could forget King Vitaman! Actually, I did, but the commercials are great.

The ultimate in cartoon commercials would be the Linus The Lionhearted TV show by Ed Graham Jr. Productions. The stars were characters from Post cereal boxes (Alpha-Bits, Sugar Crisp, Rice Krinkles, Crispy Critters).

Linus The Lionhearted was a clever and enjoyable series with an original and distinctive sense of humor.

Film historian, Joe Penner fan and ace animator Mark Kausler wrote a Cartoon Research article about Linus The Lionhearted that is an excellent read.

The show had its charms and featured voice characterizations by Sheldon Leonard, Carl Reiner, Ruth Buzzi, Jesse White, Paul Frees and more.

Closing today's post, chock full of outstanding voice actors, is the fabulous news that Cartoon Voices of the Golden Age, 1930-70 Vol. 1, the epic and much-awaited book about the greats of voice acting by Keith Scott, character actor-voice artist-impressionist, film and radio historian and author of The Moose That Roared: The Story of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose, is at the printers, can be pre-ordered and will be available on September 20.

Friday, September 02, 2022

For Labor Day Weekend: Animatronic Grocery Shopping

Instead of binge-watching classic movies, taking an ambitious trip or throwing a massive BBQ party to celebrate Labor Day Weekend, this writer finds himself seeking. . . singing avocados. Little did we know, a supermarket chain rampant in the northeastern United States has 'em!

Indeed, animatronic grocery shopping is the order of the day at the Stew Leonard's supermarket and dairy store.

Cheese sticks and butter entertain the unsuspecting shopper!

Behold: the Farm Fresh Five!

Giant cows? Yep. Singin' celery? Absolutely.

A parrot who sings? Yes!

Love how the Holstein Family Singer is playing a vintage Fender Telecaster.

Particularly enjoyed the Chiquita Banana!

The animatronic version's song sounds very familiar.

This was inspired by the animated Chiquita Banana commercial produced back in 1947.

For more info, read Adriana Morga Origel's Stew Leonard's: Take A Virtual Tour Inside The Famous Connecticut Dairy Store from the Connecticut Post and Amy Kupirinsky's article The 10 trippiest things we saw at the new Stew Leonard’s in N.J.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Happy Birthday, Jack Black!

Changing focus from 1930's and 1940's cartoons to more recent entertainment, we raise a toast to Jack Black, who is celebrating his 53rd birthday today (and shares the August 28 natal anniversary with Jack Kirby).

Thinking of Jack Black's movies, TV shows and records will bring the music-obsessed gang here much-needed cheer, as we are sad about the recent passing of jazz great Joey DeFrancesco. An excellent way to start cheering up is by watching Jack's impassioned performance from the grand finale of the Late Night With Conan O'Brien show.

After listening to Tenacious D's comedic and wonderfully goofy Beatles Tribute, feel a bit less heartbroken about the loss of the Hammond B-3 wizard.

The 2003 movie School of Rock lifts the spirits as well. As an actor, musician, writer and animation voice artist, Jack Black possesses that rare ability to be endearing, enthusiastic and simultaneously likable and cartoonlike.

The Kung Fu Panda franchise is, paws-down, our favorite of all the 21st century animated features to emerge from Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks.

Have read that a Kung Fu Panda 4 is in the works and slated for theatrical release in March 2024. Don't know if this is fact, rumor or marketing.

First recall seeing Jack in the 1990's as one of the many talented comedians on Mr. Show, which is still hilarious and NSFW.

In 1997, the Tenacious D HBO series debuted and got Jack and bandmate Kyle Gass on the map.

Not surprisingly, the epic story of Tenacious D would be the cornerstone of a feature film.

Jack, quite literally the son of rocket scientists, is among the many overnight sensations who had years of ups and downs auditioning for sporadic parts in TV shows and movies before hitting the big time.

As noted in the previous interview, here's Jack, playing a juvenile delinquent in the Lee Majors TV series The Fall Guy.

And also playing a role in the tremendously treacly Touched By An Angel TV series.

Closing today's post with Tenacious D clips and Cee-Lo Green's rousing rendition of that incredibly catchy Carl Douglas hit Kung Fu Fighting - the theme song from our favorite Jack Black film, Kung Fu Panda.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Golden Age Of Radio Cartoons

Pondering the links between animated cartoons and the Golden Age of Radio today.

Radio was a cornerstone of numerous cartoons, especially those of the B-studios. Terrytoons' The Nutty Network stars a simian-staffed equivalent of NBC, ABC and CBS, along with the studio's Bert Lahr lion, in a spoof of Orson Welles' War Of The Worlds broadcast.

It would be an understatement to note that the cartoons of the Charles Mintz Studio frequently featured caricatures of stars from movies and radio. This was the Columbia cartoon studio's stock in trade. Included in the 1938 Color Rhapsody THE BIG BIRDCAST: Rudy Vallee, Jack Benny, Walter Winchell, Eddie Cantor, Joe Penner and Ben Bernie.

Joe Penner in particular is caricatured in numerous 1930's cartoons and would be the prototype for bumbling Merrie Melodies star Egghead.

The Fleischer Studio featured radio and movie stars in the Screen Song series.

These included such early 1930's radio regulars as Arthur Tracy a.k.a. The Street Singer.

Spiders, ghosts, ghouls and skeletons run their own radio station in the Fleischer Studio's Halloween-themed BOO BOO THEME SONG.

None of this is surprising, as the Fleischer Studio got into the broadcasting ring early, notably with the 1929 Talkartoon RADIO RIOT.

The first cartoon about radio this blogger recalls seeing on TV (with the "Wheeler & Woolsey in the soup pot" bit excised for obvious reasons) was the 1933 Merrie Melodie, I've Got To Sing A Torch Song.

Among the celebrities caricatured in the first post-Harman and Ising Merrie Melodie cartoon were radio sensation and soon-to-be Hollywood movie star Bing Crosby.

Even us boomers who know our Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Bob Hope, Burns & Allen and Bob & Ray - and have actually tried to find episodes of Joe Penner's Baker's Broadcast shows - can be periodically stumped by the radio star caricatures in animated cartoons. This writer knew who Ed Wynn was before starting kindergarten because of repeated viewings of I've Got To Sing A Torch Song!

Did not know the extent to which I've Got To Sing A Torch Song was infamous in the history of Warner Brothers animation until decades later. It was at first deemed too terrible to release and eventually remade and re-tooled extensively by Friz Freleng after Leon Schlesinger fired director Tom Palmer.

This wasn't even the first WB cartoon to feature radio as a main character. Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising produced Crosby, Columbo & Vallee, in which braves are horrified by the extreme popularity of radios and crooners with squaws on the reservation. As is the case with many entries from the first season of Merrie Melodies cartoons, it is mostly an excuse for the ever-peppy protagonists to bounce around to the jaunty Frank Marsales score.

Don't know how star of vaudeville, the Ziegfeld Follies, movies and radio Will Rogers, arguably the best known 1930's Hollywood luminary who was a Native American, regarded cartoons along these lines. An excellent caricature of Rogers was featured, following radio star Eddie Cantor and preceding Ed Wynn, in Harman and Ising's 1933 Merrie Melodie, I Like Mountain Music, the first in the "book and magazine covers come to life" genre seen in WB cartoons directed by the likes of Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Frank Tashlin and Friz Freleng.

Harman and Ising would go to this well frequently, combining it with a radio theme in the 1934 MGM Happy Harmonies cartoon Toyland Broadcast. The incredibly bad taste moment at 6:20 ended its inclusion in TV broadcasts, along with such fellow and jaw-dropping MGM Happy Harmonies as The Old Plantation (1935).

Frank Tashlin's The Woods Are Full Of Cuckoos is an especially clever Merrie Melodie cartoon featuring many radio stars. References to the very popular Community Sing, Allen's Alley (a.k.a. The Fred Allen Show and Al Pearce & His Gang shows abound.

And, as is also the case Tashlin's wonderful 1938 Merrie Melodie Have You Got Any Castles? it's difficult not to love a cartoon featuring a caricature of Alexander Woolcott.

An intrepid expert on radio and classic movies posting under the name radiobov has painstakingly gone through the entire cartoon, start to finish, annotating every movie and radio star appearance, in many cases with their star turns in other movies. This is fantastic work, and the gang here encourages the poster named radiobov to upload more.

Any look at the relationship between animation and radio brings to mind George Pal's puppetoons.

George Pal's career in animation began with a series of theatrical commercial films selling Philips radios.

George Pal's 1934 film The Ship Of The Ether is innovative - and all about selling those radios.

The Ship Of The Ether was just one of a series of elaborate mini-musicals George Pal's studio produced for Philips.

Several of the George Pal Philips films are included in Arnold Leibovit's two Puppetoon Movie Blu-ray sets.

Although Bob & Ray’s very funny and most original radio show, filled with spoofs of other radio shows, was never re-imagined as a cartoon, the droll duo starred in a series of terrific animated beer commercials as Bert & Harry Piels.

Prepared for this post by visiting Radiomuseum and listening to Jack Benny and Fred Allen master radio comedy. They played this genre as expertly as Jack's hero, Isaac Stern, worked that Stradivarius.

The only way Jack's hilarious radio show or these cartoons about radio can conceivably be topped is with the absurdist feature film, IT'S IN THE BAG (1945). Fred Allen, Jack Benny and a slew of very funny character actors star - and are incredibly funny, even by jaded and oh-so-hip 2022 standards.