Friday, February 28, 2020

Happy 65th Birthday, Gilbert Gottfried!



A Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog favorite among those fearless standup comedians active in the 20th century and still going 20 years in the 21st century (Stephen Wright, Norm MacDonald, Louis Black and Chris Rock among them), remains the one, the only Gilbert Gottfried, comic, cartoon voice artist and character actor who celebrates his 65th birthday today. Starting today's post: Gilbert's part in Beverly Hills Cop.



Enjoy his unconventional set on HBO's One Night Stand.



Here are two prime clips of Gilbert's wild and original standup comedy from back in the 1980's, the latter one of his many appearances on Late Night With David Letterman.





Gilbert's comedy is NSFW, hilariously funny and in the Dirty Jokes Hall Of Fame (along with LaWanda Page, Redd Foxx and Robert Schimmel).



We at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are also unabashed fans of the wonderful and old school show biz-obsessed Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast featuring Gilbert and his co-host, broadcaster, journalist and writer Frank Santopadre.



Thank you to the Gottfrieds (Gilbert and his wife and podcast producer Dara) and Frank for doing this. The 300th episode aired earlier this week!



It is far and away the funniest and most entertaining of all podcasts.



Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast is a frequent go-to for this writer and old school show business geek when he needs a laugh.









As far as Gilbert's role as Iago the Parrot in the 1992 Walt Disney cartoon feature Aladdin goes, the surprise is that it took so long for someone in animation to offer Gilbert a job as a voice artist.



Could we imagine Gilbert contributing voices to The Ren & Stimpy Show? Yes, definitely.



Happy 65th, Gilbert - and many more!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Toons Around The World: Stop-Motion Marvels



Stop-motion animation, from Cohl to Bowers to O'Brien to Starewicz to Pal to Harryhausen to the Quay brothers, has been on this movie buff's mind of late. Charley Bowers remains a favorite!








George Pal always pleases.







For stop-motion animation genius, the Dutch Vintage Animation website is quite a treasure trove.



Quite a few terrific stop-motion films of Joop Geesink can be found here and on the stop-motion master's You Tube channel.







Have posted several commercials from Joop Geesink's Dollywood studio on this blog before. They are excellent and in the tradition of George Pal's animated mini-musicals for Philips and experimental animator Oskar Fischinger's Murrati Cigarette ads.





The Dollywood studio's commercial for White Horse Whisky ranks atop the list of most amazing, beautifully designed and imaginative ads. Do not show at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting - that would be a very bad idea, as even the most prim teetotaler would be amenable to downing a couple of shots after watching it.



Rather amazed that the Kinex studio's stop-motion films entirely escaped me for decades, at least until the release of a couple of Kinex short subjects, starring Chip the Wooden Man, on the now out-of-print 2010 Stop-Motion Marvels DVD collection.







Recently reading Kinex in HD: “The Land of Wiz” and “The Land of the Wooden Soldiers has whetted my appetite to see more of the studio's films starring The Doodlebugs, Chip the Wooden Man and Snap the Gingerbread Man.







Hear there shall be a Stop Motion Marvels 2 later this year from Thunderbean, so hopefully a few more discoveries from Kinex (and stop-motion animator John Burton) will be available then.



Until that Blu-ray release brings further discoveries, here is an indescribable 1933 short subject created by New Zealand filmmaker/painter/animator/sculptor Len Lye and on the first Stop Motion Marvels collection. It features a song well known by the gang at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog from a 1933 Max Fleischer Screen Song cartoon and melodious renditions by Louis Armstrong and Django Reinhardt. Lye's love of music, paramount in his subsequent GPO experimental films A Colour Box, Rainbow Dance and Trade Tattoo, combines with way-out imagery here.



Acknowledgements and many thanks to the Cartoon Research website and its Thunderbean Thursdays feature for links in this post that didn't come from the Dutch Vintage Animation page. Also extend a respectful tip of the Jimmie Hatlo hat to a YouTube channel which, among hundreds of 1920's, 1930's and 1940's animated films, includes a playlist of Charley Bowers.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Kickstarter fundraiser for Lupino Lane collection on Blu-ray and DVD!



A happy droplet among much horribleness so far in 2020 is fantastic news on the classic comedy movie front. Harry Langdon and Laurel & Harry collections are on the way later this year - and a Kickstarter is underway to fund a comedy compilation of films starring the great star of the British stage and movies (both in England and America), Lupino Lane.



This very worthy Kickstarter, funding a compilation using ultra-rare 35mm prints from international archives, deserves enthusiastic support!



The double-jointed acrobatic comedian starred for decades on the London stage and music halls. When the young "Nipper" Lane played the music halls, he was one of Stan Laurel's boyhood idols. Born on June 16, 1892, Lane was exactly two years younger than Stan.



Among the greatest pure physical comics to appear in movies, Lane starred in truly wonderful silent two-reel comedies throughout the 1920's.



The diminutive comedian performs seemingly impossible stunts, over and over and over!





Producer and organizer Dave Glass elaborates on the Lupino Lane Collection's contents:

“We’re delighted to say that we have some exceptional prints (most are 2K scans of nitrate) of some VERY rare films.

Through the generosity of Serge Bromberg and Lobster Films, Elif & Co at the EYE Film Museum and Patrick Stanbury (Photoplay) we present the following films:

Hello Sailor (1927) (one of the special event hits at the Pordenone Film Festival in 2019)

Sword Points (1928) (35mm 4K restoration)

Fisticuffs (1928)

Summer Saps (1929) (complete 2 reel version!)

Good Night Nurse (1929) (new scan of 35mm nitrate)

Battling Sisters (1929) (hilarious gender reversal comedy)

Joyland (1929) (the complete ‘Toyland’ rarity – a Joy!)




If you are not familiar with Mr. Lane, here he is in a scene from The Love Parade co-starring the charming singer-dancer-actress-comedienne Lillian Roth. Yes, that is the Lillian Roth; she was subsequently cast in the Marx Brothers opus Animal Crackers as a punishment for rowdy on-set behavior in the making of her previous film, Madame Satan.



If that example of Lane's comedy does not convince you of his brilliance as a comedian and acrobat, here's another one: a duo routine with the equally talented icon of stage and screen, comedienne Beatrice Lillie.



After his career in American movies ended, Lane would be synonymous with British entertainment, star in English movies, as well as the musical stage hits, Me & My Girl. Lupino led the famous Lambeth Walk dance number, which he sings at 1:36 in the following clip.



There, he would remain an preeminent star of the stage and enjoy renewed prestige as one of England's premier show business icons.



Happily, the initial goal to get this off the starter's blocks has been met. The Kickstarter runs to March 13.



The gang at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog encourages supporting this, as more comedy rarities could be added to the Blu-ray/DVD collection.



Until then, Mr. Lane, bully and thanks for a million laughs!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Swooner Crooners for Valentine's Day



It's Valentine's Day and nothing is more romantic than a crooner. The very personification of the word would be Our Gang's Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer.



Alfalfa's inspiration, without a doubt, was Bing Crosby. Alfalfa wasn't alone in that assessment - none other than Mel Tormé recorded "Learn To Croon."



And Frank Sinatra Jr. waxed the definitive version of the Gumby theme song.



The Brits were most inspired by the English Bing - the gifted and uber-romantic tenor Al Bowlly.



Even Bing may concede that Mr. Bowlly waxed the killer version of "The Very Thought Of You." The April 17, 1941 death of Mr. Bowlly in a airstrike on St. James's, London would be an incalculable loss to the arts and the world - as were the untimely World War II related passings of Carole Lombard and Leslie Howard.



Crooners started appearing in movies practically the moment talkies sent silents into the rear view mirror. The popular crooner and radio star Rudy Vallee was featured in the 1929 Eddie Cantor vehicle Glorifying The American Girl.



Rudy Vallee received the ultimate tribute: to appear in a Max Fleischer Screen Song cartoon starring Betty Boop.



Rudy and Bing Crosby inspired Cartoonland in no uncertain terms!



Taking cues from Bing, Cubby Bear was a singing radio star and one-bear band in the Van Beuren cartoon Croon Crazy!



Der Bingle was such a popular recording artist and movie star in the mid-1930's that Friz Freleng made a series of Merrie Melodies starring preening, narcissistic Bing Crosby roosters preying upon naive backwoods country hens and behaving like cocks (as well as knaves, scoundrels, rapscallions and cheeky bounders). This may have been a response to a mid-1930's trend in poultry-based animated cartoons that Disney's Silly Symphony Cock O'The Walk - an extended Busby Berkeley production number starring a cast of chickens - initiated with considerable style and a musical nod to "La Carioca" from Flying Down To Rio.



Not at all thrilled about these characterizations, Bing, with Paramount Pictures sued to get the Leon Schlesinger studio to stop making cartoons starring rapacious albeit cowardly crooners.



Bing and Paramount didn't win their court case, but the last of the trio of cartoons Friz Freleng and crew produced on the "city slicker seducing a star-struck country hen" theme, A Star Is Hatched, featured a movie director, not a crooner. It was also, due to the additions of music director Carl W. Stalling and voice characterization wiz Mel Blanc to the studio, a much snappier and funnier cartoon.





Crooners still would permeate music in 1930's movies, TV, radio and cartoons - none more than in I Love To Singa, the jaunty Merrie Melodie cartoon directed by Tex Avery.



With the unprecedented popularity and rise to entertainment superstar of Frank Sinatra just a few years later in the early 1940's, crooners soon were everywhere in cartoons.



EVERYBODY made cartoons inspired by "Frankie" - and this went on for a few years.







Without a doubt, the best of the best spoofs of crooners and the hysteria surrounding them (not at all surprisingly) were made by the comic geniuses as Warner Brothers animation.





As usual, getting the last word on the swooner crooner phenomenon, Tex Avery made a cartoon at MGM that combines a Sinatra spoof with a romantic polecat very much unlike Chuck Jones' over confident Charles Boyer skunk, Pepe LePew. The parody of 1940's bobbysoxers includes a bit with crooner-obsessed bunnies hitting each other over the head with other crooner-obsessed bunnies. Lil' Tinker is also, most uncharacteristically for Mr. Avery, a rather sweet and romantic cartoon, in addition to being ROFL hilarious.



Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog must finish this post by noting that our favorite crooner of all time, hands and microphones down, remains Bill Murray as "Nick the Lounge Singer" performing music from the movies!

Monday, February 03, 2020

New on Blu-ray: Tex Avery at MGM



Having watched beautifully made, brilliantly executed, sensitively acted, cosmically claustrophobic and mega-dark international noirs at the 18th Noir City Film Festival, this cinephile is now ready for some LAUGHS!



Happy to hear that there shall be, officially released on February 18 and now available for pre-order, a new Blu-ray of comedy gems created by Tex Avery, A.K.A. The King Of Cartoons.



Nobody could deliver belly laughs in mass quantities quite like Tex!



Soon after joining the Warner Brothers cartoon studio in 1935, Tex brought the animated cartoon business out of the post-Production Code of 1934 enforcement (and Disney envy) doldrums.



Tex, previously an animator for Walter Lantz' studio, immediately overturned the paradigm at Leon Schlesinger's studio by introducing a different, fast and imaginative brand of cartoon humor. His crew (Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Virgil Ross and Sid Sutherland) set up shop a bit away from the main WB animation studio in a place called Termite Terrace and set to work making funny cartoons.





The Looney Tunes made in Termite Terrace gleefully broke the fourth and fifth walls and acknowledged to the moviegoing audience that "this is a cartoon!"



In this new breed of rowdy Looney Tunes, it was not merely okay but a mission to make cartoons that were not just cute like the Silly Symphonies/Happy Harmonies but actually funny.



Avery subsequently created Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny, with enthusiastic contributions from animators Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett.



This new Blu-ray concentrates on the films Tex made after leaving WB and joining the MGM cartoon studio, where he would create a host of original and indelible characters there, led by the phlegmatic Droopy Dog, whose trademark line was "you know what - I'm happy, or "you know what - that makes me MAD!"



Every one of Avery's characters and cartoons utterly baffled MGM cartoon producer Fred Quimby.



Tops, both back in WW2 and now, would be the 1943 Red Hot Riding Hood, still the short subject to earn the most rentals ever, especially to a humor-and-pulchritude starved G.I. audience.



Had Tex a percentage of the profits from the "Red" cartoons, he'd have retired a gazillionaire.




The lineup of cartoons on this Blu-ray is as follows:



Red Hot Riding Hood – 1943
Who Killed Who – 1943
What’s Buzzin’ Buzzard – 1943



Dumb-Hounded – 1943



Batty Baseball – 1944
Screwball Squirrel – 1944



Big Heel-Watha – 1944
The Screwy Truant – 1945



The Hick Chick – 1946



Lonesome Lenny – 1946



Hound Hunters – 1947
Red Hot Rangers – 1947
Bad Luck Blackie – 1949



Wags to Riches – 1949



The Garden Gopher – 1950
The Peachy Cobbler – 1950



The Chump Champ – 1950
Symphony in Slang – 1951



Daredevil Droopy – 1951




Tex Avery's Screwball Classics (volume 1) can be ordered here. We at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog sincerely hope that this collection sells like hotcakes served with rich creamery butter and genuine maple syrup at the MGM commissary and compels Warner Archive to release a volume 2 which will include the aforementioned Swing Shift Cinderella and other hilarious Tex Avery MGM cartoons not on volume 1. Classic comedy fans - you know what to do!



Tex Avery's Screwball Classics volume 1 and the also to be officially released on February 18 (and now available for pre-order), Douglas MacLean Collection DVD comprising two features starring the dapper and popular light comedian of the 1920's will tide film humor aficionados over at least for a bit.



Well, they will more than do for a couple of months until the official release of the Harry Langdon Hal Roach talkies DVD set by Sprocket Vault Classic Films in April.