Large Association of Movie Blogs
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, September 29, 2022

September 29 is National Silent Movie Day!

One of the rotating topics of this blog, along with animation, film noir, music and comedy, has been silent movies - and, lo and behold, it's National Silent Movie Day.

First learned that September 29 was the day to annually celebrate and pay tribute to silent cinema via last year's terrific Silent Movie Day Livestream with animator and animation historian Mark Kausler.

That Silent Movie Day Livestream whetted this film buff's appetite for more silent era animation, so the credo of today's post is, not surprisingly, let's bring on the silents, especially cartoons and short subjects, and lots of 'em, starting with Felix the Cat!

Otto Messmer actually made a series of Charlie Chaplin cartoons back in the teens, so it's fitting that we follow Felix with Chaplin's A DAY'S PLEASURE.

Continuing this annual celebration of silent films, courtesy of the heroes at EYE Film Museum, are classic comedies starring Marcel Perez a.k.a. "the international mirth maker." These are prime examples of the Robinet series produced by Ambrosio in 1911-1914. Many Robinet comedies co-star the excellent actress and comedienne Nilde Baracchi as Robinette.

Perez, who starred in and directed movies in both Europe and America under more names than those of a fiction author who creates a gazillion novels using more than one nom-de-plume - Marcel Fabre, Michel Fabre, Fernandea Perez and Manuel Fernández Pérez, for starters - is quite brilliant.

From the YouTube channel of the fabulous EYE Film Museum are superb Perez comedies.

Whether starring as Robinet, Tweedy, Tweedledum or Twede-Dan, Marcel Perez successfully blended the European and American approaches to slapstick. There is also a futuristic fantasy element which sets him apart from other comedians.

Have devoted posts on this very blog to the comedic and cinematic exploits of Marcel Perez, who moved around like an MLB relief pitcher who gets traded or signs with a new team as a free agent every year! Strongly recommend following this by checking out Andy Galaxy's Marcel Perez playlist.

That National Silent Movie Day livestream sent this blogger, uncharacteristically powered with turbo jets, both to Mark's superlative blog and, of course, MORE silent Fleischer classics.

A motherlode of silent era cartoons can be found on the Craig's Cartoon Capers YouTube channel: LOTS of excellent, pretty good and just plain bizarre cartoons from the silent era! KO-KO'S BIG SALE must be seen to be believed. Notably, there are playlists for both the Fleischer Studio's Out Of The Inkwell series and the subsequent Inkwell Imps.

Those Ko-Ko cartoons, for some reason, bring to mind the way-out and ingenious stop-motion animation of the great Charley Bowers.

On the topic of early cartoons, for National Silent Movie Day, must go back to the sources, the guys who started it all, Émile Cohl and Winsor McCay!

Won't be getting into silent features in today's post (THE GENERAL, SUNRISE and THE LAST COMMAND are three great ones), as there are scribes - just two are Fritzi Kramer at Movies Silently and Lea Stans at Silent-ology, currently doing a blogathon for the 2022 National Silent Movie Day - who write much more eloquently about them than the gang here does, but am posting a bunch of favorite short subjects.

Buster Keaton in COPS is the movie that made me a silent film fan for life.

Since all amazing silent comedies invariably lead to more amazing silent comedies, here's Buster Keaton in ONE WEEK.

When asked to identify the single silent 2-reeler that makes me laugh the most, I may not be able to answer the question, and shall struggle to get the list of the funniest silent comedy short subjects down to less than five or six films, but certainly one of them would be Laurel & Hardy in PUTTING PANTS ON PHILIP (1927).

With the possible exception of Laurel & Hardy, none of the silent film comedians gets bigger, louder and more frequent belly laughs from this writer and comedy fan than Charley Chase. Here is a hilarious bit from ACCIDENTAL ACCIDENTS.

From Dave Glass, who has posted an outstanding silent comedy playlist on his YouTube channel and, with Dave Wyatt, produced excellent classic comedy DVDS and Blu-rays, here's a very funny clip from Charley in NEVER THE DAMES SHALL MEET.

No matter how many times the gang here sees WHAT PRICE GOOFY, MIGHTY LIKE A MOOSE and HIS WOODEN WEDDING, never fail to end up ROFL. These are up there with the silent Laurel & Hardies (many also directed by Leo McCarey) among the funniest films ever made.

There's good news for screenings of silent movies at long last.

Tommy Stathes, who will be on Turner Classic Movies tonight presenting vintage silent era animation, has resumed his Cartoon Carnival series, featuring both silent and sound cartoons, in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will be doing its winter events on December 3.

The KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival, which periodically incorporates silent films into the extremely and wildly varied celluloid mix, shall return, after a three year hiatus caused by COVID, to Foothill College in Los Altos, CA for its 30th anniversary shindig on December 10.

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:

There’s also a Bullwinkle recordFamoose Moose's Greatest Hits...and Misses! featuring Bill Broughton, Bill Scott and June Foray.

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.