Large Association of Movie Blogs
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, June 01, 2023

And This Blog Loves Forgotten Cartoons

Attn. NYC animation fans: there will be a Cartoon Carnival matinee, Saturday Afternoon Cartoons: Getting Warmer on June 3 at The Metrograph on 7 Ludlow Street. Showtime is noon.

Cartoon Carnival producer Tommy Stathes elaborates: It's officially the beginning of June with Getting Warmer, a selection of vintage cartoon films that take place during spring and summer. Come enjoy outdoorsy frolics at the beach, shenanigans in the park, dust-ups at the picnic, and other assorted gallavants under the sun.

Spanning the 1920s through the ’40s, this assortment showcases classic characters such as Farmer Al Falfa, Cubby Bear, Van Beuren’s human Tom and Jerry, Molly Moo-Cow, Porky Pig, and others.

The 60 minute film program will be followed by a live Q&A session.

Shall follow this with a generous compendium of classic cartoons and ask whether we can find forgotten cartoons we love but have not posted here before in 1200+ posts. Good question. We'll start with one we definitely have posted, featuring Betty Boop as a mermaid.

Did a double take after seeing a copy of Ted Eshbaugh's Goofy Goat Antics IN COLOR, both on and YouTube. Have a soft spot for Ted's animation due to his very enjoyable cartoons The Wizard Of Oz, Sunshine Makers and Japanese Lanterns

This "color" version of Goofy Goat Antics is a fake but a nice try and appears to be the product of someone scanning the B&W version and running it through color filters in Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro.

The following is an example of what a Ted Eshbaugh cartoon that was actually produced in color looks like.

We're also big fans of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, especially the bizarre and weirdly imaginative early talkies produced by Walter Lantz.

We note Tex Avery's name in the credits of the following 1933 Ozzie cartoon.

Then there's Binko The Bear Cub. produced by the short-lived studio of Romer Gray. Supposedly four Binko cartoons were produced before the studio closed in 1931. This one, HOT TOE MOLLIE, is the only Binko opus I've seen. Who worked on Binko for Romer Gray's studio? Among others two of the McKimson brothers, Bob and Tom, both of whom would end up at Warner Brothers animation.

The Charles Mintz Studio, like it or not, is responsible for Scrappy, the king of forgotten misbegotten cartoons, frequently posted here at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog.

Am I as much a fan of pre-Code Scrappy cartoons, loaded with the rubbery, way-out animation of Dick Huemer, as I was when I first started writing about them a gazillion years ago? Yes.

One of the best of the numerous Charles Mintz Studio/Columbia cartoons in the 1930's to spotlight movie star caricatures is Scrappy's Party.

Preceding Scrappy at Mintz: Krazy Kat.

Animator and historian Milton Knight has posted several very good entries from the series on his YouTube Channel.

Closing today's post: a few classic cartoons by the Van Beuren studio!

Are the New York studio's Aesop's Fables and Tom & Jerry/Dick & Larry/Cubby Bear cartoons crude, primitive, goofy, in bad taste and often hilarious? Yes.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Sir Christopher Lee. . . ROCKS

Do we love it when Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman whip out Fender Stratocasters, Gibson Les Pauls and Flying Vs and proceed to rock? Yes, very much.

That thought, invariably, brings to mind a fellow who played Frankenstein and rocked a Flying V with panache: one of the all-time movie greats, Christopher Lee (May 27, 1922 – June 7, 2015).

On the short list of celebrated movie and television actors who also had a music career, among other things, Sir Christopher Lee led his own metal band and made a bunch of excellent records.

The promo videos for Christopher Lee's Metal album are appropriately operatic.

After all, he does sing Symphonic Metal.

Here, submitted for your approval, are just a few trailers from Sir Christopher Lee's many, many classic movies.

Not surprisingly, the coming attractions begin with Hammer Films.

Director, classic cartoon, sci fi and psychotronica buff Joe Dante waxes poetic about Hammer Films' Gothic epic The Curse Of Frankenstein.

Content to not just play Frankenstein and Dracula at Hammer Films, Lee also portrayed Sherlock Holmes!

A key contributor to the Star Wars, 007 and J.R.R. Tolkien via Peter Jackson cinema franchises, Christopher Lee may have been the only actor to both be in WW2 Great Britain's special forces and appear in a James Bond flick.

And also host Saturday Night Live.

In closing, we doff our top hats that could have been worn by Count Dracula or Vic Frankenstein to the genre-busting career of Christopher Lee.

Alas, for the umpteenth time in 2023 - and we haven't even hit Memorial Day yet - the gang of reprobates and rapscallions here end a post by noting the passing of yet another legend from the world of music. That's powerhouse entertainer Tina Turner, like Mr. Lee Simply The Best. Go here right now and watch Tina's bravura performance of River Deep Mountain High from her 1989 induction to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, then check out her appearances on Late Night With David Letterman.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

This Sunday, It's Vitaphone Mini-Musicals

Time to relax on a Sunday with some cheesy but super fun musical short subjects, early 1930's style, from none other than Vitaphone!

Kicking this off: excerpts from Vitaphone's teenage dancin' sensations Hal Le Roy and Mitzi Mayfair in TIP TAP TOE (1932) and USE YOUR IMAGINATION (1933).

Later in the 1930's, the Vitaphones teamed Hal with Toby Wing and June Allyson, but, alas, neither could match Mitzi Mayfair's formidable terpsichorean mojo. Too bad she didn't make more movies in addition to these Vitaphone short subjects and the WW2 musical Four Jills In A Jeep.

Hal's breakthrough was in the Ziegfeld Follies and, all these decades later, his rubber-legged moves and tap dancing remain amazing. He was a heckuva entertainer.

Hoofin' Hal continued working well into the television era and tapped his way through The Ed Sullivan Show. Here he is doing a spirited throwdown with fellow tap guru Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates.

Next up: Phil Spitalny & His Musical Queens (a top-notch group)! There weren't nearly enough symphony orchestra and big band jobs for exceptional female musicians during the Great Depression, so Mr. Spitalny (who I first heard about when perennial nogoodnik Boris Badenov made a reference to him in the Rocky & Bullwinkle Wossamatta U series) happily hired them, a few years before the formation of The International Sweethearts Of Rhythm.

A recording artist who starred in terrific musical short subjects in the pre-code era was Ruth Etting a.k.a. The Sweetheart Of Columbia Records.

The excellent Ruth Etting musical short ARTISTIC TEMPER (1932) is distinguished by an extended sequence that takes place in an automat and sets up her subsequent songs.

That clip got me thinking of Lisa Hurwitz' outstanding 2021 documentary THE AUTOMAT. It's a great slice of 20th century history and, naturally, Mel Brooks' appearance is immensely enjoyable. I want some automat coffee, NOW!

Back to splendid songstress Ruth Etting, this film buff wonders if a collection of her musical short subjects produced by Vitaphone and Paramount Pictures is available on DVD or Blu-ray.

If there is, we'll buy it - she was great!

One of our favorite Vitaphones, PLANE CRAZY (1933), stars the pert comedienne Dorothy Lee, key onscreen cohort of RKO Radio Pictures' sprightly comedy team of Bert Wheeler & Robert Woolsey and especially wonderful in PEACH O' RENO (1932), HIPS HIPS HOORAY (1934) and COCKEYED CAVALIERS (1934). Dorothy's megawatt charm, wiseguy comics unconvincingly portraying aviators and (of course) cheesy production numbers rule the day.

In last weekend's KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival we ran a hilariously cheesy and shameless Soundie from the early 1940's about a gas station staffed by showgirls and mostly patronized by unapologetically pervy guys. The budget in the following Vitaphone musical (in glorious Technicolor) about a showgirl service station, Service With A Smile, is significantly higher so the outfits are a lot better.

Better yet, the 1934 gas station customers, unlike their 1940's counterparts, are not leering lechers!

And, as is the case in the Vitaphone Technicolor short subject Good Morning Eve, the celebrated Ziegfeld Follies comedian Leon Errol, veteran of a gazillion RKO 2-reelers (The Jitters) and a memorable appearance with fellow comic and boozehound W.C. Fields in NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK, is on hand.

In another fun Technicolor musical short from this Vitaphone series, Wini Shaw, the super splendid songstress who sang the Lullaby Of Broadway in GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935, co-starred with goofy dialect comedian El Brendel and scantily clad showgirls dressed, barely and implausibly, as Native Americans. I'm not kidding!

In closing, way back on pre-lockdown February 8, 2019, Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog's post was devoted to, in large part due to the untimely passing of the driving force begin The Vitaphone Project, Ron Hutchinson, the rediscovery of the incredible 1920's time capsules known as Vitaphone Varieties. Posted Vitahone Varieties then, but to finish today's Vitaphone-centric post, we shall give 'em an encore. Here are a slew of Vitaphone Varieties - enjoy! And thanks again to the late Ron Hutchinson!

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

This Weekend: Charlie Chaplin Days at Niles

This year's Charlie Chaplin Days will rock Niles' Edison Theater starting this Thursday evening and extending through Sunday.

Thanks to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and the Niles Main Street Association for making this happen!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Psychotronix Redux

After experiencing a painfully extended period that included more than a year of lockdown and NO SCREENINGS, ZERO, ZILCH, ZIP, NADA, NONE, it boggles the mind that in 2023 one can find multiple classic film events in one geographic area on the same day. Last December, we were THRILLED and DELIGHTED to return to Foothill College for the 30th anniversary KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival.

Had a blast last Saturday night presenting one delightful, delirious and de-lovely KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival featuring an appearance by special guest John Stanley, author, prolific film reviewer and exceptional horror host from Creature Features.

Among other things, last Saturday's show presented a chance for yours truly to break out his collection of ultra-cheesy Soundies!

Yes, cheesy Soundies are a specialty of this festival!

Always enjoy running vintage 1950's commercials for a capacity crowd in the 21st century!

Trailers from my favorite B-movies and genre films are always fun!

We screened some excellent blooper reels, including glorious gaffes from Dick Van Dyke and Get Smart, although not the following compendium of vintage 1960's screw-ups.

The Psychotronix Gang shall be back at Foothill College next fall with more blasts from the past!

Until then, Sci Fi Bob Ekman and Scott Moon carry on the Psychotronix spirit with shows at the Orinda Theater.

I'm very proud of the work I have done over the past 25+ years with Sci Fi Bob and Scott, both talented, knowledgeable, resourceful, creative and inspired film collector/curator/programmers. Keep an eye on the Orinda Theater website for details on their upcoming events.

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Coronation and The Return Of The KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival

Can't say I'm exactly nutty about the royals and would not want to be in King Charles' spats, but am positively thrilled and delighted that, a week from today, the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival will be back at Foothill College's Room 5015 with a night of big screen fun: cheesy movies, cartoons, commercials, trailers, Scopitones and Soundies!

When: Saturday, May 13, 2023 at 7:00 PM
Where: Room 5015, Foothill College campus
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills (El Monte exit off 280)
Why: We're suckers for this stuff, LOVE IT!

How Much? $5 Donation Benefits KFJC.
Parking: Lot #5
Public Transit: Cal Train and VTA
Info: Foothill College Transportation & Parking. Arrive early, as the shows often sell out. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

It is a festival of the wildest and weirdest flotsam and jetsam from 20th century pop culture.

As far as the coronation goes, the gang here likes cartoons about coronations a lot more than actual coronations.

My regal cat and official mascot Raymond disapproves strongly of the following cartoons because King Looney XIV is a feline and, worse yet, horror of horrors, mice beat up cats!

These Terrytoons strike as a primitive precursor to Mighty Mouse (created a few years later), even though the rowdy rodents are more along the lines of "Mickey Rat."

Arguably, way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog's all-time favorite cartoon about kings is the wonderfully eccentric 1942 Columbia Color Rhapsody King Midas Junior. John Hubley and Paul Sommer co-directed offbeat, interesting and unusual cartoons for Screen Gems, at least before Hubley left with Dave Hilberman and Zack Schwartz and formed UPA.

We will no doubt have Incredibly Strange Cartoons, among many other things, in the KFJC Psychotronix Film Fest on May 6 - see you there!

KFJC "listen & obey" poster by Judy Zillen. "Greetings from the Psychotronix Film Festival" and "Batman & Robin" graphics by Scott Moon. KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival "Evolution" and "King Zor" graphics by Sci Fi Bob Ekman.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Screenings and Day-O!

Wow, it's soon to be May 2023 - and at long last classic film screenings are back in full swing. The KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival returns to Foothill College two weeks from today.

A week from today, on Saturday, May 6th, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents the sex, murder and Weimar Republic ennui-packed Pandora's Box, directed by G>W. Pabst, starring 1920's punk rocker Louise Brooks and accompanied by The Clubfoot Orchestra, at Oakland's Paramount Theatre. Also on Saturday, May 6th, if your preference is laughs, at 7:30 pm, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum presents COMEDY SHORTS NIGHT.

Back on the big screen where they belong: the following quartet of comedy classics, accompanied by pianist Greg Pane.

The Fireman (1916, Lone Star, 35mm) Charlie Chaplin
Bumping Into Broadway (1919, Rolin) Harold Lloyd
The Goat (1921, Comique, 35mm) Buster Keaton
The Second Hundred Years (1927, Hal Roach Studios)
Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy

Alas, plunging further into the 21st century means the losses of too many beloved figures from the 20th century. In 2022, standup comedians dropped like flies. In 2023 so far, it is incredible musicians - including pianist Ahmad Jamal, among of slew of all-time greats - the world is losing at an alarming rate.

The latest is the amazing vocalist-bandleader-activist-actor-director-producer-writer-humanitarian Harry Belafonte, who passed at 96.

Fortunately, Mr. Belafonte was nothing if not prolific and several excellent complete concerts of Harry's are up on YouTube. Tough to stay in a bad mood for long after listening to Belafonte's killer calypso!