Random semiconscious musings

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On a dark and stormy night.....

It's that time of year again (when I need to update this blog) and pull a spooky cartoon out of my collection for Hallowe'en.

And my pick for frightening, eerie spooky cartoon features....


WOOOOOOO... Now that's scary!!

OK, I chose this cartoon for two reasons: firstly, part of it lends towards a Hallowe'en theme, and secondly it features animation from an artist I am going to focus on in the next few blog posts because he is one of my favourites: Don Williams.

Though not as obvious as his later stuff in the 40s and up, there's some cool Williams animation in this short. He did the scene at the beginning where the tree comes in and plays the piano ("Bahhh!!! Jazz Music!!!). Another scene in particular he did is where Cookie is on the telephone and the Mad Musician is trying to hypnotize her (one of the first on-screen appearances of a telemarketer, no doubt). It's the scene when Cookie says, "no, no, no" and finally drops the phone and gives in, walking out the door.

One of Williams' strongest points is how sturdy all his characters appear. He was a master of character acting and whenever he was given a facial closeup, there are subtleties in the expressions that not every animator could capture. His animation has an imperfect, quirky quality to it, which is why I enjoy it so much. And all action is nicely exaggerated.

Even though this cartoon is one of Buddy's better outings, as some of the gags are funny, especially with the skeletons- the potential is there for something better but never quite reaches it.... the problem with this short is that it doesn't really know where it wants to go. It begins as a somewhat macabre thriller, introducing the psychotic musician who wants inspiration for a masterpiece. It then turns into a crime-mystery, where Cookie disappears and Buddy becomes a Sherlock Holmes-type gumshoe. Once in the house, it becomes rather surreal, bordering on becoming a spooky, fantasy ghost story of weirdness and curiosity. And finally, it finishes as a humourous romp with Buddy and Cookie doing what they do best, cheery jazz music.

Would it be fair to assume that Jack King was not the only director, which is what caused this confused plotline? Or maybe he had so many ideas, and the story just unfolded as they were incorporated into the cartoon? Nobody really knows... that's spooky in itself.

Either way though, there is some great atmosphere in this cartoon...

Enjoy... and Happy Halloween.....!!



  • Almost all of King's cartoons, including his later Porky Pigs, take a far more serious tone at times than what Freleng, Avery or even Hardaway were doing, which is what makes them feel so odd -- mixing the more Disneyesque tone with the type of gags that, even pre-Avery, Warners was starting to gravitate towards makes most of King's work feel as though it's pulling in two different directions.

    But "Buddy the Detective" is still worlds ahead of the confusion found in "Shanghaied Shipmates" with the angry scimitar-wielding/soap-eating Porky Pig (and I assume somebody at the studio -- Leon, Henry, Ray or even Friz -- realized King cartoons were a little lacking in entertainment value, since when it came time for Schlesinger to promote someone to augment Friz's output of color Merrie Melodies he picked Avery, after all of two cartoons, instead of King, who had been animating and directing at the studio for over two years).

    By Blogger J Lee, at 4:20 PM  

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