Random semiconscious musings

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bob Clampett: Rover's Rival

I love cartoons, especially those that are funny just for the sake of being funny. Lightheartedness is so hard to find these days, in such a cynical and marketable world.

One such cartoon that classifies as being just plain funny is Warner Brothers' Studios "Rover's Rival" directed by Bob Clampett. Additionally, it's one of my favourite Clampett cartoons period. Yes, I know it's in black and white, and yes, I know it's an early effort of his (and hardly measures up against such masterpieces as "Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs" and "Tortoise Wins By A Hare"), but in the scheme of things, it is a great cartoon all around.

It has the silly, yet amusing method of delivering gag after gag, in Clampett's own inimitable style. Puns, sight gags, and topical references ("Yeah, man!") are abundant in this clever romp about Porky trying to teach an old dog new tricks.... Plus, the timing of gag delivery is top-notch and razor-sharp!

In these days at WB Studios, circa 1937, Ub Iwerk's studio had just closed down and Bob inherited some of Iwerk's former staff: Lu Guarnier and Jack Carey. Chuck Jones remained Bob's head animator until he was given a unit of his own a year or so later. But it was also noted by Tim Cohea, that Bob Cannon, Jerry Hathcock, and Bill Hammer were believed to have made the shift over during this grey period as well- but exactly when, it was not known. However, in "Porky's Hero Agency", Bob's very next cartoon, the caricature of animators Chuck Jones, Lu Guarnier, and Bob Cannon can be seen in the picket fence- so it is safe to say that they were indeed on staff for "Rover's Rival".... and the artwork of Jones and Cannon can easily be seen in the cartoon as well.

There are several brief scenes to which I cannot attribute an animator in particular- however, I have observed that the same art style can clearly be seen in Iwerk's two previous cartoons, "Porky's Super Service" and the most excellent "Porky's Badtime Story". It is for this reason that I believe these unknown styles must belong to two of Iwerk's original staff, probably Bill Hammer and Lu Guarnier. I'm probably wrong with this association, but they also disappear or are very minimal in Bob's next cartoon, "Porky's Hero Agency", which signifies that these animators were either moved or left to join Ub back at his new studio making the Columbia cartoons.

Either way, here's my breakdown of the cartoon. And if I possibly get a few of the attributed scenes wrong, well- correct me and we'll both be sure. However, that doesn't stop it from being a most enjoyable cartoon.... Hope you like it.

More animation posts on the horizon.... but first, I've got a move coming up.....

Friday, September 29, 2006

...but what about the character's careers?

Whew- what a rollercoaster ride of a summer. Sorry for the absence, everyone.... a lot has happened here at home.

Well, back to posting on my blog....

There's nothing I find more entertaining than Hollywood celebrities whoring themselves out to product marketing.... especially if it's something that has nothing to do with their career image. What makes it especially savoury is realizing this exclusivity right off the bat, and watching the famous name stumble through their lines as if they've sold out to a student film.... smiling all the way.

I look at their faces and can almost hear them thinking to themselves, "Good God, I love money. Money, fame, money. Ahhhhh... slurppp.... if I didn't need to pay for my next cosmetic treatment or substance fix, I'd consider actually developing my sense of morals and base a career on them."

Well, cartoon characters are not beyond this kind of behaviour either- at least the suits who hold their rights aren't anyway. It's actually quite amusing to see the weak connection with products and character names.....

Case In Point 1:

Wouldn't all that sugar be harmful to a rabbit?

Case In Point 2:

No.... spinach is actually much, much better for you.

Gee, I was waiting for the part in the commercial after Popeye eats the spinich and socks Sonny right in the beak..... or at least those mooching kids.

Case In Point 3:

Just don't look into the rotisserie insets.... you might get quite a shock, Woody.

Considering Universal's stand on releasing their cartoon properties either to DVD collections or television, how the heck does anybody in the family even know who Woody is? Maybe the father has a vague recollection of those halcyon days when he used to be able to get up on Saturday mornings and watch the cartoons..... ahhhhh, I miss those days too.

Case In Point 4:

Who puts empty jars with knives sticking out of them back into the fridge? Sylvester's owners must be college freshmen.

The best part of this commercial is seeing Tweety get bashed against the side of the cage. Hey, I'm going to watch it again, and again, and again....

But at least the animation quality in these is really quite good.