Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Porky The Rainmaker: Cause-and-effect Comedy in Stark Black and White

RELEASE DATE:
8/1/1936

DVD/BLU-RAY AVAILABILITY:
None

You can watch a 1990s-era colorized print of this cartoon HERE. If you're not familiar with this cartoon, please watch before you read--thanks!

After the status symbol of having directed three color cartoons in a row, the Fred Avery unit went back to black-and-white for the Avery unit.

This is not one of Avery's greatest cartoons. It does introduce a couple of important comedic tools to its maker's belt.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I Love To Singa: A Merrier Melodie, Much Beloved

RELEASE DATE:
7/18/1936

DVD/BLU-RAY AVAILABILITY:
Looney Tunes Golden Collection,
Vol. 2
(Warner Brothers DVD 31284)

You can watch a decent color print of this cartoon HERE. If you're not familiar with this cartoon, please watch before you read--thanks!

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This is the earliest cartoon of Tex Avery's that everyone knows. It has  an underground reputation, and resultant street-cred, in the rap and hip-hop community. Rap "remixes" of the musical scenes can be found on YouTube. In the media mainstream, the cartoon was memorably parodied on the hyper-popular, button-pushing South Park TV series.

Its inclusion on the high-selling second volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection series introduced it to a new generation, while us older fogies fondly recall it from blurry, scratchy, salmon-red TV prints of the 1970s and '80s.

I Love To Singa revisits the basic narrative of Avery's first color cartoon, I'd Love To Take Orders From You, but with an important change. Amidst the very funny and sharply timed actions of this musical cartoon is the eternal conflict between father and child, old guard and new wave.

This was one of Avery's pet themes, and he returns to it several times in his animation career. This cartoon is, I believe, his finest version of this scenario.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

(Page) Miss Glory: A Reluctant Excursion Into Style


RELEASE DATE:
6/9/1936

DVD/BLU-RAY AVAILABILITY:
Looney Tunes Golden Collection,
Vol. VI
(Warner Brothers DVD 115871)

You can watch a nice color print of this cartoon, with commentary by Will Friedwald, HERE. If you're not familiar with this cartoon, please watch before you read--thanks!

As I anticipated (and dreaded) when I began this blog, it has proven difficult to look beyond the mere trainspotting of facts, figures and rumors that seem to obsess many fans of classic animation.

That is not what this blog is about. I hate to repeat myself, but I guess I must. My sole intention with this blog is to examine the development of Fred "Tex" Avery as a humorist, movie-maker and pop-culture influence. It is not to determine who did what, when, where, or why.

Yes, animation is a team effort. Yes, some talented and very significant animation figures worked on these cartoons. Yes, there was behind-the-scenes intrigue. You can find that information readily elsewhere on the Internet. What you'll find here is MY personal look at the developmental efforts of a great film-maker. Please respect what I'm trying to do here. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I'd Love To Take Orders From You: Avery's First Technicolor Cartoon, If Nothing Else...

RELEASE DATE:
5/25/1936

DVD/BLU-RAY AVAILABILITY:
none at present

An on-line color version can be viewed HERE.

If you're not familiar with this cartoon, please watch it now before reading my analysis. Thanks!

Avery's sudden promotion to the Technicolor Merrie Melodies series shows that he had impressed Leon Schlesinger with his first three black-and-white cartoons. I'd Love To Take Orders From You completely suppresses the creative urges that shine through those first efforts.

Perhaps this was by choice. The stakes were higher for these larger-budgeted Technicolor cartoons. They typically flogged a recent song from the Warner Brothers popular music catalog. More attention was paid to the Merrie Melodies by the front office, and expectations for more crowd-pleasing (i.e., bland) content were perhaps encouraged.