Sunday, September 24, 2006

Clampett Music - Polar Pals (1939)

Early cartoons were very musical, especially Looney Tunes which by contract had to animate to music owned by Warner Bros. Later, this obligation was removed, but Clampett liked music so much he preserved the tradition more than the other directors.

Many 40s cartoons used background music as sound effects, rather than actually animating to hummable tunes. (Scott Bradley's MGM music is the ultimate example of music not being used as music; instead it just reduntantly echoes the actions in the animation. Try to hum it!) Clampett usually only used sound effects music to link 2 different tunes together.

One of the things Clampett used tunes for was just to put the audience in a good mood and prepare them for the cartoon. Here is a great example of Clampett using really happy, bouncy music for no other reason than to give you pure cartoon fun. What a swell guy! He really loved his audience and always tried to please.
The animation is really happy and totally uses the music to show off what cartoons can do that live action can't. No one at Warner Bros. was more comfortable than Clampett at animating to music. When I watch Friz' few musicals, it looks to me like he is struggling to find actions to fit into the songs. It's very uncomfortable. There will be tons of scenes that aren't very entertaining that are just there to fill in the music. Very awkward-to me, anyway.

Clampett preserved the Fleischer tradition and added his own brand of wackiness to it. The Fleischers did the best musical cartoons ever.

Notice how all this cuteness and young hearted playfullness ends with a sick joke! Good old Bob!

22 comments:

Todd Kauffman said...

it was great to hear you talk in ottawa - is there any chance of me finding "close but no cigar" on the web? I NEED A FIX !!!!

loved it!

Patrick said...

Im a musician too and I often wondered how extremely difficult it must have been back then to sync the music to the toon...or did they do the music first? It's so much easier today!

Kali Fontecchio said...

I loved when Porky danced in front of the ice caveran with the distortion in the ice- also when the nose popped as a kid I thought it was great- you're telling me it's nasty???

Jennifer said...

EEEEEEEEE! I haven't seen that in so long - I loved it when I first saw it as a child. I thought that little montage was one of the cutest things I've seen and and one of the catchiest tunes I've heard. (I didn't even know that it was called Polar Pals...learn something new every day...)

I'm a bit lost, John - where's the sick joke at the end that you mentioned?

JohnK said...

well maybe it's not so sick, but it is a pretty rude looking ending to such a cute scene...

Trevour said...

I'll never see that nose popping the same way ever again.

Roberto González said...

It's very nice and I actually haven't wathed it before. I love the expressions in the polar bears.

There is another rude joke there, I think, when the seal falls down while skating. Probably Disney would have done it too, but the crash would have been a lot less painful, the sound effect is quite loud there (which makes it funnier).

The GagaMan(n) said...

My favorite shot there had to be how Porky pops up in that first half-second. So wonderfully cartoony!

Max Ward said...

What a fun cartoon

katzenjammer studios said...

I'm torn as to whether this would work in today's cartoons. For one, I think that studios would demand that we use music that would appeal to the broadest demographic (because they're always trying to expand their audience) so musical cartoons today would have to be set to shit that just hurts your ears.

But boy, if we were given the reign to select our own music, we'd have a new cartoon renaissance.

Hey John, a lot of old cartoons weren't strictly narrative in the sense that Porky Pig could show up anywhere (on a farm, in the Artic, etc.). The setting seemed to suit the story, whereas now shows like Spongebob are ALWAYS in the same place undersea. Can you take a stab at this trend?

Hammerson said...

That's a wonderful cartoon, one of Clampett's best black & white Looney Tunes. There's something truly enjoyable about this cartoon, it immediately creates a pleasant upbeat mood, and almost every single moment contains a gag or some funny bit. I too love that scene with Porky's reflection in the ice, distorting and changing shape, like in a funhouse mirror. There's an extension to this scene little bit later (not in this clip), when Porky's reflection suddenly assumes the likeness of Edward G.Robinson for a brief moment. Also, Clampett had the unique ability to make some sick and violent jokes look appealing and almost innocent.

Duck Dodgers said...

Patrick,
the music was done before the animation.
At Fleischer, as far as I remember, this not always happened.
Same thing for the voice characterizations......

Lee said...

So glad you gave a talk at Ottawa. You showed people that cartoons can be fun to make and draw. I thought it was excellent and very inspiring.

Also thanks so much for the doodle in my sketchbook! It made my year!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Wooooow! Sound effects used mainly to bridge pieces of music! I can't wait to watch some Clampetts to see if you're right! A profound and usefull post!

Ryan Kramer said...

happy music compliments cartoons sooo well. i feel like if cartoons were animated to catchy tunes you can hum along to today it would make for some great new content. I hope that trend cycles back around to modern day.

great post john!

Dr. Strange-Q said...

The b/w Clampett cartoons have a very nice feel to them. I think that adds to all the sweet fun lovin' performances going on in this clip. I wish real life was more like that.

Jorge Garrido said...

I thought the naked Porky was really weird when I was a kid.!Good old Cartoon Network!

PCUnfunny said...

Hey there John, I finally decided to get a blog. I wanted to post here again and display my art work,hopefully soon. Anways, Clampett was definetly one for disguising his grossness.I remember in "Russian Rhapsody" the scene were all the gremlins frist appear and one of them,with a huge nose,pops out right below a gremlin's crotch and it's pretty obivious what that nose is suppose to look like.

Art F. said...

god! i had forgotten all about Polar Pals. this is one of my favorite cartoons! i agree with the uncomfortableness of Friz's musical cartoons compared to Clampett's. Clampett's just seemed more together and seamless to me.

k9_kaos said...

That nose-popping gag reminds me of a funny scene in Nurse Stimpy where Stimpy catches a whiff of a bad smell and his nose deflates with a flatulent sound effect. I love that shot of him looking towards the camera - it's so freaky!

NARTHAX said...

Scott Bradley was never that big on melody. Tex hated his music, but was stuck using him at MGM. But Hanna and Barbera loved Bradley. Had he not retired before 1958, Bradley would've ended his days scoring the likes of Ruff n'Reddy until his pancreas fell out.

the loop said...

JohnK you're the best!
You do good but you like too much moronic cartoons.
Kids watching this sort of cartoons get brainwashed ashore.
Tom&Jerry offers more, by micro-management and cascades of rhythm. General detail is better than unique macro tricks because it's interchangable in the newer brain.
I don't like these happy animals holding hands cartoons that encourage to dumb happiness that leads to everything on tv now.

"Here is a great example of Clampett using really happy, bouncy music for no other reason than to give you pure cartoon fun. What a swell guy! He really loved his audience and always tried to please."
So happy animals and happy music! This is the big small I talked about in the former comment. It's our little garden of animals and flowers, that fills us with joy!

There has to be a complex of five actions before our guards are lowered and we care for what happens. Happy and bouncy, just like that and directly, is destructive.