Thursday, August 13, 2009

1942 and 1946 - 2 important years at WB

I have this new theory that roughly around 1942 the top directors began to consciously really experiment with new ideas and techniques.

Even Norm McCabe did some experimenting in this period. I included the 1943 "Confusions Of A Nutsy Spy" because it is one of the first WB cartoons to really try modern things with composition and layout.

1943 Experiments:

By 1946, they were still experimental to an extent but it was less conscious. By this time the directors and animators were so in-synch with each other that they just intuitively and confidently knocked out masterpieces. Here's Jones in top form at his most confident and least conscious of trying to be clever or experimental:
Friz and McKimson were never really too experimental, they basically did their jobs and followed along with the what the trendsetters did but added their own personalities to the cartoons.
Tashlin may have tried many conscious experiments, but he never really got into a flow where everything worked smoothly together. Maybe because his mind was always on his next career and he didn't stay anywhere long enough.


thomas said...

I guess they could've gotten swept up in the momentum of the war effort. What great cartoons!

Rick Roberts said...

Too bad Clampett didn't get to finish Becall to Arms, it would have been great.

Rick Roberts said...

"Tashlin may have tried many conscious experiments, but he never really got into a flow where everything worked smoothly together."

Even with Porky Pig's Feat and Puss n' Booty ? I can't say I agree with you John. Tashlin did a hell of a job making the execution of scenes and gags unique with camera angles.

JohnK said...

Well I like those cartoons, but there is something cold and cynical about them.

They have lots of funny ideas in them. The live-action angle business doesn't do anything for me. So what?

Rick Roberts said...

"Well I like those cartoons, but there is something cold and cynical about them."

Like what ? I never felt that way about Tashlin cartoons.

"The live-action angle business doesn't do anything for me. So what?"

What about when the hotel manager fell down the stairs ? Surely the choice of camera angles enhanced that gag significantly.

Personally I feel if what being shot is interesting, why not try using different angles to make it more dynamic ?

Larry Levine said...

Other than "Porky's Pig Feat" & "Son of Paleface", I'm not a big fan of Tashlin's (animation & live-action) work.

His Looney Tunes are beautiful made but missing the Jones & Clampett wit, the Jerry Lewis movies speak for themselves and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" is highly overrated.

J C Roberts said...

'46 was practically a year long home run streak for Warners. I don't think I've ever heard a good explanation of why Bob Clampett capped off such a year with sailing out the door, but just to look at what he delivered that year you could guess exhaustion played a part. We'll never know what may have been if he stayed longer, we know he went on to do more fine work, but I could see needing a rest after all that and why he went with puppets for a while.

"The Eager Beaver" was also '46? The local stations here used to run that one into the ground for some reason.

mike f. said...

I agree with Larry. Tashlin's live-action films (with the exception of Son Of Paleface) seem more dated than his cartoons. (Try watching The Girl Can't Help It without a fast-forward button sometime.)

Porky Pig's Feat is justifiably famous, but he's at his best in Plane Daffy, Nasty Quacks and A Tale Of Two Mice - none of which I would particularly describe as "cold." (Cynical, maybe - but that's not necessarily a drawback. Lots of great comedy is cynical.)

The very nature of Tashlin's career was experimental, as he leapfrogged from comics to animation to live-action to children's books. I'd argue that he needn't be ashamed of his work in any of those fields. Jerry Lewis speaks very highly of him to this day, and cites Tashlin's lasting influence on his work. I'd say that's as good an endorsement as any.

JohnK said...

My favorite Tashlin cartoon is Porky's Romance.

mike f. said...

I forgot to add something else about Tashlin that usually gets overlooked. He may have lacked Jones' brilliant drawing chops, but Tashlin influenced Jones nevertheless.

For instance, the wolf in I Got Plenty Of Mutton (1944) - with his visible hip bones and half-starved design - was a precursor to Wile E. Coyote. In fact, the whole blackout gag-structure of Jones' Roadrunner series comes from Tashlin's Columbia cartoon The Fox And The Grapes (1941). Jones cited it as a direct inspiration.

Also, the incidental character designs in The Dover Boys (especially "Dainty" Dora Standpipe) seem to be Jones' not-so-subtle way of poking fun at Tashlin's flat drawing style.

David Germain said...

Well I like those cartoons, but there is something cold and cynical about them.

I remember Michael Barrier saying something similar about Frank Tashlin's live action films. Maybe Tashlin was just a cold, cynical guy. (He did have 3 failed marriages).

That doesn't bother me at all. I think pretty much all his cartoons are wonderful.

Zoran Taylor said...

"Porky's Pig Feat" blows my mind clear through the ceiling. The shot of Daffy talking with his mouth folded around upside down because his face is buried in another guy's face is frightening and hysterical at the same time and that key frame is one of my favorite drawings ever.

Chuck said...

Re: JC Roberts Comment on Clampett's departure from Warner's. JohnK, you know more about Clampett's work than just about anyone alive, so what's your take on it? Did Clampett ever give a reason? Other Warner personnel? Was there a precipitating event, or did he just want to do something on his own? (Sorry if this has been covered before)

Anonymous said...

I don't know about experimentation, but I do know that Tashlin's output after he returned to the studio in 1943 was exceptional. Every single cartoon was great. Every. One.

Besides the oft-mentioned "Porky Pig's Feat", "The Unruly Hare" is one of the most underrated Bugs shorts ever. It's flat out hilarious and perfectly showcases Tashlin's expert comic timing.

Rick Roberts said...


The scene that was frickin' scary as hell to me was when the manager's face started slowlly popping out back into form. *shudder*

Johnny Mastronardi said...

I respectfully disagree about Tashlin. He's got this ability to pull the weirdest things out of left field that makes his cartoons hilarious, and he always ends on a bizarrely funny note. My favorite has to be Porky Pig's Feat, but Swooner Crooner and Booby Hatched are good as well.

Puppet-Master said...