Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Cute Way To Offend Delicate Sensibilities

Bob Clampett once told me that he had a secret for getting away with material that would normally offend everyone. He said he tried to make even his most shocking material all upbeat and cute. It works for me!
Bob always made his animation very specific - like this odd upshot of Daffy's beak as he walks into the scene. Why an upshot? Because it's more interesting than just having him walk in for the mere sake of story continuity.
Here's all the principles of animation in action, only exaggerated more than the other directors. Bob's actions have a lot more punch to them because of this. Stronger accents, which help make the actions clear. - especially important when there is so much happening so fast in his cartoons.

This has the makings of a really gruesome scene. Mr. Meek has to bring home a duck for dinner or "Thweetie Pie will cook my goose!" Here's this mild mannered guy only too ready to enact the most brutal death upon a cute character with a giant axe.
Watch the animation in the clip of Meek slicing his axe through the hay trying to cut up Daffy. It's amazing.
This next scene is by Scribner. HUGE accents. Look at that beak!

One of the things I love about Clampett's cartoons is that I'm always discovering new gags and details I missed before. I've seen this cartoon 100 times and I never noticed that Daffy is ripping his feathers off and tossing them into the air along with the bloody ketchup.
This gag just kills me. I can't believe this was in a cartoon made almost 70 years ago.

Back to super cute Daffy.

Then more screaming and squirting blood everywhere.

I just noticed that Mr. Meek shoves his finger into his nostril. Never saw that before either.
Clampett cuts away from super exaggerated Scribner to another milder animator.
But this is a very funny expression and action coming up.

This may be Art Babbit's animation; I'm not sure. It's very round.

Look how Goddamned weird this is.

You can't have enough blood and feathers in a Clampett cartoon.
I think he gets away with this stuff because it's just so exaggerated you can't possibly take it seriously.
You see if you tried to do a scene like this today, some exec would read a script: "Daffy squirts ketchup all over the place and tears his feathers off and shoves his head deep down into his neck sheath, making it look like he is a chicken with his head cut off." Even if it made it past the exec and into production, if you didn't have a really strong funny director following the scene through production, chances are an artist would draw it too straight - and then it really would look gruesome. The key to successful violence in cartoons is to make it obviously ridiculous.
OK, you gotta watch this animation in the clip too. It's Scribner again and he animates some of the funniest and best acting ever in a cartoon here.
First Daffy flops around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Then he gives us a cute goofy look to tell us "It's just a gag, folks, I'm not really dead!"
Then into another frenzy...

and then it switchs to Daffy begging Mr. Meek to save him. All in pantomime. And without a head!
The idea that a director and the best animators in the world would go to such trouble and skill for such a simple gross idea, makes the whole scene 10 times funnier. - that they thought the gag was so important, it needed virtuoso execution.

Watch how he twirls around while walking around the corner. Such humor, deftness and control!


Wow. This scene is a complete animation opus and should be in all the history books. They should have piled Academy awards on Clampett and Scribner.

The funny part is, the story itself is a pretty routine WB plot. It's a stock heckler story like a Woody Woodpecker cartoon and Bob could have just thrown it away and not paid any attention to it, but he didn't. His meticulous direction turns the stock story into a complete caricature of what a "Looney Tune" is - it's almost a satire of the formula - and it becomes art.


Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume Five

Disc One: Bugs and Daffy

1. 14-Carrot Rabbit
2. Ali Baba Bunny (with Commentary Track by Filmmaker Greg Ford & Music Only Track)
3. Buccaneer Bunny
4. Bugs' Bonnets
5. A Star is Bored
6. A Pest in the House (with Commentary Track by Writer Paul Dini)
7. Transylvania 6-5000 (with Commentary Track by Historian Jerry Beck)
8. Oily Hare
9. Stupor Duck (with Music Only Track)
10. The Stupor Salesman
11. The Abominable Snow Rabbit (with Music and Effects Track)
12. The Super Snooper (with Music and Effects Track)
13. The Upstanding Sitter
14. Hollywood Daffy
15. You Were Never Duckier (with Commentary Track by Director Eric Goldberg)

Special Features Include:
1. Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens, a Life in Animation Part 1 (Estamated time: 45 minutes)
2. Featurettes: The Bugs Bunny Show
a. Bad Time Story Bridging Sequences (Estimated time: 8:26)
b. What's Up Dog? Audio Recording Sessions (Estimated time: 3:00)

Disc Two: Fairy Tales

1. Bewitched Bunny (with Commentary Track by Director Eric Goldberg & Music and Effects Track)
2. Paying the Piper
3. The Bear's Tale
4. Foney Fables
5. Goldimouse and the Three Cats (with Music Only Track)
6. Holiday for Shoestrings (with Commentary Track by Historian Daniel Goldmark)
7. Little Red Rodent Hood
8. Little Red Walking Hood (with Commentary Track by Animator Mark Kausler)
9. Red Riding Hoodwinked (with Commentary Track by Filmmaker Greg Ford & Music Only Track)
10. The Trial of Mr. Wolf
11. The Turn-Table Wolf (with Music and Effects Track)
12. Tom Thumb in Trouble (with Commentary Track by Historian Jerry Beck)
13. Tweety and the Beanstalk (with Music Only Track)
14. A Gander and a Mother Goose
15. Senorella and the Glass Huarache

Special Features Include:
1. Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens, A Life in Animation, Part Two (Estimated Time: 45:00)
2. Behind the Tunes
a. Once Upon a Tune (Estimated Time: 8:27)
b. Drawn to Life: The Art of Robert McKimson (Estimated Time: 15:00)
3. A Chuck Jones Tutorial: Tricks of the Cartoon (Estimated Time: 13:21)

4. Bonus Cartoons
a. Coming!! [1943] (Estimated Time: 3:00)
b. Gripes [1943] (Estimated Time: 3:00)
c. Gas [1944] (Estimated Time: 4:00)
a. Take Heed Mr. Tojo [1943] (Estimated Time: 3:00)
b. The Good Egg [1945] (Estimated Time: 3:00)
c. The Return of Mr. Hook [1945] (Estimated Time: 2:00)
d. Tokyo Woes [1945] (Estimated Time: 4:00) -CLAMPETThttp://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/search/label/Hook

Disc Three: The Best of Bob Clampett

1. Bacall to Arms (with Commentary Track by Historian Jerry Beck)
2. Buckaroo Bugs (with Commentary Track by Historian Michael Barrier and Commentary Track by Director John Kricfalusi, Director Eddie Fitzgerald and Cartoonist Kali Fontecchio) http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/search/label/buckaroo

3. Crazy Cruise
4. Farm Frolics (with Commentary Track by Actor Keith Scott)
5. Hare Ribbin'
6. Patient Porky 7. Prehistoric Porky 8. The Bashful Buzzard (with Commentary Track by Writer Paul Dini)

9. The Old Grey Hare (with Commentary Track by Filmmaker Greg Ford)
10. The Wacky Wabbit (with Commentary Track by Director Eric Goldberg)
11. The Wise Quacking Duck
12. Wagon Heels
13. The Daffy Doc (with Commentary Track by Animator Mark Kausler)
14. A Tale of Two Kitties (with Commentary Track by Historian Michael Barrier)

15. Porky's Pooch

Special Features Include:
1. Behind the Tunes
a. Wacky Warner One-Shots (Estimated Time: 8:40)
b. Real American Zero: The Adventures of Private SNAFU (Estimated Time: 8:45)
2. From the Vaults
a. Hare Ribbin' Director's Cut (Estimated Time: 8:00)
See Bugs commit murder!

b. The Bashful Buzzard Storyboard Reel (with Bashful Buzzard Orignial Opening Music Cue) (Estimated Time: 8:00)
3. Alternate Milt Franklin Opening Themes (with Introduction by Greg Ford)(Estimated Time: 5:00)

Disc Four: "The Early Daze"

1. Alpine Antics
2. Eatin' on the Cuff or the Moth Who Came to Dinner (with Commentary Trac by Historian Jerry Beck)

3. Milk and Money
4. I've Got to Sing a Torch Song
5. Porky at the Crocadero (with Commentary Track by Historian Daniel Goldmark)
6. Polar Pals 1939

7. Scrap Happy Daffy
8. Porky's Double Trouble
9. Golddigers of '49
10. Pilgrim Porky 1940
11. Wise Quacks 1939
12. Porky's Review (with Commentary Track by Fimmaker Greg Ford)
13. Porky's Poppa 1938
14. Wholly Smoke (with Commentary Track by Historian Daniel Goldmark)
15. What Price Porky 1938

Special Features Include:
1. Unsung Maestros: A Directors Tribute (Estimated Time: 15:00)
2. The Looney Tunes Television Specials
a. Bugs and Daff's Carnival of the Animals [1976 TV Special] (Estimated Time: 24:23)
b. Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales (1979 TV Special] (Estimated Time: 24:13)
c. Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over [1980 TV Special (Estimated Time: 23:46)