Monday, February 09, 2009

Tex Avery - "Field And Scream"

Gotta love this cartoon for Ed Benedict's layouts alone and the loads of corny gags. Johnny Johnson's backgrounds are something else here too. He's just as good with more stylized backgrounds as he is with realistic ones. I suppose these are the types of backgrounds we could have seen in the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons had they had more time and money to spend on them.


p spector said...

This was a terrific cartoon to watch, for everything you say about it, and more. I just love the one-shots w/o recurring studio characters -- I could watch them all day. Thanks for posting it.
Personally and respectfully, though, I'd have to disagree that early H&B would have produced more of the like if not for time/money constraints. I just think that once the mentality changed, even at that early stage, "that" wasn't going to happen no matter what.

Kevin Langley said...

Yeah, I guess you're right. Once they got off the ground H-B just wanted to keep cranking as many cartoons as possible. Johnny Johnson didn't go over to H-B with the MGM guys did he? I don't recall what happened to him after MGM closed down the studio. I think I asked Art Lozzi, I have to check my emails with him.

p spector said...

The shift of cartoons from theater to TV gets mentioned as paradigm all the time, but personally I don't think it can be understated. Guys like Bill and Joe, who were once "creatives" all of the sudden became business owners. IMO, if they had it in their own makeup to make the leap and succeed in that, then that's just the way it was going to be; no different than many studio bosses before them. I'm not laying blame (in this instance), they were just doing it in the times they were doing it in. I saw that piece earlier today on the Splog about Heidi's Song. I wondered who H&B were fooling: Us? Themselves? I don't think the studio could have been that deluded, so it wouldn't have been themselves (especially in 1981).

Re Johnson et al: My dad wasn't in on the ground floor at H&B. He bounced between coasts for a few years before landing there, so I don't think he knew much about their studio travels. Hence, it never trickled down to me either ; )

Jim B. said...

Kevin, who's the narrator in this one?

Kevin Langley said...

I always guess these wrong and honestly I'm not sure. It doesn't sound like Paul Frees though and he did a couple of the "...Of Tomorrow" cartoons.

Ian Lumsden said...

I love the work of Tex Avery. So fresh still. Your blog is a great read and today I made reference to it in my occasional reviews of the great man's movies. Thanks for the posts and resources too!

JohnK said...

I love Johnny Johnson, but actually think he wasn't as suited to Ed's graphic style as Lozzi and Monte.

I think Ed would have agreed. He constantly complained about the MGM painters not understanding what he was doing.

Speaking of Heidi's Song, Phil, I was there when they made that. They were deluding the whole studio into thinking that what they were doing was a return to quality.

I think they made that and a couple other feature cartoons out of guilt for destroying cartoons - which they knew they did.

On the other hand they did save the business as a business at all and saved a lot of cartoonists' jobs.

Most of the old animators liked the work on the TV cartoons better than the work on the theatricals - because they made a lot more money churning out crap.To a lot of them (not all) it was just a job.

It was a very sad and ironic time.

By the way, your Dad's work is great. I'm a big fan now that I know more about him thanks to you!

Willem Wynand said...

Love this toon =) remember watching it when i was much younger, thanx for posting =)

p spector said...

Hey JK,

Honestly, the most I recall about the 60's H&B-style era, and into the 70's -- and not just related to that studio but all the others that were producing for TV, which was practically all of them -- is that most every animation industry cartoonist was begging for mercy every off-season when they had to go on the dole. I'm not so much convinced that a lot of cartoonists' jobs were saved, as opposed to the fact that the medium switched from the big screen to the small -- that's mostly all that was going on, regardless of the relavitve miniscule amount of features that made their way into theaters.

In 1981 my dad was already deceased for five years, but I remember visiting some LA studios in the early '80's, just to look up and say hello to some of his old friends: I found George Singer at H&B, in the off-season, and the place was a ghost town; at that visit George introduced me to a lot of secretaries and producers.
So, I don't really know if many of the cartoonists' jobs were "saved", but rather there was really nowhere else for them to find work; theatricals were really a thing of the past, regardless of the small amount that still made their way into the theaters.

Personally, to me, it didn't seem that the veteran cartoonists were in any way deluded into thinking about any return to a great state of animation, but it doesn't surprise me that many of the younger cartoonists would think so. I have a letter that my dad sent to me (because coincidentally I was taking a music theory class with a young animator that worked with him). My dad writes to me that he said, "Spec, why don't they teach us anything?" My dad replies, "Return to Disney." (ha ha ha).

Thanks much for the comps on my dad's work.

Paul (not Phil, and not at any time married to Ronnie Spector)

JohnK said...

Oh, sorry Paul...

But I think the jobs were saved in 1957-till the mid 60s. By the 80s when I started, yeah it was seasonal, but in the 50s everyone was out of work when the theatrical studios closed down and Hanna Barbera gave people work.

I'm not saying that was good for the art of animation, but for awhile it was good for the paychecks.

At least, lots of old animators said so. They were animating whole cartoons by themselves and being paid by the foot - so the incentive was to be as crappy as possible and make the most money.

And cartoons got so bad by the 1970s, you didn't need expert animators anymore. That was when it started to get bad for American animators because the producers realized that you could send this kind of garbage anywhere in the world to be produced.