Archive for October, 2017

Rudy’s Apartment, Porky Pig 101 and Comics!

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

In Myrtle this time, 1-31 to 2-06-1949, Dudley Fisher explores Women’s Psychology. In the 1-31, Sampson confides in Mr. Shmaltz on a New Year’s Eve park bench about Myrtle’s behavior. In the 2-5, Sampson is pulled in two directions as Myrtle starts behaving like a future wife, and Mrs. Schmaltz decides to order her son to run errands. Note how Myrtle’s doll serves as an echo of her mood in the 2-1 and the 2-5, sometimes taking on a personality of it’s own. In the Sunday, Gwendolyn, a regular “Alice Jolson” tries to impress Myrtle’s family and the neighborhood. Hyacinth the cat makes a rare appearance and comment. 

It’s Felix versus the new family cat, a white Persian, in the strips from 5-1 to 5-7-1933. Felix tries to keep out of the way by sleeping in the coal bin, in the attic (jig-saw puzzle style) and in the Umbrella stand. He allows his tail to be used as a razor strop and uses a balloon for a pillow.  Another reference to the “Jig-Saw Craze” is in the Sunday page, as Felix drops a stoneware jar, and the cave man can’t resist helping to piece it back together. 

In the Krazy Kats this time, from 5-10 to 5-15-1943 with 5-12 missing, Tigers, both lily and actual, dominate the action. Garge draws a terrific tiger, I think. I love the way he draws the nose, the stripes and the eyes. UPDATE: Thanks to Gerd Heinlein, we now have the missing 5-12, and it is an important strip for the tiger’s introduction into the story line.

Welcome to Rudy Ising’s apartment, circa 1936 to 1940, where he lived with his first wife, Maxine Jennings. It’s on 106 S. Kings Road, not far from Westwood. Here’s an ad: The development it was part of was called “Beverly Square” in those days. Here’s a view of the dining room of Rudy’s apartment, as it looks today: This lovely old building is unfortunately, schedded for demolition. The Office of Historic Resources of Los Angeles does NOT recognize Rudy Ising as an historic personage, and will not give Cultural Monument protection to the building based on his name. Doesn’t that sound like the fate of animators, once again? Consigned to the sub-basement of history, Hugh and Rudy were first-class, pioneering animators, yet they are forgotten today, since, they dared to compete against Walt Disney in the 1930s. In the digital age, just think of all the currently productive animators who will be nearly instantly forgotten as soon as the software changes and their technical edge disappears. ( UPDATE: ‘Scuse the rant! It looks good so far for Rudy’s apartment! Keep your pencils sharp!) I was lucky enough to be invited to Rudy Ising’s Benedict Canyon residence in the early 1970s. It was the biggest California Bungalow style house I’ve ever seen! It was an open floor plan in the enormous living room, with multiple levels to it, and the three little bedrooms were all grouped at one end of the house. The outdoor awnings all had Rudy’s initials sewn into them, and Hugh told me that they buried a lot of rare nitrate film in the back yard of Rudy’s house, including the negatives to the “Song-O-Reels” which they made in Kansas City. Rudy sold the property to Cher, not long after I saw the house, and she demolished it completely to build an Egyptian style edifice to herself. Rudy spent his final years in a nice little house in Laguna Beach with Cynthia, his lovely wife.  I visited Rudy there too, and we spent a long time looking over his great collection of books, many rare children’s volumes and first editions! I’ll never forget Hugh and Rudy, too bad their city has forgotten them.

I bought and watched all 5 DVDs (pressed!) from this new Warner Archives set, curated by Jerry Beck and George Feltenstein. It’s a lot of concentrated Pig, but these Looney Tunes have been a big part of my cranial soundtrack since the age of eight. Some of the music in these shorts just thrills me–like Carl Stalling’s use of “I’m Hatin’ This Waitin’ Around”, to open “Porky’s Super Service” (1937). The Warner 40 piece orchestra takes this little pop tune, originally recorded by Kay Keyser’s band, and makes a heroic urban statement  out of it, complete with auto horns and traffic sounds woven in to the score. “Porky and Gabby”, also from 1937, turns “Gee, But You’re Swell” into an ear-filling, tightly synced support to Gabby Goat’s attempt to swat a bee with a shovel. “Gee, But You’re Swell” also ends the cartoon as underscore to Gabby’s mocking laugh as he gets socked by a policeman and the “That’s All, Folks!” lettering unfurls across the screen to a mighty tympani crescendo. The score for “Porky’s Five and Ten” (1938) makes outstanding use of “Sing, You Son Of A Gun” (Johnny Mercer lyric), to back up a bit of Clampettian nonsense as a little fish, assigned to guard the escape hatch of Porky’s ship, catches the worm at the end of Porky’s fishing line with a miniature rod and reel of his own. The refrain of “Sing, You Son Of A Gun” is expanded and staggered musically by Carl Stalling as the worm struggles to free itself from the fish’s “worm-ing” tackle.

    A lot of cartoons are restored on this set that were censored on the old Guild Films TV negatives, like “Porky’s Road Race”, “Porky The Fireman”, “Christopher Columbus, Jr.” and “Porky’s Railroad”. Some, like “Fish Tales”(1936), still lack the shot of the little worm swimming into Porky’s nostrils, and the gag from “Porky’s Movie Mystery” involving a director, sitting in his chair on set is cut off as the scene abruptly cuts to the Phantom’s long coat as he ascends a spiral staircase.  I wonder if the “director” shot still survives on the original negative? We’ll probably never find out.

     Some of Bob Clampett’s funniest ideas are included in “Porky Pig 101′. The scene he animated for Tex Avery in “Porky’s Duck Hunt” of Daffy “exiting funny”, doing the Stan Laurel Jump (see “Putting Pants On Philip”), became a Looney Tune trademark–achieving perfection in “A Coy Decoy” as Daffy uses the Laurel jump to create a comedy pause and an anticipation for a wild chase with the bookstore wolf. Most of Clampett’s business, though screwball and silly in origin (see “The Daffy Doc”), seldom feels forced or imposed on the characters but seems to come from inside them. A few of Chuck Jones’s Looney Tunes such as Porky’s Cafe, are nicely animated (Ken Harris and Bob Cannon), but contain forced comedy, such as the cranky customer trying to blow the steam off his hot plate of soup, over and over again, and an attempt at mayhem as Porky wrecks all the tables in the Cafe as he tries to balance a tower of food trays running backwards. The horse in “Porky’s Prize Pony” is an appealing equine creation–but his attempts to get Jockey Porky’s attention while continually tripping over paddock obstacles, flying through the air and getting all four feet stuck in a bucket, are tours de force of animation, but at best “flypaper sequence” business, more typical of Disney than Looney Tunes, more Harry Reeves than Michael Maltese or Warren Foster.

    There are a few flaws in the DVD set, like the main title music from “Porky’s Tire Trouble” pressed into service over and over again to cover several missing title music soundtracks. I wonder why they didn’t just go to the 16mm Guild prints, which have most of the original main and end title soundtracks. Maybe fidelity issues? There is some interlaced video, but for the most part, I found that the transfers were film frame-by-frame with no loss of clarity and no obvious DVNR. This set is highly recommended, a rare chance to see all the black and white Porkys (and two color ones), mostly un-cut. This may never happen again!

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Calling GERD HEINLEIN! Can you help with my missing Krazy Kat daily? From 5-12-43? Maybe you can be the first to leave a comment here on the Catblog? UPDATE: Thanks, Gerd, for all your help!