Sc. 26 completed! Some DVD mini-reviews.

catalina-casino.JPGlane-allen-_1.jpgkrazy_vintage-10-31.gifkrazy_vintage-11-1.gifkrazy_vintage-11-2.gifkrazy_vintage-11-3.gifkrazy_vintage-11-4.gifkrazy_vintage-11-5.gifwalter-brennan-kiddee-record.jpg My next short cartoon; “There Must Be Some Other Cat” has completed principal animation. Sc. 26, the last scene was finished this week. The cat gets his comeuppance, is kicked out of his girlfriend Pearly’s house and lands in the arms of a prickly pear cactus. I had to animate the cat’s scramble after his landing in the cactus’s “arms” a couple of times to get the reaction just right and to get the musical ideas to work. Now the scenes will go to New York to be inked and painted by Greg Ford Co., Inc. With any luck, we might be in some festivals next year.

        I’ve posted another episode of the mysterious “Lane Allen’s Diary” from a religious weekly of the late 1950s. I love the drawing and the “Our Gang” feeling of this little-known strip. There are also a batch of six new Krazy strips from 10-31-1938 to 11-5. A new continuity story starts with Ignatz receiving a mysterious bon mot, only to have it intercepted by Don Kiyoti. Maybe it will continue next week, we’ll see. The watercolor this week is of the Catalina Island Casino, with the bay and a big passenger ship in the distance. What fun we had spending a few days painting on the island!

       I posted the old record cover with Walter Brennan as Grandpa McCoy, to illustrate a DVD mini-review. The Infinity Co. has put out the “Complete” first season of “The Real McCoys”, one of my favorite TV series from 1957-58. Grandpa McCoy is a character who never leaves me, so strong he is like an imaginary companion. I love his crankiness, and also his compassion and kindness. A poignant part of almost every show was Grandpa’s little interludes of prayer, usually just between him and his maker, except when he says grace at dinner. This series shows a San Fernando Valley gone forever, a rural farming country, before the freeways, when transplanted farmers from West Virginia made a living from the California soil. Some of the episodes were filmed in now long-gone L.A. landmarks, such as the Ambassador Hotel, formerly on Wilshire. Grandpa, Kate and his grandson, Luke, frequently dispense corporal punishment to the kids of the family: Hassie and Little Luke. Spankings were common in the late 1950s, most kids survived the experience.

Infinity did release “The Real McCoys” on DVD, but alas, it is NOT complete. These are the syndicated cut episodes, not the original ABC network versions. They run only 21 minutes and change apiece, except the pilot, which comes in at about 25 minutes. These shows when originally aired only had about two minutes of commercials, so originally ran about 28 minutes with titles. So that means almost 7 minutes of every show is gone. In many of the episodes there are very awkward scene cuts, artificial fade-outs and clipped speeches. Grandpa, as I said previously, took a moment in almost every episode for prayer, almost all those moments have been thrown out. It makes you wonder, just what is the extent of preservation on “The Real McCoys”? I have a network print of “Grandpa’s Date”, and it has his prayers and asides to the audience. Sometimes Walter Brennan did as many soliloquies in an episode as George Burns did in “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show”. Without these scenes, Grandpa loses a lot of his humanity and appeal, and only the broad outlines of his character are left. I don’t know if it would do any good to write to the Infinity Co. or SFM Entertainment, but if this set is trying to appeal to collectors or fans of the original series, they missed the mark like a nearsighted hen!

If you want to see a really good collector’s DVD, get the new Fox release of the Jack Benny 1941 version of “Charlie’s Aunt”. It’s a beautiful DVD of the only one of Jack’s movies I had never seen before, and it’s well worth seeking out. It was one of Jack’s personal favorite performances. It’s played pretty broad, and has a lot more slapstick and a faster pace than the Charlie Ruggles 1930s version. Randy Skredtvedt, the musicologist and Hal Roach expert, does an astounding and extremely informative commentary. He barely takes a breath for 82 minutes as he rattles off dozens of entertaining facts about Jack Benny, Richard Haydn, Edmund Gwenn, Kay Francis and even the set decorator! What may have kept this film off TV and home video for so long is that the original play is still under copyright, and the copyright owners only leased the rights to the play for five years at a time, then recalled the rights. It makes me wonder why the Ruggles version has been so ubiquitous all this time, if the rights story is true. Anyway, get this film and enjoy Jack Benny in drag having a wonderful time, especially when Anne Baxter and Arleen Whelan are giving him passionate kisses!

6 Responses to “Sc. 26 completed! Some DVD mini-reviews.”

  1. Congratulations on finishing the animation for your film! Any chance of posting the pencil test? If you’re going to sell DVDs of it eventually, can you please include the pencil test as an extra?

  2. Mark Kausler says:

    Hi Mark,
    That’s a great idea to include the pencil test, I kind of favor making it available on a seperate disc. To this date, the pencil test only exists in fragmentary form, partly on 35mm, partly on Quicktime files. Eventually, we should have a complete PT on 35mm.

  3. Hi Mark –
    Congrats and I look forward to seeing the film!

    I recall some very funny Real McCoys episodes with Andy Clyde as Amos McCoy’s geezer friend.

  4. Mark,

    I loved “It’s The Cat” and I’m eagerly anticipating the next Cat film.

    I’d be interested to see some pencil tests posted here on your blog.
    Not the whole reel because obviously you don’t want to give everything away before the finished film is released, but I would love to see a bit of your process as it moves from rough to finished film.

    I’m fascinated that you and Greg have chosen to hand ink and paint the drawings onto cels. Is it a certain “look” you feel that you wouldn’t get by doing it with some scan & paint computer program ? You may be one of the last animators still using cels. You maverick , you.

  5. Mark Kausler says:

    Yeh Dave, I’m not really a maverick so much as I just don’t “think” computer. I like to watch real artwork moving on the screen, to me it looks better than any projected video, which is what we call “movies” now. I like to have a 35mm negative that is shot from artwork, then convert that to digital platforms. We’ve got good people in New York, such as Igor and Rose Eng who love to ink and are dedicated to doing it. Traditional ink and paint doesn’t have to die, it will only die when people lose the skills to continue it. I am not technically savvy enough to post any pencil tests on this blog, and we have not concluded our music rights negotiations yet, so can’t legally use the music on the internet for now. Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. I am really looking forward to your sequel, Mark. “It’s the Cat” was absolutely great and I’m sure this new film will be just as good.

Leave a Reply