Tag Archives: Short

Carton of the Day: Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs

Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs

Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs

Eas­ily the most con­tro­ver­sial of all Bob Clampett’s films, Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs was never intended to offend, but rather to enter­tain. What Clam­pett had intended as a cel­e­bra­tion of Black music and cul­ture of his time has turned into a touch­stone of racist film mak­ing at Warner Bros. Addi­tion­ally, being a War film, there are some very dis­parag­ing com­ments about the Japan­ese in the film. So what do you think– is this car­toon his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant enough to rise above it’s racial over­tones, or is this more of the man keep­ing prej­u­dice alive?

A black­face par­ody of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a strong swing back­beat… and no apologies!

Mammy (who resem­bles Aunt Jemima) tells her “Honey Child” the story of “So White” and the wicked Queen who “was as rich as she was mean.” “She had every­thing,” includ­ing sugar, cof­fee, auto tires, scrap metal, Chat­tanooga choo-choos, and a fam­ily coat of arms con­sist­ing of dice and switch­blades. So White is a las­civ­i­ous sex­pot forced to wash miles and miles of laun­dry as she sings “Blues in the Night.” “Magic Mir­ror on the wall, send me a prince about six feet tall,” intones the Queen. When zoot-suited, thick-lipped hip­ster Prince Chawmin’ (who has dice for teeth!) finds So White “dyna­mite,” the Queen calls in Mur­der Inc. to “black out So White.” Prince Chawmin’ and the dwarfs are all minia­ture car­i­ca­tures of Fats Waller, except for one who resem­bles Stepin Fetchit. The prince kisses and tries to revive the heroine.

Accord­ing to Beck and Fried­wald, Coal Black is a Bob Clam­pett mas­ter­piece, and cer­tainly one of the great­est Warner Bros. car­toons ever made. Sure to offend, but not to be ignored.

In 1968, United Artists (then own­ers of the A.A.P. library of pre-1948 Looney Tunes and Mer­rie Melodies car­toons) com­piled the car­toons they con­sid­ered too poten­tially offen­sive to be shown on tele­vi­sion, and with­held those car­toons from dis­tri­b­u­tion. AT that time, UA felt that these eleven car­toons should be with­held from broad­cast because the depic­tions of black peo­ple in the car­toons were deemed too offen­sive for con­tem­po­rary audiences.

This car­toon is one of those with­held from dis­tri­b­u­tion, one of the so-called “Cen­sored 11.” (The “Eleven” are: Hit­tin’ the Trail for Hal­lelu­jah Land (MM,1931), Sun­day Go to Meetin’ Time (MM, 1936), Clean Pas­tures (MM, 1937), Uncle Tom’s Bun­ga­low (MM, 1937), Jun­gle Jit­ters (1938), The Isle of Pingo Pongo (MM, 1938), All This and Rab­bit Stew (MM, 1941), Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (MM, 1943), Tin Pan Alley Cats (MM, 1943), Angel Puss (LT, 1944), and Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears (MM, 1944)). More recently, when Ted Turner became owner of the library, he con­tin­ued the ban, and refused to allow any of these car­toons to be shown or released on video. To date, these shorts have not been offi­cially broad­cast on tele­vi­sion since 1968. How­ever, accord­ing to a recent e-mail, a woman in Phoenix claims that she has seen this on tele­vi­sion there recently.

Along with black stereo­types, this car­toon fea­tures sav­agely anti-Japanese jokes (the film was made a year after Pearl Harbor).

Vivian Dan­dridge (the voice of So White) and Ruby Dan­dridge (the voice of Quee­nie) were the sis­ter and mother, respec­tively, of actress-singer Dorothy Dandridge.

Jimmy Durante is caricatured.

A unique “That’s All, Folks!” card fea­tures an ani­mated shot of Mammy and a lit­tle girl rock­ing in an armchair.

Work­ing title: “So White And De Sebben Dwarfs.” It was changed at the last minute because some­one in film mar­ket­ing at Warner Bros. pointed out that in those days the the­aters some­times included the name of the car­toon short on the mar­quee, and was con­cerned that some peo­ple would think that the Dis­ney fea­ture was being shown, and be angry about the “false adver­tis­ing.” So the name was changed and became “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs”.

Clam­pett wanted an all-black band to score the car­toon, much like how the Fleis­ch­ers had Cab Cal­loway score the Betty Boop car­toons they were fea­tured in. Pro­ducer and noted tight wad Schlesinger refused to fund the endeavor, and the black band Clam­pett had hired, Eddie Beals and His Orches­tra, only recorded the music for the final kiss sequence. The rest of the film was scored, as was stan­dard for Warner car­toons at the time, by Carl W. Stalling.

In the late sev­en­ties, Bob Clam­pett defended this car­toon. He said:

In 1942, dur­ing the height of anti-Japanese sen­ti­ment dur­ing World War II, I was approached in Hol­ly­wood by the cast of an all-black musi­cal off-broadway pro­duc­tion called Jump For Joy while they were doing some spe­cial per­for­mances in Los Ange­les. They asked me why there weren’t any Warner’s car­toons with black char­ac­ters and I didn’t have any good answer for that ques­tion. So we sat down together and came up with a par­ody of Disney’s “Snow White” and “Coal Black” was the result. They did all the voices for that car­toon, even though Mel Blanc’s con­tract with Warn­ers gave him sole voice credit for all Warn­ers car­toons by then. There was noth­ing racist or dis­re­spect­ful toward blacks intended in that film at all, nor in Tin Pan Alley Cats which is just a par­ody of jazz piano great Fats Waller, who was always ham­ming into the cam­era dur­ing his musi­cal films. Every­body, includ­ing blacks had a good time when these car­toons first came out. All the con­tro­versy about these two car­toons has devel­oped in later years merely because of chang­ing atti­tudes toward black civil rights that have hap­pened since then.

Alter­nate Title: “So White And De Sebben Dwarfs” (Work­ing Title).

Cartoon of the Day: Hare Do

Hare Do

Hare Do

From 1949, Hare Do is one of the great Bugs Bunny-Elmer Fudd meet­ings. Directed by Isadore Fre­leng, the short was ani­mated by Ken Champin, Vir­gil Ross, Gerry Chiniquy and Manuel Perez, this short has a sur­prise char­ac­ter in addi­tion to the two stars.

Another clas­sic episode as Elmer chases Bugs into a the­ater and ends up being the main attrac­tion and the main course for a lion.

A paint­ing in the the­ater is appar­ently of a nude lady! (How­ever, there’s not much detail.)

The last car­toon where Bugs is seen sit­ting on The Warner Bros. Shield and then he pulls it down.

Cartoon of the Day: Bosko In Dutch

Bosko In Dutch

Bosko In Dutch

An early Looney Tune, Bosko In Dutch is gen­er­ally unre­mark­able in its story telling, ani­ma­tion or direc­tion. How­ever, the short is impor­tant because this was the first car­toon that one of the great­est car­toon direc­tors ever super­vised– albeit uncredited.

Bosko and Honey get in and out of trou­ble. Just like usual, only thins time in Hol­land. You can tell because every build­ing has a windmill.

The last appear­ance of Goopy Geer (seen here in a cameo).

The first car­toon directed by Isador “Friz” Fre­leng (who was uncredited).

The song “Ach du lieber Augus­tine,” bet­ter known to school kids as “Hail to the Bus Dri­ver Man,” is on the soundtrack.

Cartoon of the Day: Herr Meets Hare

Herr Meets Hare

Herr Meets Hare

Back to World War II with Herr Meets Hare, an Isadore Fre­leng pro­pa­ganda film from 1945. And who wouldn’t want to see Adolf and Her­man face off against.… Bugs Bunny!

Her­mann Goer­ing heads to the Black For­est for rest and relax­ation; because of a wrong turn in Albu­querque, so does Bugs, who encoun­ters “Fatso” while try­ing to get to Las Vegas. Bugs taunts the Nazi, who cap­tures him and takes him to Adolf Hitler, but Bugs gets the last laugh– dis­guised as Stalin.

Great par­o­dies of Goer­ing and Hitler. Lew Lehr is also caricatured.

The first short in which Bugs takes that wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Cartoon of the Day: The Sunshine Makers

The Sunshine Makers

The Sun­shine Makers

Not a whole lot to choose from today, so I decided to go for unusual. The Sun­shine Mak­ers is from Van Beuren Stu­dios Rain­bow Parade The­atri­cal Car­toon Series, and while it may not be the most obscure choice I could make, it is cer­tainly not a series many are knowl­edge­able of.

This is the story of a com­mu­nity of happy, iden­ti­cal lit­tle gnomes who have the abil­ity to dis­till sun­shine into a bot­tled elixir. Any­one con­sum­ing this liq­uid imme­di­ately begins singing and caper­ing about in per­fect hap­pi­ness (despite the obvi­ously radioac­tive nature of the stuff; it causes an x-ray effect on any­one who drinks it or bathes in it).

In a gloomy for­est nearby lives a bunch of misery-loving gob­lins who only feel good when they feel bad. See­ing the sun­shine gnomes as a threat to their way of life, they mount a lame attack on the gnome vil­lage. The gnomes fight back by bom­bard­ing the gob­lins with bot­tles of the sun­shine elixir. Soon, the gob­lins are thor­oughly assim­i­lated and every­one is happy.

Orig­i­nally released as a pro­mo­tional film for Borden’s Milk, thus the “Bor­den” script on the title card.

So if you are in the mood to see some early (1935) and unusual ani­ma­tion, pop over to BCDB today and give this one a look… and let us know what you think!

Blue Umbrella serves as cover for Monsters U.

The Blue Umbrella

The Blue Umbrella

To be released just before the new fea­ture film Mon­sters Uni­ver­sity on June 21, the six-minute short Blue Umbrella will be the first Pixar film to be made by one of its tech­ni­cal artists.

Cam­era and stag­ing artist Saschka Unseld is the direc­tor. Amidst the rain in a singing city, two umbrel­las -– one blue, one red -– fall eter­nally in love.

The blue umbrella notices and takes a shine to the red umbrella. Dis­tance and nat­ural forces halt their attrac­tion, but objects on the street — such as con­struc­tion signs and a mail­box — come to life to help bring them together again.

Unseld, 36, is a Ger­man native who began work­ing with Pixar in 2008. He got the idea when walk­ing in San Fran­cisco and spot­ting an umbrella lying in the gut­ter on a rainy day.

It was the sad­dest thing. I stood there and won­dered what had hap­pened to him. I think that was when I got the idea of giv­ing him a story,” he recalled.

At first, Unseld got ideas for char­ac­ters by tak­ing iPhone pic­tures on San Fran­cisco and New York streets. He asked col­leagues to do like­wise when they went to such places as Chicago and Paris. One char­ac­ter in the film was inspired by his photo of a man­hole cover just two from his San Fran­cisco home.

Mean­while, he was lis­ten­ing to singer Sarah Jaffe’s music. While shoot­ing an ani­ma­tion test on his iPhone, he timed it to her voice.

Jaffe can be heard in the final film: “She’s been there for me since the inception.”

A pho­to­re­al­is­tic look was needed, accord­ing to Unseld: “If we made it styl­ized and car­toony, the magic of those things com­ing to life would be com­pletely gone.”

This entailed tech­niques not pre­vi­ously used by Pixar: global illu­mi­na­tion, in which light is sim­u­lated as being emit­ted and reflected off sur­faces, and deep com­posit­ing, where images hold­ing three-dimensional data are lay­ered. This results in deeper plays between light and shadow, and greater depth of field.

As well, Unseld slowed film­ing to 12 frames per sec­ond — half the usual rate for movies — at some points. He also var­ied expo­sure times, thus result­ing in dif­fer­ent rhythms of rain.

Unusu­ally, Unseld was direct­ing some of his ear­lier cam­era and stag­ing co-workers. Often, he said, he felt guilty when he would send them back with many notes for revi­sions after they had show him their work.

If you give some­one all that feed­back to do all that work, I was used to doing part of that work. Here, I just had some­one go off and do all that work by him­self. That was a very new expe­ri­ence for me,” he said.

At the same time, how­ever, he con­sid­ered his back­ground advan­ta­geous for good com­mu­ni­ca­tion with them. “If you work in one of those tech­ni­cal depart­ments, it’s really nice if you have a direc­tor who really under­stands you because you can talk the same lan­guage,” he said.

A clip from The Blue Umbrella can be seen on our web­site now.

Cartoon of the Day: The Missing Mouse

The Missing Mouse

The Miss­ing Mouse

From nearly the end of the the­atri­cal series, The Miss­ing Mouse was unique in a few ways. Pop­u­lar voice actor Paul Frees– Cap­tain Hook from Disney’s Peter Pan from the same year– han­dles the voice duties for this short, and therein is one of the unique aspects of the film.

While Jerry is loot­ing the fridge, Tom comes by and ham­mers him… He pinches Jerry’s tail in a mouse­trap, and while run­ning away, the mouse spills a bot­tle of white shoe pol­ish on himself.

Sud­denly, the radio blurts out that an exper­i­men­tal “explo­sive” white mouse has escaped from the lab. Tom sees Jerry and is fright­ened to death. Jerry takes advan­tage, and keeps try­ing to fall off shelves and such… the cat catch­ing him no mat­ter what. Tom lets irons and pianos fall on him instead of Jerry.

When the mouse falls in the sink, Tom real­izes that he’s been a fool; he hits Jerry with a ham­mer and throws him out. The real white mouse then enters, and when Tom washes the fake one and then sees Jerry, he ages 50 years! The radio then announces that the explo­sive mouse is no longer dan­ger­ous… Tom strikes him and BOOM! The cat sticks his head out of the rub­ble and says, “Don’t you believe it!”

This is one of the rare car­toons in which Tom speaks; although here it sounds as though he is imi­tat­ing char­ac­ter actor Ned Sparks in the final scene.

This is the only Tom and Jerry car­toon (and pos­si­bly the only MGM car­toon) for which Scott Bradley does not receive music credit.



Cartoon of the Day: Building A Building

Building A Building

Build­ing A Building

Eighty years ago today saw the release of Mickey Mouse in Build­ing A Build­ing. This was not the same Mickey Mouse from Steam­boat Willie. Mickey had done a lot of grow­ing up– matur­ing– in five years, and passed a lot of his bad habits to Don­ald. And the artists at Dis­ney had shown a dras­tic improve­ment in their skills.

A send-up of the Harold Lloyd Safety Last sky­line antics. At the con­struc­tion site where he works, Mickey has his lunch stolen by his boss Pete. Min­nie helps Mickey out with a free box lunch from her wagon. Upset, Pete kid­naps her and the chase up the build­ing under con­struc­tion is on.

Mickey’s sec­ond Acad­emy Award nomination.

A remake of the Oswald the Lucky Rab­bit film Sky Scrap­pers (1928).

This film was David Hand’s first as a direc­tor at Disney.

Alter­nate Title: “Mickey the Steel Worker (Home Release).”

Cartoon of the Day: The Talking Magpies

The Talking Magpies

The Talk­ing Magpies

The Heckle and Jeckle The­atri­cal Car­toon Series kicked off on this date in 1946 with The Talk­ing Mag­pies. This short fea­tured a very late appear­ance of Farmer Al Falfa, and a rare appear­ance in color.

Two mag­pies (billed in this car­toon as “Man and Wife”) are look­ing for a nest­ing place at the Mag­pies’ Hotel. Nowhere is there a vacancy.

Finally they rent a nest in a tree­top just out­side the bed­room win­dow of an old man (Farmer Al Falfa). His sleep dis­turbed, he asks them to be a lit­tle qui­eter. Instead, the mag­pies squawk on relent­lessly. Try as they might, those birds just can’t stay quiet.

Farmer Al Falfa starts after them with his gun. As he rounds the cor­ner, one of the mag­pies has slipped into the radio and is broad­cast­ing a show on “how to rid your farm of mag­pies.” The farmer real­izes that he has been tricked, and the hunt is on. The mag­pies trick him into a bar­rel and turn his own gun on him.

Cartoon of the Day: Gorilla My Dreams

Cartoon of the Day: Gorilla My Dreams

Car­toon of the Day: Gorilla My Dreams

One of the clas­sic Bugs Bunny car­toons, Gorilla My Dreams was also one of direc­tor Robert McKimson’s finest. Known mainly for cre­at­ing the Tas­man­ian Devil and Foghorn Leghorn, McKim­son made a few clas­sic Bugs films, too, includ­ing this one.

Bugs lands in “Bingzi-Bangzi, Land Of Fero­cious Apes,” where a lady gorilla whose hubby hates kids takes him as her own.

Remade in 1959 as “Apes Of Wrath.

Grue­some Gorilla’s first appearance.