Tag Archives: Warner Bros.

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.

The Animation Oscar Nominees

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar

Oscar Time!

It’s Oscar time! Disney comes in strong and stop motion is this years darling.

This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for this years Oscars. There are two main areas of competition for animation, the Feature Length and the short awards. This year, the nominees are…

In a word, Disney. The perennial animation powerhouse leads the field with three films in consideration for Best Animated Feature. Perhaps even more surprising is that DreamWorks best hope- Rise Of The Guardians- was left out altogether. Also interesting is that there are three stop-motion features in the list this year, in a short field of only five films.

For Best Animated Feature, the nominees are:

Brave- Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Frankenweenie- Tim Burton
ParaNorman- Sam Fell, Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits- Peter Lord
Wreck-It Ralph- Rich Moore

The field for Best Animated Short Film is a diverse field, as usual. The nominees here are:

Adam And Dog- Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole- PES
Head Over Heels- Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
The Longest Daycare- David Silverman
Paperman- John Kahrs

The Oscar nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were announced this morning by Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone. The announcements were made at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood California and hosted by Seth MacFarlane. This year, the Oscar show also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

Warner Brothers Diving into Animation Think Tank

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. Pictures has formed a feature animation creative consortium, marking a new and innovative approach to the establishment of a diverse and far-reaching animation slate, Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov announced Monday.

The mission of the new think tank is to help develop and produce high-end animated motion pictures, with the goal of releasing one feature per year under the Warner Bros. Pictures banner. The select team of accomplished filmmakers will collaborate with the studio to frame and guide a variety of projects from start to finish.

The artists who will be involved in Warner Bros.’ new feature animation venture are John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Cats & Dogs); Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets), Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), and Jared Stern (Mr. Popper’s Penguins).

The filmmakers will work both individually and collectively, supporting one another artistically in the making of the films. They will not be exclusive to the studio’s animated film productions; rather, they will also continue to write and direct live-action movies. “This new endeavor reflects Warner Bros.’ ongoing commitment to being a filmmaker-friendly studio, which invites and fosters original projects, continually expanding the entertainment scope of its slate,” WB said.

“Warner Bros. has an extraordinary legacy in the world of animation, including some of the most enduring characters in cinema history. Looking to the future, we have now gathered some of the best and brightest talents in the industry to help us grow and broaden that legacy,” Robinov stated. “Drawing upon their imaginations and inspiration, the studio will produce a slate of new and original animated films that are sure to delight audiences of all ages.”

The first feature in the pipeline is the upcoming 3D animated adventure The LEGO Movie, being directed by Lord and Miller from their own screenplay. Bringing the globally popular LEGO construction toys to the big screen for the first time, the film is being produced by Dan Lin and Roy Lee and stars the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Morgan Freeman. The animation is largely being accomplished at Australia’s Animal Logic.

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, The LEGO Movie is slated for release on February 7, 2014.

Among the other projects being developed are Storks, conceived and being written by Stoller, and to be directed by Oscar nominee Doug Sweetland (PIXAR short Presto); and Smallfoot, to be written by Requa and Ficarra, from an original idea by Sergio Pablos (Despicable Me), who is also set to direct. The films are being targeted for release in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The development of animated features will be overseen at Warner Bros. by Courtenay Valenti, Chris deFaria and Greg Silverman. Overall look, character design and the story reel process will be housed in Burbank, California; however, the studio will look to partner with established animation studios for production of the films.

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.

Cartoon of the Day: Dog Pounded

Dog Pounded

Dog Pounded

Isadore Freleng directed many great films, and paired two timeless characters so close they are now inseparable- Tweety and Sylvester. Dog Pounded is one of the later shorts, produced in 1954. It begins with the very familiar image of a starving Sylvester, rummaging through garbage cans for food…

Hungry Sylvester spots Tweety in his nest, which sits on a tree high atop the city dog pound, where numerous bulldogs reside. Sylvester makes different approaches, like hypnotizing the dogs and digging himself under the wall, always with the same result- beaten by the dogs.

Sylvester disguises himself as a dog, and the dogs burrow under the pound, having accurately anticipated that Sylvester will do the same! In the end, he paints a white stripe down his back to make the dogs think that he’s a skunk. This attracts Pepé Le Pew, who desires to make love with the poor ol’ puddy tat!

Pepé Le Pew makes a cameo at the end of this cartoon, the only time he appears in a Freleng directed short .

Very similar to “Ain’t She Tweet.”

This Looney Tune short was reissued as a Blue Ribbon Merrie Melodie cartoon.

Cartoon of the Day: Rabbit Hood

Rabbit Hood

Rabbit Hood

The day before Christmas, and all through BCDB, not a creature was stirring because they were all watching Rabbit Hood. You wouldn’t think a whole lot of good cartoons were released on December 24th, but you would be wrong… Rabbit Hood is just one of them!

Sherwood Forest is studded with “No Poaching” signs- “Not even an egg!” Bunny tries to swipe a carrot from the king’s carrot patch, but is caught crimson-fisted by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Just then, a goofy Little John announces, “Don’t you worry, never fear, Robin Hood will soon be here!” Robin doesn’t appear (the film’s running gag), so Bugs announces, “Lo, the king approacheth!”

As the sheriff bows for the king, Bugs bops him and runs. The sheriff chases Bugs around the king’s Royal Ground, where the rabbit imitates a real estate salesman and sells the sheriff the land. The flim-flam works so well that the sheriff is building the second story of a house before he finally gets wise. The sheriff corners Bugs, who comically introduces Little John to him. Next, Bugs pretends that the king is coming; this time, he disguises himself as His Highness and bestows knighthood on the sheriff.

Bobbing him with his staff with each word, Bugs declares the sheriff “Sir Loin of Beef, Earl of Cloves, Baron of Munchausen, Milk of Magnesia, Quarter of Ten.” The groggy sheriff sings “London Bridge” as he falls into a freshly-baked layer cake. Little John finally introduces Robin Hood: a live-action shot of Errol Flynn, causing an astonished Bugs to shrug and say, “Eh, it couldn’t be him!”

Contains actual footage of Errol Flynn as Robin Hood from the 1938 film “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” Flynn’s price for using his image was reportedly only a copy of this cartoon for his collection.

Released exactly one day before retired WB cartoon producer Leon Schlesinger died of viral infection at the age of 65.

Songs include: “London Bridge is Falling Down” (Unknown-arr. Carl Stalling), Performed by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Cartoon of the Day: Transylvania 6-5000

Transylvania 6-5000

Transylvania 6-5000

Released on this date in 1963, Transylvania 6-5000 was the last Bugs Bunny cartoon directed by Chuck Jones. And this cartoon is thoroughly Chuck. From the backgrounds to the character design to the timing, this short is a one-stop lesson in Jonsian cartoon directing.

After taking a wrong left turn, Bugs ends up in the castle of a bloodthirsty Count. Luckily, Bugs knows the secret work, and confounds the Count’s attempts to retrieve Bugs’ blood.

Note that when Bugs rings the castle doorbell, the chimes play the opening notes of the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

A fitting climax to Jones’ career at Warner Bros, or a cardboard epitaph- what do you think?