While much has been written about the visual aspect of the golden age of Hollywood cartoons little has been written about the use of music in thse films.
The main reason for this lack of information is that many of best films made either do not feature star characters (in the case of the great films using classical music) or else are too much for television as is the case with the many great films using jazz artists. Cartoons like Friz Freleng's CLEAN PASTURES, GOLDILOCKS AND THE JIVING BEARS, Bob Clampett's COAL BLACK AND DE SEBBEN DWARFS (regarded by many as the best animated short cartoon ever) TIN PAN ALLEY CATS (which does in 6 1/2 minutes what YELLOW SUBMARINE does in 90), the great Walter Lantz Swing Symphonies (SCRUB ME MAMA WITH A BOOGIE BEAT, THE BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY OF COMPANY B," COW, COW BOOGIE (featuring Meade Lux" Lewis), and Shamus Culhane's inspired PIED PIPER OF BASIN STREET (with Jack Teagarden), JUNGLE JIVE (with the last recording by the great stride pianist Bob Zurke) and BOOGIE WOOGIE MAN are today near impossible to see.
Clampett, Freleng and Culhane, as well as Grim Natwick (Betty Boop creator and principal artist on the character of SNOW WHITE for Walt Disney) came to Toronto as my guests and spoke with my audiences about their work. They were inspiring men. So inspiring that I took on the mission of tracking down good 16mm prints of as many of their films as I could get my hands own.
With our annual JAZZ FESTIVAL in full swing at the end of June beginning of July what better time is there to showcase these films?
This two hour retrospective includes:
MINNIE THE MOOCHER (1931) Max & Dave Fleischer. Cab Calloway. Betty Boop, Bimbo and Koko the Clown twist, turn and transmogrify to Calloway's infectious trademark tune. Included in Jerry Beck's book THE 50 GREATEST CARTOONS.
SWING WEDDING (1936) Hugh Harman, Rudy Ising. Terrific caricatures of Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, The Mills Brothers, Bill Bojangles" Robinson & more. In the psych-out at the climax one character pumps up with a huge hypodermic syringe.
*SNOW WHITE (1932) Max & Dave Fleischer. Cab Calloway. Calloway does THE ST. JAMES INFIRMARY BLUES as Betty, Bimbo and Koko strut their stuff. Included in Jerry Beck's book THE 50 GREATEST CARTOONS.
*COAL BLACK AND DE SEBBEN DWARFS (1942) Bob Clampett. Why won't Warner Brothers use Black artists on cartoon soundtracks?" Clampett was asked backstage at a Los Angeles' Duke Ellington Concert. He replied, If you fellows want to make a film I will make one with you." Now banned this legendary film is regarded by many as the best animated short ever. The print does the film justice. Great color and great sound. Banned. Included in Jerry Beck's book THE 50 GREATEST CARTOONS.
*BOOK REVUE (1946) Bob Clampett. Daffy Duck does a wonderful scat song version of RED RIDING HOOD. Censored for TV and home video. Included in Jerry Beck's book THE 50 GREATEST CARTOONS.
*RED HOT RIDING HOOD (1941) Tex Avery. The story of Little Red Riding Hood gets jazzed up in one of the all time great libidinous cartoons. Censored for TV and home video. Included in Jerry Beck's book THE 50 GREATEST CARTOONS.
CLEAN PASTURES (1936) Friz Freleng. St. Peter sends Cab Calloway, Bill Bojangles" Robinson, the Mills Brothers, Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller down to earth to drum up business for CLUB PARADISE." Banned.
GOLDILOCKS AND THE JIVING BEARS (1945) Friz Freleng. The Three Bears, as jazz musicians, take a walk in the forest while their instruments cool off. Terrific and banned.
SCRUB ME MAMA WITH A BOOGIE BEAT (1940) Walter Lantz. The first of Lantz's SWING SYMPHONIES. The NAACP got Universal to agree never to re-release this brilliant film. Banned.
THE BOOGIE WOOGIE MAN (1944) James Shamus" Culhane. Brilliant use of color coded with the music. Banned.
JUNGLE JIVE (1945) James Shamus" Culhane. The great stride pianist BOB ZURKE laid down his last improvised track for this film. He died two weeks later. Awesome. Banned.
THE PIED PIPER OF BASIN STREET (1945) James Shamus" Culhane. The great Jack Teagarden had been sent to prison on cocaine charges and was out of circulation so long people thought he had died. This little film helped resurrect his career.
RHAPSODY RABBIT (1947) Friz Freleng. Bugs Bunny does Franz Lizst. In the middle of it all he breaks into a mean stride piano solo.
TIN PAN ALLEY CATS (1943) Bob Clampett. A Fats Waller type pussycat trips out to wine, women and song. Included in a time capsule as the best example of American music and mores in the forties this film does what YELLOW SUBMARINE did in 90 minutes in 6 1/2. Banned.
It took me years to find good prints of these great films. You will find them rewarding.