The Alberta political season is about to swing back into gear, so before we’re swamped with politics, let’s take a few moments for some cartoon fun.
I had a wonderful time watching cartoons in the majestic setting of the Winspear Centre on Sunday, courtesy the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony. The concept was simple — show a great Warner Brothers Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoon, and have the ESO play the original score. And man, what outstanding music could be heard on Warners cartoons. As Elaine said to Jerry on Seinfeld on time, everything Jerry knew about classical music came from Warner cartoons. There’s a lot of truth to that.
My only complaint about the show was the choice of cartoons. While some of the selections were obvious — The Rabbit of Saville is a musical classic, and extremely funny, and What’s Opera, Doc? is a cinematic gem, if less funny — a few random cartoons were thrown into the mix to pad out the show (Tweety and Sylvester? Really?). This baffled me. As someone who has watched Warner cartoons since childhood, and who can recite every line from many of them, I could rattle off a half-dozen great cartoons that would have had the audience of children and adults howliing.
By coincidence, Roger Ebert tweeted today that this is the anniversary of the death of Chuck Jones, the cartoon director often cited as the greatest cartoon director of all time. Three of his cartoons are in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress — “Duck Amuck” (1953), “One Froggy Evening” (1955) — my choice for greatest cartoon of all time — and “What’s Opera, Doc?” (1957). Mr. Ebert, who tweets and blogs prodigiously, supplied a link to all three, which you can see here http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/movies-free-online/-my-great-movies-piece.html
Looking over the filmography list from the Chuck Jones website, I easily picked out the following list of classic toons, which are every bit as hilarious today as they were 50 years ago. The dialogue is biting, the animation (particularly that of Daffy, who lends himself to great facial expressions) as good as it gets.
Some other greats:
• The Scarlet Pumpernickel, starring Daffy.
• Bunny Hugged (Bugs as a wrestler)
• Dripalong Daffy (an all-time Daffy great. His best line: “Pardon me while I adjust my accoutrements.”)
• Going! Going! Gosh! (a Road Runner cartoon; they were all great until the cheapo made-for-TV versions almost destroyed the brand)
• Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century
• Bully for Bugs (Bugs as a matador)
• Duck! Rabbit! Duck! (“Duck season! Rabbit season!”)
• Beanstalk Bunny (Bugs and Daffy go up the beanstalk)
• Ali Baba Bunny (A true classic. See it as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agLwIxiEk_c
• Robin Hood Daffy
And that’s just from Chuck Jones., most of which were written by his most frequent partner, Michael Maltese. If there was a golden age of animation, Chuck Jones was its king.
Now, enough fun. Get back to work.