What you think about Disney's arty attempts?

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FleischerFan
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Postby FleischerFan » Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:22 am

J. J. Hunsecker wrote:I agree with most of what you wrote, FleischerFan, but I just wanted to point out that Disney also made comedy cartoons -- in fact the majority of the studio's output was in that genre.
Totally agree. But Disney's taste in comedy remained largely fixed on what had worked for the slapstick comedians of the silent era (with some exceptions). That style of humor ultimately proved limiting and hasn't aged as well as the humor employed at Warners.


The Spectre wrote:While comedy is my favourite genre for animated shorts (and probably the genre to which they are most suited)...
I don't know that I would agree with you on this. Certainly the way the Hollywood cartoon evolved meant it was used primarily as a vehicle for comedy (as were a good many of the live action short subjects). However, one of the reasons Fantasia remains my favorite Disney feature is precisely because it demonstrated other areas in which animation excels. The "Toccata and Fugue" sequence, for example, shows the strength of more abstract animation while "Rites of Spring" showed animation's greater ability with certain fantasy elements in the pre-CGI era (and if you think about it, CGI is still just another form of animation).

I would say that cartoon's greatest strength is in the area of surrealism - conveying things which are clearly impossible in the real world. That this trait is well used in service of comedy is undeniable.
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J. J. Hunsecker
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Postby J. J. Hunsecker » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:11 pm

J Lee wrote:Disney did get caught in the trap with Mickey & crew that Warmers' characters avoided until the 1970s, in having to make sure their stories met the "child friendly" standards of their era. As early as 1931 the mouse was being limited as to what he could do, because Walt was already getting flack over "inappropriate" gags, and for comedy that's a killer. But it's also understandable, because until Dinsneyland in the 1950s, he never had a steady flow of income not dependent on his animated characters and their marketing abilities.


Waners didn't have to abide by that standard, thankfully, until you get to the new CBS specials in the 1970s (compare the ending of Bob McKimson's last work with Bugs, "The Bugs Bunny Easter Special" in 1977 with the final gag from his second cartoon with the rabbit, "Easter Yeggs". Wow, what a comedown). So while Walt failed to use the studio's new skills in the 1940s to make their cartoons as funny as what the Schlesinger studio was doing, he also had been under more pressure for almost a decade to make films that were more "family friendly" than funny.

That may be true for Mickey Mouse, but Donald Duck and Goofy weren't hampered by parental concern. (Probably why the funnier Disney cartoons star the two latter characters.) Mickey became an "aw, shucks" everyman in his cartoons, but Donald was allowed to be a jerk. Part of the reason some of these cartoons weren't as funny as the Warner cartoons is probably that the Disney artists were held back by Disney's own tastes in comedy. Disney didn't seem to like having his characters do impossible things. Also, they usually stuck to one theme in the cartoon and slowly build up on it, so that Donald or Goofy spent most of the short fighting with a recalcitrant prop, for instance. Chuck Jones used the same type of set up with his earlier attempts at humorous cartoons with the same mixed results. It's usually more frustrating than funny to watch Conrad Cat or Elmer spend the entirety of their cartoon trying to outmatch a stubborn prop.
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Postby nickramer » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:32 pm

J Lee wrote:Disney did get caught in the trap with Mickey & crew that Warmers' characters avoided until the 1970s, in having to make sure their stories met the "child friendly" standards of their era. As early as 1931 the mouse was being limited as to what he could do, because Walt was already getting flack over "inappropriate" gags, and for comedy that's a killer. But it's also understandable, because until Dinsneyland in the 1950s, he never had a steady flow of income not dependent on his animated characters and their marketing abilities.


Waners didn't have to abide by that standard, thankfully, until you get to the new CBS specials in the 1970s (compare the ending of Bob McKimson's last work with Bugs, "The Bugs Bunny Easter Special" in 1977 with the final gag from his second cartoon with the rabbit, "Easter Yeggs". Wow, what a comedown). So while Walt failed to use the studio's new skills in the 1940s to make their cartoons as funny as what the Schlesinger studio was doing, he also had been under more pressure for almost a decade to make films that were more "family friendly" than funny.

Come on now. Didn't you at least find this cartoon funny?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-nnoNgwY3k

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Postby J Lee » Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:58 pm

J. J. Hunsecker wrote:That may be true for Mickey Mouse, but Donald Duck and Goofy weren't hampered by parental concern. (Probably why the funnier Disney cartoons star the two latter characters.) Mickey became an "aw, shucks" everyman in his cartoons, but Donald was allowed to be a jerk. Part of the reason some of these cartoons weren't as funny as the Warner cartoons is probably that the Disney artists were held back by Disney's own tastes in comedy. Disney didn't seem to like having his characters do impossible things. Also, they usually stuck to one theme in the cartoon and slowly build up on it, so that Donald or Goofy spent most of the short fighting with a recalcitrant prop, for instance. Chuck Jones used the same type of set up with his earlier attempts at humorous cartoons with the same mixed results. It's usually more frustrating than funny to watch Conrad Cat or Elmer spend the entirety of their cartoon trying to outmatch a stubborn prop.


Donald was funny. Goofy was funny. But in the former case there was always a feeling that the short-subject department could only go so far with the duck before having to reign him in (i.e. -- saddle him with a cute pair of chipmunks, a cute bee, etc.) -- that was the "keep it young child/family friendly" part. Goofy's best shorts seemed to show up around the time Walt was overseas or worrying about some feature film project (ditto for Jack Hannah's wildest work, which doesn't show up until Disney's more focused on his theme park in the mid-1950s).

Disney couldn't ignore what what going on at Warners, as far as the more Avery-esque gags sneaking into the stories, and there was still some funny stuff after the studio had lost the mantle of being the dominant force in short-subject animation. But even the staff at Disney admitted they looked down their noses a bit at what Warners was doing even while admiring the nerve of the WB staff to go there in the first place, and for the money they spent on the cartoons, Walt got far less of a bang for his buck than Leon or Eddie did during the same time period in part because he had to care about the "image" of his characters more than Warners did, because the cartoons were only a small part of Warner Brothers Pictures, Inc., but until the 1950s, were the whole shbang for the Disney Corp.
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Postby Zartok-35 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:42 am

J. J. Hunsecker wrote:Also, they usually stuck to one theme in the cartoon and slowly build up on it, so that Donald or Goofy spent most of the short fighting with a recalcitrant prop, for instance. Chuck Jones used the same type of set up with his earlier attempts at humorous cartoons with the same mixed results. It's usually more frustrating than funny to watch Conrad Cat or Elmer spend the entirety of their cartoon trying to outmatch a stubborn prop.


Couldn't have said it better myself! I hate frustration gags.
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Postby looneyboy » Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:35 pm

Almost every Pluto cartoon had this formula:

-object gets stuck to Pluto's ass
-Pluto tries to get it off for the rest of the cartoon

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Postby nickramer » Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:15 pm

looneyboy wrote:Almost every Pluto cartoon had this formula:

-object gets stuck to Pluto's ass
-Pluto tries to get it off for the rest of the cartoon

Not really as there was a more common formula involing cute little innocent animals.

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Postby FleischerFan » Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:25 pm

looneyboy wrote:Almost every Pluto cartoon had this formula:

-object gets stuck to Pluto's ass
-Pluto tries to get it off for the rest of the cartoon
The main reason I skipped the Walt Disney Treasures Pluto set.
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J. J. Hunsecker
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Postby J. J. Hunsecker » Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:04 pm

FleischerFan wrote:The main reason I skipped the Walt Disney Treasures Pluto set.

I bought those years ago. I still haven't gotten through all the cartoons yet. One of the few golden age series that I can only take in small doses. I wasn't familiar with the Pluto cartoons when I bought them. Live and learn.
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nickramer
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Postby nickramer » Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:15 pm

Personally, I thought the series got better near the end.


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