Friday, May 11, 2007

Sylvester Gets His Due

This must be one of the first references to Warner Brothers cartoons in a non-WB movie: about a minute into this clip from the 1964 low-budget movie Kitten With a Whip (with Ann-Margret as a crazy teenager who torments John Forsythe) -- we get a scene with a TV where the cartoon "Canned Feud" is playing. The director even sometimes frames A-M next to Sylvester.

Not a very good movie (it's a sad indication of how badly Ann-Margret was wasted by the movie studios that Viva Las Vegas may well be her best movie in this decade), but it's good to see a movie universe where the local kiddie show selects such good cartoons.



4 comments:

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Days of Wine and Roses (1962) has a brief clip of "The Bee-Deviled Bruin" playing on tv in the background in one scene. But that was a Warner Bros. release.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

I always wondered how Sulllivan's Travels (1941), which is a Paramount picture, got the rights to use Disney's "Playful Pluto", too.

Griff said...

Well, it's said that Sturges had Paramount ask Disney for permission to use that specific cartoon -- there's apparently a note in the files with the phrase "Get 'flypaper' cartoon" -- and after the great success of LADY EVE, Paramount was willing to humor the filmmaker. [One report suggests that the initial idea was to use a clip from a Chaplin short, but Paramount might not have gone for that.] I've always wondered who at Disney approved the use of the clip, but the studio was not necessarily averse to licensing footage -- a clip from WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN? figures significantly in Hitchcock's British SABOTAGE (1936). You'll note that the beginning of the TRAVELS clip of PLAYFUL PLUTO includes a superimposed "copyrighted by Walt Disney Productions" line on the Mickey sunburst. By the way, there's another Sturges cartoon connection: The Schlesinger studio designed and animated the credits -- featuring that wonderful pulsating snake -- for THE LADY EVE.

Anyway, it comes ten years after KITTEN, but my favorite appearance of a WB cartoon in an non-WB feature is still the scene in which fugitives Goldie Hawn and William Atherton look at a Road Runner short on the just barely visible screen of a nearby drive-in. They can't hear the soundtrack, so Atherton begins to improvise some sound effects... but as they watch the cartoon, it's increasingly evident that Atherton senses that he has a lot in common with Wile E...

Tisher said...

This scene in "Kitten With a Whip" comes as the lead character comes home from work and is surprised to find the TV blaring as he opens the door. When the movie played on Mystery Science Theater one of the hecklers remarked, "Hey! Carl Stalling broke into my house!"