Thursday, June 12, 2008

Never Waste A Gag

Here we see the same gag in two Frank Tashlin films more than 10 years apart: first a wolf trying to eat a single pea as a complete meal in "I Got Plenty of Mutton," then Jerry Lewis doing the same thing with a bean in Artists and Models. Greg Ford mentions on his commentary for "Mutton" that Tashlin also wrote this gag, uncredited, into "Mickey and the Beanstalk," but I haven't seen that in a while.

By the way, is it me, or does "Mutton" have unusually little dialogue for an early '40s cartoon? (There's no dialogue at all for almost half the picture, and after that the dialogue is mostly limited to the ram's pre-Pepe Le Pew lover schtick.) Most of the Warners cartoons in the early '40s were quite talky by comparison, very different from all the dialoguless cartoons they'd do in the '50s. Bob Clampett in particular could never resist having a character talk during a gag -- remember Daffy doing the trapdoor gag in "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery" and telling us every step of the way what he's doing.


Kevin W. Martinez said...

"Bob Clampett in particular could never resist having a character talk during a gag "

Isn't saying that, like, the ultimate sacrilege?

I meant, those HORRIBLE spoken words were always reserved for that kitschy Chuck Jones or crappy Filmation, DIC, or Dreamworks crap. Not the beautiful, godly, storyboard-driven words of Lord Almighty BOB CLAMPETT!!!!!!

J Lee said...

Jones was still doing some pretty quiet cartoons in the early 40s -- "The Bird Came COD", "Saddle Silly", "Porky's Ant", "Fin 'N' Catty" and "Porky's Midnight Matinee" all either have no or very limited dialogue while being more "slapsticky" than his pre-1941 stuff, though none of those were as quickly paced as the second half of "Mutton". He didn't do as many quiet cartoons by 1944, but overall Chuck's shorts, going all the way up through "Fair and Worm-er" and "What's Brewin', Bruin?" tried to use silence as a comedy element more than any other studio's shorts (the Road Runner cartoons had characters who were mute, but the cartoons weren't quiet).