Thursday, October 22, 2009

For Those Who Thought "One Froggy Evening" Was Too Upbeat

Among the late '50s Famous cartoons written by Irv Spector, "Finnegan's Flea" isn't the most disturbing -- not while "Chew Chew Baby" exists. But it's still very disturbing, like "One Froggy Evening" except with Paramount-owned songs, a protagonist whose life is shattered through no fault of his own, and a truly unpleasant image to start and end the film. See also Rachel Newstead's long analysis of this cartoon, from 2007.

The thing is, though, that the big twist in this cartoon is an old one. I'm pretty sure I saw it in sketches/stories that pre-date this one, though usually it was the talent agent or producer who did the deed. ("Ugh! A bug!" WHAM! "Now, what was this great new act you were going to tell me about?") Leave it to the Famous people to take an old joke and play it for tragedy and living death.


Yowp said...

Do any of the Modern Madcaps end with an upbeat ending? Any of them?

The whole series seems like a psychological attempt to cleanse themselves of Casper.


J Lee said...

"L'amour the Merrier" kind of qualifies, if you include the one-shot Noveltoons, since M. Renoir does end up with the beautiful princess (instead of with a living room full of garbage and a shrew for a wife, as in Irv Spector's follow-up two years later. Which I still love, BTW). Also the "Abner the Baseball" two-reeler from 1961 was pretty upbeat, unless a Hall of Fame baseball with a Mickey Mantle bat bruise is a downer for a closing gag.

Most of the one-shot Paramount cartoons from about 1954 on definitely go out of their way to be more adult than the studio's continuing series, and in the same way the Fleischer cartoons of the 30s looked darker than what was going on out west, the one shots plots of the 1955-65 period have a much darker, cynical New York City attitude than the similar cartoons from the west coast with adult themes, especially with Spector and/or Eddie Lawrence writing (and since, by 1957, the animation budgets had been cut so far back by Paramount, the cartoons rise and fall on story alone, so there's no way to put the nice polish on them that somewhat softens the message, the way Chuck Jones could with his more downbeat stories).

Mr. Semaj said...

The whole series seems like a psychological attempt to cleanse themselves of Casper.


I think it got to where they needed to differentiate their more optimistic Noveltoons from their darker ones, as we saw with Chew Chew Baby. However, Modern Madcaps was formed around the same time they discontinued most of the regular Noveltoon subseries, and both main series would spend the rest of their runs searching for new cartoon stars.

Thad said...

Besides, most of the Spector shorts we're talking about were Noveltoons anyway... (regardless of what the Harveytoon show versions say)