Tuesday, July 07, 2009

You Learn Something New Every Day, Ebay Edition

Someone is auditioning off a few sets of annotated WB cartoon dialogue sheets -- dialogue-only scripts used for the voice recording -- and from one of them, I learn that the mid-'50s cartoon "Wideo Wabbit" was originally supposed to be titled Omni-Bunny.

I know the titles of these cartoons don't really matter, but I still enjoy learning about alternate titles. Like when "Birds Anonymous" was announced on the scoring track as "Tweety-totaler."

These sheets seem to have been prepared for Mel Blanc, since they only include the dialogue spoken by his characters (Update: Sorry, my mistake: the Elmer dialogue is there, but on a separate sheet) -- though in this cartoon, the Groucho and Carney impressions were in the end done not by Blanc but by Daws Butler. The other cartoons available in this form are "Good Noose," "Pre-Hysterical Hare," "Daffy's Inn Trouble" and "Weasel While You Work," all McKimson cartoons from the late '50s or early '60s.

Additional bit of trivia: I believe "Wideo Wabbit" was the last cartoon where Carl Stalling used his Bugs Bunny theme, "What's Up Doc?" The song was in and out of WB cartoons over the years. Stalling didn't seem to be a big fan of using the same theme for a particular character repeatedly, as Disney did for Donald and Goofy. (And Warners probably wouldn't have wanted an original theme used too often, since that reduced the opportunity to plug WB-owned pop songs.) While he used "What's Up, Doc?" in a few Bugs cartoons in the mid-'40s, it wasn't until 1950 (with the eponymous cartoon where the song was sung all the way through) that he and Milt Franklyn created a new arrangement, complete with fanfare, that introduced most Stalling-scored Bugs cartoons from 1951 to about 1954. Though just as Scott Bradley would sometimes put his Tom and Jerry theme on hold if the setting or subject matter called for it, as in the Mouseketeers cartoons, Stalling would use something other than "What's Up, Doc?" if a different song seemed necessary.

Anyway, after the 1953 shutdown, Stalling used the fanfare a few times, but "Wideo Wabbit" appears to be the last use of the song itself. That was pretty much it for LT/MM characters with theme songs, except for Foghorn Leghorn, who had firmly established the public-domain "Camptown Ladies" as his theme. (Also, Stalling and Franklyn occasionally re-used Smetana's "Dance of the Comedians" in the Road Runner cartoons, but it never really became a full-fledged theme song for the series.)


Anonymous said...

I think Mel Blanc was really great ... yet it's a shame that his contractual agreement prevented others from getting voice credits. In this cartoon Frank Nelson plays the announcer with the handlebar mustache and Arthur Q. Bryan is probably doing the voice of Elmer Fudd.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

It's not Frank Nelson doing the announcer/producer; it's Blanc, imitating Nelson. That is Bryan as Fudd and as mentioned, Daws Butler doing the Groucho and Carney impressions (Blanc does the Liberace impression, though).

Also, it's not so much that Blanc's contract prevented others from getting credit as that almost nobody, except Blanc, got credit for voicing in short cartoons. By the early '60s, when voice actor credits had become more common, some actors started getting credited along with Blanc, though in smaller font.

Thad said...

Lantz was the first to credit multiple voice artists on his shorts, circa 1956. They were also the only studio to regularly credit women artists.

And I can't see why anyone would spend so much money on dialog scripts from this era of McKimson (the diabetic vanilla ice cream of Warner cartoons).

Nick said...

I'm wondering who Irvin Jay was (the film editor credited as opposed to the usual Treg Brown).

J Lee said...

Jay did two McKimson cartoons at this time ("The Honeymousers" being the other). It may just have been that Treg Brown was overworked/possibly doing other projects, since none of the Jones or Freleng cartoons carried his name.

It's probably good that they modified the title, since nobody remembers the old "Omnibus" TV series, while the Fudd-ese weplacement title is easy to get (and 'video' has become more and more of a mass medium buzzword over the years, anyway). The original title shares a problem with the actual cartoon in that you've got to be a pop culture connoisseur or at least in your late 40s-early 50s to get a lot of the gags based on 1950s TV programs. "People are Bunny" holds up better today, because even if you don't know Art Linkletter, TV shows are still sending people out to do stupid stunts to win big prizes, though not necessarily stunts where you get beaten up by an old lady and run over by a scooter.

Also, I believe this is the only Bugs theatrical from the Golden Age where anyone else but Mel does any of the rabbit's dialogue (or for that matter any of the other main WB characters other than Elmer).

Thad said...

That's Dick Bickenbach as Daffy and Sylvester imitating Crosby in HOLLYWOOD DAFFY and CATCH AS CATS CAN respectively too.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Tweety's occasional "theme song" ("I'm a wee widdle bird in a guilded cage/Tweety's my name, but I don't know my age...")

Yowp said...

I've always wondered if Irvin Jay was a pseudonym.


Jaime J. Weinman said...

I've always wondered if Irvin Jay was a pseudonym.

I once saw it suggested that Irvin Jay might have been music editor Jerry Irvin. There's no clear proof of this, but "Irvin Jay" is the pseudonym you'd expect him to use -- Irvin J.

Pokey said...

Dave Mackey already made the confirmation that it was just Mel Blanc doing Frank Nelson as in a later TV-related McKimson/Bugs short [with Daffy}, 1959's "People are Bunny".

Like Jaime I love McKimson's cartoons from this time probaly MORE than Freleng or Jones [blasohemy on my part..]

I'm close to 48 and recognize a lot of the references..and yes, Mel Blanc's co-actors in the early sixties, save for Gloria Wood in "Nelly's Folly", were in smaller font [Dom Casual, my favorite and used at THAT time by MANY TV shows..! Even the cartoony "Beany" credits are almost all Dom Casual.]

Finally by the way, regarding Frank Nelson voiced by Mel Blanc:
Anyone seen the early "Flintstones" episode where Barney gets a job as a reposserer? {A Frank Nelson-inspired employer gives him the job.] Frank himself does the voice as his first Flintstones show, and also Fred and Barney's mutual golfing partner, but Mel Blanc does a Nelson-like shopkeeper in an appliance store in the VERY same EPISODE [the part where Barney's wearing, as chased by Fred into same joint, Fred's TV set on his head."]

It's hard to some, and for me when i was younger, to discern Frank Nelson from Gale Gordon from [relative to WB] The Greay Sildersleeve [Hal Peary] [as in "Hare Conditioned", but DICK Nelson apparently does that voice..]

PS Frank Nelson's one of my favorite old time radio/TV character comic actors..;)

Your Pony Pal Pokey

Pokey said...

Oh, and Jaime..."Gallop of the Comedians" [a favorite of mine] is by D.M.Kabelesvky. Hoyt Curtin seems to use it in early Flinstones when Dino knocks Fred down.