Archive for Fleischer Bros

Yokai for Sound

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , on July 7, 2022 by dcairns

Too much enjoying the disintegration of Boris Johnson and his wretched chums to do much today, but this crazy thing is almost as delightful. Creepy in all the wrong ways — not cosy spook comedy but genuinely unnerving, hallucinatory, effed-up, at times racist, always a peephole into a vanished and unknowable era.

Moving Violation

Posted in FILM with tags , , on September 10, 2021 by dcairns

“I can’t open the door now, I’m in my nightie,” says Betty Boop.

“Okay, I’ll wait till you take it off,” says Bimbo.

It’s 1931 so Betty is still officially a dog — she has dangling poodle ears which would slowly mutate into earrings. Since boyfriend Bimbo never underwent a similar evolution, their relationship had to become largely platonic, which left Betty free to be pursued by lots of horrible anthropoid toons.

It’s all very weird, which is why we love Fleischer cartoons. Betty is introduced cutting her toenails with a massive pair of shears. When her big toe is trimmed raggedly, it grows a FACE which draws her attention to the error, and when she more neatly prunes the nail, the toe-face submerges back into the surrounding flesh. In terms of Betty’s sex appeal. this SOCIETY-style moment is far more off-putting than the mere fact of her being a dog.

When Bimbo begins serenading Betty in an improbable tenor voice, the radiator can’t help but joining in, the kind of thing you don’t see outside Fleischer film or a fever dream.

Moonshot

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on September 16, 2020 by dcairns

So, yeah, this is appalling.

Howard S. Moss only made five films, per the IMDb, from 1916 to 1930, but that can’t be right. He must have done more, or else had some other way of making a living… maybe he did commercials? Can you imagine these foul, racist homunculi compelling you to buy washing powder? I bet they could be very persuasive, crawling under your sheets at night to whisper jingles in your ear as you slept.

The animation here strikes me as OK, the character design grotesque, apart from the poor (and nameless) black kid who keeps getting mown down by jalopies — he actually has some appeal, though there’s racism in his design as well as his role in the story. This is the work of a man who hates kids on some deep, sub-basement level. Probably animation wasn’t the best career choice, Howard.

The scenery’s good. The warped buildings, funhouse mirrorworld architecture, connect by occult means to the Fleischer Bros cheese dreams of the same era, and the whole thing does feel authentically NOCTURNAL.

It doesn’t make sense to me at all as a music video for “Hearts and Flowers” though I guess Warner Brothers, in their usual synergetic way, were hoping to sell sheet music off it. It also doesn’t make narrative sense to me. It’s just a bunch of stuff, ending with some thinning puppet destroying the moon with a shotgun. Why? Is there some suggestion that the moon fiddled with his underage daughter? That doesn’t seem appropriate to this genre, whatever it’s supposed to be. Still, given all that’s preceded it, I was surprised he didn’t just up and shoot the black kid.