Archive for Friz Freleng

Rushin’ with Concussion

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2020 by dcairns

This is a nice documentary on Robert McKimson, who I always thought of us around about the number four man at Termite Terrace, home of the Looney Tunes, dwarfed by Jones, Clampett, Freleng (and Avery, though he did his best work at MGM). (Oh, and Tashlin, though he did his best work in features.) Probably my-ish low opinion of McKimson is due to seeing his name mainly on late-period toons, when Warners animation was in decline.

The startling bit in the doc is where we learn that McKimson, who would handle Speedy Gonzalez, suffered a traumatic brain injury after which he found he could drawn and animate better and faster. That’s remarkable and unlikely. What was damaged? Some inner critical voice that had been holding him back? How many brain cells would he have had to lose to overtake Freleng?

Jedi Mind Tricks

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2018 by dcairns

Bug Bunny’s Jedi mind tricks are really impressive, aren’t they? I had a moment of illumination with Bugs when I was 19 or so and Chuck Jones came to the Filmhouse, spoke and showed some classic toons. Me and my friend Robert went and it rekindled the childhood fondness for the Warner toons we’d had. We hadn’t really watched them recently and seeing them on the big screen with 498 other people was amazing, and hearing Chuck’s lies stories was eye-opening and delightful. (I think Jones liked to tell a good story and maybe some of them were exaggerated or distorted for comic effect. They were very good stories though, and doubtless the most unlikely ones were the trust because that’s how it works.)

Robert and I talked before and after about the strange qualities of Loony Toons… characters producing hand-lettered signs from behind their backs in order to communicate without speech… glow-in-the-dark eyeballs… and Jedi mind tricks. It’s not just that Bugs, disguised as a woman, immediately makes Elmer fall in love. “When Bugs jumps on Elmer’s back, Elmer immediately thinks he’s a donkey.” And that is done without any disguise at all.

In Jones’ RABBIT PUNCH, written by Michael Maltese, there’s a particularly good one. It’s a boxing picture. Bugs, an inexperienced rabbit, is for some reason fighting the heavyweight champion of the world. The champ knocks him down. Rather than get up, Bugs grabs the announcer’s microphone and describes getting up. As his opponent look around him in bewilderment, Bugs breathlessly narrates his nimble attack. The rival fighter can’t figure out why his opponent is now invisible (except he’s in plain view, lying by the edge of the ring, if he but looked over there). POW! Bug describes punching the guy, and the guy doubles up in pain.

Bugs is a powerful shaman, or something.

We see something similar in those toons like RABBIT SEASONING where Bugs and Daffy debate which hunting season it is, duck or rabbit? Bugs uses verbal tricks to make Daffy actually demand that Elmer Fudd shoot him. Impressive. Guerrilla ontology. Or, as Daffy puts it, “pronoun trouble.”

In the Friz Freleng BIG HOUSE BUNNY, written by Ted Pierce, prison guard Yosemite Sam locks Bugs in a cell. Bugs tells Sam that he’s locked himself in a cell. After some back and forth — “OUTside? Why, you’re INside!” “Oh no I’m not. I’m OUTside. YOU’RE INside!” — Sam unlocks the door and trades places with Bugs. And finds himself locked in the cell while Bugs goes free.

I would like to have those powers.