Friday, June 15, 2007
My Favorite Reverse
This is from one of my favorite Chuck Jones cartoons, TO DUCK OR NOT TO DUCK. Some of the best Jones cartoons come from this transitional period, after he stopped trying to be Disney and before he hit his more sophisticated stride. Daffy here is being a jolly and defiant jerk, challenging Elmer to a "fair" fight in a boxing ring instead of hunting him with a rifle. The ring is entirely populated by ducks, including the referee, which makes Elmer's dog suspicious. He makes a non-sequitor observation at one point that used to crack me and my brothers up as kids: "There's something awful screwy going on or my name isn't Larrimore...and it isn't."
This cartoon is very loose and funny and has some beautiful "swoopy" animation by Bobe Cannon and Ken Harris. I don't have space to analyze the whole thing but these frames are from the end of a very long scene where Daffy and the referee are defining the rules of the fight and beating the living crap out of Elmer in the process before the fight starts. ("No THIS, no THIS, none of THAT, or THIS" etc). On the last beat Daffy winds up (fr.2) swoops into an anticipation (fr3) holds this pose for about eight frames while Elmer wobbles and (fr4) he does a complete full-figure 180 with exactly zero inbetweens! When I step-framed thru this on my old Betamax in my early 20's I was stunned and I still am. Snapping a portion of a figure or even the whole line of action from one arc to its opposite happens all the time, but here Bobe Cannon makes a complete flip to a mirror image of the figure work with nothing more than a couple of frames of light drybrush effects. Amazing. It shows what you can do when you have complete confidence and command of your craft.
I really love Bobe Cannon animation from this period. Not to start up the whole UPA thing again, but 22 years ago at Filmation I turned in a scene consisting of a single held cel and one of the final checkers chuckled and said: "This is like a Bobe Cannon scene." I was totally confused. She said she worked at UPA and by then Cannon was so in love with limited animation that he went out of his way to move as little as possible, preferably nothing. She turned out to be right when I checked out the UPA's on videotape that were around back then. Its one of those inexplicable shifts in personal preference I'll never understand...
I seem to be the only person who isn't a big YouTube fan, so if anybody knows if there's a link to a copy of this cartoon, let me know. It isn't on any of the current DVD's to my knowledge. Thanks!