Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Mort's MAD Mostel Montage
This unique approach called for some creative casting: the awe-inspiring Zero Mostel had played the lead on stage but had been frozen out of the movie (as was bafflingly typical of the time) where his role was taken over by an actor named Topol. Given the license MAD was taking already with the material, they took the laudable liberty of bringing Mostel back to the central role, although the surrounding characters (with the notable exception of a cameo by Woody Allen and the whole cast of the movie version at the end) are all Mort Drucker's inspired and unique inventions (as far as I can tell anyway). These are all remarkably well drawn but I will leave you to track down the original to check them out. Here I wanted to focus on Mort Drucker's gob-smackingly beautiful draftsmanship in rendering Zero's many moods and faces with his commanding talent. To think this was long before video reference is amazing. Even using still photos for reference (as he likely did), these are not merely excellent cribs, but each and every drawing is customized and "animated" to the exact point in the script of the original text. I love that he not only captures the man's broadness but also his wonderfully nuanced "passive" expressions with equal perfection. There's nothing forced or off-balance or intrusive ever going on... By the time you've turned the last page, it's clear that there is not a single attitude, pose or expression Drucker couldn't render with utter mastery and complete fidelity to the subject. That he does this with as mercurial an actor as Zero Mostel is astounding. What is even more astounding is that it is typical of Drucker's treatment of every single subject he's ever taken on. Mort + MAD + Mostel = MAGIC!