Sunday, May 6, 2012

Classic Cartoon Trivia Sleuth: Cyril's Inspiration???

Cyril at the Trial
In Disney's version of WIND IN THE WILLOWS ("ICHABOD & MR. TOAD", 1949) there is a comedic courtroom scene, the highlight of which is the testimony of Toad's equine sidekick "Cyril Proudbottom," voiced by J. "Pat" O'Malley, a regular onscreen & voiceover staple at Disney right on thru the 1960's.
J. "Pat" O'Malley

In defense of Toad, Cyril narrates a flashback using singsong Cockney verses in rhyme. The all-rhyming gimmick is a departure for the character at this point in the film, but it lends a comic flair to the telling of the tale. (Starts at 5:04 of this YoutTube clip)

Stanley Holloway
A few years back I came across a recording of Stanley Holloway, another wonderful English character actor best known for playing 'Liza Doolittle's father "Alfred" for the stage and movie versions of MY FAIR LADY (1956). My parents had the vinyl record of that show and Holloway's coarse and robust performance was always my favorite part. As I discovered in the more recently re-surfaced routines from over two decades earlier, Holloway made his initial fame narrating numerous comic rhyming verses in a more youthful singsong nasal voice on the UK vaudeville circuit. Most famous was his tale of a boy named "Albert Ramsbottom," who comes to an absurdly tragic end in an encounter with a lion at the zoo:

No one ever confirmed it for me, but after hearing a few of lines of this monologue I had no doubt that someone at Disney knew Holloway's work and decided to incorporate it into the trial scene as something of an homage, given that Cyril is characterized as a Cockney stereotype and Holloway was the epitome of the same. J. "Pat" O'Malley seems to be doing such a dead-on impersonation of Mr. Holloway that I have to doubt the similarity is co-incidental.  In any case, discovering this likely connection has ever since enhanced my enjoyment of this cartoon, and maybe it will yours too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pacific SplendorLAnd (yes another blog)

Way back in this entry I threatened to start posting artwork inspired by my impressions of life in the mercurial Pacific paradise of Los Angeles, following a concurrent pair of early decades mis-spent mostly in the frozen New York State region known as "The Finger Lakes". (Despite the charming title there are six of these lakes so the name mystifies me to this day. Maybe it's an Iroquois inside joke.)

After compiling a passel of such non-animation and not exclusively cartoon images, I have decided to launch them on their own blog: "Pacific SplendorLAnd", where they will not interfere with the winnowing but still vaguely animation-related ramblings here.The main thing I have enjoyed about doing these pieces is that they wind up being singular, self-contained compositions, as opposed to quick fragmented doodles on the one end of the spectrum; or artwork created as a stream of storytelling devices, such as a storyboard or an animation sequence on the other. So somehow this makes them want their own blog.

First up is an image that I have fiddled with for nearly two years, after evolving from a doodle. It is not a literal vision of daily life in my adopted home city, but somehow it encapsulates it, in my mind anyway.

So Small Room stalwarts bookmark this new site PACIFIC SPLENDORLAND, and you will have my eternal* gratitude, or failing that, at least another bookmark on your toolbar. *(bookmarking suggestion non-mandatory/eternity relative to variable conditions/your mileage may vary)