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Archive for the ‘Animated Cartoons’ Category

Little Red Riding Rabbit

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

In the middle of Winter, we could all use a laugh.

Click on the image above to view Little Red Riding Rabbit, a 1944 Bugs Bunny / Warner Bros. cartoon, which riffs on the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood in an engaging manner, especially in its depiction of Red herself, who is presented as a teenage “bobby boxerwith, as Wikipedia notes, “an extremely loud and grating voice.”

In this version of the story, Red is bringing a basket containing Bugs Bunny to her grandmother’s house. Naturally, a wolf is tailing Red, and hotfoots it to Grandma’s house, using a shortcut. Grandma is conveniently out of the house, working the night shift at a defense plant, so the wolf jumps into her bed in disguise. When Red arrives and delivers the basket, the wolf unceremoniously kicks Red out the door, and tries to catch Bugs, but the rabbit continually eludes the wolf for the rest of the cartoon.

But Red refuses to give up on her role in the cartoon, and repeatedly barges back into the house to declaim, in somewhat dimwitted fashion, her dialogue from the original story,  screeching “Uh, HEY GRANDMA! WHAT BIG TEETH YA GOT!” and “Uh, HEY GRANDMA! THAT’S AN AWFULLY BIG NOSE FOR YOU — TO HAVE!,” as both Bugs and the Wolf grow more and more annoyed. I’ll leave it to you to enjoy the surprise ending of the cartoon, just one of the many classic Merrie Melodies churned out by Warner Bros. during the height of the studio era.

Red is voiced by Bea Benaderet, by the way; the wolf by the gruff-voiced Billy Bletcher, while Bugs is handled by the multi-talented Mel Blanc, who gets a voice credit here for the first time in the series. Isadore “Friz” Freleng directed from a script by Michael Maltese; animation was handled by Manuel Perez, Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross and Richard Bickenbach. They don’t make them like this anymore; pop culture with a distinct World War II flavor. Enjoy.

Mary Blair, Pioneering Animator and Designer

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Mary Blair at the Walt Disney Studio in 1941; click on the image above for a brief video biography.

Today, October 21, 2011, on what would have been her 100th birthday, Google honors the work of the pioneering animation artist Mary Blair, born Mary Robinson, who started her career with animator Ub Iwerks, moved on to MGM, and then finally found her true home with the Walt Disney company, where she created her most influential and memorable work.

As Barry Neild reports in The Guardian, “Blair, who was born in Oklahoma on 21 October 1911, was best known for the artwork she contributed to animations including Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Cinderella. She also illustrated a number of children’s books. Blair’s colorful, childlike images – vaguely reminiscent of the cubist movement – are credited with bringing modern art into popular animation and influencing a generation of illustrators.

Walt Disney was so taken with her designs that he recruited her to work on It’s A Small World, an attraction that debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and has since been recreated in all of Disney’s theme parks. Other commissions for Blair, who died in 1978, include giant murals at Disneyland and Disney World.”

Blair is one of the key innovators in animation history, and deserves more recognition than she’s gotten in the past. It’s nice to see her getting a global nod for her many contributions to the art of animation, design, and illustration.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of numerous books and more than 70 articles on film and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at 402.472.6064 or wdixon1@unl.edu.

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