One Froggy Evening, Happy Anniversary! Opened December 31st, 1955

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Lobby Card

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Lobby Card

A Chuck Jones masterpiece, a one of kind hilarious comment on human nature, the search for our hopes, the quest for our dreams and the pursuit of the happiness that we find in them; all told in just 7 minutes. I don’t know about you but every time I have a tech look at my PC (or for that matter a mechanic at my car, repairman at my washer or dryer, and so on, and so forth) I just can’t seem to reproduce the issue, which is now a called a “Dancing Frog”, a terminology for a computer problem that will not appear when anyone else is watching, due to our Froggy friend. By the way, lest we forget, the song “The Michigan Rag” was written (by One Froggy Evening writer Michael Maltese) solely for this short-film. And further, (I understand that cartoons take on a life of their own, but they are not real, at least that is what my mom told me) Hollywood nightclub singer Bill Roberts (popular in Hollywoodland during the 1950’s) provided the singing voice of the frog.

For  everybody  that loves the “Michigan Rag” here are the words for your perusal:

Everybody do the Michigan Rag
Everybody likes the Michigan Rag
Every Mame and Jane and Ruth
From Weehawken to Duluth
Slide, ride, glide the Michigan
Stomp, romp, pomp the Michigan
Jump, clump, pump the Michigan Rag
That lovin’ rag!

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By C. S. Williams

Huston, We Don’t Have a Problem! Congratulations to Walter and to his son John Huston for their Oscars! On March 24, 1949

Walter and son John Huston

Walter Huston and son John

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Walter Huston won for Best Supporting Actor while son John Huston took home honors for Best Director and Best Screenplay, both men gaining their Academy Awards for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre; the first and only father and son winners in the same year and for the same film! The ceremonies were held at the Academy Award Theater located at 9038 Melrose Avenue, which is just a touch east of Doheny Dr., on the south side of Melrose. Formerly, the building had been the Marquis Theater; it provided the Academy with office space and room for their growing library.

9038 Melrose Avenue, The Academy Award Theater and Academy Offices

9038 Melrose Avenue, The Academy Award Theater and Academy Offices

 

Yes, it was quite the year for the Huston name, not only did father and son take home statues but Clair Trevor won for Best Supporting Actress, directed by John Huston, in Key Largo. In Walter Huston’s acceptance speech he said: “many years ago, many, many years ago, I raised a son and I said if you ever become a director or a writer, please find a good part for your old man; he did alright.”

Walter Huston with Best Supporting Actress winner Clair Trevor (Key Largo) and the 1947 supporting winners Edmund Gwenn (Miracle on 34th Street) and Celeste Holm (Gentleman's Agreement)

Walter Huston with Best Supporting Actress winner Clair Trevor (Key Largo) and the 1947 supporting winners Edmund Gwenn (Miracle on 34th Street) and Celeste Holm (Gentleman’s Agreement)

Oscar Excitement and Hijinks

Huston Oscar Excitement and Hijinks

Celeste Holm presenting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to Walter Huston for his portrayal of "Howard" in The Treasure of Sierra Madre

Celeste Holm presenting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to Walter Huston for his portrayal of “Howard” in The Treasure of Sierra Madre

Deborah Kerr presenting John Huston Oscar for Best Screenplay

Deborah Kerr presenting John Huston Oscar for Best Screenplay

Edmund Gwenn presenting Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress to Clair Trevor for her performance as "Gaye" in Key Largo

Edmund Gwenn presenting Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress to Clair Trevor for her performance as “Gaye” in Key Largo

 

By C. S. Williams

 

 

Tortoise Beats Hare, Happy Anniversary! March 15, 1941; Revised Hare

tfmgtageoantbig Tortoise-vs-Hare

 

Work on Tortoise Beats Hare was “well under way,” so said Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes producer Leon Schlesinger at the first of February 1941;[1] it was normal practice for animated shorts to be finished and stockpiled upwards of six months in advance, but not so in this case. There appears to have been some confusion between the publicity and distribution departments at Warner Bros., regarding the premiere date. The national release had not been scheduled as of the end March; this according to a one paragraph report in the Showmen’s Trade Review in early April.[2] Tortoise was not issued its copyright until March 22, 1941; as “looney” as it may seem Tortoise Beats Hare was shown without a copyright. The Motion Picture Herald in their review of this color cartoon states it was released on March 15,[3] and the evidence shows that it was ready for that date and was seen a day earlier on Friday, March 14, 1941 at the State Theater, in Greenwood, South Carolina.[4]

The_Index-Journal, Greenwood, South Carolina, Mar 9, 1941

The_Index-Journal, Greenwood, South Carolina, Mar 9, 1941

 

As with any cartoon during that era, the release of Tortoise Beats Hare was a soft roll-out, having city premieres all through the year; here are a few of those:

Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mar 21, 1941

Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mar 21, 1941

News Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, Mar 21, 1941

News Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, Mar 21, 1941

Amarillo Daily News, Amarillo, Texas, Apr 10, 1941

Amarillo Daily News, Amarillo, Texas, Apr 10, 1941

Cumberland Evening Times, Cumberland, Maryland, Jul 14, 1941

Cumberland Evening Times, Cumberland, Maryland, July 14, 1941

 

Director, Tex “Fred” Avery (Tex seems and sounds so much better for this merrie-looney guy) and crew appropriated the Aesop (Dave Monahan wrote the story and screenplay, leaving Aesop, un-attributed… poor Aesop) fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” and along the way made one of the most memorable animated short-films in moving-picture history with  Tortoise Beats Hare.

Fred "Tex" Avery

Fred “Tex” Avery

 

Mel Blanc voiced the characters (introduction of Cecil Turtle), Carl W. Stalling directed the music but went uncredited for his musical composition, while Treg Brown edited the cartoon (uncredited) and handled the sound effects, again going uncredited. The usual suspects brought to life with their pencils and paint, this watershed toon: Charles McKimson (animator), Robert Givens (character designer, uncredited), John Didrik Johnsen (background artist uncredited), Robert McKimson, Virgil Ross, Rod Scribner and Sidney Sutherland animated but went uncredited.

Mel Blanc

Mel Blanc

 

What great moments were created in 1941 when frustration, anger, slyness, intelligence, ingenuity, execution and more played significant roles (yes turtles everywhere) in a ‘roller-coaster’ ride of emotions in this short-subject; the feelings generated by the delicate sure handed professional (are you kidding me? I just had a lapse in my train of thought and began to write about the abilities and style of director George Cukor) bold, hyper-active direction of Avery was stellar! Here for your viewing pleasure then, is Tortoise Beats Hare. I caution you though, that the watching of Tortoise Beats Hare does leave one inclined to blurt out such bunny-ite and turtle-ish idioms as: “Big bunch of jerks, I oughta know, I work for ‘em,’” “give ‘him’ the works!” It’s a possibility,” “how did you get up here anyway?” “Oh sorry, pardon me, wrong story;” the excuses for such inappropriate outbursts are solely the responsibility (which may include one or more of the following in required restitution: financial, emotional, familial and or professional) of the reader along with any accompanying apologies that might (most likely will) be needed.

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By C. S. Williams

 

[1] Showmen’s Trade Review, February 1, 1941

[2] Showmen’s Trade Review, April 5, 1941

[3] Motion Picture Herald, April 5, 1941

[4] Index-Journal (Greenwood, South Carolina) March 9, 1941

Feed the Kitty, Premiered, February, 2nd, 1952: Now with Extras!

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Feed the Kitty, directed by Chuck M. Jones (also, he designed the characters), gave us the first appearances of bulldog Marc Antony and Pussyfoot the kitten; 3 follow ups were made: Kiss Me Cat, 1953; Feline Frame-Up, 1954, and in 1958, Cat Feud. This truly is a funny animated short (7 minutes long) film, and heart-touching, with a message of tolerance; Jones and company did themselves proud.The animation chores fell to: Ken Harris, Phil Monroe, Lloyd Vaughan and Ben Washam. The story was written by Michael Maltese, Carl W. Stalling composed the music and filled the duties of musical director, Milt Franklyn was musical-orchestrator while Treg Brown was the film and sound effects editor. Kitty was produced by Edward Selzer, voices by Mel Blanc and Bea Benaderet provided the voice of Marc Antony’s Mistress. As with most animated shorts the film was ready well in advance of its planned (Marc-ed day) release date (ready to knead the back of the public), the copyright was filed for in 1951; for a cartoon, Feed the Kitty was well represented in advertising.

Cedar Rapids Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, February 2, 1952

Cedar Rapids Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, February 2, 1952

Abilene_Reporter_News_Thu__Feb_14__1952_

Abilene Reporter News, Abilene, Texas, February 14, 1952

Albuquerque_Journal_Fri__Feb_15__1952_

Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 15, 1952

The_Kane_Republican_Thu__Mar_20__1952_

Kane Republican, Kane, Pennsylvania, March 20, 1952

 

Thank you Warner Bros., Merrie Melodies and Chuck Jones for another great cartoon, and for adding more wonderful thoughts and pictures to our mind’s memory bank. If you need a full refresher (or just for the cookie baking scene; a true classic), watch Feed the Kitty again.

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Cel Notes:

If you have a very good memory of Monsters, Inc. from 2001 (or the DVD at hand), then you will see that the reactions by Sully when he thinks that Boo is in the garbage compactor, shot for shot duplicates Marc Anthony’s reactions, when he thinks that Pussyfoot is being made into cookies.

By the way if you thought that Chuck Jones being a Square-Dance enthusiast was just rumors, or a simple hobby interest, think again…

Big_Piney_Examiner_Big Piney Wyoming Thu__Oct_25__1956_

Big Piney Examiner, Big Piney, Wyoming, October 25, 1956

Council_Bluffs_Nonpareil_ Council Bluffs, Iowa Sat__May_22__1954_

Council Bluffs Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Iowa, May 22, 1954

Redlands_Daily_Facts_ Redlands, California Wed__Jun_25__1952_

Redlands Daily Facts, Redlands, California, June 25, 1952

 

 

Behind the Scenes:

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By C. S. Williams

Citizen Kane, January 8th, 1941: Hearst vs. Welles-Kane in Heavyweight Tilt

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Orson Welles

William Randolph Hearst

 

Orson Welles was at his best when his art created controversy; we see that in practical application with his 1938 radio production of “The War of the Worlds”, gendering panic at the most and at the least confusion. Then with his first film project (his best and maybe the best period), “Citizen Kane”, 1941, Welles brought the wrath of William Randolph Hearst down upon the shoulders of his first venture into the movies; January 8th began his battle with the newspaper titan, which he would initially lose.

Columnist Paul Walker wrote “William Randolph Hearst doesn’t like Orsen Wells’ (his misspelling) first picture, ‘Citizen Kane.’ Even the tag line that ‘any resemblance to any one in real life is purely coincidental’ doesn’t seem to keep him quiet.”[1] Finally the behind the scenes story of the Hearst-RKO-Welles battle was made public near the end of January;[2] the alarm that was prevailing in Hollywood and theater-chains was likened to the panic caused by Welles,’ The War of the Worlds, radio broadcast;[3] NEA correspondent Paul Harrison predicted a “campaign of suppression” with the advent of Hollywood trades turning on Welles.[4]

Hearst wielded considerable power in print, forbidding his papers to carry Kane, also, he pressured (blackmailed) certain of Hollywood that particular stories that had been held from print as favors would now be released if Kane were supported. Some movie house chains would not show Kane and with little advertising available Citizen was destined to gain few attentions early on.

Welles maintained that Kane would be released in New York, as scheduled, on February 14, 1941;[5] that was not to be. For the next two months RKO refused an opening. Hearst made a public announcement at the end of March saying that the reports that he would prevent Citizen Kane from being released was “some more of that propaganda from Mars” and as far as he was concerned Kane could open at any time.[6] Within days RKO publicized that Kane would be released within a month.[7] At the April 9, 1941 preview, the showing was a complete success, with six-hundred film-critics offering unanimous praise; spreading their plaudits from the supporting cast to the photography and the film’s unique story-telling perspective.[8] Quickly, announcements flew across North America that May 9, was set as the beginning of Kane as a Roadshow,[9] and that the picture would premiere in Hollywood, on May 8, at the El Capitan Theatre; May 6 was scheduled as the Midwest premiere at the Woods and Palace theaters in Chicago but its first general-public bow came in New York on May 1, 1941 at the RKO Palace, at 8:30 PM.[10] A nationwide release was scheduled for September 5, 1941.

The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Thu__May_1__1941_

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, May 1, 1941

 

The near four-month fight did not leave Citizen Kane or Hollywood unscathed. In a year that Citizen Kane should have swept the Oscars, it won but one and when its nominations were announced at the 1942 Academy Awards, it and Welles were booed. Welles had made no secret of his disdain for Hollywood and now Tinseltown made no effort to champion the erstwhile stage and radio auteur. By the by Citizen Kane has not, as so many pictures have, grown in esteem through the years, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s, Vertigo, or even Welles’ own, The Magnificent Ambersons, Kane was immediately recognized as an enormous achievement from the first. John Chapman said that Kane was the best motion he ever saw and he relayed that many people with a “wider knowledge of films” than he, claimed it to be the best movie ever made. Now, seventy-four years later the claim to greatness for Citizen Kane still remains… And the title of “best” is difficult to apply to any other celluloid work.

Welles-Kane found, on that early January day, that battling giants, like tilting with windmills, makes you liable to get whacked and knocked from your steed; and so it went in January of 1941 for Orson Welles and his finest film, beaten in those “opening” rounds before the bell rung and the bout begun, but the tilt at the last belonged to Kane.

citizen-kane(2) citizen-kane-poster

 

By C. S. Williams

 

[1] Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) January 21, 1941

[2] Long beach Independent (Long Beach, California) January 25, 1941

[3] Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania) January 28, 1941

[4] Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania) January 28, 1941

[5] Winnipeg Tribune (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) January 25, 1941

[6] Lubbock Morning Avalanche (Lubbock, Texas) April 1, 1941

[7] Brooklyn, Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) April 5, 1941

[8] Ottawa Journal (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) April 10, 1941

[9] Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) April 16, 1941

[10] Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) May 1, 1941

 

Pepé Le Pew, Joyeux Anniversaire! Happy Anniversary! Happy Birthday! Born January 6th, 1945?

odor-able-kitty

 

Ah… the aroma of success! For decades dear reader we have been told that the malodorous Casanova was first seen on Saturday, January 6, 1945, which would have been in Troy, New York at the Warner American Theatre. Even the Chuck Jones website states the same; who are we to disagree with the venerable Mr. Jones? Yet, the facts are inescapable, Pepé did not depew debut when first thought.

The_Troy_Record_ Troy, New York, Fri__Jan_5__1945_

Troy Record, Troy, New York, January 5, 1945

 

But something smells afoul! This iconic Merrie Melodies received its copyright on December 26, 1944 and was ready for distribution. This then leads us to one other verifiable first viewing of Odor-able Kitty: Sunday, December 31, 1944 at the midnight showing at the State Theatre, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.[1] The odiferous animated cartoon opened for, Hollywood Canteen.

The_Evening_News_ Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Sat__Dec_30__1944_

Evening News, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, December 30, 1944

 

So, 70 years ago today, 70 years and 6 days ago little “Stinky” (as first known) was born in Odor-able Kitty; conceived and directed by Chuck M. Jones. Mel Blanc provided the voice for the (a myriad of vocality) tainted-odor-diffusing Pepé, based on Charles Boyer’s Pépé le Moko from Algiers (1938), which in turn was a remake of the 1937 French film Pépé le Moko. Pepé Le Pew was perpetually prancing, prattling pitifully, practically put, pestering persistently, passionately pursuing after the purring Penelope; ah, love in the spring and winter too!

 

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Chuck M. Jones

pepemel-blanc

Mel Blanc

 

Pepé Le Pew’s film resume in chronological order:

Odor-Able Kitty (1945)

Scent-imental Over You (1947)

For Scent-imental Reasons (1949) Oscar winner for Best Short Subject, Cartoons

Scent-imental Romeo (1951)

Little Beau Pepé (1952)

Wild Over You (1953)

Dog Pounded (1954)

The Cats Bah (1954)

Past Perfumance (1955)

Two Scent’s Worth (1955)

Heaven Scent (1956)

Touché and Go (1957)

Really Scent (1959)

Who Scent You? (1960)

A Scent of the Matterhorn (1961)

Louvre Come Back to Me! (1962)

 

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By C. S. Williams

 

[1] Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) December 30, 1944

Confessions of a Research Nerd

Confession of a Research Nerd

 

In one way or another I have always been attracted to minutia, tidbits, and trivial knowledge not just concerning one sphere, but anything or anyone that came into my field of vision. The true obsession began with my first World Almanac, published by the Newspaper Enterprise Association and edited by Luman H. Long. This volume of nearly one-thousand pages of information opened my eyes not only to the world but to the facts that concerned the world. Used by presidents and nine year old boys alike, it was chock-full of notable, important, little known and sometimes downright obscure statistics that few people want to know let alone care to know.

World Almanac 1970 Edition

What a steal at $1.95

 

 

I discovered that this treasure trove of economic, scientific and political information served my needs well, as I neared my tenth birthday. I did not have a common childhood, my parents traveled (more than two hundred days per year) and that necessitated being home schooled in the day when only the children of the rich and of diplomats received a home education. I was always trying to impress my father, mother and any adult that would lend an ear, with points of interests regarding the town or city we found ourselves in.

The populations of cities and states, local television and radio stations were a part of my normal conversation; these along with other pertinent data were held in high esteem by me. I guess I came by this desire to “search” genetically, but as I matured and began to take notice and to inventory the actions of those around me, I realized that I had seen magazines and newspapers in my father’s hands daily. My mother seemed always to be reading; so more probable is the combination of genetic predisposition and environmental training that caused my insatiable thirst for knowledge.

Whatever the subject, whether entertainment, religion, politics, economics, nature and relationships I want to know fully, what is available. Add to my voracious appetite for information, an almost obsessive need to illuminate completely the theme, and voilà, a research nerd.

Thank you for taking time to read my little bit of information and background, and who knows; maybe you have determined that you are a research nerd yourself. Beware! For if you like what and how I write on any given subject, than this geekish pursuit of precise-points may be catching.

 

By C. S. Williams