Sunday, 19 February 2012

114. A Cartoonist's Nightmare (1935)

Warner cartoon no. 113.
Release date: October 19, 1935.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Jack King.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Billy Bletcher (Villains/Monster). Beans' voice unknown.
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.
Animation: Don Williams and Paul Smith. (Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Bob McKimson, Sandy Walker and Ben Clopton uncredited).
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

Well, this is basically the first cartoon appearance of Beans the Cat (in black and white) and for taking over the Looney Tunes since we've already seen him in I Haven't Got a Hat as well as the members such as Porky. All I can say is the couple of cartoons he's in are not bad but he's better than Buddy. I'm also going to use Jerry Beck's commentary where he identifies some scenes on who animated on what for us.

Oh, and I have my last thoughts about Buddy and I'll swear I won't try and speak about him again: what I think Buddy was good at in the Looney Tunes series was acting all bland like a useless twat. It's like as though he's had years of wonderful practising of being one. I've been sitting down here for half an hour thinking about what good parts there were Buddy compared to the "classic" Looney Tunes characters. What  improvements for Buddy should have been made is a more appealing look, more character, Tex Avery already there and also Buddy should stop being a falsetto virgin.

Our cartoon begins with the "Animated Cartoon Studio" sign from a close-up in which we struck backwards which is a pretty good camera set-up. Well, with the cartoon set in a cartoon studio - hopefully this will make the cartoon interesting. I like the designs of the cartoon studio that is pretty funny.

There is a whistling clothesline that yawns but checks the time as it's time to go home for the workers in which he blows a whistle that means rush hour is about to begin. The animation of the whistle blowing is really careful animation, and at least according to Jerry Beck in the DVD commentary; this is Bob McKimson animation. Bob McKimson's animation here is not bad, I'd have to say.

As the whistle has finally blown, the lights start to flicker off with beautiful music beats of piano keys heard. There is a night watchman watching his employees leave the studio and some of them are gags such as a woman with a puppy lied to a leash or a woman with a man tied around his neck. Ed Wynn pops up as a caricature as he says "Goodnight" to the Watchman. Caricatures of the staff leaving is Bob Clampett running out with a portfolio and I think if you look closely you'll find Tubby Millar - most likely. Bob Clampett is believed to have animated that scene of the crowds walking out as well. The watchman then starts to close the windows and also starts to turn off all the lights in which he carries his torch doing the job of the watchman. At least we got to see some gags of the people walking out (well they weren't really gag) but it showed humorous parts like the woman dragging the man out of the studio. Bob Clampett did all that animation until....

...Bob McKimson takes over the animated scenes in which he is given the scenes to animate the animator which I wonder if this was cast wisely since Bob was known to be a hard worker like that animator in the cartoon. He also has McKimson's moustache - so  it's no surprise. The animator is seen busy at work in which he is busy sketching for an animated scene but also takes quick drinks of water from a cup while he's at it. Mmm, comparing the animator's speed at animating (with chunks of paper piled up) I guess this was a good choice for this to be animated by McKimson.

The watchman enters the scene:

Night watchman: "Are you going to work all night, son?"
Animator: I gotta finish tonight.
Night watchman: Well, good luck to you.

The watchman then exits the scene in which the animator continues his job in which he is working on a scene of our new character of the show; Beans the Cat being trapped in a cage as the animator is drawing a evil monster who is rather grizzly; although not by design of course. Notice how the animator also "paints" his own scenes on the colours and no wonder he probably has "all night" to do it since McKimson could get animated assignments done very quickly as he could do as much as 60-80 feet of animation. Mmm, the animation pegs in the paper seemed to be upwards and not downwards as it usually was; and no rotating animation disc. Although Ben Washam would later say in a Mike Barrier interview for Hollywood Cartoons that there was no rotating discs back them to rotate the paper for positions of drawings.

The animator is then working on a scene in which Beans is about to be captured by the monster; but the animator saves Beans in a close-up animated by Chuck Jones saying "Well Beans, I guess I'll have to save you from the villain again". When he says "I guess", it looks as though he doesn't want to bother. The animator then saves Beans by drawing a cage (love the music timing with it) that blocks the villain from catching Beans. Beans then blows a party whistle at the villain. I wonder if that was a Paul Smith scene of the whistler blowing at the monster. It looks very simplistic - as the commentary says so. The villain then tries to grab Beans out of the cage.

The animator then goes to sleep (all the animation of the animator by McKimson, close-up of sleeping animator by Jones). "Ho hum; I'm tired" he remarks as he is bored of animating for the night. As time flies, the "nightmare" begins when the monster starts to laugh evilly and grabs out the animator into the drawing and it's such good dramatic staging there as he is dragged in, apparently done by Jones, too.

The animator then struggles to let go as he is inside the drawing shouting "Stop! Lemme me go! You can't get away with this!", etc. Beans shouts "Hey, let go of him!". Well Beans, you're obviously not attracting attention. The monster drags the animator out and there are gags shown such as the monster taking the animator down the closet, and a plank of woods falls off (from the animator's feet) and whacks the monster in the head. Since this was an accident; the monster whacks the animator in the face. Oooh!! The monster then drags the animator through a hall with doors that have different departments: "Gag Dept.", "Story Dept.", "Music Dept". and from the walls - the animation studio also takes place underground?? The animator then slides through a type of lawn mower in which the handle hits the monster on the head and gets another beating of course as his body flops sideways like a boxing bag. I wonder who the animator was dragging the animator. Since it's easy to make errors of animator IDs from this period of time; and that for some people; it curls their toes if it's not true; I'm not going to bid to animated those scenes.

The monster then starts to take the animator into a door with the sign reading "Cartoon Villains". The room shows different posters through the walls of different villains like "Dirty Dan", "Spike the Spider", etc. The monster whacks the animator to the poster of a boxing kangaroo named "Battling Barney". Now, I don't remember seeing that villain in any of the cartoons before. The joey kicks the animator out of the way. The animator starts to sit on top of the monster's head in which the monster tries to control his steps but then steps backwards so fast until they both fall down. The monster uses the animator as a boxing bag as the gag; in which the villains laugh. The animator is then being punched by an octopus, and it appears to be the same octopus from Mr. and Mrs. Is the Name (as Jerry Beck says). The animator is then surrounded by the villains and they start to sing a dark song:

You've beaten us out of our break 'til now / And always makes us the chumps. The animator then runs to the next poster and it's the mad organ player from Buddy the Detective. The mad doctor sings: You're on the spot we want you and how / You'll get some terrible bumps. It means he'll get beaten, evidently. The next time shows a tough dog that sings: In every picture we are the goat / We got you now, it's our turn to gloat. I wonder if that was Ted Pierce doing the falsetto dog. The villains, now surrounded the cartoonist have the animator surrounded and that they control him. The octopus (close-up by Paul Smith) sings that they have the pencils. The spider insists the animator to draw a "very deep pit" in which they want him to see "if he fits". The spider then gives the animator a pencil (also by Paul Smith, simple looking) in which the cartoonist starts to draw a pit on the floor. The cartoonist is drawing the pit with unnecessary sacrifice.

I do in fact like the sequence of the villains a lot but I do find the song that they sing pretty dark. Though the song they are singing is in fact the rhythm to The Teddy Bear's Picnic. The octopus scares me the most though; probably because of the teeth. I really like the idea of how Jack King used old villains in which they're tired of being "the goats". Of course; I imagine that an audience watching ALL their cartoons would be tired of the same villains, and I think Jack King probably used this as an example as that the villains just did the same routines (capture the girlfriends; will get defeated later) but here the villains are back for revenge; and you didn't expect to see them again? Huh? I like that idea in which I hope it shows the end of the routined villains. It's a great idea to use the villains from older cartoons they made (before Harman-Ising) and shows they're not over yet since the heroes are always the uninteresting ones.

Meanwhile there appears to be another character that shows Beans dressed as a washerwoman. The disguised character gives Beans a piece of bread that Beans mistakes it as food. As Beans takes a bite; he almost hurts himself when he took a chomp at the bread. He opens his mouth and finds out there is a saw inside that bread. Jesus, THAT'S dangerous. He'd probably would've had blood all over his mouth.

Beans then starts to saw the bars out, is it me or is that scene of Beans with a saw not very realistic animation. Apparently, that scene of the washerwoman was by Clampett but I don't know if he did the whole sequence though; since I heard he was a pretty good animator around that time; as well as a great director - later.

The cartoonist has then finished drawing the pit that is pretty deep. The monsters start to growl at the cartoonist in which they throw him down the pit. It turns out that this isn't just any "pit" but a crocodile pit. So, did the animator also draw this inside the pit as well? The animator almost falls into the crocodile's mouth in which the monster's snapping jaws have already grabbed the cartoonist but the animator is already saved by hanging onto a limb. The crocodile is left without any teeth. Paul Smith is likely to have done that alligator's teeth missing since it's also simple looking. 

The animator then throws the teeth back inside the crocodile. No! What are you doing - he MUST he that idiotic. Well, it means that he's going to be in trouble again. Meanwhile Beans has finished sawing the parts of the bars in which he is able to escape quickly now. Nice rhythmic movement that Beans does to escape out of the bars. Beans then runs down to try and save the animator but he runs into the air (nice timing) and then slides down the poll where we see the early unpolished use of speed lines. Another funny complex gag is shown in which Buddy skids down the hall closing all doors but crashes into a barrel in which the barrel hoops all fall out and Beans is inside the hoops. Beans hits the wall and the rings land right back into the barrel. If you ask me; it's a type of gag Avery could use in his early cartoons; and this is definitely pre-Avery improvement in Warner cartoons. I think this was probably Bob Clampett animation of the barrel gag.

Beans then listens up to the villains who are laughing evilly at the animator's poor treatment. Beans thinks of a plan and he finds a pair of boots and I imagine that he's going to throw it at them. Beans then moves the shoes in which they start to move with their steps. Well, this is an animated world and anything can work here - so this is a good enough save to use this gag. The shoes then kick the monster in the backside - animation by Don Williams. The next scenes they notice that Beans is an intruder as he blows a raspberry with the funny sound effect and runs off.

The music heard in the background was also heard from Buddy's Day Out if you watch the scene again of Buddy washing his "asthma" car - although I'm convinced the cartoon is bad enough not to watch again. I don't know what the music in the background but it's the same tune. Can anyone help out? The villains then run out of the doors to chase after Beans but Beans was hiding inside the same barrel. It's nice to see some action paced up again and Beans is certainly better than Buddy - but not Bosko. I think it was fine when Beans only appeared in a few cartoons since it's a good balance for a character bland, but Beans isn't bad - in my opinion.

Beans runs into the room in which he hears "help" cries coming from the animator down the pit. The animator shouts "Get me out of here, Beans" as there is a snapping hungry crocodile after him. Beans finds a pencil and shouts "Here, grab this pencil". The cartoonist grabs the pencil in which he is standing on a branch and draws an extension ladder. The animation of the animator down the pit was Don Williams while Bob Clampett did the Beans scenes of Beans throwing the pencil.

As the animator is climbing out of the pit from the ladder - the main monster villain then approaches Beans in the same room and chases him out until the monster is out of the scene for a brief bit. The animator climbs out of the ladder but Beans tells the cartoonist to be quiet as he has a plan. Beans grabs out a "grease gun" in which he plans to spray grease by the pit where the monsters can slip down. Beans steps outside in which he whistles to grab attention which is of course part of the plan.

All of the monsters then notice Beans and shout "There he is! Get him", they all run into the room and the plan works as they all slip onto the grease and down the pit they go. The monster almost climbs out of the pit in which the animator kicks the monster back down. The cartoonist grabs out an eraser (or rubber) as I call it. The animator then rubs out the pit since of course there is still an extension ladder down there and the villains could climb out. The scenes of Beans with the grease gun with the villains falling down the pit was Paul Smith animation and it's pretty good animation. I personally think that the musical score for this entire climax sequence of Beans to the rescue was a suitable choice for this cartoon; and it even has appeal. The animator and Beans then shake hands for good team work they've produced...

...until we go back to reality where the night watchman is shaking the sleeping animator. The night watchman then shouts "Hey wake up! Wake up!" and then exits the scene. Bob McKimson animation. The cartoonist turns to the animator breaking the forth wall "What a dream". Indeed. The animator then starts to pull the grizzly monster out of the scene in which the monster slides into the inkwell as well as the prison bars. The cartoonist then draws and paints some jelletin desert for Beans and shouts "Come and get it!" Beans runs out and starts to take big scoops of jelly from the cartoonist as a reward. This is all Ben Clopton animation of Beans eating the jelly. Jerry Beck also mentioned Sandy Walker did uncredited animation but doesn't mention any of the scenes. It amazes me that he can tell the scenes here from early 1930s cartoons that would be hard to identify. I imagine that there are animator drafts of them, right? The jelletin scene was probably used since this was a cartoon made during the Great Depression era and that jerry was probably a treat for someone back then which made them happy (as Jerry said). Beans takes a spoonful of jelletin but then starts to lick lots of it like a dog - and...

...that's all folks!

Overall comments: Another new start to the Looney Tunes as we have a new star (for a short time) but this was actually a very good start before Tex comes (which will be another start). Jack King may not have directed special cartoons for Warner Bros. but I can say that I think this cartoon was probably the best he's done at Warners. and it  deserves to be special as it had a very good synopsis for cartoon. True, this isn't something as good as You Ought to Be in Pictures but a story based in a cartoon studio with villains capturing an animator is a great idea, though. I really liked how Jack King seemed to have played around with the villains and screwing around which feels as though he's giving us something in return like an apology for using the villains "too much" in those cartoons. Just a theory. The cartoon had little gags but the story and climaxes were more exciting and there wasn't the need of too many gags. Some of the animation was fine to look at. I like how the animator reminds me of a caricature of Bob McKimson as he was a fine animator and with that moustache, and coincidentally he animated it. You've probably noticed I've produced a different layout with the writing and screen grabs since I wanted to try something different.

The voices of the character Beans is indeed unknown, even in this cartoon and I tried asking Keith Scott this question but unfortunately couldn't provide information since records don't seem to exist anymore and the only way to tell is by old newspapers or radios. The voice of the cartoonist is unknown but evidently it's the same voice that was used in this era like I'd Love to Take Orders from You or The Country Boy but the ironic part is we don't know who the voice actor is. This cartoon showed an example of the techniques that King used in animation staging like when the animator gets into the paper or his hat-take scenes (which weren't used too much in this short). Interesting to find so many uncredited animators doing  a lot of animation while the two animators credited did a fair share; I used to think that the credits back then (with two animators credited) meant they did the bulk of the cartoon but I guess it meant it was a rotating list. Well, all I can say is that I've enjoyed this a lot and this is probably one of the best pre-Avery shorts. Thanks to Jerry Beck for the animator identifications in this DVD commentary in Golden Collection Volume 6.


  1. Great review!
    I think it's the best cartoon that King directed at Warners. Maybe because the idea was very good.
    IMDB also mentioned John Carey and Norm McCabe as inbetweeners, also Rod Scribner and Nelson Demorest credited as assistants. According to Alberto's page, they all worked at Warners at that time.

  2. I know Norm McCabe, Demorest and Scribner were definitely at Warners around the time the cartoon was made but I don't always trust IMDB because how can they be certain they worked on that particular cartoon without a source; although I would like to fully believe they did work on it.

  3. That's actually ice cream Beans eats at the end. If it were jelly, it would've been...jiggly.

  4. When I watched this cartoon for the first time, I think that this animator was Paul Smith's caricatire, because Smith have moustaches too. But now I know that it's Bob McKimson.

  5. Both similar looking; good point. But I think this closely resembles to McKimson being the animator since he was a strong draftsman which is probably the suitable choice.