Monday, January 12, 2009

Paramount/Famous Storyboard: Top Cat (2nd half)

Following is the second half of Top Cat. That's the good news. The less-than-good-news is that about three-quarters through the film there is a song and dance number, "When You're Wearing The Right Kind of Hat", that was obviously yanked from these boards. My best guess is that it was given to the animators and composer to work from and never returned. So, I will never know for certain whether my father wrote the lyrics. And, as the credits on the Harveytoon set are all homogenized, it's hard to know who did what. At the least, they must have worked off his key board poses. I say that because I've now seen this cartoon more times in the past couple of days than I care to mention, and much of the finished product is spot on with the boards. More on this in reference to a journal entry page at the end of this post.

So, last we left off, J.C. Bandwagon had sent off his top execs to find a new star for Blockbuster Pictures, only to have them roll snake eyes and come back empty handed. Bandwagon decides to search himself, but ends up in jail after his overture to a dame is mistaken for sexual harassment. Now, he flies off to...

"Hat" song and dance would have been inserted here, between boards 67 & 85.
This is the reason that so many hats appear in board 85
-- they are at the end of the missing sequence.

Here again with missing boards. Film ends with
the music cued and Top Cat doing a small bit while repeating
the last line of the song.

Below I've scanned a page from the personal freelance ledger my dad kept during this period. At the risk of being tacky I've left his payments uncensored. As you can see, he also did the layout on Top Cat, as well as the subsequently listed "Cat 2", which would have been Cool Cat Blues. Within this latter cartoon he gets a small stipend for story development. In fact the story payments are billed much differently than the lump some for the first Cat. I imagine that since there were several more Cat cartoons they wanted some sort of recurring theme and that my dad, or someone, decided that theme should be music. Hey, what else did they expect for a measly $200? A Russian novel? Hence, Cool Cat Blues and especially after that, Bopin' Hood, retain that motif.

By the way, the first entry in the journal, "Boris", refers to Galaxia, which I know you all went and took a look at as per my instructions in the previous post. I only make that bold remark because I don't have many storyboards at all, and I know a lot of you favor them (the boards, not the snooty remarks). So until next time, as The Cat would suggest, wear the right kind of hat!


J Lee said...

The ending as your dad storyboarded it looks better than the end as it ended up, with the reprise of "When You're Wearing the Right Hat" number -- watching it now, you're waiting for the iris/fade out gag that never comes, after a series of pretty decent gags for a 1960 short (like I said in an earlier thread, the stories your dad and Eddie Lawrence did tended to be more adult than the ones coming from Jack Mercer, Carl Meyer or some of the others from the late 50s-early 60s period, at a time when the animation cuts had made a strong story mandatory to have any shot at a good cartoon).

Also, the "Smiling Ed" gag in "Cool Cat Blues" was my absolute favorite out of all the Noveltoons/Modern Madcaps from the 1960-62 period that aired starting in 1963 on ABC (TV show lifespans being what they are, it was one of the few contemporary gags from a theatrical cartoon that was still relevant by the time it actually made it to TV, so even us kindergarteners could get the reference).

p spector said...

J, always appreciate your comments. Actually, now you've given me pause for thought about some of my own. I'm wondering if in fact my father never had a formal song and dance section, but some other series of gags (15 missing boards is a lot) along the lines of "the hat makes the man", or somesuch. That might explain what you mentioned about the original ending gag not being in the finished film at all i.e., a directorial decision to just completely remove the closing gag and tag the whole thing with the musical reprise.

As far Cool Cat's Ed Solvent. My father once told me that Paramount originally, for the theatrical release I think, passed it by Sullivan's CBS people, who did not take kindly to the idea of ol' Ed being made fun of. And if I remember correctly Paramount blinked a few times before release. Yes, satire and parody are immune to that, but I get the feeling that Paramount was a bunch of scaredy cats, not cool cats ;)

Will Finn said...

Your father's drawings always have so much vitality and personal flair--i can't get enough. i would love to have seen a storyboard like this just inbetweened and shot as drawn.

p spector said...

Thanks for the compliments, Will. I've a mind to scan the boards into PowerPoint, play the slideshow at quadruple speed, and let our brains fool us into what we think we see ;)

J Lee said...

Paul --

Network suits and corporate lawyers apparently don't change over decades. Sullivan never seemed to have trouble having Will Jordan on doing impressions of him, so I would think whatever negativity came out of CBS probably never even reached Ed's level (and actually, the Edward R. Murrow parody your dad did for "The Inquisit Visit" was a lot more biting against a CBS employee than Ed Solvent was. But since Murrow was gone to work for the Kennedy Administration by the time that cartoon came out, CBS probably didn't care as much about the satire).

Anonymous said...

From my own "episode guide" I wrote:
Top Cat (July 1960)
Direction: Seymour Kneitel
Animation: Izzy Klein, Morey Reden
Story: Irving Spector
Scenics: Robert Owen
Music: Winston Sharples

I really like the stylized, blocky look of the characters in this era.