Sunday, March 29, 2009

Paramount - 1962: Crumley Cogwheel (I'll Raise You Ten) Treatment

Earlier today I was wondering what next to post, when I happened to surf over to Cartoon Brew and saw that Jerry had posted Paramount's Crumley Cogwheel (HERE). Thanks Jerry. So, this one's a no-brainer. I think this is kind of interesting, because it's an early treatment my father did and is somewhat different than the finished cartoon: the working title is "I'll Raise You Ten", the liquid lunch gag ends differently, my father gives a few other gag ideas that didn't make it into the film, and also, he wrote the ending totally different! I wish I had a later version of the treatment (maybe I'll find one) to see if he wrote the changes himself. Enjoy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Phantom Tollbooth: MGM (1970): Irv Spector (Uncredited)

In the personal collection of my father's leftovers, The Phantom Tollbooth, ironically, takes up more volume than practically anything else. Here's the most interesting piece I own: the early meeting minutes of the minds:

It's tough to say why a film falls flat. Sure, it's a simple exercise many of us play, to pick at a film after the fact. But who knows, decades later, why strong veteran talent can't bring a film up to, at the least, average level? Certainly, no one starts out to make a dull flick. My dad is uncredited on Phantom; not sure why, but it happens. Maybe Jones had a crystal ball and was doing my dad a favor. And now I’m undoing that favor. Ain’t it just like a son to revisit the sins of the father?

I got hundreds of pages just like the ones above.

However, here's how my dad found out about the non-credit: My dad, my good schoolfriend Danny (whose favorite book was The Phantom Tollbooth) and myself, went to see a screening of the film, probably at the Screenwriters Guild, where I saw a lot of screenings in the sixties. The lights go out, the opening credits roll, and my father's name is not to be found. We sat through the movie, drove Danny home, and then my father turned red and got real empahsize, I mean, REAL angry. This was one of maybe a half-dozen times in his life I have ever seen him like that -- where you hold your anger inside for a few hours, then turn lava red, and finally go off like a volcano. He said he would have walked out at the beginning were if not for us kids being there.
Phantom being, I believe, MGM Animation's final release before their demise, I think my father must have been on to another studio by the time of its release, and so had no idea. The minutes are from 1966 but the film wasn't released until 1970. I think it was finished in 1968 and held back.
Here are a few pages of my father's treatment. And I got a lot more just like them. My own feeling about the film is that episodic allegory that is too literal -- therefore defeating the purpose of allegory in the first one requries allegory spelt out for them -- does not make for great film:

I happened to watch Phantom on TCM last Tuesday (I lasted about an hour and then went to bed.) On the above page, you can see my dad used Danny's name -- later changed to "Ralph" by Chuck's request -- because, in my father's words, Chuck thought names like "Ralph" were funnier. I can't argue with that. It's true. My name, "Paulie" was completely omitted from the final script, which I had been already made aware of at the time it happened. No big deal to me. By the way, no one ever called me "Paulie" in my youth, until 25 years later, when I became a Made Man in Little Italy. However, the dialogue about me "taking his drum lesson" was absolutely true at that time.

I'm deliberating whether or not to post pictures here, as all I have are a mess of faded old photocopies...okay then, I hear ya, hold on, I'll scan them. I doubt they're my father's. And, if not Chuck's, then Tony Rivera would be my guess.

So let's forget Phantom. Here's an anecdote even more interesting about another time when my father blew his stack. You gotta love stack blowing -- the true essence of a person: Earlier in the 1960s, Ed Graham (Linus) was over at our apartment. Me? I was still in elementary school at that point. Ed was, chronologically, a grown man. I was chatting in our living room along with the rest of the adults. I told Ed that I was one of the fastest runners in my school. Ed challenged me to a race, right there, on the sidewalks of Magnolia Blvd. I was game. We go downstairs. We race. He beats me. I figured he would too. We go back upstairs. My dad asks who won? I say Ed. Quiet from my dad. Ed and his wife leave about an hour later. My dad blows his stack! My dad yells something to the effect of, "Beating a kid! He always has to be so damn competitive!" Although I'm using damn as a euphemism.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Bear That Wasn't: MGM (1967): Irv Spector, Additional Story

As mentioned in a previous post, The Bear That Wasn't is the first of two cartoons that my father had a hand in that I hope to get online (I'm halfway there!) by the time the Chuck Jones evening hits Turner Classic Movies on March 24.

I thought Bear turned out quite nice, although animation and live film director Frank Tashlin -- whose children's book from which this cartoon is adapted -- was less than thrilled. (this last link leads to an interview that Michael Barrier conducted with Tashlin.) Tashlin's complaint was that once the cigarette was put into Bear's mouth, the concept of separation between beast and man was straddled.

Now, my father could often make liberal use of putting a cigarette in the mouth of many of his own creations, but I strongly doubt he had the pull in this cartoon for how the main character would look; I'd have to put that decision upon the director. Tashlin must have felt mighty close to this book. Either way, I'll be looking forward to seeing it again, and I won't be picky. Don't forget the wonderful Maurice Noble's own personal co-directing stamp on this picture.

All of the above are my father's boards, as well as the sketch that leads off the post. I'm not going to guess on the final six below, but obviously they come from two different hands. All sure look awesome!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Couple Of Wiseguys Who Still Owe My Pop Some Dough

Below is a draft of a letter my father wrote in reply to his good friend, cartoonist Larry Silverman (Yeah, I call everybody who ever worked in animation a cartoonist - it's an old habit). Larry was questioning the veracity of Wiseguy Graham, who dismantled the studio after the first successful season of The Linus The Lionhearted Show. At that point, Graham's name would appear in the end credits as "Produced and Directed by..."

Here's another real pip. Total B.S. wrapped in even more bureaucratic B.S. Forget about the signature on the bottom by wannabe-Wiseguy Saunders; Animation House was actually owned by Wiseguy Bob Mills. The best thing about this gig was that my dad got out of Los Angeles for a bit, and if you knew the L.A. animation scene in '73, maybe my dad actually won out...uh, on second thought...

I'd write more, but my computer is hung-up calculating the compounded interest...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Coogy: Shakespeare - Son Of Macbeth; Alas Poor Ghost (5 of 5)

If you are the kind of person who checks dates, then you might have noticed that the above Sunday is actually two weeks after the previous episode; that's because the intervening weekend was Christmas, when all good comic strip creators are expected to produce a seasonal strip to make their audience warm and fuzzy. Here's how my dad solved the discontinuity:

Coogy: Shakespeare - Some Classy Dames Get Catty...Oopsie, I Meant Chatty (4 of 5)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Coogy: William Shakespeare Speaks Through Big Moe (1 of 5)

Well, the Ides of March are just about upon us, which makes me think of Julius Caesar, which in turn makes me think of William Shakespeare, which again in turn makes me think of a Coogy serial. In truth, these five Sundays have nothing to do with the Ides, or Caesar...and my father certainly had nothing to do with Shakespeare. However, the Bard will make posthumous appearances throughout. They're from 1951, there are five of them, and they'll be posted in the next five consecutive days. Here's the first:

By now, you might have intuited that on some occasions that I post the strip -- which are already shot and imported into my ancient Windows ME computer -- then I'm biding time with you while I ready other posts. That would be true in this case.

As a head's up, these other posts will correspond to the Chuck Jones Olympiad Marathon Event that Turner Classic Movies will air on March 24th, and for which my dad did some damage on two of the productions: one credited, the other, not. You would do right by going over to Mark Mayerson's blog and see the Jones schedule he posted a few months back. That's where I was first alerted to it. Thanks, Mark!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


What must I do to see this cartoon? Post a big-eyed Walter Keane portrait? (look up Keane on your own time). As far as totally complete Paramount/Famous storyboards, I have one left (not Ringading) -- and I vow not to put that complete storyboard online until someone can show me the actual Ringading Kid cartoon. Get crackin'! I ain't foolin'.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Paramount-Famous Studios: In The Nicotine - Model Sheets

Three model sheets (please pardon the seams) drawn by my father for the Paramount-Famous Studios cartoon, In The Nicotine. Synchronistically, serendiptitously, or just plain ol' coincidence, Cartoon Brew has posted the cartoon.

No story credit on this cartoon. Animation layout only.

You'll notice that his payment included monies for a title Poison To Poison. I'm not aware of a cartoon by that name, but I'm thinking it was an earlier working title for The Plot Sickens. Anybody have a different take on that? I'm open to it.