Tag Archives: animated film

Image of the Day: Old Glory

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"Old Glory" limited edition hand-painted cel created from an original drawing by Chuck Jones for his 1939 film of the same title that had Uncle Sam demonstrating to Porky Pig why learning the Pledge of Allegiance was important.  Edition of 39 examples, 12.5" x 10.5" and hand-signed by Martha Sigal, one of the original Leon Schlesinger Productions ink & paint department denizens.  Purchase this cel from your Chuck Jones Gallery by July 4, 2011 and receive 2 free tickets to the August 6th performance of "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, California as well as two free tickets to "The Chuck Jones Big Draw" a family event on Sunday, August 7, 2011 from 11 AM to 5 PM, held at SOCO (South Coast Collection) in Costa Mesa.  Call San Diego: 888-294-9880 or email SanDiego@ChuckJones.com; Santa Fe 800-290-5999 or email SantaFe@ChuckJones.com and Tustin 800-959-7175 or email Tustin@ChuckJones.com for more details and to place your order.  

Chuck Jones Image of the Day: Mowgli’s Brothers

During his tenure as vice-president in charge of children's programming at ABC television, Jones produced and directed three half-hour television specials based on stories from Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book". In 1973, the story of a young boy raised by wolves in the jungle, premiered to immediate acclaim.  Narrated by Roddy McDowall, Mowgli learns about the love, justice and the jungle code of loyalty.  

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Early storyboard by Jones with a nascent Mowgli in the upper right corner.

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Pre-production model sketch of Mowgli by Chuck Jones.  You can begin to see how Jones is determining the character and personality of Mowgli through his use of the drawn line.

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Production layout drawing by Chuck Jones.  Providing hundreds of layout drawings for each of the films he directed, Jones here has clearly defined the character of Mowgli and establishes the model from which the animator's created the mood and movement of each scene.  

 

Digital Media Maven, Kim Komando, on “One Froggy Evening” Cartoon

Digital media maven and radio personality, Kim Komando, recently selected Chuck Jones's 1955 masterpiece, the animated short film "One Froggy Evening" as her favorite cartoon of all time.  Citing Steven Spielberg "The "Citizen Kane" of animated film" and the National Film Registry "culturally significant", Komando calls it a "wonderful classic."  (Of course, we agree!)  Thank you Kim, for the rave and for your love of Chuck Jones cartoons!  To watch the cartoon and read her post click on Kim Komando.  To visit Kim's website, click here.  

How to Draw Max

On the way to the final version of the faithful (and all-knowing) dog, Max, in Chuck Jones' "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" there were several iterations.  We know from Chuck's writing that he drew (pun intended) on a little terrier his family had in the teens of the last century in developing the character of Max, and of course, there were all those other dogs (Frisky Puppy, Charlie Dog, Mark Antony) that helped guide Max's final look.

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In this early model sheet of 'Old Max' you can see how much thinner and perhaps even a little more Seussian he looks than he does in the final footage of the film.  Chuck wrote about Max, "Max moves awkwardly.  He was not the most graceful of dogs, and he was not built right to sit up.  His toppling over when the Grinch uses him as a dress dummy harked back to a fox terrier my father once bought.  This poor little fox terrier was the only dog I've ever known who was a complete nonentity.  He would have had to move up to become a wimp.  He could not sit up, he had a negligible tail, and his entire body came to a point.  This fact was overlooked by my father (who believed he could teach anybody anything) in his determination to teach this dog to "By God, sit up!"  Father would prop the poor little thing up, stick his powerful finger at the terrier's nose, and bark, "Sit up!"  Balanced on his bony coccyx, the sad little creature would topple slowly and inexorably over.

"Several of these dismal failures only proved to my father that the dog wasn't trying, so he became harsher in his demands to "Sit!"  Then my mother advised him to try propping the dog up in the corner of the room.  At that point, we four children were no longer able to muffle our hilarity, so turning savagely on us (figuring we were to blame) he ordered us upstairs, while he duly propped the little dog in the corner.  Upstairs we had the benefit of pillow and blanket to stifle our laughter, which became more and more intense as we heard "Sit!" then a sliding sound, a thump, a curse, followed by another "Sit!"

"I was six years old, and I tucked this little dog away in my memory until I needed him play the part of Max.  I am often asked, "What is the source of your inspiration?" and after more than sixty years in animation, this is the only source I can honestly identify.  So perhaps that sad, pointy dog served a purpose, after all."

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And one of the final model sheets used by the animators during the production of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"  You can see how Max became a little softer, a little rounder, a little more lovable-looking, if you will, as the development of the film progressed.  Don't you just want to give him a hug?

Maurice Noble, Chuck Jones, Ted Geisel and Dr. Seuss

According to the book "Stepping into the Picture, Cartoon Designer Maurice Noble" by Robert J. McKinnon, Maurice Noble was delighted at the opportunity to work with Ted Geisel again 20 years after the war (that would be World War II, for you youngsters) where they had first met (Geisel was a Major in the film unit headed by Frank Capra and Noble was but a Corporal then) when Chuck Jones announced that he had secured the rights to produce "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and several other Dr. Seuss books in 1965.  

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Original background layout design by Maurice Noble for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  Gouache and colored pencil on 12 field (10.5" x 12.5") MGM animation paper.

"As work commenced on "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," it quickly became evident to Maurice that Dr. Seuss was a perfectionist, and everything had to be done "just right."  But he also realized that the famed author lived by the same credo to which he [Noble] had always subscribed–the production comes first–and this made working with Geisel a rewarding experience.  "Ted literally slaved over his books.  I know that sometimes he would take weeks to come up with just one line," said Noble.  "And he wanted to have as much care taken in the creation of the film.  When he made a criticism, it was never a personal thing; it was purely 'what is good for the production?'  So you would go over it again and again, and eventually get it so felt 'right.'  There was no animosity in terms of "This is my book and it must be done this way."  

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Original background layout design by Maurice Noble for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  Gouache and colored pencil on 12 field (10.5" x 12.5") MGM animation paper.

"When working with Geisel, Noble noticed that the author often spoke of Dr. Seuss in the third person.  "Sometimes I'd make a suggestion for the picture and he would say something like, 'Well, I think Dr. Seuss would do it this way.'  This was a typical remark.  It was as if Dr. Seuss was a separate creative personality."  

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Original background layout design by Maurice Noble for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  Graphite and colored pencil on 12 field (10.5" x 12.5") MGM animation paper.

Chuck Jones had this to say, according to McKinnon, "Authors use a lot of adverbs and adjectives, and when you get into our field, they're of no use to you.  So you have to translate into action what they've used as words… To me Maurice did a remarkable job translating into the style."

Regardless of the difficulties encountered by Jones and Noble in working with Geisel, the results speak for themselves.  The crew knew early on that they working on something special, much in the same way they felt about working on 1957's Warner Bros. masterpiece, "What's Opera, Doc?"  The production just had its own life and the possibility of being a great work of art.  

about Boris Karloff, the man whose voice tells the story…

That's the title at the top of the page from the MGM press booklet for the 1966 Chuck Jones-directed animated television special, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" that introduces Boris Karloff. It goes on to reveal some fascinating aspects of Karloff's character and reads in part:

"When it comes to villains, Boris Karloff is the epitome, so for Dr. Seuss' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS–a tale of a Christmas villain, Karloff is the appropriate narrator.

"Both Jones and Dr. Seuss agreed that Boris Karloff was the only man to tell the tale over the colorful animated film.  The choice was not so much for the association with Karloff's monster roles (although the Grinch is somewhat of a monster in the beginning of the story) but because of the rich mellow voice of this distinguished actor.  He can sound miserable and mean on the one hand, and bright and cheerful on the other–both qualities necessary to the story of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS.

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Chuck Jones and Boris Karloff during the taping of the audio for the animated film, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

"Through the years, Karloff has played literally hundreds of different characters–so many that he honestly can't remember them all… In fact, this past year has been a busy one for him at MGM, where he also did the role of Mother Muffin in an episode of "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.", and still another character portrayal in the MGM feature presentation, "The Venetian Affair".

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The multi-page Press Book (each page hand-typed!) from MGM for the release of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

"Today, Karloff commutes between Hollywood and London, where he maintains a flat, and a cottage in Hampshire.  Says he, "You know, it's a funny thing, when I'm in England and I speak of California–that's home, but when I'm here, I think of England as home".  

"His chief interests are flower gardens, poetry and the stage.  He's an avid fan of cricket and Rugby football–in all, quite a mild, cultured, soft spoken English gentleman–a complete contrast to most of his menacing characters on the screen."

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Original pencil on animation paper drawing of Boris Karloff as the Grinch (with the Cat in the Hat hat on) by Chuck Jones; created during the audio taping of Karloff's narration of the classic animated film.  

Notes on “What’s Opera, Doc?”

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You'd think they didn't have a funny bone in their bodies by the looks on their faces (Ha!)

This photo of animation pioneer Chuck Jones (left) and the brilliant writer Michael Maltese with record albums of Wagner's operas is dated October 1954; the note on the back (see below) indicates that they are standing in front of storyboards for Jones' "Rocket-Bye Baby" which was released in August of 1956, which means that at least three years were devoted to the making of "What's Opera, Doc?"  We know that while creating "What's Opera, Doc?" Jones' unit manipulated their time cards, utilizing time from a Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner film to work on the extravaganza (106 different camera shots!) that became the first short animated film inducted into the Smithsonian's National Film Registry in 1992. (Since then two of Jones' other films, "Duck Amuck" and "One Froggy Evening," were also added to the Registry.)

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Here is Jones' list of music to be used in the film, please note the "chase stuff" (which makes me giggle, because you know it was shorthand between Jones and the music director, Milt Franklyn.)

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Image of the Day: Boyhood Daze (Part 2)

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Danger lurks in deepest, darkest Africa as our intrepid hero, Ralph Phillips, wends his way through the jungle oblivious to the signs of distress being communicated by the little monkey in front of him.  An original layout drawing by Chuck Jones for his 1957 short animated film, "Boyhood Daze."  It is graphite on 12 field animation paper. 

Image of the Day: Boyhood Daze

The day before Chuck Jones' 45th birthday his latest short animated film was released in theaters nationwide on September 20, 1957.  The film, "Boyhood Daze" was a follow-up to his popular "From A to Z-Z-Z-Z" that had been released in 1954 and starred the starry-eyed daydreamer, Ralph Phillips. 

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Sent to his room for breaking a window, Ralph quickly slips into his reverie.  This layout drawing was one of hundreds created by Chuck Jones for the film.  It is graphite and red pencil on 12 field animation paper with dialogue indicated in Chuck's hand at the top of the sheet.