Tag Archives: Maurice Noble

Image of the Day: Inside Cindy Lou Who’s Home!

The inimitable Maurice Noble created the backgrounds for the Chuck Jones-directed 1966 “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. This example shows his layout for the interior of little Cindy Lou Who’s home during the opening sequence of the animated television special.

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Gouache, graphite, colored pencil on 12 field animation paper.

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Chuck Jones Image of the Day: The Dot and the Line

There really aren't enough superlatives to adequately describe the beauty of this short film.  From its perfect screenplay to its totes awesome animation and all of the ingredients in-between (layouts, voice over, sound effects, color, pacing) Chuck Jones's 1966 Oscar-winning "The Dot and the Line" will always be a perfect work of art.  

Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art has said, “Great art is essentially work that has proven inexhaustible in terms of value it gives to those who pay attention to it.  It says ‘I am in the present tense despite the fact that I was made five or fifty years ago.’”

We had stumbled upon this advertisement that MGM had placed in Variety when "The Dot and the Line" was nominated for an Oscar on our way to something else, but it stopped us long enough to share it with you and to share the animated film as well.  Enjoy!

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Image of the Day: No Barking

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Considered by some critics and authors to be one of Chuck Jones’ minor masterpieces, No Barking took its bow (-wow) in theaters February 27, 1954.  Starring the nervous scavenger of love, food and affection, Claude Cat, and the irrepressible Frisky Puppy, it details Claude’s life’s pitfalls and pratfalls, highlights and lowlifes.  Making his only cameo appearance in a career that began in 1942 with his début in Bob Clampett’s A Tale of Two Kitties is that blue-eyed avian avenger, Tweety Bird. 

Tweety Bird was first painted pink (until 1945’s A Gruesome Twosome, when one of the cats calls him ‘a naked genius’ tipping off the censors…) and starred in over forty cartoons at last count, including the 1947 Oscar-winner, Tweetie Pie (begun by Clampett and steered to Oscar glory by I. Freleng after Clampett’s departure from Warner Bros.  Spellings of Tweety/Tweetie vary from publication to publication and from film to film.)

Cameo appearances by stars have a long tradition in the film industry and are one of the delights of the movie-going public.  As unexpected as it is to see Tweety Bird in a Chuck Jones cartoon, it is that very surprise that tickles the viewing audience and creates a memorable film experience.  And not only does Tweety make a cameo appearance, he also utters, that by then ubiquitous catch phrase, “I tawt I taw a puddy tat!” as Claude Cat goes sailing past him to the wide blue beyond.

Uniquely animated by the very talented Ken Harris, No Barking also was graced with the layouts of Maurice Noble, story by Michael Maltese and backgrounds by Philip DeGuard.  Mel Blanc provided the voices with musical direction and orchestrations by Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn (musical theme: “Little Dog Gone”.)

 

Image of the Day: Much Ado About Nutting

Another classic silent film (except for the music and sound effects, of course) from Chuck Jones and his amazing team of animators and artists, including Maurice Noble, Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, Ben Washam and writer Michael Maltese.  Rolling into theaters nationwide on May 23, 1953, "Much Ado About Nutting" pits a little red squirrel against the nut of all nuts.

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Pre-production model sheet (gouache, watercolor and ink on 12 field animation paper) by Chuck Jones.

This cartoon pre-dates Jones's "One Froggy Evening" by two years, but thematically they share much in common: the desire we all have to succeed, the roadblocks we encounter on that path and how hopeful we reman in the face of the increasing difficulties placed in our way.

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Pre-production layout drawing (graphite on 12 field animation paper) by Chuck Jones.

You'll note with what care Jones takes to achieve the verisimilitude of a real squirrel in the above drawing, detailing not only how he chews, but also how he should blink and the timing involved in making this cartoon world come real.  

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Thumbnail background layouts (graphite and colored pencil) by Maurice Noble.

Maurice Noble's contributions to the films directed by Jones cannot be overstated.  Noble's unique ability to at once create an environment in which the actions of the characters may shine are delightfully balanced by their beauty, color and sense of humor.   They never overshadow or dominate, they always are moving the plot forward and yet they maintain their own integrity as works of art.   Watch and learn and laugh!

Image of the Day: Rabbit Seasoning 1952

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Original layout drawing with dialog by Chuck Jones, graphite on 12 field animation paper for his 1952 "Rabbit Seasoning."  

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Original background layout for the Chuck Jones directed "Rabbit Seasoning" by Maurice Noble, graphite and colored pencil on 12 field animation paper.  Both are genius!  

 

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.  

Image of the Day: Claws for Alarm

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"Maurice–Can you get a sort of malevolent face out of this bldg.?", asks Chuck Jones of famed layout designer, Maurice Noble, regarding Noble's design for Scene 3 of the 1954 Jones directed "Claws for Alarm" (production #1288.)  Porky and Sylvester star in this spooky animated cartoon that finds them spending the night in a haunted hotel in the ghost town they've found themselves in.  Porky blithely overlooks all of the creepy aspects (nooses, mooses, and mouse eyes,) but Sylvester is wise to what's going on and guards Porky throughout a hilarious sequence of frightening events.  A classic!

 

Image of the Day: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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Original storyboard
by Maurice Noble (hand-signed.) 
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¾” x 6 ½” mixed media on MGM storyboard paper.

One of the pre-eminent color designers and art
directors in 20th century animation, Maurice Noble’s film career
began in 1934 at Walt Disney Studios creating watercolor backgrounds for the Silly Symphonies.  Leaving Disney in 1941 after the bitter
animation strike of that same year, Noble joined the Army and worked in the
Capra unit alongside Chuck Jones and Ted Geisel (AKA Dr. Seuss.)  His work on the 1966 television special Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
involved storyboards, color design, art direction, background layouts and
co-direction.  It is arguably the most watched
animation special ever created for television.  

 

Image of the Day: Horton Hears a Who!

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Original storyboard (5.75” x 6.5”) by Chuck
Jones, mixed media (graphite, watercolor & colored pencil) on MGM
storyboard paper for his 1970 television special, "Horton Hears a Who!"

Preliminary work began on the second Dr. Seuss
and Chuck Jones collaboration before their “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole
Christmas” even aired.  This included not
only pre-production watercolors by Jones, but also layout designs by the
inimitable Maurice Noble.  However, it
would be four more years before their labors would bear fruit and the special
would make its premier, March
19th, 1970
on U.S. television.   

 

Image of the Day: Mad as a Mars Hare

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Original layout drawing of Bugs Bunny (graphite on three-hole punch animation paper) by Chuck Jones for his 1963 short cartoon, “Mad as a Mars Hare”.  This film was the last film directed by Chuck Jones to star Marvin Martian during Jones’ first tenure at Warner Bros.  Co-directed by Maurice Noble with animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford and Tom Ray.