You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Dick Lundy’ tag.

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 May 27, 1933
Rating:★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Three Little Pigs © Walt Disney‘Three Little Pigs’ is one of the most successful, most famous and most perfect cartoons ever made. It was hugely popular when it was released, with people associating its catchy theme song ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ with an optimism with which one could fight the haunting effects of the Great Depression.

Norm Ferguson and Fred Moore were the principle animators on the film. Norm Ferguson animated the wolf in his typical broad vaudeville acting style, which comes to full bloom in this film. The wolf is a great character, with his glances at the public. He’s a real villain, but somehow too sympathetic as an actor to be really threatening. Unfortunately, his design is not very consistent. Especially his eyes are unsteady and a bit wobbly. One can clearly watch the wolf’s design improving during the film, as if it was animated chronologically. And this may very well possible.

However, it’s Fred Moore’s animation that made the deepest impression on the animation field. Because of his animation on the three pigs, ‘Three Little Pigs’ is regarded as the first animated cartoon to feature so-called character animation. The three pigs form the key to character animation: although the three are drawn the same, the sensible pig behaves differently from the other two: he’s clearly a different character, not by design, but by animation. This was a great step forward in the evolution in animation, and admired by the whole animation industry.

Apart from that the pigs’ designs, by the highly influential concept artist Albert Hurter, are highly appealing. Hurter had joined Disney in June 1931, first as an animator, but soon he switched to concept art, and he had a tremendous influence on the looks of Disney’s films in the 1930s. It must have been around this time that Disney started to think of an animated feature – a daring project which would dominate the studio during 1934-1937. For this ambitious project Moore would design no less than seven similar, yet different characters, while Hurter would indulge in elaborate sets, full of little details.

The film was a success not only within the animation industry, but with the American public, as well. The audiences took the film and its catchy song ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ (sung by Mary Moder, Dorothy Compton and Pinto Colvig) as a sign of comfort and hope in the dark days of the Great Depression era. And even after more than eighty years, Frank Churchill’s song is still extremely catchy, even though it’s never heard in its entirety during the short. After a while the cartoon became no less than a sensation, lasting weeks in some theaters, and spawning a great deal of merchandise, like alarm clocks and jigsaw puzzles. In 1934 it won the Academy Award for best animated short film. In 1941 it was still famous enough to be changed into Disney’s first war propaganda film: ‘The Thrifty Pig‘.

The film undoubtedly was Walt Disney’s most famous and most successful short, and the first Silly Symphony to spawn sequels – due to the pressure by distributor United Artists. These sequels (‘The Big Bad Wolf‘ from 1934, ‘Three Little Wolves‘ from 1936, and ‘The Practical Pig‘ from 1939) were, of course, much less successful than the original, and are all but forgotten today. As Disney himself said “You can’t top pigs with pigs’.

The film also raised director Burt Gillett’s fame, and soon he was lured away by the ailing Van Beuren studios to repeat this immense success. However, at Van Beuren it soon became clear that ‘Three Little Pigs’ was not a success because of Burt Gillett’s genius, but because of the ambitious group effort of the Disney studio, and Gillett never managed to come near his most successful films at Disney again.

For ‘Three Little Pigs’ was a true collective effort, with Hurter, Churchill, Ferguson and Moore showing their best work thus far, but also through contributions by e.g. Art Babbitt, Dick Lundy and Jack King, who also animated some sequences, voice artist Pinto Colvig, the voice of the practical pig, and story man Ted Sears, who both contributed to the cartoon’s theme song, and Carl Stalling, who provided the practical pig’s piano-playing.

The film has easily stood the test of time: not only are the characters still appealing, its backgrounds are gorgeous, its music catchy, and its storytelling extraordinarily economical and effective, probably because may have been the first animated cartoon with a complete storyboard. The short’s joy is still infectious today. And although one will always remember the short’s cheerfulness, it contains some black humor, too: look for the portraits of dad and Uncle Tom in the wise pig’s house.

By the way, present-day viewers see an altered version of the film. The original featured a sequence in which the wolf dressed as a stereotyped Jewish door-to-door salesman. For its video release in the early 1980s this sequence was completely redrawn, to remove all Jewish references.

Watch ‘Three Little Pigs’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Silly Symphony No. 36
To the previous Silly Symphony: Father Noah’s Ark
To the next Silly Symphony: Old King Cole

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: March 12, 1943
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Flying Jalopy © Walt DisneyDonald Duck is looking for a plane at ‘Ben Buzzard’s (crashed) used planes’.

Ben Buzzard sells a ramshackle plane to Donald and makes him signing a swindling contract in which an insurance company will pay the swindler $10,000,- in case of an accident. The buzzard then tries to make Donald crash.

Unfortunately, the comedy doesn’t quite work. First, because it’s hard to believe that the anthropomorphized buzzard can fly on his own, while the equally anthropomorphized Donald cannot. Second, Ben Buzzard’s attacks become more open and open, but at no point it’s made clear whether Donald realizes why he’s being attacked.

‘Flying Jalopy ‘was the last cartoon Dick Lundy directed at Disney. In October 1943 he left Disney to become an animator and director at Walter Lantz, where he directed several Woody Woodpecker shorts, including ‘Wet Blanket Policy‘, which uses the same idea, but with way better results, resulting in a far more hilarious cartoon. It even uses the same buzzard character, but Lantz’s Buzz Buzzard would become way more famous than Ben Buzzard ever was.

Watch ‘Flying Jalopy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 40
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Tire Trouble
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Fall out – Fall in

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: July 24, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Donald's Gold Mine © Walt DisneyDonald is a gold miner, who has to deal with a donkey again (see ‘The Village Smithy‘ from the same year) and a gigantic and nonsensical ore processing machine.

Like contemporary Donald Duck cartoons directed by Dick Lundy, like ‘The Village Smithy’ and ‘Donald’s Garden‘ the cartoon is filled with situation comedy only. This type of comedy reaches its apex in an almost endless scene of Donald being stuck into the head of a pickaxe. Granted, the number of ways Donald can get stuck in it is impressive, but there’s a strong sense of milking the gag, and the result is more tiresome than funny.

Watch ‘Donald’s Gold Mine’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 34
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Garden
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: The Vanishing Private

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: September 27, 1952
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating:
Review:

Caballero Droopy © MGMIn 1950 Tex Avery left MGM for a sabbatical, most probably due to overwork. Dick Lundy was hired to replace him, and the first cartoon he directed at MGM was ‘Caballero Droopy’.

This short’ is strangely reminiscent of the cartoons of Lundy’s former employer, Walter Lantz, with which it shares a lesser quality: both the designs and the animation are sub-par. It’s really as if this cartoon was made at Walter Lantz instead of at MGM.

For ‘Caballero Droopy’ Lundy revived the wolf, gave him a mustache and placed him into a Mexican setting, in which he tries to outdo Droopy in serenading the phlegmatic dog’s girl. The cartoon is full of Tex Averyanisms, but due to its low production quality it never takes off.

‘Caballero Droopy’ remained the only Droopy cartoon Lundy directed. He moved on to the ailing Barney Bear series, before he had to leave MGM on Tex Avery’s return in October 1951.

Watch ‘Caballero Droopy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/83899298/

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: March 25, 1949
Stars: Woody Woodpecker, Buzz Buzzard
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Drooler's Delight © Walter LantzWoody wants to go and buy a ‘drooler’s delight’ (a large sorbet), but Buzz Buzzard steals his quarter.

The rest of the cartoon consists of Woody and Buzz fighting for it, with mildly amusing results.

‘Drooler’s Delight’ was to be Dick Lundy’s last cartoon at Walter Lantz. After a squabble with his distributor, Universal, and a short fling with United Artists, Walter Lantz was forced to close down his studio in 1948, and Lundy was left on the street. In May 1950 he replaced Tex Avery at MGM, who had left for a sabbatical. At MGM Lundy directed one Droopy cartoon and revived the Barney Bear series.

Lantz meanwhile was able to reopen his studio in 1950. But because he had to watch his budgets more than ever, the quality of the cartoons would rarely match that of his 1940s output.

Watch ‘Drooler’s Delight’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: August 27, 1948
Stars: Woody Woodpecker, Buzz Buzzard
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Wet Blanket Policy © Walter LantzWet Blanket Policy’ uses exactly the same idea as Dick Lundy’s last Donald Duck short, ‘Flying Jalopy‘ (1943).

The cartoon even uses the same adversary in Buzz Buzzard, a swindler who makes Woody sign an insurance contract that will give Buzz a $10,000 when Woody dies (in the original Donald Duck cartoon the character was called Ben Buzzard).This leads to a fast and very murderous chase sequence full of nonsense.

Penned by Warner Bros. alumnus Ben Hardaway and Heck Allen, who had collaborated with Tex Avery at MGM, ‘Wet Blanket Policy’ is one of Woody’s wildest cartoons. Unfortunately, it’s also the first in which Woody’s proportions start to waver. At one point he’s particularly tiny. This unsteady sizing of Woody would become a particular problem of the cartoons of the 1950s. Buzz Buzzard, however, proved to be a strong adversary for Woody, and became Woody’s antagonist in many of the following Woody Woodpecker cartoons.

Watch ‘Wet Blanket Policy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: May 1, 1948
Stars: Woody Woodpecker (cameo)
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Pixie Picnic © Walter Lantz‘Pixie Picnic’ was the last of only three Musical Miniatures, cartoons based on classical music. 

In this cartoon we watch an orchestra of pixies playing the overture to ‘La gazza ladra’ by Gioachino Rossini.

The pixies are extraordinarily dwarf-like, and resemble the seven dwarfs from Disney’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937) a lot. This is no wonder, as one of those dwarfs’ key-animators and designers, Fred Moore, is also one of the animators of ‘Pixie Picnic’. Thanks to Moore the animation of this cartoon is very Disney-like and belongs to the best ever produced by the Lantz studio.

Unfortunately for Lantz, this was the last of only a handful cartoons Moore animated for his studio (others are ‘The Mad Hatter’ and ‘Banquet Busters’ from earlier that year). After that Moore returned to Disney, where he stayed until his premature death in 1952.

‘Pixie Picnic’ is beautifully animated, but it’s rather disappointing otherwise: the story makes no sense, and the gags come along almost randomly. Moreover, the cartoon suffers from a sloppy timing. The result is a well-animated, yet only moderately funny cartoon.

Watch ‘Pixie Picnic’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: June 16, 1947
Stars: Wally Walrus
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Overture to William Tell © Walter Lantz‘Overture to William Tell’ was the second of three Musical Miniatures, a short-lived series similar to ‘Swing Symphonies’, but based on classical music instead of jazz.

In this one Wally Walrus stars in his very own cartoon as a conductor conducting an extraordinarily sleepy orchestra in a concert hall. The main gag involves a horsefly, which looks like a miniature horse with wings.

‘Overture to William Tell’ is better than the erratic ‘Musical Moments from Chopin‘, the first of the Musical Miniatures. But still it’s only moderately inspired, and pales when compared to that other concert cartoon using the same music by Gioachino Rossini, ‘The Band Concert‘ (1935).

Watch ‘Overture to William Tell’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://tu.tv/videos/overture-to-william-tell-1947-walter-l

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: June 9, 1947
Stars: Woody Woodpecker
Rating:  ★★★★
Review:

Coo-Coo Bird © Walter LantzWoody wants to get up early, at 5:00 Am, but he’s kept awake all night, especially by an annoying cuckoo clock.

‘Coo-Coo Bird’ is the second and the better of two Woody Woodpecker cartoons from 1947 about sleeplessness, the other one being ‘Smoked Hams’. In his struggle with inanimate things, Woody resembles Donald Duck a lot in this cartoon, not too surprising as Donald Duck was well-known to director Dick Lundy, who co-created that character. Thus, ‘Coo-Coo Bird’ is very reminiscent of the Donald Duck short ‘Early to Bed’ (1941), and itself anticipates the Donald Duck cartoon ‘Drip Dippy Donald’ (1948) in which Donald is kept awake by a dripping tap.

Watch ‘Coo-Coo Bird’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: February 24, 1947
Stars: Andy Panda, Woody Woodpecker
Rating: ★
Review:

Musical Moments from Chopin © Walter LantzWhen James Culhane left Walter Lantz, Dick Lundy remained Lantz’s sole director, until he left too at the end of the decade.

Being a more gentle director than Culhane, Lundy conceived a short-lived series of Musical Moments, in which classical music was the driving force. ‘Musical Moments from Chopin’ is the first of three, in which Woody Woodpecker joins Andy Panda in a piano recital of Frédéric Chopin tunes at a barnyard concert.

Unfortunately, the result is a very uneven cartoon: there’s practically no conflict between Woody and Andy, the driving force of such wonderful piano concert cartoons like ‘Rhapsody Rabbit‘ (1946) and ‘The Cat Concerto‘ (1947). Even worse, Lundy wastes a lot of time on gags involving the audience. In the end it’s a drunken horse who ends the concert by starting a fire.

Both the animals in the audience and the anthropomorphic flames have an old-fashioned 1930s-look. The complete cartoon is remarkably slow and unfunny, and pales when compared to its contemporary concert cartoons.

Watch ‘Musical Moments from Chopin’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date:
November 1, 1946
Stars: 
Donald Duck, Goofy
Rating:
 ★★½
Review:

Frank Duck Brings 'Em Back Alive © Walt Disney‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ is the fourth of five cartoons starring both Donald and Goofy. The coupling never was really successful, and ‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ is no exception. 

In this short Goofy is staged as some Tarzan-like wild man wearing sneakers. Donald Duck is himself as hunter ‘Frank Duck’, trying to capture the wild man. Their endless chase ends when they encounter a lion. The wild man escapes with Donald’s boat, leaving Donald leaping from tree to tree, followed by the lion. Iris out.

The comedy of ‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ does not work well, because Goofy is not really himself here. Maybe director Jack Hannah was inspired by the anonymous Goofies that crowded the Goofy films of the era, including some he directed himself. In any case, when the anonymous Goofy suddenly is reduced to one, something apparently goes wrong. Then we probably expect to watch the real Goofy again, something which does not happen in this cartoon. Instead, we watch a Goofy acting silly, but also outsmarting his hunter, just like Daffy Duck does at Warner Brothers. It just doesn’t feel right. It’s so out of character, it ruins the comedy.

‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ contains a very late occasion of Donald’s typical dance of anger, made famous by animator Dick Lundy in Donald’s second screen appearance, ‘Orphan’s Benefit‘ (1934). Donald showed this behavior often in his early career, but it had become rare by the 1940s.

Watch ‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: January 29, 1943
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Donald's Tire Trouble © Walt DisneyIn the vibrant opening scene of ‘Donald’s Tire Trouble’ we watch Donald zooming with his car through the mountains with an incredible speed. Then he suddenly gets a flat tire.

In trying to fix it, practically everything goes wrong that can go wrong: Donald has trouble with the jack, the tire patch, the tire itself, and the wheel. Miraculously, he finally manages to fix the one, but then all his tires go flat…

‘Donald’s Tire Trouble’ is without doubt one of the best Donald Duck shorts dealing with Donald’s struggle with inanimate objects, and arguably Dick Lundy’s best Donald Duck cartoon. Instead of milking one gag, like he did in ‘The Village Smithy‘ and ‘Donald’s Garden‘ from 1942,  he continuously proceeds from one gag to another, which leads to an impressive string of gags unseen in his earlier cartoons. Moreover, most car drivers will relate to Donald’s frustrations, which will be way more familiar than his problems in the earlier cartoons. The result is an exuberant short, more fit to the World War II era.

Watch ‘Donald’s Tire Trouble’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 39
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Der Fuehrer’s Face
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Flying Jalopy

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: 
July 12, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★
Review:

Donald's Garden © Walt DisneyIn ‘Donald’s Garden’ Donald is a gardener, wearing a straw hat. We watch him having trouble with a water pump and with a gopher, which eats all his vegetables.

‘Donald’s Garden’ is a slow and boring cartoon. It’s hampered by particularly uninspired backgrounds, and it is one of the weaker entries in the Donald Duck series.

It has the same structure as ‘The Village Smithy‘ from earlier that year: it consists of only two situation gags: one with an inanimate object (the pump), and one with an animal (the gopher). Apparently, director Dick Lundy favored these types of gags, for they returned in ‘Donald’s Goldmine’, and in ‘Donald’s Tire Trouble‘, Lundy’s only successful cartoon in terms of situation comedy.

‘Donald’s Garden’ is the first Disney cartoon trying to be funny with gophers. But like the later Pluto shorts ‘Bone Bandit‘ (1948) and ‘Pluto and the Gopher‘ (1950), the studio doesn’t succeed. One may wonder whether gophers are funny, at all.

Watch ‘Donald’s Garden’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 33
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Donald Gets Drafted
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Gold Mine

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: January 16, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating:
 ★
Review:

The Village Smithy © Walt DisneyIn ‘The Village Smithy’ Donald is a blacksmith who has to fix a large cartwheel and to shoe a stubborn female donkey. He succeeds in neither in this remarkably unfunny cartoon, which is one of the weakest within the whole Donald Duck series.

Long situation gags became a common feature of Disney shorts during the rise of the character comedy, in cartoons like ‘Mickey Plays Papa‘ (1934) and ‘Moving Day‘ (1936). Arguably, this time of comedy reaches its nadir in ‘The Village Smithy’. In it only two situations are milked to the length of the complete cartoon, with tiresome results. The wheel scene is the most interesting of the two, if still far from funny, and tributary to the spiral spring scene in ‘Clock Cleaners’ (1937).

The most interesting feature of this otherwise boring cartoon are its backgrounds, which belong to the first oil backgrounds in a Disney film, and which give the film a distinct, gloomy look. Donald, too, has a unique yellowish tan throughout this picture, setting the cartoon apart from all other Donald Duck shorts.

Watch ‘The Village Smithy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 30
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Chef Donald
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Snow Fight

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: August 11
, 1934
Stars:
Clara Cluck, Clarabelle Cow, Donald Duck, Goofy, Horace Horsecollar, Mickey Mouse, the Orphan Mice
Rating:
★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Orphan's Benefit © Walt DisneyIn ‘Orphan’s Benefit’ Mickey and the gang are giving a theatrical performance for the orphan mice we know from ‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ (1932) and other cartoons.

We watch Donald Duck reciting ‘Little Boy Blue’, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow and Goofy as acrobats and Mickey and Clara Cluck giving a recital.

‘Orphan’s Benefit’ marks Donald Duck’s second appearance, after his debut in ‘The Wise Little Hen‘ from two months earlier, and his looks are still a bit awkward: he has black feet (because of his transition from color to black and white), an elongated bill and he is very small compared to the rest of the gang. Nevertheless, ‘Orphan’s Benefit’ marks the real birth of Donald Duck: he’s cast outside the Silly Symphonies along Mickey and his co-stars, and he’s really stealing the show. Moreover, for the first time he’s showing his temper and his typical ‘dance of anger’ (created and animated by Dick Lundy).

Besides Donald Duck this cartoon also introduces Clara Cluck, the opera-singing hen. Her career was way less successful than Donald’s: in total she would star in only seven cartoons, and she retired in 1942. Mickey’s role is reduced to a scarcely visible and embarrassingly unfunny straight man. Therefore Orphan’s Benefit marks as much the start of Donald’s career as the beginning of Mickey’s demise.

‘Orphan’s Benefit’ was the only Disney cartoon to be remade. In 1941 it appeared again, now in color and with new designs (especially of Donald Duck).

Watch ‘Orphan’s Benefit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 68
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Steamroller
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey Plays Papa

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