Check the Category Labels in the side-bar on the right! There you can find animator drafts for sixteen complete Disney features and eighty-six shorts,
as well as Action Analysis Classes and many other vintage animation documents!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Prod. CM17 - Fishin' Around

Happy 90th Birthday, Mickey Mouse!
Let's celebrate with another animation draft, the one "next in line" in my files. (Next would be CM-16, Blue Rhythm, which I do not have.)

Directed by Burt Gillett, released 9/25/1931.
Animated by Les Clark, Jack King, Norm Ferguson, Hardy Gramatky, Dave Hand, Dick Lundy, Charles Byrne, Ben Sharpsteen, Tom Palmer, Johnny Cannon and Jack Cutting. Music by Bert Lewis.

I love Fergy's under-water slow-motion scenes, though there is little under-water feeling left in the later scenes that seem to incorporate animation from The Moose Hunt. I am not normally Dick Lundy's greatest fan, but I very much enjoy the little dance the fish do around the can of bait. Fun to see scene 16 as "Hands' [sic] old drawings" in the draft. I'm not to sure about the moral of this story, but hey - it's 1931! The Hebrew-looking "No Fishing" sign raises a lot of questions that probably better stay unanswered...

In July/August of 1931, the animators will have started getting used to working in the new L-shaped "Animators Building" at the studio on Hyperion Avenue (they moved in around May), even though Walt in early July still had not moved into his new office. The new buildings were not all finished at the same time, so while Burt Gillett and Bert Lewis are at work in their new Music Room, just outside their window the sound stage is still under construction. This is a period of steady growth for Walt's studio. From the small crew of nine people moving into Hyperion Avenue in February 1926, to 18 working on Oswald, then being reduced to ten working on the first Mickey films, in mid 1931 the staff had already grown to about 73. When Walt said that "it was all started by a mouse," it was the simple truth: without the success of Steamboat Willie we may only have heard of the name Disney as a small studio that operated in Hollywood from 1923 to 1928. Small wonder that Walt kept the script of Steamboat Willie in his desk all his life (where archivist Dave Smith found it in 1970).

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967)

As a departure from my usual Disney-related posts, here is a bit about my "guilty pleasure," the French musical film by director Jacques Demy, "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort," in English "The Young Girls of Rochefort," released March 8, 1967. The first DVD I ever bought in the late 90s, in Annecy, France, was just this film. Recently I also got the Blu-Ray, and now having just received the 5-CD box set with Michel Legrands great music that came out last year, I revisited the movie and had a look at, where in Rochefort the film was shot.

With the help of Google Maps, here is an overview of the locations:

The film begins and ends around the strange (and defunct) bridge Le Pont Transbordeur, south of the city, but most of the action happens around Place Colbert, the center of the old town, with the office of the town's mayor used as the home of the twins, played by the Dorléac sisters, Françoise and Catherine, the latter using as stage name her mother's maiden name of Deneuve. In the town square we find the coffee shop of Yvonne Garnier (Dannielle Darrieux), with server Josette (Geneviève Thénier), frequented by Maxence (Jacques Perrin) and carnies Etienne (George Chakiris) and Bill (Grover Dale), who visit the town to sell boats and motor bikes. The dancing troupe (from England, many seen in Summer Holiday and Half a Sixpence, and choreographed by Norman Maen) is basically everywhere, and when we are in the square - they are there, as well. But not everything happens in the town square.

Delphine Garnier, the dancing twin, sporting a large blonde wig (played by Catherine Deneuve - the twin, not the wig) visits her "friend," gallery owner Guillaume Lancien (Jacques Riberolles).
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S-W corner of Avenue la Fayette and Rue Thiers.

Solange Garnier, the musician (Françoise Dorléac wearing the red wig) visits monsieur Simon Dame (played by Michel Piccoli) who is the owner of a store with musical instruments.
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S-E corner of Rue Jean Jaurès and Avenue Charles de Gaulle.

Spoiler alert: Subtil Dutrouz (played by venerable actor Henri Crémieux) turns out to be the one who is the "ignoble sadist" who has cut the old lady into 15 pieces and put her in a basket. We see nothing of this except a crowd around the basket.
Maxence meets Solange here, but he only likes blondes.
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N-E corner of Rue du Port and Rue de la République (which had a different name in the 60s, it seems). Maxence and Solange afterwards walk along Rue du Port with the dancing troupe behind them as if it's the most natural thing in the world.

Yvonne Garnier's son Boubou (Patrick Jeantet) has to be fetched from school several times in the film. Yvonne tells Etienne and Bill it is "not to steps behind the square" but it's still a 9 minute walk.
Boubou is quite naughty. No wonder there are bars in the windows!
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The N-E end of Rue Chanzy. This was the Maritime Arsenal (hence the bars in front of the windows), and it seems it is being restored. However, the building on the left of the doorway the kids come out of was completely removed, which is clearly visible in the next images!

Finally, just around the corner from the school, piano virtuoso Andy Miller (Gene Kelly) meets Solange, and afterwards does a little tap dance (with two of the English dancers dressed as sailors). Strangely, his taps were dubbed by some drummer who seems to not have been very interested in hitting the action on the screen. If you want to hear the live sound, however, six seconds (which is most of it) are in the trailer for the film! Also, the English version of the song (mostly sung by Gene!) on the CD set has all the taps, but these do not correctly follow the music if you that sync that to the picture! Sigh...
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We are in Rue Bazeilles looking towards Rue Chanzy.

It seems the last 50 years have not been too kind to these areas in this interesting city. The film itself is such a curious, colorful fun piece of fluff. It has Gene Kelly! George Chakiris! If you don't know it, and your French is pretty good, have a look at it some day!

The Criterion Blu-Ray does have English subtitles, but only on the feature film. Sadly, the 25-year old documentary by (Jacques Demy's wife and filmmaker) Agnes Varda is not subtitled. However, the film was originally shot in two versions! Yes, EVERY shot of song or dialog was shot in French and English! The English version songs fill the whole CD number 3 in the box set! (Amazon US: here!) But when Warner was to release the English version they deemed it too "European" and shelved it! Only few scenes are known, some in the documentary and these on YouTube.
So - do you know anyone good at diving into film vaults?

(By the way, don't ask me why my Google Maps shows streetnames in Cyrillic letters, I do not know!)


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Prod. CM-15 - Mickey Steps Out

Directed by Burt Gillett, released 7/7/1931.
Animated by Jack King, Johnny Cannon, Norm Ferguson, Dave Hand, Harry Reeves, Ben Sharpsteen, Tom Palmer, Frenchy de Trémaudan, Dick Lundy, Hardy Gramatky, Rudy Zamora, Charles Byrne(s), Les Clark, Marvin Woodward and Jack Cutting. (15 animators on 39 scenes...) The person transcribing the draft must have missed scene 33 - maybe by Frenchy (Minnie), Hardy (Pluto) and Hand (cat)?

A very happy musical endeavor. But it seems that the PC-Police has struck against the Ben Sharpsteen's last scene in later copies. After the screen has gone black from soot, all characters are black-face; Minnie yells "Mickey!," Mickey yells "Minnie!," Pluto comes out of the top of the stove and yells, Al Jolson-like but in a gravelly voice "Mammie!" and the cat comes out of the stove pipe and ends saying "Yippie!" and smacks Pluto on the head with the lid of the stove... There is a YouTube version of the entire short including this scene, but I refuse to link to anything that has the wrong aspect ratio!
When will people learn?

One of my most intriguing possessions from the "Kentucky Cache" is this little cheat sheet that Burt Gillett made, folded and used for a "Talk on Basic Principles of Motion Pictures and Sound." It is undated, but will have to be from around June 1931, with Mickey Steps Out as the "Big New Thing," but also including material from the earlier CM-7 "The Gorilla Mystery," CM-10 "The Birthday Party" and CM-14 "The Delivery Boy." Esther Campbell whistles "Valse Parisienne" from today's film, and note the preview with Bert Lewis accompanying Minnie (Marcellite Garner) and the bird (Esther Campbell).
Please contact me if you have developed a WORKING time machine!

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Prod. CM-14 - The Delivery Boy

Directed by Burt Gillett, released 6/13/1931.
Animation by Johnny Cannon, Rudy Zamora, Jack Cutting, Harry Reeves, Norm Ferguson, Frenchy de Trémaudan, Dave Hand, Dick Lundy, George Lane, Tom Palmer, Chuck Couch, Jack King, Hardy Gramatky, Les Clark, Frank Tipper, Bill Mason and Charles Byrne(s). At this time, Burt Gillett's musician was Bert Lewis.

Since Tom McKimson was Fergy's assistant, I surmise that "Tom" and "Palmer" here are the same person. Lane is here misspelled as Lano.

Bill Mason, who seems to have been born in England and died in 1937, is identified by Alberto Becattini, though he doesn't seem to appear in studio records otherwise. Alberto has this info on him: "Animator: DISNEY c31-33 (Silly Symphony 31-32 [The Cat’s Out 31, The Spider and the Fly 31, Babes in the Woods 32]); SCHLESINGER/WARNER BROS. 33 (Buddy 33 [Buddy’s Day Out]); LANTZ 35-37 (Oswald the Rabbit 36-37, Meany Miny and Moe 36-37)"

This is a fun film, and it becomes apparently clear that Jack King ain't no Fergy, whose Pluto scenes are highlights!

It so happens that there are several images that can throw a light on the production of this film, because the new L-shaped building that was finished mid-1931 was taken in use during this time, and it clearly was thought to show off the beautiful new premises! First we have the "Music Room," the director's room:
Delivery Boy MR
We have seen the animators in their room already; here, Johnny Cannon is at a desk that has the layout for scene 27 on its pegs.
Now - this scene was, according to the draft, animated by Rudy Zamora (on the photo to the right of Cannon), so this may indicate that the animators aren't posing at their own desks...
So it seems that the question posed in this image, that I prepared some years ago, might have been the wrong one.
Delivery Boy MR
(Sitting L-to-R: Dave Hand, Johnny Cannon, Rudy Zamora, Les Clark; standing: Walt Disney, Tom Palmer, Ben Sharpsteen).
Note that Walt is wearing the same outfit in both images...

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Prod. CM13 - The Moose Hunt

Directed by Burt Gillett, music by Bert Lewis, released 5/8/1931.
In other words, I am two days late for its 87th anniversary...
Animated by Jack King, Dave Hand, Norm Ferguson, Les Clark, Dick Lundy, Tom Palmer and Ben Sharpsteen: the usual suspects.

Yes, this IS the film with Tom Palmer's "Dead dog scene" ending with Pluto saying "Kiss Me!" Since this film was released May 8th, it was likely animated late March-early April 1931. Here is an image of some of the animators in their new building (the L-shaped one) while the film was just released, in May 1931. L-to-R: Dave Hand, Dick Lundy, Norm Ferguson and Les Clark.
Both Hand and Lundy have their May 1931 calendars prominently placed - thanks, guys! Les Clark has three photos pinned up - two of the building of the building they are in, and one of one of the small Fauchon & Marco advertisement cars parked in front of the billboard across the street...

Added note: we have seen a BG from this film before!

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Thursday, May 03, 2018

Prod. CM12 - The Castaway

Over the coming weeks I intend to post a few more very early Mickey Mouse drafts, especially for my old mentor and friend Børge Ring.

Here is an early draft for this Robinson Crusoe-type Mickey Mouse film directed by my favorite director, Wilfred "Jaxon" Jackson, released through Columbia on 4/6/1931.
We find as animators: Jaxon himself, Charlie Byrne, Rudy Zamora, Cecil Surrey ("Sizzle"), Johnny Cannon, Gilles Armand "Frenchy" de Trémaudan, Jack Cutting, Les Clark, Dave Hand and Dick Lundy - with Norm Ferguson sharing two scenes with Jack Cutting.

On page 18 in Ross Care's must-have book about Jaxon, one can read how he (Jaxon) asked Walt to "handle" a whole film by himself, with which he meant "animate a whole film." Walt, however, thought he wanted to direct a film, and gave him the assignment of pulling together several previously discarded musical Mickey scenes, having him put them to music by a new composer Walt wanted to try out, Frank Churchill. This eventually became "Shipwrecked Among Animals," later renamed "The Castaway," and resulted in Jaxon "getting stuck" in the role of director.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

52 years ago, today.

For years, my favorite record was "Walt Disney en zijn muziek."
I studied it intensely, and that includes the photo of the founder of the feast, though the record was issued after his passing, with the proceeds of the sales being donated to Cal Arts.
The photo was made for Eastman Kodak, taken on February 23rd, 1966. 52 years ago to the day...

23 Feb 1966← Click to see full image!


Friday, February 16, 2018

Happy Birthday, Børge!

Today, February 17th -- as it is now in Holland and Denmark --
my old mentor and friend Børge Ring celebrates his 97th birthday!

Last time I visited was in April 2017, when I showed him my CG recreation of Walt Disney's Hyperion Ave. studio in 1929 and 1939. Børge is listening and watching intensely as I explain:
April 2017← Click to see full image!
I hope to soon be able to visit again!
Tillykke med fødselsdagen, ex-B-96!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Prod. 2057 - Fun and Fancy Free (XXII)
  - Prod. 2048 - Bongo - Seq. 08.0 - Fight & Finale

The final and longest sequence of the draft...
76 77 78 79 80 81 82
Directed by Jack Kinney assisted by Ted Sebern.
Layout by Don DaGradi.
This FINAL draft dated 4/11/1947 by Eva Jane "'jane" Sinclair.

Animation by Hal King (supervising animator), Ted Berman, Harry Holt, Ward Kimball (supervising animator), George Goepper, Al Bertino, Harvey Toombs, Phil Duncan, Fred Moore and Ken O'Brien. Effects by Jack Boyd. Jane was a little too quick for scene 19...

"...or is this a dream - too good to be true..." and here we leave Bongo and Fun & Fancy Free. Of course I hope you enjoyed this draft. Again, I need to impress upon you my "standard disclaimer:"

"Animation drafts were never meant to be historical documents. They were meant as go-to documents, showing the responsible artist for a certain scene, who might be able to help in case there would be any need for this further on in the production line. Therefore we often see e.g. that animators who left have been replaced by others, often their assistants, in later versions of a draft. Also for this reason it is most often the actual animator, not the supervising animator, who is mentioned [except here in most of Bongo, of course]. The drafts may also be directly inaccurate - showing early assignments where the animator actually changed when the scene was finally handed out. Keeping all this in mind, though, the drafts can give us some sort of hands-on insight into the inner workings of the production of some of the most iconic motion pictures of all time."

So what's next? And when? To be honest, I don't know yet! I'll let it be a surprise... It'll be for me!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Prod. 2057 - Fun and Fancy Free (XXI)
  - Prod. 2048 - Bongo - Seq. 07.0 - Say It With A Slap

72 73 74 75
Directed by Jack Kinney assisted by Ted Sebern.
Layout by Don DaGradi.
This FINAL draft dated 4/11/1947 by Eva Jane "'jane" Sinclair.

Animation by Milt Kahl (supervising animator), Hal Ambro and Hugh Fraser. Effects by Jack Boyd.

Slapstick by Milt Kahl to "Say It with a Slap" by Eliot Daniels. I bet Milt enjoyed the relative freedom and fun that the realistic characters didn't often allow for!

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Prod. 2057 - Fun and Fancy Free (XX)
  - Prod. 2048 - Bongo - Seq. 06.0 - Lumpjaw Entrance

68 69 70 71
Directed by Jack Kinney assisted by Ted Sebern.
Layout by Don DaGradi.
This FINAL draft dated 4/11/1947 by Eva Jane "'jane" Sinclair.

Animation by George Goepper, Hal King, Ward Kimball (supervising animator), Harry Holt (clearly misspelled as Hold in sc. 26) and Al Bertino (before he became a story artist and Imagineering legend). Effects by Jack Boyd.

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