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Friday, February 23, 2007

A note on Pinocchio...

With his eye on the ball, my old mentor Børge Ring reminds me that for (Norm) Tate, one should substitute (Børge's late pen-pal) Shamus Culhane. So I looked it up in Culhane's book Talking Animals and Other People and there on pages 119-121 we read about Culhane's amazement to see his name expurgated from the film, while his assistant Tate was credited instead.

Culhane had to leave Disney due to health reasons, against his own wishes - and a short while later, while at Fleischer's in Miami, he found out that if he lost a tooth, he'd be otherwise ok. At that time he was stuck in a two-year contract.

I also note that Culhane keeps talking about how great Don Graham was and how much he learned from him, so by all means, if you haven't already, have a look back in the archived pages to check out Graham's Action Analysis Classes!

[Addition: note Michael Barrier's comment to this post!]

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Anonymous the spectre says...

So they changed the drafts as well as the onscreen credits? Now that's thorough. Weren't the drafts made during production? Or is this what "Second Final Draft" means?

Jumping ahead a little, is it Tate credited in the "Red Lobster Inn" scene? Cause that's a scene well known to have Culhane's animation...

Friday, February 23, 2007 at 4:33:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

It IS jumping ahead - to Seq. 7 - and the answer is yes, the purge is complete! No Culhane, only Tate. Seq. 7 is the other 2nd Final draft of the bunch...

Friday, February 23, 2007 at 4:52:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Mark Mayerson says...

I have to admit skepticism about Culhane's excuse for leaving Disney. It strikes me as very after-the-fact.

Natwick and Eugster also left and neither one ever felt the need to justify their exits. I think that's because they never regretted it. Natwick seemed to be a wanderer by nature, never really settling at a studio. Eugster ended up a head animator at Famous. He told me that he knew that the Famous cartoons were not great, but I think that he enjoyed the position he held and I know that he and his wife were very happy with the social life they led in New York.

I think that Shamus wanted to direct again. He had previously directed for the Fleischers and I wouldn't be surprised if they promised him direction after Gulliver was over. I think that it's only in retrospect, when animation was being rediscovered in the '70's that Shamus looked back over his career and compared the acclaim that the Disney animators were getting and the lack of acclaim he was getting for his shorts and commercials and felt the need to justify what I'm guessing he saw as a major career error.

It could be that I'm completely wrong, but except for Bill Tytla, nobody else ever seemed to express the same level of regret about leaving Disney.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 at 8:03:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Michael Barrier says...

I interviewed Norm Tate in 2004. Unfortunately, I didn't ask him specifically about Culhane's claims in his book--I'd simply forgotten about them--but I did talk with him about his work on Pinocchio. This is what he said:

Tate: Norm Ferguson had laid the ground of this sequence in rough reel that I later brought into final animation.

Barrier: So the drawings you were working with were actually Norm Ferguson’s drawings? You took those as the starting point for your animation.

Tate: Yes, as a starting point, some very rough. They were the basis of what I did. I’d follow some of the gestures, and so on, but I refined it so that it would fit the process of ink and paint and so on.

Tate also said: "I’m not exactly sure I deserved to have screen credit in both Pinocchio and Fantasia, but am I going to walk up and say, 'Forget that'? If they decide that I should have screen credit, that’s their business."

Tate spoke highly of Culhane ("the most inspiring guy I worked with"), but he mentioned assisting him (and Tony Rivera) on Snow White, not on Pinocchio. Tate was not quite the novice Culhane suggests in his book; he started at Disney's in 1936, a little over a year after Culhane, and he had worked as an assistant at Van Beuren before that.

Tate also spoke of voting against the 1941 Disney strike but then taking part in it, out of what he felt was his obligation to the union, but he didn't mention that Culhane played any role in his decision.

Tate said this about Culhane's leaving the Disney studio: "One of the sad things that happened with him was that he took off for Florida and went working with the Fleischer outfit. I don’t think Disney liked that at all. I think it wasn’t a good move for him."

So, was Culhane cheated of screen credit, or was what he did for Pinocchio scrapped and replaced with Tate's animation (and Preston Blair's, if I'm reading Culhane's book and the draft right) because it fit better in the sequence as it had evolved? Was the decision to make such a change easier because Culhane was in bad odor? I have no idea. But I don't think Culhane's self-serving version of events has to be taken at face value. The answer may lie in the ex-sheets in the Disney Animation Research Library.

Monday, February 26, 2007 at 6:29:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous says...

But why assume Culhane would lie about it?

Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 12:51:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Steven Hartley says...

It seems that Norm Tate redid Culhane's animation in the film.

There's more info about Norman Tate (14/2/1915-13/8/2006) here:

Friday, June 25, 2010 at 1:33:00 PM PDT  

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