Monday, May 17, 2010

Jack Hannah and Freeloading Feline

An important transitional cartoon for the Walter Lantz studio. Lantz was always on the lookout for castoff cartoonists from other studios, and when Walt Disney curtailed its shorts unit in the late 50's, it left a lot of talent looking for a home. Some went to work for Hanna-Barbera, but Jack Hannah - one of the last shorts directors at Disney, responsible for some screamingly funny Donald Duck and Humphrey Bear cartoons - found work with Walter Lantz for a few years. Hannah did some cartoons in the Doc series, the character originating with Alex Lovy a few years prior, as well as Inspector Willoughby, Woody Woodpecker, the Beary Family, and a character named Fatso Bear - a thinly-veiled knockoff of Humphrey Bear. This is his first Doc cartoon, "Freeloading Feline", which Hannah also wrote, and it's probably the funniest example of this character.

Hannah had been hired because Lantz was looking for someone with live-action TV experience to direct the wraparounds for the Woody Woodpecker TV show. Hannah brought with him some Disney colleagues such as animators Al Coe and Roy Jenkins and background artist Ray Huffine.

The credits of this cartoon reveal an interesting mix of old and new. This is animated by Coe and pioneering female animator La Verne Harding, who spent almost 30 years working for Lantz. Huffine does the backgrounds here with Raymond Jacobs, who left the Lantz studio after this cartoon (the other background guy at the time was Art Landy). Coe and Huffine got the most out of their Lantz experience: Huffine was with the studio until 1968 and Coe was still there at the studio's shutdown in 1972.

The music is by Eugene Poddany, who'd been working with Lantz since about 1956 or so to give Clarence Wheeler a break once in a while. Lantz at this time also brought back his classic 1940's music director, Darrell Calker. Poddany eventually became music director for Chuck Jones at M-G-M.

1 comment:

Dave Mackey said...

Cartoon's gone. Too bad.