Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Before Jessica Rabbit...

This has nothing to do with sewing but I have had these links saved for so long and wanted to share them.

Swing Shift Cinderella (1945)
Do you remember when they used to run classic cartoons on regular TV? Before they moved them to the likes of Nick At Night, Cartoon Network, or TV Land.

When I was growing up we were exposed to an array of children's programming, consisting of Hanna-Barbera cartoons (The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo) and the live action shows of Sid and Marty Krofft, such as H.R. Pufnstuf, and Land of the Lost. In addition, we could also view vintage cartoons on basic cable, clear into the 1980s. Among these were gems from the 1930s-era Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes series. During that period of their rivalry with Walt Disney Studios, one particular type of cartoon caught my eye because it was not Disney-like; these characters were flippant and full of sarcasm and the situations were rude, sometimes violent, and even risqué. 

Some of these were produced by the great Tex Avery, one of the men behind the children-friendly characters of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck at Warner Brothers. During his tenure at Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), he dabbled in a adult jazzy series of fairy tales using elements of modern life in the 1940-50s. I believe the fairy tale element was included to make them seem children-friendly while the story content was not. His work changed the language of cartoons; with exploding bombs, eye-popping doubletakes, and girl-hungry Hollywood wolves. Instead of skipping through forests and castles, his characters frequent bars, night clubs, and high rise apartments.

Sorry, I have written almost an entire post and have not explained the Jessica Rabbit connection. Well, Jessica (sultry-ly voiced by Kathleen Turner) was a big deal when the movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, was released in 1988. More popular a costume during Halloween than that year's trashy French maid or nurse, she was a beauty to be imitated. However, she was not an original, in fact, she was modeled on the femme fatales created by Tex in the three cartoons below. These lusciously curvy and clever bombshells were clearly the inspiration for Jessica.

Oh, and do not forget the importance of their antagonist, "Wolfie," the Zoot-suited playboy who was part of the chain-smoking, cocktail-drinking lifestyle that was depicted as a temptation to our heroines. Some version of this sophisticated, urbane, and slightly swarmy wolf appeared in more than a few Tex Avery cartoon features.

Here are a few images and links to the cartoon shorts themselves.

The Tex Avery Fairy Tales


Swing Shift Cinderella (1945)
Wikipedia entry

Red Hot Riding Hood (1943)
Wikipedia entry

Little Rural Riding Hood (1949)
Wikipedia entry

The Bear's Tale (1940)
During my research I found that he created more of these types of fairy tales, so there are more that I need to track down. The other's are: Cinderella meets Fella (1938), Little Red Walking Hood (1937), The Bear's Tale (1940), Blitz Wolf aka Three Little Pigs (1942), and a Gander at Mother Goose (1940).

All of these plus the three above are available on DVD.


Kyle said...

I watched all the Hanna Barbera cartoons you mentioned, and the Land of the Lost!!! I don't know who made Tom and Jerry but that was my fav! I even had a Tom and Jerry themed birthday party.

Thank you for your lovely comments on my post--my mom wasn't a true crafter and she didn't like sewing but she was the one who taught me how to use the sewing machine.

You lost your mom at such a young age, I can't imagine.


Kyle said...

and I had a Tom and Jerry t-shirt I wore all the time that said "When in Doubt, Punt".

Mugsy's in Stitches said...

Say, thank you very much for that trip down memory lane! :) Watched almost all of the sam cartoons as a kid, and I've seen some of the Tex Avery fairy tales you posted about - fantastic stuff.
Hope all is well with you and yours...