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"What's New" Archives: December 2004

December 25, 2004:

BAH, HUMBUG: In case anyone received a copy of Hollywood Cartoons: Animation in Its Golden Age for Christmas and is bursting to say something about it, I've posted a Feedback page about the book. Joshua Wilson has raised some good questions about Hollywood Cartoons, including some that I've heard from other people, and the new page gives me a chance to address them. Let me also call your attention to the Feedback page devoted to The Incredibles and related matters, where Gene Schiller's comments are new.

FAREWELL TO JOHN K.: With the end of the year approaching, this seems like a good time to call a formal halt to my vigorous debate with John Kricfalusi about cartoon acting and related subjects. I've not heard from John for months now, and it seems clear he doesn't want to continue our online discussion.

There is one loose end I need to tie up, though, and it's related to Hollywood Cartoons. I say in the book—and I repeated here, in the debate—that there's a scene in Bob Clampett's Falling Hare in which Rod Scribner takes over mid-scene for Bob McKimson. This is an error I fell into more than twenty years ago, and I didn't test it against the cartoon until John K. questioned my attributions. I've seen Falling Hare again recently, and it's clear to me now that John is right, and McKimson animated the entire scene. I've added a correction to the list of corrections for Hollywood Cartoons.

December 23, 2004:

PARKER, HUNTER, AND FORD: Mark Mayerson and Keith Scott have pointed out that Jeffrey Hunter appeared in leading roles in two more John Ford-directed movies after The Searchers. He was also in The Last Hurrah (1958) and Sergeant Rutledge (1960). I've added a bracketed sentence to the Fess Parker interview to that effect.

Keith also had these thoughts about the Parker interview:

"The Parker interview is terrific. He has great recall and seems far more level-headedly philosophical than many showbiz veterans with even more campaign medals.

"He was a particular favorite when I was a youngster. Even then he reminded me of a younger Gregory Peck (certainly there's a resemblance in the dark brown voice, though without the slightly stilted theatricality of Peck, which, for me, resulted in some occasional dull performances). And Fess' very natural, easy way with dialogue also reminded me of the unshow-offy quality that several second-string star leading men, like Fred MacMurray in his more dramatic parts, seemed to exhibit effortlessly. They both played with great sincerity and conviction but without any histrionic touches that seem to have slightly dated people like Burt Lancaster in his hammier moments.

"I always thought Parker could have played a great Abe Lincoln (young or older), if given the breaks. And I can still see him as an alternative to Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird."

December 20, 2004:

Fess Parker posterFESS PARKER: One of Walt Disney's most famous and beloved characters, Davy Crockett, made his television debut fifty years ago this month—in live action, of course—during the first season of the Disneyland show. The nationwide "Crockett craze" that followed remains a unique episode in American popular culture. As part of the research for my Walt Disney biography, I've recorded several interviews with Fess Parker, who played Davy Crockett (and later Daniel Boone), and you can read a composite of those interviews—in which Parker speaks with insight and humor about Walt Disney, film acting, and strange encounters with John Ford—by clicking here.

TASHLIN FEEDBACK: The Frank Tashlin interview has generated an unusually large number of interesting responses, including messages from the voice artists Bob Bergen, the new voice of Porky Pig, (www.bobbergen.com) and Keith Scott. I've posted them on a separate Feedback page devoted to the Tashlin interview.

December 16, 2004:

FRANK TASHLIN: You can read my 1971 interview with the great Warner Bros. cartoon director and Disney story man by clicking here.

December 11, 2004:

"SPONGEBOB" UPDATE: I did it! I saw The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and lived!

December 8, 2004:

"PEANUTS" UPDATE: Thanks to Arts and Letters Daily, one of my favorite Web sites, I now know that Jonathan Franzen's piece on "Peanuts" for The New Yorker is still available on the Web, by clicking here. (I make no guarantees about this or other "What's New" links, though, except for those to other pages in this site.)

December 7, 2004:

WALT'S LIVE-ACTION FEATURES: I could have said, "Happy Pearl Harbor Day, and speaking of bombs..." But I didn't. Actually, some of Walt Disney's live-action features are worthy of your attention even if you believe, as I do, that it was in animation that he made his indelible mark. I've watched all of Walt's dozens of live-action features in recent months, as part of the research for my Disney biography. Although I didn't come away persuaded that The Ugly Dachshund is a neglected masterpiece, I was pleasantly surprised by some of what I found. Click here to read about seven Disney live-action features that have a claim to a place on your DVD shelf, even if "Disney" means "cartoons" to you..

December 3, 2004:

"INCREDIBLES" TALK: The Incredibles has generated some interesting mail, and I've put up a Feedback page devoted to the film and corollary issues. The page includes my response to the first message, a thought-provoking mini-essay from a British visitor named Benjamin Sanders.

A TRAVEL UPDATE OF SORTS: When I posted the four installments of my European Journal last summer, I included a link to the Annecy Festival's site on the page about my visit to Annecy, but no links to sites for Disneyland Paris, the beautiful Swiss village of Zermatt, or Copenhagen and its wonderful Tivoli Gardens. I've now added a link to an official tourist site at the bottom of each of those pages. All of those places are worth a visit, if you can tolerate the current exchange rate.

December 1, 2004:

THE NEW YORKER: I don't think anything from the November 29 "cartoon issue" is still available on the Web, but that issue is worth seeking out not just for the cartoons (including a glum R. Crumb cover, with a self-portrait of the artist at the far right) but also for the novelist Jonathan Franzen's piece on his childhood attachment (circa 1970) to "Peanuts." This is a memoir more than an article about the strip, and the more valuable for that reason. I was particularly struck by this sentence: "It's hard to repudate a comic strip .. when your memories of it are more vivid than your memories of your own life."