Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Classic Cartoon Lineup on TCM THIS WEEKEND!

This weekend features a truly awesome event for fans of classic animation.  On Sunday October 21, Turner Classic Movies will be airing an evening of rarely broadcast animation that spans the Golden Era of animation.  

Included in the lineup are Gulliver's Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town, a collection of Jolly Frolics from UPA, a selection of Silent Era cartoons from the collection of animation collector and historian Thomas Slathes, and finally the 1926 German film The Adventures of Prince Achmed.  The evening will be hosted by TCM's Robert Osborn and renowned animation historian Jerry Beck.  They'll discuss each piece of the evening in detail, but here is a preview  to whey your appetite:

Gulliver's Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town were the only two animated films produced by the Fleischer Studio, the creators of many great cartoons that include Betty Boop and Popeye.  This was the studio's attempt to compete with Disney in the animated feature game, and while the results are pleasing, they lacked both Disney's finer touch and the mature surrealism that made earlier Fleischer shorts so enjoyable. Regardless, they are still great films and important entries in the early days of animated feature films.

When UPA came onto the scene in the late 40's, they revolutionized the way cartoons could look.  Run by intellectuals and artists, the studio's Jolly Frolics integrated modern art and jazz into the cartoons, creating a look and feel that was unlike anything that had ever been done before or since.  There were several fantastic one-off characters and shorts, but the biggest star to come from this studio was the myopic Mr. Magoo.

Silent-Era cartoons are a delight to watch, and since many of them exist in the public domain, they are easy to find online and on bargain bin DVDs.  They deserve better though since characters like Farmer Al Falfa and Koko the Clown were some of the earliest cartoon stars, so it's fantastic to see them on TV.

Finally, there is The Adventures of Prince Achmed.  German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger's adaptation of an Arabian fairy tale is one of, if not THE oldest surviving animated feature films.  Done in a unique cut-out silhouette style, it is a visually striking movie and one that shouldn't be missed.

Each of these selections is a priceless installment in the history of cartoons and animation, and as soon as I heard that they were all going to air I had an absolute fit of joy.  There needs to be more classic animation on TV besides the scraps that Cartoon Network throws us.  Nothing against Looney Tunes or Tom & Jerry, but there is just so much more that can and should be shown to modern audiences.  If you have ever loved cartoons, then watch as much of this on Sunday as you can, and if you feel so inclined, let TCM know that there are people who want to see more of this type of thing on TV.  I know I will!  

Tune in starting at 8:00 EST on Sunday October 21.

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