November 25, 2008

Tall Timber (1928)


Here we have one of the last Disney Oswald cartoons. Also alliterative with its Ts like Trolley Troubles.

Love: The design is much more cute than it was before. It has rounded shapes instead of harsher, flatter forms.

The music is at least just an organ this time. So, while it is irritating in the way silent film music is irritating, it's better than a fake orchestral arrangement. Again, not the fault of the cartoon itself, but the restoration. In terms of restoring soundtracks on cartoons, Disney would be better off following the axiom that simpler is better.

The backgrounds are far lusher than in Trolley Troubles, tho this cartoon is only a year newer.

A V of ducks is cool. Even if they're in lock step identical movement all at the same time.

A lack of gun safety or the safety of the audience is sure to lead to entertainment. That's a barrel pointed straight at the screen in the image below.

Fuzzy moose. Always go for the fuzzy moose. Sure, it doesn't look quite right. But it still looks good.

The boulder take. The boulder has a lot of momentum to it (tho it is very floaty, anchored to a spot on screen that it spins on), and the take is unusually extreme for what I usually think of in Disney cartoons.

Lightning head effects. It wasn't considered gauche to use visual cues in common with, say, a comic strip. Why did everyone seem to stop using this kind of thing after Tex Avery left MGM except in not consciously noticeable FX frames?

The running bear looks good.

Fish eye lens Oswald: not sure if it's love or hate. It's something tho.

Naked mama bear bloomers and bra

Oswald in the bear coat; except the smoking which is ugly.

Hate: While looking exponentially better than Trolley Troubles, this is still ugly much of the time.

It's still incredibly repetitive.

Oswald crushed into 6 little Oswalds is just poorly done. It's like they'd heard the idea, and just floatily executed it. There is much floatiness to the cartoon's action, actually.

The long bear hold. While the little bears keep moving, the big bear just stays and stays and stays like it went to the Stepford Etiquette Academy.

So, TT is much better than, uh, TT was. But if this was reinventing the wheel 80 years ago, the novel nature is lost in standards that became entrenched and enhanced. A reasonably decent and semi-watchable cartoon.

Next time, we will skip to the end of the story, and then eventually wade back into the middle (which is better than the beginning or end, at least in its best moments of its hundreds of cartoons) of Oswald's animated bio.


David Gerstein said...

What, nobody commenting on your Oswald reviews and analysis? I'm biased, as I worked on the set... but I'm starved for reactions and very interested in yours, even when I don't agree (you'll kill me for this, but I like the orchestral soundtracks more than the organ-only ones).
TALL TIMBER does have floatier action than many. I hadn't thought about the rock being anchored at the point where it spins, but that's obviously the case. Oswald being squashed into smaller oswalds was apparently a running gag, though it's only in one other surviving short that I remember (BRIGHT LIGHTS).
The rejected POOR PAPA was rejected because Oswald looked like he does on the title cards: big and fat. Universal wanted him slimmer and slicker. They did belatedly accept and release PAPA much later (1928), and a print still survived in the 1980s; sadly, it was the only short screened in relatively recent times that we weren't able to track down.
More later... David

Ted said...

I won't kill you for liking the soundtracks; they at least make more historic sense than the theremin in the silent The Cat and the Canary that was on TCM recently. And, as I mentioned, they are easily solved with a finger on the volume down button. Now, if you made me listen to them...

As I'm about to move on to the Lantz era (can anyone point me to some post-Disney pre-Lantz (as head) Winkler Oswalds?), so I'll make some observations here about the set in general (not that I might not come back to some more Disney era Oswalds eventually). I was surprised by the small number of films on the set; while it's all the available Disney Oswalds, it's only 13 shorts. Plus a good documentary on Iwerks (tho it lacks a real knife to the gut; you need Bill Curtis saying something cold blooded as you fade to black at natural commercial break spots for a proper documentary...) and 6 other cartoons (including three Alice Comedies that should have been on the Disney Rarities collection, but it's good they showed up here at least). I just have the sense that the set feels really light for the Treasures series (especially when there are still several other Alice Comedies without a Disney release, tho some (all the other extant examples?) are available from Ray Pointer:
Intentionally leaving a reason to buy Ray's compilation other than the documentary aspects?).

I'm surprised there wasn't more Oswald reaction; the animation world seemed poised to have an Oswald renaissance leading up to the release of the Treasures set and the Oswald stuff on the Lantz sets. I clearly take my own sweet time to comment on things, but other people seem on the trigger about stuff.

As for people not commenting here, well, the nearly two years without a post may have stunted any minimal momentum the blog might have had. Sorry about that...

David Gerstein said...

I've posted a few post-Disney, pre-Lantz Oswalds:


Online version is misidentified as a Disney cartoon, but I can't help that.

See my comments on the YouTube page to get around possible playback problems on this one.

The post-Disney, pre-Lantz season has the dubious distinction of fewer releases surviving (about ten of 26) than any other period in the character's history.
With Pietro Shakarian, I put together a page in which you can at least read about the shorts that don't exist:

David Gerstein said...

Oops, and after typing that "I posted..." the online shorts, I went back and added a link to one that wasn't mine (YANKY CLIPPERS), forgetting to update my introductory statement.
Sorry. It's late.

Ted said...

Thanks for the links. Screencapping .flv files is problematic for blog posting, but I can at least see some of the cartoons for context.

I should have come across that link on Cartoon Research, but apparently I've missed it repeatedly. I do tend to get to specific pages via Google and have only considered addressing the complete absence of Winkler viewing recently.

Ten cartoons; seems like a good fit for a garage sale sized disc...

(Next up, finding Columbia Krazy Kats other than Rodeo Dough and the unnamed Pro Tools demo over a (presumably) 8mm home version of a cartoon, the one I have on 8mm, and Bars and Stripes which should be coming on that "Cartoon Rarities of the '30s" disc... Again, there's always the garage sale, but I have many discs of Lantz Oswalds to buy there first...)