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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sylvester Takes A Vow ...


Another 6:56 Masterpiece: Birds Anonymous (1957)

Sylvester resolves to no longer eat birds, which made me realize that I've never actually seen him in an act of bird-eating, or caveat to that: yes, he has put them in his mouth, even swallowed ones on occasion, but to my knowledge, has not followed through to point of digestion, except offscreen, if references here are to be believed. Would graphic fowl consumption have been too much to hope for? Birds Anonymous won an Academy Award for Best Cartoon. I wonder if any theatres re-booked it and advertised that fact. Average cost of a Warner cartoon during the 1957-58 season was $25,942, which seems economical until you consider exhibitor unwillingness to pay more than pittance to book the things. Warners, like other companies, reasonably felt that reissuing old reels was as good a policy as making new ones. Birds Anonymous was another of little classics a genius crew was able to create in waning days of theatrical animation, this directed by Friz Freling, who raised Tweety and Sylvester to heights of expression. Fun to imagine Birds Anonymous maybe playing initial runs on a bill with WB released Curse Of Frankenstein. What a meeting of minds!

1 Comments:

Blogger John McElwee said...

Donald Benson has some specifics re Sylvester's bird consumption:


Don't know if you count this, but some cartoons make clear that Sylvester does successfully catch and eat birds. One cartoon begins with the old lady thinking her previous canary has flown away; Sylvester hiccups a flurry of feathers when she's not looking. And all the cats in "Birds Anonymous" are identified as frequent consumers.


As a kid I never sweated those unseen birds, or even the slow mice Sylvester caught before Speedy Gonzales came to town. We'd see the other mice cheering as a compadre tries to outrun Sylvester; then a grim silence and another sombrero is tossed on a big pile. That's funny in a quietly sick way, unlike similar but cheesier material in Herman and Katnip.


"Scaredy Cat" was the one that spooked me. That's where a cheerfully oblivious Porky Pig brings a mute and cowering Sylvester to dark old house inhabited by murderous mice. Early on Sylvester sees another cat being carted off to execution by a procession of said rodents. The cat looks forlornly at Sylvester. It's a great cartoon -- another perfect match for a Hammer -- but I always felt bad about that first unlucky cat.


I now wonder if the "Save the Cat" screenwriting book had its roots in the author's childhood trauma.

5:21 AM  

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