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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Where Music Counts Most In WB Cartoons


Back Alley Oproar (1948) Pits Elmer Against Singing Sylvester

A whole separate pleasure center in Warner cartoons is the music. Ones directed by Friz Freleng were especially focused on this, plus WB had tunes endlessly replenished by what was heard in features from year to year. It wouldn't be long before scores done for Bette Davis or Errol Flynn were recycled as mood enhancer for Sylvester or Elmer Fudd (as here). ID'ing the music is much of the fun in Back Alley Oproar (wonder how often this title gets misspelled --- I almost did just now). Background borrows first from 1944's Hollywood Canteen and a song written by M.K. Jerome, Sweet Dreams, Sweetheart, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Then there is segue to Sylvester performing Some Sunday Morning after fashion of Alexis Smith in San Antonio (1945) to Elmer's sleepless annoyance. You Never Know Where You're Goin' Till Get There was a wartime march by Jule Styne with lyrics by Sammy Cahn that Sylvester sings as though he himself were fresh out of uniform. The cartoon is a favorite of many, being typical-fast and noisy in hangover-from-WWII mode. Warners would slow down a bit from here, really good ones further apart with some talent departing and budgets being necessarily reduced to cover post-war drop in admissions. Standards among their shorts remained highest in the industry however, at least for my time and watching.

3 Comments:

Blogger Neely OHara said...

Another great cartoon score is from 1944's Little Red Riding Rabbit. In addition to a disturbingly nubile Red Riding Hood warbling the then-popular novelty song The Five O'Clock Whistle, the background music manages to sample much of the score from that year's Thank Your Lucky Stars...

6:55 PM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

This cartoon is a curious case in which a remake is better than the original film (which is also funny). The last piece performed is the quintet of the second act of Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Tom Ruegger said...

Carl Stalling -- composer and arranger for almost all the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies from the 30's through most of the 50's. Any discussion of the music for these cartoons should not omit his name. If the discussion is cartoon music, Carl Stalling's name should be mentioned before the directors.

3:30 AM  

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