Thursday, December 11, 2008

The last one

Many of you are familiar with Looney Tunes. Who couldn't forget the antics of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, that coyote and the road runner. Combine that with the wacky animation thanks to the direction of the likes of Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and others.

However, how many of you have seen their later works? If you watched these on Nickelodeon, the chances are you've seen those Daffy and Speedy cartoons a jillion times. But let's go further, to the late '60s. Warner Bros. shut down their animation department around 1962, but decided to have new cartoons made for their theatrical schedule by contracting DePatie-Freleng (run by David DePatie and Friz Freleng) to make more cartoons. Warners vetern Robert McKimson directed a bulk of them (with Rudy Larriva directing Road Runner cartoons over at Format Films, where DFE subcontracted to).

Eventually Warners decided to reopen their animation department. William L. Hendricks was put in charge and Alex Lovy, fresh out of Hanna-Barbera, was initially hired to direct these new cartoons. They continued to make more Daffy/Speedy cartoons but NEW Looney Tunes characters were being created. They ended up creating two recurring characters: Merlin the Magic Mouse and Cool Cat.

Here's one of the Merlin shorts:

Even though this was released through theaters first it's pretty clear that WB just wanted to expand their archives for television distribution and so they had these made. The limited animation also helps this case.

Alex Lovy left Warners and was replaced by Robert McKimson, who left DFE and returned to his old "home". He only got to direct seven cartoons; after only 2 years Warners decided to close their animation studio for good.

McKimson continued to direct Merlin and Cool Cat (two for each), as well as making cartoons starring Bunny and Clyde.

Here's one of McKimson's Cool Cat cartoons, Bugged by a Bee (1969). This is actually the last cartoon to be released under the Looney Tunes banner (the last WB cartoon ever, Injun Trouble, was a Merrie Melodies)

McKimson returned to DePatie-Freleng, where he remained until his death.

1 comment:

Chris Sobieniak said...

Having watched these first about 20 years ago, it's kinda interesting how it took rather that long for any of 'em to show up on TV after their theatrical releases in the US. If they had gone a couple more years, I wonder what other avenues could've been explored despite the limitations of the craft?