Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Throne for a Loss (1966)

Oh, Honey Halfwitch
She's a funny kid witch
What a honey!
When she flies up on her broom
She get's all around with the zoom zoom zoom
She's magical and mystical and smart

Oh, Honey Halfwitch
Bright and sunny
She's as cute as a bunny
She's half wizard and half girl
She waves her wand and you're in her world
She's full of tricks and sweet as an apple pie
A half-pint pixie is sure to win your heart.

Another post on Paramount's sixties cartoon, since I happened to upload this on YouTube and I haven't posted it here yet.

Howard Post, who passed away few weeks ago, succeeded as the head of Paramount's animation studio after the death of Seymour Kneitel. During his brief takeover he created a character called Honey Halfwitch, a little witch apprentice originally voiced by Shari Lewis. She first appeared in a 1965 Modern Madcap called Poor Little Witch Girl. Soon after the character got her own series with a dozen more shorts to follow.

Post wrote most of the shorts and directed the first six. After Post was fired Shamus Culhane took over and was required to fulfill the the contract by finishing off the rest of the series. Culhane directed three before leaving the remaining four to Chuck Harriton (with new designs and voice).

Culhane never had a strong feeling for the series, noting in his book Talking Animals and Other People: "Honey was ostensibly a little girl, and followed the usual heavy-handed attempts at cuteness which had bogged down the studio since the days of Betty Boop."

Here's one of the three that Culhane directed. Watching it, it's understandable why Culhane never cared for the series. While Post did direct some interesting shorts and experimented with different styles (such as The Itch) these Halfwitch cartoons are remnants of the fifties cartoons starring Casper and Little Audrey. That said, I had a slight chuckle at this exchange:

Stanley: As a sorcerer I am a failure. I presume there is nothing left to do but my saw trick.
Honey: What's that, Stanley?
Stanley: It's where I saw myself completely in half.
Honey: Yeah, then what?
Stanley: That's it, I just saw myself in half.

Shari Lewis did Honey, Cousin Maggie, and the Prince's women. Bradley Bolke did Stanley and possibly all the other male voices.


Anonymous said...

Baker, What also Makes it feel like an old-school 1950s Casper short lies in the Animation as well. Did You Notice that two of the animators that originally worked for famous in the 1950s are credited here e.g William B Pattengill and Marty Taras. Though the Animation where the Magician sorcerer tries to pull a rabbit out of his hat before he realizes he is a failure looks very slick and well polished (i presume it was animated by Martin Taras, if he really DID animate that scene, Congrats for Marty for putting at least a good bit of effort here.), while, the animation after that Moves and is Paced Just like an early 60s Paramount short and those TV Popeyes the famous crew did, The Timing and Pacing is also Very SLOW and the Clean Up Drawings are Really BAD here as is the Linework here (IMO i would say that the story, timing, Clean-up, Character design and the animation quailty at Famous started to deteriorate and drop down severely around probably 1946, Compare the Two Blackie the lamb shorts such as No Mutton fer Nuttin from 1943 and the Much ado About Mutton short from 1947 and you'll see what i mean) Just a Very Cheap, Lazy and Sloppily Made Cartoon. More Paramount Rarites please (if you've got any more that you have not posted yet)

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered, but did Paramount's 60s cartoons, specifically the ones made during Culhane and Post's tenure, use the same credit system as the earlier Fleischer and Famous cartoons, in which the very first animator credited is usually the actual animation director of the cartoon? "Directors" like Seymour Kneitel and Izzy Sparber, from what I've heard, usually oversaw the whole production of the cartoon. I hope my question isn't too confusing for you to answer.

Also, I'm interested in seeing the first few Honey Halfwitch cartoons that Howard Post directed, so could you post a few of those to YouTube soon?

Brubaker said...


"Baggin' the Dragon", directed by Post, is on DailyMotion.


I'm 99% sure Culhane (and then Ralph Bakshi) directed these cartoons the traditional way. In interviews (and later his books), Culhane criticized how the "director" credit were handed out in Fleischer and Famous cartoons, so unless the man was a big hypocrite...

Howie Post I'm not sure. Post's animation experience prior to his takeover is VERY brief and he never animated, so...