Monday, December 01, 2008

Cartoon a Day: Hollywood Steps Out

Hollywood Steps Out
Directed by Tex Avery
Available on: Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2

Many of the major cartoon studios made films that focused on caricatures of celebrities of the time. "Hollywood Steps Out" is one of those films. It features none of the Looney Tunes characters, just cartoon versions of famous folks.

Many of today's viewers will have trouble recognizing some of the people being poked fun at, I do. And, as is the case in many of these cartoons, some of the humor is lost to time. For example, Ann Sheridan's caricature only says the world "oomph' because she was known as the "oomph girl." I only know that because the commentary track told me show. Still, there are plenty of great moments that stand on their own even without familiarity with the celebrities of the early 40's.

The running gag with Clark Gable pursuing a girl is funny on it's own even without the payoff at the end where we learn that the girl is Groucho Marx in disguise.

It's also fun to spot the caricatures of Looney Tunes head honcho Leon Schlesinger (right) and producer Henry Bender (left). You can hear the Looney Tunes music as the camera passes by them.

The bubble dance sequence is also interesting to take note of as a sort of precursor to Tex Avery's later MGM cartoons that would feature curvaceous cartoon ladies and extreme reactions from members of the audience. It's definitely not to the extreme of a cartoon like "Red Hot Riding Hood," but it does point to things to come.

Even without a knowledge of the stars of old Hollywood, "Hollywood Steps Out" provides plenty of laughs and some skillful caricature based animation.

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