Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Picnic Panic: deeply surreal

I have always found this old cartoon gorgeously surreal. The deeply-saturated colors, the shining pastel faces of the little girls, the hokey music and chorus - not to mention the unlikely characters - lend it a certain unrealistic charm. Of course animation is an obsession with me - I even try my hand at it myself sometimes, with disastrous results. 

I kept wondering WHAT the opening song reminded me of - it drove me crazy! - until it occurred to me: By a Waterfall, Busby Berkeley's incredible aquatic number in Footlight Parade, one of my all-time favorite movies. It's also a little like Wedding of the Painted Doll from Broadway Melody, which I will also post below. The fragment of animation looks very similar to the first cartoon, but as usual with YouTube, it's just a bleeding chunk. I can't trace it back to anything.

Special bonus video!
Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell sing Pettin' in the Park, which has a similar dut-da dut-da dut-da dut-da DA-DAA rhythm to it. They also sang an awkward version of By a Waterfall, but I couldn't find it anywhere. You think Elizabeth Holmes has a deep voice? Wait until you hear Ruby Keeler. She can no more sing than she can dance, and yet she was a huge star. Maybe it was those puppy-dog eyes.

And just one more! This is one of my favorite numbers from Footlight Parade, Honeymoon Hotel. Even by today's standards, it's pretty racy, though in a cheerful, lighthearted way that makes it a lot more fun and less "illicit" (though it's all about forbidden sexual rendezvous(es) and how nobody feels any guilt about them at all).

As always, it's a good idea to watch these on YouTube rather than these little squares (which actually serve as thumbnails that play). Click on the bottom right. You can also go full-screen - click on full-screen! - but it might turn out kind of blurry 'cause it's old-fashioned low-rez.)