Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tom Golden

Those of you with a keen eye for animators will recognize the work of Tom Golden, ace animator responsible for arguably the most recognizable piece of Popeye animation - the spinning star opening of the color Popeye cartoons from 1943 to 1957. (the animation also had an afterlife, re-used as the opening of the King Feature TV cartoons)

Golden's credits start appearing in the later Fleischer cartoons, where he animated for Dave Tendlar's crew. He moved to Al Eugster's crew for a few cartoons that were released in 1942, animated for one cartoon - 'Seein' Red White 'N' Blue' - for Jim Tyer's crew that was released in 1943, and then spent time in Nick Tafuri's short lived crew animating on 2 Popeye cartoons released in 1944 and 1946. Golden then returned to Tendlar's group, with his animation in the 1946 release 'Rodeo Romeo'. He later became a de facto director of his own crew.

The clips below are from - in chronological order - 'Fleets of Stren'th' (1942), 'Pitching Woo at the Zoo' (1944), 'Abusement Park' (1947), 'Popeye and the Pirates' (1947), and 'Pre-Hysterical Man' (1948).

Note in the last clip that Jack Mercer was still ad-libbing as late as 1948. There are a couple other cartoons from the mid Famous Studio period where Popeye ad-libs - debunking the myth that Mercer stopped completely once the Popeye cartoons started being produced by Famous.


video

19 comments:

Thad said...

Wasn't that last bit from "Pre-Hysterical Man" reused from "Klondike Casanova"? Gotta love how they didn't want to pay royalties for Bluto...

p spector said...

What was Golden doing in the very early 1960s? Was he in a creative exec position outside of Famous? I have some of my fathers's invoices and ledger entries with what I think is his name on them.

Bob Jaques said...

Thad - Yes, the insidious crime of re-use was perpetrated in Pre-Hysterical Man.:) Though you can't get better re-use than a piece of Johnny Gent's animation.

Paul - I have seen Tom Golden's credit on some of the Koko cartoons produced by Hal Seegar. Other than that, I'm not sure what happened to him after Famous.

Thad said...

Well sheeyut, I didn't mean anything by it. I just notice these things.

BTW, I think just about ALL of Symphony in Spinach ('48) was ad-libbed... to its detriment, since it feels out of place. (Hep Cat Symphony from the same year did a better job of emulating the Freleng musical-comedy cartoons.)

Bob Jaques said...

I was just making fun of those who condemn re-use. I can see if it was done sloppily like in some of the Clampett cartoons but in this case it was integrated well and done in Golden's drawing style.

Wigwam Whoopee is another example of a heavily ad-libbed cartoon.

Rick Roberts said...

I LOVE Mercer's ad-libs. You should listen him voice The Professor in Felix the Cat.

Jan said...

I am surprised that nobody ever mentions Tex Avery's extremely tiresome, ubiquitous, and endless re-use. I found the Droopy DVD set practically unwatchable because every cartoon on it was either a carbon copy of, or lifted 90% of the gags from, every preceding cartoon.

p spector said...

Jan, if a person can't lift from oneself, or the best of what came before, then whom else would one lift from?

Jan said...

Hey, p spector,

Thank you for replying to my comment. I just think that it's a shame that Tex Avery, who was clearly phenomenally talented and produced some of the best cartoons in history, let himself down by repeating his material to such a very unreasonable extent. For instance, the gag in 'Dumb-Hounded', where the Wolf crosses seven continents in order to escape from Droopy and then finds him wherever it is he has arrived can only be extremely effective ONCE. When used for the 20th time in a row, it gets tiresome. And how many times has the ending of 'Senor Droopy' been re-used? I don't mind some of the re-use in the Fleischer and Famous Popeye cartoons when it is done cleverly; I actually quite like 'Customers Wanted' and 'The Crystal Brawl', but NOT 'Popeye's 20th Anniversary' and 'Big Bad Sindbad'. I do really like Tex Avery, but I just wish he made more original cartoons rather than always re-making and re-using the same tried-and-tested gags.

p spector said...

Jan, I understand your point and agree with it in theory. Usually though, I just see these things as part of an artist's oeveure (or however that snooty French word is spelled).

Bob Jaques said...

Jan - to put this in perspective for you: I met Tex years ago on my first trip to LA and had the nerve to ask him why there were so many repeated gags in his cartoons. He said (I'm paraphrasing here) that when the cartoons were made the chances of seeing one with a similar gag were next to none. Some theaters would carry the MGM cartoons, others did not.

So when TV came along (and later video and DVD collections) you had the chance to see many in a row from different years of production, that may have the same gags. One has to keep in mind that these cartoons weren't intended to be seen that way.

Jan said...

Hey, Bob,

Thank you for your reply about Tex Avery. I was wondering whether you could give me your opinion about something relating to the Famous Studios Popeye cartoons. I know I've raised this before, and am probably getting to sound rather tiresome in going on about it, but I would really like to know what you think.

Why is it that Bluto consistently gets away with such weak punishments in the Famous cartoons despite doing so much physical harm to Popeye? Bluto is far more evil in the Famous cartoons than he ever was in the Fleischer shorts; he tries to murder Popeye in almost every episode, usually for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and yet all he receives as punishment is a single punch. Take 'How Green Is My Spinach', for example. Compare Bluto's one-punch punishment with the 600 or so heavy blows that Popeye suffered beforehand. In some episodes Bluto tries to kill Popeye and doesn't even get punched (like in 'Barking Dogs Don't Fite', which was really, really sick, and 'Swimmer Take All', where Bluto's punishment for trying to drown Popeye was coming second in a race). And then, in other episodes ('For Better Or Nurse', 'Beaus Will Be Beaus') Bluto even eats spinach and beats the tar out of Popeye. Literally, we NEVER see Bluto get a proper beat-down in the Famous shorts. Popeye, on the hand, is always being beaten up to within an inch of his life.

Why is this?

Martin Juneau said...

They have such interesting cartoons featuring Popeye in the 40's from Famous. But it's just a shame that Canadians TV channels didn't want to aired this unlike americans channels like Cartoon Network or Boomerang where they got free credits.

I'm not a specialist for animators but i find interesting to anaylse different animators who worked in the Popeye shorts over the years. I love how Olive is designed in the 40's shorts. Very close to the comic-strip before they being scrapped in the 50's.

Keep it up Bob!

Bob Jaques said...

Hey Jan,

Regarding your inquiry about the Bluto beatings - I really don't know. That would be a question better posed to those who wrote the cartoons. Or it could have been a studio edict to pace the cartoons that way. Who knows??

p spector said...

RE the Bluto vs Popeye beatings: I think it was part of the unofficial American code at the time of the Famous Popeyes (as well as in other genres...but not exclusively.) A hero like Popeye could never be allowed the same viciousness of a villian like Bluto; that's what separates them, else they'd be the same. The hero could only do as much as it takes to trounce the villian, and no more.
You saw the same concept in American film during the same period (Shane), until the anti-hero came along. Sam Peckinpaugh's westerns, for instance, were about the first I remember. But by the time DeNiro's Travis Bickle came along in Taxi Driver, it started to change, although more in the cinema than in animation. Anyway, that's my own pseudointellectual viewpoint.
Remember Jan, show mercy whenever possible.

Bob Jaques said...

Hey Paul,

Thanks for the comment. It makes perfect sense given the historical context you've put it in.

p spector said...

Bob, I would have written more except my local cable channel was running a Die Hard marathon.

Dave Mackey said...

Paul Spector: Tom Golden was working for Hal Seeger in the 60's, possibly on a freelance basis. He had credits on "Out of the Inkwell", "Milton The Monster" and "Batfink", always co-credited with animator Arnie Levy.

Whit said...

At least Avery has the professionalism to speed up long repeat gags (like traversing numerous continents, etc.) the second time they are used. It's amazing how many TV directors repeat material at the same speed, boring the crap out of the audience.