Monday, September 19, 2011

Big Chief Edit-Reassemble-Edit (Conjecture Post)

This post was prompted by blog reader J Lee's comment left on the 'Date to Edit' post -

"There's also an out-of-sequence scene in an earlier 1938 Willard Bowsky Popeye cartoon, "Big Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh", where the segments with the fire starting and the bow shooting and split in two, with the Indians' actions in the middle of the cartoon and Popeye's reactions moved to after he eats his Spinach at the end. Both gags can be merged together into a pair of seamless scenes."

After reading J Lee's comment I decided to edit and reassemble the scenes of animation cited in his comment. It started to look like a different cartoon had been originally planned and on a hunch I edited the rest of the cartoon to work around the reassembled scenes of animation, taking an educated guess at what the scene order may have been. (I'm assuming it was originally planned without the edits and I'm also assuming that there was no extra story material cut)

I always felt the screen direction of 'Big Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh' was awkward and after starting to edit I realized the scenes could be shifted to clean it up. It all seems to fit together well (apart from the post synched dialogue) but makes a less exciting cartoon.


Daniel [] said...

This is one of the more interesting posts that I've seen here in the year that I've been following this 'blog.

Naturally, I now wonder whether this sort of analysis could produce insight into the (re)structuring of other classic animated work.

J Lee said...

Thanks for going through all the work to reassemble the scenes in their proper order (or at least the way they animated prior to editing). Looking at the end product, the post-spinach payoff is both brief and soft, especially for a Willard Bowsky Popeye, since he really liked to put the sailor through the wringer before the final fight scene, which in turn would make the payback more satisfying for the audience.

The cartoon as finally released gives Popeye more to do after eating his spinach, but you're right that building the fireplace, shooting the sun and only then roping the tribe after they tried to burn him at the stake feels disjointed (and to conjecture a little more; didn't Gus Wicke die about this time? I never have seen an exact date, only that he supposedly died in 1938. This was his last cartoon, and if he happened right around this time I wonder if that affected any of the production).

R.A. MacNeil said...

Interesting insight into Dave Fleischer's style of direction and the value he placed on screen direction and continuity versus pacing.

In the edited version the post-spinach pay off comes so quickly, and with so little resistance, it feels anti-climatic. The cutting in the original might be a bit clunkier, but it makes for a more satisfying viewing experience.

Great post!

Thad said...

Probably in the minority on this, but I prefer your edit to the real thing. Of course, it's a 'C' title for sure, either way.

Hobo Divine said...

Fine combo sleuthing Bob & J Lee!

I guess it makes sense considering Fleischer's always had a great rhythm/tempo and flow to their work.

I remember seeing these as a kid on Buffalo 29.
If the intro was in B/W with the sliding doors I would get really excited! (and vice-versa if it wasn't).

Anyway... all I have to say is they really designed their cartoons to be entertaining first!
The War Dance turning into the Charleston. Songs using broken-English to rhyme with, and the broad pantomime playing it to the balcony. So silly!

The arcs and the rhythm of the Fleischer cartoons are nothing shy of hypnotic. Not to mention all the artwork is tonally blocked out (perfectly).

So... what happened I mean obviously they had a "pipeline" too, except theirs worked.

Thanks for posting! :)