Thursday, December 18, 2008

Film #96: Oh How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning!

Max and Dave Fleischer were sibling animators who made film history with their long series of Betty Boop, Popeye, and Superman cartoons, and with their groundbreaking full-length 1939 movie Gulliver's Travels (the first non-Disney animated feature and the first film to use a process of animation called rotoscoping, based on tracings of live action images, later popularized further by 70s/80s-era animator Ralph Bakshi). In 1932, the Fleischers also unwittingly helped pioneer the art form of the music video with Oh How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning, a promotional clip for Irving Berlin's song, here spiritedly sung on-screen and off by those powder-faced "Wandering Minstrels" Les Reis and Artie Dunn. After a chorus or two, Reis & Dunn's early-Gramophone-flavored harmonies act as score for the Fleichers' playful illustrations in which absolutely everything--even the morning bell--is waking up before the army grunts at a sluggish boot camp.

There's no plot at all to this piece--it really does resemble a "Wandering Minstrels" video, with the Fleichers generously throwing in a Betty Boop cameo, a bouncing-ball sing-a-long segment, and a clever blend of animation and live-action. I saw this short once on AMC, back when the network was still cool and commercial-free, and somehow I've always remembered it--maybe because the song itself is so catchy. It IS an Irving Berlin creation, after all (it was performed by Berlin, George Murphy, and Charles Butterworth in Michael Curtiz's 1943 film of the songwriter's wartime stage revue This Is The Army). I, personally, do despise getting up in the morning, so it's the kind of ditty that's fun for me to hum sometimes, y'know...to help get me through the dreaded A.Ms. Anyway, there's a mother lode of teeny, delightful animated moments here--some surprising in their surrealism, others in their charming obviousness. As usual with the Fleichers' work, Oh How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning fleetly chugs along, with its simple construction from a plotless string of visual gags being a pro rather than con. And, hey, dig that 30s-era pop music sound--talk about a window into another era! How can ya not love it?

2 comments:

NoirishCity.... said...

Hi! Dean,
Meow, Meow...Marty and Angelo...two of the coolest!... Oops!... cutest cats!
Being an artist, I like animation in any form and that most definitely, include the Fleischer Bros. Dean check out! the following link below...When you get time!...
http://www.archive.org/details/superman_1941
Take care!
The "Dame"

NoirishCity.... said...

Hi!Dean,
I hope that you, Marty and Angelo have a Very Merry Christmas! and Happy New Year!...(I am so sorry!
for being "obsessed" haha!...(I think "obsessed" is not the "right word" to use!)with Marty and Angelo, two of the most pampered cats that I have had the good fortune to look upon!)
Take care!
The "Dame"

p.s. Btw, I am watching your Oscar@
choices (picks) very "closely" because your top 30 countdown was very popular!