Monday, 17 December 2007

Tex Avery "The House of Tomorrow" (Visions of Future Past 3)

Texd Avery was one of America’s finest and most popular animation directors of the last century. His output reads like a pantheon of cartoons. On his arrival in 1935 at Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies Cartoon Studio he was told by the studio director to be as much like Walt Disney as possible. It is his 1949 The House of Tomorrow that is today’s featured movie in my compilation Visions of Future Past. Now when a class of 15 and 16 year olds laugh aloud at something produced nearly 60 years ago you know it must be good. Though mild by today's tastes the movie was clearly produced for an adult audience, apparently men with mother-in-laws. It commences with a house mushrooming to all its splendour from a matchbox sized cube. All members of the household have their own entrance of various sizes though the mother-in-law's appears to be padlocked and bolted. Ignoring the in-law jokes, and disregarding the references to the wife as belonging to a different era, the movie is genuinely funny. It's a house bursting with mod cons: the air conditioning and humidifier is a cloud that releases rain, the sunbed flips the user over like egg in a pan, and there's a chair that adjusts itself for each individual user - the mother-in-law gets an electric chair! And so on. My favourite gag concerns the glass door in the refrigerator to enable the owner to discover what happens to the light when you open and close the door. What is so surprising is the modern nature of the house that underpins so much of the movie. Yes, the jokes concern the absurdities and extremes of the inventions but there is an awareness of modern living that is revealing particularly given the state of post war Britain in the 1940s. Thanks to those enthusiasts who post on YouTube you can enjoy one of the classic cartoons. This includes two more in the "Tomorrow" series from Avery.

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