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Monday, 29 September 2008

Nick Uff "Ok Toots" & Dennis Potter "Pennies From Heaven"

















Harry Roy and his Orchestra and Band performed the ragtime number Okay Toots in the 1930s and it was featured in one of my favourite ever television series, Dennis Potter's absolutely fabulous Pennies From Heaven, first broadcast in the UK in 1978 and starring Bob Hoskins and the very lovely Cheryl Campbell. In the drama the use of naive, optimistic songs were juxtaposed with the declining fortunes of salesman Arthur Parker during the Great Depression (the rise of Nazism, build-up to World War). Okay Toots was one of the standout numbers. Which brings me, not before time, to OK Toots the animation. One of the finest and unsung animators in the country with a free-wheeling style that is entirely his own is Nick Uff whose work for Portishead is remarkable and covered elsewhere in the blog. Follow the link where I attempt to describe his technique and the influence of James Ensor. In his virtuoso OK Toots something of the flavour of excess and exploitation of the 1930s is revealed as, in a nightclub setting, hideous Mickey-Mouse lookalikes ogle dancing girls and money is exchanged, whilst guys are on the make and the band do their melodic best to mask proceedings, including a trumpet player-man who seems in one way or another to be at the centre of things. Decadence and gaiety both. There are no opening or closing credits, nothing to say it is Nick's work save a unique treatment of his subject - the galloping imagery, grotesque close-up and a priceless ability to animate one of the classic songs. And just to demonstrate the forgotten art of the master lyricist, here are the words to sing along to:
Ok my little toots, if you like me, I like you,/ We know nobody new will do, it's ok toots./ OK toots, if you say yes, then I say yes, if you say no, then it don't go, it's ok toots./ You know I'm in favour of whatever you do, I know I'm in favour of all the hugs and kisses, ok toots./ If you want dishes, I'll dry dishes, I'm ambitious, ok toots./

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