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Thursday, 23 April 2009

Tex Avery "One Cab's Family" (1952)





Readers of the Animation Blog will know of my love for the old Warner Brothers and MGM classics directed by Tex Avery. He gathered a team of outstanding talents around him mining for gags like they were seams of gold, each movie consequently full of nuggets. One Cab's Family was made in 1952, two years before MGM disbanded its animation department of which Tex was the leader. The cartoon is not quite so ostentatious in its exaggeration as most of Tex's material, developing a touching story of father and son alongside the inevitable stream of gags, visual and verbal. The cartoon commences in breathless fashion as yellow cab dad drives frantically into the Automobile Hospital in expectation of the imminent arrival of his young son, a chip off the old engine block. We follow the cab's development from infant slurping oil from a teat, to tearaway hot rod. Drama and tragedy ensues with tension aplenty as the team of mechanics perform an emergency service. Lots of gags as I say, the scriptwriters Rich Hogan and Roy Williams exhausting every conceivable play on words in which automobiles are portrayed as people. "Now, Junior, when you grow up and get all your cylinders are you going to be a nice taxi cab like your daddy?" Of course he isn't. And in typical fashion the team manage to get the girlie legs revealed as the boy racer's slipstream has an uplifting effect. Nor should I ignore the genuine drama of the train crash that, for a moment, breaks through the humour. 1952 was a good year for Tex, with Magical Maestro and Rock-A-Bye-Bear. He had as ever a great team of animators, Grant Simmons, Michael Lah and Walter Clinton who were responsible amongst many classics for Ventriloquist's Cat or The House of Tomorrow. A most readable and informative blog on material from the era is that of Kevin Langley, Cartoons, Model Sheets & Stuff.

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