Thursday, 21 January 2010

Tex Avery "Symphony in Slang" (1951)

Made 59 years ago, Symphony in Slang takes the young fellow John up to the pearly gates where his idiomatic manner of speech bewilders St Peter and that famous dictionographer, Noah Webster. The short is a literal take on figurative language, essentially a collection of visual gags or puns, directed by Tex Avery, with design and layout by Tom Oreb and script from Rich Hogan. Ward Jenkins' blog has a good article on the movie including fascinating frame by frame presentations. Thus, in consecutive frames, as boy meets girl - my breath came in short pants, I got goose pimples, I was all thumbs, Mary’s clothes fitted her like a glove, she looked mighty pretty with her hair done up in a bun, she had good looking pins too…. and so on. The art of course lies in sequencing the gags in a reasonable manner, something that the script manages well enough, steaming through quick changing locations. His limited animation generally lacks detailed backgrounds or complex animation of much of Avery's output, with camera work being more straightforward for example. Notice the trendy young man, dashingly attired. As with fashion, some of the slang may well have dated but the comedy itself has weathered the sixty years since it was made. The battery of gags is sustained for the seven minutes or so. And how did Tom end up at the gates of heaven? (He died laughing.) Take care.


Jhay Phoenix said...

This is one of my all time favorite cartoons and a partial inspiration for an unpcoming project. They sure don't make em like these anymore!

Anonymous said...

I teach English in France and because most of these expression are of French origin, I ask my students to find the equvalent in French.Some idioms are still exactly the same while others are now old French yet again some of them changed meaning through these last centuries as the two languages ran parallel. For example 'dough', in French it is 'du ble' which is wheat!!