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Sunday, 1 April 2012

John Hubley "Rooty Toot Toot" (1952)





Some films never age and the great John Hubley's 1952 Rooty Toot Toot perhaps is one, though I'll get to that. The ballad of Frankie and Johnny provides the plot for the seven minute short, all of it sung by Annette Warren (who provided the singing voice for Ava Gardner in the 1951 Show Boat) and Thurl Ravenscroft from a script by Hubley and Bill Scott. It's a tale of infidelity drawn out before twelve persons on the jury. As we hear, Johnny is spooked by the imminent arrival of his lover, Frankie, whilst dallying a while with the sultry Nelly Bly. Frankie wastes no time in delivering her verdict on the nature of the relationship even before he has greeted her, as three bullet holes through the hard wood door testify. In consequence, Johnny sadly was unable to appear for the prosecution in his murder case. Nellie is awfully plausible in her evidence however, her voice almost grinding to a halt mid syllable, arms fully twisted together. Frankie's alibi as relayed by her lawyer, Honest John the Crook, is a convincing rebuttal, explaining how pure and demure Frankie did not do the deed and how bullets can change trajectory several times, plus defeat the laws of time itself. Never underestimate the skills of a good lawyer. We have a few here in the UK and I guess there are similar in your own countries. In summation Honest John the Crook addresses the jury: "You have asked for the truth without compunction. I have performed the fiction ah .. that function." I am treading a well trodden route with this animation. Amid Amidi's always informative blog, Cartoon Modern has a thread on Hubley, that itself draws on the peerless Michael Sporn. Hubley certainly has his admirers. Admire for yourself the style of the piece, the lissome movement of the characters, the elegant drawn lines of the artwork, economical if bold smidgens of colour, plus the interplay between the music and movement. Not to mention a truly modern, truly amoral lead character. Of course, Johnny did her wrong.... So that's all right then. He deserved it. As I said, a truly modern film.

1 comment:

Osaru-yo said...

Nice! This remind me of the early60's edition of tom and jerry animated by Chuck Jones. Well a more modern version that is. I enjoy the simplistic animation and the comic soundscape and character deformation. A real unique style, they don't make them like that anymore^^.