Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Brave Little Tailor Part 3

It's interesting that two of the animators most closely identified with Mickey, Les Clark and Fred Moore, have so little to do in this cartoon. I have to assume that they were busy on other films. It's likely that Moore was working on the version of Pinocchio that was scrapped.

As in Mr. Duck Steps Out and The Little Whirlwind, Clark gets the entrance of the main character. I'm sure that he earned those opportunities through the quality of his work. The scene of Mickey swatting the flies contains some lovely, subtle distortions of Mickey's head and hands when he first goes after the bugs.

Moore has a couple of scenes and scene 45 is the best, with some nice acting. Mickey has to put on a brave face for Minnie, but his real feelings come out as soon as he turns away from her. It's interesting to see how Moore's Mickey is shorter and squatter than Frank Thomas's.

Ollie Johnston gets the montage sequence after Mickey swats the flies. It's more action than acting, but it's vigorously animated and the drawings are solidly proportioned even when the characters are moving in perspective. Ollie also gets a couple of Mickey scenes. 73A looks like it was added as an afterthought to focus the audience on Mickey pulling out his needle. There's a continuity error on the width of the thread between this scene and the Roy Williams scenes that bookend it.

Riley Thomson's king has a wonderful fleshiness to his jowls and great follow through on his robes. While Frank Thomas takes over the king once Mickey arrives, I think that I like Riley Thomson's version better. It has a greater presence. Thomson also gets some scenes of Mickey; there's good acting in scene 48 and a great scramble exit in 49A.

Don Patterson seems to get the short end of the stick in this cartoon, getting stuck with crowd scenes and long shots. He went on to do great animation at MGM, but it looks like the Disney studio didn't trust him with big scenes at this point.

Roy Williams does the scenes of Mickey inside the giant's mouth. That's imagery worthy of the Fleischer cartoons of the early '30's and it's helped along by excellent effects animation by Cornett Wood.

This is the last Disney cartoon directed by Burt Gillet to be released. I want to talk about him in a future entry.

9 comments:

Thad K said...

I think Don Patterson's best work was at Lantz. He was a fantastic director and did the best Woody Woodpecker shorts of the 1950s, IMO. His animation for Alex Lovy's unit is great (and hilarious) as well.

It's a shame that he was demoted to animator while Paul Smith slowly but surely took Lantz to Hell in a handbasket!

- Thad

Anonymous said...

Don Williams was the animator on "The Brave Little Tailor".I Talked with Don many times about the scene in the giant's mouth.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention that Don Williams also animated on"Lonesome Ghost". He worked under supervision from Freddy Moore and Bill Tytla.

Mark Mayerson said...

Hi Anonymous. I'd love to know who you are and where you talked to Don Williams about this.

I don't doubt you, but unfortunately there's confusion. Both Roy and Don Williams were animating at Disney during this time period. Alberto Becattini's listings specifically say that Roy Williams animated on this cartoon, but I have no idea how Becattini determined this.

Can you add any hard facts to help clear up the mystery?

Jenny said...

Mark: I was eager to see the drafts for this at the Archives in '81, as I'd seen it excerpted so many times on TV specials, etc. and was certain that Fred must have had a big hand in it. Well, as you see he did really just that scene with "I hope!"---which is nice, for sure, but hardly the scenes I was expecting; those turned out to be Frank Thomas. But rather than simply being off doing other things, I'd bet that Fred was supervising Frank very closely on this...in fact, given that Fred was associated with it at all(as he was), it'd be bizarre if he didn't oversee and guide Frank and the other animators on Mickey, as this was the pinnacle of Fred/Mickey's era...it's much the same situation as on the Sorceror's Apprentice" segment on Fantasia--no actual animation from Fred, but likely a lot of "helping" from him. What do you think? Sadly, Frank isn't here to tell us, but I'd bet Barrier or someone knows...

Anonymous said...

My name is James Walker, I have been letting Jenny LaRuh post my Freddy Moore material.I have been in animation since 1969.I worked with Don Williams at Hanna Barbera and DePattie Freling.The only hard facts I have are Don's words.He told the story of when he animated the scene of mickey in the giant's mouth when he viewed the pencil test with Walt , Walt loved the scene.But Don did'nt remember doing the scene because he was so intoxicated.Will try to search my memory for other Don Williams stories. Love your blo.

Mark Mayerson said...

James, thanks for the additional info. Hans Perk and I discussed the Williams question and the best info that Hans could offer was Alberto Becattini's belief that it was Roy. I'm happy to take your word for it being Don. At some point, I'll have to update the mosaics I've done for Brave Little Tailor and Lonesome Ghosts to make the correction.

Jenny, all I know is what I read in the drafts and see in the cartoon. The one thing that's clear is that Frank's Mickey is taller and older looking than the Mickey that Fred animated saying "I hope."

Did Fred give Frank poses to work from? Did he sweatbox scenes with Frank? Maybe. Unless somebody can dig up an interview relating to this cartoon, we may never know.

Besides Williams, Thomas and Moore, I also have a lot of questions about Burt Gillet and how he worked as a director. I'll get to those in an entry "upstairs."

Ward Jenkins said...

All this is fascinating to me. This is one of my favorite Mickey Mouse cartoons, and it's been a pleasure to find out who did exactly what on it.

Thanks for working so hard on all this! We are certainly appreciative of it.

darrinw said...

Hi, I'm Don William's grandson. I've just started trying to research his career and fill some gaps in my knowledge about his life. Since my mother's death, the only links I have to him are old photos and a stack of animation pages.

He had worked from the thirties on at Warner Brothers and Disney. He has a lot of credits from '35 through the war years. After that, according to my mother, his drinking got him black-balled from the industry so he went to New York and produced TV. In the sixties, he returned and worked for DePattie/Freling and Hanna/Barbera.

If anyone could tell me more about the man who was my idol growing up, it would mean a lot.

Darrin Walter
snowonroof@hotmail.com