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Friday, December 19, 2008

"What If?" History: A Golden Age Termite Terrace Feature

Today my loyal followers, I ask an interesting question. Maybe a pointless question, but it's one I will ask nonetheless.

Could the men and women of Termite Terrace have created a feature film during their Golden Age?

There are arguments for both side in my opinion, and I think they both present a strong case.

Arguments for Why
Reason #1: Disney wasn't producing any big features at the time. They were producing the "package films" at this time. Because of this, Disney would not have been much competition for them.

Reason #2: World War Two made the Warner Brothers characters extremely popular. Warner Brothers had the right attitude for the time: brash and irreverent. Disney cartoons by this time seemed too dull and tame. Bugs Bunny toppled Mickey Mouse as the most popular cartoon character. The attitude of the cartoon studio reflected the general output of the Warner Brothers studio at large. Bugs Bunny has the same sarcastic attitude as Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney.

Reason #3: Termite Terrace produced a plethora of interesting and funny characters that are based in ACTUAL reality.

Reason #4: They could have taken the humor prevalent in their shorts to the features level. A feature from Termite Terrace could have been similar to the work of the Marx Brothers early films or maybe Laurel and Hardy. There could have been asolid situation idea, but was more focused on comedy rather than plot.

Reason #5: The draftsmanship of many of the animators reached new heights during the Golden Age. Great examples include the animation of Hitler in "Russian Rhapsody" or Scribner's animation of Humphrey Bogart in "Bacall to Arms"

However, despite these strengths, there were a lot of reasons working against them and why they couldn't make a film.

Arguments for Why Not
Reason #1: Three words: World War Two

Reason #2: The strength of their characters came from developing them over a period of many cartoons. The Bugs Bunny we know and love was not fully formed, not even by the time of Tex Avery's "A Wild Hare". In a normal animated feature, you have less than 90 minutes to develop a character, and usually the characters aren't as interesting as the ones in the shorts.

Reason #3: Would people have accepted a feature from the same studio who created Bugs Bunny?

Reason #4: With a staff smaller than the one at Disney, to make a feature would have meant that the production of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies would have had to cease for awhile, and do you think that upper-management would have allowed that?

Reason #5: The studio probably wouldn't have promoted the film the way Disney promoted theirs. They didn't have the foresight to see how popular Looney Tunes would become, and hindsight is 20/20.

Reason #6: Budgets would go down in the post-war years

Reason #7: Unlike Disney, Warner Brothers different units didn't have a unified style. There was a house style, but each unit had a different variation of said style
Bob Clampett

Friz Freleng

Chuck Jones

Robert McKimson

Final Verdict: I don't think it would be possible. Unless Termite Terrace had the same resources and funds that Disney had, it just can't be. Oh well, a guy can dream, can't he?

Thanks for listening and Merry Christmas to all.


joe bloke said...

and a merry christmas to you, too, fella. your posts continue to educate me.

Jim Smith said...

I love that image of Lauren Bacall sitting on Bogart's lap, (from Bacall to Arms?} That animation of her whistling is classic WB.