Friday, May 18, 2012

I'm Done

Yes, I'm done with the lenghty retyping of my orchestration of a piece by Schoenberg. Here's a sneak peek of the first page. Recordings due in two weeks.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Felix Makes Meowsic

From this issue of film-specialized trade magazine Cinéa published in the dawn of talking features, Dec 1st, 1929, there's an article about the recent installment of sound recording studios next to the Pathé studios in Joinville-le-Pont, near Paris, courtesy of RCA. It also mentions that 8,500 US theaters out of roughly 20,000 would be equipped with sound material within the end of the year - this is quick considering that the first talkie was released a mere two years ago.
But the most interesting anecdote is the caption to the above illustration: we learn that the music and sound effects for the forthcoming Felix cartoons would be provided namely by Bernard Altschuler's Orchestra and Harry Edison, who according to this article from the Pittsburgh Press, dated Jul 13th, 1929 is a drummer who has been performing sound effects for various NBC programs.
A quick Google search has yielded only one Bernard Altschuler in the musical field so far: he was the younger brother of Modest Altschuler, founder of the Russian Symphony Orchestra of New York, and was a cellist there. He later wound up performing at NBC Radio. (source)
I cannot guarantee he is the one providing the soundtracks for the later Felixes, so let me know if I have been citing a namesake.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Wants To See You-Rope

13 April of 1938: The airport of Le Bourget -near Paris- is crowded with photographers and bystanders eagerly waiting for the arrival of Popeye the spinach-eating sailor, who in the midst of a world tour has finally landed after having sailed across the Uniked Stakes and Londdin by boat and plane. He'll be staying in Paris for a few days to teach bystanders to be strong to the finich prior to leaving to Brussels and Hamster-dame.

This Popeye was a full-scale doll (Ha! You've been had. Admit it.)

The article was sourced from Paris-based daily newspaper Le Petit Parisien.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

And Now for a Break...

I've decided to spare your eyes for this particular post; this time you will feast your eyes on those really strange patterns shaped with ice seen on these pictures I took a month ago, in the midst of a cold wave spreading all over Europe.

Some more stuff... this nifty newspaper ad for Felix the Cat (now with glorious Western Electric sound!) dated August 15, 1930, with no specific title, and apparently destined primarly to film projectionists—as revealed by the magazine it was sourced from. Still can't make out the illustrator's name though.

Here's another ad for a film rental office, this time from October 24, 1930:

As you can see, this office offered a selection of talkies, sing-a-longs, short sketches and cartoons. Unfortunately I cannot associate these titles to a specific film—though Jeannot Lapin is familiar for being associated with titles featuring Oswald the rabbit.
All of these films could be delivered in 33 1/2 disc format.

And to end this post, have a look at this very classy illustration for the Snow-White bracelet, courtesy of the Cartier jewelry—this ad was published in the June 1938 issue of a women's magazine (Femina). Who is to say that cartoons and haute-couture don't mix?

Monday, March 5, 2012

More Bosco! --uh... Bosco??

Yes, this guy. Bosko of the Looney Tunes fame. (don't ask me why the promoters misspelled the name).
Resuming the -relatively small- series of articles about Bosko, here is that review of Congo Jazz from Les Spectacles d'Alger (Alger was part of the French colonial empire back then), published in Nov. 19, 1930 -- probably a good three months after its initial American release. With the sophisticated prose seen very often in newspapers of the time.
Note how the author -apparently- gave this cartoon a running time of 20 minutes (!). The role of the musical score is emphasized.
"There's novelty, verve,  jeunesse, and genius". Thus were the critic's words. You be the judge:

And back we go to Europe in Dec. 19, 1930, this time to read the review of Contre-enquête (one of several local adaptations of Warner's Those Who Dance ) as seen in Les Spectacles (once again!). Two cartoons are mentioned in the ending of the article:
Bosco en voyage suggest something along the lines of "Bosko goes on a trip" etc., likely Box Car Blues.
Bosco policier casts Bosko as a policeman... we'll associate this title with Big Man from the North.
But here we are, confronted to an issue: how is it that the French audience got to see the latter of the two  in December of 1930 while the cartoon is given a later release date in American screens -usually Jan or Feb of 1931-? It is possible that Big Man from the North was initially shown earlier than most sources state - pinning down the exact release date is made mind-numbingly difficult by the lack of copyright notices.

Unfortunately, good things must come to an end, and to paraphrase an infamous Nickelodeon promo, "No more Bosko. Sorry, Bosko!"

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Scavenging From (Digitized) Moist Paper

I've had lots of fun searching through vintage newspapers...
Where do you find details of events from the past you may have never heard of before?
Where do you find critical information about a seemingly mysterious event from the past?
If you guessed correctly, you'll be rewarded a double vanilla-chocolate ice cream with whipped cream and almonds. Basically, they are snapshots of social life at a given date.
 And because I love cartoons - heck, who doesn't?, I, for this time, will share vintage news articles relating to cartoons.
OK, who here can tell what we're seeing? (I somehow have the feeling that I'll have to keep my ice cream for myself) This is an article from a french-language weekly entertainment trade magazine christened Les Spectacles - and run by the Syndicate of Film Renters from Lille, dated May 23rd, 1930, reporting Warner and Vitaphone's announcement of a series of 12 Looney Tunes (check out the ridiculously corny translation: "Folles Rengaines"!), in which would star Bosco and his petite amie. There's a mention of the first one already out in American screens. Then followeth a statement on how the musical score make the cartoons "international" and give the audience's interest a boost, and how, to put it in modern language, "this is gonna be a success".
Michael Barrier mentions a three-year contract signed by Harman and Ising with Schlesinger on January 28th, 1930 resulting in the making of Looney Tunes
More to come on next posts!