Friday, 23 July 2010

Peet's Claims

My fingers are now better, and I'm going to put the crows sequence from Dumbo shelved for a while, and its the summer holidays for me, so I'm able to do more posts throughout the summer!
However, I'm going to talk about the same topic on Dumbo, but instead its about Bill Peet's involvement on the film, and as you know you're probably familiar with Michael Sporn's postings about Bill Peet doing storyboards on the Dumbo bathing sequence.
BUT, you're all mostly familiar with the Bill Peet interview on Hoagan's Alley, and on Bill Peet's website and here's what he said in his interview with Michael Barrier in 1978:
"The thing was, I was a circus buff, so Dumbo was great chance for me to get in and do a lot of boards. That was the first time Walt really noticed my work. Since I knew the circus, and had done so much sketching at the circus, the old big top circus, I just loved working on that thing."
Obviously, Bill Peet enjoyed himself working on the film, and you're probably familiar with his claims on re-animating a Bill Tytla scene, the time Bill Tytla was the top animator, and nobody could top him then, but Bill did mention that he had no expierence of animating elephants, and here are the claims in Hogan Alley's interview:
Walt got a little stingy with us on Dumbo because they had a showpiece with Bambi. They could play around with little things like the raindrops. Beautiful, but slow and expensive. We weren’t allowed any trimmings. Bambi was a wedding cake. Dumbo was one layer with a little bit of icing. Ours was more successful because it had common appeal, even though the animation was crude in some places. Dumbo didn’t make big money. It had only cost $800,000, so all it had to do to make its cost back was go a little over $1 million. The other features had cost $3 million, plus the cost of the prints, and with no foreign market because of the war.
I like how Bill Peet said that Bambi was a gorgeous beautiful wedding-cake, and very glamorous, while Dumbo was just an ordinary small cake with little icing with nothing special on it! Good one, Bill ;)
PROVINCE: Two of the best, Bill Tytla and Fred Moore, worked on Dumbo.
PEET: People were always amazed at Bill Tytla, that he could draw the giant devil for “Night On Bald Mountain,” and the giant in “Brave Little Tailor;” these ponderous, muscled characters, and then do this little elephant. After he got his first scene on Dumbo, he passed me in the hall and said, “Y’know, Bill, I can’t draw these goddamned little elephants. If I send Nick [his assistant] up with the scene, would you see if you could work it out?” Nick brought up this stack of drawings, Bill’s scene where the elephants first appear was just a mess. So I went over every one of them, probably a couple of hundred drawings, every damned frame in the picture, and redrew the whole scene. They shot the pencil test and showed it to Walt. He was ecstatic! Nick came up and told me, “Walt loved that thing, and I want to shake your hand!” Well, Bill never bothered to thank me, Walt either.
However, I don't know who Nick the assistant is, but all I can say is that I don't think Bill Peet was actually reanimating all of Tytla's scenes, since most of the Dumbo stuff looks like Tytla and plus the draft would actually mention any artists who would have reanimated anything, and...NOPE! I don't see Bill Peet's name in that draft, but could all of the BG Morgue drafts be true? However, we have heard about Hans Perk's mentions about Frank Thomas planning the entire 'Fun in the Snow' sequence and yet Frank Thomas was only mentioned in a few scenes? Now, who did do the rest of the animation, if Frank did very little?
However, there's this picture of Bill Peet that looks like he's doing an animation test on Dumbo being pulled by Mrs. Jumbo's trunk. A BIG maybe that he drew some Dumbo poses or some tests and then Bill Tytla reanimated his scenes, but I think Bill Peet over-exaggerated about reanimating, but could this photograph have anything to do with the claims in his interview.
WAIT!!! This isn't it, Bill Peet mentioned in his interview about Fred Moore and its another claim of reanimating about Freddie's drawings, and this time its on the sequence with Timothy Mouse being drunk after being mistaken with alcohol and thought it was drinking water. Now, Fred's animation is recognisable and we all know his long time credit on animating Timothy Mouse and Bill Peet (I think) over-exaggerated BIG TIME!
Again, at the time who could top Fred Moore or Bill Tytla, they were like the Albert Einstein of Golden-Age of Hollywood Animation, and Bill Peet was at the time just an ordinary sketch-artist who wouldn't receive a lot of recognition in later films! Here's what Bill had to say about Fred Moore:
PROVINCE: Fred Moore is often described as the boy genius of the studio.
PEET: There’s nobody that good. He was a great Mickey Mouse artist (true you know). He had the juices and was very creative. He created the dwarfs for Snow White, and he had a real loose, natural style and was a natural for animation. He gave a new flexibility to the whole art of animation. I think he was too young when he hit his peak, for one thing. He was only twenty-four. Freddy drank himself out of sight and got a little bit cocky and thought he was too good for the whole thing. He would hardly do any drawing, and his assistants would cover up for him. He thought you could draw and drink and you can’t do that. I worked on the mouse [in Dumbo] a lot for Freddy. It was his last big animation assignment. Ironically it was the drunken mouse scene. The champagne bottle falls into the tub of water, and the bubble comes up and then the mouse falls into the tub. Freddy just couldn’t draw a mouse that didn’t look like Mickey. It was so ingrained in him after drawing just thousands of them. The nose was too round, so I went over Freddy’s things including the storyboards. Freddy did a fine animation job on it, but I refined his drawings so they looked like Timothy. That was the last thing he ever did and it turned out to be one of his best jobs. Walt let him go on for a long time after that until it got to be too much. He went over to Walter Lantz and couldn’t handle it over there either. He later died in an automobile accident.
And yet, there'e no proof of how Bill Peet could have reanimated a the drunk mouse scene, and I think its too much pressure and exaggeration, however he was right that Fred Moore left Disney to work for Walter Lantz briefly on Woody Woodpecker, and unfortunately Fred had a hard time at Lantz and he hardly got any credit on the Woody shorts (mind you, I don't even know what Woody stuff he animated), and he was correct that when Fred sadly died in November 23, 1952 when he was killed in a car collision. Gosh, what a talented animator Fred Moore has been. So anyway it couldn't have been Bill Peet.
However, (this is my opinion about Fred), of course Fred Moore has been a star at Disney ever since he first came and became the Mickey Mouse celebrity, and he was assigned to Animation Supervision on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and where he animated the lovable seven dwarfs (well, I don't know about Grumpy being lovable), and when he went to work on Pinocchio to animate Lampwick and a bit of Gepetto, and I think that at that point, Fred Moore was doing less animation at the studio and features probably ruined his career, because on Pinocchio he animated 40 scenes in the picture (compare it to the other animation supervisors on the film - he did the least animation amongst the Animation Directors), and I think that animating Timothy Mouse was his last BIG assignment as Bill Peet said and Dumbo is a short film and I think Fred Moore did much of the work in the film. 64 Minutes long the film is and Fred Moore did 34 scenes in the picture which was lot of work for him in this one-hour film.
However, during the 1940's Disney years, he did some work on the package films, and in 1946 he was one of the many people to lose their jobs in the lay-offs, and he worked for Walter Lantz briefly and working there didn't work out right for poor Fred and returned to Disney a year later and was demoted as 'character animator' on Alice in Wonderland and animated oysters; then animated the mermaids in Peter Pan.
Ward Kimball mentioned Fred Moore in later years of his short life that he became rather depressed: there's a bit of Ward Kimball's interview on Fred Moore on Steve Hulett's interview:
Fred would hit a pose and just freeze there and while we were already loosening those things up and putting in the subtle things that would keep [the animation] alive a long time. That’s what I meant, that at that time Fred was drinking heavily, and I was secretly going in with his exposure sheets and adding these other little drawings that would make them work with the rest of the animation that was being done on the picture.
And more and more, Fred became defensive, and hitting the bottle and feeling sorry for himself. He’d come back from lunch and would want to talk about it, and of course we didn’t want to talk about it. And he wanted to talk about it every afternoon, how the place was giving him a bad deal, and all that, and Walt wasn’t good to him any more.

We just felt sorry for him. We didn’t know what to do and all of a sudden ... you know his brother and father, they had the same drinking problem. We didn’t know that. We’d all go out and have a martini, and with Fred it would become an obsession. And it became an escape when he couldn’t handle the situation in the studio.
Bless that man. <:(
[[Addition]]: Michael Barrier emailed me about Bill Peet's claims, and his thoughts were that he thought that Bill Peet didn't animate any Tytla scenes, but probably helped Tytla with the animation, since there is a BIG difference between drawing and animation.


Eric Noble said...

I think Bill Peet made these claims in order to have himself established in Disney lore. In a world that doesn't particularly care about animation or the artists who make it, you have to take whatever credit you can get. I agree with Michael barrier on how he helped Tytla with the drawing. From there, Peet exaggerated his role in order to get some respect and credit he felt was due to him. That's just my opinion of course.

Steven Hartley said...

Yeah, Ward Kimball said that Peet got no credit and maybe that's why?