Friday, 8 July 2011

Cannon's Bugs

As I've started to become really interested in Warner Bros. animation as well as I'm interested in Disney animation, I've decided that I might want to start identifying some Warner animator's work, and here is my first attempt that I'm going to go through in analysis.

A scene I'm going to go through with some poses is a scene by Robert "Bobe" Cannon in the short Hold the Lion, Please  which is an early Bugs Bunny Chuck Jones short. Ken Harris is the only animator credited on that short and he animated the animals earlier in the short and other scenes, inc. the shot with the Lion on the phone to his wife.

The shot I'm referring to is when Bugs Bunny has already encountered the Lion, who is apparently the "King of the Jungle", and he tries to prove to his kingdom that he's King and able to kill a rabbit. Bugs Bunny pretends that he's scared and acts as though he's having a panic attack. It's one of my favourite bits of animation in Warner animation so far, and I like the animation style of Bobe Cannon. A very funny animator, and very expressive, who seems to move everything around on animation. He's really had some career at MGM, UPA, and Disney. An overlooked animator.

Here is the first bits of Bugs Bunny talking to the Lion, and trying to explain that he would run away if he was hunting a rabbit, before realizing that he's being hunted:

I really like the quick speed lines that Cannon provides in the animation of Bugs' hands that he uses to demonstrate. It's very flexible, and it really reminds me of Cannon's style, as he often made his animated characters move fast. I also like on how he prods at the lion's nose, and pokes his nose like a cushion.

Notice that in that pose, that while Bugs is still talking, Cannon widens Bugs' pupils to express fear, and the sarcasm Bugs was going to prepare.

This is my favourite facial expression in this shot where Cannon puts in a lot of expression with the mouth and the eyes widening. It's very powerfully expressed here, where Bugs says the line, "I am scared", the timing of the mouth and the eyes widening is just pure gold.

I like how Cannon lowers the ears, everytime Bugs says a verse on how terrified he REALLY is when the meek lion says he's trying to kill him. The way that the ears lower and the music timing is excellent, and I've got to praise Cannon here.

Another example which shows that Cannon's expressive animations, with the pupils moving sideways, and the facial expressions showing him with the scared look on his face is just priceless.

Wonderful Bugs Bunny facial expression here, this makes myself aware of Cannon's crazy animation style. I like how he seems to put bags under Bugs's eyelids, and the hair sticking out in the neck, and also the stretched mouth while he screams. The shot reminds me a lot of John Lounsbery's work on Jaq in Cinderella where the mice try to steal the beads and sash while Lucifer the cat is guarding.

I like here on how Cannon moved Bugs well on paper, from the first few feet of  that scene, Bugs is very close to the screen and then he runs further away, and then back into a good close up. This is a good achievement back in 1942.

 Bugs finds his way back onto the camera close-ups.

I love the looks on Bugs' face (above the writing), with the goofy look.

"Shriek, shriek - scream, scream..." Bugs being sarcastic as he pantomines.
Wonderful Bugs Bunny facial expression here, this makes myself aware of Cannon's crazy animation style. I like how he seems to put bags under Bugs's eyelids, and the hair sticking out in the neck, and also the stretched mouth while he screams.

This here shows a crazy cycle where Bugs Bunny hops away pretending to panic as the Lion is just standing there, baffled. Bugs was rather astute in that scene, because he knew how meek the Lion was, and that he was powerless, and Bugs pretending to be scared meant that Leo would not do anything. I also love the voice of Tedd Pierce who provided the voice of the lion, and Tedd is also another great Warner story guy (along with guys like Michael Maltese, Warren Foster, Dave Monahan, etc.).

With this shot, I've actually always been curious with the lines placed by the lion's face. Are they reaction shots of the lion, or is it film scratches?

I remember when I first saw the cartoon Hold the Lion, Please when I was about 8 years old and there used to be an old VHS copy I had on Tom and Jerry and there were clips for a Looney Tunes clip, and they showed about two minutes of Hold the Lion, Please. I must say, I've always thought that the shots with Bugs pretending to be scared were the ending shots because of the "fade to black" shots, and the fact that the clips in the VHS copy went straight to the That's All, Folks! title cards.

It was a few years later when I finally got to see a good look at the cartoon, and I didn't realize that there was still a good chunk in there that wasn't included in the VHS tape. I missed out the Mrs. Bugs Bunny part - where Bugs claims that "he wears the pants in his family".

It's one of my favourite Warner cartoons because it was one I've always been familiar with for a long time, and I always liked the personality of the lion, as he's the king of the jungle and very powerless, thanks to Tedd's story genius. What I find funny is that they say that lions are the "King of the Jungle", when lions don't even live in jungles - they live in the Savannah - so they could be called "King of the Savannah".

I hope to do more analysis on particular scenes of well known shots by the Warner animators, and take a look and learn. I hope you have enjoyed this post.


Phil said...

Steven, thanks for this WB-related post. I've always been much more of a fan of Warners than of Disney, mainly because of the pace and economy of the shorts, especially as they evolved through the 1940s and 1950s. Chuck Jones' work with Bugs and Daffy was astonishing - I hope you do some more analysis of these in the future. Have you ever read Chuck Jones' book? He was a great philosopher when it came to his characters, as well as being a great visual artist.

Steven Hartley said...

You mean "Chuck Amuck"? - No I haven't yet, but I do know that he had some rivalry with Leon Schlesinger or Bob Clampett.

Pokey said...

I preferred, Phil, the 1940s to the 50s, as Warner cartoon in 1959 had finally detoriated. Bugs and Daffy together as enemies made no sense to me, though some good cartoons ID come from that teaming,and the two Bogs (Clampett, the creator of most of those characters), Friz, Tex, Art Davis, and Frank Tashlin, and Harman and Ising need to be particuarly mentioned. THat said I like Chuck, but mostly for his forties work."Dover Boys", and "Fresh Airedale". Strange but important justice message in those ones (a man I won 't reveal gets "Dora Backslide" in the first, and guess which pet wins in the second).

I also like Disney, and MGM and even Lantz olcciaisonally..

PS As you can see, I've enjoyed the late Art Clokey's work---not the 1980s revival of his characters but the 1950s-60s.