Tuesday, July 25

 

Officially Announcing a Friz Freleng Blog-A-Thon, August 21, 2006

As Jim Emerson of Scanners notes, there's been something of a spontaneous Tex Avery Blog-a-Thon happening in the past few days, started by Peet at Lost in Negative Space, and continued by That Little Round-Headed Boy, Dennis Cozzalio at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, and others. I think all of the cartoons singled out so far are great ones, particularly the ones starring Droopy Dog. But instead of picking out a personal favorite Tex Avery 'toon, I'm going to seize the moment to do something I've been putting off since (gulp) March: officially call for a Blog-A-Thon for Avery's contemporary Isadore "Friz" Freleng, on the day that would have been either his 100th (if you go by his grave marker) or 101st (if you go by his autobiography) birthday: August 21, 2006.

Friz Freleng's career started in his hometown Kansas City with Walt Disney and continued with the longest stint of any director at the Warner Brothers animation studio. But he also made time for a brief, six-cartoon run at MGM in the late 1930s and spent a lengthy period with the Pink Panther and other creations at his own theatrical cartoon studio in the 1960s and 1970s. Freleng's legacy at Warner was enormous, as he directed the studio's first cartoon with a star for the ages, Porky Pig (the film was I Haven't Got a Hat) and was instrumental in developing most of the major Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies stars, especially Sylvester, Tweety, Speedy Gonzalez, Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam. Yet today his reputation among cinephiles seems overshadowed by that of his fellow directors, namely Avery, Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones. Is this justified? I hope this Blog-a-Thon can play a small part in contextualizing Freleng's work within the art of animation and the medium of cinema.

But I don't mean to impose lofty expectations on participants. This is going to be fun! I invite anyone, whether animation experts, enthusiasts or newbies, fans of Freleng or not, to watch or rewatch at least one of his cartoons between now and August 21. On that day, post something about Freleng or one or more of his films on your website, and send me the link. You may name the cartoon(s), character(s), or aspect(s) of Freleng's style you want to discuss in the comments section below, or leave it as a surprise for the rest of us.

Many Freleng cartoons are relatively easy to find. There's at least one on almost every single Looney Tunes Golden Collection Disc (and details about November's release of Volume 4 of that series are just starting to come out right now), and others are available as extras on various Warner DVD releases (Bringing Up Baby, for example). All the Pink Panther films (Freleng co-directed the first ten and produced the rest) have been released on DVD as well. And then there are the various LaserDisc and VHS releases, not to mention video search engines. And if you find yourself on Frisco Bay during the next twenty-seven days, you might be able to see a Freleng film on celluloid if you attend the Stanford Theatre, which is playing unspecified Warner cartoons before every 7:30 showing in their summer program.

August 21. That gives you nearly four weeks. Who's with me?

Comments:
Oh, I'm definitely in! This is the perfect-sized blog-a-thon for the manic dog days of August, which are slowly becoming ridiculously busy for me. I'm taking the CBEST exam on August 12, and by Mr. Freleng's 100th/101st I'll be ready to decompress with some brilliant animation. I'll have a look over my collection and decide on a title in a day or so. By the way, I've been (gulp) putting one off too which I'm thinking about for September-- think there'd be any interest in a Robert Aldrich Blog-a-Thon?
 
Sign me up, pardner!

Dennis, I just watched Aldrich's HUSTLE for the first time, which I absolutely loved. I'd be interested in joining an Aldrich-a-thon. September is defintely my craziest month of the year (TIFF + fall semester begins), so I can't say for sure, but I will make every effort to join in. And I definitely can help publicize/promote it if you decide to go ahead with it.
 
I think you're desssssspicable!! I'm in. Daffy is my avatar.
 
Girish-- Thanks for reminding me I need to see Hustle. And yes, I think September is gonna be crazy for me too, so it'll probably be toward the very end of the month, maybe even the first week of October. I'll definitely let you know! Meanwhile, it's all about Puttin' on the Friz!
 
Great to have you on board, Dennis, Girish & Michael!

I'd like to be involved in an Aldrich Blog-a-Thon, though I've only seen his two most well-known films (Kiss Me Deadly and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane). I'd be happy to rewatch one of them, or to use it as an excuse to check out one of his films for the first time; I think I've got either Apache or Attack (maybe it's both of them?) taped off of TCM in a bankers box somewhere.

And Dennis, I'm sure you'll score outstandingly on the CBEST.
 
If I can score some Freleng, count me in. And for Aldrich, most definitely. Dennis, what's a CBEST?
 
Count me in. This is just the excuse/rationale I need to buy the first (and maybe the second) Looney Tunes collection DVDs.

Is it too soon to claim dibs on the 'toon about which I'd like to blog? Here's a hint:

"Every day, the same thing: Variety!"
 
Not too soon at all, mr. middlebrow. Great choice!

Hope to have you aboard too, tlrhb!

If anyone needs help remembering the name of a particular cartoon, or verification that it was a Freleng, please don't hesitate to e-mail me or leave a comment in this space.

Last night I went to the Stanford and before the 7:30 showing of Love Finds Andy Hardy was not a Freleng, but an Avery cartoon: a Wild Hare, which I'd never seen on celluloid. Beautiful print.

This weekend the Castro Theatre and the Cartoon Art Museum are being taken over by John Kricfalusi of Ren and Stimpy fame. He's got an excellent blog of his own, peppered with disparaging comments about Friz Freleng as it is (Kricfalusi greatly prefers Clampett, Avery and Jones).
 
Love the initiative, Brian, and I'll be looking forward to the different posts. I think I'll leave this one to the Termite Terrace experts, though!
 
Count me in! Friz is great!

- Thad
 
Friz's cartoons are great! Count me in!
 
Thanks for stopping by, Peet, and remember you can always change your mind if you find yourself suddenly inspired.

Thad & James: I was hoping some of you animation bloggers might be attracted to this blog-a-thon. It'll be great to have you aboard!
 
I'll have a go.
 
I'm definetly in! Should we send you the links once we're done?
 
Great, Stephen and Gir! Yeah, just e-mail me or leave a comment anywhere on this site to ensure that I include your post in the official link directory on the day.

In case anyone is wondering what what one of these Blog-a-Thons looks like, here are a few examples:

Lana Turner Blog-a-Thon
Hayao Miyazaki Blog-a-Thon
Showgirls Blog-a-Thon

And I'm aware of at least two happening between now and the August 21 Freleng-For-All:

Avant-Garde Blog-A-Thon, August 2

Terry Gilliam Blog-A-Thon, August 4
 
Found you via Cartoon Brew. Great idea! I've been on a Looney Tunes Volume 1 marathon of late. Maybe I'll use this as an excuse to finally pick up the other sets.
 
I posed the question of Friz Freleng's birth year at the GAC forums. It turns out that some records also place Friz' birth as 1904 as well as 1905 and/or 1906. Well, whenever he was born, he still did some great work.

My favourite of his toons are: The Three Little Bops, Putty Tat Twouble,Canned Feud, High Diving Hare, Speedy Gonzales, Life With Feathers, Pigs in a Polka......... I'll stop there before I take up too much bandwidth. ;)
 
Oh, and about that Tex Avery blog-a-thon of the past few days, I did a Tex Avery post on my blog way back in February on his 98th birthday. B)
 
Count me in on all this Friz-ness.

Friz' cartoons are sentimental favorites of mine, and he was one of the first WB people i learned the name of (thanks to having watched the Bugs Bunny: 50 Looney Years VHS as a young boy).

For the blog-a-thon, I was thinking of weighing in on Friz' takes on the various characters, particularly Daffy and Elmer, plus his musical cartoons. Maybe i'll do that.

One thing's for sure, Friz' cartoons shouldn't be compared to "afternoon tea".
 
Unless I forget, which is equally likely than remembering, I will certainly have something on my blog about Friz that day.
 
I feel honored to be linked to by Cartoon Brew (admittedly one of the links on my own sidebar I don't visit often enough)! Wade, David, Kevin, Dave: welcome aboard the Blog-A-Thon!

Kevin, I agree with your "afternoon tea" statement. The only Warner director who should be compared to that is McKimson (and in his case, I specifically mean a tea like the one in Rabbit's Kin).

David, thanks for posing the birth year question in the right place. Even if the 21st is not the actual centennial (and the brother born in January 1907 is a pretty convincing argument that it isn't), I'm expecting a festive birthday celebration for Friz!
 
I am working on a Friz 100th (or 101th) Birthday celebration at the Balboa in SF. We are hopng for Aug. 21 but because the Chronicle may not be able to do an article until later I may push it back.
Gary
 
That's great! However the event shakes out, I'll be thrilled at the chance to see Friz cartoons in a cinema, as they were made to be shown!
 
I'm in, too, but you knew that.

Watch me paste this pathetic palooka with a powerful paralyzing perfect pachyderms percussion pitch.
 
I'm in and will be posting not long after I take the GRE. What a great idea!
 
Dear Brian, I saw the info for the Friz-a -thon on Cartoon Brew. What a nice idea. I knew Friz and I'll be posting some of my personal stories about him and Chuck Jones on the 21st, also I passed this onto on to some of his old Looney Tune and DePatie-Freleng animators. Have fun!
www.tomsito.com
 
la pantera rosa
la serie que evidenció la célebre frase "una imagen dice más que mil palabras".

-- veneno
 
Sorry, I don't have a blog -- YET! But I couldn't let this one get by without offering up a great vintage photo of the Birthday Boy!
 
Thanks everyone, my page is (finally, for those of you in the Eastern hemisphere, where it's been August 21st all day) up!
 
Compartiu con todos nós o seu talento, nin máis nin menos, que non foi pouco. Sexa 99 ou 100 anos, in memorian (Isidore) Friz Freleng, grazas.

Thank you for you talent.
Mondoxíbaro (Galician,Spain -Europe-)
 
CONGRATULATIONS FROM BARCELONA (SPAIN)

JUAN
 
I thank you for your comment.
 
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