It’s time for me to take a moment to reflect a bit on what I learned from my rather hectic but definitely fun and enlightening time at the TCM Fest. As previously reported here and everywhere else, it turned out to be a fairly roaring success and is promised to be repeated next year in Hollywood. Because of time constraints and because I wasn’t able to enjoy the truly titanic number of films seen by, say, a Dennis Cozzalio — currently working on a detailed and sure to be great summary of the event — I’m going to limit myself to a few random observations covering material I have not mentioned in prior TCM-centric posts. (Here, here, and here.) Naturally, it’ll still turn out to be much longer than I originally intended.
Borgnine, Donen, Rainer
As someone with parents in their eighties and nineties, I’ve become especially interested lately in the way things work for people of a certain age. So it was with some some special interest that I listened to the words of 100 year-old thirties star Luise Rainer, 93 year-old star character actor Ernest Borgnine (“Marty,” “The Wild Bunch”), and 86 year-old directing great and one-time boy genius, Stanley Donen — best known for co-directing “Singin’ in the Rain” and other MGM musical classics with Gene Kelly but also an outstanding director in his own right of both musicals and “straight” films.
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As a reaction against the news of this ill-advised project, earlier today I presented the first ever cartoon appearance of the character who would eventually be known as Marvin the Martian. Now, I present my favorite appearance by the vertically challenged enemy of Planet Earth and, actually, my favorite Warner Brothers cartoon.
Ladies and gentlemen, from 1953, “Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century,” written by Michael Maltese and directed by Charles M. “Chuck” Jones. Watch Daffy Duck and Porky Pig as they fight against the villainous thing from another world in a to-the-death battle for humanity’s right to a close, comfortable shave. Please hold your applause until the end.
I try hard, very hard, to keep an open mind about upcoming projects. However, this attempt to try and reboot one of my favorite Warner Brothers animated creations, the character who eventually came to be called Marvin the Martian, just sounds weak. However, I want to be upbeat today and ignore the 1,000,001 reasons why a CGI Marvin surrounded by live action characters “in the manner of “Alvin & The Chipmunks,” makes me cringe. I sort of doubt it has much promise commercially either. (The little kids who loved furry Alvin might not cotton to a helmeted black ball with legs.)
So, instead of dwelling on the character’s uncertain future, why not take a look at his glorious past? Here is director Chuck Jones and writer Michael Maltese introducing the character not yet named Marvin opposite Bugs Bunny in 1948’s “Haredevil Hare.” You might notice that Mel Blanc’s initial voice characterization of the Trojan-hatted alien is somewhat different from the voice we now know and love. It’s also a bit ahead of its time for a brief allusion to rabbit-on-dog outer space gay romance. Put something in cartoon form, and you can away with moider, I tells you.
Note: If you have any problems viewing this, there’s a slightly lower resolution version available on YouTube.