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Daily Dose of Doozy #12: Live-Action Cartoon as Slapstick: Blake Edwards


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#1 Rejana Raj

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Posted 15 October 2016 - 07:39 AM

In this scene from The Great Race, There is a dashing hero "Great Leslie" who is going to perform a stunt. Meanwhile the moustached villain "Professor Fate" is out there along with his minion Max to sabatoge Leslie's stunt. Unfortunately for the villain, the hero escaped with the help of parachute and the punctured hot air ballon landed on the evil duo.
I believe that it is dedicated to the cartoon slapstick as it resembles a lot with this cartoon "Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines" where one could picturize The Great Leslie as the carrier pigeon Yankee Doodle Pigeon, Dastardly as Professor Fate and his minion dog Muttley as Max.

Here is the link to the cartoon wiki: https://en.m.wikiped...Flying_Machines

One can know that The Great Leslie is the good guy and Professor Fate is the bad guy based on their appearances. The hero who wears white is always shown as a handsome, daring and charming man. Whereas the villain is shown as a moustached man who have sinister plans and he may look ugly or hideous.

#2 pumatamer

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 07:13 PM

Describe specifically how this scene looks and feels like a "live action" cartoon.

I think the bursts of color, the camera angles, silly gags, and overall concept have a cartoon feel!

#3 fediukc1991

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 06:44 PM

The scene is vibrant with colors. The hot air balloon is part of what this film clip makes and feels like a "live action" cartoon. Another gag is the moving tree. The film pays homage to the silent era slapstick movies and Laurel and Hardy. Professor Fate looks like a villain in an old silent comedy film. The Great Leslie has a big "L" on his top and makes him look grand.



#4 Popcorn97

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 09:26 AM

1. Describe specifically how this scene looks and feels like a "live action" cartoon.

The colors, the moving tree gag (with people behind it moving it), shooting down the balloon with an arrow, the flash of the white teeth. It felt like a WB Wild-e-Coyote/Road Runner cartoon.

 

2. In what ways does this scene function as an "homage" to earlier slapstick comedies?
I think it has to do with the stunts in this scene, almost like a magic act but this time in the sky.

 

3. How does Blake Edwards depict The Great Leslie (Curtis) as the "definitive hero" and Professor Fate (Lemmon) as the "definitive villain?"

The Hero is dressed in white and is all clean.

The Villain is dressed in a black coat and top hat and wants to do evil things to the hero.


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#5 rajmct01

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 12:51 AM

I really enjoyed this clip. I had not noticed the beauty of these opening slides. The Great Race had so many elements to get immersed in. I love Jack Lemon's laugh as Professor Fate was great. And Peter Falk was so funny as his sidekick. The Great Leslie was really the straight man for everyone.

#6 MarxBrosfan4

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 08:15 PM

All of the colors and music gives the cartoon feel. With the "good guys" "bad guys" we see the whole Dudley Doo-Right show. With the good guy wearing the white suit and the bad guy in black is how the cartoons were too so you knew who to root for. The scene made you feel like you were in the past with the costumes. The rocket and balloon are homages to the old slapstick and some of the over exaggeration.



#7 Logano26

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 05:00 PM

1. This wasn't a cartoon? If this movie isn't the inspiration for "Whacky Racers," I don't know what is. The colors, the antics, the oversized arrow, all of it were lifted right out of the cartoon world "hammer space" to create a whackier than reality world. And the cool confidence of Tony Curtis has the same spirit of Bugs Bunny as he foils another dastardly Daffy Duck plot. If only he had a carrot and a snappy one-liner, I'd believe it was Bugs in the flesh.

2. The stunt feels very much like an updated Buster Keaton gag. The straight jacket, the peril of the balloon, it all seems like something Old Stoneface would have attempted if he were born a few decades later.

3. It's as simple as black and white -- Leslie clad in all white and then draped with a white straight jacket and tied to the balloon with a white rope, while the Snidely Whiplash-style Professor Fate in all black and a devious little black mustache to boot.


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#8 T-Newton

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 09:54 AM

1. Describe specifically how this scene looks and feels like a "live action" cartoon.

 

My response: Ah, this is an easy one. The whole scene has somewhat of a Bugs Bunny vibe to it, with Tony Curtis replacing Bugs, and Professor Fate replacing either Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, or Daffy Duck. Considering that this is a Warner Brothers picture, that in itself is a given. The scene follows all of the cartoon tropes, fake bush and all, especially the end of the scene where the hot air balloon basket falls right on Fate and his henchman, who thought it would land on the spot they were previously at.

 

2. In what ways does this scene function as an "homage" to earlier slapstick comedies?

 

My response: A good majority of earlier slapstick films, especially the ones from the silent era, had a simple premise with a villain who takes the phrase "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" a bit too literally. Even though this picture is a good two-and-a-half hours long, it's no different.

 

3. How does Blake Edwards depict The Great Leslie (Curtis) as the "definitive hero" and Professor Fate (Lemmon) as the "definitive villain?"

 

My response: The simple, stereotypical character tropes. The Great Leslie is the man everyone wants to be just doing what he does for a living, which is being a daredevil. Professor Fate is the evil man with a twirling mustache that happens to be in the same field, just not as successful (if at all).

 

_________________

 

I saw this movie rather recently, and aside from studying film, I also study animation academically, so this was rather easy for me to answer and right up my alley.


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#9 Patti Zee

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 10:53 PM

Hello Start spreading,
Ummm, exaggerated, over-the-top...remember some of the early defining qualities of slapstick? Well, the exaggerated hero and villain personas kind of fall under that, right? I don't know if you have had an opportunity to participate in a staged melodrama, and believe me the audience is an active participant, but we cheer the very stereotypical hero and boo and throw peanut shells at the very stereotypical villain. The title sequence sets that very tone for this delightfully funny movie.
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#10 startspreading

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 09:23 PM

1. Describe specifically how this scene looks and feels like a "live action" cartoon.

 

In special, because it is a very colorful scene, especially in the beginning, with the colorful balloon and the man making an announcement with colorful clothes. We also have the obvious contrast between hero and villain, black and white. And we have the gag of the villains camouflaging in a bush, and walking around with it.

 

2. In what ways does this scene function as an "homage" to earlier slapstick comedies?

 

The scene is more an homage of the imaginary around early slapstick. It plays with the stereotypes: the Victorian-era villain with the twisted moustache and the flawless hero.

 

3. How does Blake Edwards depict The Great Leslie (Curtis) as the "definitive hero" and Professor Fate (Lemmon) as the "definitive villain?"

 

They are completely contrasting: the Great Leslie wears white, has a bright smile, drive women crazy and can do any prowess. Professor Fate wears black, has a twisted moustache and a grin, works with his minion Max and never succeeds in his evil plans.

I’d like to call attention to the fact that these two characters are highly stereotyped, and in no way represent some kind of maniqueism that people imagine existed in silent film. More on that stereotyping and related myth-busting can be found here:

 

 http://criticaretro....sor-fate-e.html



#11 Larynxa

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 03:36 PM

As we discuss the element of colour in this pie-fight, we need to be aware that, even in B&W films with pie-throwing, colour---or rather, contrast---did play a role.

 

In Buster Keaton's autobiography, he talks about arranging a pie-fight sequence in "Hollywood Cavalcade".  The film was made in Technicolor, but Buster used the criteria of the old B&W films, in choosing the missiles.  Since Alice Faye was blonde, he chose a blackberry pie, because it would contrast better.  For dark-haired people, he chose lemon meringue, because that would contrast better.


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#12 Bluboo

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 02:01 PM

1. I think what captured me most was that it had the look of a newsreel but actors that were more like cartoon charactatures. Tony Curtis had the good guy look of Peter Perfect or Dudley Do-Right, Peter Falk and Jack Lemmon looked like Snidley Whiplash or Dick Dastardly. The action was so reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote and The Roadrunner ... the arrow and its launcher looked like something straight from the Acme catalogue.

2. I observed that the characters were costumed and dressed as the stereotyped portrayals of good versus evil. Moreover, it all fit the definition of slapstick that we defined as fitting the silent era, most notably the make-believe, the exaggeration, the violence, and the agility of The Great Leslie. The action was fast and furious, and the real ag was the attack on the balloon backfiring against Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk.

3. I apologize if I am repeating what other's wrote, but the answer is pretty obvious to the viewer,

The Great Leslie -- dressed in all white, gleam in his smile, adored by the ladies, brave, athletic, and is obviously the hero of the story.

Jack Lemmon -- dressed in all black, the evil-looking mustache, the sneer, the sneaky approach, and the attempt to destroy the hero. Also add the bad luck of Wile E. Coyote and Dick Dastardley.

#13 Thief12

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 09:43 AM

I only saw this DDoD last night, so here are my thoughts, most of which have already been expressed here...

 

This clip has many ways in which it feels like a "live-action" cartoon. The twinkle in Leslie's teeth was the first giveaway. But the one that really got me was seeing the wide shot of the "bush" moving. I think I've lost count of how many times I've seen Elmer, Daffy, or Wile E. Coyote doing that. Loved that. Also, the big harpoon thing was directly from a cartoon, and so was the last part where Professor Fate and his assistant try to move away from the falling balloon, only to have it fall on top of them. That was straight from a Roadrunner/Coyote cartoon.

 

Finally, the clear distinction of the good and evil. With Leslie it was the above-mentioned teeth-twinkle, the combed hair, the immaculate, white clothes, women falling and swooning for him, the crowd all worried about him. If we tie this with what we saw on the "Breakdown of a Gag" pie-fight, where he walks away unscathed, makes you feel like he's the Roadrunner. That makes me wonder if I'm gonna hate him as much as I hate the Roadrunner when I see the film :D

 

Anyway, on the side of Professor Fate, the fact that he's working "in the shadows", as if he was an outcast, the black clothes, the mustache, the voice... all of those were clear traits of a villain.

 

As for the "homage" to earlier slapstick comedies, not sure if this is what the question was about, but I would say the presence of all the basic slapstick elements we discussed in Module #1: it is all exaggerated and make-believe, there's a physicality and athleticism involved, there's violence, and a ritualism to how the events unfold.


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#14 Ninnybit

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 09:11 AM

It does feel like a cartoon and I loved it when I was a kid. As an adult, it's pretty and fun and clever, but it's too broadly played for me now. This one and Those Daring Young Men in Their Flying Machines and their Jaunty Jalopies--loved all three of them when I was a kid. 



#15 Bgeorgeteacher

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 07:20 AM

Ahhh.... The Great Race. The characters in this movie have always reminded me of the side cartoons in Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons..... Boris and Natasha.  What a great look at how the vibrant color in a movie makes it feel like a cartoon!
 

1)  The dramatic colors, obviously, is what has made this look like a cartoon to me.  Especially in the hot air balloon and the colors of the dresses.  The "sparkle" in the smile of Tony Curtis is what takes us away from what is just a film and moves us towards a live-action cartoon.

 

2)  This scene is an homage to earlier slapstick as it employs so many slapstick elements of the days of the silent screen, particularly exaggeration.  The exaggerated element is present as the ladies throw themselves at the hero, the facial expressions of the villains... it is all there.

 

3) The hero and the villain are obvious to any viewer that may have walked into the middle of the movie.  The hero is in lily-white costume, he has perfect hair, that winning smile, and all the girls love him.  Even at the end of the scene, he emerges as the one that outsmarts those out to get him.  The villain is dressed in black, with a hat to cover his dark hair.  There is the mustache and the determination to do evil.  At the end of the scene, he has clearly been outwitted again!


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#16 TexasGoose

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 05:18 PM

Classmate Knuckleheads Return posted "The feel of this scene is reminded me a of a Hanna Barbera cartoon like "Quickdraw McGraw"." I agree and add that it reminded me of many a cartoon set-up from the 1950-1960's especially "Road Runner" where the Road Runner always suceeds and Wilie E. Coyote always fails, usually with something falling on him.

Tony Curtis is the hero. We know this because he is handsome, always wears white, has a smlie that sparkles, and has women wanting him.  He can do anything that is required of him. Period. Whether escape a straight jacket or save the heroine.

Jack Lemmon is the villian. He wears all black, has a evil looking mustach he can twirl, he does not like the hero, and his sidekick is dimwitted.

The music and scene without speech plays out like a cartoon or early talkie.


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#17 Patti Zee

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 09:24 AM

Since my classmates have done a beautiful job in discussing this delightful movie, a true favorite of mine, I'm not going to try and re-invent the wheel here. To me a huge factor in this movie is the music. I could keep my eyes shut and follow much of this movie by the musical choices alone. The hero music is a mix of many heroic phrases: presidential, martial and vigorous. And don't forget the triumphant ta-dah as The Great Leslie lands safely. The villain music is much slower and fairly clownish with darker tones. It plays each time we see Professor Fate in villainous pursuits. And though it was cut off in this clip, I believe there is another triumphant ta-dah when the balloon basket lands on the Professor and Max. And don't forget the "love theme" that plays for the lovely Natalie Wood as she pushes on for women everywhere. All three of these forces have their own musical themes that announce them as the movie progresses...much like the musical accompaniment of the great WB cartoon characters.
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#18 Knuckleheads Return

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 09:00 AM

1. Describe specifically how this scene looks and feels like a “live-action” cartoon. It is interesting that the last and transition magic lantern show slide is a cartoon drawing of the hot air balloon that The Great Leslie is going to use and then we fade into the actual film scene of the balloon in the launch field. The layout of the scene looks like a cartoon layout, the use of colors as if inked in by a cartoonist and the movements of some of the characters are like those in a cartoon. Case in point is the camouflaged giant crossbow as it ooches its way into position. The feel of this scene is reminded me a of a Hanna Barbera cartoon like "Quickdraw McGraw".

 

2. In what ways does the scene function as an “homage” to earlier slapstick comedies? It seems as if the scene ere shot at  the Hal Roach Studio with all the exaggerated movements by everyone in the scene. The women throwing themselves at The Great Leslie; his assistants preparing him for launch; the ladies fainting when they discovered that there is a hole in the balloon and that Leslie is in danger. It also looked like a scene out of "Coney Island" or "Number, Please?"

 

3. How does Blake Edwards depict The Great Leslie (Curtis) as the “definitive hero” and Professor Fate (Lemmon) as the “definitive villain”? Blake Edwards gave this aspect of the film a lot of thought and put a lot of planning into it. He made sure that the struggle of "good" versus "evil" is depicted completely over the top! "Definitive hero" wears white from his clothes, gloves, boots to his straitjacket to his parachute. As Edwards remarked "his hair is always combed and he can't do anything wrong. He's a bore". Even in the greatest pie fight ever filmed, The Great Leslie" stays immaculate until the very end. The "Definitive villain" is just the opposite dressed in black from head to toe. Black as his soul. Blake Edwards felt that Fate's "...so obsessed with villainy that in his obsessiveness..." his plans are foiled and "blow up in his face". I don't know if the word was in wide use yet in 1965 but the film is just plain "campy".


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#19 Schlinged

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 11:01 PM

Questions: 
1. Describe specifically how this scene looks and feels like a "live action" cartoon.
 
The bright colors of the barker and his assistants, balloon, stage and background, Tony Curtis with his dazzling smile, deliberate movements of Professor Fate and Max in the moving bush, the exaggerated size of the slingshot/bow and arrow, and of course the plan backfiring on Professor Fate like Wile E Coyote and the Roadrunner. The music in the background of the film also contributed to the cartoonish feeling.
 
2. In what ways does this scene function as an "homage" to earlier slapstick comedies?
 
Visually, it hits the five elements of slapstick, and of course the setting, was from 50 years past though made in the 1960's. It has the feel of the cartoon as well as that of a Sennett or Roach silent film.
 
3. How does Blake Edwards depict The Great Leslie (Curtis) as the "definitive hero" and Professor Fate (Lemmon) as the "definitive villain?"
 
Tony Curtis is clad head to toe in white, called the Great Leslie, flashing smile, women love him, the crowd cheers him, and is a dashing spectacle. Similarly, Jack Lemmon is clad in basic black with a dastardly mustache looking like Snidely Whiplash or Dick Dasterdly, his plans always backfire, is inept, and throws Max to the guards, and hearkens back to the old silent films of "Polly Purebred."

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#20 jkbrenna

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 02:50 PM

I'm pretty sure I responded to this topic regarding  It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World; but I'd like to add that I loved the homages to the silent era comedians.  Destroying a gas station looked so much like Buster Keaton.  When the cast is hanging from a broken fire escape, I thought of Harold Lloyd; there's so many more that can be cited, but the best was the banana peel on the floor at the very end (salute to Charlie Chaplin).  I may have seen these movies in the past when they first came out, but now, through this course, I'm looking at them with new eyes.  The actions that transpire, the quick dialog, and bumps along the way. Thanks!


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