Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tex Avery

After co-creating some of the most notable cartoon characters of all time at Warners in the late 30s and early 40s, Avery moved to MGM Studios in 1942, where for about thirteen years, he accelerated the pace and scope of animations and adopted new characters: Adolf Wolf, Screwy Squirrel, a sexy red-headed beauty named Red, and a sad basset hound named Droopy (see below). Avery's first cartoon for MGM, Blitzwolf (1942) brought him his sole Oscar nomination. It was a wartime semi-parody of Disney's earlier Three Little Pigs (1933) with Adolf Wolf (Hitler) threatening the house of Sergeant Pork (US).

Besides Tom & Jerry (see below), the other biggest MGM cartoon character, Tex Avery's most famous at the studio, was the meek, slow-moving and slow-talking Droopy Dog. The emotionless, deadpan-voiced, yet stoic Droopy made his debut in MGM's Dumb-Hounded (1943), and received his proper name in his second cartoon, The Shooting of Dan McGoo (1945), a take-off on the Robert Service poem about Dan McGrew. One Droopy Knight (1957) was nominated for an Academy Award - the character's sole nomination (after Avery left the studio).

Later cartoons for MGM included Avery's controversial version of the well-known fairy tale Red Hot Riding Hood (1943) and Screwball Squirrel (1944).
[Tex Avery's work heavily influenced director Chuck Russell's The Mask (1994) featuring Jim Carrey as mild-mannered bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss, who is obsessed with cartoons. When Stanley dons a magical mask, he turns into an alter ego composed of Tex Avery-like cartoon characters - the Wolf (including a famous double-take with his eyes popping out of his head and a wolf whistle), the Tasmanian Devil (whirling like a tornado), and others. He even re-enacts portions of a classic Avery cartoon that he earlier watched on his VCR, Red Hot Riding Hood (1943), in the nightclub scene. All special effects were compliments of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic.]
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