Friday, May 29, 2015

Of Mice and Bricks

Get your bricks ready!  It's Krazy Kat time!!!  Yes, before the one reel system changed the face and pace of animated storytelling, we had the Hearst serials like the Krazy Kat series, and of course the unforgettable The Phable of the Phat Woman, amongst many many others.  Animated serials that are about three minutes in length, they don't overstay their welcome like that Heeza Liar guy.  Sheesh.
Anyway, God continue to bless YouTube, where things like the Krazy Kat shorts can have a home.  Stuff you might not be able to easily find on DVD, let alone want to find in the first place.  The Krazy Kat cartoon strip has been better preserved than its celluloid counterpart; you can tell that right away.  And the animated version lacks a lot of the detail and insane nuance of the cartoon strip, but that's the price you pay sometimes, especially when the Fleischers don't work on it... hmm!  Did the Fleischers work on this?  Or are they just slapping a bunch of stuff together on the DVD that's roughly from the same era?  I'm starting to think the latter.
Anyway, back to the current profile.  We find Krazy Kat getting ready to take off in his crazy car slash airship, the vessel that was christened the "Kazook."  We see Krazy Kat flying through the air, then driving up to his destination: the home of his beloved Ignatz mouse.  Krazy Kat gets out of the "Kazook" and starts serenading the open window before him.  It's a subtle kind of crazy: a cat playing a song for a mouse on a banjo.  This goes on for a while until we see Ignatz mouse peeking over the horizon at Krazy Kat.
Now, everyone in the world at this point is already familiar with the ancient rivalry between Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse, and the role that the bricks play in that rivalry.  But don't the bricks deserve a special introduction in their own right?  Sure they do!  And so, for the silver screen crowd, the mouse makes that one mile run to Kelly's Brick Yard, and the mouse runs back with a big boxful of the things, clearly labeled "Bricks" for our benefit.  Past the yarn tree, and the church low on the horizon, up returns Ignatz Mouse to where Krazy Kat is serenading away.
And so... it's time for the bricks.  The first one hits Krazy in the back of the head, sending him spinning around like a guy in space who lost his footing, or that guy in The Road Warrior (1981) who goes flying off his motorcycle... it's somewhere in the big final chase sequence.  Oh, and Fat Bastard in Goldmember has a scene where he runs afoul of stunt wires... I forget if he does a 180 or not.  Ancient comedy tradition is the main takeaway there.  Ignatz throws three more bricks, but they all hit Krazy in his daily doodies.  I think that's out of respect or something.  And then, to add insult to injury, a bird peeks his head out of the window and tells Krazy Kat that he's got the wrong window.  Oh, but the joke's on that bird, you see, for Krazy says "I just found that out!"
... my mistake.  The correct caption is "Y'r too late[.]  I found it out already[.]"  How uncivilized of me.  As you may have gathered, this Krazy Kat animated cartoon was bucking the trends of the time.  The trend for dialogue in a silent film was to have a black screen with just the words... thereby interrupting the visual flow of the film.  This Krazy Kat film finds an intermediate step between that and actual sound films, where noises emit from characters' mouths... ah, who knows who came up with it.  Animator Leon Searl probably didn't originate it.  I think I have an old book of old cartoons somewhere; almost makes me want to look up the old Krazy Kat strip.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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