Friday, June 26, 2015

The Fly in the Inkwell

Hey, boy Koko is back in our next Fleischer short, The Tantalizing Fly!  Love these things.  Full of life and ingenuity.  Of course, even Max and Koko get tired of the same old same old, so it's time to add a new wrinkle to this Herbrand Universe that they call their own.  And so, Max is under siege by a stray fly in the studio.  This is why Walt Disney survived over the long haul.  I mean, that dude was from the country, and he didn't take no crap from no fly buzzing round his studio, now did he?  Probably not.  A happy animator is an undistracted animator.
And so, we start with a slight variation on the ubiquitous drawing hand of these early animated cartoons.  The hand usually draws that first big background uninterrupted, but Max finally opens our eyes to the fact that, hey!  These things don't live in a vacuum!  They're exposed to the elements just like everything else.  Now, if I were a more responsible film critic, I'd take this opportunity to advocate for film preservation but... ah, hell with it.  With all the problems in the world right now, we're lucky to have film at all.  Once the sea rises ten feet, most of us are screwed.
Oh, I almost forgot.  To be slightly critical, the title cards at the beginning of this film look like the old timey video still frames.  Oh well.  If it's that way on the DVD, then I'm assuming they did the best they could.  Anyway, as you see from the attached jpeg file, the fly's interest in the Koko that Max is drawing crosses the line between annoying and destruction of property.  The fly leaves some footprints behind after stepping in Koko, and Max has to get a special ink eraser to undo the damage... hmm!  That's either a really powerful eraser, or really weak ink. 
And so, Koko is finished and ready to do battle with the fly in complete form.  Koko keeps taking swings at the annoying little pest, but to no avail.  After a while of this, Max decides to intervene on behalf of Koko.  Alas, the best he can do is go to the next room and get himself a fly swatter.  I didn't think of it at first, but the Stooges sure got a lot of mileage out of this scenario.  See, the fly lands on Koko's face, and Max goes THWAP!  Koko blacks out, but quickly regains consciousness, with stars and planets all about.  The only Stooge scenario that comes to mind right now is in Hold That Lion and its remake, the much zanier Loose Loot.  But turnabout is fair play, and Koko takes a swipe right back at Max when he swings Max's pen at the fly... sure, the consequences for Max aren't as devastating as they were for Koko, but still!  Max has to wipe ink off of his face.
Well, that's roughly Acts One and Two for you, so what to do for a finale?  Well, Koko gets the idea to "create" a "fly trap."  Koko takes Max's pen again, and Koko draws himself this sleeping bald dude in a chair.  Lol.  And sure enough... yup, the fly takes a keen, immediate interest in the bald dude's head, flying around it in small circles, then landing on top of it.  I want to take this opportunity to give the animators some credit, because when the fly sits still on the bald dude's head, it stays still when Koko starts to move around.  I guess they divided up the canvas into two halves for that: the left half for Koko, the right half for fly and man. 
Koko takes a swing at the fly and hits the bald dude on the head with Max's pen, thereby waking up the bald dude and angering him immensely in the process.  Koko's not having any of it, and he sucks up his creation right back into the pen from whence it came.  Dayamn!  Cold blooded.  Reminds me of that one Tom and Jerry cartoon...  Anyway, I guess they didn't know how to end it, because Koko tears himself a hole in the animation paper and dives through.  Max turns it around to find Koko just hanging there, and then Max dumps Koko into the inkwell.  That's gratitude for you.  But what about that fly?  Well, the fly takes an interest in the inkwell and climbs on top of it, and starts looking down into the inky abyss.  Reminds me of this scary dream I had a few nights ago where I was sliding along this walkway high above the ground, and I caught myself with a bar hanging over the side, thereby saving myself from dropping a hundred feet to my death.  Ah, dreams, my internal bully.  I guess they keep me from getting too complacent that way.  Anyway, so Max's hand slowly enters the picture, then it clamps down on the fly.  For some reason, I thought Koko reached up out of the inkwell and pulled the fly in.  I must've been thinking of Beetlejuice.  ...the Zagnut bar?  Anyone?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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