Saturday, May 5, 2012

Inexhaustible Moments of 1963, Part 4

1963 Blogging, Part 4 of 5
Acme Products of 1963

In these long breaks between the signature 21 Essays series, I’m experimenting with a new feature focused on possibilities for future series.  I’ll spin the roulette wheel to pick a year (or set of years) and then brainstorm on some potential essay topics.  This time the wheel spins, gradually slows, then clicks to a stop, pointing at:  1963.

So here’s my fourth 1963 series possibility:  Chuck Jones’ Road Runner short To Beep or Not To Beep.

Against all odds, To Beep or Not To Beep is my favorite Road Runner cartoon.  It was made while the WB animation department was being disbanded, many of the greatest talents had left, and Chuck Jones and his co-director Maurice Noble were struggling to remain employed and relevant.  Jones’ writing-partner-in-genius Michael Maltese was gone (replaced on this cartoon by John Dunn).  The music isn’t by the great Carl Stalling, nor by the nearly-as-great Milt Franklyn, but by third-stringer Bill Lava instead.  But actually it’s Lava’s music that really pulls this through.  Perhaps it’s time for a reappraisal of Lava (I note that he also did the score for Frank Borzage’s wonderful Moonrise, Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not, and the unusual and inspired Abbott and Costello movie The Time of Their Lives).  Anyway, I’d love to wring some essays out of my favorite Road Runner cartoon and this oddball late arrival is it.

Tomorrow, I’ll propose the last of my 1963 ideas (with no promises that I’ll necessarily be getting to any of them…)  But I’m wide open to other suggestions.  Any ideas for 1963 movies, books, short stories, poems, songs, or other cultural artifacts that might inspire a good 21 Essays series?  Please share!

Next blog series:  6 essays on Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929)
as part of the  “For the Love of Film”
Film Preservation Blogathon
May 13-18, 2012

© 2012 Lee Price

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