Sunday, January 17, 2010

Truth and a Kat

The most interesting movie I've seen lately has been a classic, The Awful Truth, which I just saw for the first time. It's looked on as one of the cornerstones of the screwball comedy genre but it dones't really have that feel. It has the right plot, Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a feuding husband and wife who get divorced only to realize they still care for one another, but this movie is missing a lot of the speedy dialogue and crazy supporting characters that were common to other screwball films.  Instead there is a lot of more subtle physical comedy which is no surprise considering that director Leo McCarey had previously done a lot of slapstick comedies, in particular some of Laurel & Hardy's work. There is some business with Grant wearing a derby that belongs to Dunne's supposed lover that is very reminiscent of some of Stan and Ollie's past hat mixups.

I've also been watching something else with a far lesser reputation, some of a series of Krazy Kat cartoons released by King Features in the early 60's. This were the most recent attempt to bring George Herriman's legendary comic strip to the screen after a couple of abortive attempts in the 20's and 30's. Unfortunately this series bore little resemblance to the strip. All the main characters were there, Krazy, the brick throwing Ignatz Mouse, Offisa Pupp and a few others and they looked pretty much like Herrimann's creations but the cartoons themselves mainly consisted of one of Krazy's cousins coming to town and stirring up some kind of trouble with none of the intricate relationships or surreal dialogue of the original work. The most interesting aspects are that Paul Frees did all the male voices running through the gamut of accents he made famous with Jay Ward cartoons and that several of the cartoons were directed by the great animator Gene Deitch.  I've always had a starnge fascination with the bizarre series of cartoons Deitch did with Tom & Jerry and there is a litlle of that craziness in his Krazy Kat work, with weird little stories about safaris and Ignatz's imaginary baseball career. I can't really call the stuff funny but it was very interesting to watch.

No comments: