Sunday, May 31, 2015

Original Production Cel of Br'er Bear from "Song of the South," 1946

Original hand painted and hand inked production cel of Br'er Bear from "Song of the South," 1946; Set on a custom hand prepared background; Size - Br'er Bear: 6 1/2 x 5 1/2", Cel: 10 1/2 x 21 1/4", Image 9 1/4 x 21 1/2", Mat 15 1/4 x 27 1/2"; Double Matted.

"Song of the South" from 1946 is a live-action/animated musical film produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures. It was based on the Uncle Remus stories collected by Joel Chandler Harris. Harris created the character of Uncle Remus in 1876 and began writing the Uncle Remus stories as a serial series to, in his words, "preserve in permanent shape those curious mementoes of a period that will no doubt be sadly misrepresented by historians of the future." President Teddy Roosevelt said of Harris, "Presidents may come and presidents may go, but Uncle Remus stays put. Georgia has done a great many things for the Union, but she has never done more than when she gave Mr. Joel Chandler Harris to American literature."

"Song of the South" was Disney's first feature film using live actors, who provided a framework for the animated segments throughout the film. The character of Uncle Remus, who was presumably a former slave, was played by James Baskett. The film includes several folk tales of the adventures of anthropomorphic Br'er Rabbit and his enemies, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear. The film's song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song and is used often by both Disney and in popular culture. The film also inspired the Disney theme park water log attraction, "Splash Mountain."

Because of the film's depiction of black former slaves and of race relations in Reconstruction-Era Georgia; the film has been controversial since its original release. A number of critics, both at the time of its release and in later decades, have described the film as racist. Consequently, "Song of the South" has never been released in its entirety on home video in the United States.

Close up of the Br'er Bear cel.

Br'er Bear is slow-witted (compared to Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit) and prone to violence when provoked. He is gullible which leaves him open to being tricked repeatedly by Br'er Rabbit, even when he accompanies the more sly Br'er Fox. Br'er Bear is a tall grizzly bear, with brown fur, a cream muzzle, large black nose, wearing a blue unbuttoned dress shirt, and a red fedora.  He was animated by Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, and Eric Larson and was voiced by Nicodemus (Nick) Stewart, who was an American television and film actor. Stewart was best known for his role as Lightnin' (Willie Jefferson) on the "Amos and Andy" television show.

Pan cel and pan background with the matting removed.

Br'er Bear may be one of the most cruel and heatless of all the Disney villains. And, in referring to Br'er Rabbit, his most memorable quote is "I'm just gonna knock his head clean off!" Br'er Bear cels and drawings are extremely rare, as is any original production artwork from "Song of the South." This is a wonderful pan cel with a large hand painted and hand inked production image of Br'er Bear measuring 6 1/2" x 5 1/2", with the pan cel measuring an incredible 10 1/2" x 21 1/4"! Br'er Bear is full figure with his eyes and mouth open and he is placed on a pan hand prepared background; and the entire work has been double matted.

Double matted original production cel of Br'er Bear.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Baloo The Bear Original Production Animation Cel from "The Jungle Book," 1967

Original hand painted production cel of Baloo The Bear from "The Jungle Book," 1967; Set on a lithographic background; Size - Baloo: 6 3/4" x 4", Cel 10 x 12"; Image 10 x 12"; Unframed.

Baloo, which means "bear" in Hindi, is one of the most beloved characters in the Disney pantheon. He is an obese blue-gray sloth bear, with large white claws. Aside from King Louie, Baloo is the only animal character to walk on two legs in the film. He also resembles Little John from Disney's "Robin Hood," who were both voiced by Phil Harris. Harris also provided the voice of Thomas O'Malley from Disney's "The Aristocats." Baloo and Little John perform the same dance moves with King Louie in "The Jungle Book" and with Lady Kluck in "Robin Hood." A little know fact is that Walt Disney was used as a reference for the animators for the dance moves seen when Baloo is first introduced in "The Jungle Book."

Close up of the Baloo The Bear cel.

Baloo was animated by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Ollie Johnston animated the first introduction of Baloo but Frank Thomas soon took over the character and, unlike so many other animators; was known for doing most, if not all of the rough drawings for his entire scene. 

The Disney animator Andreas Deja wrote the following:

"This is actually not that unusual, since Frank usually contributed most or all of the drawings for any of his scenes. Other animators would often use a moving hold for calm moments, which involved only two key drawings with lots of in-betweens provided by the assistant. But Frank seems to always have something going on, even in the most subtle acting patterns. Something is always moving, things don’t come to a stop. As a result of producing so many drawings for a given scene, Frank could not focus on gorgeously designed poses or expressions. So his drawings by themselves might not look too intimidating to an animation student or professional, but watching them in motion is a whole other potato. The characters come to life in such a believable way, they breath, they move with weight, and they have real thoughts. In other words, they have a soul."

Baloo the Bear cel without the background.

This is a wonderful full figure image of Baloo The Bear walking along, eyes eyes are open.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Robin Hood Production Cel and Production Background from "Robin Hood," 1973

Original hand painted production cel of Robin Hood numbered 11 in ink lower right; Placed on an original master hand-painted production background with original line overlay cel from "Robin Hood," 1973; Size - Robin Hood 5 1/2 x 4 3/4", Image 11 x 16", Background 12 1/2 x 16"; Unframed.

"Robin Hood" was the twenty-first full length animated film released by Walt Disney Studios on November 8, 1973. Robin Hood is an anthropomorphic fox and the protagonist of the film. Although Robin Hood is often shown as an outlaw who chooses to rob from the rich to help the poor people, in this Disney animated version, he is shown mainly attacking Prince John and his agents (Sir Hiss and the Sheriff of Nottingham), who have impoverished Nottingham with high taxes. Robin Hood and Little John steal the tax caravans and give it back to the peasants while trying to avoid capture.

Original Production showing bottom peg holes and production number 11 bottom right.

After "Sleeping Beauty," 1959, there was no longer hand inking of the lines on the tops of the cel; rather this was done by a process called xerography. This new process saved time and money and allowed for more details to be added to the characters. Such is the case for not only this full figure cel of Robin Hood, but also for this background. The background is an original hand painted watercolor background, but in addition there is the original production line overlay cel; which contains all the black outlines for the background's various features and objects. The line overlay cel was created through xerography and allows for much more detail for example; the trees and grass now contain black line highlights for branches, leaves, and both clumps and individual blades of grass. The tent and Prince John's viewing platform are also highlighted with black lines to showcase fabrics as well as the wood planks making up the stage's floor. The resulting work of art is a very large and wonderful animation set-up showcasing the great animators attention to every detail.

Original hand painted production background and matching overlay cel with production numbers.
Robin Hood was animated by the veteran Disney animator Ollie Johnston and he was voiced by the English actor Brian Bedford. Not only is Robin Hood an expert archer but a very skilled swordsman. In this cel, Robin is wearing his classic green tunic, yellow hat with red feather, and his green boots. Production cels of this quality are rare, and this one is quite nice as Robin Hood is full figure with his eyes and mouth open, and is brandishing a sword preparing to engage the Rhino Guards of Prince John! In addition, the cel is placed on a hand painted master production background with it's matching production line overlay cel. Production backgrounds are even rarer than cels and this background is a beautifully painted scene, that is instantly recognized as being from the Walt Disney film "Robin Hood."
To view the scene in which this cel and background was used to create, click on the short video below:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

King Louie Original Production Cel from "The Jungle Book," 1967

Original hand painted production cel of King Louie from "The Jungle Book," 1967; Set on a lithographic background; Size - King Louie: 6 3/4" x 7", Cel: 9 1/4" x 12", Image 8" x 12"; Unframed.

King Louie is the king of all primates in the Indian jungle and craves nothing more than to be a man. He somehow learns that a Man-Cub (Mowgli) is in the jungle on his way to the Man Village. Louie sends his monkey minions to capture the boy, which they do bringing him to King Louie. Using the musical number "I Wanna Be Like You" and promising Mowgli that he will be able to stay in the jungle for as long as he wants; Louie asks him to reveal the secret to man's "Red Flower" (fire). This cel is from one of the most famous scenes in "The Jungle Book" film; King Louie (voiced by Louis Prima) singing "I Wanna Be Like You!"

Original production cel of King Louie.

King Louie is an original character from Walt Disney, as orangutans are not native to India (only the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia). In addition, King Louie never existed in Rudyard Kipling's original novel and was likely named after his late voice actor, jazz singer Louis Prima. Before Louis Prima landed the part, the iconic musician legend Louis Armstrong was first considered for the role. However, Prima got the role instead of Armstrong; possibly to avoid controversy that would surround casting an African American as an ape.

Milt Kahl was involved in the character design of Louie, but the job of animating him fell upon Frank Thomas. The Walt Disney animator Andreas Deja wrote about Frank Thomas and his animation of this exact scene:

"King Louie is briefly annoyed during the jungle jam session, when he notices that his sidekick "Flunkey" has joined in, taking some of the spotlight. Frank (Thomas) did all 58 drawings for the scene, there are no in-betweens. Throughout Louie is bouncing up and down to the beat of the music, so the overall motion is pretty involved. Because if the amount of work, there was no time to tie down the drawings. That task went to Frank's assistant Dale Oliver, who traced the poses on to new sheets of paper with thin, sketchy black pencil lines. Frank's drawings might not look as polished as you would expect, but they sure have a soul, and they communicate beautifully. I like the way Louie turns his head, as the upper cranium leads the move with the mouth unit following through. It's a great scene, completely alive!"

To view the scene in which this cel was used to create, click on the short video below:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Original Production Drawing of Stromboli from "Pinocchio," 1940

Original production drawing in red, blue, brown, purple, violet, teal, and graphite pencils of Stromboli from "Pinocchio," 1940; Numbered 111 lower right; On watermarked five peg hole paper and stamped with production numbers lower right; Size - Stromboli 7 x 5 1/4", Sheet: 10 x 12"; Unframed.

Although Pinocchio encounters a wide range of antagonists, two of the cruelest are the Coachman and Stromboli; the evil puppeteer, showman, and gypsy whose only goal was to make money. Both the Coachman and Stromboli were voiced by Charles Judes who added a heavy Italian accent. Stomboli is also the only Disney Villain who cursed, however it was obscured by being done in Italian.  

Close up of the face of Stromboli and his hatchet with color notations.

Hamilton Luske directed the live-action footage of most of the actors posing as characters for Pinocchio. Luske admitted to the fact that the character, acted by story man T. Hee dressed in full gypsy garb, was a bit understated but that he did not want Stromboli's animator Vladimir Tytla doing "too many things." Tyla was a tall and imposing personality and he had a physical build that was similar to that of Stromboli, which may account for him being given the character to animate. It is known that while Tytla was working out sequences for Stromobli in his room, that he would perform the story aloud and that Eric Larson stated that he "thought the walls would fall in." Obviously the performance worked because the villainous Stromboli is one of Walt Disney's greatest memorable villains!

Close up of the bottom right corner with production numbers.

This is a magnificent eyes and mouth open, multicolor pencil drawing of the villain Stromboli. With an evil smile, he is holding his hatchet and rubbing his finger across it to test it's sharpness. In addition, this is the color call out drawing for the hatchet. There are multicolored pencils making up the shading of the hatchet in order to differentiate the various shapes and lines drawn to each form with the color (indicated by the unique numbers) referenced.  The dialog from this scene is below:

[picks up a hatchet]
Stromboli: "And when you are growing too old, you will make good firewood!"
[throws the hatchet into a stack of firewood that also contains a worn-out puppet]
Stromboli: "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kaa Original Production Cel Setup from "The Jungle Book," 1967

Original hand painted production cel of Kaa from "The Jungle Book," 1967; Numbered 14 lower right; Together with a hand painted production cel of hanging vines and grasses; Set on a hand prepared background; Size - Kaa: 4 1/2" x 4", Image 10 1/2" x 15"; Mat 16 1/2" x 21"; Double matted.

Kaa, which means "snake" in Hindi, is a python who is almost always hungry and is known for being persuasive and tricky. He lives mainly in the upper limbs of trees and has the ability to hypnotize other creatures through eye contact. Kaa is often seen pursuing Mowgli, in an attempt to devour the man-cub, and he was animated by both Frank Thomas and by Milt Kahl.

Close up of the Kaa cel.

Kaa was the second character who was originally voiced by Sterling Holloway, the first being Winnie-the-Pooh. Holloway's voice is just so wonderful in tone and pitch, and it is hard to imagine any other person doing the character justice. Kaa is very similar to another snake character, Sir Hiss from "Robin Hood". The two share several traits as both use hypnosis, and both suck up to the film's main antagonist (Shere Khan in Kaa's case, and Prince John in Sir Hiss's case). Exceptions are that they are different colors, sizes, and Sir Hiss wears a cape and hat.

Double matted two cel setup of Kaa.

This is a great cel of Kaa, both of his eyes are open and he is displaying his red forked tongue. This cel is from the first appearance of Kaa in the film, and the sequence was animated by Frank Thomas. In addition to the cel of Kaa there is an original hand painted overlay cel of hanging vines and grasses. The two cel setup has been placed on a hand prepared background and is impressive in size; being 10 1/2" x 15"!  The entire setup is double matted.

Entire Kaa setup with the mats removed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sheriff Of Nottingham Production Cel from "Robin Hood," 1973

Original hand painted production cel of the Sheriff Of Nottingham numbered 165 in ink lower right; Disney seal lower right; Placed on a hand prepared background from "Robin Hood," 1973; Double Matted; Size - Sheriff Of Nottingham 7 1/4 x 6 3/4", Image 9 1/2 x 13 1/2", Mat 15 x 19 1/4".

All the characters in Disney's version of "Robin Hood" were played by animals.  The villains of the film consisted of Prince John who was a lion, Sir Hiss (no surprise) was a snake, and the Sheriff of Nottingham was a wolf.  Prince John was voiced by the great and deep voiced Peter Ustinov, Sir Hiss by Terry-Thomas (who's hissing speech was masterful), and both were animated by Ollie Johnston.

Sheriff of Nottingham cel with Disney seal and production number lower right.

The Sheriff of Nottingham was voiced by Pat Buttram and animated by Milt Kahl.  Pat Buttram's voice was just so wonderful and he had an extraordinary career.  He was Gene Autry's sidekick and I remember him as Mr. Haney in the television show "Green Acres."  He voiced several characters for Disney Studios but my favorites were Napoleon the hound dog in "The Aristocats" and of course the evil and cruel Sheriff of Nottingham.  Milt Kahl was just a masterful animator and the Sheriff's facial movements, as well as his way of moving across the screen and interacting with other characters; was just wonderful.

Hand prepared background without the cel.

In this great cel setup of the Sheriff of Nottingham, he has just entered Friar Tuck's church looking for tax money.  The dialog is below:

[the Sheriff of Nottingham has just taken the only coin out of the church's Poor Box]
Friar Tuck: Now, just a minute, Sheriff! Th-th-th-that's the Poor Box!
Sheriff: It sure is, and I'll take it for poor Prince John. [chuckles] Every little bit helps.

The background for this cel is a hand prepared background and matches the scene in the film perfectly.  In addition, the cel and background are double matted.

Double matted Sheriff of Nottingham cel on hand prepared background.

To view the scene in which this cel was used to create, click on the short video below:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Shere Khan Original Production Cel on Key Matching Production Background from "The Jungle Book," 1967

Original hand painted production cel of Shere Khan numbered 111 in ink lower right; Set on a key matching hand painted production background from "The Jungle Book," 1967; Framed with a copper and black wooden frame, four suede acid free mat, and UV conservation clear museum perfect glass; Size - Shere Khan: 8 1/4" x 9", Image 10 1/2" x 15", Background 12 x 16"; Unframed.

Shere Khan, a Bengal tiger, is the main antagonist in the 1967 Walt Disney film "The Jungle Book;" an adaption of writer Rudyard Kipling's series of stories. Khan was voiced by George Sanders, a veteran actor with a deep bass voice and a heavy British accent. According to Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston from "The Disney Villain":

"The perfect choice for the voice was George Sanders, the complete cynic, who added the element of boredom. With this voice, we could imagine a tiger who would kill without concern or effort. Sanders was asked if he would like a drawing of Shere Khan as a souvenir, to which he responded, "I suppose so." Asked further if he would like Walt to autograph it, he replied, "How utterly absurb. Why would I want his signature? He might want mine, I created the character."

Close up of the Shere Khan cel on the production background.

Also from Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston from "The Disney Villain:"

"Shere Khan was one of our most interesting villains. He was physically strong, agile, and capable, but did not have a "tough guy" attitude. There was no need for a swagger, no show-off, no having to prove himself. The storyman, Bill Peet, had drawn a powerful, mean character, aloof and cold. Ken Anderson had added arrogance and Basil Rathbone touch of intelligence and culture. He was above the other animals of the jungle. Like a Roman emperor or a medieval king, he accepted complete authority as his due; there was no need to wallow in the glory of his position. Unlike those monarchs, he did not have to worry about assassins or treachery in the ranks."

Shere Khan complete production cel with the number 111 seen in the lower right corner.

Milt Kahl, the great veteran Disney animator, was in charge of bringing Shere Khan to life and so of course Kahl set out on a crash course in tigers. Kahl said in an interview: I learned so much about tigers by studying them that I didn't have to rely on any life action crutch." From Disney animator Andreas Dejas about the animation of Shere Khan, "Great perspective walk, and I love the way the tiger lies down, upper body first, then the rear. The way he moves those front feet is worth studying alone. Such great anatomy."

Original production background without the Shere Khan cel.

For animation art collecting, it does not get any better than finding a key setup. This occurs when you have an original production cel on it's matching original production background; such that if you were to freeze the film at the exact cel, you would have a perfect match to what is frozen on the screen! Such is the case with this Shere Khan cel and background. In addition, this particular background was used multiple times in the film. The cel image of Shere Khan is a large 8 1/4" x 9", and is from one of the most famous scenes in the film "The Jungle Book;" the interaction between Shere Khan and another villain, Kaa. In the scene Kaa has hypnotized Mowgli (the man-cub) and has him in his coils in the treetops above, and Shere Khan is looking for him. The dialog for the scene is below:

Shere Khan: [Scratches Kaa's nostril with his claw] "Perhaps. But at the moment I'm searching for a man-cub." 
Kaa: "Man-cub? What man-cub?"
Shere Khan: "The one who is lost. Now where do you suppose we could be?"
Kaa: "Search me?"
[Kaa covers his mouth to stifle his gasp]

To view the scenes in which this cel and background was used to create, click on the short video:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Old Hag (The Witch) Production Cel Setup from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937

Original hand painted and hand inked production cel of the Old Hag (The Witch), the boat with basket of apples cel, and water effects cel; all over a hand painted Courvoisier background from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937; Size - Witch and boat: 4 1/2 x 6 1/2", Image 9 1/4 x 11 1/2", Frame 21 x 22 3/4"; Framed using a tan frame, triple matted with calligraphy title on the inner mat, and plexiglass.

The famed animator Joe Grant created the initial sketches of the Witch, which had some basis in the early Witch drawings from Arthur Rackham's illustrations from "Hansel and Gretel." After Walt Disney approved the character design; Norman Ferguson was given the task of animating her. There were early concerns that the Witch would be viewed by the audience as more of a laughable and entertaining clown rather than an evil old hag; however, Norm's animation skill won out and the character seems even more menacing than her prior Queenly form. The Witch is the only character in "Snow White" to look directly into the camera and therefore address the audience. With her one tooth, expressive eyes, and boney hands; Ferguson had a lot of choices in which to invoke fear and to scare. Despite her slow movements and apparent frailness, we all know there is pure evil afoot!

The voice of the Queen was provided by Lucille Leverne and she also wanted to read for the part of the Witch. Leverne was a veteran stage actress and was perfect for the Queen, with a real regalness to her voice. When she was in the sound booth and Walt Disney heard her reading the role of the Witch, he stopped her and said that her voice just did not work for that role. Lucille said to just wait one minute and left the sound booth and then quickly returned and started the reading again. Now her voice had changed to that wonderful raspy, gummy, and single toothed sounding Witch. Disney was amazed and asked how she had managed to get that perfect character voice, and Lucille replied, "Oh, I just took out my false teeth."

Framed Old Hag (The Witch) Production Cel Setup.

In this wonderful multi-cel setup of the Old Hag (The Witch) she has completed the making the poisoned apple to give to Snow White; and places the bright red apple into a basket containing other yellow and green apples. She makes her way down the stairs of the castle from her laboratory to a landing adjoining a small river. She gets into a small wooden canoe, places the basket containing the apples into the canoe, and begins to row the boat using a wooden pole. This is an extremely nice three cel setup, containing an original hand painted and hand inked production cel of the Old Hag (The Witch), an original hand painted and hand inked production cel of the wooden boat with basket of apples cel, and an original hand painted and hand inked production cel of water effects; all placed over a hand painted Courvoisier background. There is a calligraphy title on the lower mat, with two outer mats, and the entire piece is framed.

To view the scene in which these cels was used to create, click on the short video below: