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Abou Ben Boogie

Several weeks ago, we had a post about The Barber of Seville, a fantastic Woody Woodpecker cartoon directed by Shamus Culhane. Now, I'm presenting Culhane's other masterpiece, Abou Ben Boogie. This cartoon was for many years considered as some kind of Holy Grail among the fans and collectors of Lantz cartoons, because it was available only in extremely poor quality prints (see examples here and here). Only in the occasional showings on retrospectives and animation festivals, people were able to see this forgotten classic in its full splendor. Now it's finally available on DVD, as a part of Woody Woodpecker and Friends collection (luckilly, it's not too much damaged by the use of DVNR like some other cartoons on this set).

Abou Ben Boogie is a part of Swing Symphony series, inaugurated by Lantz three years earlier with the cartoon called "$21.00 a Day (Once a Month)" (also contained in the Woody DVD set). Swing Symphonies were highly entertaining and sometimes highly politically incorrect cartoons with excellent soundtracks that often included the participation of the famous jazz musicians. Culhane's entries in this series are particularly strong and inspired.

Abou Ben Boogie is clearly influenced by Tex Avery's masterpiece Red Hot Riding Hood, but while there are many parallels, Culhane's cartoon is quite different in tone and execution. The most noticeable difference is in stylized and minimalistic backgrounds and unusual graphic solutions (the white outlines of Abou Ben for example). Pat Matthew's animation of the dancing girl is a remarkable achievement, comparable with Preston Blair's animation of Red in Avery's cartoon.
The other animators who worked on this cartoon beside Pat Matthews are: Grim Natwick, Don Williams, Les Kline, Dick Lundy, La Verne Harding, and Paul J.Smith. For the more info, take a look at Thad's excellent breakdown of scenes and animators.

Enjoy the screenshots...

Isn't this one of the sexiest classic cartoons ever? :)

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