So one afternoon I was looking through a TV guide and came across one of the cult classic movies of all time, Incredible Mr. Limpet. Why does that title sound so familiar? Reading more I finally remembered. Although I have not seen this movie in decades, it is one of those that you remember and talk about, but what was it called? One of Don Knotts’ magical movies from the early 1960s, where Mr. Knotts stumbles and dives into the ocean and suddenly turns into an animated fish with glasses. Everyone and everything on the surface is true life. This live action / animation movie got me thinking, “how many of these magical movies are there in movie theater?” And that’s where my research began.
I am not talking about CGI for this article and I hope this is not the end of the world of cartoons in movies as we know it, thanks to computer technology. No, we are looking at the true art of making cartoons and making movies. Since 1927 (long before computers) there were Koko the clown, a cartoon clown in a live action setting. The clip was called ‘Out of the Ink Well’.
More of the cult classic movies of the pre-computer era animation / live action genre are …
1940 – You should be in pictures
Only Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and Porky’s car are animated. Daffy and Porky left the studio they worked for to pursue a film career of their own.
A very nice fantasy musical with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Animated performance by Tom and Jerry. Gene Kelly and Jerry Mouse do a cute tap routine. Basically, the story is about two sailors who leave for Los Angeles to live an experience of life.
1964 – The Incredible Mr. Limpet
In my opinion, one of the best Don Knotts movies. A comic fantasy in the era of WWII (1941) before Pearl Harbor. The shy, fish-loving accountant (Don Knotts) travels and dives deep into the ocean and in that moment becomes an animated fish. He surfaces and talks to the non-cartoon people on the shore, his wife and his friend (Carole Cook and Jack Weston). In the end, he even becomes a war hero.
1964 – Mary Poppins
A fabulous Walt Disney fantasy musical where a magical babysitter takes two young children on a trip.
Starring: Julie Andrews – Mary Poppins
Dick Van Dyke – Bert / Mr. Dawes
‘Chim Chiminy’ good movie!
1971 – Bed knobs and broomsticks
This fantasy musical is very comparable to ‘Mary Poppins’. In 1940, Miss Price took a correspondence course in witchcraft in hopes of helping in the World War II effort against the Nazis. Eglantine Price and three children take you on a path of magical spells, adventure and fun in a bed for the whole family.
STARRING: Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson.
1977 – Pete’s Dragon
A Walt Disney fantasy musical with live action / animation. The story is based on the early 20th century and a boy named Pete (of course) has a friend named Elliott, an animated dragon who can make himself invisible. Lots of fun and action!
Starring: Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Red Buttons, Shelly Winters, Mickey Rooney, and Charlie Callas (as the voice of Elliott).
Upcoming selections aren’t considered cult classic movies … yet. They are still hand-drawn cartoons just with a little help from the computer. It’s okay! They are still magical movies and show us that we are NOT at the end of the cartoon world.
Sadly, we seem to have lost some of the fantasy music genre. Ancient musicals have a special aura to feel good around them. But so did ‘Incredible Mr. Limpet’ and ‘Harvey’.
Returning to the cinema we are dealing with, we continue with …
1988 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Produced by Steven Spielberg
A murder mystery set in 1947. Bob Hoskins, as private detective ‘Eddy Valiant’ has an investigation in Toontown where he meets the evil mobster ‘Judge Doom’ played by Christopher Lloyd and his group of henchmen played by animated weasels. Very entertaining movie!
1992 – Fresh world
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Kim Basinger, and Brad Pitt.
A famous cartoonist finds himself in the animated world that he drew and created. Adult detective type story (13+ rated). A very well done animated / live action movie.
1996 – Space Jam
Starring: Bugs Bunny (voiced by Billy West) and Michael Jordan.
An out of this world story where a basketball game faces a challenge between the evil space creatures Monstars and the hilarious Looney Tunes. Michael Jordan joins the Looney Tune team as a doorbell. Most of the Looney Tune characters are here in this pact action movie.
2000 – Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
Starring: Moose and Squirrel
Starring: Rene Russo (Natasha), Jason Alexander (Boris), Robert DeNiro (Fearless Leader), Randy Quaid, Jonathan Winters, and John Goodman.
Fearless Leader discovers that Rocky and Bullwinkle have returned to Hollywood and sends Natasha and Boris to destroy them in their usual way of killing … bombs. Adapted from the television show that first aired in November 1959.
2003 – Looney Tunes: Back in Action
STARRING: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, and Steve Martin.
Bugs and Daffy try to save world domination with the help of Brendan and Jenna. Steve Martin is the sinister.
The entire cast of Looney Tune is in this great movie in one way or another. Sam the sheepdog is beating up Ralph the wolf is an example of some of the background antics, which are hilarious.
Amazing Mr. Limpet started this journey of mine in search of what I call the cult classic films of this genre. Integrating cartoons with live action, what a great idea!
Live-action 3D computer animation may be taking over, bringing the end of the cartoon world as we know it … I hope not! However, this genre also made great movies with its computer imaging software (another article). Great movies like these …
Alice in Wonderland;
Chronicles of Narnia
So in conclusion, Twitter is your favorite cartoon production company and push for more live action / cartoon movies.
Thank you, Cinema Serge