The Extras

GAY PURR-EE: Judy Garland, Chuck Jones, and the Fascinating Story Behind this Forgotten Animation Classic

September 07, 2023 George Feltenstein, Jerry Beck, John Fricke Episode 112
GAY PURR-EE: Judy Garland, Chuck Jones, and the Fascinating Story Behind this Forgotten Animation Classic
The Extras
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The Extras
GAY PURR-EE: Judy Garland, Chuck Jones, and the Fascinating Story Behind this Forgotten Animation Classic
Sep 07, 2023 Episode 112
George Feltenstein, Jerry Beck, John Fricke

GAY PURR-EE (1962) is a forgotten classic of 1960s animation.  But the newly remastered Blu-ray release from the Warner Archive has restored the film to the rich, vibrant colors and sound that showcases the original artistry of Chuck Jones and Judy Garland.

Animation and film historian Jerry Beck, film historian and Judy Garland expert John Fricke, and Warner Bros' George Feltenstein join the podcast to discuss the production history of the film, how Judy Garland was brought on board, and  why the film has struggled to attain the stature it rightly deserves.  We also provide a full review of the stunning new Blu-ray remaster, all of the robust extras, and an explanation of the differences between the film sound and the previously released film soundtrack.

"Gay Purr-ee" was ahead of its time and poorly marketed by UPA and Warner Bros upon its initial release.  While this new Warner Archive Blu-ray cannot rectifiy the past, it showcases the artistry and importance of the film for animation fans, Judy Garland devotees, and film collectors everywhere, and will hopefully lead to a newfound appreciation for the brilliance of the film.

Purchase on Amazon: GAY PURR-EE BLU-RAY

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The Extras Twitter
Warner Archive & Warner Bros Catalog Group
Otaku Media produces podcasts, behind-the-scenes extras, and media that connect creatives with their fans and businesses with their consumers. Contact us today to see how we can work together to achieve your goals. www.otakumedia.tv

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

GAY PURR-EE (1962) is a forgotten classic of 1960s animation.  But the newly remastered Blu-ray release from the Warner Archive has restored the film to the rich, vibrant colors and sound that showcases the original artistry of Chuck Jones and Judy Garland.

Animation and film historian Jerry Beck, film historian and Judy Garland expert John Fricke, and Warner Bros' George Feltenstein join the podcast to discuss the production history of the film, how Judy Garland was brought on board, and  why the film has struggled to attain the stature it rightly deserves.  We also provide a full review of the stunning new Blu-ray remaster, all of the robust extras, and an explanation of the differences between the film sound and the previously released film soundtrack.

"Gay Purr-ee" was ahead of its time and poorly marketed by UPA and Warner Bros upon its initial release.  While this new Warner Archive Blu-ray cannot rectifiy the past, it showcases the artistry and importance of the film for animation fans, Judy Garland devotees, and film collectors everywhere, and will hopefully lead to a newfound appreciation for the brilliance of the film.

Purchase on Amazon: GAY PURR-EE BLU-RAY

The Extras Facebook page
The Extras Twitter
Warner Archive & Warner Bros Catalog Group
Otaku Media produces podcasts, behind-the-scenes extras, and media that connect creatives with their fans and businesses with their consumers. Contact us today to see how we can work together to achieve your goals. www.otakumedia.tv

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the Extras, where we take you behind the scenes of your favorite TV shows, movies and animation and their release on digital DVD, blu-ray and 4K or your favorite streaming site. I'm Tim Lager host. Well, we often have terrific guests on the show, but once in a while we're lucky enough to have a pairing of guests we've never had before. That's exactly what we have today. As animation and film historian, jerry Beck, and film historian and the world's leading authority on Judy Garland, john Fricky, join George Felntzien and I for a discussion of the new Warner Archive Blu-ray release of Gay Hurry. Well, hi, george, jerry, john, it's good to see everyone today.

Speaker 2:

Hello, hey, gentlemen.

Speaker 3:

This is really special. I'm so glad to have everybody here.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean this is like a six degrees of separation from George John. Jerry, you're actually meeting for the first time on this podcast, which is pretty special.

Speaker 2:

But in five minutes of pre-taping conversation we already have Robert Osborne and TCM in common, so I think we're good to go.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely, not to mention our love of the Wizard of Oz, but that's another subject.

Speaker 2:

And we don't have seven hours, so no.

Speaker 1:

Well, george, this is kind of your idea to get your two friends together for a discussion on Gay Hurry. How do you want to kind of start that discussion?

Speaker 3:

Well, I proudly can say I've been friends with both of these gentlemen, both personally and professionally, for a very long time and I will not embark on anything regarding any animated content without consulting and speaking with Jerry, and I would not embark on any project related to the incredible Judy Garland without Mr Fricky, and I am so proud to be joining them for this unique fusion of historical conflagration if that's a word where everything has come together to celebrate the release of this very unique motion picture on Blu-ray from a 4K scan off the camera negative, and a glorious Blu-ray is the result. So we're very proud and I'm excited to hear what the gentleman have to say and to join in the conversation.

Speaker 1:

Well, jerry, maybe we should start with you just to give a little background on how the film came together, because this was one of the. Was it one of the last or few films from UPA, and it's an interesting story.

Speaker 4:

Upa is pretty much forgotten today by the general public, but in the 1950s they were as well known as Disney. They won three Oscars. They created characters that everybody knew back then, at least Mr Magoo, gerald McBoying-Boying UPA was the hot studio in animation, hotter even than Disney and actually influenced not only Disney and its animation but all the animation studios in America and all the animation studios around the world. With their unique vision, with their unique you know, they gave permission to the world of animation that an animation didn't have to just be Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck, it could be anyone's artistic vision, it could be James Thurber, you know. It could be children's books that look like in the style of that author, or just even the animators personal thing. So UPA was a very groundbreaking studio and the one thing they were trying to do they were all, by the way, all the artists there were made up of ex-Disney artists who had worked on Snow White, pinocchio, fantasia and were most of them were people who left the studio during the great strike. Disney had a picketing in 1941 to create the union and all that, and a lot of these artists left for a variety of reasons World War II as well and a formed UPA to try some new ideas and new things and their breakthrough film was in 1950 with Gerald McBoin-Boin, which won the Academy Award seemingly out of nowhere.

Speaker 4:

At that time they were always trying to do an animated feature. That was something they tried to do for 10 years. They made a deal with Columbia Pictures in 1948 that lasted about 10 years or so and they were again the toast of the town during that decade and theatrical shorts were still a big deal during that time. They finally broke through and it was very difficult because Columbia Pictures at that time they wanted, they didn't want a feature, they certainly didn't want one that looked like a UPA movie. They wouldn't know how to sell it. They wouldn't know what to do with it. They had many, many proposals, many, many pitches. The one that finally broke through was an Arabian night story, but Columbia Pictures insisted that Mr Magoo be in it and that film came out in 1959 and bombed entirely.

Speaker 4:

The studio changed hands in 1960. A guy named Henry Saperstein took over and really commercialized the studio. They suddenly made Mr Magoo TV cartoons and things like that. But he had a big goal to continue what UPA had started by trying to move into the feature arena. They immediately came up with a couple of films in development, both of which came out in 1962. One of them, of course, is that very famous Mr Magoo Christmas Carol. The other one was Gay Paris. Gay Paris was a story by Chuck Jones and his wife. I'm sure you know this. I have a feeling John has a little more detail on that story than I do, but it was so totally up Chuck Jones' alley. This is exactly the kind of film he would make. He was, of course, under contract to make the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes for Warners at that time, so he didn't go any further than create the screenplay with his wife. I'm going to stop there, but the film is wonderful. We'll talk more about that as we go along.

Speaker 3:

Jerry, just this is kind of the big question mark hanging over this film. I've had an opinion about it and I will speak responsibly on behalf of our company, right, but it is my understanding, or this has always been my gut. This is not based on anything factual. This is not based on anything I have researched. My belief is that Chuck directed the cartoon and a Levitao. That credit because of Chuck's contractual obligation to Warner Brothers, and I wonder if you agree with that or if you think that Chuck wrote the screenplay and that was it. He didn't direct it per se.

Speaker 4:

Well, in trying to be respectful of the company you work for, clearly Chuck designed the characters. Clearly this is so, chuck Jones, as you have on the bonus material. The Peppula Pew cartoon, particular Louvre, come back to me, which was released the same year as GayPerry. It's a very, very similar themed animated short with the Louvre Museum in Paris. I mean, it's pretty amazing. This was Chuck's thing and I think, possibly, maybe in the way that Spielberg really directed Poltergeist. I know.

Speaker 3:

this thing we don't like to talk about it.

Speaker 4:

It's a maybe. Abe Levitao was Chuck's assistant and co-director at Warner Brothers for years before this and he returned to Chuck during the period when Chuck was doing the Tom and Jerry cartoons for MGM. Abe Levitao gets a co-credit and I believe he even gets a. I think he's a co-director on Dot and Align and I think he even directed a few of those solo. Abe Levitao was a great artist as well, but clearly this looks like a Chuck Jones production.

Speaker 4:

I also will say, whether you knew it or not, that Chuck got in a little hot water for this film with Warner Brothers. The film, of course, was released by Warner Brothers. The UPA no longer had their deal with Columbia in the 1960s so they shopped the film around. Warner Brothers picked it up, but someone there in business affairs realized that what's this Chuck Jones doing on this other company's film? And, as you may have heard, chuck was let go a little earlier than the rest of the staff and, as you also may know, the classic Warner Brothers cartoons department, the one that was started by Leon Schlesinger in 1930. And at that time it was Chuck Jones, robert McKimson and Fritz Freeling. They were let go at the end of 1962.

Speaker 4:

Chuck preceded them being let go and the reason was he broke his contract. He wasn't supposed to write a film for another company, even though Warner's released it. I find that so odd. But they were letting everyone go anyway. So I don't think it was as great of a disappointment for Chuck. By the time they let everybody go most of his staff went to join him at MGM on those Tom and Jerry cartoons, you know. But it all worked out for everybody in the end. But it was quite controversial in-house at that time.

Speaker 3:

Well you know. I should also clarify that the film was what we now call a negative pickup, meaning that Warner Brothers arranged with Saperstein and UPA for perpetual worldwide distribution rights and perpetuity. My theory is Chuck worked on the movie we don't know to what extent before the movie was completed or released, warner Brothers picked it up for distribution, or Jerry, you may know this. Maybe it was completed and then Warner Brothers looked at it and said they'll pick it up for distribution.

Speaker 4:

I don't know that from. I believe Warner's was involved while the film was in production. But I would also say that Chuck might not have directed much of it, Because Abe was a trusted colleague. He was already working for UPA, he directed the Magoo's Christmas Carol and Chuck was involved when he was at Warner's at that time. As you know, George, he was involved heavily with the Bugs Bunny show and directing those interstitials and that's why a lot of the cartoons from the early 60s, a lot of the shorts, are either co-directed by some of the animators or even directed by some of the animators who only had their one shot of directing during this period.

Speaker 3:

Well, that makes sense. Regardless, the net result was a very unique motion picture, and that's why all of us are here to talk about it.

Speaker 4:

I gotta tell you I watched it again with the Blu-ray, with the release of Blu-ray, and I haven't seen the film for at least 15 or 20 years, so I decided to do it right Now. By the way, I had never, I only watched it on television. I never saw it in a theater before. I decided you know what got a big screen TV. Now we all have high death, turning off the lights, watching it at night, cranking up the sound, and man, it was an experience. I really enjoyed watching this film over again in a way that, like I, because I hadn't remembered certain scenes. I hadn't remember how things would look. Color is so vivid, the music is so wonderful. It's. I realize now the film was way ahead of its time. It was way ahead of its time in 1962. It's a work of art and a great tribute to Paris. It's just a great film.

Speaker 3:

I think so too. I've always felt it was criminally underrated and a lot of people don't understand it because there's a sophistication to it that just goes over the head of a lot of people. Conversely, there are a lot of people today who grew up watching this on television as children. Yes, like Jerry, you and I grew up in New York. We didn't have this, but here in Los Angeles you had Tom Hatton hosting the family film festival on weekends, yep, and I know a lot of people that saw the film then.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yeah, you know, the thing that people forget and we talk about it all the time, george is that the show, is that the short cartoons that Chuck comes out of, that you, pa, made, were never aimed solely at children. Yes, children can watch them, children can enjoy them. The characters are popular, but they were aimed for the full audience. Jones in particular, his staff, the UPA people in general, they played to the whole of an audience and not just children's matinees. Now, by 1962, things had changed. Animation being a kid's medium became a thing by the late fifties and into the sixties. So it came out at a difficult period. But the film is really sophisticated, you know, even though it's about animal characters, you know, and they look like our classic cartoon characters. But it's quite a sophisticated piece.

Speaker 2:

You're sure I just have to attend to what Jerry said. I remember Newsweek's, the final line of Newsweek's review. They were pleasant about some aspects of it, but they said it seems like they're trying to tap a hitherto unsuspected audience, the fave four-year-old of Rachea taste and I think I'm saying that right. I took French in high school. Yeah, and it's. They didn't know quite how to promote it. They didn't know quite how to sell it. It was. But what ties in with what Jerry just said about watching it now and watching it projected large and with good equipment or in a theater. That's the last time I thought it was about 10 years ago at a theater here in New York. It is such, if everybody who worked on it is so classy, you know it is all exquisitely, beautifully, conceptually, and they're also committed to it to make it what you know. Chuck and Judy and Harold and Yip and more Lindsay and the animators and everybody. It's really really, really good people all working at the top of their form.

Speaker 1:

Well, I know I watched it, you know, the other night to Jerry, and my daughter sat down and watched it with me and she's 10 years old and she watches, of course, all of the newest Disney animation, all the animation, and it's totally different because it's like art.

Speaker 1:

It really was to what you said and the fact that she actually understands, because she's learning in school about that period of time in French history and art history, and she could, as they were going through some of the different explanation in the film of some of the artwork, she could point it out and she was enthralled. And then, when I said, hey, that's the voice of Judy Garland, she of course knew who Judy was from the Wizard of Oz, which endures amazingly right, this film that just looks like it was made five years ago, not 85 years ago or whatever it is. And she sat and she watched the whole movie with me. She didn't get bored, she didn't grab her iPad, she didn't want to text with her friends or anything, and she was delighted. And, of course, one of the great things about animation and animated movies is music and the music of Judy Garland throughout this. John, that's why you're on, of course. How did Judy get involved in this project and I'm assuming she was involved from very early on because it's so integral to the story.

Speaker 2:

Well, the earliest reference I can find to her being involved was in early June 1961. And at that point she had done Carnegie Hall. She'd been doing the concerts, the one woman shows, for about 10 months and the industry certainly was aware of her resurgence. She was doing, she was healthy and she was touring and she was knocking everybody sideways. She had been out to Hollywood to do judgment at Nuremberg. That filming had been in March 1961. And Freddy Fields and David Beagle and her new agents and they were really managing her and I don't know who approached her.

Speaker 2:

But Mr Saperstein had such a vision for this. There's an interview with him in the December 61 New York Times about if it had to be this period of arts, it had to be, you know, these artists that we homage. If it had to be art, it had to be Paris. If it had to be animals in Paris, it had to be cats. But at that point they had just finished the recording. Judy and the cast had done all the vocal stuff in LA in the month of November 1961. So it was about five months before that that Eddahopper, of all people, broke the story.

Speaker 2:

The Judy Garland was going to do the voice of the leading character in Gay Parade and the extraordinary thing too, and I think, jerry, george, all of you can correct me, I think basically this is regarded, not that Mary Costa didn't do sleeping Gruty and Cliff Edwards didn't do Pinocchio, but I think this is one of the very first times, if not the first time, that a major, major, major star and several major stars came in to do the voices for a feature length cartoon. And when it was announced by Heta, at that point they were looking to get Jean Kelly to do the voice of Jean Tom, the male lead, and Marie Chevalier to be the narrator. But Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg were already committed to do the songs and I think, however it came together. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they didn't use the idea of we can try to get Harold and Yip Judy if you'll agree to do it. You can give using it as bait to get her, or maybe they used her to get them, who knows? But when you put those people together it was kind of like Star is Born. When they announced that, warners announced that Once they were doing a Star is Born, judy Garland I regress when and Harold Arlen were on board, george Cooper, the director, said to Sid Love, if it's for her I'll do it, whatever it is.

Speaker 2:

All those people come right in when you have that kind of magnetism. And, as I say, the word was out that Judy was really in an upswing and many of them had already seen her. Harold Arlen was at the Carnegie Hall concert. Mort Lindsay had been brought in by Fielsen Beigelman to conduct for her in January of 61 and then convinced Mort to do the tour and by summer of 61, he was orchestrating songs for her act and for a capital single. So he was the logical choice to. You know, judy will get Mort to do this with you and she loved him and he loved her. So it was kind of a coalescence of getting everybody together so that, as I say, by November 1961, she had taken three weeks off from the concert tour. She was in LA.

Speaker 2:

There are pictures of her and Lulee working together with Mort in the recording studio rehearsing, and K Thompson, judy's great good friend since 1943 at MGM, was there vocally coaching, uncredited, but she was there. Maury Amsterdam is not in these pictures but he replaced the idea of Marie Chevalier, obviously because the narrator was not that big a part. Maybe it would have been if Chevalier had agreed to do it. But getting Goulay was a cool. This again is Freddie and David. They eventually had Goulay as a client. Whether they use this as bait to get him as a client or they had him and they put him in this because he was a client, I'm not sure. I don't know his career backwards and forwards, but I do know that it was just an extraordinary grouping of people and Freddie and David wanted Judy in there because then they got part of her salary. They would have wanted Goulay in there because they would have gotten part of his salary. You know they were packages and they were working in that idiom very early on and Hollywood history Judy got a $50,000 upfront for Gay Puri and then she had a percentage of it. George, look into that. I want to know where the money went, if she's supposed to be still getting a percentage of Gay Puri. Anyway, that's how it all started.

Speaker 2:

And there are great quotes from Yip, harberg and Haralala about the story about working with Judy again. And Yip said when we sat down with Judy to teach her the songs and he said I was standing at the corner, she was sitting next to Harold and she was looking over Harold's shoulder at the score. Now Judy could not read music. She was very frightened about that. But he said Yip said she had such a sense of melody and lyrics. He said she was almost a line ahead of Harold in realizing where the song was going to go and how she was going to sing. And when Harold Arlen later heard the recording he said everybody's fine. But he said Judy alone shines. She is a treasure and a composer's work could not be in better hands. He also said that Little Drops of Rain was a personal favorite of his. So that was making us from early 61 into summer of 62, which is when the animation was completed.

Speaker 2:

Mr Saperstein was very careful about saying that. Well, no, in no way does Musette resemble Judy Garland in appearance. But if you look, judy's eyes were brown, musette's eyes are blue. But the eyes, the wideness of the eyes, the expressiveness of the eyes, the lashes, that's all very much Judy Garland. And one of the things that is fun, I think, for Judy fans to listen to is that she said when she talked about Gabe Peri later on she said I did a high pitch, my voice for the dialogue. You know to sound young and fresh and naive, and she said it way up here and very wondering, and all the rest. And then Mort hits a chord and out comes 1961, judy Garland, carnegie Hall voice.

Speaker 2:

So they were going for absolutely every approach to it that they thought would be appealing and, as you say now, if your 10-year-old daughter in 2023 can respond to it and I have nieces who are responding to it in the 1980s on home video and I was 11 when Gabe Peri premiered and I was certainly happy to it on all kinds of levels, but it was just so many good people doing so much good work and I think it all paid off in the end result. Maybe not at the box office, maybe not for the mass audience, but, as I said earlier and as we can get into later on as we go on, it wasn't marketed especially well. I don't think Warner Brothers knew quite what to do with it and they might have had a grudge against Chuck Jones for being so involved with it. He would have been gone by then and they might have been an attitude of well, why should we push a Chuck Jones product when he reached his contract and is now at Metro? And, who knows, there are always backstories.

Speaker 4:

Well, I think Garland drove this project in many, many ways, I think. I wonder if it seems to me that Warner Brothers may have picked it up and the marketing seems to be driven by it's Judy Garland, judy Garland. The trailer that's also included in the Blu-ray is very interesting and very telling. It's about 50%, maybe 70%, about it's Garland, it's Garland in Robert Goulet, but then another 30% is a little bit of clips from the film and personally I'd watch the trailer afterward after seeing the film and I'm surprised the clips they showed in the trailer because they're not the best clips. You know they could have so many great visuals and beautiful things they could have put in here, but they didn't do that. So very, very odd.

Speaker 2:

You don't start a family animation. Forgive me for jumping in, but you do not start a trailer for a family animation movie with Judy Garland singing Paris as a lonely town and the voiceover is the woman. Is that who I think it is? Why? Yes, that's her, that's Judy Garland, and it's like start with my hand Paris. You do roses, red, violets, blue. You put in the suicide number toward the end, when you kind of already pre-sold the picture. Very, very peculiar.

Speaker 4:

But yeah, I mean I also want to say that Garland you said you asked before about, was this the first kind of celebrity or star to headline an animated film? I have to think about it, but I pretty much say yes as far as a feature film is concerned, and Garland's a superstar. The only other ones that are in the back of my mind are some of those little shorts that Disney did where he did compilation movies and he would have Bing Crosby doing Legend of Sleepy Hollow and something like that. Or the Andrews sisters and Little Toot. You know those are really shorts that are part of a feature. There's no, any of those big Disney movies that really highlights a superstar.

Speaker 4:

Again, I'll just make a little cut out because we don't want to talk about Disney, but I guess the only comparison would be something like Peggy Lee being involved with Lady and the Tramp. Yeah, but other than that this was unique at the time. Anything when we think about celebrities' voices and animated features, it's pretty much after this movie, including Disney movies. You know that would later have Phil Harris or whatever, the Beatles and Yellow Submarine, you know, things like that.

Speaker 2:

all of that's later and this was definitely a first and again I'm going to play devil's advocate here about the trailer because of course, by the time he gave Harry was released in November 1962, judy had been Oscar nominated for judgment. Nuremberg, carnegie Hall had been on the charts for something like 75. Right Grammy Album of the Year, petitian Spectacular Frank Sinatra and Martin, which was the biggest star in the industry at that point.

Speaker 4:

Right, and that's a really important. People forget the context of the release and what was going on at that time. In fact, let me ask you, john, remind me about Robert Goulay. Was Camelot? Was he in Camelot at that point?

Speaker 2:

Camelot in 1960 had put him on a map and he was doing a lot of TV variety. But it's interesting, he was with Camelot for a good long time and then he did Gay Perri. He got a recording contract and when Gay Perri opened he was also opening simultaneously what I believe was his first big nightclub act at Blinstrobes in Boston. So he was just starting to diversify and he was starting to appear in non-animated films. But that was really just coming on the map at that point by the time the picture opened. He was a great catch for the part and again, looking ahead, I think everybody kind of knew he had a future, but he wasn't yet. Robert Goulay when he recorded Gay Perri he was, but I'm.

Speaker 2:

The film opened and Rhett said won an Academy Award. Hermione Gingold had just made a big hit in the Music man. So these were all names that could be punched. Paul Freeze everybody knew the voice. I don't think they did any kind of real promotion with him, but they could have if they'd said this is the same guy whose voice is here, there and everywhere. But it was all about Judy. I didn't complain, mind you, but it was all about Judy.

Speaker 4:

It's also a great performance. What I love about it is in later years, when there would be a celebrity, you can kind of feel they're coming in and doing the least in order to fulfill whatever the contract is. I didn't feel that way at all watching this film. She gives a performance. That's the cool thing about it. To me, it all feels very, very right.

Speaker 2:

Well, and here's Tim. If you ever want to run a trivia contest with this YouTube installment, you can ask the question. At what moment in gay paris is Musette's voice not the voice of Judy Garland? Tell us? It's the first frames of the film when she and Jean-Tom are in the carriage and they're laughing at Robespierre and his little pussy cat. That's not Judy Garland laughing. Judy Garland had an identifiable laugh in the world and they probably didn't know they needed it at that point. You know it was an afterthought with the animation, but it ain't her.

Speaker 1:

Well, back to your point, Jerry. When I watched this movie the new Blu-ray coming out or actually it's already out from the Warner Archive, when I put that in, I definitely wanted to watch it on my 4K monitor with my surround sound, and so it's the best of the best, of which I'm gonna watch. You know which? I watch all of the newest movies and it holds up visually, the brightness of the colors, the artistry of the colors, and then the sound of Judy singing coming through my surround sound. I mean it was quite an experience. It really to what you said, it was a performance against art. I mean, that's just kind of how I have to view it, and my daughter was totally enthralled. I think anybody who hasn't seen this since it was been on television or, you know, since it's been remastered, obviously it's gonna be really, really surprised and shocked at how great it looks and sounds.

Speaker 3:

Well, this is the first time people are getting to see it as it was shown in the theaters in the 185 aspect ratio. Further, this is a 4K scan off the camera negative, so you don't have any intermediate elements getting in the way. And I really wanna talk about the sound for a second, because this is very important. The film's music sessions were recorded stereophonically and of course there was a CD soundtrack which basically was the more modern iteration of what was the LP soundtrack. Let me do my math. Well, 40 years earlier and I produced the CD soundtrack using the Multitrack Album Master, there were no recording sessions to go back to. They were not turned over to Warner Brothers. No one knows what happened to them.

Speaker 3:

But the soundtrack album has appropriate for the time reverb. It doesn't sonically sound like the movie at all, so people will sometimes just assume well, why isn't the film in stereo, like the album? Now, when I was a little kid I used to think that way. I was like what's going on here? The film was released minorally. We used the Mineral Magnetic Print Master source for the audio and it is mono as released to theater. If we had put the music as recorded for the, as you find on the soundtrack album. If we had gone back to that master for the songs it would have sounded completely different. Everybody would have sounded like they're in an echo chamber because they put reverb baked into those album tracks. And we ran into the same problem with Lucio Ball's main.

Speaker 3:

Maybe not surprisingly or surprisingly that film was released minorally and the reason why mono movies with music in them were if they weren't a huge road show presentation going up to 70 millimeter or filmed in with a 65 millimeter negative with the six track sound. It was in the early fifties with stereophonic, magnetic kind of descended upon the scene that stereo is more common. Then there became a period of time, really for about 15, maybe 20 years, where local neighborhood theaters did not have stereophonic capabilities. So many films were released mono, even if they were music heavy. It really wasn't until the introduction of Dolby's stereo optical, which really was led by Star Wars in 1977, that made it more commonplace that you could have stereophonic audio reproduction in theaters in neighborhoods and even that took 10 to 12 years to become very, very commonplace.

Speaker 3:

So I really want people to know that we were unable. Just the same thing happened to us with Cabaret, where Cabaret was strangely released only with a menorah soundtrack or we can find no evidence otherwise, and the recording sessions for that film don't exist and therefore we had to synthesize something for the Blu-ray that came out. But the album of Cabaret has even more reverb than the album of Gay-Paree. So, as in like, we missed an opportunity. We could not do it because it would have sounded completely different from the rest of the film and actually been distracted. It's a shame, because the stereo sounds wonderful but it doesn't sound like the film. It sounds like an album. So I just had to clarify that for those who are interested.

Speaker 2:

And complaining. They're always complaining.

Speaker 3:

People are. Yeah, I'll leave it at that and just concur with your assessment, John.

Speaker 1:

So John was the album that came out of this fairly popular.

Speaker 2:

I don't think so. I think George wrote about it a little bit in the CD liner notes because the film came and went so quickly. It premiered in Chicago in November of 1962. A big world premiere. Judy was there doing a concert besides and plugging the songs. She had been for the pre-stating concerts in Las Vegas for six weeks and in Chicago and talking about Gay Paris and she was supposed to be getting a percentage. She was in there plugging for it. She did a bus tour of theaters in New York like Betty Davis did for Baby Jane around that same time. Or she went by bus with reporters to. You know, judy will be at this theater in the Bronx at seven o'clock, she'll be at this theater in the Bronx at seven thirty. And she went place to place. Goulet was with her on a couple of the three nights. They had a 14 man police escort to get them in enough because the people were jammed up to see Judy Garland in person and at first she just went in and talked and she got the sense that it wasn't enough.

Speaker 2:

So on the bus she coached the 14 policemen and Robert Goulet into a chorus of there's no business like show business, which they then acapella at all the other theaters which she did, that she and Goulet were on a jack car program here an hour on Friday time time and that was a huge event to have Judy Garland on the talk show. It had never happened before and so she was singing, she was saying little drops and Paris is the only town on that show. She and Goulet dueted me set. But the thing is I was waiting for it to come in Milwaukee and to appear. I think it happened over Thanksgiving weekend and because it was Thanksgiving weekend every family was already committed to doing this, that and the other thing and within five days, six days, it was gone and it seemed like that happened.

Speaker 2:

I don't remember Print ads in the paper. It was all very, very, very quick and clandestine and out and they put the problem out, you know good four months before the movie opened. I remember getting it in the summer of 1962 because even at 11, I was buying Judy Garland albums as soon as they came on the market and it's a shame because you knew I played the album a lot because I love Mortland's stuff. I love what he was charting for Judy, what he was the Carnegie Hall album, which he didn't do any arrangements but he was conducting brilliantly and it's just, he knew how to showcase her. And I remember Ed Gibbonski, who was a good friend of the Irish, irish wins. He was a good friend of Harold Arland. He wrote in fact two biographies on Harold, one while Harold was still alive and one that could be a little bit more direct about some of the problems that Harold had after Harold passed. And he was also a main reviewer for American Record Guide, which was one of the classiest of the monthly magazines about new records, pop, classical, both.

Speaker 2:

And he writes very, very fluently and very well about gay paris and his cutoff is that this is a score that would not be out of place on a Broadway stage. You know, it is that caliber of music and lyrics and the album is wonderful and so is everything about gay paris. Again, no, I don't remember there being ads in Billboard or Variety or anything. It was just kind of flush. And a lot of this is thinking out loud for me. And the point again my mind is going back to is maybe one of the brothers was just didn't want to do anything for Chuck Jones but they envisioned as a Chuck Brown production. I don't want to say that, you know, as if it's concrete because, as George said, I've done no research at it, but boy, it just disappeared very quickly. It didn't even play the neighborhood theaters because, believe me, I wanted to go and see it again.

Speaker 4:

I wanted to ask you, John, where did it open in New York? Did it open like in one theater in Manhattan?

Speaker 2:

It opened wide. It opened wide. That's why Judy and Bob Goulet did all those theaters on the bus. So probably like 14, 15, 20 theaters all over the question area.

Speaker 4:

Well, you know, I mean I'm a bit of a, in addition to my being an animation historian, I'm a bit of a nut on how the films were distributed because, like George, I used to be in film distribution and I don't know about the whole Chuck Jones aspect of it. When you've got Judy Garland I really don't think Chuck Jones is that important from a marketing perspective. I think that none of the studios and this went on for decades, until literally this century none of the studios really understood how to distribute an animated film, good or bad the film may be outside of Disney. Disney was set up to do that and most studios, you know, even handed a great film. And again, george knows, you know Iron Giant is a classic animated feature.

Speaker 4:

Warner Brothers did not know how to sell that movie. If a film is good, it'll ultimately will out. You know people will find it on physical media, thank goodness. But back in those days, unfortunately, a lot of feeling by the front end distribution people, based on what I know was a cartoon at that time was a cartoon that meant Saturday matinees they sort of pre thought it wouldn't work. You know in advance, and I see that all the time when I look at the box office totals for the non Disney films throughout the years. And there's good films, there are bad films, but sometimes they would dump a film, a great film. In fact. Chuck Jones's next feature was the Phantom Toll booth. That was not released for like two or three years George, you may know about that and then it was sold as one of those children matinees, those MGM. Yeah, remember that.

Speaker 3:

It was part of the first group of MGM children's matinees. Along with this is, of course, John's territory, the first theatrical engagements of the Wizard of Oz in over 15 years, as the original agreement with CBS for broadcast did not allow for theatrical exhibition. So the MGM children's matinees were where the Phantom Toll booth finally was seen in theaters after being on the shelf for two years.

Speaker 4:

Right. I mean there was a weird feeling about what animation was in that in the whole of the 1960s. Walt Disney passed away in 1966. Animation on the whole did not have a leader and the studios left to their own devices. Really kind of let it all go is what happened from the animation history perspective. That's why it's great that we're able to showcase and highlight this film, because it really is a work of art and really, as you said, underrated it would be the right word for its reception in the past. I think this might be the best ever release of it. I'm pretty positive it is and hopefully it'll get more people to rediscover it for the first time.

Speaker 3:

And looking back at the history, I think it is interesting to note that the film made its television debut not as afternoon kitty programming, but it was on the CBS either Thursday or Friday Night Network movie. I can't remember if it was Thursday Night movie or Friday Night movie, I don't remember that, but it was, you know, 9 pm. When was that, george? What year? I can't tell you exactly, but I would assume 1966 or 67 somewhere around there. But they didn't make it. They didn't say, oh, we can't put this film on our nighttime primetime movie slot because it's for kids. They didn't do that. They put it in the evening slot because there were some people that recognized it as a work of art that would appeal to adults. And of course, jerry, you and I are always dumping the bandwagon that the classic cartoons that were created for theatrical release by all the studios, particularly Warner Brothers and MGM, were very much aimed at adults and fine for children, but they were not created as kitty babysitters, like the Saturday morning cartoons later came to be in the 70s and 80s.

Speaker 4:

Well, you know, chuck was very much a proponent of that, meaning he never really he never ever made the cartoons any of the ones he did for children. He was able to survive that period by getting that gig with MGM theatrical cartoons as he had been doing, and of course he augmented that by doing little films like the Dot and the Line, which then won an Oscar, not aimed at and the Grinch and of course the Grinch I mean, and other TV specials. He was able to maintain a certain level and probably I'd love to know what year that was on the TV broadcast, because that sort of fits in with, when you know, kind of the golden age of Chuck as a making TV specials, because I think Grinch was 66, I think it was December 66.

Speaker 3:

If my brain isn't failing me, I'm pretty sure this was like fall of 1967.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that sounds right.

Speaker 3:

But yet I have not researched it.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and you know I got to say one more trivial or not trivial thing about Chuck and UPA and this, relating to this film, is this was really the last hurrah of animation in the way that UPA was established in the first place, making this film in 62. This and Magoo's Christmas Carol, same year, same directors. After this they only did a bunch of Magoo specials for NBC and they were out of animation. As you know, they were distributing Godzilla movies and things like that. I think they produced what's Up, tiger Lily with Woody Allen, so they were in a different universe after this movie.

Speaker 4:

What's interesting is that most people don't know that Chuck Jones directed the very first UPA animated film. That was in 1942. And it was the first thing they got paid to do a commissioned film to reelect FDR called Hell Bent for Election, very famous film. You can find it online. It's the first UPA cartoon and it was done by Chuck Moonlighting because it was done for political reasons. He wanted to work on this, he wanted to help those guys and he designed and directed this short to help FDR. So I find that very interesting and Chuck was involved in the first and the last of the UPA epic animations.

Speaker 2:

Those are both good bookends though.

Speaker 4:

Yes, well, in between, of course, he worked in Warner Brothers.

Speaker 2:

Again, just to go back to their marketing. The other thing that bothered me well, not bothered me, yeah, bothered me that again, no campaigning at Oscar time for either the score or any of the songs. Another writer and I wish I could remember where I read this, I don't, but he said that part of the problem is that in 1962, there were not that many original musicals being written for the screen. Everything was Broadway or Elvis Presley, but music. Back then you had just had West Side Story and of course you had Mary Poppins upcoming, and Sound of Music, of course, was again Broadway. But again, musicals were not what they had been, unless they came with a pedigree built in. Disney made Mary Poppins, so there was the pedigree. But Sound of Music, music man, west Side Story, they were all pretty much pre-sold successes. Yeah, so again it. As you say, it is a much delayed sort of respect and response to Gay Peri that this release can give it and that I think a lot of people will be delighted to find out what they've been missing for these 60 years.

Speaker 4:

You know, let me repeat that this film was pioneering. We did have a superstar in Judy Garland in it. It was a UPA production but, as you're saying, animation back then was not regarded the way it is today. Today we have 30 theatrical releases. They have a category of best animated feature. None of that existed back then.

Speaker 4:

Animation was kind of off the table. They were on the, in the, in the kiddie table, you know, at Thanksgiving over here, and there really weren't that many original animated features that were pure. What I mean by that is even the previous UPA feature, which was the first American animated feature in about 13 years. Preceding one was that wasn't Disney, was was the Fleischer films, like Mr Bug Goes to Town. Only Disney made animated features, period. So finally, magoo they put Mr Magoo in their first one. The other animated features of this time that were made in America were films that Warners is distributing, like hey there at Yogi Bear and the man called Flintstone, films that are based off of TV properties or famous named cartoon characters. An original, an absolute original story with characters nobody knew that was a. That was. This was very, very unique in its day.

Speaker 2:

I just reminded me of the Snow Queen, which I think was a European thing. That was Russian, yeah, redubbed, here I got. I've got to say one thing you have revived in my heart not that it's ever far from there at all is Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol, because that has been a thrilling thing to me since I was 11, 12 years old and there are so many backgrounds to Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol, especially during winter was warm that looked like backgrounds from Gay Paris. The same style, the same classy approach, and winter was warm has got to be one of my top five favorite songs of all time. So it is nice to realize or put in perspective for me how much that is a UPA demonstration, because it is as it gets.

Speaker 1:

George Jerry mentioned a little bit earlier some of the classic cartoon extras on here and the trailer, which are part of the extras. I watched them and again I'm watching with my daughter. We loved them and they look terrific. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about the choices that went into that.

Speaker 3:

Well, I thought it was a perfect opportunity, given the subject matter, to take two of Chuck's Pebby Le Pew cartoons for sentimental reasons, which won the Oscar, and Louvre come back to me, which happens to be of the same year that Gay Paris was released, and usually when we put cartoons on as a bonus to feature films, it's either because of thematic or relation, which is the application for sentimental reasons, or year of release. Louvre come back to me, but it also violated the Chuck Jones equivalency theory. I want to make a Big Bang Theory kind of title for that by including the Robert McKimson cartoon, french Rare Bit, which is one of my personal favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons and is so Oolala French. And Gay Paris is Oolala French and it's thematics and very differently but hysterically, so is French Rare Bit.

Speaker 3:

And we also added five demos, performed by the composer, harold Arlen, of Key Songs from the Film, and he's joined on two of them by the lyricist EY Yip Barberg, and I'm sure that this has probably already been mentioned, but again, these are the gentlemen that created all the songs and the song score for the Wizard of Oz, for Judy Garland, including Over the Rainbow, so that pedigree coming to this motion picture can't be underscored, hence the songwriter demo. So it's really a full disc in terms of immersing one in the Gay Paris experience and the French animation experience and the let's Make a Judy Garland movie experience. So it's all things rolled into one, plus red buttons.

Speaker 4:

And you art teachers out there between the Louvre come back to me and the section in Gay Paris. Literally you can get an art education in this film that I don't think you can get anywhere else. You know it's pretty cool. I love it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I was mentioning that earlier that my daughter is at that age where she's being taught a lot of that, and she caught right onto that and she jumped ahead. I know that, I know that artist, I know that style. And she was saying, oh, that's my favorite, you know the go-gone. And I was just shocked to hear her just jumping in to talk about that. I mean, you don't hear that on a current animation. Well, actually that's wrong. It's usually, oh, I know that singer, but I just thought this was a terrific film. I really appreciate you guys coming on because I think we just need to kind of spread the word on how great this looks and sounds. And of course, there, you know, there's already Judy Garland fans and there's already Chuck Jones fans Melding hey, two of your favorites, possibly in different worlds. They came together. But I think that if people aren't kind of shown the images and we don't talk about it, that this could just once again kind of slip under the radar and lose its place in animation history, film history.

Speaker 4:

We got to, we got to spread the word. I guess we got to get the Academy Museum or something to do a display. I wonder if any of the animation cells exist. I seriously don't know.

Speaker 3:

Have you ever seen?

Speaker 4:

one, and you know, I don't think I ever have, but I'm going to look into it. I'm going to look into it. I can't think of seeing one.

Speaker 1:

It really does feel like something that should be shown at the Academy with a little exhibit. It really does. That's that kind of quality. Well, George, was there anything else you wanted to talk about?

Speaker 3:

Well, I just think it is a cause for celebration to be here with all three of you, gentlemen, and to salute this very, very special release. I'm hoping that the availability of this film, as it was meant to be seen, with unparalleled quality, will garner it a new group of fans and the appreciation I feel it deserves and has not been given hitherto.

Speaker 2:

Well, I know a lot of fans garland fans are already posting on Facebook that they have it and they're loving it. They must have preordered, because they started getting it in the mail at the top of this week and it's like it looks great, it sounds great. I've never seen it like this, all of that kind of stuff. So the drums are being beaten and we tried to do our part today anyway.

Speaker 1:

Well, along those notes, thank you, jerry. Thank you, john, george. As always, it's terrific to have you on the podcast, and I just want to thank you guys for coming on and sharing all of your amazing knowledge with the listeners of the extras. So thank you.

Speaker 3:

Thanks Tim.

Speaker 1:

I hope you enjoyed this discussion as much as I did. I know there's terrific hearing from John Frickie, who just knows so much about Judy Garland, and, of course, jerry Beck, who has all of that animation background. What a treat that was for animation fans and film fans. So I hope you really enjoyed that. If you're interested in ordering Gay Pari, we will have a link to that here in the podcast show notes, so look for that. And if you're on social media, be sure and follow the show to stay up to date on our upcoming guests and to be a part of our community. And you're always invited to our Facebook group for fans of Warner Archive films, called the Warner Archive and the Warner Brothers Catalog Group, so look for that link on the Facebook page or in the podcast show notes as well. And for our long-term listeners, please don't forget to follow and leave us a review at iTunes, spotify or your favorite podcast provider. Until next time you've been listening to Tim Mallard, stay slightly obsessed.

Discussion on Gay Hurry Blu-Ray Release
Film Production and Reception Discussion
Gay Paris Film
The Challenges of Distributing Animated Films
Animation and Film Fans Get Treats