Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chuck Jones' Off To See The Wizard! OH MY!


It's amazing what you can find on EBAY these days. About a week ago, I found this cel with the original animation drawing from Chuck Jones ABC series 'Off To See The Wizard' from the late 60's. It was offered with a buy it now option and I decided to grab it.
The sheer fact is that not a whole lot of these cels are readily available from this show. That's besides the other fact that a lot of people don't even remember the show. My sister, who's a little older than me and a Wizard Of Oz fan (she was featured in a book about Gumby...more of that in a later post) didn't even know the show existed! Well, I sure did cause I tuned in every week that it was on expecting to see an animated show with The Wizard Of Oz characters. All I got was a dazzling title sequence, neat wraparounds and end credits!
You see, the show was kind of a ABC/MGM version of The Wonderful World Of Color, where certain movies would be the featured attraction, with the animated title and wraparounds used as a device of tying everything together. Actually, to this frustrated youngster, I felt jipped.  The show only got me angry, because there were no other cartoons to be found, once you got through the title and bridge sequences.
Like the village idiot, I tuned in every week expecting a different result! Guess the joke was on all the kids out there in TV land!
It's funny, after all these years, I never forgot about the animation on this show.
Fortunately, all this stuff is surfacing on You Tube. For years now, people thought I was nuts when I mentioned the show. Here's a black and white version of the opening with information about the featured Live Action movie!

Anyway back to my story about the animation art; when I received it, it was framed in an odd way. The cel was sealed in glue from the front, just behind the glass and the drawing was glued in the from the back of the frame. Whoever put it together as a presentation piece wanted you to see the drawing behind the cel. However, somehow in the process of art being mounted, the drawing ripped by the Wizards hand. I wasn't sure why it ripped, so I decided to take the frame apart so that no further damage would happen to the drawing.
Now this is where my story gets interesting.

Taking these pieces out from this frame was an absolute nightmare. Not only was the animation art trimmed down, both pieces were glued down and sealed with more glue. Gone were the peg holes as they were chopped off to fit in the frame! To make matters worse, the animation drawing overlapped the sides of the back of the frame when mounted and whoever did the framing job (Likely Larry, Moe and Curly Joe), put two hanging screws through each side of the animation drawing (see pictures). Probably, when the so called framer was tightening the screws, it put pressure on the paper to cause it to rip! Yikes!
Look, I try to have a sense of humor about stuff like this but it's tough. I consider these things works of art and when someone just sloppily puts something together like this, you can plainly see that there's no care or respect for the material. Maybe I'm too sensitive about this, but I can't help it; I love the material that much. Bottomline is that I have to keep reminding myself that animation drawings and cels were considered a by-product of the animation process; that the films themselves were the actual product. Looking at the bright side of the situation, I have to be thankful that even with the mediocre framing disaster that this was, it still somehow managed to preserve (almost) these pieces of art for almost 50 years...and now I am able to own it!
Here's the opening of the show, some of those wraparounds (one of which features this cel) and some of the closing credits. Enjoy!


3 comments:

Christopher Sobieniak said...

You see, the show was kind of a ABC/MGM version of The Wonderful World Of Color, where certain movies would be the featured attraction, with the animated title and wraparounds used as a device of tying everything together. Actually, to this frustrated youngster, I felt jipped. The show only got me angry, because there were no other cartoons to be found, once you got through the title and bridge sequences.

I would've been that way too! They certainly pulled one over us!

Great cel by the way!

Brian Mitchell said...

I'm sure someone reasoned that the Disney show was using images and music from their films to frame the Wonderful World Of Color program and MGM could use The Wizard Of Oz in the same way. The problem though was that Disney's opening sequence showcased a mix of Different things, mostly live action elements plus Disney did show cartoons! As a matter of fact, Disney broadcast some of their animated features during the course of the show. The MGM show kind of used the animated sequences as a Bait and Switch device. What made it worse was that MGM's title was direct; 'Off To See The Wizard' implied that the show was about 'The Wizard Of Oz'. Major fail!
They should have realized they had a major problem when the animated wraparounds were far more interesting than the live action movies they were featuring.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Some studios never learn.