Stephen Kroninger
 By Popular Demand---the complete FRANK TASHLIN'S HOW TO CREATE CARTOONS, published 1952.
 Frank Tashlin had achieved recognition as a children's writer when he entered the film industry to work in the animation units at Disney and Warner Bros. Both of these early careers would have decisive import for the major films that Tashlin would direct in the 1950s. This early experience allowed Tashlin to see everyday life as a visually surreal experience, as a kind of cartoon itself, and gave him a faith in the potential for natural experience to resist the increased mechanization of everyday life. Tashlin's films of the 1950s are great displays of cinematic technique, particularly as it developed in a TV-fearing Hollywood. They featured a wide-screen sensibility, radiant color, frenetic editing, and a deliberate recognition of film as film. Tashlin's films often resemble live versions of the Warners cartoons. Jerry Lewis, who acted in many of Tashlin's films, seemed perfect for such a visual universe with his reversions to a primal animality, his deformations of physicality, and his sheer irrationality. Tashlin's films are also concerned with the ways the modern world is becoming more and more artificial; the films are often filled with icons of the new mass culture (rock and roll, comic books, television, muscle men, Jayne Mansfield, Hollywood) and are quite explicit about the ways such icons are mechanically produced within a consumer society. For example, in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, the successful romance of Rita Marlow (Jayne Mansfield) causes other women to engage in dangerous bust-expanding exercises to the point of nervous exhaustion. Yet the very critique of mass culture by an artist working in a commercial industry creates the central contradiction of Tashlin's cinema: if the danger of modern life is its increasing threat of mechanization, then what is the critical potential of an art based on mechanization? Significantly, Tashlin's films can be viewed as a critique of the ostentatious vulgarity of the new plastic age while they simultaneously seem to revel in creating ever better and more spectacular displays of sheer technique to call attention to that age. The Girl Can't Help It, for instance, chronicles the making of a non-talent (Jayne Mansfield) into a star, viewing the process with a certain cynicism but at the same time participating in that process. These films are vehicles for Mansfield as Mansfield, and are thus somewhat biographical. As with Jerry Lewis, serious treatment of Tashlin began in France, especially in the pages of Positif, which has always had an attraction to the comic film as an investigator of the Absurd. Anglo-American criticism tended to dismiss Tashlin; for example, Andrew Sarris in American Cinema called him "vulgar". In such a context, Claire Johnston and Paul Willemen's Frank Tashlin had the force of a breakthrough, providing translations from French journals and analyses of the cinematic and ideological implications of tashlin's work. DANA B. POLAN



Porky Pig’s Feat contains the first use of the music "Powerhouse" in a cartoon. Composed by Raymond Scott, "Powerhouse" became iconic through its use in over forty Warner Bros. cartoons

“According to Georges Sadoul, Frank Tashlin is a second-rank director has never done a remake of You Can’t Take It With You or The Awful Truth. According to me, my colleague errs in mistaking a closed door for an open one. In fifteen years’ time, people will realize that The Girl Can’t Help It served then — that is, today  –  as a fountain of youth from which the cinema now — that is, in the future — has drawn fresh inspiration ….To sum up, Frank Tashlin has not renovated the Hollywood comedy. He has done better. There is not a difference in degree between Hollywood or Bust and It Happened One Night, between The Girl Can’t Help It and Design For Living, but a difference in kind. Tashlin, in other words, has not renewed but created. And henceforth, when you talk about a comedy, don’t say ‘It’s Chaplinesque’; say, loud and clear, ‘‘It’s Tashlinesque’.“--- Jean-Luc Godard, Cahiers du Cinéma, July 1957

"Canter through Coventry" original oil painting by Frank Tashlin.
Q: It seems that compromise is an essential part of pictures.
Tashlin: Unfortunately, it's nothing but compromise until you earn the right not to have to. Censorship, producers, stars. I get pretty morose when something goes wrong, so I go home on weekends and paint. I love to paint. Doesn't matter if it's good or bad. If someone tells me, "I don't like that yellow,' I can say, 'Screw you.'

Tashlinesque: The Hollywood Comedies of Frank Tashlin: Tashlin is finally given his due in this career-spanning survey. Tashlinesque considers the director's films in the contexts of Hollywood censorship, animation history, and the development of the genre of comedy in American film, with particular emphasis on the sex, satire, and visual flair that comprised Tashlin's distinctive artistic and comedic style. Through close readings and pointed analyses of Tashlin's large and fascinating body of work, Ethan de Seife offers fresh insights into such classic films as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, The Girl Can't Help It, Artists and Models, The Disorderly Orderly, and Son of Paleface, as well as numerous Warner Bros. cartoons starring Porky Pig, among others. This is an important rediscovery of a highly unusual and truly hilarious American artist.

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