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Modern Madcaps

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Modern Madcaps
Screenshot 2022-04-14-12-44-33.png
The title wasn't lying when it said it was a madcap.
Genre: Comedy
"Slapstick"
Running Time: 5-9 minutes
Country: United States
Czechoslovakia (Gene Deitch-directed shorts)
Release Date: November 17, 1958 – January 1967
Created by: Paramount Cartoon Studios
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Paramount Cartoon Studios
Harvey Films (1958-62)
Starring: Mae Questel (1959-61)
Cecil Roy (1958-63)
Jack Mercer (1958-65)
Jackson Beck (1958-61)
Eddie Lawrence (1958-65)
Dayton Allen
Bob McFadden
Corinne Orr
Allen Swift
Episodes: 64


Modern Madcaps is an animated film series produced by Paramount Cartoon Studios between the years 1958 and 1967.

The idea seemed to be that the kid-friendly material would remain in the Noveltoons, and the more adult-skewing material would end up as a Madcap.

Filmography

1950s

1958-59

  • "Right Off The Bat" (Kneitel/Johnson; November 17; one-off; first short of Modern Madcap series)
    The "Redskins" Indian scout member inducts a horse to a failing baseball team.
  • "Fit to be Toyed" (Kneitel/Johnson; February 16; one-off)
    A toy company president is sent to a psychiatrist to deal with his constant immaturity.
  • "La Petite Parade" (Kneitel/Johnson; March 16; with Renoir the Matchmaker; the final appearance of Renoir the Matchmaker in the Golden Age of American Animation)
    Renior the Matchmaker tries to convince the king to patch up a pothole that causes the garbage truck to spill trash on his house.
  • "Spooking of Ghosts" (Kneitel/Johnson; June 1; one-off)
    Mr. McGregor hires a ghost to haunt an abandoned mansion.
  • "Talking Horse Sense" (Kneitel/Endres; September 14; with Oscar Gullible; also his first appearance)
    Oscar Gullible encounters a talking horse.
  • "T.V. Fuddlehead" (Kneitel/Johnson; October 26; one-off; last Modern Madcap in original 1950-59 Harvey Films package; final Modern Madcap released in Technicolor)
    TV Fuddlehead can't stop watching TV and follows through everything said on the TV.

1960s

1960

  • "Mike the Masquerader" (Kneitel/Pattengill; with the titular character; also his first appearance)
    An elephant is a witness against Mike the Masquerader.
  • "The Boss Is Always Right" (Kneitel/Tafuri; with Jeepers and Creepers; first appearance of both)
    Creepers tries to get a raise from his boss.
  • "Fiddle Faddle" (Kneitel/Johnson; with Professor Schmaltz; also his first appearance)
    Professor Schmaltz proves that music can tame a savage beast.
  • "Trouble Date" (Kneitel/Pattengill; with Jeepers and Creepers)
    Creepers tries to get a date at the beach.
  • "From Dime to Dime" (Kneitel/Johnson; one-off)
    Jonah finds a dime and quickly becomes addicted to gambling.
  • "Trigger Treat" (Kneitel/Johnson; one-off)
    A new sheriff bans guns on an old western town.
  • "Busy Buddies" (Kneitel/Tafuri; with Jeepers and Creepers)
    Jeepers enters Creepers into a boxing match to pay for income tax.
  • "The Shoe Must Go On" (Kneitel/Spector; with Luigi; also his first appearance)
    Luigi the blacksmith interrupts a concert at his smithy.
  • "Top Cat" (Kneitel/Klein; with The Cat; also his first appearance)
    The Cat is bought in to be a new star for BlocBuster Pictures.
  • "Electronica" (Kneitel/Tafuri; one-off)
    Henry buys an automated robot to not be bossed around anymore by his wife, to predictably catastrophic results.
  • "Shootin' Stars" (Kneitel/Johnson; one-off)
    Two TV cowboy stars compete for an autograph of a young fan.
  • "Scouting for Trouble" (Kneitel/Tafuri; with Jeepers and Creepers; final appearance of both in the Golden Age of American Animation)
    Jeepers teaches Creepers how to camp with his nephew Frisky.
  • "Disguise the Limit" (Kneitel/Johnson; with Mike the Masquerader)
    Mike tries to steal a valuable collar from a poodle.
  • "Galaxia" (Kneitel/Spector; one-off)
    A matchmaker tries to find a match for an alien spaceman while dealing with an unsatisfied customer.
  • "Bouncing Benny" (Kneitel/Place; one-off; instead of painting the film on cels, animators Place and Feuer created paper cutouts of the characters to create shadow effects)
    A literal bouncing baby boy's young life is shown.
  • "Terry the Terror" (Kneitel/Johnson/Golden; with Professor Schmaltz)
    Professor Schmaltz tries to tame menacing Terry.

1961

  • "Cool Cat Blues" (Kneitel/Spector; with The Cat)
    The Cat is hired as a bodyguard.
  • "The Phantom Moustacher" (Kneitel/Waldman; one-off)
    Sir Percival Prunepit is the titular character who paints mustaches on everything he sees.
  • "The Kid From Mars" (Kneitel/Tafuri; with Kosmo the Space Kid)
    Kosmo wrecks havoc with his ray gun at a circus.
  • "The Mighty Termite" (Kneitel/Tafuri; with Professor Schmaltz)
    Professor Schmaltz studies a wild termite that eats everything in sight.
  • "In the Nicotine" (Kneitel/Spector; one-off)
    Charlie Butts is sent to Smokers Anonymous to stop his smoking addiction.
  • "The Inquisit Visit" (Kneitel/Spector; with Gabby Lament)
    Gabby Lament is interviewed by Chas Huntington in a Person to Person spoof, but is constantly interrupted by his husband.
  • "Bopin' Hood" (Kneitel/Spector; with The Cat)
    After the king outlaws jazz, The Cat lures in jazz back to the village, much to the delight of the princess.
  • "Cane and Able" (Kneitel/Spector; with The Cat; last appearance of The Cat)
    The Cat cleans up a gambling operating in the west.
  • "The Plot Sickens" (Kneitel/Spector; one-off)
    Myron tries to get rid of his abusive wife.

1962

  • "Crumley Cogwheel" (Kneitel/Spector; one-off)
    Crumley must ask for a raise or get fired.
  • "Popcorn and Politics" (Kneitel/Taras; one-off)
    Student Spec imagines what it is like to be president.
  • "Giddy Gadgets" (Kneitel/Tafuri; with Professor Schmaltz; final appearance of Professor Schmaltz)
    Professor Schmaltz creates various inventions to ease up his chores to less-than-desired outcomes.
  • "Hi-Fi Jinx" (Kneitel/Taras; with Swifty and Shorty; also their first apperances)
    Percy/Shorty calls in help from Ralph/Swifty to build his hi-fi kit.
  • "Funderful Suburbia" (Kneitel/Tafuri; one-off; final cartoon in 1959-62 Harvey Films package)
    A modern family is described to have a lifestyle similar to that of the pioneers.
  • "Samson Scrap" (Deitch/Swift; one-off; outsourced to Rembrandt Films in Czechoslovakia)
    Samson and his friends tries to build a bridge using garbage.
  • "Penny Pals" (Kneitel/Reden; with Swifty and Shorty)
    Ralph/Swifty and Percy/Shorty causes rivalry havoc at an arcade.
  • "The Robot Ringer" (Kneitel/Reden; one-off)
    Barnes Baisley is an android who escapes a science museum and into an advertising agency.
  • "One of the Family" (Kneitel/Taras; one-off)
    Bobo is requested to be treated like family from a psychiatrist.

1963

  • "The Ringading Kid" (Kneitel/Reden; one-off)
    A 37 year-old gunslinger had enough of his career but is constantly teased by every duelist in town.
  • "Drum Up a Tenant" (Kneitel/Reden; with Luigi)
    Luigi is a glass shop owner that tries to quiet down a drummer.
  • "One Weak Vacation" (Kneitel/Taras; one-off)
    Morty and his wife goes on vacation to disastrous results for the earlier.
  • "Trash Program" (Kneitel/Reden; one-off; with Oscar Gullible)
    Oscar Gullible is forced by his wife to get a cleaner job as a garbage collector.
  • "Harry Happy" (Kneitel/Taras; one-off)
    Split personality Harry is a friendly person on the outside world, but an abusive tyrant at home. He tries to invert his personalities to no avail.
  • "Tell Me a Badtime Story" (Kneitel/Reden; with Goodie the Gremlin; first appearance of Goodie the Gremlin in the Modern Madcaps series)
    Goodie must tell his nephew a bedtime story.
  • "The Pigs' Feat" (Kneitel/Taras; one-off)
    A story of a pig family is told.
  • "Sour Gripes" (Kneitel/Reden; with Luigi; final appearance of Luigi)
    The fox/wolf from "The Sheepish Wolf" tries to steal grapes from Luigi's vineyard.
  • "Goodie's Good Deed" (Kneitel/Pattengill; with Goodie the Gremlin; final short released in Seymour Kneitel's lifetime)
    Goodie must undo the damage caused by the other gremlins during a Boys Scout training day.
  • "Boy Pest with Osh" (Seeger/Waldman; with Muggy Doo)
    Con artist Muggy Doo casts Osh into a movie to impress his date Brigitte.

1964

  • "Robot Rival" (Kneitel/Reden; with Zippy Zephyr)
    Zippy Zeyphr is planned to be replaced by a robotic taxi driver.
  • "And So Tibet" (Kneitel/Taras; one-off)
    Two professors are sent to find the abominable snowman.
  • "Reading, Writhing and Rithmetic" (Kneitel/Reden; with Waxey Weasel and Wishbone (renamed Buck Weasel and Wingy))
    Wingy/Wishbone confuses Buck/Waxey Weasel's house as a school.
  • "Near Sighted and Far Out" (Kneitel/Klein; one-off; final short directed by Seymour Kneitel)
    Beatnik little Squeegee must convince an anteater that his girlfriend is a vacuum cleaner and later an elephant.

1965

  • "Cagey Business" (Post/Klein; one-off; first cartoon directed by Howard Post)
    A lion wants to escape her cage for rice pudding.
  • "Poor Little Witch Girl" (Post/Eugster; with Honey Halfwitch; also her first apperance)
    Honey Halfwitch can't ride on broomsticks due to her young age, so she tries a growing potion and sings throughout the land while Cousin Maggie is at the witch doctor.
  • "The Itch" (Post/Taras; one-off)
    A henpecked man has an itch that sprout into wings.
  • "Solitary Refinement" (Post/Reden; with Boobie Baboon)
    Baboon tries to escape prison.
  • "The Outside Dope" (Post/Tafuri; with Boobie Baboon)
    Baboon must find a way to get inside of jail to record a news story or lose his job.

1966

  • "I Want My Mummy" (Culhane/Harriton; with Jose Jimenez; first cartoon directed by Shamus Culhane)
    Jose applies for an archeology job and finds a mummy in a lost city.
  • "A Balmy Knight" (Culhane/Harriton; with Sir Blur; also his first appearance)
    Nearsighted knight Sir Blur encounters Gran’pa Dragon's picnic.
  • "A Wedding Knight" (Culhane/Eugster; with Sir Blur)
    Sir Blur enters a tournament to win King Arthur's daughter.
  • "Two by Two" (Post/Culhane/Eugster; one-off)
    Whacky Quack finds a date to board on a boat.

1967

  • "The Blacksheep Blacksmith" (Culhane/Tafuri; with Sir Blur; final appearance of Sir Blur in Modern Madcap series; final Modern Madcap as well as the final short directed by Shamus Culhane)
    Sir Blur delivers a letter to the blacksmith.

Why It Was a Madcap

  1. Extremely awful animation quality (besides for Gene Deitch-directed shorts) that is heavily resembling those of television cartoons at that time, and is a severe downgrade from other cartoons at the time (even comparing to UPA's Mr. Magoo (60's series) and The Dick Tracy Show, the Format Films and early Warner Bros.-Seven Arts cartoons of Looney Tunes, and the late cartoons of Woody Woodpecker); as with nearly any Famous Studios production of the era.
  2. Awful and weak writing that doesn't stay true to the original cartoons.
    • This wouldn't help as a quarter of the old writers either left (Larz Bourne) or were mostly demoted to regular animators (I. Klein, Irv Spector). With the majority of the 1960-61 works were almost entirely written by both Jack Mercer and Carl Meyer (who would leave shortly after 1961). While Irv Spector and I. Klein did occasionally write around this period, it was only a few and they would eventually leave Paramount shortly after.
  3. Extremely slow pacing for most of the shorts, making the jokes fall flat or drag out for too long.
  4. As with most of the Famous Studios shorts from the previous years, most of the gags remain to be predictable and overused, while also rather violent and realistic.
  5. Most of the new characters introduced in this era (most notably Professor Schmaltz, Luigi, Jeepers and Creepers, The Cat, Kozmo the Space Kid, and Jose Jimenez) come off as bland, annoying, or rip off traits of other characters from more popular studios, with Jose Jimenez being the worst offender.
  6. This series lacks originality, as many of the shorts (especially Seymour Kneitel's shorts) rip off previous Famous Studios cartoons or even material from other studios:
    • "T.V. Fuddlehead" is a rip-off of the 1957 Terrytoons cartoon "Topsy TV".
    • "From Dime to Dime" is a rip-off of the 1957 Moe Hare and Tommy Tortoise cartoon "Mr. Money Gags", which is also a rehash of the 1956 Bugs Bunny cartoon "Barbary Coast Bunny".
    • "The Mighty Termite" is a rip-off of the 1948 Porky Pig cartoon "The Pest That Came to Dinner".
    • Both "The Plot Sickens" and "Harry Happy" are ripoffs of the Herman/Henry/Bertha shorts and the 1955 Daffy Duck cartoon "Stork Naked". The earlier short also rips off the Baby Huey cartoons.
    • "In the Nicotine" is a rip-off of the 1954 Buzzy the Crow cartoon "No Ifs, ands, or Butts".
    • "The Kid from Mars" is a rip-off of the 1945 Little Lulu cartoon "Magica-Lulu".
    • "The Phantom Moustacher" is a rip-off of the 1946 Daffy Duck and Porky Pig cartoon "Daffy Doodles".
    • "Busy Buddies" is a rip-off of the 1955 Moe Hare and Tommy Tortoise cartoon "Rabbit Punch".
    • "The Inquisit Visit" is a rip-off of the 1960 Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd cartoon "Person to Bunny".
    • "Giddy Gadgets" is a rip-off of the 1954 Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd cartoon "Design for Leaving".
    • Both "Funderful Suburbia" and "One Weak Vacation" are rip-offs of the 1952 Katnip cartoon "City Kitty".
    • "Electronica" is a rip-off of the 1952 Tom and Jerry cartoon "Push-Button Kitty".
    • All of the Sir Blur cartoons rehash off of UPA's Mr. Magoo.
  7. Overuse of Native American stereotyping in these cartoons, to the point where it isn't funny and comes out as tasteless. In comparison, most other theatrical cartoons of the time either didn't use these stereotypes or used them at a minimum.
  8. After "Right Off the Bat", budget cuts were also made towards the coloring process, resorting to cheaper alternatives, such as Paramount ceasing the use of the more superior three-strip Technicolor color process in favor of cheaper single strip color processes such as Eastmancolor until late 1963.
    • While not necessarily a bad thing, most of the cartoons in this era suffer from dull, dark, or washed-out colors.
  9. Numerous bad or mediocre shorts scattered everywhere like:
    • "Right Off the Bat" (which was a horrible premiere for the series)
    • "And So Tibet"
    • "From Dime to Dime"
    • "I Want My Mummy" (which started Shamus Culhane's tenure at Paramount Cartoon Studios on a sad note)
    • "In the Nicotine"
    • "Harry Happy"
    • "Trash Program"
    • "The Robot Ringer"
    • "A Balmy Knight"
    • "A Wedding Knight"
    • "The Blacksheep Blacksmith" (which ended the series on a terrible note)
  10. Often times, despite the series' name being "Modern Madcaps", some of the shorts often have elements that are out of place for "modern"; a good example would be that the Sir Blur cartoons often use the medieval elements in it, which is pretty out of place. Even "Poor Little Witch Girl" has the themes of Witchcraft, fantasy, and magic that are out of place (this may explain why Sir Blur (who moved to Noveltoons) and Honey Halfwitch have their own series)

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Passable music from Winston Sharples, despite downsizing its studio orchestra.
    • Likewise, many of the title tunes remain catchy, such as the ones used.
  2. Besides Professor Schmaltz, Kozmo the Space Kid, Luigi, Jeepers and Creepers, The Cat and Jose Jimenez, some of the characters are somewhat likable and enjoyable, such as:
    • Renoir the Matchmaker
    • Swifty and Shorty
    • Goodie the Gremlin
    • Honey Halfwitch
    • Sir Blur
  3. The series would slightly improve themselves when both Gene Deitch and Howard Post took over the direction of the studio following Seymour Kneitel's passing, although this improvement is rather small. However, the cartoons would have more creative plots and slightly less predictable gags.
    • Sadly, even though Shamus Culhane (a veteran of the Fleischer Studios) was able to improve Paramount Cartoon Studio's other series during his tenure, he sadly wasn't able to save Modern Madcaps, and had a rather poor start for his tenure because of this.
  4. There are still a decent amount of good shorts (usually storyboarded by Irv Spector to 1961)
    • "La Petite Parade"
    • "Top Cat"
    • "Bouncing Benny"
    • "The Plot Sickens"
    • "Samson Scrap" (despite the terrible voice acting from Allen Swift)
    • "Boy Pest with Osh"
    • "Cagey Business"
    • "The Itch"
    • "Poor Little Witch Girl" (despite the short's themes of magic and witchcraft being out of place)
  5. Passable voice acting, mainly from Eddie Lawrence, Cecil Roy, and Jack Mercer.

Trivia

TBA

  • Howard Post was in the middle of a special project he had great hopes for – the first of series of Bill Dana “Jose Jimenez” animated comedies while Shamus Culhane took over the studio in the middle of this particular production called "I Want My Mummy".
    • The concept was later abandoned after making the pilot, but the material was released as a short
  • Talking Horse Sense was initially developed as a Noveltoon.

Comments

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