Essential animation reading this weekend: Mike Barrier and Milt Gray’s 1976 interview with Warner Bros. stalwart Phil Monroe. Monroe animated for four of the best animation directors of all time in a few short years: Frank Tashlin, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, and Chuck Jones. This interview is required reading for anyone interested in the working methods and habits of these very different filmmakers.

Monroe’s name is rightfully largely associated with Jones, not just because of his longevity with the unit, but because his own drawing style was so greatly influenced by Jones. His animation for the other units has a particularly “Jonesy” look and feel to it (the opening business with Elmer and the bear in The Hare-Brained Hypnotist, the wolf as a homeless woman in Pigs in a Polka, or Porky cracking Daffy’s neck towards the hotel manager in Porky Pig’s Feat), and it’s strongly apparent in this Mike Maltese written comic book story. From Barnyard Comics #14, October 1947. (Note the very Maltesian theme of mistaking skunks for cats and vice-versa.)


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5 Responses to Filmonro

  1. Phil Monroe is one of my favourite WB animators; his opening animation of “The Ducksters” was very, loose animation and I enjoyed other animated scenes he animated on like “Bee-Deviled Bruin”, or “Scarlet Pumpernickel”. I noticed that whilst he animated for Clampett briefly at the end; he appears to have been animating gross-out gags for Clampett such as in “Tick Tock Tuckered” where he animates the scene of the roof leaking with rain and Daffy looks at Porky thinking he’s a bed wetter; or the notorious scratching scenes in “An Itch in Time” (“Hey, I better cut this out – I may get to like it!”). It was a very informative interview (in my opinion) and I’m glad Mike managed to get around posting it.

    I remember Mike Barrier e-mailing me about him posting a Monroe interview soon on his site when asking a question about him floating around the units. It’s all interesting on how he compares the directors he’s worked for. I don’t know if “Porky Pig’s Feat” was the only Tashlin cartoon he animated on but I saw some scenes in “Scrap Happy Daffy” that looked like his animation; such as the mirror reflection scene of Daffies and reflect to Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini but I’m not sure. Never knew Frank Thomas offered him a place at Disney; while Greg Duffell told me he hired Rudy Larriva which did apparently upset Chuck.

  2. Nick

    You can sense Milt Gray’s disappointment that Monroe’s answers don’t fit with his idealised version of Bob Clampett’s directing methods.

  3. Liim lsan

    I’m bloody curious (especially since I’m supposedly teaching high school kids animator IDs for the next six months) – did Phil Monroe animate the penultimate scene at the end of “Fresh Hare” of Elmer breaking down and sobbing – has his signature mouths and snappy timing, but I can’t figure out if he was in Freleng’s unit by that point.
    (Saw “The Hare-Brained Hypnotist” myself just yesterday for the first time, and thought the hypnosis scene looked familiar.)

    Also, re: Fresh Hare: as a child I had that on a bad public domain VHS tape, and the Chiniquy scene of the minstrel show sequence, I always thought there was something wrong with the tape (‘Why are they jerking about so much?’ thinks my six-year-old brain).
    Your endless gratitude to making this knowledge available to the world. ^^

    • Yes, that sequence in FRESH HARE is animated by Monroe.

    • Andy

      If you thought there was something wrong with the minstrel show in Fresh Hare, you must haven’t scene how deformed Bugs Bunny was in a few scenes of “The Wabbit Who Came to Supper.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Friz fired a couple animators after it.

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