Great Unanswered Questions of Cartoon History

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For me, the best thing about Blake Edwards’ Breakfast at Tiffany’s is its quirky theme song, Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini’s Moon River. It includes the somewhat mysterious line “…my huckleberry friend.”

And the movie itself has a scene (see screen grab at left) in which Audrey Hepburn briefly dons a Huckleberry Hound mask in a five-and-dime store.

So my question is this: Is “…my huckleberry friend” actually a reference to Huck Hound? If you’ve got a theory–assuming you care about this at all–I’d love to hear it.

Oh, and a bonus trivia question (courtesy of Andrew Leal): Besides the mask scene, name one other significant Hanna-Barbera connection in this movie.

Mary Blair Murals

I’m behind on my blogging, so I’m only now catching up on a trip I made to Orlando a few weeks ago, during which I made my first trip to Disney World in several years (courtesy of the very generous Jim Korkis).

Whenever I get to a Disney park, I always gird myself for the real possibility that some attraction I have nostalgic fondness for will have been closed (with the happy exception of Space Mountain, which I assume will be there forever). At least once during this trip, my worry was justified–the Main Street Cinema, which once showed early Disney cartoons in endless loops, has been replaced by a Pal Mickey store.

But I’m happy to say that Mary Blair’s murals live–and since they’re at the Contemporary Hotel, you can even pay them a visit without paying an admission fee. I expect these to be covered up by a Kim Possible ad any day now–unless they just demolish the Contemporary Hotel, which is now decidedly retro–so here are some pictures for posterity’s sake. I can’t say this is great art, great Disney art, or even great Mary Blair art. But I’m glad it’s been there all these years, and I’m not sure if I saw anything during this Disney trip that put me in a cheerier mood. (Disneyland did away with its own Blair murals years ago.)

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Cutesy Pooh

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When I visited Hong Kong a few months ago, I reported back on the Disney products I saw there–many of which involved extremely cute, Asianized versions of the characters. I was sort of embarassed (OK, totally embarassed) to admit it, but I liked them.

Now those cute characters are invading the U.S., under the inevitable name of “Cuties.” (Cutie Minnie also seems to be known as “Go Minnie”–Disney appears to be marketing her as a Hello Kitty alternative.)

I saw some Cuties clothing during a recent trip to Disneyland, and this site offers a variety of items.

How come I’m not appalled by this development? I like simple, clean graphic design, for one thing, and the Cuties certainly provide that. (On some strange level, they feel like they reach back to the early, simple, appealing 1930s designs.) Also, I’m intrigued by Asian culture, especially when it riffs on American culture. And it’s not like more typical modern Disney merchandise is graphically appealing–a lot of it is just plain ugly. So going another direction doesn’t feel sacreligious.

Or maybe me liking them is just evidence that I’m going soft in my old age.

In any event, I’ll sure take these characters over the Loonatics.

Robots Rave

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Here’s a link to a story from the new issue of Newsweek on Robots, which opens this weekend. It’s a good read from the standpoint of behind-the-scenes info on the film, but it also seems to say that the movie’s the best-looking CG feature ever made–and a great animated film, period. (It reaches back to Pinocchio to find something to compare it against.)

I like both William Joyce’s children’s books and Chris Wedge’s short films. For some reason, though, I’ve given Robots almost no thought at all–maybe because Blue Sky’s Ice Age didn’t particularly engage me–but now I’m looking forward to at least giving Robots a chance. It would be nice if a studio were to emerge as the other great CG production house besides Pixar (and I see no evidence that it’s going to be Dreamworks)…

Comic Relief Relocated

I can think of only a few comic-book shops I’ve visited that are contenders for the distinction of being the single best such store in the country. Berkeley’s Comic Relief is one of them. (Others include Cambridge’s Million Year Picnic and Manhattan’s Jim Hanley’s Universe.)

I bring this up because Comic Relief has just moved, albeit not very far–its new home is around the corner from its old one. The new location is not only dramatically larger than the old one, but also one of the biggest, best stocked, most diverse comics stores I’ve seen in the U.S. And it’s next door to Another Change of Hobbit, a science fiction book store. If you’re ever anywhere near Northern California, get yourself to 2026 Shattuck Street–you’ll be glad you did.