Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Watch This! The Pink Panther in 'Psychedelic Pink'


For 30 years beginning in 1933, Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc. set the gold standard for creativity and technical excellence in animated shorts. But by the '60s the operation was no longer sustainable and the division folded. Two of the leading figures of the WB operation weren't ready to hang up their brushes yet though and DePatie-Freleng Enterprises (DFE) was born. Longtime producer/director Friz Freleng and producer David H. DePatie set up shop in the former Warner Bros. Cartoons shop and began turning out commercials and other work for hire.

When writer/producer/director Blake Edwards contracted them to create an animated title treatment for his caper movie THE PINK PANTHER, their design was so successful that they joined forces with the Mirisch brothers and spun it off into a series of theatrical shorts. Thus the golden age of animation was prolonged for a few more years. These have the wit and technical wizardry of the WB cartoons along with the cool, somewhat socially transgressive spirit of the age.

These were all over television for 25 years, but it's rare to see them anymore. That's too bad because they're a lot of fun. Henry Mancini's music is to these cartoons as Carl Stalling's music was to the old WB classics. These shorts are like a lavender expressway to the mid '60s zeitgeist.

Here's one of the best and weirdest Pink Panther cartoons, and a socio-historical time-capsule of the period if there ever was one.

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