July 31st, 2009


Artists and Models

There are two movies with this title, and both have connections to cartooning. I've seen the 1955 Frank Tashlin-directed Martin and Lewis Artists and Models, which has a plot revolving around comics and a cartoonist, takes a lot of swipes at the comic book industry, and features the extra attraction of a terrifyingly young Shirley MacLaine dressed up in a Bat Lady costume, among other things.

But I've never seen the 1937 Artists and Models, which stars Jack Benny and a terrifyingly young Ida Lupino, as well as the evil female Ralph Bellamy, Gail Patrick (Patrick's usually conniving and angry, whereas Bellamy is just harmless and dopey when he loses out on the girl, the job, the whatever), a host of character actors, and several musical performers such as Louis Armstrong and Connie Boswell. So, I'm already sold. But you also get some cartoonist geekery in the mix, by way of several artists who appear as themselves briefly in the film

Here's a 1937 PR shot of New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno for the film. The girl's name is Betty Timmons, I don't know if she appears in the movie or is a model they hired or what have you. If you're not familiar with Peter Arno, shame on you, doc.

You also get Russell Patterson, another fantastic artist/cartoonist. From what I gather he has a bigger cameo in the movie, along with some fashion dolls he designed. He's listed by name on at least one release poster.

Here's a great PR shot of Patterson for Artists and Models:

And here's a quick but solid post about the film that I just stumbled on over at Lou Brooks' site, Drawger. Includes some other PR photos and ephemera, great stuff. Bonus: A photo of Jack Benny with Milton Caniff. Second Bonus: a Drew Friedman comment!

FYI, there's a Patterson overview book available from Fantagraphics, and Arno's cartoons can be found in practically every used bookstore and New Yorker collection in the world. Do take a look, both are excellent cartoonists.

But anyway, I gotta get a look at this film, there's too much good stuff in it for it to not be enjoyable on some level -  I'm a fan of Benny, Lupino, Patrick, Boswell, Armstrong, character actor Donald Meek, the cartoonists who appear in a few party shots, old movies, blah blah blah.

The Martin and Lewis flick is pretty enjoyable, imo, to be honest. I'm hot and cold on Lewis, but Tashlin's a goofy director, MacLaine looks great, the comic book jokes are funny, and it's some enjoyable junk.

Back to work. I have more old cartoonist photos on my computer, maybe I'll start posting some of them when things slow down a little.