Tin Pan Alley Cats is a lesser but still worthy sister cartoon to Clampetts masterpiece 'Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs', both starring an swing-jazz soundtrack and all African-American cast.
The cartoon starts off with original animation including this brilliant extended pan sequence of a Fats Waller style cat walking down the docks.
I'd bet my hat this is Bob McKimson animation. The clear poses and extreme solidity gives it away!
This scene of the Missionary singers is animated by Clampetts other star animator, Rod Scribner. I say that with absolute confidence. The way the Singing woman moves is Scribner for sure. Isn't it cool that you can tell who did what by the way characters move?
I'm not sure who animated the scene where the priest warns Fats against going into the Kit Kat club. It's less exaggerated than the shot of the singing missionaries, more solid and subtle. I'd guess it was McKimson but it could be an assisant, like Manny Gould or someone.
This cartoon is an example of a cheater cartoon. Clampett was no doubt focusing all his energy on Coal Black, so he decided to do a similar cartoon but faster and cheaper by recycling some old animation.
Once he enters the den of inequity, we can tell by the more primitive characters and movements this is recycled animation. It's hard to put into words, something about the movement isn't as sophisticated as the newly animated segments.
This shot looks like it was newly animated. It's pretty funny too!
This sequence of Fats and the Trumpet player is new too. I heard that this part was done by Disney animator Art Babbit. It's somewhat conservative animation but I still love it!
The way the characters bounce along to music, how short and cute Fats looks, the way the characters dance, particularly the trumpeter who walks with his feet going everywhere but forward, just like Goofy used to do!
The first shot of him
After that there's a whole bunch of reused animation from Porky in Wackyland.
In the middle of the recycled '30s stuff they cut to this little Gremlin guy whacking a pile of tires with an axe. The animation is super solid and moves a uniquely decadent '40s way. The contrast between the two styles is great!
Another new shot. The gag was re-used in Friz' disappointing color remake of Porky in Wackyland. But hey! Get a load of those magnificently humungous eyes!
These Axis of Evil characters are new. They look like those inflatable arm-wavers they have outside used car dealerships. Though I don't think a Hitler balloon mascot would bring in much business.
There's something about two war criminals rhythmically beating their butts together to jazz music that pleases me in a way only cartoons can.
Then Fats comes down from his trip and joins the Old Time Religion music group and the animation switches back to what is, assuredly, Scribners.
Look at the eye shapes and the size of those pupils! That's Scribner, alright.
Some people don't like cartoons like 'Tin Pan Alley Cats' or 'Bacall to Arms' because they recycle animation from the 1930s. They feel it's not only cheating but the look doesn't sync up with the new animation.
They're right and wrong. It is cheating but it was a necessary evil. Budgets and schedules were tight in the 40s so all of the directors would cheat on some cartoons by recycling old animation or rehashing old ideas so that they could focus on their bigger, better cartoons.
You'd also be right in saying the recycled '30s stuff doesn't match with the new stuff. But I don't know about you but I love that about cartoons like this! Having different styles of animation throughout the cartoon makes it feel like a richer experience. The contrasts in style are what makes it fun!
Not just the contrast between the 30s and 40s animation styles but even amongst the new animation. Bob Mckimsons style is totally different than Rod Scribners, who both have different styles than the assistants or Art Babbits contribution.
The abundance of original animation styles and sensational jazz score makes this cartoon truly out of this world.
Credit for the pristine frames used in this blogpost are all from Classic Cartoons Blog