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Frankie and Johnny Were Lovers…Rooty Toot Toot

The debut of the short subject Rooty Toot Toot seventy years ago this month is as much a groundbreaking moment for animation as the first full-length feature, animated shows on prime-time TV, and the advent of computer-generated imagery.

It tells a darkly comedic tale that would seem daring even for live-action films of the time, and it tells this tale in an ingenious way that creatively stretched the possibilities of the medium.

The film was produced by United Productions of America.

Another anniversary – the 70th anniversary of UPA’s stylized animated short adapting the famous song Frankie and Johnny, retitled Rooty Toot Toot for the cartoon.

Michael Lyon, for Cartoon Research, enlightens us with the history.

In addition to visuals, the artists at UPA also expanded boundaries with their stories. One of these was most definitely Rooty Toot Toot, a story about a jealous lover and murder.

With its demonstrative flashbacks, the trial moves at the whirling pace of its song, coming to the jury’s decision and then a twist ending.

Through all of this, Rooty Toot Toot is groundbreaking in many ways.

 

In 1952 LIFE magazine printed the story in a sequential fashion that didn’t rely on persistence of vision, instead laying out selected cels in a comic strip format.

Some years ago Michael Sporn treated us to those pages and more background.

 

 

 

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