Saturday, February 12, 2011

Disney Animator Bill Justice Passes On

Animator Bill Justice, who worked on such classic Disney features as Bambi, Fantasia, and Alice in Wonderland passed on February 10, 2011 at the age of 97.

Bill Justice was born on February 9, 1914 in Dayton, Ohio. He studied painting portraits at the John Herron Art Institute. Indianapolis, Indiana. Upon graduation in 1935 he moved to California. Mr. Justice went to work at Walt Disney Productions in 1937. He worked on the ground breaking film Fantasia (1940). His best known work may have come with Bambi (1942), for which he animated the character of Thumper. Over the years he would serve as an animator on such feature films as Saludos Amigos (1942), The Three Caballeros (1944), The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), and Alice in Wonderland  (1951). Mr. Justice also worked on numerous shorts, from "Der Furher's Face (1942)" to "Noah's Ark (1959)." Among the characters he animated in shorts were Chip and Dale. It was Bill Justice who animated the opening to The Mickey Mouse Club. He also provided a good deal of animation for the TV series Disneyland.

Bill Justice would also design titles for Disney's live action films, starting with The Shaggy Dog (1959).  He would provided titles for The Parent Trap (1961), Bon Voayge (1962), and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964). He also provided stop motion animation for Babes in Toyland (1961) and Mary Poppins (1964).

In 1965 Bill Justice joined Walt Disney Imagineering. He worked on programming Auto-Animatronic figures for various Disneyland attractions, including the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Haunted Mansion.

Bill Justice was one of the last remaining animators of Walt Disney Productions' Golden Age. He worked on several classic works of animation, from shorts to features. He would earn a lasting place in pop culture in animating the opening to The Mickey Mouse Club.That he also worked in Disney Animatronics and provided titles and stop motion for Disney's live action films makes him all the more remarkable. He will certainly be remembered.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The 2011 Super Bowl Commercials

Let's face it, there may be more people who actually tune into the Super Bowl to watch the commercials than the game itself (especially this year). And there are probably many more who do not watch the game at all, but watch the commercials online. Unless the Rams are playing, I generally fall into that category.At any rate, it seems to me that the commercials are often more anticipated than the game itself.

This year I think produced a better batch of commercials than usual. That is not to say that there were not some very bad commercials this year. Indeed, some were downright offensive. Groupon Inc. used two ads spoofing public service announcements for well known causes. One spoofed public service announcements for saving the whales. The other, and the one that generated the most controversy, spoofed public service announcements for the human rights situation in Tibet. Personally, I think both were in very poor tastes. There are some things one simply does not joke about, among them a number of related species nearing extinction and the oppression of an entire people are two of them. The ad mentioning Tibet caused such outrage that it has since been pulled from the air. As far as I know, the one mentioning whales has not been. PErsonally, I don't think either should have aired at all.

Fortunately, the men bashing commercials of last year seem to have largely disappeared, although Pepsi Max produced one of the most offensive adverts of the bunch. As far as the commercials aired this year, I would say it was the third most offensive in the bunch. Entitled "First Date," the commercial features a young woman and a young man on their first date. The young woman is thinking such things as "Is he the one," "will he be a good father," and so on. The young man is thinking, "I want to sleep with her," over and over. Quite frankly, I find this to be an offensive stereotype of the male of the species in the extreme and not generally true of men. Not once on a first date have I ever repeatedly thought, " I want to sleep with her." In fact, my thoughts have been more akin to that of the young woman, pondering if she is the one, if she is good marriage material, and s on (here I must point out, of course, that I have thought "I want to sleep with her" on a first date, but I think everyone--including women--do at some point). The simple fact is that this Pepsi Max commercial is downright sexist, and Pepsi should be ashamed of themselves. It is no more right to bash men than it is women.

Enough of talking about the bad ads. Here are the commercials I thought were the best. The first is from Bridgestone, in which a beaver makes some very big changes. It's entitled "Carma"

Next up is an ad from CarMax, in which a modern day driver encounters customer service from the Sixties at a filling station. It's entitled "Gas Station."

Next is a Volkwagen advert which centres around the insect for which their best known car was named. It is entitled "Black Beetle."

Finally, there is the commercial which seems to be considered the best Super Bowl advert this year by general consensus. It is another commercial from Volkswagen and concerns a pint sized Darth Vader testing his power over The Force. Naturally, it is titled "The Force."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tura Satana Passes On

Tura Satana, who achieved cult stardom with Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! on 4 February 2011 at the age of 75.

She was born Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi on 10 January 1935 in Hokkaido, Japan. Her father was of Japanese and Filipino descent, while her mother was of Cheyenne, Scottish, and Irish descent. The family moved to the United States, where young Tura would be interred at Manzanar during World War II. Afterwards the family moved to Chicago. As a young woman she worked as a model and an exotic dancer. When comedian Harold Lloyd took erotic photographs of her, he suggested that she should go into acting.

Miss Satana would make her movie debut with a small role in Billy Wilder's Irma La Douce (1963). She would also appear in a bit part in the film Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed (1964). She guest starred on the series Burke's Law and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It was in 1965 that she appeared as Varla in the film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, directed by Russ Meyer. The film would achieve cult status, as would Tura Satana. It remains her most famous role.

She would go onto guest star on The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. She appeared in the films Our Man Flint (1965), The Astro-Zombies (1968),The Doll Squad (1973), Mark of the Astro-Zombies (2002), Sugar Boxx (2009), The Haunted World of Super Beasto (2009), and Astro-Zombies M3-Cloned (2010).

Zura Satana did not have an extensive filmography and her roles would be extremely limited as a result, but she was very good at what she did. Trained in several martial arts, Miss Satana could give the impression of being very deadly and very efficient, but at the same time still remain feminine. Given that female characters of that sort were very rare at that time (as of 1965 there was Mrs. Gale on The Avengers--Emma Peel would make her debut on The Avengers and Honey West would make her debut on her self titled show later in the year), it is little wonder she made such an impression.