That's Not All, Folks!
The Alex celebrates the magic of cartoonist Chuck Jones
By Carl Kozlowski 09/19/2012
In a second week of colorful, history-filled entertainment, the Alex Theatre will be hosting more great cartoons, this time a tribute to Warner Bros. director Chuck Jones.
Last week, the Alex showcased some of the oft-overlooked classics of the UPA animation studio, showcasing the five most popular “Mr. Magoo” cartoons and 15 Oscar-winning or nominated cartoon shorts from the 1950s and ’60s.
On Friday, the theater doffs its cap to Burbank-based Warner Bros., with “The Chuck Jones Celebration Film Festival,” paying tribute to the director of more than 300 films, including four Academy Award winners.
Jones, who enjoyed immense influence in the burgeoning cartoon industry of his time, helped create a bevy of iconic characters, including Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Pepe le Pew, Marvin Martian and Marc Anthony. Three of his short films — “Duck Amuck” (1953), “One Froggy Evening” (1955) and “What’s Opera, Doc?” (1957) — have been inducted into the elite National Film Registry.
Friday’s event marks the centennial of Jones’ birth in Spokane, Wash. Jones’ father, an unsuccessful businessman who always created fresh stationery and custom pencils for each of his ventures, would give Chuck and his siblings the leftover paper and pencils. As a result, the children drew constantly, with several of them, including Chuck, becoming professional artists.
“One part of Chuck’s magic was that he had a traditional fine art background that gave him the ability to draw what he wanted to very well, but he was also incredibly well read and had an incredibly sophisticated take on humor that was much drier than other directors,” says Craig Kausen, a grandson of Jones who helped set up the evening through the Chuck Jones Institute for Creativity.
“He also had a team of people that was so good at what they did they did it freed him up to just direct,” Kausen says.
Along with Kausen, the evening will feature short talks by other Jones family members, including Jones’ daughter, Linda, Kausen’s mom. In addition, the evening’s segments will be presented by a trio of experts, including animator Carl Bell, who worked with Jones in the 1960s and ’70s at MGM, animation executive Eric Goldberg, who befriended Jones in the decades prior to his death in 2002, and animation historian and studio executive Jerry Beck.
The opportunity to see such classic cartoons in such a classic environment — the setting in which these works were meant to be seen — should be magical for adults and informative for kids seeking more information about the Golden Age of cartooning.
“The Chuck Jones Celebration Film Festival” is at 8 p.m. Friday at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Tickets range from $10 to $50. Visit alextheatre.org or call (818) 243-2539 (ALEX).