DAILY | Frank Tashlin @ 100

Frank Tashlin and Jerry Lewis

“Today marks the centennial of Frank Tashlin,” announces Amid Amidi. To celebrate, “Cartoon Brew presents 15 fun facts,” and a helluva roundup it is, too. Clips, pix, quotes, and drawings. “If Tashlin is recognized at all by the general public, it is for being the Looney Tunes animation director who ended up making cartoonish live-action films with Jerry Lewis and Jayne Mansfield. He was so much more than that though—a restless and ambitious creative powerhouse who didn’t play by anyone’s rules and whose filmic innovations were often decades ahead of their time…. To learn more about him, visit Tish Tash: A Blog Tribute to Frank Tashlin and pick up a copy of Ethan de Seife’s recent book Tashlinesque: The Hollywood Comedies of Frank Tashlin.”

Ethan de Seife also wrote the entry on Tashlin in the Senses of Cinema Great Directors database, suggesting that “we look at Tashlin not through the lens of how feature-like his cartoons are, or how cartoony his features are, but with an eye toward American comic traditions.”

To back up a bit, here’s Leah Churner reviewing de Seife’s book for the Austin Chronicle last year: “Jean-Luc Godard coined the term ‘Tashlinesque’ in his ecstatic Cahiers du Cinéma review of Tashlin’s 1956 Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin movie Hollywood or Bust. Since then, film critics have used the word as a shorthand way to describe a garish, zany visual style, an emphasis on caricature, and an all-around ‘cartoony’ mise-en-scène. Tashlinesque aims to stamp out this critical cliché through rigorous textual analysis. Films like Son of Paleface (1952) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), de Seife argues, are not cartoon-derivative. Rather, Tashlin’s live-action features, like his animated shorts, are equal heirs to the vaudeville traditions of escalating visual gags, sexual humor, social satire, and ‘diegetic rupture,’ or breaking the fourth wall.”


“In the mid-1950’s America witnessed a great explosion in popular culture, fueled by new prosperity and new technologies. And with that explosion—television, comic books, long-playing records and widescreen movies—was born an extraordinary generation of satirists.” Dave Kehr in the New York Times in 2006 on the occasion of a Film Forum retrospective: “Tashlin’s work is as loud and colorful and happily discontinuous as the subjects he took for his films: the early days of rock ‘n’ roll in The Girl Can’t Help It; Madison Avenue and the convergence of sex, celebrity and consumerism in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957); convertibles with tail fins and starlets with nose cones in Hollywood or Bust (1956); comic book artists and comic book readers in Artists and Models (1955); and that quintessential American man-child, Jerry Lewis, whom Tashlin guided through his early solo career in films like It’$ Only Money (1962) and The Disorderly Orderly (1964).”

Joseph Jon Lanthier on Tashlin’s Susan Slept Here (1954): “[L]ike Ozu, Tashlin perverts basic film grammar here in order to carve up and then scrutinize the segments of a putatively ordered domestic space whose moral core is infested with anxious termites.” And, as noted in a comment below, he’s posted a newer (and yes, longer) entry on The Girl Can’t Help It.

In 1971, almost exactly one year before he died in May 1972, Michael Barrier conducted a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with Tashlin.

Last year, Stephen Kroninger posted the entirety of Tashlin’s 1952 book How to Create Cartoons.

Viewing (3’30”). Richard Brody on Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

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