Sunday, September 29, 2013

Geraldine Page is Madame Medusa



Frank Thomas considered her the best voice they ever had for an animated character. 
Animator Milt Kahl stated that he probably had more fun animating Madame Medusa than any other assignment at Disney. While working on the film he was also amazed to find out that a lot of her dialogue was only recorded once. Milt had been looking for an outtake of a certain line, but there weren't any. Many of her first and only readings became production dialogue instantly. 
Page had a strong instinct for who the character was and how eccentrically she should be played.
Milt said: "This actress was so good, she could make poorly written dialogue sound great!"
He watched some of her films to get an idea of her acting background, and he fond a particular acting moment useful for a scene he later animated. 
In the 1962 movie "Sweet Bird of Youth" Page is acting opposite Paul Newman. At one point Newman tries to get to the telephone she is holding. To keep him from getting closer, she kicks  him in the gut and pushes him away with her foot.
Medusa would repeat this moment when she tries to keep Penny away from the Teddy Bear, she grabbed earlier from the girl's arms. "Medusa kicks the little girl away with her boot, which is an awful thing to do and right in character," Milt explained.

A few years ago I had the he chance to listen to an old voice recording with Page as Medusa.
She started out by quietly asking the director a few questions, but then when it was time to record, she bursted her lines into the microphone as loud as she could, like: "PEEEEENNY DEAR, AUNTIE MEDUSA WANTS TO TALK TO YOUUUU!! Then very quietly to the director: "How was that?"

These are a few sketches Ken Anderson made while Geraldine Page was working on The Rescuers.





A pre-production design sketch by Milt Kahl, showing a sort of sensual quality.



To me this is the scariest drawing Milt did of Medusa. Her eyes, the way she points into camera, this woman means business.


14 comments:

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  2. I would love to make her, Madame Medusa, one day. So fun! Thank you for posting.

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    1. And I'd love to see what you come up with and how you would interpret Medusa!

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  3. I love the sketch at the bottom! Milt's drawings are so well considered.

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  4. That last one is definitely haunting. :D

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  5. The scariest, meanest woman in the Disney legacy.... Maleficent is like an innocent girl living in the forest compared to her...at least for me :)

    Funny thing is that one of my former neighbour looks like Madame Medusa, and truly has that same face and same voice tonality! And I lived in the nearby apartment for 8 years!!! If only Milt could have seen her....sure even he would have had the goose bumps!

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  6. Milt's artistic brilliance just blows me away, every single time. Lots of artists would spend their entire lives trying to get one foot on the ladder that Milt stood firmly on top of!

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  7. Not to take anything away from Ken Anderson as a terrific character concept artist, but it should be noted that the facial design on his sketches of Geraldine Page has been lifted directly from Al Hirschfeld's caricature of her in "Sweet Bird of Youth". Still, it's hard to beat Hirschfeld as an artistic inspiration!

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  8. Andreas, did you ever try to draw or animate Medusa yourself...just for fun?

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    1. I remember as a student tracing some Medusa drawings in sequence from a super 8 film clip.

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  9. Gee, Mr. Deja, that Geraldine Page drawing__second one__ looks like an Al Hirschfeld drawing,but in colored marker inks!

    Thank you, but can I study them all?

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  10. I think they found her in a film called Who Slew Auntie Roo. Page plays the lead and is exactly like Medusa.

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