Tuesday, June 14, 2011

John Lounsbery

I would love to have met Lounsbery, but by the time I started at Disney, he had already passed away in early 1976. Co directing "The Rescuers" had been his last assignment at Disney.
Everybody who knew him has only the nicest things to say about him.
Animator Dale Baer learned under Lounsbery during the training program in the seventies, and he still raves about how kind,  patient and giving he was.
Dale recently had the chance to animate one of his tutor's classic characters in the upcoming (in the States) "Winnie the Pooh". 
His animation of Owl is very much inspired by Louns (as he is often referred to 
at the studio).
In the late eighties I got to meet his wife Florence, and one of the things I asked her was, if she kept any original artwork from her husband. The answer she gave me almost made me cry. She said: "Oh, we had a lot of his animation and sketches at the house, but we had that big fire, and it's all gone".
I don't even remember what she said as to when that happened,  it just stopped me in my tracks.

As you know John Lounsbery was a fantastic animator, and a great draftsman, too, as you can see in the attached drawings.
In "Pinocchio" he did some of the early scenes with Honest John and Gideon.
His animation of Dumbo is so darn cute, like the sequence where he gets drunk,
just preceding the Pink Elephants.
In "Fantasia" John did the main alligator for Dance of the Hours. That has to be 
some of the funniest stuff ever animated.

Below is a photo showing him at work on "Sword in the Stone", looks like he is looking for that one lost drawing.

I love the staging in these roughs of Willie the Giant.
He looks scary and funny at the same time.

The first drawing of Mr Darling from "Peter Pan" is from one of the all time great 
acting scenes in Disney animation. Here he is arguing with his wife, he also pretends to be scared at the very thought of Peter Pan.
Check this scene out frame by frame, you'll learn a lot.

The drawings of Bull, the English bulldog, from "Lady & Tramp" shows how comfortable Lounsbery is with animal anatomy.
Frank and Ollie said that John was able to follow Milt Kahl's drawings and designs
better than anybody.

Again, great staging in the next image of the policeman and the professor arguing.

Then comes what I consider probably his greatest work, the two Italian cooks,
Tony and Joe. These guys just about stele the film, he nailed them.
Over the top gestures, crisp timing and inventive drawing.
Look at that  profile of Joe with his chef's hat. When are you ever going to get funnier shapes and forms.
Beautiful, expressive mouth shapes as Joe sings and plays the accordion.
(Had to look up the spelling of that word, the writing is different in German)

Next is Samson from "Sleeping Beauty", some cool roughs showing him coming to a stop.
Same movie, an expressive drawing of one of the goons and a great image of the 
owl as a prince.

The drawings of the Colonel from "101 Dalmatians" show John's first animation pass for that scene.

The wolf in "Sword in the Stone" was designed by Milt Kahl, but beautifully animated by Louns.

At the end of this Lounsbery Gallery is a design/doodle sheet for "The Aristocats"