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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Who Hearts Tashlin? The BAM blog Giveaway

Here at the BAM blog, we love a polymath, so we’re excited about tonight’s Frank Tashlin double feature. Tashlin worked as an animator in the 30s, was a gag writer before becoming a screenwriter, and then became a major Hollywood director with films that helped usher in another movie genius, Jerry Lewis. Before all that, Tashlin had a comic strip called Van Boring, which has us wondering: Why aren’t there more directors who come from that world? What better analog is there for cinematic language than the gag strip? Just check out these panels from Tashlin’s strip to see what we mean:

To be fair, we didn’t exactly make this connection ourselves, but read it in an appraisal of Tashlin’s work by one of our favorite critics, who said:

Taught in a good school—Hollywood scriptwriting—he is no more frightened of mise en scene than Debbie Reynolds was scared by Dick Powell in Susan Slept Here. There is an excellent reason for this: before becoming a gagman in cartoons, Frank Tashlin was the author of a number of strips in various papers.
In celebration of tonight’s double feature and our love of the superfan, we ask if you can guess who came up with this sharp insight. (There's a super-secret prize in it for you!)

Here’s more evidence of the same critic’s admiration for the Hollywood auteur:

1. This critic wrote that Tashlin is “worth two Billy Wilders.”

2. In 1957, this person picked Hollywood or Bust right after Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, also directed by Tashlin, as the fourth best of the year, meaning Tashlin beat out directors like Charlie Chaplin, Fritz Lang, Luis Buñuel, Ingmar Bergman, and Otto Preminger twice in one year.

3. Maybe it makes sense that Tashlin beat out the Tramp on this fan’s list; in another article, the writer in question also urged readers to stop calling things “Chaplinesque” and to start describing them as “Tashlinesque.”

Hint: On that 1957 list, the only directors to beat out Tashlin were two of this superfan’s other faves: Nicholas Ray and Alfred Hitchcock.

—Nathan Gelgud

Leave your answer(s) in the comments. We'll announce the winner here on Friday, Aug 31.

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