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|Index||11 reviews in total|
Aristotle argued that good and bad art can be objectively
distinguished. But there's an alternative saying that beauty is in the
eyes of the beholder. In the end, your love for something or someone
overrides their objective qualities.
Thus my feelings about the Clutch Cargo series are not swayed by criticisms that the artwork or animation is simplistic or strange. As I first watched Clutch in my childhood days, perhaps my mind was imprinted with an indelibly favorable impression.
Clutch is a powerful hero, yet down to earth. A tremendously nice guy, he'd risk his life to save a stranger. He attracts the ladies, but if anything is going on, he's totally discrete - never any boasting or flaunting on his part. Clutch deeply cares for his ward Spinner, who doesn't need to attend formal school as his guardian is an excellent instructor.
There is some similarity to Batman and Robin, except those two faced great emotional upheavals sometimes in conflict with each other. This torment is absent from Clutch and family.
Adventure awaits at every juncture, villains are defeated, good people prevail. Each episode contains five chapters, the first four cliffhangers, the finale upbeat. A total of 52 episodes are exactly enough to last a year without repetition. The bongo beat of the musical theme is hypnotic. Paddlefoot, coincidently for me a dachshund, is reminiscent of my beloved childhood pooch.
I'm haunted by the expression you can't go home again. But Clutch takes you very close. When you're overwhelmed by the world's madness and by your personal travails including invincible aging, you can seek timeless escape and solace by turning to Clutch Cargo, your best friend.
About forty years ago when I was a child in a Los Angeles suburb I recall seeing this odd cartoon, so different from the others where things moved. The creators seem to have had this process where they could put images of actors lips moving in the faces of the characters. Kinda' neat and kinda' not. After being exposed to the work of Disney, Lantz and others, this dialogue heavy, action off-stage with sound effects cartoon didn't seem so hot. Novel, though. Compare to others of the period. Almost anything on the idiot box could hold the attention of a little child. Some that came later were worse. Margaret Kerry was the voice of Paddlefoot? Well, whattaya know!
I remember watching Clutch Cargo every morning before school. It seemed very strange, but for some reason I couldn't stop watching those real human lips. It was on one of the cartoon channels recently, and my son thought it was the lamest thing he's ever seen and feels sympathy for how I grew up. I recently heard an explanation for the odd animation, other than it was low budget. The creator's child was deaf and could not understand regular cartoons, since she could not lip read the mouth movements of animated characters. So he came up with the idea of using real mouths so deaf children could enjoy cartoons. The story has a ring of truth to it, but it could very well be apocryphal. If anyone can verify this, it would go a long way to explaining such an odd idea for kids' entertainment.
"An oxymoron. An animation of still pictures, with human lips" --not really, it's actually cognitive dissonance: two conflicting cognitive inputs can't be resolved...like Clutch Cargo's lips. Conan O'Brien must have been haunted by these images from his childhood. It would explain a lot about his sense of humor. It's amazing the stuff that was foisted on Baby Boomers like Clutch Cargo, Gumby and Davey and Goliath. It makes you wonder if the KGB hadn't infiltrated TV and come up with a way to warp our young minds. People think that video games and CG cartoons are bad today just imagine how these low-tech attempts at entertainment warped us...did I mention the Thunderbirds are GO!
A very strange cartoon. It was an action cartoon with still pictures. Moving human lips were superimposed on the still pictures for the dialogue. It was rather creepy, but we all tried to copy the way Clutch talked.
Time heals wounds. Maybe that is why I gave this cartoon such a high rating. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Clutch Cargo look like Leslie Nielson, Officer Dribble of NAKED GUN? CLUTCH CARGO aired early in the morning in Buffalo, NY on WGR (channel 2) back in the early 1960s. Being less than 5-minutes, an episode could fit almost anywhere there was a moment of dead air, not that it was that much of an improvement. But seriously now, these episodes were fun to watch. Each episode was very short and the animators were very clever in masking the lack of animation by using bushes or any other obstacle to hide the lack of movement in their legs as they walked. It was a unique blend of incredibly good artwork combined with incredibly bad animation. What really set this cartoon apart from the rest was the real live acting moving lips which were super-imposed on the cartoon characters' faces. This was a really neat novelty at the time.
The cross-pollination of the cartoony animated world with the live
action film has very old roots in the film world. Long before the
advent of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (Amblin Entertainment/Disney/Buena
Vista,1988) and SPACE JAM (Warner Brothers, 1996) we had good examples
of this technological and format crossover.
First off we saw Max & Dave Fleischer's OUT OF THE INKWELL Series began in 1918. In its usual 1 Reeler length, these cartoons featured the adventures or rather misadventures of one Coco the Clown. After his escaping "out of the Inkwell" the animated Coco would interact with the live action people in the real World. In a typical story, the little clown (being only inches tall as compared to the normal sized humans) would find himself in a bad situation with the bad guys closing in; when he'd rush back to dive into the safe sanctuary of the bottle of India Ink. Coco's Ink Well antics continued right up through the Silent Era to the Talkies; where he was featured a as supporting 'player' in the Betty Boop Series.
Fledging Animators Walt Disney & partner, Ub Iwerks took the same mixed animation-live action concept and stood it on its ear. Rather than the diminutive Coco venturing into the Real World, Disney and Iwerks had the real girl, Alice, entering into the land if the animated. In it she usually helped the "Toons" with a specific problem or set of problems. She would normally be the biggest one in any scene. The series ran for about 52 installments, from 1924-1927, and to the time right up to of the emergence of Mickey & his Pals!* From there, we jump ahead to the late 1950's, syndicated Television and the most bizarre mixture of all that gave us "CLUTCH CARGO", with his pals, Spinner & Paddlefoot! It was certainly a 'frugal' method of rendering the cartoon story; and indeed a new high (or is it a "low"?) in limited animation. The producer, Cambria Productions, was the same Studio that gave us "SPACE ANGEL" (1962), "THE NEW 3 STOOGES (1965) and "CAPTAIN FATHOM" (also 1965). They apparently had a brief "Golden Age" in the Syndication Business, then went away or were absorbed by some other company.** As "CLUTCH CARGO", we remember watching it with some curiosity when it was first introduced by Mr. Frazier Thomas on the "GARFIELD GOOSE & FRIENDS" show on our local WGN TV Channel 9, here in Chicago. Even as kids, we were sort of fascinated with their photographed moving-mouth gimmick; fascinated, but never fooled. It was just that obvious.
The rest of the animated movement consisted of an occasional rapid change of "SURPRISE", Paddlefoot's ears rapidly rising in the opening intros and Clutch and a group "moving along a road, with their legs 'cleverly' concealed by a low growing thicket of shrubbery. (In reality, the multi-character drawing was being hand moved along, simulating the group's walking; albeit in a highly close-quartered drill team style, in appearance, anyhow!) Call it a fond recollection, nostalgia, or maybe even 'Camp', but in retrospect, "CLUTCH CARGO", Spinner, Paddlefoot and even 'old Swampy have managed to assume a position at the very pinnacle of our nostalgic yearnings for the cartoon favourites of vanished childhood.
Well, until we meet again; "THAT'S All FOLKS!"
NOTE: * We've seen some of these early Disney cartoons, not on DVD, nor on VHS, nor on Beta; but rather on Super 8! (Remember Projectors?) The first one, ALICE'S EGG PLANT (1925) concerns her operating a chicken farm, and not that dark, purple Mediterranean veggie.They face opposition from a Communist agitator, a Rhode Island Red!! ALICE'S ORPHAN (1926) features efforts by her and her cat in raising a foundling kitten. This one we have in Super 8, Magnetic Sound, featuring obviously post synchronized music and sound effects. We bought it from old Niles Films, South Bend Indiana,ca. 1978.
NOTE: ** The way things go in both the Banking World and the Animation Industry, mergers and take-overs are the norm; rather than being the exception.
If you enjoy classic TV and films, like I do, you should check this
out. Famed for its "Synchro-vox", the actors were recorded while doing
the voice work, then their mouths were superimposed over the still
Though it may seem awful, it's actually quite fun. Unlike many shows of today, which are done with computers, every frame of Clutch Cargo was hand drawn and hand coloured. There's no bad language or violence really, and it'd be safe to show this to pretty much all of the family. If you've got kids, you should definitely show them this, they'll love it.
I remember watching this show as a kid on WGN's Garfield Goose and Friends with Frazier Thomas. It was very different from anything else that was done at the time. I know compared with the animation of today it seems cheap and tawdry but now I watch these shows with the same fondness of watching old Andy Griffith Show reruns. The live action lips set against animated cells and other ways they had of reducing the need of actual animation were sometimes fascinating in their simplicity. If you saw these as a kid you will like them now. If not they may not be right for you. I totally enjoy watching these shows now as much as I did then.
Clutch Cargo and his pals Spinner and Paddlefoot, seen on WDTV -
there's a stream of two seasons of this cartoon, where it instantly
reminded me of the "guests" that Conan O'Brien would have by dropping a
monitor down to show them live via satellite!
Oh my gosh, if you have a moment to watch these episodes, it is truly creepy. Interesting concept that people chose, choosing to use "Synchro-Vox" a "revolutionary miracle technique" claiming to capture speech as it appears rather than conventional animated lip sync. I'm sure glad they didn't use this for Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny! The lips look fruit-juicy red and it really doesn't look that good in today's world. Better for use on late night TV of course, and Conan O'Brien does it well!
This process uses much less animation process which ultimately saved tons of money. And I do like the voices used. Save for the lip sync of Spinner, who has the voice of a woman. Something about a young boy with a woman's lips is truly weird!
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