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Tom Waits for No One (1979)

Waits sings on the streets.


John Lamb


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Cast overview:
Tom Waits ... Himself (voice)


Waits sings on the streets.

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Release Date:

1979 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Did You Know?


This short was created by rotoscope - a process that traces back the live action frame by frame and turns it into animation. The original live action was shot with 5 cameras - 2 high, 2 low and one hand held. The music from "The One That Got Away" blared in the background as Tom Waits sang karaoke style different lyrics on each take. Two strippers, 6 takes and 13 hours of video footage were edited to make a 5 1/2 minute live action short which we turned into animation. A total of 5,500 frames were caricatured and then re-drawn, inked and painted by hand onto celluloid acetate to produce this film. See more »


Tom Waits: You lose some... You win some...
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The One That Got Away
Written and Performed by Tom Waits
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User Reviews

It really helps to like Waits' jazzy Nighthawks-era stuff, otherwise it is just a curio
31 January 2014 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

I was drawn to this animation by the pun title and the use of Tom Waits himself. I find the man's music to be so variable and can be moved and love one track only the next to find myself wondering what the hell mess was that Fozzy Bear appeared to be stumbling over. Luckily for me I do quite like the low jazzy lounge lizard stuff that he did on Nighthawks at the Diner and similar albums and I mention this because this is the style that the song used here is in. The track is "The One That Got Away" and it plays out in a rumbling low jazzman style while the animation shows Tom Waits and an undressing teasing beauty on a dark street.

The music is good if you like this track (which I mostly do – not his best for sure but enjoyable) and it at least works with the animation. Visually the film is technically impressive as it was rotoscoped; animated frame by frame on top of a filmed live images. Problem is that the movement and content doesn't really change and once the novelty of an animated Waits starts to fade there is not too much else coming in to take its place. Waits fans will like it as much for the track as the animation, but those who don't care for the music will find almost nothing else here to really like other than it being a curio.

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