24 November 2017 | Vimacone
Friz's Foreshadow at MGM
In 1937, MGM created its own animation department and Fred Quimby, the producer, raided every animation studio throughout the country for talent. He courted Friz Freleng, who had been an integral director at the Schlesinger studio. I've wondered what Leon's reaction was to Freleng's departure.
A STAR IS HATCHED, in release order, was Freleng's last cartoon for WB. It's been pointed, but not discussed very much, that the plot of this cartoon foreshadowed his experience at MGM. Emily, a misfit hen that Freleng had previously used in two shorts, dreams of going to Hollywood and is courted by a charming director who is passing through her small town. She travels 2000 miles to Hollywood only to have her dream shattered.
After Friz completed this short in September 1937, he went to MGM as a director, assuming he had the creative freedom he had at Schleisnger's, only to find that it wasn't the case. He and the other directors had to direct The Captain and The Kids cartoons which ended up being unpopular with audiences and the people who made them. Like Emily, Friz eventually got to return home.
The first cartoon he made upon his return, YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES, had a similar theme, but more directly referenced his experience.
Aside from being an unintentional piece of irony for Freleng, this short is one of the many Hollywood caricature cartoons that were produced during this time. Adding to the irony, there are additional subtle messages on how artificial the Hollywood glamour really is. It is indeed a wonder that Freleng didn't take his message into consideration when going to MGM.