You’ve heard of his movies, especially if you’re over fifty, but you’ve likely not heard of Frank Tashlin by name. His comedy work as animator, screenwriter, director and producer is legendary, but he often worked on teams or with folks like Jerry Lewis who had more visible names. But if you ask Lewis, he’ll tell you how Tashlin influenced his own work as he moved from simply acting to creating his own comedies.
With titles like The Girl Can’t Help It with Jayne Mansfield, The Disorderly Orderly and more with Jerry Lewis, and a goofy handful of Bob Hope comedies as well, Tashlin’s portfolio is quite impressive.
Tashlin cut his comedy teeth over at Warner Bros. on Porky Pig, and took that animated comedy controlled chaos perspective to the live action movies from there. Clever, satirical, sexy, pushing the old censorship envelope as hard as he could, Tashlin helped define the comedies of the 1950s and early 1960s.
Ethan de Seife has put together an outstanding journey through Tashlin’s work, and most importantly, highlighted all his contributions to the art of comedy, from sight gags and sexual humor to diegetic rupture and gag/narrative integration. For those of us watching the movies, these techniques are invisible, but they make the pace and pattern that creates what’s funny.
I’ll never be able to see a Tashlinesque comedy again without a much deeper appreciation for the talent that goes into making comedy work. This book (find it here at Amazon) is almost as much fun as the movies; it was so great to be able to work the index on this one and get a few laughs at the same time. 😀