RARA-AVIS: hard-boiled movies, animation

From: JOHN & CATHIE CELESTRI ( ccpub@worldnet.att.net)
Date: 22 Jan 2002

Hey, Kevin! You wrote:

> So what was the first hard-boiled animated feature? I'd have to say
> BATMAN: THE MASK OF THE PHANTASM (sp?) was hard-boiled, but somehow I
> doubt it was the first. I guess a case could be made for Ralph
> Bashki's earlier HEAVY TRAFFIC & FRITZ THE CAT, but to me they're
> more trippy freak show than hard-boiled, from what I remember.
> Which ties into what Jim said about attitude being more important
> than content, when it comes to hard-boiled.
I'd say that Ralph Bakshi had the most hard-boiled attitude of any animation producer/director who managed to get his creation to the big screen. By that, I mean Bakshi himself fitted the definition of a hardboiled character: a loner, living by his own code (of what he wanted to put into his films) no matter what the consequences, etc. But the closest he came to putting a hard-boiled piece on the screen was probably COONSKIN (1975) -- and that was more of a film examining the black experience, examining the Superfly type of character.

As to what was the first hard-boiled animated feature, I'd say Bill Hagen pointed towards it when he asked:
> On animated hard-boiled, would any of the 1970s Heavy Metal stories or
> related publications fit?
In terms of animation, I think the HEAVY METAL feature (released in 1981?) had enough hard-boiled stories in it to qualify by default (not all of the stories were in that vein, but I wouldn't put BATMAN:THE MASK OF THE PHANTASM ahead of it and I still would've put THE SPIRIT as the first if it had been produced). This may be just a personal reaction because I've worked in the industry for so long and can see the wires and levers behind the curtain, but for me all animation since WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? has too much slick and not enough grit to suit me.

John Celestri

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