ROUND TRIP TO MARS (1957)
Article 4589 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Paul J. Smith
Featuring the voices of Dal McKennon and Grace Stafford
What it is: Woody Woodpecker cartoon
When his vacation is interrupted by a professor’s attempt to build a rocket to Mars, Woody Woodpecker hoodwinks the takeoff so the professor lands back on Earth, and then pretends to be a Martian.
Ordinarily, a movie with a title like this in which it turns out all the action takes place on the Earth would have its fantastic content seriously compromised, but since we’re also dealing with a talking woodpecker, we’re still pretty solidly in fantastic territory. Yes, it’s another cartoon, but it’s interesting to see examples from different studios so close together, as it gives me something to compare. Already you can see that Walter Lantz was toying with limited animation, but it’s still more elaborate than the last Terrytoons cartoon I saw. The gags are of the variety you would expect from a Looney Tunes cartoon, but the presentation is weaker; the timing is not quite as good, the voice acting is merely adequate, and the score doesn’t add much to the mix. In short, it’s somewhere in between; it’s better than a Terrytoons cartoon but not as good as a Warner Brother’s. Still, it’s always a bit depressing to watch how limited animation wormed its way into theatrical cartoons; one is aware of how much richer the animation was in the previous decades.