Sunday 17 March 2013

Movie parodies in MAD Magazine

The current issue of FilmComment, the film magazine of Lincoln Center Film Society, is running a story about the movie parodies which have appeared in MAD Magazine for the last 60 years. 

Before MAD, audiences looking for movie parodies had to be content with Britain’s relatively toothless Carry On films, Bob Hope’s gentle genre ribbing, or Abbott & Costello’s goofy send-ups. But MAD was out for blood. Deeply meta and full of in-jokes, it constantly conflated characters with the actors playing them (lancing Brando’s foppish accent in Mutiny on the Bounty aka Mutiny on the Bouncy one character says, “Don’t worry, Trevar! He pulled a stupid Southern accent on me in Sayonara and I still won an Oscar!”) and gleefully pointed out plot holes. When Roy Scheider is fatally stabbed in Marathon Man he manages to make it back to his brother’s apartment, over 60 blocks away. “Good Lord! What happened to you?” Dustin Hoffman gasps in Marathon Mess. “I was stabbed in Lincoln Center, so I dragged myself to Broadway, caught an uptown bus to 72nd Street and got a crosstown bus to Riverside Drive, grabbed a No. 4 bus to 116th street…walked up the hill…and here I am…” Scheider replies.
Home A-Groan
But the arrival of Mort Drucker in 1957 changed everything. Initially no one saw Drucker’s talent. Then in 1959 he drew the television parody The Night Perry Masonite Lost a Case and the basic movie parody format for the next 44 years was born. Opening with a splash panel that took up two-thirds of the page, it was all cartooning, used square word balloons, and the dialogue was copy cast. Playing to Drucker’s strengths, The Night Perry Masonite Lost a Case opted for an extremely tame design, mandated by art directors John Putnam and Leonard Brenner, who gave Drucker his panel layouts. The panels were mostly two-shots and medium shots, usually showing the characters from the waist up. The comedy came from Drucker’s uncanny ability to capture the likeness of an actor and then blow it up to the point where it started to deform but didn’t quite tip over into caricature. The cartoonist’s equivalent of an actor’s director, Drucker was a master of drawing hands, faces, and body language, and his approach (he wound up creating 238 movie satires) became the house style.
You can read the whole article here, if you like that sort of thing.

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