THE WALTER LANTZ STORY: With Woody Woodpecker and Friends by Joe Adamson

THE WALTER LANTZ STORY: With Woody Woodpecker and Friends

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The famous, the near-famous and the notorious face a problem that will never plague the rest of us--choosing a biographer who can give shape, substance and significance to the story of their lives. In making this decision Lantz has been unwise, or perhaps just plain unlucky. Lantz is a worthy subject for a full-scale biography. His life as one of America's pioneer filmmakers has been long, productive and, potentially at least, fascinating. Unfortunately, in Adamson's hands, his story becomes a tedious, disjointed litany of uncertain dates; undifferentiated friends, drinking buddies and business associates; hackneyed show-biz variety, inspirational ""messages"" and largely pointless and/or unfunny anecdotes. It need not have been so. Lantz is the creator of Woody Woodpecker, who was, along with Donald Duck, Tweety-Pie and Sally Rand, one of the best loved feathered entertainers of the 30's, 40's and 50's. For more than six decades, Lantz was a leader and innovator in the development of animated cartoons, seeing his chosen medium grow from a series of crudely drawn images flickering on nickelodeon screens to a sophisticated popular art form. During the heyday of animated cartoons, Lantz's creations competed successfully with the likes of Disney's Donald Duck and Chuck Jones' Bugs Bunny for the nation's grins, giggles and guffaws. In 1979, he received an Academy Award for his contributions to ""The Industry."" The facts are all there in this catch-as-catch-can account of Lantz's life, but they've been tumbled together in an ungainly m‚lange. Flashbacks and flash-forwards abound. Featured players in the drama are named but not developed; they appear and disappear without explanation. Non sequiturs repeatedly interrupt the narrative. Here, cause and effect are not even nodding acquaintances. This kind of anarchy was hilarious in Lantz's cartoons; in his biography, it's disastrous.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1985
Publisher: Putnam