Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Clyde Geronomi, Bill Peet, Sterling Holloway "Susie and the Little Blue Coupe"

Viewing the classic Disney, Clyde Geronomi directed movie Susie and the Little Blue Coupe I am struck by its similarity to The Little House, and it is not just down to the inimitable voice of Sterling Holloway or that it was made the previous year in 1951. Anthropomorphism is used in both instances: for cute family house in the country, substitute cute feminine coupe in the showroom window, both having caring owners graduating to uncaring, shine to dereliction. Susie was based on a story by renowned illustrator and writer Bill Peet (Goliath II for instance). Michael Sporn with his seemingly inexhaustible bank of original materials (thanks in this case to another great director and source of informed comment, John Canemaker) has posted the original storyboards and drawings for the movie and an intended book - the storyboard is a work of art in itself. Maybe it is not so obviously a trail through the twentieth century as was the later movie, though it has an absorbing narrative grip and endearing heroine. Seeing Susie flash her eyelashes from the showroom or take her place on the parking lot amongst the toffs is always enjoyable. Times get hard of course, otherwise Sterling's vocal talents would be sorely underused. (I swear, his voice would make Shylock forgo half a pound of flesh.) Susie is soon abandoned to the back streets and dark alleys: "Susie was on Skid Row!" She is left out in the cold, abused, neglected, losing all her self respect. There's more humour than the house tale: driven by a lush she careers from side to side of the road: "and it was plain to see she was getting out of line." Worse was to come as Susie becomes a stolen car! I challenge anyone not to smile when, at the end, having been souped up by a youth, Susie tears out of the garage, all wheels and soupedupedness. A stray comment by Michael comes to mind, about the Disney of today in connection admittedly with a different movie; he is a little scornful of the studio making movies like this any more. I concur. Disney would have flashier car chases, maybe attach wings, guns, the pace of the thing would speed up. But think of the market opportunities for coupes of red, blue, green, turquoise, silver, puce ...


Tami said...


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