Frank Tashlin ... the "renaissance gag man"
Frank Tashlin (1913-1972) was a unique figure in Hollywood cinema. He was a syndicated cartoonist, animation director at the major studios, scriptwriter for the Marx Brothers and Bob Hope, radio and TV director, and author of an exceptional series of illustrated books beginning with The Bear That Wasn't. As a Hollywood comedy film director from the late 1940s onwards, Tashlin was a major transitional figure, the link between the screwball comedies of Hawks and Sturges, and the modern comedy film. His post-war America is a land where the image is reality (advertising in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?), attitude is more important than talent (the rock 'n' roll classic, The Girl Can't Help It), and all roads lead to Hollywood (the ultimate road movie Hollywood or Bust). He brought slapstick to the post-war sound comedy with Bob Hope in Son of Paleface, and directed Martin and Lewis in their classic, Artists and Models. He directed Jerry Lewis solo in six films and worked with many other stars including Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Danny Kaye, Tony Randall and Terry-Thomas. In the 1950s, Tashlin's films impressed the French critics from Positif and Cahiers du cinema. Jean-Luc Godard coined the term 'tashlinesque' and the influence lives on, from Alphaville to Passion, and in Rivette's Celine et Julie vont en bateau. Tashlin's influence can also be seen in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
[cover blurb from Frank Tashlin (ed. Roger Garcia); see below.]
Frank and Me
Away back in 1993, I was hired for one of the more significant freelance jobs of my life, to provide the "documentation" in support of a major retrospective of the work of Frank Tashlin to be presented the following August (1994) by the Locarno Film Festival in Locarno, Switzerland. My research ultimately led to the discovery of what remained of Tashlin's personal papers and the compilation of the most comprehensive chronicle of his work -- including a biographical chronology, a detailed filmography with a brief production history for each film, a record of his radio and television work, a bibliography of his published works, and an account of a number of projects in various media which remained unrealized at the time of his death. An edited version of the extensive documention I prepared was published as part of the book Frank Tashlin, edited by Roger Garcia, published by Editions Yellow Now/Editions du Festival international du film de Locarno, in collaboration with the British Film Institute. Taking up about half of this 255-page book, it still stands today as the most extensive published record of Tashlin's work -- although, it was considerably edited from the material I submitted to the publishers.
It's my intention, someday, to re-work and publish, in some form, the entirety of my Tashlin documentation. Until then, I will use this site to post some of it.
Links (mostly not established yet) to Tashlin's:
[More to come.]