Francis Fredrick von Taschlein (February 19, 1913 May 5, 1972) was a prominent animator, writer, and director of both cartoons and live-action films. His most notable work was done for the Leon Schlesinger cartoon studio during The Golden Age of Animation, having three separate stints at the place.
Initially, Tashlin cut his teeth working for Paul Terry as an animator on the Aesop's Film Fables series of cartoons, only to quickly drift off to another animation stint at Van Beuren Studios. Finally, in 1932, he found work at the then-rising Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon studio, working as an animator while working on a short-lived comic strip in his spare time called Van Boring, the name being an obvious jab at his previous boss. When Leon tried to swindle Frank into giving him a cut of the comics profits, Frank told him to shove it and promptly lost his job as a result. Once again adrift, he did a brief stint at the Ub Iwerks cartoon studio in 1934, only to leave in 1935 for Hal Roach Studios to be a writer on the Our Gang series, where he learned quite a bit about live-action film-making, including film-camera techniques.
In 1936, Leon managed to lure Tashlin back to his studio, giving him a position as a director there, right during a time when Tex Avery was starting to take the studio away from its Disney roots in favor of faster-paced, more cartoony shorts. Frank jumped right in, getting off to a good start with "Porky's Poultry Plant", where he adapted live-action-style fast cutting and dynamic camera angles into his cartoons, giving them a cinematic, energetic feel lacking in Tex Avery and Friz Freleng's cartoon shorts. Despite this, he wasn't particularly happy due to being stuck working on Porky Pig cartoons, who Tashlin later admitted was his least favorite character.
However, he left the studio again, with his crew being handed over to Chuck Jones, while he went to work for Disney from 1938 to 1940, where he began story work on Walt's proposed Mickey Mouse feature, which would later evolve into the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment of Fun and Fancy Free.
In 1941, he found work at Columbia Cartoons, where he directed three short cartoons, one of them being the first of Columbia's star series The Fox and the Crow—the short in question, "The Fox and the Grapes" was the first cartoon to use a "blackout gag" format, which director Chuck Jones would cite as an influence on his Road Runner cartoons.
He would once again return to Warner Bros. in 1943, this time bringing stylized, magazine-like angular designs to his new shorts. Some of these later shorts notably had sexual themes, particularly Plane Daffy (which had a Femme Fatale Spy character named Hatta Mari, whose blond hair and top-heavy hourglass figure recalled real-life sex symbols of the day). It's been said that the difference between Bob Clampett's cartoons and Frank Tashlin's cartoons in terms of risqué humor is that Tashlin was more polished and subtle while Clampett was broader, wilder, and more adolescent (though some Tashlin cartoons, such as "I've Got Plenty of Mutton" and "Swooner Crooner" do have their moments of Clampett-esque raunchiness).
After his cartoon career ended, Tashlin went on to direct and write for many live-action films, most famously the Jayne Mansfield comedies The Girl Can't Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, and numerous Jerry Lewis movies. His films are notable for including live-action versions of cartoon gags, such as the near-sexual reactions of every man who sees Jayne Mansfield's character walk by in The Girl Can't Help It (such as the ice melting in the ice truck and the milkman's bottle of milk popping and spilling over). He also wrote five books: "The Bear That Wasn't" (1941), "How The Circus Learned to Smile" (1949, "The Possum That Didn't" (1950) and "The World That Isn't" (1951) and a self-help cartooning book "How to Create Cartoons" (1952). He even briefly returned to animation in 1967, adapting one of his children's books The Bear That Wasn't into an MGM animated short, directed by his former colleague Chuck Jones (which Tashlin didn't like).
To get a more deep idea of Tashlin as a person and his history at Warners, an interview of him has been posted by Micheal Barrier here.
- Redskin Blues: A Van Beuren Tom & Jerry short he animated for.
- Hook & Ladder Hokum: A Van Beuren Tom & Jerry short. His first directorial effort.
- I've Got to Sing a Torch Song: Presumably his first animation stint.
- Buddy's Beer Garden: Animator.
- Honeymoon Hotel: Animator.
- Thicker Than Water: A Laurel and Hardy short he wrote for.
- The Fixer Uppers: A Laurel and Hardy short he wrote for.
- Tit for Tat: A Laurel and Hardy short he wrote for.
- Porkys Poultry Plant: First credited directorial effort at the studio.
- Little Beau Porky
- Porky in the Northwoods
- Porky's Road Race
- Porky's Romance
- Porkys Building
- Porky's Railroad
- Speaking of the Weather: First Merrie Melodies short he worked on. This short is the first of the "Tashlin Trio" of things-come-to-life cartoons that managed to single handedly destroy the genre due to their immense popularity.
- The Case of the Stuttering Pig
- Porky's Double Trouble
- The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos
- Porky at the Crocadero
- Now That Summer Is Gone
- Porky the Fireman
- Have You Got Any Castles?: Second in the "Tashlin Trio".
- Porky's Spring Planting
- The Mayor Lied Down 'Til Dawn
- Wholly Smoke
- Cracked Ice
- Little Pauncho Vanilla
- You're An Education: The final member of the "Tashlin Trio" and the last cartoon he worked on during his second stint at Warner Bros.
- The Great Cheese Mystery: First Columbia Cartoon he worked on. Did not direct, but wrote the story.
- The Fox and the Grapes
- The Tangled Angler
- A Hollywood Detour: Directed it.
- Under The Shedding Chestnut Tree: Supervised this and the following Columbia shorts.
- Wacky Wigwams
- Concerto in B Flat Minor
- Dog Meets Dog
- Wolf Chases Pigs
- A Battle for a Bottle
- Cinderella Goes to a Party
- Bulldog and the Baby
- Old Blackout Joe
- Song of Victory
- Red Riding Hood Rides Again: Was the producer.
- Porky Pig's Feat: First short upon his return to WB.
- Scrap Happy Daffy
- The Goldbrick: One of Private Snafu shorts he directed.
- The Home Front:
- Puss N' Booty: Last black & white Looney Tunes short. Animator Shamus Culhane is rumored to have done uncredited work for the short.
- A Corny Concerto: Directed by Bob Clampett, but he wrote the story.
- I Got Plenty of Mutton: A one-shot cartoon that would be the inspiration for three Chuck Jones cartoon series made post-World War II: The Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote seriesnote , The Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf seriesnote , and (if you can believe it), the Pepe Le Pew seriesnote .
- Swooner Crooner: Footage from his cartoon would be recycled for a cartoon sequence of the film "Two Guys From Texas".
- The Chow Hound: Private Snafu
- Brother Brat
- Censored: Private Snafu
- Plane Daffy
- Booby Hatched
- The Stupid Cupid
- The Unruly Hare: One of two Bugs Bunny shorts he directed (and the only one he was credited for)
- Behind the Meat-Ball
- Tale of Two Mice
- Nasty Quacks
- Hare Remover: Second of two Bugs Bunny shorts he directed but was uncredited. Last Warner Bros. short Tashlin directed during his third stint at Warner Bros.
- The Lady Said No
- Choo Choo Amigo
- Daffy Ditties: Pepito's Serenade
- The Lemon Drop Kid: Helped finish directing it.
- The First Time
- Son of Paleface
- Marry Me Again
- Susan Slept Here
- The Face is Familiar: An episode of G.E. True Theater TV series.
- The Lieutenant Wore Skirts
- The Honest Man: An episode of G.E. True Theater TV series.
- The Girl Can't Help It
- Hollywood or Bust
- Rock-A-Bye Baby
- The Geisha Boy
- Say One For Me
- Bachelor Flat
- It'$ Only Money
- The Man From The Diner's Club
- Who's Minding The Store?
- The Disorderly Orderly
- The Alphabet Murders
- The Glass Bottom Boat
- The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell
Tropes Associated With Frank Tashlin:
- Creator Backlash:
- Was not a fan of the animated adaptation of The Bear That Wasn't.Frank: Well, they destroyed the cartoon with one little thing. I saw that, I almost cried. I never talked to Chuck about it, I've never talked to him since. It was a terrible thing. This bear, he goes to sleep under a factory, when he wakes up they try to convince him he's a [man], as you well know, and he keeps insisting he's a bear, and that's the point of it. Up front in the beginning of this thing, when they are telling him he is a man and he is insisting he's a bear, they put a cigarette in his mouth. Now, the picture was destroyed there, because by the acceptance of a cigaretteyou never saw where he got itby putting a cigarette in his mouth, he was already a man. You know what I mean? Psychologically, the picture was ruined. It stopped working from that point on. So that was a terrible experience.
- He also hated being made to work on Porky Pig cartoons for the majority of his run on the Looney Tunes series, finding him an inflexible character.
- Was not a fan of the animated adaptation of The Bear That Wasn't.
- Fanservice: His live-action movies are full of this (his Warner Bros cartoons, also, but they weren't at the Tex Avery or Bob Clampett level).
- Genre-Busting: His feature films were radical and innovative comedies. The Girl Can't Help It was a pioneer in the rock musical genre, and gave audiences around the world their first glimpses of favorite rock acts of the '50s.
- Hotter and Sexier: The Private Snafu cartoon "Censored", which features Snafu's girlfriend, Sally Lou, who wears garters, pantyhose, panties, high heels, and no top. When Cartoon Network aired the short as part of their ToonHeads episode about Private Snafu's cartoons, most of the scenes where Sally Lou is topless (though not much is shown), such as her answering the door to get the mail and leaning over the vanity to decode Snafu's letter to her, was cut (though not the scene of her calling her mom about Snafu's letter or the stylized topless pin-ups in Snafu's sleeping quarters).
- Jump Cut: Tashlin's cartoons often had very fast timing, with some scenes lasting only a few frames.
- The Mentor: Tashlin was this to Jerry Lewis, becoming a big influence on Lewis's style as a writer and director.
- Recycled Premise: His feature Rock-a-Bye Baby features a hapless man (Jerry Lewis) in comical situations while babysitting, very much like his Porky Pig short Brother Brat.
- Renaissance Man: One of the few animation directors who transitioned to live-action. See Brad Bird for a modern equivalent.
- Take That!: The name of Van Boring, a newspaper comic he ran for a few years, was a jab at his old animation boss Amadee Van Beuren.
- The Voiceless: His newspaper comic character Van Boring had no dialogue from the protagonist—the humor was entirely done in pantomime.