Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Key Setup of Fork Mice with Original Production Cels of Jaq, Gus, and Lucifer on Production Background from "Cinderella," 1950

Original hand inked & hand painted production cel of Gus and Jaq, numbered 27 lower right; with trimmed and applied hand inked & hand painted production cels of Lucifer & Two Fork Mice; Set on a key matching (To the Two Fork Mice) hand painted production background from "Cinderella," 1950; Production & Studio numbers along bottom of background; Size - Lucifer 4 1/4 x 5", Gus & Jaq 3 x 3", Fork Mice 1 1/2 x 3 1/4", Cel & Background 12 1/2 x 15 1/2"; Unframed.

Lucifer was the name of the pet cat of Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil Stepmother. The name Lucifer, a synonym of Satan, was chosen by Walt Disney himself probably due to his known hatred of cats. Lucifer was largely created for comic relief from the main storyline of Cinderella. Ward Kimball, the animator for Lucifer, was also responsible for the comedic subplot of the cat-and-mouse chase scenes between the cat and the two featured mice of the film, Jaq and Gus. His design for Lucifer was largely inspired by a pet cat belonging to Kimball himself; and Kimball's excellent animation skills have made Lucifer one of Disney's greatest Villains!

Original key setup showing bottom cel peg holes and production notes on the production background.

Original production cel without the background, production number in ink lower right.

Lucifer was voiced by the very well known voice actress, June Foray. Foray worked for many different animation studios and is probably most well known as the voice of Cindy Lou Who, in Chuck Jone's holiday favorite "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," 1966. Chuck Jones is reported to have said, "June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray."

Close up of the Fork Mice.

Cinderella had many mice and bird friends in the film and named mice include Mert, Bert, Luke, Suzie, and of course the two mice stars, Gus and Jaq. Gus and Jaq were both animated by Fred Moore and Ward Kimball and their animation sequences in the film many times rival the sequences revolving around Cinderella. Jaq was thin with a dark red shirt and hat and wore an orange coat, while Gus was larger, more stout in size with a green hat and wore a light green shirt that was a bit too small for him. Both had dark red shoes and both were voiced by veteran Walt Disney sound engineer and voice actor James MacDonald (who also provided the voice of Bruno the dog). 

Close up of Gus and Jaq.

James MacDonald was a British-born voice actor and he was the original head of the Walt Disney sound effects department. In addition to directing sounds for the early Disney animated shorts such as "Mickey's Trailer," 1938, he developed many original inventions and contraptions in order to achieve unique and expressive sounds for characters like Casey Jr., the circus train engine from "Dumbo," 1941; Evinrude the dragonfly from "The Rescuers," 1977; and the bees in "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree," 1966. He also made the sound effects for Tick Tock the crocodile from "Peter Pan," 1953 and used castanets for the sound of Maleficent as the Dragon from "Sleeping Beauty" 1959.

Close up of Lucifer.

James MacDonald's voice acting work for Disney began early and included doing the yodeling for the Dwarfs in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937 as well as doing some sounds for Dopey such as his hiccuping and sobbing. By 1947, Walt Disney was getting too busy and too hoarse from all of his smoking to continue voicing the character of Mickey Mouse. Disney was replaced by MacDonald, who voiced some parts of Mickey for "Fun and Fancy Free," 1947. Soon MacDonald completely took over as the voice of Mickey Mouse until 1977, when he was replaced by another young Disney sound effects man Wayne Allwine.

Original production background without the cel.

For animation art collecting, it does not get any better than finding a key setup. This occurs when you have an original production cel on it's matching original production background; such that if you were to freeze the film at that exact cel, you would have a perfect match of all original artwork to what is frozen on the movie or TV screen! This work for sale is a key setup of the two mice running with the fork set on their key matching original production background.

Close up of production numbers and notes on the bottom of the production background.

The scene occurs just outside of Cinderella's locked attic bedroom door. Gus and Jaq have just retrieved the key to the door from Lady Tremaine and have made the long trek up the stairs to be just outside the door; when suddenly they are attacked by Lucifer. Lucifer traps Gus and the key under a teacup and Jaq and the other mice begin to attack Lucifer in order to free Gus, and thereby retrieve the key and set Cinderella free just in time to try on the glass slipper. This production background was used in several places during this sequence and the two mice charging Lucifer with the fork are key to the background.

Close up of production numbers and notes on the bottom of the production background.

There is little question that this setup was created by the Walt Disney Art Studios Department. It is composed of a hand painted and hand inked production cel, numbered 27, of Gus and Jaq. To that cel a hand painted and hand inked trimmed production cel of the two mice with the fork was applied; along with a hand painted and hand inked trimmed production cel of Lucifer. The single cel, now containing five characters, was then placed on a master hand painted production background; that is key and matching for the two mice with the fork. The entire setup is absolutely gorgeous and represents a wonderful moment in the film, as well as a piece on animation history.

To view the scene which this cel and background was used to create, click on the short video below: