Friday, January 21, 2022

"The Tune" - 30th Anniversary of Sundance screening

Well, it's that time of year again, the Sundance Film Festival is happening again, though it's all virtual this year, as it was last time around.  

About 30 years ago, I went to my second Sundance Festival, to screen my epic "drawn by one person" feature film, "The Tune". I had been there once before with my short film, "How to Kiss" - and Sundance was just kind of taking off as the place to be to see indie films.  In fact, weirdly I was kind of a media star at the time - because they were running my shorts on MTV.  I got to meet and hang out with people like Ethel Kennedy, Faye Dunaway, the beautiful Jennifer Beals and a young first-time filmmaker and big fan of mine, named Quentin Tarantino.  He was there with "Reservoir Dogs", which was a nominee for the Grand Jury Prize that year.  

It was a great event, the audience loved "The Tune" and I was very high on the experience.  

Just last week, I got an e-mail from a fan named Randy, who gave me his take on the Sundance screening - and so, here it is:

Mr. Plympton, I hope this short e-mail reaches you so that I can thank you personally. In early 1992, as a college student, I was set up on a blind date and being in Utah I thought the perfect idea would be to attend the Sundance film festival.  I chose your film "The Tune" because it was described as a musical and I am quite fond of all styles of music. I bought two tickets for the film and was told they would be waiting at the Park City ticket office until 7 pm. At 6 pm I picked up my date in Provo and we headed toward Park City thinking we had plenty of time to arrive. However, after being held up in traffic for the first 30 minutes I began to be quite nervous and, needless to say, I began to drive a bit fast and maybe even reckless. I was NOT going to miss this film. My date was clearly nervous by my driving and hardly said two words the entire drive. We arrived at the ticket office  *wipes brow* with 5 minutes to spare and collected our tickets to the film. All the way to the theatre and on the way to our seats she was again quiet and serious. My jokes fell flat and it was clear this date was bombing. I remember thinking to myself that there would definitely not be a second date and the sooner the date could end, the better. And then a miracle occurred. "The Tune" played to a packed house (as I recall) and it was both incredibly funny and wonderfully entertaining. At one point I remember looking over at my date and literally seeing her laughing so hard she was crying real tears. This is not an exaggeration. I thought to myself, "Hmmmm, I guess she does have a sense of humor after all. I suppose I could ask her out again." And that is exactly what I did. This year is our 30th wedding anniversary. 4 kids and 2 dogs later, we are all big, big fans. Of course I bought a DVD copy of "The Tune" and it has been watched dozens and dozens of times in our home. My kids know all the songs and it is often quoted at the dinner table. And I expect the love will be passed along to the next generation. But most importantly they know it as the film that enabled Mom and Dad to fall in love. I have read your coffee table book cover to cover and it brings great insight to your struggles and successes over the years. Thank you for making "The Tune" and thereby bringing us 30 years of marital bliss. I am forever in your debt. 

Randy also made a picture book out of this story and sent me a couple of pages: 

That's such a great story! My thanks to Randy for sending this along, and allowing me to post it!  

If you have any great stories about seeing "The Tune" 30 years ago, or any of my other movies, please share them!

--Bill P.

Monday, January 3, 2022

A Face in the Crowd

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Everyone!  

I've just returned from my fun Oregon holiday vacation - and back to working on my new Simpsons couch gag - and as I hand color the art, I usually watch a movie on TV.  This time I happened to switch on a classic film, "A Face in the Crowd" by the great Elia Kazan, starring Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau and Andy Griffith (definitely playing out of character). 

Even though I've seen the film multiple times and it's one of my all-time favorite films, until now I never realized the similarities between Andy Griffith's character, Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes and our current ex-President. 

If you haven't seen this gem of a film, it's about a rural Southern singer and raconteur, who becomes a giant TV celebrity.  I know, you're all saying, "Wait, that doesn't sound like Trump!"  But the similarities lie in the fact that he plays an outspoken folk hero populist and his fans are right out of Trump's fan base, the ones who attend his rallies - simple, down-home folk.  And as Lonesome Rhodes' crowds grow to become a "basket of deplorables", he decides to go into politics, lies to everyone and eventually goes crazy.  

You might be able to find the film on cable, maybe TCM - if so, definitely check it out and see what you think.  I believe the character was modeled on former Louisiana governor Huey Long, who prided himself as a populist and then became something of a demagogue.  By the way, I don't know how the term "populist" became such a derogatory label.  I always thought of Frank Capra and Will Rogers as populists, and I consider myself a populist.  I want to make films that are popular with everybody, but I'm not eager to overthrow democracy and rule the world right now. 

Here are some pencil tests from "Slide" - I'm almost finished with the drawing part, and now it's on to post-production.  

Also, I'm including another gag cartoon here.