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Frank Tashlin (1913–1972) was a supremely gifted satirist and visual stylist who made an indelible mark on 1950s Hollywood and American popular culture—first as a talented animator working on Looney Tunes cartoons, then as muse to film stars Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, and Jayne Mansfield. Yet his name is not especially well known today. Long regarded as an anomaly or curiosity, Tashlin is finally given his due in this career-spanning survey. Tashlinesque considers the director’s films in the contexts of Hollywood censorship, animation history, and the development of the genre of comedy in American film, with particular emphasis on the sex, satire, and visual flair that comprised Tashlin’s distinctive artistic and comedic style. Through close readings and pointed analyses of Tashlin’s large and fascinating body of work, Ethan de Seife offers fresh insights into such classic films as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, The Girl Can’t Help It, Artists and Models, The Disorderly Orderly, and Son of Paleface, as well as numerous Warner Bros. cartoons starring Porky Pig, among others. This is an important rediscovery of a highly unusual and truly hilarious American artist. Includes a complete filmography.
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ETHAN DE SEIFE is an assistant professor of film studies at Hofstra University. He is the author of This Is Spinal Tap.Review:
“The wild and wacky films of Frank Tashlin epitomized a comic experience of the movies. Now, with trenchant insight, Ethan de Seife gives Tashlin’s zany, imaginative universe the sharp analysis it deserves, proving Tashlin’s centrality to the history of entertainment cinema. A great study of a key director!” (Dana Polan, cinema studies, New York University)
“Well, it’s about time! Frank Tashlin, one of America’s greatest yet unheralded comedy geniuses, is rescued from comparative obscurity by Tashlinesque, an admiring chronicle of his influential work from animated cartoons to live action comedy classics.” (Joe Dante, director)
“This book on Frank Tashlin is both totally original and highly engaging. The author’s extraordinary attention to Tashlin’s visual design and directorial style makes this a must-read for movie fans and film scholars alike.” (Kevin Heffernan, author of Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, 1953–1968)
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