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Ellipse-Nelvana: Sarcophagus's song and dance in "Cigars of the Pharaoh"?

Osprey
Member
#1 · Posted: 19 Mar 2013 13:10 · Edited by: Moderator
In the Ellipse-Nelvana cartoon series adaptation of Cigars of the Pharaoh, what tune is sung by Dr Sarcophagus when he is hit by the dart?
Please help!
jock123
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 19 Mar 2013 14:24 · Edited by: jock123
It's a tune with an odd history to it, and its background isn't very clear (various people seem to have been identified with it over the years, either as composer or performer), but it seems to have been popularized - if not actually written by - a man named Sol Bloom (he later became a U.S. Senator) in 1893. He claimed to have written it, or rather improvised it at the piano, to publicize "Little Egypt", a section of the Chicago "World's Columbian Exposition".

However, the distincitve opening notes (which is what we hear in the cartoon) apparently are the same as an earlier French song Echos du Temps Passé, which itself may be be based on an Algerian folk tune, so perhaps Mr Bloom had heard either of those tunes, and then forgotten about it?

Possibly the best known name for it, as hummed by Sarcophagus, is The Streets of Cairo, in a version by James Thornton.

Read about the music's strange and interesting history more fully (actually it's about as complete as can be, and is an obvious labour of love) here at Shira.net, which is where most of the above is sourced (I knew the name was something to do with Egypt and Cairo, but had to track down the details).

Anyway, while I am sure it is the theme of Egypt which is being evoked, because he never gets very far into the tune, it could be the earlier versions which the Professor is humming...

It's often used as a short-hand musical message in a piece to evoke Egypt, especially in comedy or light-hearted situations in TV and film, etc.

In the U.K. it has an association with a music-hall/ variety/ vaudeville act named Wilson, Keppel and Betty, who (although actually from America) were huge stars in Britain for nearly five decades, and who performed a novelty soft-shoe dance routine called Cleopatra's Nightmare, but often refered to as The Egyptian Sand-Dance (or even more simply as just The Sand-Dance).

The music they danced to was in a large part Ballet Égyptien, by composer Alexandre Clément Léon Joseph Luigini, but as arranged for the act often also incorporated the opening to a piece called In a Persian Market by Albert William Ketelbey (1875-1959), and the refrain of The Streets of Cairo - basically anything to sound exotic and Middle Eastern.

One of the features of the routine was that the dancing was largely done by the men (Wilson and Keppel) while the lady Betty looked on.

They made a great show of strewing dry sand on the stage from an urn, and then dancing a soft-shoe shuffle on it, while adopting outrageous postures based on Egyptian wall art, all the while keeping completely straight expressionless faces. The sand made a very distinctive sound beneath their dancing feet.

The men, who were both tall and very thin, wore identical costumes - usually something outlandish, like a version of an Ancient Egyptian shendyt (a sort of loin-cloth), with an inappropriate Arabian head-dress, or an Egyptian tunic and Turkish fez, combined with Western shoes and spats or black socks - and made up their face to look the same including large moustaches; they then danced in an eccentric style, often doing identical movements - and never revealing in their expressions that they thought any of this peculiar - all in all very much like I imagine Thompson and Thomson would behave...
Osprey
Member
#3 · Posted: 19 Mar 2013 18:13
Thanks buddy!
Really I mean it!
jock123
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 19 Mar 2013 19:35
Osprey:
Thanks buddy!

No problem! But why the urgency…?
Osprey
Member
#5 · Posted: 20 Mar 2013 17:41
Someone was asking me!
And I wanted to add this tune to my collection, that's why.
jock123
Moderator
#6 · Posted: 20 Mar 2013 19:44 · Edited by: jock123
Osprey:
Someone was asking me!

As good a reason as any…! :-)

Oh, and I do like to think that, somewhere in the Tintiniverse, that Alexandre Clément Léon Joseph Luigini from Lyon might have encountered Arturo Benedetto Giovanni Guiseppe Pietro Archangelo Alfredo Cartoffoli from Milan!
Rocks_91
Member
#7 · Posted: 5 Aug 2014 17:53 · Edited by: Moderator
Thanks to discussions on this forum, I now know the name of the tune which Dr. Sarcophagus hums in Cigars.

What I would now like to know is, when he goes mad in India, what is the dance that he seems to be doing?

With one hand at the bottom half-folded and one hand at the top.

I assume it is some sort of Egyptian dance because I recall seeing it in another cartoon show as well.

I would like to know what it's called and whether there are resources online for men to learn to dance like Sarcophagus does. Thanks, and hello from Kolkata, India.
jock123
Moderator
#8 · Posted: 5 Aug 2014 22:47 · Edited by: jock123
The problem there is that I'd not be certain that there is any actual dance that this is based on - it largely is from exactly the sort of novelty acts and comedians that I talked about above. A large part of the act performed by Wilson, Keppel and Betty involved making moves similar to the ones Sarcophagus makes in the cartoon.

The joke is based around the fact that Egyptian painted art was largely without perspective or any sense of depth - it makes everything flat.

People in paintings are generally depicted, at rest, with their feet in side view and both pointing the same way, but their upper body shows the torso straight on so you see both shoulders; arms and hands, however, are also in side view, so that the hands are generally flat and showing the palms or the back of the hands, and arms tend to be away from the body. Heads are turned in profile.

No matter how they are meant to be grouped in reality, figures are usually painted side-by-side, not overlapping, and never with the back or back-of-the-head showing. Relative size does not depict a figure's distance from the viewer, but the figure's social status (kings are big, peasants are small, for example).

The lack of depth makes having people interact very difficult to show, and movement is just as hard; to have one person giving someone else something, might have the giver's hand shown edge on, parallel to the ground, and at right angles to the fore-arm, but sticking out away from the body, and their other hand would trail behind them - a posture similar to the one made by Sarcophagus.

The "Egyptian" dancing popularized on the comedy stage worked on the (deliberately faulty) assumption that the style of this painting was to accommodate the way Egyptians actually stood and moved - in a stilted two dimensional fashion. Similar humour is derived in things like Asterix: Mission Cleopatra, where the moves are used during the I Feel Good dance number, and referenced in Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles, and even becomes part of the "Bad Guys" routine in Bugsy Malone.
Have a look at this clip of Wilson and Keppel doing part of their routine - dance like that if you want, but it's unlikely that you'd find it in Egypt!
number1fan
Member
#9 · Posted: 23 Aug 2014 12:15
This was a fascinating read and insight.

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