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Lake of Sharks: The voice cast?

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#1 · Posted: 2 Nov 2004 04:27 · Edited by: Pelaphus
Had a flash of intuition as I was watching Lake of Sharks and listening to that goofy guy do that weird voice for Captain Haddock, and all of a sudden I realized: a lot of these dubbed films hire cheap, non-union labor, much more detectable then than now, and I just bet the voice actor thought, "Haddock… old salt… sailor", and decided that called for a Popeye voice.

And the voice director thought, "Great idea."

Check it out. It's a bad Popeye. And thus is demonstrated the fine line between "Thundering typhoons!" and "Blow me down…!"
John Sewell
#2 · Posted: 2 Nov 2004 20:39
Spot on! The more I think about it, the more I've got a mental image of the Captain guzzling down a tin of spinach, and knocking seven bells out of Rastapopoulos and his goons! Come to think of it, that might have improved the movie a bit... He could have had Bluto as his secret weapon. Though frankly, the implications of Castafiore showing up carrying Swea' Pea is somewhere I don't really wanna go ;)
Harrock n roll
#3 · Posted: 3 Nov 2004 17:33
It's a bad Popeye. And thus is demonstrated the fine line between "Thundering typhoons!" and "Blow me down ... "

Agreed, Popeye's voice was inspired whereas this is just bad...

Incidentally, after watching it again a while back it occured to me that the translators to the Lake of Sharks cartoon might have referred to both the Methuen and the short lived US Golden Press editions for some of their translation. The Captain mixes "Thunderation!" with "Blistering barnacles!" and the Thompsons make do with "I would even say..." as opposed to their famous "to be precise..." phrase. Mind you I'm sure they didn't fret over it too much...
#4 · Posted: 3 Nov 2004 23:28
I suspect that Captain Haddock was voiced to sound like the voice of the BelVision series, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it wasn’t the work of Paul Frees again - one of the hardest working voices in cartoons.

I don’t think the voice can be criticised as being a stereotype, because hey - it’s a cartoon! Why shouldn’t the Captain sound like Popeye? I mean, Hergé gives him a sailor hat, and a Guernsey with an anchor on it - there is a place for cliché, and a children’s cartoon is one of them.
#5 · Posted: 4 Nov 2004 10:37 · Edited by: Pelaphus
I don't know who the Haddock-voice guy was in LAKE OF SHARKS, but, sorry Jock, it was not Paul Frees. (However, your point about stereotypes is well-taken, and Frees was a master at delivering them.)

Frees, though a ubiquitous presence in animated films, and at LEAST as versatile and busy as his contemporary, Mel Blanc, similarly had a distinctive timbre underlying most of his voices, as well as a few signature archetypes he defaulted to in certain cases, and it was those archetypes he used in voicing Tintin characters. I don't yet know ALL the Belvision stories that feature him, but I DO know that you can hear his distinctive take on the characters in SECRET OF THE UNICORN and RED RACKHAM'S TREASURE. He voiced Haddock as a blustery baritone, a bit overdone, but the richest and roundest-sounding Haddock of ANY animated version (including Nelvana). And he voiced the Thom(p)sons with what was then a fairly common American "take" on the British accent, very effete, nasal. slightly lisping, the sort who would punctuate their speech with "I say!" and "Eh, what?" a lot, veddy Terry-Thomas and Bruce Forsythe. He would also employ both the blustery old salt and effete Brit to comic effect as often as needed when he did voices (most notably Boris Badenov) in the ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE cartoons for Jay Ward ... among others. You can also hear him, in a voice close to his own, in the animated freature GAY PURR-EE, as Meowrice the Money Cat. He was also Donald Duck's eccentric uncle Ludwig von Drake, for Disney. Plus, in commercials, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Toucan Sam. He also provided Tony Curtis's "in drag" falsetto in SOME LIKE IT HOT. And it is Frees, in the Belvision cartoons that feature his Haddock, who most enthusiastically and memorably belts out the intro as "Hergeeeeeee's Adventuuuures of TINtin!!!" (For more on Frees, http://bearmanormedia.bizland.com)

The Belvision TINTIN series (and I've just now gotten reacquainted with several of the cartoons) seems to have had several sets of English-language actors (at least two, in whole or part), and if you include the voice of Haddock in LAKE OF SHARKS, at least three; the fellow voicing Haddock in THE CALCULUS CASE (sic) is neither the LAKE OF SHARKS guy nor Frees.

I can't assert this categorically, but my ear suggests to me that at least some of the Belvision stories were dubbed into English by British actors. Though I do still believe that LAKE OF SHARKS was dubbed by an inexperienced non-union -- and I think American -- cast. Aside from the voices being utterly unfamiliar to me [I was watching a LOT of cartoons back then, and knew well the "usual suspects" who populated Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Warner Brothers, Jay Ward & etc.], the performances are bad, and horribly directed, often weirdly or under-inflected, lacking the "musicality" of the seasoned voice-over artist who knows how to shade a performance that can't be seen, such that it fills out and inhabits a drawn "body.")

In fact, the difference between the Frees-voiced Belvisions and the others is quite stark. Aside from the assurance, professionalism and distinctiveness of the performances, there's also the giddy fun of realizing that EVERYTHING was voiced by only two guys. Frees handled the voices described above, plus various suporting characters. Meanwhile, Tintin, Calculus and Snowy (and supporting characters) were voiced by Larry Harmon.

Harmon (still alive) was himself a writer-producer of animation, his forte creating series from pre-existing franchises or properties. He was most famous at the time for having developed, licensed and voiced Bozo the Clown -- originally a series of LPs on Capitol records, created by record producer Alan Livingston and voiced by Vance "Pinto" Colvig -- which spun off into a number of children's shows featuring live actor Bozos, different ones in different regional markets, over 200 trained by Harmon himself (the Bozo show in Chicago is apparently still active, and the waiting list for tickets to be in the audience of kids is, like, a year). Harmon was a self-promoter as much as a character promoter and when enough years had gone by to obscure history, he took credit for having CREATED Bozo, and so thoroughly had his imprint infused the character and merchandising that the claim was readily believed by those who didn't know the original records (produced from the mid 40s through the mid-50s, whereupon Harmon acquired all rights to the character). Not long ago, however, the fraud was exposed, and Larry Harmon's plaque -- I'm not making this up -- was taken down at the Clown Hall of Fame.

Harmon also developed Laurel and Hardy for animation (the actual animation was done by the Hanna-Barbera studios) and did the voice of Stan Laurel. His last blast was co-directing (at least in name) and producing a live action LAUREL AND HARDY movie in 1999, called FOR LOVE OR MUMMY, that starred Bronson Pinchot as Laurel, Gaylord Sartain as Hardy and F. Murray Abraham (talk about a comedown from Salieri!) as the bad guy. The stars were swell, but the writing and plotting were forced and the film went right to video without a theatrical release. Yes, yes, I admit, I did rent it ...
Harrock n roll
#6 · Posted: 4 Nov 2004 11:48
Quite a lecture Pelaphus, makes me thirsty!

I was researching for an article on the Harmon-Belvision origins a few months back. Philppe Capart, maker of the documentary Belvision: la mine d'or au bout du couloir… gave me some interesting information from the research he'd done which I'll add here.

As you mentioned, the Larry Harmon Production studios had been making Bozo the Clown episodes at that time, in much the same style as Hanna-Barbera’s cartoons. Bozo had been created in 1946 by Capitol Records for the world’s first “read-along” books and was a huge success for the company. In 1956, Larry Harmon purchased the rights to the character, and began creating Bozo shows in various cities on a franchise basis. One of his aquaintances, Jack Grinieff, had seen how popular the Tintin character was on an earlier trip to France. Seeing a few of the books himself, Harmon decided to meet with Raymond Leblanc, who was then the editor of Lombard, the publisher of Tintin magazine and also owned the film rights of Tintin.

The scriptwriter Charlie Shows was hired from Hanna-Barbera, and Harmon, Grinieff and Shows then went to Brussels to meet with Hergé and Leblanc. Harmon convinced them to have some Tintin episodes made in his Hollywood studio. Hergé consented and, perhaps thinking of Bozo, urged them not to make a clown out of Tintin. “Tintin is real!” he was reported to have said:) Leblanc later flew out to Hollywood to visit the studios and was very impressed, he was sure this was going to make Tintin international.

The Larry Harmon Studio worked on Objective Moon, producing five minute episodes that could later be assembled to make a feature. When Hergé, Leblanc and scriptwriter and comic book artist Greg first saw the Harmon Studio episodes they were stunned . The fast-paced rhythm and boxing tournament-type voice of the narrator (I always thought it was Harmon) made them akin to wartime propaganda films and were a real shock to them coming after the simple, slow paced, cut-out animations which were being aired on the French and Belgian national television stations at that time. (Whether the artist himself actually liked the cartoons or not was another matter).

After that there was an apparent bust-up between Harmon, Grinieff and Shows. It seems that Grinieff wanted to do without Harmon and thought of doing the episodes elsewhere, possibly with Raymond Leblanc in Belvision, so he hired Shows to come with him in this new venture. Raymond Leblanc was to sign a contract with Jacques Grinieff but he died (suicide?) the day the contract should have been signed!

In 1960 Raymond Leblanc hired Shows and decided to do the animated series in Belvision. They later got the French Tele-Hachette to co-produce the episodes with Belvision. Ray Goossens supervised the production team to work with Shows. Greg was attached to the team by Hergé in order to supervise the quality and respect to the “spirit of Tintin”. They did 98 episodes of Tintin (counting the ones done by Harmon that they bought from him). They ended production in about 62-63 before doing the "Pinocchio in Outer Space" feature film in co-production with Fred Ladd and Norman Prescott. Finally in 1965 they made “The Calculus Case” leaving 105 episodes in all.
#7 · Posted: 4 Nov 2004 13:07 · Edited by: tybaltstone
I know this post is a prime candidate for being deleted due to it's lack of contribution to the topic, but, in regard to the previous two posts, I've just got to say: blimey!
Harrock n roll
#8 · Posted: 4 Nov 2004 14:16
Yes, sincere apologies if it has strayed off topic. This thread apparently metamorhisized into one about the kind of people that were hired to do produce the animations. As Popeye used to say; "that's all I can stands 'cause I can't stands no more..." Admin?
#9 · Posted: 4 Nov 2004 15:05 · Edited by: Pelaphus
Watch us get right back to topic.

First, off, Harrock, that was EXCELLENT and really fascinating. Thank you! And among other things ...

-- it likely explains the discrepancy in English-language voice actors from story to story. Frees and Harmon clearly provided the original tracks for the Harmon-produced cartoons, but were certainly cut loose when Harmon was removed from the equation.

Were the Belvision-produced stories originally recorded in French? If so, THAT would explain the dip in quality when English soundtracks were added later; again, cheap, non-union help -- whose performances often didn't match the emphases of the animation, which (we all know, right?) is done and timed to the origin-language soundtrack AFTER it's recorded. (Dubs work in reverse.)

And that's how we wound up with Haddock through a Popeye filter.

(Ta-daaaaa! Leave your tips in the glass atop the piano.)
#10 · Posted: 4 Nov 2004 15:51
Hope you didn't misunderstand me Chris and Pelaphus - it's all fascinating detail that I found very interesting... the 'blimey' refers to the encyclopaedic bricks that were dropped on my head, one for each post. Keep it up, I say - you both obviously know what you're talking about, and it's always good to dicover new stuff.

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