A Year in Shorts Day 206: "The Pink Blueprint"

The legacy of the Pink Panther is certainly a strange one. While the films themselves are remembered very fondly (just ask my dad), I don’t think it’s wrong to say that the animated mascot probably holds a bigger place in most people’s hearts these days. Either that or the iconic theme music. And I suppose that’s hardly a surprise; he was a breakout star, appearing in his own series of successful animated shorts. Today’s film, The Pink Blueprint, certainly makes a good argument as to why that is.

(via Wikipedia)

The premise for The Pink Blueprint (directed by Hawley Pratt and released in 1966) is a pretty simple riff on the tried-and-true formula. (The Pink Blueprint is the eighteenth in the series.) In this short, the unnamed Little Man is trying to build a house, but the pesky panther keeps getting in the way. Considering that the last time we saw these two, the Little Man was painting a house, I suppose we ought to be happy with his recent promotion to contractor. The Pink Blueprint is more or less what you'd expect from a Pink Panther short, and that's hardly a bad thing, is it? (Also, apologies for the laugh track; I tried to find a decent version without one, but this is from the official Pink Panther YouTube channel!)

In a lot of modern film criticism, the term "formulaic" is often used as a pejorative. And sure, it makes sense; we want films to show us something new and original. But a formula becomes a formula for a reason, and some of the best films in cinema history are just riffs on a tried-and-true recipe. And while The Pink Blueprint might not be an all time classic, it nevertheless demonstrates why "formula" doesn't have to be a dirty word. The setup may be familiar, but the gags are all new, and frequently clever. In many ways, this is peak cartoon absurdity, with a lot of gags that wouldn't feel out of place in a classic Looney Tunes short, just with its own unique flair. It's that flair that really sets the Pink Panther shorts apart, I think. They have their own style of animation, similar to the minimalist style of a UPA short, only perhaps even more so. And they have their own rhythm too, perhaps helped along by the use of the same musical theme. As with a lot of shorts, it's not just the content, but the execution.

(via TV Tropes)

As to whether this or The Pink Phink is the superior film, it's hard to say. I think I'll go with the earlier short, if only by virtue of coming first. Or maybe it's just the fact that the version of it I saw didn't have a laugh track. Either way, both shorts are well worth a watch, especially for fans of good old-fashioned cartoon shenanigans. Unfortunately, The Pink Blueprint didn't follow its predecessor's path to success, losing the Oscar to A Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass Band Double Feature. And while I guess that film is certainly more important, I definitely wouldn't say it's better. But that's how it is with the Oscars sometimes. Even the best riff on a formula is still part of that formula. Sometimes it pays to break new ground, especially in the 60s!

Keep up with the Oscar Baiting here on Letterboxd!

The Great Oscar Baiter is a not-for-profit work of criticism. All images herein are property of their respective owners and are protected under Fair Use.


Popular posts from this blog

Song of the Week #15: "Take My Breath Away"

A Year in Shorts Day 182: "Munro"

Song of the Week #6: "The Ballad of High Noon"