cantinflas caricatures

When I saw Pixar’s Coco, I kept my eyes open, hoping to find the great Mexican comedian Cantinflas. I did spot him very briefly.  I had hoped for more, but perhaps they couldn’t find a part for him as they did for Frida Khalo.  He is also in this promotional image.

Cantinflas was the creation of Mario Moreno, and August 12 is his birthday. Moreno was a dancer and actor who became supremely successful in Mexico but found only minor success in the US. I first knew Cantinflas from the 1956 film, Around the World in 80 Days. Moreno played Passepartout, the manservant to Phileas Fogg. In my opinion, he steals the show. Particularly in his bullfighting scene. Years ago I wrote a post about it on John Towsen’s blog “All Fall Down.” You can read it HERE.

Back in 2014 a biopic was released, and I posted the trailer for it HERE. I went out to see the first night and learned a great deal. He was a good man who cared about the people he worked with. I recommend searching for it streaming online.

As I stated, Mario was a dancer, and I should share at least one sample of his moves. I chose this next piece for its high production quality. I love this clip. I will point out two things about their costumes.

  1. His low belted pants and short jacket emphasize his hip motion during the dance.
  2. She is literally wearing Jessica Rabbits gown.

There was an animated TV show made from his character. The Cantinflas Show was an educational cartoon produced in Mexico in 1972. In 1982 Hanna Barbera recreated the show, with Moreno voicing the character in Spanish.  The HB version was called Amigo and Friends.  I find his caricature very appealing.


Moreno was a handsome man, with a friendly face.

Cantinflas portrait

While searching for images to use for this post, I found a great many caricatures of Cantinflas. Here are some that struck me as interesting. If anyone knows who created some of these, please let me know.


I believe this next one is from David Garcia Vivancos


Perhaps someone could enlighten me about the  “Medell” in this next image.


This next image is by Bruno Hamzagic 

Leonard Barr dances

The fellow’s name is Leonard Barr. He was an actor, comedian, and dancer. He was also the real-life uncle of Dean Martin. This is not a highly skilled dance, as much as it is very funny walks set to music.

And a fun remix:

The Body Out of Control

People have a fascination with human movement that defies norms. Often it is the beautiful and extraordinary, such as dance or acrobatics, but it can also be the ungainly and strange. When we see someone moving oddly, we stop and try to comprehend what is going on.  Spasmodic, or erratic, motion has always had a certain use in comedy. The staggering drunk is probably the most common.  Jerry Lewis had an awkward running style that was one of his signature actions.  But lets focus on characters who really are not in control of their motor functions.

This music video for Fatboy Slim is both slapstick and really cool.  It was created by the Swedish firm Traktor. Plus it has cartoons in it!

Obviously their are wires yanking their bodies around and then the wires are removed in post production. But the effect is wild. It’s not unlike some moments in Ratatouille when Remy is manipulating Linquini.

Strange movement is one of the reasons zombies are so interesting to audiences.  I will confess, I have not seen the either of the Weekend at Bernie’s movies.  As far as I can tell, at some point the dead Bernie is re-animated through some sort of voodoo ritual. His odd motion became a dance craze.

And we must remember this modern classic. It has over 27 million views on YouTube for the very reason I am describing.

Eccentric Dancing: The Honeymooners.

Animators need to watch eccentric dancing.  This is dancing that’s intended to make you laugh. It’s the simplest form of physical comedy. To help introduce you to the best funny dancing of the past, I post the best clips I can find. If you click on the tag “dance” to the right, you can see more.

Here I share two great clips from the classic television show The Honeymooners.   If you aren’t familiar with the program, it was an inspiration for the The Flintstones.  The star was Jackie Gleason, his character was named Ralph Kramden. His buddy was his upstairs neighbor, Ed Norton, played by actor Art Carney.

In one episode, Ralph wants to learn to dance, so Ed tries shows him some moves.

This next compilation is set to some fun music, and gives a quick look at Jackie Gleason’s dancing.

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