Frank Tashlin

Active - 1936 - 2016  |   Born - Feb 19, 1913   |   Died - May 5, 1972   |   Genres - Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

Few filmmakers have moved as easily between animated and non-animated work as New Jersey-born Frank Tashlin. A school drop-out at age 13, he drifted into a multitude of jobs before he went to work for producer Paul Terry at 17, as a cartoonist on Terry's Aesop's Film Fables animated shorts. Three years later he was working as a gagman for Hal Roach, and soon after began his own comic strip, which ran through 1939. He worked for Disney's story department until the mid '40s, and later joined Warner Bros., where he became a director for Leon Schlesinger's cartoon unit. But from the middle of the decade onward, he moved out of animated work entirely and into comedy screenwriting, adapting One Touch of Venus as a film vehicle, and then taking up writing for Bob Hope (The Paleface, etc.) and Red Skelton (The Fuller Brush Man, etc.), and later became a director for Jerry Lewis (Geisha Boy, Cinderfella), Hope (Son of Paleface), and Doris Day (The Glass Bottom Boat). His experience in cartoons showed in the wilder elements of his scripts and directing--his films were known for their bizarre turns in action, unexpected use of sight gags, and frenzied pacing, which lent itself to the work of his comic stars. Probably Tashlin's most well known films today are his two late-'50s satires, The Girl Can't Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, both of which starred Jayne Mansfield in her best roles, and poked merciless fun at a multitude of social and cultural sacred cows, using cartoon-like pacing at strategic points to make their own points. The '60s saw a slowing and blunting of Tashlin's work--The Glass Bottom Boat was a cute Doris Day slapstick comedy mixing the perky comedy star with spies, but Tashlin's final film, The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (1968), was a disaster, a Bob Hope comedy from the actor/comedian's declining years of popularity that seemed to confirm his lack of taste. The tapering off of Hope's screen career, coupled with the changes in public taste and the gradual end of Doris Day's and Jerry Lewis's movies work, precipitated the end of Tashlin's career as well.

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