Chilly Willy-gate

by Matthew Curtis
August 17, 2005 4:54 AM
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Many of you are aware that Enzian is a different kind of moviegoing experience--one that pairs the best in current alternative cinema with great food and drink. Since everything is cooked fresh to order and it can take a little while to come out of the kitchen during packed screenings (a frequent occurence lately with our little penguin friends taking up residence), it's been decided that the total running time of programs at Enzian should be at least 90 minutes to ensure a quality viewing and dining experience.

When the original French version of MARCH OF THE PENGUINS (then called "The Emperor's Journey") premiered at Sundance last January, it ran 84 minutes (and had some of the birds speaking French--no kidding!). Once Warner Bros. Independent finished adding new narration by Morgan Freeman and a new musical score, the film was trimmed to 80 minutes. Considering Enzian only had three 1 -2 minute trailers that we could put in front of the G-rated feature, the opportunity was ripe to bring back the grand old tradition of the cartoon short to help pad our total running time. And what could be more appropriate than CHILLY WILLY, the irrepressible animated penguin character created in the 1950's by Academy Award-winner Walter "Woody Woodpecker" Lantz?

I was fortunate to locate an archive print of a CHILLY WILLY from 1964 called "Deep Freeze Squeeze" at Universal, and they were nice enough to rent it out (they don't normally deal with cartoons for theatrical situations). Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication, and while we had it gloriously playing prior to every screening of MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, the studio thought it was going to be used one time only on the opening night of the run--oops! Apologies were accepted, ruffled feathers smoothed over, and film rental adjusted, with the end result being CHILLY WILLY getting pulled off screen last Thursday. But for three record-breaking weeks, Central Floridians had the unique opportunity (I'm not aware of any other theater nationwide doing this) to see this colorful and hilarious classic on the big screen.

Have no fear--CHILLY WILLY may be gone but Magoo's in town to amuse if you still haven't seen MARCH... or are coming back for an encore. Currently on screen preceding the feature is MR. MAGOO - "Fuddy Duddy Buddy" (1951), and "Magoo Goes Skiing' (1954) will take its place to finish the run through the 25th. So come check out these comedy classics featuring the voice of Jim Backus as well.

One last bit of trivia--the voice of Chilly Willy was provided by one of the premier voice-over actors in Hollywood history, Daws Butler (1916 - 1988). You may have experienced his talents one Saturday morning a long, long time ago--he was also responsible for the voices of Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick-Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, Augie Doggie, Elroy Jetson and countless others, including Cap'n Crunch and Snap (companion of Crackle and Pop of Rice Krispies fame).

--Matthew

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