"The Stab": a forgotten nearly-was Haunted Mansion changing portrait

The queue area at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland features a row of changing portraits wherein paintings everyday scenes are revealed as sinister and haunted (originally the effect was done with crossfading slide-projectors; now it's done with an amazing, crisp electroluminiscent effect).

There were a lot of potential gags designed for the hallway (for example, the miser who spontaneously combusts!), and while the paintings the Imagineers settled are part of the best queue in theme-park history, I can't help but wish a few of those nearly-was gags had made it into the ride.

One example is "The Stab," based on a well-known Currier and Ives print, which Imagineer Marc Davis reimagined as a murder scene. As the Long Forgotten Blog writes: "So it's another example of Marc riffing off of a known image, in this case wickedly reading murderous intent in this dear lady's so seemingly innocent eyes. You know, her face does seem to me to have an utter blankness about it, despite the Mona Lisa smile, that allows the viewer to imagine virtually any thought lurking behind it."

Long Forgotten also mentions that my friend (and sometime Boing Boing contributor, and former Imagineering colleague) Chris Merritt is just wrapping up an astounding, two-volume history of Marc Davis that comes out on Labor Day. Chris was Davis's protege, and the rarities, never-seen sketches, and insider dope he has on Davis are absolutely mind-blowing. I've pre-ordered my copy: it's a $105, slipcased, two-volume hardcover set.

The thing that probably inspired Davis, however, is the ambiguity of the object the woman is holding in her right hand. It's probably a folded fan, but it could be a knife, right? And she's sorta holding it where he can't see it, right? All of a sudden the picture is funny, if you have a macabre sense of humor.

Nine Years [Long Forgotten]