Animation History
August 28, 2017 posted by Jerry Beck

Cartoons Considered For An Academy Award 1966

Only nine cartoons were qualified and screened for nomination in the 1966 calendar year. But what an interesting mix of Hollywood theatricals, quirky independents and superb international shorts – from such noted filmmakers as Jiri Trinka, John Halas, Ed Graham, Fyodor Khitruk and Abe Levitow. No Disney entry (Scrooge McDuck and Money wasn’t ready yet, I guess). The pickings may have been slim, but they were high in quality – and reflected the world-wide animation community (at that time) rather well.

The actual nominations gave a nod to the traditional Hollywood cartoon (a DePatie-Freleng Pink Panther), as well as a timely international ‘message’ film (from the National Film Board of Canada). The winner itself perfectly straddled all bases: an American independent, though released through a Hollywood major (Paramount), featuring the hottest musical act of the year. John and Faith Hubley won their second Oscar for what is essentially, what we would call today, a “music video” (actually a “double feature” of two music videos).

You have to remember this sort of thing was not as commonly seen (or done) as it is today. It was new then – and it was innovative and unique. It was certainly different for the Hubley’s as well. And look at the animators involved in this short – Emery Hawkins, Rod Scribner, Ed Graham, Gerard Baldwin, Phil Duncan, Ed Smith… wow. And its fun. A flip side to Disney’s Fantasia or Melody Time in a modern, indiefilm way. Good choice, sez I!

This week: 1966

The actual nominees were:

THE DRAG (National Film Board of Canada) Carlos Marchiori [View]
THE PINK BLUEPRINT Hawley Pratt [View]

And the Oscar went to:

HERB ALPERT AND THE TIJUANA BRASS DOUBLE FEATURE (Paramount) John Hubley, director. [View]

On April 10th, 1967 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, presenter Olivia de Havilland presented the Oscar to producers John and Faith Hubley. Here’s a video of that presentation:


Academy_Award_trophy175And so we continue our weekly research into what other cartoons were submitted to the Academy for Oscar consideration but failed to make the cut. Submitted, screened, but NOT nominated were:

GUIDED MOUSE-ILE (MGM) Abe Levitow
THE WALL (Zagreb) Ante Zaninovic
THE HAND (Kratky Film Praha) Jiri Trinka
FUNNY IS FUNNY (Universal) Ed Graham
THE BIRDS, BEES AND STORKS (Halas & Batchelor) John Halas
BONIFACE’S HOLIDAY (Paramount) Fyodor Khitruk

Here’s the documentation:

With these posts we ask that you put yourself in their place – which films would you have nominated? Which cartoon should have won? For your edification and viewing pleasure, here are the cartoons the Academy screened which didn’t make the cut. Enjoy the show!


GUIDED MOUSE-ILE (Or Science On A Wet Afternoon) (MGM) Abe Levitow

This is one of those “Chuck Jones” Tom & Jerry cartoons, albeit directed by Abe Levitow. It’s Tom & Jerry in the future (allowing Maurice Noble to do what he does best) and both characters are scientific geniuses who use robot surrogates to fight their battles. This allows Jones crew think of this as a space-age Road Runner cartoon.

Written by John Dunn, its a sequel to O Solar Me-ow which was produced at virtually the same time – both are derivitive of a Freleng Speedy versus Sylvester cartoon, Nuts and Volts (1963), also written by Dunn. It wouldn’t surprise me if these cartoons were cobbled together from unused and rejected gags from the earlier Speedy Gonzales epic.


THE WALL (aka ZID) (Zagreb) Ante Zaninovic

With all the talk these days of “building a wall”, this film is suddenly seems quite relevant. Two men (not unlike “reason” and “emotion”) face a wall – one waits passively, the other tries everything to bring the wall down – including using his head to smash through. The passive one walks through only to find another wall on the other side.

Not a very strong message – and the gags we’ve seen in numerous Yosemite Sam cartoons. Director/animator Ante Zaniovic went on to become one of the principal creatives behind Zagreb’s popular Professor Balthazar series, which began the following year.


THE HAND (Kratky Film Praha) Jiri Trinka

A potter and sculptor is commissioned to make a monument by a huge human Hand – a symbol of power. When he refuses, the sculptor is coaxed and chased, and eventually forced to comply. He escapes captivity, returns to his pots and plants but eventually is driven to his death.

The last film – and one of the best – by Czech puppet animator Jiri Trinka. The Hand is now considered a classic, and it won numerous awards including Best Film at Annecy. Based on the lighter, upbeat other entries, perhaps this short was perceived a bit of a downer for Academy members. It wasn’t nominated and that’s a shame – because its artistry and message has stood the test of time.


FUNNY IS FUNNY (Universal) Ed Graham

Ed Graham made two cartoons independently (both released by Universal): in 1965 he made The Shooting of Dan McGrew, with Walter Brennan reading Robert W. Service’s poem. In 1966, Ed Graham produced and directed an indie cartoon called Funny Is Funny. It featured two cartoon dogs named “Brutus and Brownie”, voiced by Carl Reiner and Ed Graham.

Brutus demonstrates what makes him laugh to the hapless Brownie. Pies in the face and cannon gags dominated, and the animation was again handled primarily by Manny Gould and Amby Paliwoda. George Cannata, Jr. designed the characters. Funny Is Funny is a humorous commentary on the “heckler” comedy that Graham employed so abundantly in his Linus the Lionhearted show, the two dogs were poking fun at the whole idea of animated slapstick. The Academy, unfortunately, didn’t find it very funny.


THE BIRDS, BEES AND STORKS (Halas & Batchelor) John Halas

Now this IS funny. At least, the track is. Peter Sellers as an embarrassed father – a great piece of character animation by Tony Guy – trying to explain the “birds and bees” to his off-screen son. This was part of the series of seven Tales of Hoffnung cartoons produced by Halas and Batchelor for the BBC – these films were based on the drawings and stories of British cartoonist and humorist Gerard Hoffnung.


BONIFACE’S HOLIDAY (Paramount) Fyodor Khitruk

Boniface’s Holiday is a beautiful little film by Russian animation master Fyodor Khitruk. Adapted from a children’s book about Boniface, a circus lion, who goes on vacation back to Africa – and whose circus skills make him quite popular back home.

Paramount picked up this short from the Soyuzmultifllm studio and released it states-side as a two-reel “special”. Should have been nominated. When you have a moment check it out – its quite a treat.


The earlier posts in this series: 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965.

(Thanks to Mark Kausler – and to Libby Wertin at AMPAS, The Margaret Herrick Library)

23 Comments

  • I remember seeing “The Wall” in college, where it seemed to resonate with the student audience not as political but as a commentary on creating / innovating. The businesslike man waits as the wild man kills himself solving the problem of the wall. Then simply leaves the body behind and uses the opening. And waits for somebody to break the next wall.

    One could draw a line to various pioneers in animation and cinema in general, who broke through walls and were effectively trampled by others pouring through to claim the new territory.

    “Guided Mouse-ile” could claim to be a message film on the strength of its final gag. It would make an intriguingly cynical companion piece to “Peace on Earth”.

    • I kinda thought that way of “The Wall” as well. At least they don’t give the pessimitic character much in the expression dept. aside from the circules under his eyes. He just kind of a spectator for the most part and doesn’t do much other than witness the other guy’s attempts to the very end. I’m sure the film is opened to all sorts of interpretations based on one’s opinion of the scenario given.

      The ending to “Guided Mouse-ile” certainly feels cyncial in the way it showed the consequence of an escalated war, even the added question mark to “The End” does a lot to suggest the notion that those that don’t follow history are doomed to repeat it.

  • There were so many masterpieces from overseas that it is easy to understand why so much home grown product was overlooked. Although I would have favored THE CAT ABOVE AND THE MOUSE BELOW in 1964 over GUIDED MOUSE-ILLE this year, it is good that Chuck Jones’ Tom & Jerry cartoons were finally getting appreciated. Likewise, I favor the neglected CIRRHOSIS OF THE LOUVRE over last year’s THE GREAT DEGAULLE STONE OPERATION for DePatie Freleng’s Inspector series.

  • Wow, if there was evidence that Chuck was smarting over THE DOT AND THE LINE’s win and stopped caring, it’s this. Of all the T&Js to submit, that one!?

    • Uh, why would Chuck be “smarting” (i.e. be upset, annoyed) over his own cartoon’s Oscar win?

    • Because Chuck wasn’t the director. I can’t help but think his ego was bruised when a film bearing his name, but didn’t direct, won, especially after his best work had been passed over for years.

    • I could see how that egotism manifested itself here.

    • He still did a memorable Christmas special that same year anyway.

    • Thad — re: “Because Chuck wasn’t the director”

      Huh? But Chuck DID direct “The Dot and the Line” according to every source I’ve seen. Where did you hear that he didn’t? The film’s opening titles credit him as the director: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgqUya0kGPA&t=01m01s Plus, a 2013 post by Jerry Beck here on Cartoon Research lists Jones and Maurice Noble as the film’s co-directors: http://cartoonresearch.com/index.php/this-weekend-in-brooklyn-and-toronto/

    • Still waiting to hear where you’ve got it from that Chuck Jones didn’t direct “The Dot and the Line”, Thad…

  • Written by John Dunn, its a sequel to O Solar Me-ow which was produced at virtually the same time – both are derivitive of a Freleng Speedy versus Sylvester cartoon, Nuts and Volts (1963), also written by Dunn. It wouldn’t surprise me if these cartoons were cobbled together from unused and rejected gags from the earlier Speedy Gonzales epic.

    Similarly the final T&J that Chuck’s studio would make for MGM the following year, “Advance and Be Mechanized” also follows the same formula, the same sci-fi trappings and the same robots! I always get confused by which cartoon was which thanks to how these were executed with the same premise, it’s like they ran out of ideas and started repeating themselves just to fill a quota.

    Not a very strong message – and the gags we’ve seen in numerous Yosemite Sam cartoons. Director/animator Ante Zaniovic went on to become one of the principal creatives behind Zagreb’s popular Professor Balthazar series, which began the following year.

    Aside from Balthazar, I noticed Zaninovic’s name popped up for animating 15 episodes of Hanna-Barbera’s “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home”. I wonder if they were outsourcing that to Zagreb Film at the time?

    The last film – and one of the best – by Czech puppet animator Jiri Trinka. The Hand is now considered a classic, and it won numerous awards including Best Film at Annecy. Based on the lighter, upbeat other entries, perhaps this short was perceived a bit of a downer for Academy members. It wasn’t nominated and that’s a shame – because its artistry and message has stood the test of time.

    The film was also prophetic in how ‘the hand’ viewed Trnka’s contribution to the cineamtic arts by giving him a funeral in much the same way as in the film. After Trnka’s death, “The Hand” was banned from public viewing by the government and it wasn’t until the Velvet Revolution when it finally saw the light of day in its home country.

    A few years ago his hometown of Pilsen in Western Bohemia has erected a memorial in his memory based on a famous scene in “The Hand”. (the following links are in Czech, sorry)
    https://www.plzen.eu/obcan/aktuality/aktuality-z-mesta/plzensky-rodak-jiri-trnka-ma-novy-pomnik.aspx
    http://www.qap.cz/object/plzensky-rodak-jiri-trnka-ma-novy-pomnik-fotky-73243
    https://zpravy.aktualne.cz/regiony/plzensky/v-plzni-odhalili-pomnik-rodakovi-jirimu-trnkovi-symbolizuje/r~f71b3d828d4511e5bc8c002590604f2e/?redirected=1503950970

    • Thanks for the links!

      Thought: In the film, the artist is imprisoned to create the statue of the hand. He uses the statue to escape the cage.

      If you’ve seen the film, you see it’s a recreation of the moment after the artist’s escape. But for somebody who hasn’t seen the film, it likely reads as a hand heroically breaking free and pointing to some frontier — the sort of self-tribute the hand in the film might have decreed. But without the context of the film’s character it’s another unironic expression of escape and freedom.

      Animators in Eastern Europe generally had to cloak messages to get them past the government censors; “The Hand” is almost shockingly straightforward, like he didn’t want the censors to miss anything. I’d like to think that a monument with two readings might have amused him.

  • Boniface’s Holiday was charming and beautifully designed. I can’t think of any reason it wasn’t nominated other than it being a Soviet cartoon, even thought it has no overt Communist message, just a cute children’s story.

    • It is a little sad thinking the Academy perhaps still couldn’t quite open up to Russia like that, but it certainly could’ve been a start.

  • I love the several Ed Graham cartoons released by Universal with George Shearing music..the one mentioned..”Funny is Funny!” and “Dan McGrew”..of course we know what Ed Graham is BEST known for, TV’s Linus the Lionhearted..(too bad no 1960s TV cartoons had Dan McGrew, something some of the Linus characters or the early H-B or Jay Ward characters could do something with.)

  • I loved the Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature based on the two popular songs by the TJB, Spanish Flea and Tijuana Taxi. Sadly the National Filmboard of Canada’s What On Earth (under the title of “The National Filmboard of Mars” wasn’t put under consideration for the Oscar for Best Animated Short of 1966. I thought it was a funny cartoon about the POV of scientists from Mars!

    • Cont: at the automobile was the only living thing that thier probe found on Earth and the Humans were “parasites” infesting the cars.

    • Well don’t worry, Jerry will probably link to “What On Earth!” next week for the 40th Academy Awards listings so pleased stay tuned!

    • “What on Earth!” did get nominated, but not till the following year. Stay tooned.

  • Wow, no Looney Tunes were submitted this year. I may be in the minority, but I thought 1966 was an improvement over the previous two years. The Road Runners still sucked (save for “Sugar and Spies”, the only non-Larriva in the bunch) but the Daffy/Speedy cartoons at least were elevated to “guilty pleasure” status instead of being merely bad/forgettable. I don’t care what anybody says, “A Squeak in the Deep”, “Swing Ding Amigo” and “Feather Finger” still get me to smile, even though they obviously don’t measure up visually to the ’40s and ’50s.

  • I noticed “Design for Dreaming” was one of the live-action submissions – could this be the GM-produced musical short memorably riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000?

  • Looks like the Academy showed a bias towards nominating some of the North American content coming out rather than going overseas for its nods that year, which is criminal when The Hand, and so was Zid, was doing well on the international stage.
    I’m looking forward, and slightly dreading, the next post in this series as I feel the international crop of animators, and their work, are going to be overshadowed by material ‘closer to home’.

  • I’m baffled by a story in the March 1967 edition of Business Screen magazine. It states that Time For Decision “is an Academy Awards nominee in this year’s program” but it’s not listed above. It was a 16-minute animated short for the American Cancer Society made by Hanna-Barbera and “premiered in Jacksonville, Florida on January 5.” Perhaps it was submitted and disqualified but I can’t see Business Screen being so far out of whack.
    It’s not listed for any year on the Academy’s site as a nominee.

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