Animation History
September 11, 2017 posted by

Cartoons Considered For An Academy Award 1967

1967 – the “summer of love”. The United States was undergoing profound social change. The established motion picture industry, the animation community and the filmmakers themselves were transforming. The old guard studios were now confronted by the younger generation – student filmmakers who were beginning to have access to equipment and technical services needed to make animation – now easier and cheaper than ever before. International animators were introducing heady subjects and abstract visions to what was once the exclusive domain of Barney Bear and Gandy Goose.

The Academy Shorts Branch swung wildly during the 1960s, from honoring Hollywood establishment entities one year – to awarding independent and international artists the next. In 1967, the nominees represented one foreign language film, another from the NFB, and a third from a Hollywood independent. The winner was the American – and it established the career of Fred Wolf who went on to do many good things over the next several decades. But it should be noted this was the first year the traditional Hollywood studios – including Disney, DePatie Freleng, Warner Bros., MGM and Paramount (not to mention indie shorts from Ward Kimball, Bob Kurtz and Ed Graham, Jr.) – failed to make the cut.

The future had arrived.

This week: 1967

The actual nominees were:

HYPOTHESE BETA (Films Orzeaux) Jean-Charles Meunier [View]
WHAT ON EARTH! (National Film Board of Canada) Les Drew and Kaj Pindal[View]

And the Oscar went to:

THE BOX Fred Wolf, director. [View]

On April 10th, 1967 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, presenters Macdonald Carey and Diahann Carroll presented the Oscar to director Fred Wolf. Here’s a video of that presentation:


And so we continue our weekly research into what other cartoons were submitted to the Academy for Oscar consideration but failed to make the cut. In 1967, there were a lot of entries. Submitted, screened, but NOT nominated were:

Academy_Award_trophy175THE PUT ON Bob Kurtz
CALYPSO SINGER Paul Glickman
THE WELL Jerome Boubles
BREATH (Murakami-Wolf) Jimmy T. Murakami
ESCALATION Ward Kimball
THE BEAR THAT WASN’T (MGM) Chuck Jones
MY DADDY THE ASTRONAUT (Paramount) Shamus Culhane
WHY DO YOU SMILE, MONA LISA Jiri Brdecka
SCROOGE McDUCK AND MONEY (Disney) Hamilton Luske
NUMBERS Stefan Schabenbeck
NORMAN NORMAL (Warner Bros) Alex Lovy
PSYCHEDELIC PINK (UA/DePatie-Freleng) Hawley Pratt
THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGREW (Universal) Ed Graham
THE LITTLE BLUE APRON Hermina Tyrlova
THE PLUMBER (Paramount) Shamus Culhane

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 (unfortunately not all of them are online – and with so many entered, my comments this week will be brief). Enjoy the show!


Bob Kurtz now, & when he made THE PUT ON

THE PUT ON Bob Kurtz

An independent film by animator Bob Kurtz, who at this time had established himself in Hollywood at Bagdasarian, Pantomime Pictures, DePatie Freleng and Warner Bros. I asked Bob about The Put On… his response:

“That was my first short film. It was tough times in animation, so it was going
to be my farewell film to animation. The great jazz bassist Ray Brown scored the music. Bob Dranko unasked, heard that i had a film i wanted to make, so he called me on the phone and offered me a thousand dollars – and said, “I could pay him back whenever……….no rush.”

“I taught myself to animate and took off 9 months to make the film. My family and I lived off the thousand dollars Bob Dranko gave to me. THE PUT ON was picked up and shown, distributed in the Janus Collection here and internationally.”

I need to get Bob to send me an image from the film for this post… or allow us to post the whole film here, for history. C’mon, Bob!


CALYPSO SINGER Paul Glickman

Animated short based on Stan Freberg’s take on the Banana Boat Song. Says director Paul Glickman:

“I did this animation when I was in my twenties. I did the animation first, and THEN went to Stan Freberg to get permission to use his soundtrack. He loved it and told me he would have his lawyer send me the rights and that any money I made on it I could keep. Years later I heard from the original owners of the Banana Boat Song who insisted I also needed their permission, so I bought the music rights. I shot it originally in 35 mm and it played as a short in theaters along with Elvira Madigan in 1967. I’ve been trying to find the original negative to digitize, but to no avail. Until I do here is my cleanest VHS version.”


THE WELL (Crown International Pictures) Cameron Guess

This film is un-findable (though if we ever do find it – we’ll post it here). According to Wikipedia:

Cameron Guess came to the National Film Board of Canada at the end of the 1950s, where he was a producer, director and animator. A large inheritance enabled him to leave the NFB in 1963. Instead, he founded his own animation studio Cameron Guess & Friends in San Francisco in 1964. The two short animated films THE WELL (1965) and THE SHEPHERD (1967), which Guess produced. For THE SHEPHERD, Guess received an Academy Award nomination in the category Best Animated Short Film (in 1970). The films featured animation by Jeff Hale, Derek Lamb and Barrie Nelson. Guess retired from the film business in the late 1960s and settled in Florida, where he died in 1997.


BREATH (Murakami-Wolf) Jimmy T. Murakami

An interesting little artistic experiment by animator Jimmy Murakami. A parable in line-art, using deep breaths and metamorphosis to visualize and personify the circle of life.

Murakami-Wolf had a set up at this time, not unlike the Hubley’s in New York, in which they poured profits from commercial work into personal little films. It paid off big time this year when Wolf won an Oscar (see above) for his short film. Murakami’s film has more skill, but Wolf’s had charm, humor and some ambiguity going for it. Still, its a shame Breath is often overlooked by, and in the shadow of, The Box – its a tour-de-force by Murakami.


ESCALATION Ward Kimball

This is why we love Ward Kimball. Escalation is Kimball’s decidedly non-Disney reaction to current events, LBJ and the ongoing war in Viet Nam. I’m not sure if this was ever shown to anyone beyond the Academy short-branch or possibly at Annecy (outside of an Oscar qualifying seven days at an art theatre in Westwood) – but God bless him for making it.


THE BEAR THAT WASN’T (MGM) Chuck Jones, Maurice Noble

We’ve covered Chuck Jones adaptation of Frank Tashlin’s 1946 book The Bear That Wasn’t several times before here on Cartoon Research – and I suggest you read this post in particular. The film is slow, plodding, and not quite the faithful adaptation Tashlin was looking for.

The basic premise was used many time before – in Deitch/Feiffier’s Munro, Terrytoons’ A Tale Of A Dog (also written by Feffier)… even Jones did a Bugs Bunny version in Forward March Hare. Tashlin had inferred that the book was written as a reaction to his experience at Disney in the late 30s. I suppose if you think of Tashlin as the bear, with “bear” being a metaphor for an “artist”; the factory as the Disney studio; the Zoo as an art museum; the company president as Walt… it begins to make even more sense. But Tashlin’s book simply became story-fodder here for a one-shot cartoon – Tashlin’s larger message was obscured by Jones and Noble’s overly art-directed visuals. In the end: An Oscar Nominee That Wasn’t.


MY DADDY THE ASTRONAUT (Paramount) Shamus Culhane

I love this little cartoon from the waning days of the Paramount Cartoon studio out of New York. This one should have been nominated.

It’s not that this idea – animated children’s drawing to a narration track of a kid telling a story – hadn’t been done. It had. It’s been done many times over since UPA’s Family Circus and Baby Boogie in the 1950s and Paramount’s own Jacky’s Wacky World films just a few years before.

But Shamus Culhane and art director Gil Miret nailed the artwork – and Al Eugster got how it should move (and also I love the Paramount logo done in the same style… using those little gold stars, that stationary store’s used to sell…); the voice over narration is clever and the kid doing the voice was perfect casting. It’s the best of this genre of cartoon.


WHY DO YOU SMILE, MONA LISA? Jiri Brdecka

‘Amusing’ would be the word I’d use to sum up this one-joke idea about the mysterious smile of DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. Beyond that, I can see why the Academy might skip this one — which they did.

Czech writer/director Jiri Brdecka worked with both Jiri Trinka and Karel Zeman… but most importantly, he was Gene Deitch’s ‘Best Man’ – read what Gene has to say about him here.


SCROOGE McDUCK AND MONEY (Disney) Hamilton Luske

It may have started with a mouse… but it all ended with Scrooge McDuck and Money. Released roughly three months after Disney’s death, in March 1967, it would (in theory) be the last cartoon short personally supervised by Walt Disney – if he were still personally supervising this sort of thing. I kinda doubt it.

Uncle Scrooge McDuck was, of course, created by Donald Duck comic book writer/artist Carl Barks in 1947. The character was Disney’s most popular original comic book character, and this appearance twenty years after his creation was his first animated “story” on screen.

Unfortunately the film itself is one of those thinly disguised educational films the studio would justify producing because they knew they’d make back its production costs with showings on TV and in rentals to schools.


NUMBERS Stefan Schabenbeck

A man in a ball finds himself in a world dominated by numbers, equations and geometrical figures. When others are merging to the number One, the man decides to change into one of them.

Okay, I’ll be honest. I don’t know what the “9-minute” film titled “Numbers” was that the Academy screened on the evening January 12th. However, this 7-1/2 minute film by Polish animator Stefan Schabenbeck from 1966 (1967 in some sources) which goes by various names could very well be it.


NORMAN NORMAL (Warner Bros) Alex Lovy

A “Cartoon Special” produced by the new Warner Bros. animation unit headed by William Hendricks. Apparently it was a “perk” for Noel (Paul) Stookey (he being ‘Paul’ of Warner Bros. recording super-stars Peter Paul and Mary). The song “Norman Normal” is on the 1967 album entitled “Album” and Stookey got the opportunity to produce a cartoon of it. This must have been a contract ploy for Warner Bros. Seven Arts Records at the time – Bill Cosby (whose comedy albums were also being released by WB-7Arts) also got a chance to produce a cartoon short for Warner Bros. – The Door.

Stookey teamed with DJ and songwriter Dave Dixon (mis-credtied as Paul Dixon in the credits) to write the cartoon and do all the voices (that’s Dixon as “Norman”; Stookey is supposedly everyone else). Very much of its time, with a protagonist that questions the world around him, business practices and social behavior. It ends abruptly – leading me to wonder if it was meant to be a longer film… As is, its certainly a curiosity… and, for some of us, a “guilty pleasure”.

Sorry Leo – no “approval” from the Academy.


PSYCHEDELIC PINK (UA/DePatie-Freleng) Hawley Pratt

How could they not make one called Psychedelic Pink in 1967? Alas, its not as trippy as the title might indicate. Here the Pink Panther wanders into a hippie neighborhood book shop where he encounters “the little man” – who is more a ‘beatnik’ than ‘hippie’. The artwork and layout design is pretty cool – but it’s nothing more than a average Panther cartoon (but a good one nonetheless) with a nod toward the mind-bending trends of the moment. It’s a little weirder than usual… but only by a smidge… and I think the Academy could see that was the case.


THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGREW (Universal) Ed Graham

Not sure why Ed Graham’s 1965 short The Shooting of Dan McGrew was submitted in 1967, but the rules were different then – and perhaps Graham figured, after the failure of Funny Is Funny to garner a nomination the previous year, he had a better shot with this film.

I’d tend to agree with that assessment. With background and color designed by Walt Peregoy, character designs by George Cannata, Jr. and background layout by UPA veteran Bob Dranko – with an animation crew that included Manny Gould and Amby Paliwoda; music by the great George Shearing and narrated by Walter Brennan (uncredited as “another poetry fan”) and Ernie Banks (the baseball player!) as the “stranger” – what could go wrong?

I don’t know – but it just falls flat. And after years of watching Tex Avery’s masterful parodies of this material, the film feels more like an extra-curricular exercise, something to keep the artists busy. It looks great – but it’s missing a real purpose for its existence.

As for Universal – if Graham actually made an Oscar winning short, or even had a nominee, perhaps the history of late 60s and 1970s theatrical shorts would be different. After this Ed Graham went back to commercials – and Universal was content to release Walter Lantz (and Paul Smith) Woody Woodpecker, Beary Family and Chilly Willy for the foreseeable future.


THE LITTLE BLUE APRON (Kratky Film; Czechoslovakia [Czech Republic]) Hermina Tyrlova

If Psychedelic Pink had been this surreal it might have been nominated. A blue apron and a white paper bird become friends – and engage in battle with a hungry smoke-dragon in a post industrial surreal landscape.

Modra Zasternka (aka “The Blue Apron”) is a wonderful little fantasy by famed Czech stop-mo animator Hermína Týrlová. She began her career animating knock-off Felix the Cat and Bimbo cartoons with her first husband Karel Dodal in the late 20s, early 30s. Tyrlova started doing stop motion during World War 2 with Ferda The Ant (1944) and Rebellion of the Toys (1947). The world of rags, yarn and wooden toys soon became her trademark – and she continued making films through 1986 (Tyrlova passed away in 1993).

The embed below is a little odd – but it works. You may have to click it twice to watch. I can’t believe I even found it online.


THE PLUMBER (Paramount) Shamus Culhane

A plumber becomes an overnight musical sensation when he discovers a way to make jazzy music by blowing into the sewer pipes and building ducts.

Another good one from Shamus Culhane’s shop at Paramount. Debatably the best one this unit produced during its short life span. Should have been nominated. I have an old 16mm Technicolor print of this and there is a huge difference seeing this film in Tech versus this washed out version on You Tube. Shout out to Cliff Roberts (story and design), Howard Beckerman’s animation — and Winston Sharple’s catchy tune.


The earlier posts in this series: 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1966.

(Thanks Devon Baxter, Libby Wertin, Bob Kurtz and Chris Sobieniak)

28 Comments

  • Aside from “Scrooge McDuck & Money” presented here, there’s another copy floating around YT that doesn’t have the opening credits but has a bit at the opening of Scrooge singing a tune in his money bin before he swing his cane like a golf club.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkQwaVoy-HE

    Still even with the implied educational value included, it’s still noteworthy for being one of the few times Scrooge McDuck saw the animated light of day (not counting his cameo in the opening of the Mickey Mouse Club of course), we’d still have to wait nearly 20 years before he found his way to the big screen again in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, the nearly forgotten Sport Goofy in Soccermania and the TV series DuckTales.

    On NORMAN NORMAL

    It ends abruptly – leading me to wonder if it was meant to be a longer film… As is, its certainly a curiosity… and, for some of us, a “guilty pleasure”.

    The way the bartender says “You can’t take it when the real personality comes on, can you Norm?” I guess I thought that was leading to something we were about to see after that bit but I guess not. I kinda came up with an idea of how I thought the remainder of this short should’ve done with Norm decided to be abnormal for once and see what that does, going to the same boss/dad/party scenarios and see what kind of outcome comes from essentially being like everyone else, perhaps leading to him making the ultimate decision on what is normal and what isn’t. Again, if they had a few more minutes to flesh this one out, it would’ve worked, but again, 6 minutes, exactly. You just know they were on a budget!

    BTW, glad to help, Jerry!

    • NORMAN NORMAL: I’ve seen this many times on Nickelodeon… even the new-wave opening credits (almost otherwise the same as on the “re-traced” 1967 editions of the 1930s-40s shorts – and concurrent theatrical cartoons) have the Norman Nomral theme (“A (boxed) Warner Bros.-Seven Arts (unboxed) CARTOON SPECIAL (boxedTechnicolor(r)(box)” is how it reads before the title, a variation on the usual credit sequence identificiation, otherwise the same lettering.)

    • I remember seeing this in a theater before an ordinary movie. To me it felt like a “pilot” episode, and future cartoons would have him confronting modern life. A whole cartoon at a party, for example, or in a workplace.

    • I remember seeing this in a theater before an ordinary movie. To me it felt like a “pilot” episode, and future cartoons would have him confronting modern life. A whole cartoon at a party, for example, or in a workplace.

      That’s an interesting thought Benson, it just felt like there was more to this than they could do, and apparently one short wasn’t enough.

    • The approach Norman Normal tried to do would come back a few times otherwise via independent/foreign offerings in the coming years. Next year’s Oscars nominees included another NFB gem called “The House That Jack Built”, a modern spin on a familiar fairy tale with an average Joe who wanted to be different until he encounters the beanstalk of the tale and finds something special he took from a ‘giant’.

  • If nothing else, Paramount’s studio closed its history out on a high note, with cartoons from both Culhane and Ralph Bakshi that were innovative and which didn’t feel forced, as if the shorts were made just because the style-of-the-day said they had to be made that way. And just as Paramount and other studios had already done child-style cartoons, the rags-to-riches-to-rags story of “The Plumber” had been done previously at places like Disney and Warner Bros. But those cartoons either ended depressingly or had artificially grafted-on happy endings (as with Jones’ “Nelliy’s Folly”). Culhane found a way to craft an upbeat ending to his cartoon while remaining true to the success-to-failure story arc. It should have gotten a nomination.

    • That’s true about the ending to The Plumber being the way it is. It’s a rather subtle yet effective way to show the guy found something else yet to explore in musical creativity after the pipes fiasco. Having it remain depressing certainly wouldn’t have worked given what we may have expect to see for the demise of such a character. I remind myself of Bruno Bozzetto’s “Mr. Rossi” figure, who often kept getting into situations that result in him practically put into a bad place in the end and it just ends like that (I’m talking about the original shorts, like the later films of the 70’s).

  • Too bad What on Earth? didn’t win the Oscar for Best Animated Short of 1967. I thought it was one of the funniest animated cartoons of that year.

    But then again, I also think (in my humble opinion) that these Hollywood cartoons should have been submitted and considered for the Oscar for Best Animated Short of 1967:

    Teeny Weeny Meany (Universal/WLP)
    A-Tom-Inable Snowman (MGM)
    Cat and Dulpli-cat (MGM)
    Matinee Mouse (MGM)
    Jerry-Go-Round (MGM)
    Rough Riding Hood (Universal/WLP)
    Woody and the Beanstalk (Universal/WLP)
    Monster of Ceremonies (Universal/WLP)
    The Monster Master (Terrytoons)
    Haunted House Cleaning (Terrytoons)
    Messed Up Movie Makers (Terrytoons- note this was Heckle and Jeckle’s last cartoon for Terrytoons
    And
    Sicque! Sicque Sicque! (United Artist/DFE Films)

    • What On Earth! certainly had potential to win. During its initial stages, it was going to be a completely different film under Pindal’s direction, sighting man as the master of automation, until Les Drew came in and with commentary by Donald Brittain, changed the film’s message completely to being what we see it as, the Martian scientists perceive what they thought “Earthings” were and documented their findings.

  • Of the cartoons featured here, my favorites are Psychedelic Pink and Scrooge McDuck and Money. The latter is typical of Disney’s educational shorts of the time, with catchy songs and clever visuals, and Psychedelic was one of the best Pink Panther shorts. Norman Normal has some good ideas, but as the post points out, it feels incomplete, like the first half of a pilot film.

    About Escalation, it feels like Kimball made it using the studio facilities, judging from the use of Xeroxed cels. Only Kimball could have gotten away with making a film like this under the Disney executives’ noses.

    I remember seeing The Calypso Singer on TV in the eighties, back when cable channels like A&E and Showtime used to show shorts between programs. It’s a few steps above what Jones would call “Illustrated radio” – literally, since it’s based on a comedy recording – the drawings just funny enough to work on their own.

    • It wouldn’t surprise me if Ward had carte blanche by that point in time to do what he wanted outside his regular duties at the studio.

  • I have to wonder if the Fleischers’ downfall from Paramount had a permanent stigma on the subsequent Famous Studios? It seems even when they did something genuinely creative, which Shamus Culhane fought like hell to emphasize in its final years, the Academy refused to acknowledge it.

    Norman Normal was the ONLY noteworthy thing that came out of Warner Brothers animation by this period. The studio was otherwise “out of gas”.

  • Mmmmmmm… Diahann Carroll… droooolllllll…

  • What?! They didn’t consider any Daffy-Speedy cartoons???

    • Daffy and Speedy Cartoons are the worst Looney Tunes cartoon Ever Made! I hate them so much! See Ya Later Gladiator is considered (by me) the worst Looney Tunes cartoon ever made – for good reason!

  • Will there be any pre-1948 posts soon?

    • Unfortunately no. I plan to continue doing these in chronologic order for the foreseeable future.

      The pre-1948 documentation from the Academy is extremely hard to find. The Academy did not keep these screening notices in any one organized place. The ones I’ve found come from different sources – though mainly by thorough research at the Academy itself.

      These posts are preliminary research for a book project focusing on the larger history of the Academy and its animation nominees. I am – and will be – researching the entire scope of the Best Cartoon Short category from 1932 up. While interest in post-1970 shorts is less interesting to some of our readers, others (like myself) will find lots to discover – and enjoy!

    • Oh I’m looking forward to that!

  • I’ve seen Norman Normal at least a dozen times, but for some reason, I never noticed that ersatz “Batman” T-shirt the boss’ juvie alter-ego is wearing until today.

    • That is rather interesting. I don’t suppose we could see that as a prophetic sign of things to come given Warner ended up with DC Comics after the Kinney purchase a few years down the road. Of course the Batman TV series was also on TV during this time and I’m sure that played a little to the popularity the character was getting to want to hint at it through this cartoon.

  • Mr. Beck,
    I admit to finding the ’63-’78 theatrical cartoon scene to be quite fascinating even if most of the cartoons aren’t good. (I have seen worse.)

  • When Kimball gave me a 16mm print of his film (which I have now in a video file thanks to Jerry) he told me that he had no idea how difficult it was to make a film by yourself. Prior to Escalation, he had the best animation machine at his disposal.

    • I guess when you have to do it by yourself (and in secret), you know how hard that could be.

  • Here the rare pressbook material for Scrooge McDuck and Money:
    https://cartoonresearch.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/scrooge-mcduck-and-money-1967/

  • Escalation -nice attempt by Ward Kimball to make an ‘underground’ animated short. Kimball would later make two similar shorts
    for Disney : It’s Tough To Be a Bird (1969 Oscar winner) and Dad,Can I Borrow the Car. It’s a good thing Disney didn’t release Escalation if you know what I mean.

    Psychedelic Pink -That eye on the door obviously put the PP on a bad trip. Would have made a good support to Yellow Submarine (and it was probably screened with YS back then).

    Norman Normal -the whole Norman walking through various doors reminds me of the whole thing with the Beatles’ house in Yellow Submarine. I noticed the Batman t-shirt too. Twenty years later people would be wearing them due to the Tim Burton Bat-movie.

    • Why I think it was a shape of things to come for WB, even if they were just joking on the “Bat-mania” craze of that time..

  • One thing of note I forgot to mention about NORMAN NORMAL, as a “Cartoon Special” is it’s use of a song as not only a title but heard in the cartoon itself. This sort of practic was what got Warner’s to release cartons originally through Harman-Ising and with Leon later in the 1930’s when the original intent of Merrie Melodies was to highlight a tune (often owned by Warner Bros. too) as it’s subject of the cartoon and title. NORMAN NORMAL certainly serves as a slight link to the studio’s past, if not a tenuous one. Too bad no more Cartoon Specials were created, though I do wonder what one based on The Electric Prune’s “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” might look like!

  • Odd that Tashlin, an animation director, didn’t direct The Bear That Wasn’t…

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