Animation History
October 30, 2017 posted by Jerry Beck

Cartoons Considered For An Academy Award 1973

EDITOR’S NOTE: This may or may not be the last posting in this series. Although I have documentation of the animated short submissions from 1974 to the present, the amount of shorts submitted (over 30 in 1974, moreso in subsequent years and upwards toward a hundred in recent years) make continuing this series prohibitive in the format I have been doing it. I have begun work on a 1974 entry where I post only selected (and easily findable) shorts – but I’m not sure how useful to you (and to my own research) that will be. I may also skip posting next Monday to further determine what I should do; perhaps even shifting my doing these Oscar posts to a more intermittent basis.

And no – I haven’t forgotten about 1949 and 1950. The search for those (and 1946 and 1947) goes on. In the meantime, enjoy the post this week and thanks for your ongoing support of this website. – Jerry Beck

 
Sometimes the best way to gauge the inner feelings of the creatives in Hollywood at any given time – or at least the creatives within the Hollywood studio system back then – is to look at the Academy Award for best short film (live action or animated). This year’s animation Oscar winner Frank Film sums up the new attitudes better than most. Frank and Caroline Mouris’ short (with a track created by sound wizard Tony Schwartz) is an autobiographical audio/visual collage – and a story via abstract sight and sound – as compelling and refreshing as anything done by any feature that year – fictional or documentary.

The category that once served at the pleasure of the big Hollywood studios, had now “gone rogue”. The animated shorts branch became the one committee that actually lived up the Academy’s mandate of honoring films “Arts” and “Sciences”; demonstrating with its nominees each year the full creative range of possibilities in the craft.

This week: 1973

The actual nominees were:

THE LEGEND OF JOHN HENRY (Bousustow Studios)

PULCINELLA Luzzati and Gianini [View]

And the Oscar went to:

FRANK FILM Frank Mouris, director. [View]

On April 2nd, 1974 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, presenters Billy Dee Williams and Linda Blair handed the Oscar to director Frank Mouris. Here’s the video, below:


And so we continue our ongoing research into what other cartoons were submitted to the Academy for Oscar consideration but failed to make the cut. In 1973, there were only 15 entries. Submitted, screened, but NOT nominated were:

Academy_Award_trophy175BRAINWASH – Ronald Bijlsma
FOOT FETISH – Randall Kleiser (USC)
LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME – Richard Williams
BALABLOK – Bretislav Pojar (NFB)
B.C. THE FIRST THANKSGIVING – Abe Levitow
THE MAGGOT – George Dunning
SANDMAN Eli Noyes
POTPURRI – Les Kaluza
COCKABOODY – John & Faith Hubley
THE LAST CARTOON MAN – Jeff Hale, Derrick Lamb
A VERY MERRY CRICKET – Chuck Jones
A FUTURE FOR EVERY CHILD

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!


BRAINWASH – Ronald Bijlsma

Directed by Dutch animator/designer Ronald Bijlsma (with animation by Borge Ring), BRAINWASH tells the story of two men (the establishment) who control the lives and thoughts of the inhabitants of a whole town.

To their annoyance they discover a happy musician (representing the younger generation/or the hippie movement, I suppose). He will have to be absorbed into society and brainwashed like the rest. Instead, the musician brainwashes the dictators with the idea of a world of fun and sunshine. They go into town, hoping to share their happiness with the other people. It is too late; unmoved, the towns people continue to stare blankly at the events in front of them.


FOOT FETISH – Randall Kleiser

Foot Fetish is a very funny little stop motion film involving a pair of sneakers who fool around. It was a USC student film from Randall Kleiser – who go on to direct many a Hollywood blockbuster (Grease, Big-Top Pee Wee, The Blue Lagoon, etc.). It’s cleverness was noticed by the staff at Saturday Night Live who included it on the premiere of the 6th season in 1980 (see embed below).


LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME. – Richard Williams

The Academy was in severe need of some rules changes. TV specials were still permitted to enter – and were shorts created 10 years ago. Case in point: Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, Richard Williams film from 1962. I assume Williams, flush from his win last year (a TV Special no less), must have assumed the Academy would adore the short he forgot to submit a decade earlier.

It’s the story of Thermus Fortitude – “Mr. Perfect” in everything but love. Written by witty Britisher Stan Hayward (frequent collaborator with Bob Godfrey), the film plays like a leisurely-paced Fractured Fairy Tale – a bit too precious – but if you like Williams calligraphy (like I do) there’s much here to enjoy.


BALABLOK – Bretislav Pojar (NFB)

Bretislav Pojar’s animated short explores “the human phenomenon of resorting to violence over reason”. The cubes live happily amongst themselves until one of them encounters a ball. War erupts and they fight until they all become the same again – this time in the form of hexagons. All is right in the world until one of them stumbles upon a triangle… Winner of the 1973 Grand Prix du Festival for Short Film at the International Film Festival in Cannes.


B.C. The First Thanksgiving – Abe Levitow

A collection of caveman spot gags loosely relating to a Thanksgiving theme, with B.C. (voiced by Daws Butler doing Jack Benny for some unknown reason). B.C.: The First Thanksgiving, of course, is based in the Johnny Hart comic strip, first airing on NBC on November 19th 1973. Directed by Abe Levitow, with the talents many Hollywood veteran animators – grateful to NOT be working at Hanna Barbera or Filiation at the time. Don Messick as Peter and Thor, Bob Holt as Wiley and Grog, and Joanie Sommers as… “Fat Broad” and “Cute Chick”! Despite some bits of good animation – this belongs in the stone age.


THE MAGGOT – George Dunning

Via UK Animation blog, The Lost Continent: The Maggot was directed by George Dunning (Yellow Submarine) and apparently targeted at black American youth, a stylish anti-drug film, animated by Roy Evans and Jerry Hibbert, with design by Mick Crane and assistant Eric Marlow. The American musician Topper Carew is credited with “conception”, as well as soundtrack.

The Maggot was a collaboration between TVC and The Righteous Apple, which appears to be Carew’s brand: eight years later he produced a live action TV series called The Righteous Apples, about a fictional teenage pop group.


SANDMAN – Eliot Noyes, Jr.

Clay animation pioneer Eli Noyes tries his hand at animating sand. Fun little piece, though while not the first sand animation, still an early and impressive example of the technique.


POTPURRI – Les Kaluza

Leszek (Les) Kaluza was born in Poland and emigrated to the USA in 1960. He and his wife worked in the animation and layout departments at Paramount Cartoon Studios in New York (TV Popeye, TV Casper, Beetle Bailey, Snuffy Smith, etc) as well as for Hanna-Barbera and Filmation in Los Angeles. Aside from his Hollywood studio work Kaluza also produced his own animated shorts which were shown at Film Festivals all over the world.

His drawn-on-film animated short Potpourri won the Silver Boomerang (special award) at the Melbourne International Film Festival (1974), and was screened at Filmex in Hollywood. The complete film is not online – but a segment of Potpourri was included in Hanna-Barbera’s Joke Book series. Here is an excerpt used on that show:


COCKABOODY – John and Faith Hubley

It would be easy to dismiss Cockaboody as a rehash/rethink/reboot of the Hubley’s earlier Moonbird (1959). It’s more of a companion piece, but in many ways completely different and quite entertaining in it own right.

My late friend Michael Sporn wrote extensively about this film on his Splog blog. I quote from Michael:

“The film tells the story of two girls playing in a room next door to their babysitter. They laugh they cry they laugh they cry.

“The film grew out of some early tapes recorded by the Hubley daughters, Georgia and Emily, who were recorded at play in a studio. The conversations by the children were all improvised. This is not unlike the prior Hubley films, Moonbird and Windy Day.

“The storyboard, with all of the drawings done by John, was developed in conjunction with the Hubley’s class at Yale. The students actively discussed the board and offered their participation in the growth of the film’s origin. A documentary was also produced showing the production of the animated short.

“Tissa David animated the film completely, herself. No assistants worked with her. Faith inked the entire film.”


THE LAST CARTOON MAN – Jeff Hale, Derrick Lamb

Though Tex Avery and others have gone down this road one way or another in the past, Hale and Lamb’s Last Cartoon Man is a fine and funny example of a meta cartoon – a cartoon that knows it’s a cartoon. In 1973, this idea was at once retro – and cutting edge, in a Monty Python-esque way.


A VERY MERRY CRICKET – Chuck Jones

Telecast on ABC December 14th 1973, this TV special was the first sequel to The Cricket In Times Square, which was based on a book by George Seiden and Garth Williams. I guess Chuck figured if Williams Christmas Carol TV special (which he had produced) could win – why not one of his own specials?

 

MISSING IN ACTION
 

The following submitted and qualified film is not available for viewing – and information about it seems nonexistent as of this posting. I welcome further information on this short – and if we eventually locate it, we’ll post the information (and hopefully the film itself) into the main body of the article above.

A FUTURE FOR EVERY CHILD – Producer Colin Giles (?) – Phos-Cine Productions

NOTE: Yowp found some info about this film – in Comments below.

 

The earlier posts in this series: 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972.

(Extra Special Thanks to Chris Sobieniak)

34 Comments

  • Surprised that both B.C. The First Thanksgiving and A Very Merry Cricket were nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Short of 1973 after the brouhaha that was raised by the industry insiders after A Christmas Carol was shown on the ABC Network during Christmas time 1971 and won the Oscar for best animated short in 1972. Bavablok was a unusual yet funny cartoon showing how two sides get into a feud and became different shapes in the end. And The Legend of John Henry was by far one of the best animated adaptation of the legendary tall tale with singer Roberta Flack as the narrator and singer.

    • Wouldn’t it made more since if they submitted those specials for an Emmy nominations instead? They would’ve have much better chance there. Come to think of it, didn’t Chuck’s special get an actual Emmy nomination?

    • That and Disney’s 2000 take

  • It’ll be a little sad to see this winding down as it is. But I can understand the sort of work that would have to be done to include all those dozens and dozens of shorts per year if that’s the case. I guess after this point the Academy started getting a clue at the death of one institution (the old studio system) and the birth of another (the independents and foreign studios).

  • The best I can find for “A Future For Every Child” comes from Backstage magazine, 1 Feb. 1974:

    Phos Cine’s Bright Future
    At the second annual International Animation Film Festival held recently at Loeb Center in New York, festival director Fred Mintz presented the Bronze Praxinoscope to Colin Giles of Phos Cine Productions for the film “A Future For Every Child,” animation by Bill Sewell (Yellow Submarine). Film featured an original music score by Jake Stern and was produced by Tony Spanco and John Pagano of Media Counterpoint.

    There’s nothing about the plot. “A future for every child” was UNICEF’s slogan at that time and found on its fund-raising Christmas cards.

    • Thanks for finding this info.

    • In some way, I suppose this is similar to what the National Film Board of Canada did some years later with their Oscar-winning “Every Child”, based on one of UNICEF’s themes.

  • Good to see the SESAME STREET crew take over…

    Eliot Noyes’ “Sand Alphabet”: One of many letters profiled between 1973 and 1980: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwrt-820L-c

    Classic Derek Lamb from 1974 (wish the video was better): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEleVp9dacM

    • Don’t forget the Hubleys.

      Lovy also did segments for the show at the time, including the Willie Wimple shorts (where he also co-wrote the song): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOzIO5uNKh8

      Frank and Caroline Mouris would eventually do segments for the show a few years later and would continue to do that up through the 1990’s. I believe they did the rarely seen animated song “Sometimes a Cookie” from the late ’80’s which feature not only cut-outs pictures of cookies, but also a certain blue Muppet monster( I can’t find a complete version of it online, unfortunately).

    • I haven’t missed the Hubleys, but I already mentioned in 1969.

  • Jerry: Even if you don’t have the time to write up descriptions and find links to all the submitted films, I (and, I suspect, many others here) would still be interested in seeing the lists of what got submitted each year.

    • I wouldn’t mind that either, or at least a handpicked selection of that year (depending on how many shorts we could find per year, though limiting it to 5-10 would suffice).

  • I would perfectly understand if Jerry choose cut of this series at end of 1974, after all in Leonard Maltin’s book OF Mice and Magic the Academy Awards/Oscar filmoraphy on pages 463-466 ends with the year 1974

    • That is an interesting stopping point.

  • Maybe you can condensed 1974 onwards on certain occasions

  • Jerry, instead of all the films submitted, perhaps just focus on the 10 finalists, commonly known as shortlist. Or even the nominees, they don’t get enough attention. I was hoping this series would extend at least to 1976 (or maybe 1977) because I’m told that my film was on the shortlist.

    • Steve – Just as an FYI – there is a great blog that looks at all the Oscar winners and nominees – here: http://bestanimatedshort.blogspot.com

    • That is a great blog certainly, even if it only focuses on nominees and winners rather than the shortlist selection (I suppose Steve’s “Red Ball Express” was in it).

  • So glad the Academy picked FRANK FILM-one of the runner ups on your excellent 50 Greatest Cartoons book

  • The 1974 Oscars were also remembered for a streaker running across the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in front of David Niven who was hosting the televised broadcast and quipped “The Only Laugh that man will get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings”. The incident was voted as one of the most memorable Oscar moment in history 27 years later.

  • I want to know which shorts were submitted but not nominated after 1974.

  • I hope this series doesn’t end with this entry, but if it does, such is life. I’m very curious as to what shorts were submitted but not nominated for 1975 (the year Bob Godfrey won for Great). Thanks for the entries you’ve posted thus far-I’ve seen a number of shorts I may not have seen otherwise.

    I have a VHS copy of The Legend of John Henry, paired with The Legend of Paul Bunyan, also from 1973. Both are very good.

  • I have been really enjoying this series, and would be disappointed to see it end so soon, especially because I was looking forward to seeing it hit the 1980’s (the period when I first became aware of independent animation, thanks to Expanded Entertainment and their “International Tournee” and “Animation Celebration” film and video series). Perhaps you could spread individual years out over more than one week, dividing the films into groups of 10-15 each?

    Of course, if you have to suspend this series due to other claims on your time then I’m OK with that too. If there’s another animation scholarship project you’re working on, I trust it’ll knock us all out when the rest of us finally see it! 🙂

    • I have been really enjoying this series, and would be disappointed to see it end so soon, especially because I was looking forward to seeing it hit the 1980’s (the period when I first became aware of independent animation, thanks to Expanded Entertainment and their “International Tournee” and “Animation Celebration” film and video series).

      For me, it was either those tapes or having seen them originally on premium channels like Showtime, Movie Channel and HBO. Channels like those used to give a lot of ample time to shorts if only to fill time between movies.

      Perhaps you could spread individual years out over more than one week, dividing the films into groups of 10-15 each?

      I’m sure he has been thinking it over quite a bit. I don’t mind bi-weekly or just once every month if that’s the case.

  • Interesting that the number of submissions increased after ’74. Weren’t most theaters dropping shorts?

    • Oh, they did. At this point it was roughly arthouse cinemas and film festivals where a bulk of these could be seen in.

  • I found “Frank Film” to be unwatchable, because of the soundtrack. Maybe it sounds better in a theater or on a proper TV, rather than as a YouTube video.

    I would have given it to “Foot Fetish” because it had me doubled over in laughter. Perhaps it was too erotic, or too short, or not “arty” enough, for the academy. But if “Crunch Bird” could win, this one could, too.

    • “I found “Frank Film” to be unwatchable, because of the soundtrack. Maybe it sounds better in a theater or on a proper TV, rather than as a YouTube video.”

      It is available on Animation Show of Shows and try to think of the soundtrack like minimalist classical music (Steve Reich, Philip Glass, etc.).

    • Frank Film was certainly something unique for its time, and perhaps it was it’s uniqueness that gave the Academy something to consider when it came to nominating and eventually give the award to an artist who perhaps didn’t think he could make it to the top as he did. It’s certainly an achievement and perhaps a reminder that animation was more than just making people laugh.

  • Cutout animation often seems to have a stiff and spasmodic look to it, like in those early Colonel Heeza Liar shorts where arms and legs move but don’t look attached to their bodies. So I was very impressed to see Pulcinella (which uses cel animation too, but is mainly cutouts) and how smooth and flowing the movement is. You’d suspect some sort of video assist was used, but as far as I know they didn’t have that then.

    Makes me reassess a technique I always thought looked sort of amateurish (not you, Lotte Reiniger).

    • And FRANK FILM

    • Cutout animation often seems to have a stiff and spasmodic look to it, like in those early Colonel Heeza Liar shorts where arms and legs move but don’t look attached to their bodies. So I was very impressed to see Pulcinella (which uses cel animation too, but is mainly cutouts) and how smooth and flowing the movement is. You’d suspect some sort of video assist was used, but as far as I know they didn’t have that then.

      Makes me reassess a technique I always thought looked sort of amateurish (not you, Lotte Reiniger).

      I suppose it comes down to the artists behind the technique and their level of experience. The Italian guys who did Pulcinella are especially well versed with the number of works they done using paper cut outs. One could look to a Gianini & Luzzati film and may confuse it as a fine arts-style painting that just happens to be animated on its own.
      http://www.gianinieluzzati.it/en/

      Another noted individual is Russian animator Yuri Nortstein, whose “Hedgehog in the Fog” and “Tale of Tales” are considered masterpieces of Russian animation. His life’s work for the past 30+ years has been animating “The Overcoat”,

      Examples like “Frank Film” might go more to the experimental use of cut-out animation, as it’s point isn’t meant to be literal or objective and the point is simply non-objective and advant garde. A smiilar artist of note is Harry Smith with some of his “Early Abstraction” pieces or his extensive “Heaven & Earth Magic”, which employ the use of Victorian-era artwork from catalogs to create a surreal yet interesting stream of consciousness. This is sort of approach most people would associate more with the Terry Gilliam style as seen on Monty Python. There’s no point to it other than being random and perhaps a bit silly if handled in an obvious way.

  • I’m curious about just how the TV specials were released theatrically. Certainly they did not have a large-scale theatrical release in the way the old “studio” cartoons did. Maybe just one print playing in one Los Angeles-area theatre in order to qualify?

  • Bretislav Pojar’s “Balablok” is just as vitally significant today as it is in any era marked by racial, ethnic, and religious disparities, and so shall inevitably be for as long as the concept of society brings with it the problematic plagues of hatred and extremism. Btw, I get the impression that “Balablok” may have been a somewhat loose inspiration behind the Mr. Men franchise.

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