Animation History
November 6, 2017 posted by Jerry Beck

Cartoons Considered For An Academy Award 1974

EDITOR’S NOTE: Okay, by popular demand I will try to continue this series. This is going to be tough – so we will take this one week at a time and see how it goes.

The format will change slightly as I will only briefly comment on submitted shorts I can find easily to embed. I may not even comment at all. If I can’t find the video itself, I’ll post an image, a clipping, or a brief synopsis. If I cannot find an image, a clipping, or a brief synopsis on a particular film, I will leave that “slot” blank until perhaps I someday can (and if so, I will embed it in future months or years – so check back). Information from readers (in the Comments section below) is encouraged and gratefully accepted. – Jerry Beck

 

Will Vinton

This week: 1974

Fascinating year for nominees – a microcosm of the animation community: independents, major studios, foreign studios, hand drawn character animation, clay animation and… for the first time: computer animation. The last Disney short film nominee for decades to come. Two from the NFB. The Hubley’s. And a newcomer named Will Vinton.

At a time when theaters began showing cartoon shorts less and less (unless they were DePatie-Freleng or the very worst of Walter Lantz) Vinton used his Oscar win for Closed Mondays to seed something that continues to this day. He established a “Claymation” stop-motion studio in Portland Oregon that went on to do commercials, shorts, TV specials and series – even a feature (Mark Twain) – in his patented process. The company he founded in Portland Oregon is now (sans Vinton) Laika Studios, with its own Oscar nominated legacy.

The actual nominees were:

THE FAMILY THAT DWELT APART (NFB) Yvon Mallette [View]

HUNGER (NFB) Peter Foldes [View]

VOYAGE TO NEXT John & Faith Hubley [View]

WINNIE THE POOH AND TIGGER TOO (Disney) Wolfgang Reitherman [View Excerpt]

And the Oscar went to:

CLOSED MONDAYS Will Vinton and Bob Gardiner, directors. [View]

On April 8th, 1975 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, presenters Brenda Vaccaro and Roddy McDowall presented the Oscar for Short Film (Animated) to Will Vinton and Bob Gardiner for Closed Mondays. 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 1974, there were 30 entries. Submitted, screened, but NOT nominated were:

Academy_Award_trophy175AIR CONDITIONED COMFORT – Roc Caivano
ALL BOTTLED UP – Charles Cahill / Sam Weiss
BUTTERFLY BALL – Jack King and Lee Mishkin
THE DEATH HOUR – Fred Crippen & Ron Hall
DEEP BLUE WORLD – David Adams & Ken Rudolph
DIARY – Nedeljko Drajic
EVOLU – John Leach
FANTARO – Wolfd Lenica
H – A – Julius Kohanyi
THE HAPPY PRINCE – Murray Shostack & Michael Mills
I AM A RAINBOW – Dorothy Wayne, Richard Loring and Harry Sherda
MELON MADNESS – Jon Adrian Wokuluk
O LALA – Les Kaluza
OPERA – Bruno Bozetto annd Guido Manuli
POPCORN – Ross Sutherland and Gil Rosoff
ROLL ‘EM LOLA Fred Burns
ROOM AND BOARD – Randy Cartwright
A SNORT HISTORY – Stan Phillips
TEENAGE IDOL – Peggy Okeya
THE TOUCH – Ernest Pintoff
TWINS – Barrie Nelson
UVALDE – Gordon Bellamy
YETTA THE YENTA – Ted Petok
ZIPSTONES – Jan Rofekamp
A BETTER TRAIN OF THOUGHT – Attila Dargay

Here’s the documentation:

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


AIR CONDITIONED COMFORT – Roc Caivano

(Synopsis via Amazon) In this animated tale, a coarse, insensitive family drives through the National Parks in a sixty-five foot camper loaded with all the conveniences. Oblivious to the natural beauty around them, the family’s only concern is in looking for real estate, finding the next burger stand, and locating the next rest stop. For them the forest is just a place to toss gum wrappers. At the end of the day’s travel, parked under the stars in their home-away-from-home, the family suddenly finds the tables turned on them in a surprising climax.


ALL BOTTLED UP – Sam Weiss

Sam Weiss directed this traffic satey film for educational film producer Charles Cahill (Saftey Belt For Susie among others).


THE BUTTERFLY BALL – Lee Mishkin (Halas and Batchelor)

Okay – I’m not suggesting this should have been nominated – in retrospect it shouldn’t (and wasn’t) – but I remember seeing The Butterfly Ball in 1974 and I loved this little “music video”. You have to remember that – at least to me – the early 1970s were the “dregs” of the animation industry. Disney was gone, Bakshi was on the rise (and one of the bright spots, IMHO), H-B began outsourcing, Filmation was at its worst. To me at this time – as an aspiring animator just out of high school – nothing of interest was happening in the field. This is when I turned to researching animation history – because all the “good stuff” was in the medium’s past.

I saw BUTTERFLY BALL at a Festival (Asifa-East?) – or maybe at MoMA – and it as like a ray of sunshine. It was a mash-up of rock and roll, Yellow Submarine and Harman-Ising – at least, that’s how I saw it then. I ran out and bought the album and have been enjoying that – and the memory of this film – for years.

So – for the first time in probably 40 years I watched it again for this post … and I still like it. Perhaps its nostalgia. In my mind’s eye – both back then and ever since – this was a little precious glowing gem in a post-apocalyptic world. Today I can see it for what it is – it’s a bit funky and certainly no where near the Happy Harmony I recalled. But the song is still great and I can remember the harsh times in which it made its debut. And I recall the hope it gave me for the future of animation.


THE DEATH HOUR – Fred Crippen

All I could find was this article from the LA Herald Examiner which tells us more about the film than I could find anywhere else:


DEEP BLUE WORLD – Ken Rudolph

“An underwater fantasy. Studies the deep blues which gives the feeling of going down in an almost endless descent. Shows the beauty and gloriousness of the flower – life sea anemones. Concludes by showing the blues of the upper waters. Music by Jerry Garcia.”

This is one of those oddities – technically it isn’t animation but uses an Oxberry camera to zoom/pan/tilt around undersea photographs – and that qualified it somehow. Production Designer Sylvia Dees (below) is shown using the Oxberry in the production of this film.


DIARY – Nedeljko Drajic


EVOLU – John Leach

Sadly this is one of those YouTube videos where a live musical performance is played over the film, so this is not the original soundtrack, but it’s the best we could find (“I recognize the name as John Leach also produced two holiday specials, The Gift of Winter and Witch’s Night Out” – Chris Sobieniak).


FANTARO – Jan Lenica

We can’t find a complete version online, but a nice clip can be seen here during this interview with Jan Lenica (and painter, architect Jerzy Soltan)…


H – A – Julius Kohanyi

From Amazon.com: “In this experimental film using the works of painter Henri van Bentum, the strong and deliberate interplay of colors and movements illustrates some of the many variations possible using the artistic style of pointillism. H – A stands for Hydrogen Atom, the first building block of the universe. Through this film, color penetrates color, and their interaction reflects the birth of all living things.”


THE HAPPY PRINCE – Murray Shostack & Michael Mills

Produced by Readers Digest magazine, this half-hour Canadian TV special was produced by Potterton Productions as a follow-up to its 1971 show, The Selfish Giant.


I AM A RAINBOW – Dorothy Wayne, Richard Loring and Harry Sherda


MELON MADNESS – Jon Adrian Wokuluk

Stop motion animation using various melons. Can’t find it online, but it’s similar in style to this other Wokuluk film No, No, Pickle.


O LALA – Les Kaluza


OPERA Bruno Bozetto annd Guido Manuli

Bozetto and Manuli were also a breath of fresh air in the 1970s. Funny stuff here.


POPCORN – Gerard Baldwin

A Hanna Barbera commercial/industrial film – for the Air Force – directed by Gerard Baldwin, with backgrounds by Walt Peregoy – and voices including Keenan Wynn and Ross Martin.


ROLL ‘EM LOLA Fred Burns

Independent film by New York-based animator Fred Burns


ROOM AND BOARD – Randy Cartwright

The UCLA Student film by future Disney animator Randy Cartwright (Aladdin, Beauty and The Beast, The Lion King, etc.)


A SNORT HISTORY – Stan Phillips

Odd little “drink safely” film produced at the University of Denver for the Colorado Department of Health. Almost promotes drinking by demonstrating how a little “snort” of liquor is a good thing – but perhaps not while driving.


TEENAGE IDOL – Peggy Okeya


THE TOUCH – Ernest Pintoff


TWINS – Barrie Nelson


UVALDE – Gordon Bellamy

Independent film by Hollywood animator Gordon Bellamy


YETTA THE YENTA – Ted Petok

A spoof of movie trailers from our friend from The Crunch Bird.


ZIPSTONES – Jan Rofekamp

Love the title – but have no idea what this film is (or where it is). Was producer Jan Rofekamp the film’s director? I don’t know.


A BETTER TRAIN OF THOUGHT – Attila Dargay

After much detective work, I found out that this was actually a 1972 animated short (aka Go Go Little Train or Hajrá, Mozdony!) from Hungary – produced by the Pannonia studio. It tells of a group of frustrated train passengers who try to make their slow train run faster after it is passed by another train. It was distributed in the US under a new name, dumped in the non-theatrical/educational market, noting it was “designed to stimulate discussion on competition, leadership, and the reaction of people to competition”.

Attila Dargay started his career in 1951 as a trainee on animated films, and from 1954 he worked as a cartoon planner. He became an animation director in 1957, his first independent film being Don’t Give In Little Man! (Ne hagyd magad emberke!) in 1959. He started working at the then-formed Pannonia Film Studio in 1957.


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, 1972 and 1973.

(Extra Special Thanks to Chris Sobieniak)

51 Comments

  • I’m glad this is continuing. Great content as always!

    • Me, too, Tonk, seems like just yesterday 1973 was dealt with. Coincidentally, both the presenters, Roddy McDowall, and Brenda Vaccaro, would be involed with animation, Roddy in many cartoons (including those rather divisive Jones/Kipling adapations of the same decade) and Vaccarro at the sadly maligned 1985 Jetsons revival which is where a pre-Ren & Stimpy John Kricfalusi and some of his later R&S team worked and also on oher 80s90s HB shows.

    • Matter of fact, McDowell’s last credit was “A Bug’s Life” (1998) which was released posthumously.

    • Brenda voiced Johnny’s mother in “Johnny Bravo.”

  • These could be done every other week so that more time can be spent. Better yet, make them all “inter active”. Instead of wasting time researching the obscure ones, just give a Scavenger Hunt list of “OK, cartoon researchers, see who can dig up the info on the following FIRST! Giddy up!” (We are all confident that YOU can find the information… eventually. You just need to test US if WE can. Ha ha!)

    • Oh… by the way. Here is another to watch. The un-animated “Deep Blue World”: https://archive.org/details/DeepBlueWorld1973

    • It’s pretty telling how far the line between animation and live-action could be stretched sometimes. We would see this again when Tango won the Oscar for ’82, a film comprised of live-action sequences optically matted into a static background. The effect resembles more like something out of a CD-Rom title of the 90’s when live-action bluescreen inserts of actors over CG backgrounds and gameplay was a common feature.

  • Great to see the late Alan Aldridge’s work on The Butterfly Ball. I wish he had done more in animation.

    • Surprised I didn’t know he passed away this year. Another animated project he was on I recall was Rankin/Bass’ “The Wind In The Willows” from ’87. His work certainly was worth animating despite how few opportunities he had for it to be done.

      From what I understand, the original idea for The Butterfly Ball & Grasshopper’s Feast was to produce a fully-animated feature film of the music from the album, but the best they could come up with was this short piece, whatever else exists for it was a live-action performance film that incorpoates the animation for its “Love is All” segment.
      https://youtu.be/bSEW_4c2o1Y

      “The Butterfly Ball” is one of those odd little diversions into flights of fantasy, art and music that seems to have left quite an impact on people of a certain age. The short had been used something like filler during children’s programming on many TV channels worldwide from the comments I’ve read about it. I remember it fondly on a program Nickelodeon aired called “Pinwheel”, which showcased plenty of other animated works including ones from Halas & Batchelor like “The Owl & The Pussycat” and “Hamilton the Musical Elephant”. I recall this French ad from the early 90’s takes great inspiration from it…
      https://youtu.be/ZSqXwIvUZIY

  • Thank you for continuing the series. Even if you can’t find 10% of the shorts mentioned it’s still interesting. Infact the missing shorts might be the most interesting parts. It’s only been a little over 40 years; what’s happened to them?

  • I got a chuckle when I saw that a “not-nominated” film of 1974 was on your list, titled “A better train of thought. Because in 1974 I made a two-minute, black & white, silent, combination live action and stop-motion animation film, titled “A Train of thought”.It got to be seen by a few people who visited where I lived.

    • Funny coincidence, really!

    • Didn’t Cher have a song called “Train of Thought” around that time?

  • Closed Mondays was a outstanding animated short that truly deserves the Oscar. The Family that Dwelt Apart, narrated by its author E.B. White, with its unique style with many of the characters having “Pie-cut Eyes” and a 1930s-ish score that was fun and outstanding.

    Bruno Bozetto and Guido Manuli’s Opera was a fun chaotic look at the world of opera, including clips of operas from Romeo and Juliet to Othello, each scene ending with a comic chaotic catastrophe. Along with the amazing still shots of famous Italian opera singers from 1890s to the mid 1910s, along with the opera stages they preformed in… as far as I’m concerned, Opera should have been nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Short of 1974.

    • Interesting to point it out. I felt the greatest strength of “Opera” was its blatent reminder of mankind’s plundering of the earth’s natural, but finite resources. Bozzetto is quite often known for putting ecological themes into his work and Opera was no exception to that.

    • Closed Mondays always fascinated me because of the way the animators managed to make the drunk’s face so expressive in the close-ups, especially the smirk after he says “blabbermouth computer”.

  • Pat Oliphant, a Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist, did the animation for “Snort History”. At the time he was a staff cartoonist for the Denver Post newspaper.

    I think that was the only time Oliphant ever did animation. He wasn’t exactly an animator.

    • I believe Oliphant designed for a 2000 ad based on the presidential election. A voter had cartoon versions of the Democratic donkey and a Republican elephant on his shoulders telling him who to vote for. I may be wrong, though.

  • Why did the # of entries explode in 1974? Maybe studios limited how many entries that were submitted to improve their chances of winning – and now the # of aspirants included many indy creators chasing the coveted nomination for an Oscar was numerous? Think of all these folks paying a theater to have their short film run for a week in the L.A. area to be eligible. I bet that wasn’t cheap.

    • Oh I’m sure it wasn’t! Of course I suppose they could afford it if it was just LA, given what it’s known for.

    • This is around the time I started making animated films. I’m considered a baby boomer, and a child of television. So these post-war babies, who grew up watching old cartoons and saw Walter Lantz and Walt Disney explain the process on their shows, certainly were inspired to create. TV had an impact on that generation, and every one since.

    • That’s quite correct Steve. Your’s was a generation that was first raised by the cathode ray goddess of the living room, and in turn, inspired plenty of children into a possible career in entertainment like as with animation thanks to those lessons from Lantz & Co.

  • Thanks for continuing these at least for now. I really enjoy them.

  • Correction again about Disney. Their next nomination did not come out decades later. It was, in fact, almost a decade later with “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (1983).

  • Attila Dargay is probably best known for its 1981 feature film “Vuk”, based on a novel by István Fekete about the life of a young fox as it learns to survie in the wild and from the hunter’s gun. Aside from Dargay’s cartoony designs for the characters, it was quite a serious, mature story that seemed unlikely to see a release stateside, but it was aired many times on NIckelodeon during their “Special Delivery” weekend blocks as well as being released on home video, in both uncut and edited versions (due to the graphic nature of some scenes) where it was released as “The Little Fox”. Dargay as a cartoonist has a very distinctive look I enjoy personally though rather a shame much of it wasn’t appreciated outside his home country.

    • There was a 2008 sequel, “Kis Vuk,” whose English dub was titled “A Fox’s Tale” (with the voice of Freddie Highmore, now starring in “The Good Doctor”). A Hungarian IMDb user wrote: “This movie is just a blatant disgrace, especially if we consider that the original Vuk was so dear to so many people. It’s nothing more but a shameful ripoff, a steal of state sponsorship money and it’s a disgrace to the creators of the original movie.”

    • I could only see at least a few seconds of that before I stopped watching the trailer, that’s how insipid that is! The sequel to “Cat City” (Macskafogó) at least had some effort put into it.

      And what’s rather sad is that there had been a sequel that was in the works from another studio, which stayed pretty close to Dargay’s designs (possibly collaborated on it somehow) and yet the best we have is this short, silent clip.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeV1y9Gojpw

      Seriously, I would’ve loved it had this been made instead! Sometimes things just don’t go as you wish, I suppose.

      Being a off-topic, at some playground in Hungary they did this!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_iK4bhCup0

  • Popcorn was one of the only post-’66 HB cartoons that can be considered good. As for Attila Dargay, I wonder what you thought of The Fox/A Vuk? (I thank Natalie Belton for introducing me to that.)

    • It’s got a clever set-up and payoff at the end, I suppose (I’m talking about “Popcorn” if you didn’t know)! It’s reminding viewers of what they could do while in the Air Force Reserve and it does the message well.

      As for “Vuk”, I was pretty much clued it the moment I saw it on Nick back around ’87 or ’88. It just kinda stuck out with it’s story even if the animation might seem very TV quality to say the least but for what Dargay could do, he was able to convey an interesting contrast to what Disney had already done with their ’81 film “The Fox & The Hound”. I do remember though, when the film aired on Nick, it had to run on a channel that my cable company often pre-empted for local baseball games from Detroit or Cleveland, and it had to happen right during a scene where Vuk and Karak were stuck in a field while thrashers were being operated. During that moment, the cable company immediately dumped out of the film with this…
      https://youtu.be/o-omaVnlDBo?t=3m59s

      I think I had to wait another half-year or so to finally see the rest of the film, and at that time, I didn’t know if I could ever see it again, and didn’t know it got a home video release either. It was just one of those things about cable TV that you either saw it or you didn’t.

  • If I remember correctly, Brenda Vaccaro did the voice of Di-Di on the Jetsons revival. Judy is electronic diary.

  • Notice that the music for “Butterfly Ball” was provided by Roger Glover of “Deep Purple” fame.

    • Yes, it was a concept album and this film was meant to promote it (but also as a pilot to a feature film I mentioned before). The tune itself, “Love Is All” is sung by Ronnie James Dio.

  • This series is fascinating. Room and Board, along with Closed Mondays, were part of the Fantastic Animation Festival released in 1977.

    • Another FAF highlight that I’m sure will get a mention later is Robert Swarthe’s “Kick Me”.

  • Credit owed but not given to Saul Steinberg, whose whole approach of throwing together clashing artistic styles for satirical effect (as seen for years in the New Yorker) was cribbed for “Diary”.

    And you might as well mention R. Crumb and the whole underground comics movement as chief inspiration for the look of “Twins”.

    • The underground comics movement certainly permeated throughout the animation world during much of the 1970’s, if only through advertising and short films like “Twins”.

  • I’m surprised no one has mentioned “Hunger” – wasn’t it the first computer-animated cartoon? I remember being freaked out by it when I first saw it – the creepy graphics and score, so completely unlike anything I had ever seen. Yeah, the message is somewhat heavy-handed, but still, quite an achievement for 1974.

    • I suppose “Hunger” is a difficult one to talk about. I suppose it’s uniqueness for being the first to employ computer animated graphics was what got it as far as the nominations.

    • Hunger was nominated in 1975.

    • Its up there with the other 1974 nominees, was it nominated again in ’75?

  • Jerry: Thanks for continuing this series.

  • Actually, Dana, it’s an Academy mystery as to just how many animated shorts were actually submitted each year prior to 1974. The Academy didn’t keep complete records as to the number of shorts submitted, and didn’t preserve the screening programs for the first elimination rounds of the shorts judging for many awards years. The 1974 program is the earliest one I’ve seen. Thanks for continuing the Academy series, Jerry.

    Thanks also, Jerry, for running the picture of Sylvia Dees at the Oxberry camera at the Chouinard Art Institute, so many years ago. She was one of my teachers at Chouinard, a real genius with the complex instrument that was the Oxberry animation stand. She was also featured in my friend Vincent Davis’s indy live action short called “Dr. Octopus”. She played the hapless heroine who was kidnapped and dragged in to the original Los Angeles Angel’s Flight funicular in one of “Doc Oc”‘s silliest sequences. I adored Sylvia, though she never knew it. She was very attractive, and a real cool character who had a very deep understanding of animation photography. I hope she is still alive and in good health.

    • Thanks Mark for your anecdote. I didn’t know this before, but now I guess it makes some sense, even if “Deep Blue World” really just uses a technique commonly seen in animation to convey the excitement and importance of the pictures provided through close-ups, zoom-ins/outs, tilts and pans.

  • First of all, thanks for continuing the series; I’ve really enjoyed it so far, and even though I can’t wait to get to the 1980’s I wouldn’t mind if you had to, for instance, cut down on the frequency of posts in order to deal with the increased workload imposed by the number of films involved. (Not that I’m complaining if you could keep it weekly somehow!)

    That said, of the films discussed this time around I’m most intrigued by Fred Crippen’s “The Death Hour”. I know about Crippen from his UPA work (especially the “Ham and Hattie” shorts) and his development of the sharply cheesy “Roger Ramjet” TV series. Crippen’s not a household name, but he’s not exactly unknown either – he has a Winsor McCay award, for pity’s sake – and I find it mindblowing that one of his works could fall so quickly and completely into obscurity (it’s not even in his IMDb filmography), even if it’s just an indie short.

  • I saw Diary at an animation festival and someone from the Zagreb Studio (it may have been the director Nedeljko Dragic) told me it was his diary/sketchbook of his visit to America. It was a pretty big deal and even was used as a poster image form the Tournee of Animation.

  • Made you a wiki based on your posts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submissions_for_Best_Animated_Short_Academy_Award

  • Disney gone in the 70’s?

    Short or animation-wise?

    • Disney made many more shorts and features during the 1970s – just none of them were nominated after this year, till the next decade. Mickey’s Christmas Carol was their next nominee – in 1983.

    • Just asking. 😉

  • ALL ABOARD! NEXT STOP: 1975 (IKB)

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