Animation History
December 4, 2017 posted by Jerry Beck

Cartoons Considered For An Academy Award – 1978

This week: 1978

The nominees were:

RIP VAN WINKLE Will Vinton [View]

OH MY DARLING (NFB) Borge Ring [View]

And the Oscar went to:

SPECIAL DELIVERY (NFB) Eunice Macaulay & John Weldon. [View]

“Craft”, “Heart” or “Humor” – the animated shorts submitted to the Academy usually fall under one or more of these categories. This years three nominees represent each of those labels – separately. Vinton’s Rip Van Winkle tells a charming story, but has claymation ‘craft’ to spare. Borge Ring’s Oh My Darling is expertly animated with a strong dose of ‘heart’. It seems to me ‘heart’ and ‘humor’ always trump ‘craft’ at the Oscars. This year ‘humor’ got the deciding vote with Macaulay and Weldon’s NFB entry, Special Delivery.

Certainly not a break through in any technical way, Special Delivery clearly won Oscar’s favor with its crisp storytelling and simple art style. It’s the film’s humorous tone and surprising twists and turns – its metamorphosing animation – that appealed to voters this year. It’s still a cute little film that holds up rather well.

On April 9th, 1979 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, presenters Carol Lynley and Robbie Benson present the Oscar for Short Film (Animated) for Special Delivery to Eunice Macaulay and John Weldon at the 51st Academy Awards. Here’s the video, below:

The Academy Awards this year also presented a special Oscar for lifetime achievement to Walter Lantz. I’d be remiss if I didn’t post it here:


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 1978, there were 40 entries. Submitted, screened, but NOT nominated were:

Academy_Award_trophy175AFTERLIFE – Ishu Patel
ALL ABOUT MUSIC – Fred Calvert *
THE BIG SNIFF – Paul Gruwell *
BUILDING – Bob LeBar *
CARTOON-A-TORIAL – Hal Seegar
CONCRETE ALLY – McKinney – Clay skateboarders *
COUNTRY JAM – Tony Benedict *
JORINDE AND JORINGEL– Niek Reus
LOVE – Jiri Brdecka
MAKE ME PSYCHIC – Sall Cruikshank
NO ROOM AT THE INN – R.O. Blechman
THE ORIENTAL NIGHTFISH – Ian Eames
PENCIL BOOKLINGS – Kathy Rose
PINKTAILS FOR TWO – Art Davis
A PLACE ON THE TRAMWAY – Geroges Csonka *
A ROUTINE DAY – Al Guest
SATIEMANIA – Zdenko Gasparovic
SCENES WITH BEANS *
THE SMALL ONE – Don Bluth
STEP BY STEP – Faith Hubley
UNIVERSAL RHYTHMS – Dov Jacobson*
WHY ME? – Derek Lamb
ASTRONAUTS AND JELLY BEANS – Dan Bessie
ELLEN AND STANLEY AT THE MOVIES*
FANTABIBICAL – Guido Manulli
FURIES – Sara Petty*
HOT LUNCHES – Loring Doyle*
I LIKE OLD CLOTHES – Bosustow Production*
impasse – Frank and Caroline Mouris
KOLO – Marija Dail*
MANDARIN ORANGES* – John Bruter
MOTHER GOOSE – David Bishop*
NIGHTMARE – Vladimir Jutrisha (Zagreb) *
RAINBOW LAND – Paul Fierlinger
TASTEFUL ROMANCE – Clint Clover*
URASHIMA TARO – Peggy Okeya (UCLA)*

* Those marked above with an asterisk are films we could not find video or information on. All others are embed below

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, we have found embeds (below) for 18 of the qualified submissions that the Academy screened, but didn’t make the cut.

Enjoy the show!


AFTERLIFE – Ishu Patel

The subject of the afterlife as imagined by several cultures – a grand prize winner at Annecy.


CARTOON-A-TORIAL – Hal Seegar

Yes – that Hal Seeger. The Milton the Monster/Muggy-Doo Boy Cat Hal Seeger. Newsweek sponsored these animated editorial cartoons – not sure how many were produced, or where they were shown – Cartoon-a-torial was produced by Hal Seeger Studios beginning in 1978.


JORINDE AND JORINGEL – Niek Reus

Excellent little silhouette film by Dutch animator Niek Reus.


LOVE – Jiri Brdecka


MAKE ME PSYCHIC – Sally Cruikshank

Sally’s follow up to Quasi At The Quackadero is, in my opinion, just as good as the original.


NO ROOM AT THE INN – R.O. Blechman

A segment of the PBS Simple Gifts series.


THE ORIENTAL NIGHTFISH – Ian Eames

The McCartney’s sponsored several short animated films – proto-music videos – like this one by rock-and-roll animator Ian Eames (who made several animated shorts for the likes of Mike Oldfield, Roger Daltry and Pink Floyd)


PENCIL BOOKLINGS – Kathy Rose

Kathy Rose makes experimental/personal films that have a certain charm. I like them.


PINKTAILS FOR TWO – Art Davis

This is one of the first “made-for-television” Pink Panther shorts that was concurrently given a theatrical release as well. All things considered, it’s not bad – I credit the skills of director Art Davis here, who was determined to make a funny picture and not just churn it out, which most of his colleagues were doing at this point.


A ROUTINE DAY – Al Guest

The official video release of Klaatu’s “A Routine Day” from 1979, to promote the Sir Army Suit album. This music video was part of an incomplete animated special that has never been released called Happy New Year Planet Earth. Produced by Al Guest & Jean Mathieson.


SATIEMANIA – Zdenko Gasparovic

To the bouncy tunes of Erik Satie, a stream of consciousness piece, as various images flash by like an animated sketchbook.


THE SMALL ONE – Don Bluth

Never mind what I think – what do you think about The Small One?


STEP BY STEP – Faith Hubley

Mothers love – in the face of protecting children in a world of foul water and limited food.


WHY ME? – Derek Lamb

Funny short illustrating the reactions of an individual (voiced by Marshall Ephron) whose doctor has just told him he will soon die. A good one.


ASTRONAUTS AND JELLY BEANS – Dan Bessie

Some good artwork and animation at the beginning… not sure if I understood it…


FANTABIBICAL – Guido Manulli

Love all the Guido Manulli films from the 1970s. This short features a quick gag with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. If only The Small One did…


impasse – Frank and Caroline Mouris

Another experimental film from the creators of Frank Film.


RAINBOW LAND – Paul Fierlinger

Blue, Red, Gray… Spoiler Alert: Rainbowland is a pretty good place to live, after all. Voices by Jim Thurman (Roger Ramjet).


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, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1977.

(Once again, super-special thanks to Chris Sobieniak – and Mark Kausler)

21 Comments

  • NIGHTMARE (aka MORA or LE CAUCHEMAR) appears to be another Vladimir Jutrisa/Aleksandar Marks collaboration like THE FLY, considered but not nominated a whole decade earlier. Never seen it but the synopsis and framegrab in the link below seems intriguing:

    http://www.filmfestamiens.org/?Le-Cauchemar,4951&lang=en

    Had the rare opportunity to see mint 35mm prints of PENCIL BOOKLINGS and MAKE ME PSYCHIC projected at the Tate Modern, London earlier this year. Both looked exceptionally beautiful on the big screen.

    • Suprised MIRROR PEOPLE didn’t get submitted?

  • I saw THE SMALL ONE in theaters that holiday season and was pretty disappointed. Against my better judgment, I even got the story album on LP with the original soundtrack. I think that was the problem: the story and music. The animation was gorgeous and even appeared to have less recycled material than ROBIN HOOD and THE RESCUERS (even if I suspect PINOCCHIO’s boy-donkeys might have been, um, referenced)..

    One year earlier… ironically the same year as Vic Atkinson’s THE CHRISTMAS BURRO that was profiled in the previous post installment, Rankin-Bass put out a better, but still rather bland, NESTOR THE LONG EARED CHRISTMAS DONKEY. Many of these Japanese-US puppetoon specials were still excellent and, after viewing this again four decades later, it really does ape much of the competition on TV in terms of production values.

    So… in a nutshell, the timing of THE SMALL ONE was off. They should have made it five years earlier or later. Right now, the market was filled with holiday hee haws.

    • Yeah, this part of the decade did seem to have a glut of holiday-related films being submitted.

  • “Scenes With Beans” won the prize for the best short cartoon at the Tehran International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults in 1976, as well as a special prize at the Festival For Science Fiction Films at Trieste in 1977.

    Film Comment of March/April 1977 describes it only as “SCENES WITH BEANS by Hungarian Otto Foky as best animated short film. SCENES WITH BEANS used 4,000 animated beans and wonderful production effects to depict a planet entirely inhabited by little kernels.”

    It was also shown at the International Tournée of Animation in Los Angeles in April 1978. Charles Champlin of the Times reported: “It is the year for object animation. Otto Focky’s “Scenes With Beans” from Hungary uses a variety of beans and common objects (like a sardine tin) to take a extremely [sic] funny and sardonic life on earth.”

    The same column in the Times adds: “The visual dazzle of which animation is capable is richly seen in Sara Petty’s “Furies” in which a pair of Siamese cats do arabesques to a chamber piece by Ned Rorem” and “John Brister’s “Mandarin Oranges” uses dozens of them, suitably garbed, to dance an amusing homage to Busby Berkeley.

    I realise there is an incredible amount of work involved in these posts, Jerry, but if the Tournée was screening some of these films, perhaps ASIFA would have information about them in its files.

    • First, thanks Yowp for your additional data on these posts. I appreciate you and all who contribute to them.

      Second, you are correct – assembling these posts is a LOT harder than they probably look. That’s why I was going to stop them a few weeks ago. I continue them for two reasons: 1. Popular demand. So many readers wrote to me to continue doing them that I figured I would despite the incomplete access to information and videos for the entries. 2. These posts are preliminary research for a book I’m preparing to do. To be clear, these posts are NOT the book – just background research I’m collecting for the project.

      Furies and Scenes with Beans are both great films – I’ve seen them (as well as many others of the ones not shown), I moved to California to work on the Tournee of Animation (in 1986) so I’m quite familiar with the Tournee films. I just could not find a video to embed on this post. But again, I value additional information on the films not posted and encourage all readers to participate here for the common good. Thanks!

  • Surprised that The Small One didn’t made the cut for the nomination for Best Animated Short in the 1978 Oscars. It was a excellent animated short by Don Bluth who would later animated the very Successful An American Tail,Balto and All Dogs Go to Heaven film series

    Wished that Disney Channel, FreeForm and the ABC Network would made this a holiday staple to be shown in the Christmas season.

    Even though the Pink Panther cartoon was originally shown on television (NBC) it was nice that the Oscars placed Pinktails for Two for consideration for the Best Animated Short of 1978.

    • Balto wasn’t Bluth (that’s Amblimation), but Land Before Time is.

    • And The All New Pink Panther Show aired on ABC, not NBC.

    • People always confuse Bluth as having worked on those other films (namely the sequels of films he did the original film to).

  • Hi JB,
    If you can’t read my writing on the notes, just ask me and I will try to clarify them for you. Remember, most of these notes were taken in a hurry, in the dark. It’s DAN Bessie, not DAB on “Astronauts and Jelly Beans”. It’s “Urishima TARO”, a Japanese folktale, animated by Peggy Okeya at UCLA. THE BIG SNIFF was directed by Paul Gruwell (he was related to Johnny Gruelle, but changed his name to a phonetic spelling. On ” Mandarin Oranges”, it’s John Bruter (or close to it). One of the Zagreb animators on “Nightmare”, was Vladimir Jutrisha. Great post, Jerry, keep up the good WORK!

    • Dag-Nabbit! You gotta learn to write in the dark! 😉

      Thanks Mark, I’ve incorporated your updates into the post…

  • Is that the Blue Racer, or Miss Blue Racer, appearing in “Pink-Tails For Two”?

  • ‘Scenes With Beans’ was about this birdlike alien who viewed life on a planet of anthropomorphic jelly beans. At the end of the short,the beans zapped the alien with something and it flew away. I saw the short 40 years ago in a movie theatre.

    The Small One was pleasant. A good directoral debut by Don Bluth.

    I’m surprised Nelvana’s The Devil & Daniel Mouse wasn’t submitted. After all, their A Cosmic Christmas was submitted the year before.

  • Since Paul Fierlinger’s RAINBOW LAND is included here, I wonder if any of HIS Sesame Street work was ever released theatrically and made eligible for Oscar consideration. Although his work on that show starts roughly 1975-76, he hit a peak with his 13 “Teeny Little Super Guy” segments done in the 1980s, successfully combining animation on drinking glasses moving around live-action sets. Certainly equal to anything Disney had done in production polish.

    • It’s so nice he got nominated the next year 😉

  • RVW is available on DVD from Goodtimes (part of the Claymation Classics series).

  • I noticed the copy of JORINDE and JORINGEL on YT was provided by the late Gerrit van Dijk, who provided the “Titles” for this short. He uploaded a lot of his short films on both YT and Vimeo before his unfortunate passing a few years ago. I wonder if an English version was produced along with the Dutch heard here?

    THE ORIENTAL NIGHTFISH
    Later sponsored collaborations in animation with the McCartney’s would produced several other animated gems such as Oscar Grillo’s “Seaside Woman” and numberous films with Geoff Dunbar including one featuring the famous UK comic strip character Rupert Bear.

    Though noticing a non-presence of credits in ASTRONAUTS AND JELLYBEANS, I see the YT page lists Bill Davis as one of the designers of this short, he’s got a pretty distinctive look in his own animated shorts, commercials and other things he’s done over the decades.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjfwdVYqtbM
    http://thebilldaviswebsite.weebly.com/

    FANTABIBLICAL was one of those odd little things I saw back when I was 10 or so on The Movie Channel, as one of those sorts of shorts they’d use to fill time betwene movie breaks. Aside from the Mickey/Donald gag mentioned here, the part that really struck out to me was the final section with a retelling of the life of Jesus Christ through the eyes of a lone astronaut. I remember being both confused and yet impressed at what I saw. I was glad someone did that. It was quite a unique view of Biblical stories as reimagined for the space age with tongue-in-cheek results.

    While I couldn’t find SCENES WITH BEANS anywhere out there (it’s Hungarian title is “Babfilm” BTW), there was this one documentary on it’s director, Ottó Foky, which I suppose it’s the best we have to go with (despite being in Hungarian with no subtitles).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aIuRA2dr5M

    Looks like one of his famous achievements in Hungary was creating a famous TV sequence meant to remind children when it’s bedtime by showing one more film for them before turning in for the night. This involves a bear who gets ready for bed while watching the final program on TV. This is similar to Germany’s popular “Sandmännchen” program.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq4VLAOQyv0

    Here’s an early film from Foky titlted “The Apple Thieves”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNA8Lj396Wk

  • Another animated short that wasn’t but should of been And summited for considered for the Oscar for Best Animated Short of 1978 was Soyuzmultfilm’s Children’s Album featuring the musical selections of Pyoir Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Children’s Álbum.

    The four sequences were…

    Prelude featuring Polka from Children’s Album,

    A story based on Cinderella set in Czarist Russia around the late 17th century and the early 18th century…

    Four song based in Europe where Tchaikovsky traveled while preforming. Including Old French Song,German Song and Neapolitan Song (which was also in the ballet Swan Lake)

    And Grandmother’s Tale which was based on old Russian folklore.

    This beautiful animated short reminds me of Disney’s Fantasia and Bruno Bozzetto’s Allergo Non Troppo and the Oscars really dropped the ball by not considering it for nomination for Best Animated Short of 1078

    • To be eligible a film must be exhibited theatrically for a week in Los Angeles and submitted by the Producers. Evidently that didn’t happen in this case. Not a slight by the Academy so much as the folks who made the film for whatever reason didn’t go through the process (and expense) to have it considered.

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