Animation History
December 18, 2017 posted by Jerry Beck

Cartoons Considered For An Academy Award – 1980

This week: 1980

The nominees were:

ALL NOTHING Frederick Back [View]

THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN THREE MINUTES FLAT Michael Mills [View]

And the Oscar went to:

THE FLY Ferenc Rofusz. [View]

By 1980, the animation branch clearly favored independent films – whether state sponsored or funded by a starving artist him-or-herself. The three nominees this year were strong works that each felt like they were created by a single hand. Frederick Back’s heartfelt All Nothing is an emotional tour-de force, The History of The World In Three Minutes Flat is pure concept and big laughs. The winner, The Fly, combined a unique idea, perfectly suited for animation, with stellar filmmaking craft. A vision only a master animator (and his team) could pull off.

On March 31st, 1981 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, Alan Arkin and Margot Kidder presented the Oscar for Short Film (Animated) for The Fly to filmmaker Ferenc Rofusz. 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 1980, there were 32 entries. Submitted, screened, but NOT nominated were:

Academy_Award_trophy175AUDITION – Candy Kugel*
BEGINNINGS – Gaston Sarrult*
BIO-WOMAN – Bob Godfrey, John Halas
BOOGIE NIGHT – Nate Smith*
THE CUBE – Zedenk Smetana
DANCE – Gabor Csupo
DINOSAUR – Will Vinton
DISCO FENCE – Leo Salkin*
DUCK DODGERS AND THE RETURN OF THE 24 1/2 CENTURY – Chuck Jones
EAGLE AND THE HAWK – Tom Hush*
ELBOWING – Paul Driessen
ENERGICA – Ion Popscu Gopo*
EXILO – Jamie Gesundheit, Jorge Lopez, Alan Shapiro*
FISHEYE – Josko Marusic
GETTING STARTED – Richard Condie
THE GHOST IN THE SHED – Sam Weiss
THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE FURRY – Dean Barnes
LOOK OUT FOR NUMBER ONE – John Lange*
MAYOR’S BON BON’S BAND – Raymond Lea*
NOTHING – Jim Comstock*
ON LAND, ON SEA AND IN THE AIR – Paul Driessen
OPENS WEDNESDAY – Barrie Nelson
SEASIDE WOMAN – Oscar Grillo
SECTIONS – Sean Phillips*
SING BEAST SING – Marv Newland
THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE – Peter Sandler
A SUFI TALE – Gayle Thomas
THE SWEATER – Sheldon Cohen
TUESDAY – Carl Bressler*

* 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 17 of the qualified submissions that the Academy screened, but didn’t make the cut.

Enjoy the show!


BIO-WOMAN – Bob Godfrey

Another NSFW male sex-fantasy from Bob Godfrey. This one has a great ‘retro’ cartooning style with nice animation and effects. But when you get down to it, it’s really a one-joke film – one that takes a full ten minutes to get to the Crunch-Bird-like punchline.


THE CUBE – Zedenk Smetana

This is a lot of fun. A satire on modern housing and tiny apartment architecture. Love the design of the main character. If you live in New York City, this is still a very contemporary comment.


DANCE – Gabor Csupo

Yes – that Gabor Csupo, long before Rugrats and The Simpsons, he was a damn good independent animator. He gives special thanks to his wife Arlene Klasky at the end.


DINOSAUR – Will Vinton

One of Will Vinton’s most unusual – and obscure – shorts. Features some traditional animation, along with Claymation© characters, to examine the lifestyles of pre-historic creatures.


DUCK DODGERS AND THE RETURN OF THE 24 1/2 CENTURY – Chuck Jones

Well… what can I say about this one? George Lucas is a Chuck Jones fan, and the story goes that he asked a local San Francisco theatre playing Star Wars in 1977 to run the original 1953 Looney Tunes cartoon, Duck Dodgers In The 24th 1/2 Century with it. So with The Empire Strikes Back in production, Warner Bros. thought if they produced a sequel, a new Chuck Jones Duck Dodgers cartoon, they could piggy-back on the sequel’s presumed success. I believe this DID play with Empire somewhere, qualifying it for this award… but it ultimately ended up on a TV Special, Daffy Duck’s Thanks-For-Giving Special. I’m sorry to say, It’s a pale shadow of its former self… not one of Chuck’s best.


ELBOWING – Paul Driessen

I’ve always enjoyed the work of Paul Driessen, and as I get older I’ve really begun to appreciate his films even more. His stuff exists in its own world, which I now recognize as the mark of a true artist. Most of his films reflect some aspect of society – this one a little too obviously addresses the ideas of individualism in a conformist society.


FISHEYE – Josko Marusic

Depressing little Zagreb film about a day when the fish take over a small fishing community.


GETTING STARTED – Richard Condie

Earlier film from the genius behind The Big Snit. Enjoy…


THE GHOST IN THE SHED – Sam Weiss

Another Bosustow production based on a children’s book, this time designed and animated by Fred Crippen, with narration by George Gobel.


THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE FURRY – Dean Barnes

Funky little film combining live action and stop-mo. The Academy was clearly not into “Furry”…


ON LAND, ON SEA AND IN THE AIR – Paul Driessen

Classic Driessen here – three stories, told on three parts of the screen, that interconnect in surprising ways.


OPENS WEDNESDAY – Barrie Nelson

This really has the feeling of a sample reel… or maybe Nelson was working on some experimental animation and decided to “package” his random animated doodles into a short with some sort of narrative glue…


SEASIDE WOMAN – Oscar Grillo

Oh Seaside Woman, how do I love thee! A joy to behold. Oscar, you win MY Oscar for this year – hands down.


SING BEAST SING – Marv Newland

Another classic – Marv Newland’s instant cult film of 1980, still a treat, especially if viewed in a theatre, with an audience. Our buddy Mark Kausler animated on this.


THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE – Peter Sander

Produced in England, with narration by Vincent Price. Not your Uncle’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, especially if your uncle was named “Walt”…


A SUFI TALE – Gayle Thomas

A Persian folk tale told using a primitive woodcut technique; a beautiful little film, with music performed A cappella (by Groupus 7). You can watch the film HERE.


THE SWEATER – Sheldon Cohen

Another really good NFB film. A cute story that, while specifically Canadian, is completely universal. The artwork feels real, the French-accented English narration fits perfectly.


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, 1977, 1978 and 1979

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

 

37 Comments

  • The winner, The Fly, combined a unique idea, perfectly suited for animation, with stellar filmmaking craft. A vision only a master animator (and his team) could pull off.

    It’s animator, Ferenc Rofusz, would move to Canada a while later where he set up a studio producing a number of animated commercials into the 1990’s before moving back to Hungary and tried again on a few other projects, one was a short film, possibly a pilot, called “Dog’s Life”. The animation/design alone would make one think of the sort of project Klasky-Csupo could’ve done back in the 90’s.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AwBPg4m5t8

    About BIO WOMAN…
    Another NSFW male sex-fantasy from Bob Godfrey. This one has a great ‘retro’ cartooning style with nice animation and effects. But it’s really a one-joke film it takes a full ten minutes to get to the Crunch-Bird-like punchline.

    And yet I really like this entry myself. I suppose I’m a sucker for stretched-out one-joke films of this sort. Certainly nice animation here, and the music certainly helped put one in the mood for the plot that develops, the look alone made me think of Cliff Sterrett’s work. The writer of this, Stephen Penn, also was behind Godfrey’s Dream Doll and another short, Instant Sex. All three films tend to follow along the theme of middle aged men finding love (or sex) in particular ways, involving commodities of sorts. In Dream Doll, it’s a inflatable object; Instant Sex, a canned good; Bio Woman, washing detergent. I suppose Instant Sex and Bio Woman show the consequences of the obession taken to its extreme, leading to the eventual punchline we should’ve already figured out.

    On DINOSAUR….
    One of Will Vinton’s most unusual – and obscure – shorts. Features some traditional animation, along with Claymation© characters, to examine the lifestyles of pre-historic creatures.

    Also of note, the debut of Herb and Rex (probably best known for being in “A Claymation Christmas Celebration”) used to demostrate the differences between carnivores and herbivores. Later on the silent figures were given personalities resembling that of film critics Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert for wraparounds to the “Festival of Claymation” compilation.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GM5zZwoju20

    About DUCK DODGERS AND THE RETURN OF THE (whatever)…
    I’m sorry to say, It’s a pale shadow of its former self… not one of Chuck’s best.

    It really isn’t. Anyone who saw the more extended version from that special would tell you just how far Chuck sank as a cartoon director. There’s a kind of self-indulgence that just oozes out of every second of this, Chuck just can’t leave it alone without steering this far off the path.

    ON LAND, ON SEA AND IN THE AIR
    Classic Driessen here – three stories, told on three parts of the screen, that interconnect in surprising ways.

    The use of splitting the screen into different stores, or even different scenarios based on the premise of the film itself, became something of trademark for Driessen as he pushed this concept further in later works like “The End of The World in Four Seasons”, “The Boy Who Saw The Iceberg” or “Cat Meets Dog”.

  • THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE FURRY live-action was shot in Bodie, a ghost town in the Eastern Sierra area of Northern California. It’s been a California State Park for decades, with the remaining buildings kept in a state of arrested decay.

  • Re Bob Godfrey’s Bo-Woman – what makes it special I think is the amazing machine gun Irene Handl monologue

    • Yeah she was the perfect actrees for this, I just liove the constant lashing out at her husband and their strained relationship.

  • I really liked Will Vinton’s ‘Dinosaur’. A lot of the gags and visuals were well done.

    It also introduced Vinton’s dino team of Rex and Herb.

  • Paul Driessen was having a very good year, but why no nomination?

    I liked THE SWEATER but always felt it was over rated, especially compared to the earlier THE STREET that was also nostalgic of late 1940s Canadian childhood (if more moody with a grandmother death involved). However the obsession that kids (and adults as well) have over their idols is a good subject to cover.

    Will Vinton’s DINOSAUR pays a bit of homage to Ray Harryhausen’s work in ANIMAL WORLD (1955), also covered in the popular View Master reels that baby boomers and generation Xers often had in their collections. Although the Corythosaurus and Brachiosaurus are clearly 1970s design, the way the sauropods look up and all of the blood when T-Rex attacks shows careful analysis of the earlier film.

    • Paul Driessen was having a very good year, but why no nomination?

      It’s interesting I can’t recall if any of his films got close to a nomination or not.

      I liked THE SWEATER but always felt it was over rated, especially compared to the earlier THE STREET that was also nostalgic of late 1940s Canadian childhood (if more moody with a grandmother death involved). However the obsession that kids (and adults as well) have over their idols is a good subject to cover.

      It was an interesting one to cover, especially for it’s linguistic challenge when it came to a snafu of the boy getting the wrong team sweater in the end. I’m sure today it’s not an issue but it wouldn’t surprise me if it had been challenging for those Francophones in Quebec when it came to ordering outside the province such as through a nationally-distributed catalog that wasn’t bilingual-friendly.

      Will Vinton’s DINOSAUR pays a bit of homage to Ray Harryhausen’s work in ANIMAL WORLD (1955), also covered in the popular View Master reels that baby boomers and generation Xers often had in their collections. Although the Corythosaurus and Brachiosaurus are clearly 1970s design, the way the sauropods look up and all of the blood when T-Rex attacks shows careful analysis of the earlier film.

      I never noticed that, but good call on the details. The thing about Vinton’s films that always gets me is how often clay is used not just for the characters but also for the props and backgrounds too. You’d always think that going for some other material suited to that environment would’ve sufficed but he just wanted to push how far clay could be used entirely in his works. It’s quite the opposite of what a studio like Aardman might do where the need for sturdier props or sets are taken into consideration in planning their films. Of course in Vinton’s time, such technologies like video frame grabbing devices to sample/check previous frames were not perfected yet, everything had to be shot as-is in one go.

    • Yeah I forgot about the Aardman output often using more realistic sets. Gotta love how full-on-claymation the Vinton material got.

  • I remember when “Getting Started” played during “O Canada!” on Cartoon Network. A simple idea but well executed.

    I previously mentioned that I’m a fan of “The Fly”, so I’m glad it won.

    The “Duck Dodgers” sequel isn’t as strong as the 1953 film, but it had its moments (“Wipe that smile off your face!”) and the usually interesting Maurice Noble designs (dig that sunny side up egg on stilts!). The characters are noticeably more pudgy this time around, for some reason.

    • And “Duck Dodgers” was where that name “Gossamer” came ffrom, for the Jones sneakers wearing monster from those two old school cartoons, 1946’s “Hare-Raising Hare” & 1952’s “Water, Water, Every Hare”, folks.

      (In the first, he was named “Hugo”, in the second, he’s “Rudolph”, with no relation to that red-nosed reindeer.)

    • The Sweater was also on CN’s O Canada as well.

    • Nice to see a classic WB franchise and veteran animator return to the list, after over a decade. I’m sure it must have looked hopeful for those following Oscar cartoons from the Golden Age on. This was sort of the precursor tot he Silver Age.

  • The Sweater should of been nominated for the 1980 Oscar for Best Animated Short. A beautiful and comical “coming of age” story from the author which relate to us all about growing up rooting for your favorite sports team, no matter if it’s college or pro, and given a jersey/sweater of a hated rival team. I’ve seen The Sweater in both English and French and it is a wonderful film in either language.

  • I hope you’ll continue with this feature. Would love to see info on Oscar submissions from 1981-90.

    • I’m taking a short break from this series of posts for the holidays, but hope to resume January 8th with the next set. I’m as curious as you to see how far I can go with this.

  • I remember seeing “Sing Beast Sing” on “Night Flight” back in the 80s. Some time later I found an old Chess 78 of Willie Mabon’s “I’m Mad” and thought “is this the song?” – when I played it, I was elated to find that it was indeed the song from “Beast.” I’d never heard of Mabon till then.

    • A lot of us Nickekodeon watchers of the late 80’s/early 90’s may recall seeing “Sing Beast Sing” as it was soften used to fill in time, usually after a specila/movie on “Special Delivery”. This and seveal other “International Rocketship” shorts like “Dog Brain” were constant fillers on the network.

  • According to IMDB, June Foray voices the cleaning lady on OPENS WEDNESDAY

    • I’m certain there are many other lesser known roles that June has played over her incredibly immense career, apart from her very first role in animation as Lucifer the cat in “Cinderella”, just among the many reasons that all of the entertainment business owes her a great debt of homage. We’ve been blessed to have such a uniquely marvelous talent like her. And there may never be another voice actress that could possibly equal the range of talent she provided for animation and the world of entertainment in general (although, imo, one certain voice “ac-Tress” does come a close second!).

      And while on the subject of this short, I’ve noticed some elements, particularly the sound effects and the aforementioned appearance of Mrs. Foray, that seem to indicate that Barrie may have had the assistance of Friz Freleng’s former studio DFE Enterprises (which around this time was undergoing it’s transformation into Marvel Productions after the comic book giant finalized it’s acquisition). Did Barrie have any relationship with Friz or his partner, David DePatie?

  • I wonder which version of “Duck Dodgers” ran theatrically, or which version the Academy saw. The 6-minute version, or the 9-minute version. Neither version is very good, although the 9-minute version makes more sense.

    Although Michael Maltese is credited as the writer, Jones actually wrote most of it. Allegedly, Jones disliked Maltese’s script and immediately tossed it out. I want to know just how “bad” Maltese’s script was when Jones’ wasn’t too hot either.

    • Jones’ forte was never in story. He was brilliant at characterization and timing, but he needed a strong storyman like Maltese to really shine.

    • Yeah the longer version gets to show Marvin finally putting his plan to action, something the cut-down version seen on Saturday mornings just failed to get across when much of the narrative gets clipped (albeit, slow).

      I suppose we’ll always wonder what Maltese had in mine that Jones just couldn’t see when it came to finalising this…. thiis…. whatever it is.

    • Jones’ forte was never in story. He was brilliant at characterization and timing, but he needed a strong storyman like Maltese to really shine.

      This Duck Dodgers sequel is proof alone that Chuck really didn’t have the chops for writing as he probably thought he did.

    • Running time as listed on the cut sheet is 10 minutes.

    • This Duck Dodgers sequel is proof alone that Chuck really didn’t have the chops for writing as he probably thought he did.

      What about the original version of “Daffy Duck For President” where the storyboard were published in book form? I thought that was very memorable. I’m a bit disappointed that Tony and Spike did used the punch line in their adaption.

    • DAVE SAID….
      Running time as listed on the cut sheet is 10 minutes.

      Someone I know once time put together a version of this featuring both the trimmed down version and the extra material from the Thanksgiving special and it went to about 9 1/2 minutes, so it’s pretty much accurate and I’m sure that was what they were going for.

      THEN NIC SAID…
      What about the original version of “Daffy Duck For President” where the storyboard were published in book form? I thought that was very memorable. I’m a bit disappointed that Tony and Spike did used the punch line in their adaption.

      Having watched “Daffy Duck for President” again, I will say the only difference there is simply in how it’s timed and executed. While it’s true it’s Chuck’s writing, it’s not necessarily his timing or execution (such as in layout or design) or even direction since that was left up to Tony and Spike themselves to work out (this was first published as a storybook after all, and often adapting books to film takes some creative liberties). I can’t say had Chuck had the chance to produce the short himself, could he have done as good as job as the others, that I can’t say.

  • Hey, I wrote about Duck Dodgers for an obscure website called Cartoon Research:
    https://cartoonresearch.com/index.php/in-his-own-words-chuck-jones-on-duck-dodgers/
    I also wrote a much, much lengthier article on the entire cartoon for a magazine Outre #7 (1996 published by the same folks who do Filmfax) where I summarized Michael Maltese’s original storyboard (which was almost as bad as the finished cartoon). If there is any interest, maybe I will try to dig up my copy of the article and excerpt that description in a future column for this site.

    • Oh that would be interesting to see. I”m sure much of the fault here isn’t Chuck’s as much as it was probably WB’s thinking they needed this cartoon at all.

    • I would very much like to see that too! I’ve always been curious what “Duck Dodgers 2” could have been.

  • I was always puzzled whether DUCK DODGERS AND THE RETURN OF THE 24 1/2 CENTURY was intended for theatrical distribution. Seems this confirms it was, but didn’t get much wide distribution.

    • Yeah this cartoon apparently has an MPAA number.attached to it (though using the pre-67 logo).

  • Are you sure it’s George “Gobbel” and not George Gobel?

    • Of course it’s George Gobel. Thank you for sarcastically pointing out that spelling error. Duly noted and corrected.

  • I’ve watched Sing Beast Sing and loved it!

    I wonder if Toledo is from R’yleh? (H.P. Lovecraft fans will know what I’m talking about)

    • It be interesting if that was the inspiration, even if the character’s appearance might seem a little tacky with his taste in clothing, his love of blues and the helpful way he helps Vern out of his little predicament, perhaps being a little concerned for Black Ear’s alcohol intake.

      Of course that doesn’t matter much in a film that seems to play itself out as a perfect 9 minute time waster of weird characters, a long continuous shot or two, and a song one might not hear very much on the radio today. I actually have a cel of Toledo I picked up from eBay years back, I suppose out of the fact he’s named after my hometown!

  • Just noticed there’s a decent HiDef transfer of The Fly to view on YT so I’m putting it here in case anyone cares to see!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LniOzzEc0sM

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