This week’s post is a double feature with a caution: the two drafts are incomplete. The first, UPA’s Magoo Goes Overboard (1957), only has its first portion of the draft, while the other, MGM’s The Flying Bear (1941), contains incomplete animator credits. By coincidence, Pete Burness is involved with both films ─ as an animator on The Flying Bear, and as the director of Magoo Goes Overboard.
Magoo Goes Overboard (UPA; 1957)By the time this film went into production around May/June 1956, as listed on the draft (along with the time of day each artist began and finished their scenes), Jim Backus had gained more recognition on television, co-starring opposite Joan Davis in the sitcom I Married Joan (1952-55), and on film, portraying a dramatic role as the emasculated father to James Dean in Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Magoo’s popularity was apparent during Rebel’s production; Backus taught Dean how to perform Magoo’s voice, which ended up used as a throwaway line in the film. The plot of Magoo falling into a swimming pool set on a cruise ship, thinking he has fallen overboard, makes clear the calloused formula of Magoo’s near-sightedness that hampered the series.
The credited animators—Gil Turner, Tom McDonald, Cecil Surry and Barney Posner (listed as “Barn”)—are present in the draft. Posner and McDonald served as assistant animators in the Hanna-Barbera unit at MGM during the ‘40s. Posner was an assistant to Ken Muse, particularly in the live-action/animation portion of Anchors Aweigh (1945). He animated for UPA in the mid-’50s, and worked in various television production studios, including King Features, Total Television, Kayro Productions, Hanna-Barbera and Filmation. Posner also worked in later theatricals for Ralph Bakshi (Heavy Traffic) and for DePatie-Freleng on various Pink Panther cartoons in the ‘70s. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 96.
Here’s what constitutes as the only extant credits on the draft, which consists of about half of the cartoon:
BONUS MATERIAL: this “Estimated Cost Control Sheet”, found among materials in the Pete Burness estate, gives us a glimpse at a Magoo production budget at UPA. The bottom line (literally) is that Magoo Goes Overboard cost $36,732.87 to produce — $1,832.97 over budget. Interesting… eh?
A complete copy (sans animator credits) of Magoo Goes Overboard is posted here.
The Flying Bear (MGM; 1941)
The fifth cartoon starring Barney Bear, The Flying Bear casts him as an aviation mechanic for the Army. (The airplane noises in this film are supplied by Pinto Colvig, using his trademark battered trombone, as heard in countless animated shorts wherever he moved.) The Flying Bear was directed by Rudy Ising, and co-directed by Bob Allen, as listed on the draft. The model sheet for this film is dated mid-February 1941, and the approval date on the draft is listed as March 14, 1941. The completed film was released on November 1.
Though the draft credits animators Pete Burness, Carl Urbano, Mike Lah, Dave Treffman, Al Grandmain and Bill Littlejohn (who had prior experience in aeronautical engineering during the ‘30s) with their own sequences, several scenes lack identification. Estimated guesswork as to who animated these scenes is problematic, since many of the animation styles aren’t so recognizable. To some, it might be easier. (Readers may leave suggestions in the comments if you wish.) In the breakdown video, whichever scene is absent in the draft is left blank—except for the opening shot (credited to Burness) and scene 36B (by Grandmain), which contains no character animation.
Here’s the video, with partial credits for you here:
(Thanks to Mark Kausler, Adam Abraham, Jerry Beck, Patrick Malone and Frank Young for their help.)