August 30, 2015 posted by

Argentine Animated Features, Part 2: García Ferré Appears

Continuing my survey of animated films from Argentina. This Week: The mid-1970s and artist García Ferré.

Anteojito y Antifaz, Mil Intentos y un Invento (Anteojito and Antifaz, A Thousand Attempts and an Invention), directed by Manuel García Ferré. 84 minutes. September 14, 1972.

MIL INTENTOS Y UN INVENTOAnteojito is an 8-year-old boy, the little star of cartoonist and animator (Manuel) Garcia Ferré. But before going on, something should be said about García Ferré himself.

Manuel García Ferré (1929-2013) was roughly the Argentine Walt Disney. He created dozens of characters that appeared in magazines from the early 1950s, and TV and theatrical animation from his own studio from 1959 through the early 2000s. His theatrical features were notable for their bright colors, their cuteness and smooth animation, and lots of lively juvenile songs. But they were strictly for young children, and not really family films with anything to appeal to parents or other adults.

His main characters appeared in their own TV series and theatrical features; his supporting characters appeared in everything. He started his own studio in 1959 to produce comic books and other print media, graduating to TV animation in 1967. When he first began theatrical animation with Anteojito y Antifaz, Mil Intentos y un Invento in 1972, he packed it with as many of his characters as he could, whether they were in the Anteojito series or one of his others. For example Cachavacha the witch, a villainness in Ferré’s Hijitus series, becomes the adversary of Anteojito and Uncle Antifaz here. Larguirucho (Lanky or Beanpole), a friendly tall, skinny mouse/rat, first appeared in the Las Aventuras de Hijitus TV series, but he was so popular that he became a supporting character in everything.

inventoThe Anteojito comic book was published from 1964 to 2001. Anteojito was a brainy boy (“the boy with big eyeglasses”) who lived with his inventor uncle Antifaz (Mask). Garcia Ferré created the character for TV advertisements on Buenos Aires TV in the early 1960s. He was more popular than the products that he pitched. Ferré quickly took advantage of this and began animating him in a TV cartoon series in 1964, El Club de Anteojito y Antifaz. The comic book was launched the same year. Other Anteojito TV series and animated theatrical shorts followed. By 1972 the series was popular enough that the two appeared in their own theatrical feature, produced by Producciones García Ferré. It was publicized as “el primer largometraje argentino de dibujos animados”, the first Argentine animated-drawing feature (Quirino apparently having become forgotten by then; although it could be argued that Quirino’s films which did not use cels were not animated cartoons in the usual meaning). It was the first Argentine animated feature to be shown internationally. It won the first prize (Primer Premio Pelayo de Oro) at El Festival Internacional de Guijon in Spain.

Anteojito and Antifaz live in an apartment house in Villa Trompeta, a fantasy city with funny animals, dancing vegetables, and Uncle Antifaz’s enemy, Cachavacha the witch, living with Pajarraco her owl, in the apartment right under his. Uncle Antifaz tries to invent an invisibility formula with Anteojito’s help, and Cachavacha tries to steal it. Anteojito sells some balloons, meets his friend, Buzoncito the little red mailbox, and the balloons escape when he argues with Repibe and Vaguín, the brats. The circus comes to town and he helps out Castañazo, a friendly clown, and his sick daughter Loli by posing as a second, singing, clown. The con men Bodego and Rapiño are impressed by Anteojito’s singing and pose as talent agents who can get him lucrative theatrical and operatic engagements. Bonaño, a good-natured cat (tall with funny hat), takes him to Meethoven, a Beethovenesque feline music teacher. Anteojito becomes a star, with the three mice Quesín, Quesón, and Quesán in his act. He lets success go to his head, snubs Uncle Antifaz, and dismisses Bodego and Rapiño. The distraught Antifaz gives up his experiments, which are immediately continued disastrously by Cachavacha. Anteojito is told a story within the film (based on a separate book by Ferré, El Pararrayos o Historia de una Ambición) and at last realizes that wealth is worthless without true friendship. He returns to being a little boy living with Uncle Antifaz, who throws away the invisibility formula he has finally invented.

Las Aventuras de Hijitus, directed by Manuel García Ferré. 82 minutes. September 12, 1973.

600full-las-aventuras-de-hijitus-The Adventures of Hijitus was actually produced first by García Ferré, but as a TV series. It was Latin America’s first animated TV series and the most popular Latin-American-produced TV animation for decades, first broadcast on Buenos Aires’ Channel 13 on August 7, 1967, and appearing in 73 episodes through 1974 (the first 22 in black-&-white). The one-minute TV episodes were broadcast several times each day, Monday-Friday. On Sunday at 11:00 a.m the TV episodes were edited togrther and shown as part of El club de Hijitus together with live hosts such as Patricia the fairy, clowns, and costumed actors as Hijitus, Larguirucho the giant mouse, Cachavacha the witch, evil Profesor Neurus, etc. In 1973 the TV animation was edited together and shown theatrically as a feature.

Hijitus is a street urchin with a magic blue hat (Sombreritus) who lives in an unused above-ground section of the sewers of Trulalá, which is threatened by Profesor Neurus, Cachavacha, and other villains. His friends are Oaky Silver (a gun-toting diapered baby, the son of Gold Silver, the richest man in Trulalá), Pichichus (a non-talking stray puppy; the equivalent of Tintin’s Snowy), Larguirucho (translated as Beanpole or Lanky, a giant badly-dressed mouse, well-meaning but so stupid he sometimes joins Profesor Neurus), Anteojito and Antifaz, Mr. Gold Silver, and police Commissioner Trulalá. To protect them, Hijitus transforms into Super Hijitus, an invincible costumed superhero. The villains are Profesor Neurus (a Mad Scientist trying to conquer Trulalá, or steal Gold Silver’s fortune with his giant robot, Marañaza), his henchman Pucho and Serrucho, and Cachavacha the witch with Pajarraco, the owl.

YouTube’s samples are of the TV series, not the movie.

Petete y Trapito, directed by Manuel García Ferré. 88 minutes. July 17, 1975.

Petete (a baby penguin) and Trapito (a scarecrow) originated in Petete, another children’s magazine by García Ferré. Petete was also included in El club de Hijitus as a stop-motion figure. Since the scarecrow was much more popular in the magazine than the penguin, when Ferré produced the animated feature, he wisely limited Petete to a 4-minute stop-motion introduction in which the baby penguin (with a pacifier around his neck) explains to children the origins of agriculture and of scarecrows, before beginning his cartoon animation story starring only Trapito. Since the movie’s first release, the introduction and Petete are usually omitted, and the movie titled just Trapito.

trapitoOn a stormy night, Salapin the sparrow (Wikipedia incorrectly says starling) almost drowns while looking for his girlfriend, but is rescued by Trapito. The next morning, Trapito admits he is lonely and confused. Salapin takes him to see the Patriarch of the Birds (a wise old owl), who deduces that Trapito lacks imagination since he has been standing in a field all his life. The Patriarch advises him and Salapin to see the world.

They meet Larguirucho (from Hijitus), here a friendly but clumsy farmer with many happy animals including Jacinto the horse and Chancha & Chanchito, the mother & son pigs. They go into town where Larguirucho sells his cheeses and treats them to a meal, but Ataúlfo the sailor raven accordionist steals his money. The innkeeper gives them (Larguirucho, Trapito, Salapin, and Chanchito) a week to pay for the meal or he will butcher Chancha. Larguirucho can’t find a job until he is hired as an assistant carpenter. A pirate orders a peg leg for his Captain Mala Pata (Badfoot), a black-bearded ruffian, but Larguirucho delivers a ham by mistake, and Mala Pata orders his sailors (including first mate Ataúlfo) to shanghai Larguirucho and use Trapito as their figurehead. Mala Pata sails for a tropical island where a map shows that valuable crystal tears are to be found. A mutiny for the tears, led by pirates Vientoenpopa (Favorable Wind) and Barlovento (Windward), is accidentally foiled by Larguirucho, Salapin, and Chanchito. Mala Pata makes Larguirucho first mate and frees Trapito.

At the island, Larguirucho and Trapito are ordered to dive and search the sea bottom for the crystal tears. They learn the tears are being wept by a mermaid, Espumita (Foamy). She and all the fish were happy until they were attacked by Cruel Pulpo, a pirate-hatted giant octopus, and his army of crabs and swordfish. Espumita’s boyfriend, Caballito del Mar (Seapony), becomes the good sea creatures’ general, and they are defeating Pulpo until Caballito del Mar is captured. Larguirucho and Trapito rescle him, and are rewarded by one of Espumita’s crystal tears. They return to the pirate ship, where Mala Pata and Ataúlfo dive into the sea after more tears and are chased into the distance by Pulpo. Larguirucho, now the captain, sails back to town where he uses the crystal tear to pay the innkeeper. Larguirucho and the pigs return to the farm, but Salapin wants to resume looking for his girlfriend. When he finds her, they fly off, abandoning Trapito. The lonely scarecrow returns to his field, but Salapin and his mate return the next year with their chicks, and Trapito and the chicks become playmates.

Las Cuatro Secretos (The Four Secrets), directed by Simón Feldman. 70 minutes. December 8, 1976.

“Three young brothers look for the four secrets of nature (air, fire, water, and earth) in an imaginative journey.” It was produced in Eastmancolor, and got good reviews at the time that say that it was a combination of animation, live action, and still photographs. It sounds terribly educational, and nobody has bothered to put it onto YouTube.

Alicia en el Pais de los Maravillas, directed by Eduardo Plá. 73 minutes. December 9, 1976.

If you’re familiar with Lewis Carroll’s novel, you know the story. This is sometimes described as animation, but it is actually live-action with a surrealistic combination of weird sets, grotesque makeup & costuming, camera tricks, and bizarre lighting, with no animation. Alice chases the White Rabbit through a crowded city, and they go down a mall’s elevator.

Next week: Argentine Animated Features, Part 3: 1981-1995


  • Probably people in Argentina (Raul Manrupe in particular) can provide more information than I – but I happened to see LOS CUATRO SECRETOS when it was originally released and it is no educational film but a sort of child fantasy. It features stop motion animation of the kind that South Park would later exploit but here it looks rougher, being done on paper, which gave the film its visual quality. I don’t remember it well, but it does play in a cable channel called Volver. Eventually, it will show up in YouTube or any other site.

    On García Ferré… Larguirucho is his best creation, not a mouse but a human, oscillating between good or being one of the Neurus gang (yet still been nice). He had been voiced by Pelusa Suero who created his sound based on the drawings… Pelusa is one of the greatest professional announcers in Argentina and I have been rescuing as I can his thousand commercials as I can, even though he had forgotten many as he tells me himself in Facebook when I rescue another one.

    García Ferré was heartbroken when he had to close his Anteojito magazine but his company still exists today. But many fans in Argentina have rescued most of his work, at least the comic books and magazines plus a few commercials for television, and are trying to preserve it trying to prevent him from being forgotten.

    Since 1965, he had a agreement with Philips/Polydor (now Universal), and they had published the soundtracks of most of his productions, including a few Hijitus and Anteojito pidoses that were never animated.

    On Pete y Trapito: the film was about to be released one year earlier, as Trapito, but at the time Juan Domingo Perón died and the premiere was postponed for a year (except for the previous one, he used to release all his films during the Winter Holidays for commercial advantage). When the film was formally released, the title was changed to Petete y Trapito (the original remained in the credits sequence, though) and Petete was added. The penguin was not stop motion but it was a puppet handled by García Ferré himself, inspired in Topo Gigio (he created, but crediting Maria Perego who was the creator of the Italian mouse, and published a comic strip of the character). Petete was already known by appearances on television since his series replaced Hijitus. On the LP issued by Philips, he figures far more prominently than in the film itself being the narrator of the story.

    It can be said that García Ferré’s films are strictly for children. But the story in Petete y Trapito is actually a very adult one: life is an illusion and if we don’t have illusions we can’t accomplish anything and get stuck… it is his greatest film.

    • Larguirucho is his best creation, not a mouse but a human, oscillating between good or being one of the Neurus gang (yet still been nice). He had been voiced by Pelusa Suero who created his sound based on the drawings…

      Interesting that he’s meant to be a human despite his looks (I’m sure it threw off plenty of us foreigners thinking it was just another animal character in human flesh tone like the dog people in a Carl Barks comic). I might have to steal that idea, that when when people complain at whatever lurid thing I do with my character (say bestiality), I’ll say he’s actually “human” and end it there!

      And while it was stated Ferre’s work was kids-only, covers like this prove Larguirucho can just be as adult as he needs to be (of course as an outsider, I suppose there’s something missing here)!

      I recall a movie was also made with him as well, though that would be many, many years down the road, and I’m sure Fred will get to that eventually.

    • Except for MIL INTENTOS Y UN INVENTO (although Pelusa Suero worked in it too), Larguirucho appears in all of García Ferré subsequent features.

  • Very interesting articles Fred. In the future I hope to see you do articles on German & Italian animated features. Has there ever been a Fixi & Foxi animated feature?

    • I’m not sure if there ever was myself, though the creator of that series, Rolk Kauka, made a rather doozy of a film I enjoyed as a kid called “Maria d’Oro und Bello Blue” (released in the states as “Once Upon A Time”). Worth a watch.

    • I saw ‘Once Upon a TIme’ here in Australia back in the 70s (it was released here as ‘Bello the Blue Dog’). I’ve read Kauka made a series of Fixi and Foxi theatrical shorts.

    • I don’t know of any Fixi & Foxi feature, and I haven’t really looked into German animation yet, although my sister & I saw “Ooops! Die Arche ist Weg” (under its American title “All Things Big & Small”) and “The 7th Dwarf” last month. (The Shout! Family had a theatrical release of “The 7th Dwarf” in one theater in a distant Los Angeles suburb for about a week before releasing it on DVD.) I liked “All Things Big & Small” very much, she didn’t, and we were both monumentally unimpressed by “The 7th Dwarf”. Its trailer has all its best scenes in it.

    • When “Maria d’Oro und Bello Blue” got a theatrical release in Germany, it was paired with a short cartoon featuring Fix & Foxi called “Symphony in Trash”. This short appears on the now out-of-print US DVD release from Hen’s Tooth (not bad considering the original theatrical release plus the VHS from “Video Gems” didn’t use it anyway), but you can see it on YouTube if you like!

  • I spent much time in Argentina as a kid , and remember these shows fondly. The format of the Hijutus show was different than what I was used to. The show was very short but I think it was a little over a minute. It had a title and a recap of the previous episode, then a little clip of the next episode. The whole thing ran about two minutes…at least that’s how I remember it. There was also an ad for a chocolate milk powder called Super-Chill that had Hijitus as their icon. The animation for the ad was pretty good as I recall…but I haven’t seen it in about 45 years…I could be wrong. Thanks for this stroll down memory lane.

    • Sounds like they went the serialized “Crusader Rabbit” route with this show, the way it’s sectioned off in short bits played over a week and all that.

    • The chocolate was “Nutri Super-Hijitus” from FelFort, a bakery company that still exists that was associated with García Ferré. The episodes of Hijitus run a minute per day that were eventually compiled in full episodes of 30 minutes, mostly. A few lasted no more than 10 minutes or less and one runs for an hour. But some of 30 minutes episodes are strange due to the one minute structure. The concept was to do something like a daily comic strip in a newspaper.

  • Thank you Jorge, The ad I saw was in Chile…which was odd because I didn’t see Hijitus there as a kid. As an adult I found some Hijitus video tapes for rent at Blockbuster in Santiago. I remember the jingle a little bit…Super-chill was part of the song…maybe it wasn’t the name of the product. Hijitus was a big deal with my relatives in Argentina…people would stop what they were doing to watch…especially the last showing of the evening. I really liked the serialized aspect of the cartoon. They also had a series of cartoons telling kids to go to bed. One featured a family of kids singing a song before bedtime, another featured a dog named Mac Perro…that was pretty well animated. I hope an upcoming installment of the this series of articles includes some info about them.

    • I’m sure Mac Perro has been discussed earlier here, but his famous “go to bed” cartoon also found it’s way to TV screens across the New York City area courtesy of Spanish language station WNJU channel 47, who aired the pooch perhaps as a sign-off for the night (I think, I’m only going by those memories of those who have commented on that in YouTube clips like this, not having grown up in the area)….

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