FUNNY ANIMALS AND MORE
November 23, 2014 posted by

French Animation Part 5: 1976 – 1980

Continuing my survey of French animated features, this week we look at those from the mid-to-late 1970s.

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Le Tour du Monde de Colargol, directed by Tadeusz Wilkosz. 1974 on TV; October 3, 1976 theatrically.

Colargol, the little bear cub, was created during the 1950s in stories by Olga Pouchine of France. In 1969 French producer Albert Barillé failed to get funding for a TV series from the ORTF, and produced it himself, with animator Tadeusz Wilkosz of the Polish studio Se-ma-for as director. 53 13-minute stop-motion TV episodes were made. It was shown on French TV as Les Aventures de Colargol from November 9, 1970 through 1974; on Polish TV as Przygody Misia Colargola; in Britain as Barnaby, and in Canada and Ireland as Jeremy the Bear. This feature is apparently a compilation of TV episodes. It was shown on French TV during 1974, but did not have a theatrical premiere until October 3, 1976 in Finland.

My translation of a French synopsis of the TV series: Colargol is a bear cub who only thinks of singing; but whenever he opens his mouth, it’s a catastrophe! His friends the birds take him to the king of the birds, who gives him a whistle that makes him a singing bear.


AstérixLes Douze Travaux d’Astérix (The Twelve Labors of Astérix), directed by René Goscinny, Henri Gruel, cartoonist Albert Uderzo, and Pierre Watrin. 82 minutes. October 20, 1976.

The little Gallic village beats the Romans so often that they decide the Gauls must be gods. Julius Caesar scoffs and asks Chief Vitalstastix to prove it by succeeding at twelve labors; modernizations of the Twelve Labors of Hercules. Vitalstastix assigns Astérix and Obelix to the job, accompanied by Roman scribe Caius Tiddlus. The movie is the series of each adventure. When the two Gauls succeed at all twelve, Caesar agrees that they must be gods. He turns the Roman Empire over to them and retires with Cleopatra to a little country villa. At the Gauls’ usual victory feast, Obélix asks Astérix if they have just conquered the whole Roman Empire? Astérix answers that it has only been an animated cartoon, where anything can happen.

The movie is an original story by Goscinny, although Uderzo turned it into a comic book later. Goscinny’s and Uderzo’s new Studios Idéfix, in co-production with Dargaud Films and Les Productions René Goscinny, took over the Astérix the Gaul animated features from Belvision Studios.


La Ballade des Daltons, directed by René Goscinny, Henri Gruel, cartoonist Morris (Maurice De Bévère), and Pierre Watrin. 82 minutes. October 25, 1978.

A saloon entertainer with a banjo tells this as a song. The criminal Dalton Brothers (Joe, William, Jack, and Averell; four lookalikes ascending in size and stupidity) are finally thrown into prison for 2,400 years. They are visited by a lawyer, Augustus Betting, who informs them that their uncle Henry has just been hanged. He had gotten illegally rich during his career, and he has left everything to his nephews IF they will kill the judge and 8-man jury that sentenced him to death. A requirement is that they must be accompanied by Lucky Luke, the only man honest enough to confirm that they have completed the job. Otherwise, his money goes to charity. The Daltons break out of jail and, with prison guard dog Ran Tan Plan (Rin Tin Can), “the stupidest dog in the West”, find and force Luke to accompany them. Luke agrees to go along while tricking the Daltons into believing that they are killing the judge and jury, whom he helps to secretly survive.

Co-produced by Studios Idéfix, Dargaud Films, and Les Productions René Goscinny. (This must have been Goscinny’s swan song. He died unexpectedly on November 5, 1977, ironically of a heart attack while in his doctor’s office having his health checked). On July 31, 1990, Disney released The Ballad of the Daltons on a 25-minute Buena Vista Home Entertainment video. The information is vague as to whether this was a condensation of the 1978 82-minute feature, or a new production. Many Lucky Luke aficionados consider this to be still the best of all the Lucky Luke movies.


Pluk, Naufragé de l’Espace, directed by Jean Image. 74 minutes. March 17, 1979.

A.k.a. Pluk in The Cosmos; Pluk, Shipwrecked in Outer Space; and Little Orbit the Astrodog and the Screechers from Outer Space. Pluk, a robot in his spaceship Le Cosmos, is pursued through the galaxy by enemy spaceships. His spaceship is captured but he escapes into space. He heads for the nearest planet, Earth. There he meets Niki, a rich young boy who loves s-f and is building a spaceship, and his sword-fighting dog Jupiter. Pluk offers to make Niki’s l’Arago X-001 into a real spaceship if they will help him to get Le Cosmos back. Pluk, Niki, Jupiter, and Niki’s playmate Babette have space adventures with the unfriendly inhabitants of the Red and Green Planets; Jupiter saves them from death; and they eventually get Le Cosmos back. Pluk takes them to his planet, Plukastre, for a victory celebration.


Les Fabuleuses Aventures du Légendaire Baron de Munchausen, directed by Jean Image. 78 minutes. October 24, 1979.

Based on Gottfried August Bürger’s 1786 novelization of the tall tales of Baron Munchausen (correctly Münchhausen): riding a wolf after the wolf eats his horse, riding the cannonball during the Russian wars with the Turks, etc.


Les Naufragés de Terra II (The Shipwrecked of Terra II), directed by Alain-Christian Huber. 62 minutes. 1979.

A real mystery! Does this feature really exist? The above information is from IMDb; and that is the only information about it, or about Alain-Christian Huber, on the Internet, except for a couple of streaming websites that offer it, but that Jerry Beck says appear to be bogus. They don’t download anything, anyway. IMDb says that this feature was produced in 1979 by Lions Films, but a websearch for Lions Films brings only a tiny company by that name founded in 1990 that has never produced a feature. Could this be an imaginary entry created by IMDb to catch anyone stealing its information?


Le Roi et l’Oiseau (The King and the Bird), directed by Paul Grimault. 83 minutes. March 19, 1980.

Paul Grimault’s Le Roi et l’Oiseau (The King and the Bird) was covered a couple of columns ago for its 1952 release against Grimault’s wishes. He spent the next 28 years working on it. On March 19, 1980, Grimault finally released his ”corrected” version. Which is better is a matter of opinion. His other animation during this period is negligible except for the 1988 La Table Tournante.


Le Chaïnon Manquant (The Missing Link), directed by Picha. 95 minutes. May 21, 1980.

In 196,303 B.C., a group of cavemen, in particular one named O, have raunchy misadventures with dinosaurs while discovering/inventing sex, in Picha’s satire of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The dialogue was considerably bowdlerized for the U.S. to avoid an X-rating. Animation was stretched over Belgium, France, London, and New York. A selection of the 1980 Cannes Film Festival. Released in the U.S. as B.C. Rock.

Next Week: 1981 – 1985.

20 Comments

  • My translation of a French synopsis of the TV series: Colargol is a bear cub who only thinks of singing; but whenever he opens his mouth, it’s a catastrophe! His friends the birds take him to the king of the birds, who gives him a whistle that makes him a singing bear.

    That’s basically the gist of it. In Canada this apparently was a popular series on TVOntario and other similar channels, where the series was called “Jeremy” (though Colargol’s original name sometimes pops up in the original footage anyway). Here’s the first two episodes of that version.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJnydXNSA38

    Why they never played it down here is rather a shame, I would’ve loved seeing these somewhere on the dial like on Nickelodeon in it’s early days. Australia got to watch the French version with subtitles.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=382hALRdfpo

    These days, the rights to this series/movie are up in the air, as the original author or record producer sued Albert Barille over the rights to it and it has never been seen anywhere outside Poland for decades (where the series has received some DVD releases only in Polish). Rather sad to deny fans of this fine work in the same way the Japanese authors deny their fans “Candy Candy”.

    Albert Barille would also be known later on for his popular “Il était une fois…” series of educational programs (one of which I use to see on The History Channel during it’s first years).
    http://www.hellomaestro.fr/home.html

    The first of these series “Once Upon A Time… Man” also includes the familiar Colargol figure in it’s opening titles.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJfqqDf-tTY

    The movie is an original story by Goscinny, although Uderzo turned it into a comic book later. Goscinny’s and Uderzo’s new Studios Idéfix, in co-production with Dargaud Films and Les Productions René Goscinny, took over the Astérix the Gaul animated features from Belvision Studios.

    Too bad this studio was short-lived (I suppose the death of Goscinny had a bit to do with it). Seemed like they getting some great talent in there including John Halas and Harold Whitaker (unless they farmed out sequences to that studio in London). The only other thing I noticed credited to this studio was a commercial for Michelin (featuring a Gaul having a little trouble on the road).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJN4tKEEq3Q

    Having first saw the film before knowing anything else about Asterix before then as a kid, I often thought of him as a sort of human Bugs Bunny the way he was able to handle some of those tasks like with the Germanic martial arts expert or the Egyptian hypnotist. He obviously had to use brain over brawn. This was the perfect film to show to anyone new to Asterix I feel, and the English version is probably the best I’ve ever heard of them all. Probably the best moment most would cite is the guys having to go through “The Place That Sends You Mad”.

    On July 31, 1990, Disney released The Ballad of the Daltons on a 25-minute Buena Vista Home Entertainment video. The information is vague as to whether this was a condensation of the 1978 82-minute feature, or a new production.

    Technically the video was released as early as 1984. Around the same time as the Asterix movies were also getting released, all under the “Walt Disney Home Video” banner. I should know, I saw these constantly on the shelves of my local video store all the time in the 80’s (and these were still in clamshell cases).
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lucky-Luke-The-Ballad-of-the-Daltons-VHS-Disney-/250806556111

    Not much to say about the Munchausen film I see, still, no problems, I do like the opening theme music myself. I remember this airing constantly on Nickelodeon during it’s “Special Delivery” block (a lot of rare gems played there). Best moment I can remember quite well is the baron underwater with the mermaids and after a certain amount of time he finally drowns so they had to take him back up to the surface.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NsrugYto7o

    Animation was stretched over Belgium, France, London, and New York. A selection of the 1980 Cannes Film Festival. Released in the U.S. as B.C. Rock.

    Certainly showed some improvement over “Shame of the Jungle” in the animation (content-wise, the same).

    • Yumiko Igarashi, the artist of the “Candy Candy” manga, HATED Candy’s white pet raccoon, Clint, that Toei Doga insisted on adding just for plush doll merchandising purposes. When the group tour of Japanese manga artists and animators that Osamu Tezuka organized came to the 1980 San Diego Comic-Con, Igarashi and Wendy Pini discovered each other. It turned out that each was a big fan of the other’s artwork, and there was a lot of girl talk between them all through the con despite neither speaking the other’s language. But Igarashi made it very clear that she absolutely HATED Clint and all the other changes that Toei Doga had made, and she hoped that the American fans liked the “Candy Candy” manga but not Toei’s anime. So it’s not surprising that there have been later rights problems over the anime license, if Igarashi has any control over them.

    • But Igarashi made it very clear that she absolutely HATED Clint and all the other changes that Toei Doga had made, and she hoped that the American fans liked the “Candy Candy” manga but not Toei’s anime.

      Well, aside from the US (where I’m not sure if the manga was “scanilated” or not, I’m sure it’s hard to address that issue in the dozens and dozens of other countries that either had the manga or anime released in.

      So it’s not surprising that there have been later rights problems over the anime license, if Igarashi has any control over them.

      Don’t forget the original writer of the novel, Kyoko Mizuki, she and Igarashi not on speaking terms when it came to who owned what over the years. Here’s an article from a decade ago…
      http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/feature/2003-09-13

  • Chris: Indeed one sequence of THE TWELVE TASKS OF ASTERIX (the circus sequence, where the final task takes place) was farmed to John Halas’ studio in London. In fact, the cover of Halas’ and Whitaker’s oft-reprinted book TIMING FOR ANIMATION shows some animation key drawings of a gladiator lifitng weights, and this is from that ASTERIX movie. After BALLAD OF THE DALTONS, Idéfix had plans for a new feature, which would star the Smurfs (their second, after Belvision’s THE SMURFS AND THE MAGIC FLUTE), but sadly Goscinny’s premature death precipitated the closure of his animation studio.
    Colargol used to be quite popular in the U.K. as “Barnaby”. Any Brits around here remember his theme song?: “Barnaby the bear’s my name/Never call me Jack or James…”

    • Chris: Indeed one sequence of THE TWELVE TASKS OF ASTERIX (the circus sequence, where the final task takes place) was farmed to John Halas’ studio in London.

      Interesting if it was only for that one sequence.

      In fact, the cover of Halas’ and Whitaker’s oft-reprinted book TIMING FOR ANIMATION shows some animation key drawings of a gladiator lifitng weights, and this is from that ASTERIX movie.

      (breaks out book) Oh yeah, I didn’t notice that before (though the coloring is probably what threw me off. a bit).

      After BALLAD OF THE DALTONS, Idéfix had plans for a new feature, which would star the Smurfs (their second, after Belvision’s THE SMURFS AND THE MAGIC FLUTE), but sadly Goscinny’s premature death precipitated the closure of his animation studio.

      It figures.

  • Pluk, Naufragé de l’Espace and Les Fabuleuses Aventures du Légendaire Baron de Munchausen were both translated/edited into English and aired on Nickelodeon, back when they used to have that “Special Delivery” show that aired all kind of wacky stuff to fill two hours.

  • I grew up watching Colargol / Jeremy (both were broadcast on cable tv in Ontario on different stations) – My brain keeps thinking there must have been more than 53 episodes, but looking at the French Wikipedia episode titles, my memory seems to have selectively extended the length of the story arcs.

    It starts off with Jeremy having a bad time at school and trying to reach the king of the birds so he can learn to sing better. After that he gets kidnapped by a circus (after possibly trying to run away from home?). Once he’s home again, he takes swimming lessons and ends up in the Arctic; the antagonists are some mean sailors on a big ship. Next he’s off to outer space.

    The middle episodes of the series are kind of a blank to me; looking at the episode titles doesn’t trigger any specific memories… Looks like Jeremy’s friend Raven gets married, and there might’ve been a short-lived girlfriend for Jeremy named Nordine? Anyway, after that, Jeremy is off to the Old American West for a whole bunch of episodes.

    The last quarter of the series is a huge inter-continental chase after some bad guys who… hard to remember… kidnap his friend Hector the rat, or some golden tulips? Anyway, it’s partially an excuse to have each episode set in a different part of the world. Hector conveniently has a cousin in each location who helps kids learn about all the different regional stereotypes. Actually the high point of these episodes weren’t the characters, but a fancy computerized metal suitcase they had, which had the ability to transform into almost any kind of vehicle they needed at the touch of a few buttons. That suitcase rocked. Lastly, according to the Wiki article there were two Christmas episodes; I don’t remember those either.

    • Not bad for such a neat little French/Polish effort to have a serialized plot like that.

    • Oh yes, it was surprisingly serialized. When I try to think back of North American cartoons in the 1980s with frequent, on-going plot-critical serialization, the only thing that comes to mind is The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin (1987). It struck me at the time as quite unusual in that respect.

    • That’s one of the major reasons why Japanese anime TV serials became so popular with the American fans of animated TV cartoons in the late 1970s. Long stories! With depths and subplots! And serious melodrama, with the adolescent hero’s scientist father almost always being killed by the evil Foreign Devil villains in the first episode.

    • That’s one of the major reasons why Japanese anime TV serials became so popular with the American fans of animated TV cartoons in the late 1970s. Long stories! With depths and subplots! And serious melodrama, with the adolescent hero’s scientist father almost always being killed by the evil Foreign Devil villains in the first episode.

      Star Blazers certainly paved the way for that one.

    • “Yusha Raideen” (“Brave Raideen”) and “UFO Warrior Dai Apolon” were both earlier. Both featured the teenage hero’s scientist father killed by the interstellar villains in the first episode, and a superhero team based on the hero’s high school football team. “Star Blazers” was later, although it was much better promoted on American TV.

  • “although Uderzo turned it into a comic book later”

    Wrong

  • Actually, THE TWELVE TASKS OF ASTERIX did have a comic strip adaptation produced during the film’s release (in addition to the “book of the movie” made up of written text and illustrations), but it is hard to find, as it has never been reprinted in the ‘official’ Asterix collection. Besides being serialized in a few newspapers, this comic strip adaptation was published in Belgium as a giveaway comic album for a local gas station chain, Chevron. You can see the cover and one page there: http://www.bedetheque.com/BD-Asterix-Hors-Serie-Tome-1-Les-12-travaux-d-Asterix-5357.html
    It was also reprinted in Italy in a hardcover volume, “Super Super Gulp”, which also contains strips from other characters such Spider-Man and Fantastic Four.
    Uderzo said in an interview that he did not allow this adaptation to be ever reprinted again, since it was not drawn by him, but by his brother Marcel (also a comic artist).

    • Ah, so “a” Uderzo did it, but not “the” Uderzo. Thanks for clarifying that, Alfons.

    • You’re welcome! Glad to help, by the way, the Amazon.fr link you have provided lists the illustrated storybook based on the movie, not the comic adaptation.

    • Uderzo said in an interview that he did not allow this adaptation to be ever reprinted again, since it was not drawn by him, but by his brother Marcel (also a comic artist).

      Interesting. Wonder what Albert thought of his brother’s work?

  • I think Pluk was released in some countries earlier than its 1979 French release date. Here in Australia it was released in 1977 on a double bill with the Japanese animated feature Jack & the Beanstalk. It was called Little Orbit the Astrodog here. I never saw either movies but I remember seeing the poster which depicted the characters being chased by the villainous aliens. I don’t know where else it got screened prior to France.

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