June 29, 2016 posted by

Two Partial Drafts: “Magoo Goes Overboard” (1957) and “The Flying Bear” (1941)

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)

Jim Backus

Jim Backus

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.

Flying Bear-ModelSheet600

The Flying Bear (MGM; 1941)

Flying Bear-Cel-600The 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.)


  • I wonder if Pinto Colvig provided the Voice of Braney Bear, before Paul Frees took over as Barney’s voice in the 1950’s? Even though he rarely spoke in several of the earlier Barney Bear cartoon. The Flying Bear was the first of a series of WWII themed cartoon which included The Rookie Bear,Barney’s Victory Garden (with the infamous now deleted scene where Barney was having trouble tilling the soil until a bomber squadron felw by and Barney decided to make a caricature of Adolf Hitler and having the bombers drop thier bombs and turning it into the Stars and Stripes, and the last of the Barney Bear WWII cartoons involving Barney as a Civil Defense Air Raid warden.

    • In the earliest cartoons, I believe the voice of Barney Bear, yelps and all, were provided by the character’s creator, Rudy Ising. if you listen carefully to some of the Harman/Ising LOONEY TUNES and MERRIE MELODIES, you can hear Rudy’s trademark rugged voice doing a character or two, and Ising’s familiar Yawn was sampled for the DAFFY DUCK cartoon, “DAFFY AND TEH DINOSAUR” as the cave man’s own yawn as he wakes up to greet the day. It’s a shame that more information cannot be found on the various animators and their actual work on “THE FLYING BEAR”, because there are so many memorable scenes in that film, especially during the climactic scene of the descending plane breaking up and Barney falling to earth. I like to run that cartoon alongside “FALLING HARE”, because both cartoons have that similar moment, only Bugs and the Gremlin do not crash to the ground and end up in separate hospital beds…all on account of those A cards! This was a great post, and I, too, am happy that the MR. MAGOO THEATRICALS set is available.

  • what a true Treat. Thank you. The theatrical Magoos NEVER get enough attention, I think. And that Barney film I NEVER get tired of. Such characterizations….and that SCORE!!!

    • Magoo at least has a complete DVD collection, so he doesn’t have too-small of attention. Now, Columbia’s early cartoons (Color Rhapsodies, Phantasies, Krazy Kat, Scrappy), well……….

    • I’m only impressed those Magoo cartoons that were filmed in Cinemascope could be seen in their intended ratio these days. I remember this cartoon in particular as it was released way, way back in the 80’s on VHS and it was very painful to realized how cropped/zoomed in the whole thing felt to watch back then. Here, we finally see the entire thing (that 36 grand certainly didn’t get wasted, though of course that’s a matter of opinion depending on how you feel about the Magoo theatricals themselves).

  • Watching the partial breakdown of Magoo Goes Overboard, if the remainder of the cartoon followed the first half, it’s obvious Gil, Tom and Barney handled Magoo throughout, while Cecil did the other guys, as a kid watching this, it was pretty obvious how well-animated Magoo was against everybody else given the simple gestures, lips and turns used. I often wonder how much of that had to do with perhaps Columbia wanting Magoo to still look like he was worth the budget against UPA’s normal output for the non-Magoo projects.

  • Cecil Surry had it easy so far in this Magoo cartoon. This was one of his final cartoons. He died at age 49, six months before this film was released to the cinema.

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