The reader known as ‘Paramount Cartoons’ – on the the Blu-ray forum – made the comment yesterday that he doesn’t want to wake up today to “another
boring random cartoon”, so let’s mix it up a little! It’s a good thing we’re not showing Old McDonald Had a Farm this week — now THAT’S entertainment!
Last week’s animation history class here at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit was a lot of fun. It is, of course, a class made up of all animation and illustration students, so when I show things they’re often gasping at the designs and color. Thinking about it, I think any audience that had a fanbase with cartoon people like all of us that read this blog would react in a similar way.“Mid Century Modern” films were the main things shown last class, and I realized here that there isn’t many things about that period in the usual Thunderbean Thursdays. I thought it might be fun to list favorite films or series that engender a lot of those design sensibilities. Of course, many of the films from this era have similarities since they shared so many of the same designers- especially people that left UPA for other studios.
If I get your comment soon enough, I’ll share them with my animation history class on Thursday morning here.
Off the top of my head, here are some of my favorite things from the 50s. I bet at least some of these cross over for you as well:
1) Rooty Toot Toot (1951) Quite honestly, I think this is the most ‘essential’ of modern design cartoons. It breaks all sort of rules very well- and if you haven’t seen it on a big screen you’re really missing out. We could all talk all day about this particular film.
2) Rocky And His Friends (or the retitled “The Bullwinkle Show” as I grew up with) from 1959. There’s so many good things about this particular show, especially in writing. On a side note: Bill Scott’s Bullwinkle is still one of my favorite things in any cartoon ever, as much as Daws Butler’s twangs in so many cartoons.
3) Destination Earth (1956) Tom Oreb and Bill Scott are Hall of famers for, well, most everything they worked on, but I think silly oil commercial is so much fun in design that it elevates it above most sponsored films.
4) The Tell-Tale Heart (UPA, 1953)
I really wish this had been photographed in 3D, or if it was that the material would surface. Bill Scott writes here, continuing a thread….
5) Ragtime Bear (1949)
SO many fascinating choices in design and timing, some working well, others barely at all. I love Hubley’s dialogue direction, something that would continue into his independent work beautifully, but so rare in commercial animation.
6) Those 50s Disney Nash Commercials
Produced on the Disney lot with Disney talent but *not* by Disney productions, these spots are some of my favorites of all time. Tom Oreb gets an additional bow.
7) Mars and Beyond (1957) (Life on other planets- Ward Kimball sequences)
Easily some of my favorite Disney things, ever. So many beautiful designs and funny ways of moving things.
8) Flebus ( Ernie Pintoff/ Gene Deitch / Terrytoons, 1957)
The fact that Terrytoons could produce a cartoon that can still speak perfectly to each new generation speaks to the great talent of artists thinking about how to make something entertaining that was different than any cartoon had been. And, in so many ways, it still is.
9) Gerald McBoing Boing (1950)
Bobe Cannon could very well be my favorite animator, and as director makes here what I consider to be a perfect film. I know this choice is a little obvious, but how could it not be included?
10) Rhapsody of Steel (1959)
A great capper to a list like this. Full of interesting and really varied design sensibilities, this long (22 minute) commercial was grandly produced and executed. Eyvind Earle’s work on the short is astonishing in many ways, and so many beautifully animated scenes throughout in many styles.
Ok — there’s my picks. And yours?
Have a good week all!