Posts tagged ‘art’

Gerald McBoing Boing

I know I’ve posted this several times before, but it’s a great cartoon and has inspired me after I watched it at the MIAF on Saturday night.

RIP Peter Falk

Peter Falk has passed away at the age of 53. ‘P’ and I used to love watching episodes of Columbo on TV1 on Foxtel together. Columbo was one of those great characters. He had a lot of good movie roles in films such as It’s a Mad Mad Mad World, The Great Race, and Murder By Death and of course The Princess Bride.

UPA Retrospective

Tonight I went to the first session of the UPA retrospective at the Melbourne International Animation Festival at the ACMI cinemas. It was a great night with lots of great cartoons. It was good to see such an enthusiastic audience too. It was the first time I have been to see animated shorts on the big screen, and it was good to see people still laugh at these things, although most of the audience seemed to be made up of animation students.

Guest of honour was Tee Bosustow, son of UPA founder Stephen Bosustow. He spoke enthusiastically about the studio and let slip that Sony are finally releasing a dvd box set of the UPA shorts. Actually he said that Sony had outsourced this to two other companies and they will be releasing the DVD. If this is true, and I don’t doubt Tee’s word, this is great for classic animation fans. A UPA set has been a long time coming, and I thikn both John Canemaker and Jerry Beck have in the past tried to persuade Sony to release these cartoons, but failed. If I recollect correctly there was some rights issue with Classic Media owning the Mr Magoo character, despite the Magoo theatrical shorts being owned by Sony.

Most popular cartoon tonight would be a toss-up between

The Jaywalker

Rooty Toot Toot

and Madeline

Melbourne International Animation Festival – UPA Showcase

Today the Melbourne International Animation Festival begins at ACMI and there is one part of the program that I am very excited about and really looking forward to seeing. Every year the MIAF has at least one retrospective on animation history, and this year they have chosen one of my favourite studios from the golden age of animation in UPA. I have previously made posts about UPA, which you can find here.

There are three different programs for UPA, with the first being next Friday evening. The first one features the cartoons Blues Patterns, Outlaws, Mr Charmley Greet A Lady, Be Quiet, Kind, And Gentle,  The Lost Duchess, Madeline, The Jaywalker, Bringing Up Mother, The Wonder Gloves, Christopher Crumpet, and Rooty Toot Toot. Of these I have only seen Madeline, Christopher Crumpet and Rooty Toot Toot, so it should be an interesting evening.

Program 2 is on Saturday evening and features some of the more well-known UPA cartoons as well as some of their earliest work. Hell Bent For Election was the first UPA cartoon made, directed by Warner Bros. Chuck Jones as a favour to the fledgling studio, it was made to help re-elect Franklin Roosevelt as president of the USA. Brotherhood of Man is another industrial cartoon made for the auto workers union to help ease the desegregation of that industry. It seems quite strange today that some people needed a film to tell them that black and white people could live and work together. Flat Hatting was made for the US Navy (I think) as an instructional film of what not to do for the pilots. Then there are the classic commercial cartoons they made such as The Magic Fluke, starring the Fox and the Crow, Gerald McBoing Boing, one of my all-time favourites, The Unicorn In The Garden, Fudget’s Budget and the interesting and gloomy The Tell Tale Heart. I have seen all of these films with the except of Flat Hatting and Fudget’s Budget, but it will be the first time I have seen any of these on the big screen, which I am really looking forward to.

Program 3 is on Saturday afternoon and features UPA’s only really well-known character in Mr Magoo. This is a good cross-section of Magoo’s theatrical cartoons and features The Ragtime Bear, his first cartoon, Trouble Indemnity, Barefaced Flatfoot, Hotsy Footsy, Magoo Express and When Magoo Flew.

All in all it promises to be a very good time and I cannot wait to go. More information can be found at the MIAF website.


La Belle et la Bête

Beauty and the Beast (1946 film)

Image via Wikipedia

This is a film that I have wanted to watch for a very long time, ever since I first saw photographs from it in my brother’s horror movie book almost 30 years ago.  Finally I got that chance today. This film was voted at number 26 in Empire magazine‘s 100 Best Films of World Cinema in 2010.

Jean Cocteau‘s La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) is a French masterpiece of surrealist cinema. The plot of the film follows the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale that we all know and love so well. Belle’s father wanders into the Beast’s castle where he unwittingly cuts a rose to give Belle on return from his travels. The Beast takes offense at this and gives Belle’s father an ultimatum, either he dies for this or he sends one of his daughters to pay his debt, and to become a prisoner of the Beast. Belle agrees to take her father’s place and although initially repulsed by the Beast, ends up admiring him. The Beast invites Belle to dinner, where he tells her that she’s in equal command to him and that she will be asked every day to marry him.

Days pass as Belle grows more accustomed and fond of the Beast, but she continues to refuse marriage. Using the magic mirror Belle finds her father deathly ill. The Beast grants her permission to leave for a week. Belle’s sisters devise a plan to keep Belle from returning to the Beast and Belle reluctantly agrees to stay the Beast almost dies of a broken heart. Belle returns to the Beast while Belle’s admirer Avenant, and her brother Ludovico, attempt to enter the castle so that they can slay the Beast. As the Beast dies in Belle’s arms, Avenant breaks into the Pavilion through its glass roof and is shot with an arrow by an animated statue of the Roman goddess Diana and is himself turned into a Beast. As this happens, arising from where the Beast lay dead is Prince Ardent (Marais) who is cured from being the Beast. Prince Ardent and Belle embrace, then fly away to his kingdom where she will be his Queen, and where her father will stay with them and Belle’s sisters will carry the train of her gown.

It is a really beautiful movie and I don’t know why my brother’s old book labeled it as a horror film. Sure the Beast bears a resemblance to Lon Chaney Jr.‘s Wolfman character, but the actual movie is very romantic with quite a bit of fantasy thrown in for good measure. Anything horrific is done off-screen. It is simply a great, enjoyable film, although some of the special effects are dodgy by Hollywood standards, whilst the ending is a little strange and is perhaps the only weak point of the film.

The Sound Effects Crimes

This is another Joker story which I believe was written by Bill Finger with art by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris.












This One’ll Kill You, Batman!

This was the second Joker story after the end of the Grim Jester’s five-year hiatus. It was written by Denny O’Neil and served as a precursor to the Clown Prince of Crimes’ own short-lived series.





















Surprisingly there were a few DC readers who did not like this story at the time it was printed, which could be why it has since only been reprinted once in Batman In The Seventies. Many people did not like seeing Batman looking like a buffoon laughing all the time, which in my mind just made him a little bit vulnerable and the Joker a little bit more threatening.

The Joker’s Five Way Revenge

This is one of the greatest Joker stories ever. Written in 1973 by Denny O’Neil and illustrated by Neal Adams, this was the Joker’s reintroduction to the comic books after a five-year break.
Neal Adams has recently messed around with this story, using new digital recolouring to replace the original colouring. This version of the story has turned up a couple of times in reprints, but I prefer the original.

Gerald McBoing Boing

This 1951 UPA cartoon is one of my favourites. Whilst it does not have as many laugh out loud moments as the best Warner Bros. or MGM cartoons of the 50s I think that it is quite cute and that their is always something new to discover somewhere in the cartoon. (I don’t think I articulated myself too well there!) It won the 1952 Academy Award for best animated short film and was adapted from a story by Dr Seuss and directed by Robert ‘Bobe’ Cannon.

This is one of the few UPA cartoons that is available on DVD. None of the Magoo cartoons are available on DVD, whilst Gerald can be found on Cartoon Adventures With Gerald McBoing Boing and on the Hell Boy dvd. The 1952 Academy Award nominated cartoon Madeline, which is a straight forward retelling of Ludwig Bemelmans‘ classic story, can be found on the Madeline live action film as an extra.

I was looking through some old posts at Stephen Worth’s ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive and came across some UPA model sheets. Like the magpie (thief) that I am I thought that some of these would be good for my own blog. Here is one of UPA’s most famous cartoon, Gerald McBoing Boing.

Google can sometimes be your best friend. Whilst looking around the net on something, anything, to post about UPA, I stumbled across some photos from Gerald McBoing Boing on Google. Apparently back in 1952 Life magazine did a big feature on Gerald and took photos of the cells specifically. I’d like to comment on a couple of these just to show what I think makes this cartoon so special.

The first picture is basically Gerald, his Mom and Dad and may not look too special, except when you look at the background. Unlike with other studios there is not a great deal of detail in the background.

This is perhaps one of my favourite scenes in the film. I just love the child like drawing of the school-house and the school yard. It looks like it would be easy to draw like this but I assure you it’s not Another great background where less detail is more.

Great use of shadow, light and perspective.

Mmm, you’d almost think that I know what I am talking about. I must confess that I am not really artistic and cannot draw for quids. Unfortunately I am just someone who admires art but cannot create it myself.

Rooty Toot Toot

This is another fine UPA cartoon from 1952 that was nominaed for an Academy Award for best animated short film. With Gerald McBoing Boing this is probably the most fondly remembered of all UPA’s cartoons and one of its best.