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Animation History Round-Up #4

Drawing by Cliff Roberts

• Rediscovering the early illustration work of Fifties-era animation designer Cliff Roberts.

• The new two-disc dvd set of The Jungle Book has spurred some terrific blog posts. Story artist Mark Kennedy shares various thoughts on the film, including some incisive comments on pacing in animated features. Animator/director Will Finn writes an appreciation of Ken Anderson’s work on Jungle Book, and animator/director Michael Sporn talks about why the film is a dull celebrity-driven failure.

• Where did Disney artists live in Los Angeles when they were working on Three Little Pigs (1933)? Hans Perk maps it out for you.

Punchy De Leon

• Two infrequently seen animated shorts for your viewing pleasure: MGM’s The Unwelcome Guest (1945) and UPA’s Punchy De Leon (1950).

• An incredible Betty Boop drawing by Grim Natwick.

Previously on Cartoon Brew:
Animation History Round-Up #1
Animation History Round-Up #2
Animation History Round-Up #3

  • Nic Kramer

    Why am I not surprised that someone would do an extremely negative post about an otherwise noteworthy film? As much as I like Michael Sporn and while I do agree about some of the faults and results of the films he mention, I kinda think Sporn went somewhat far here just because he dosen’t like one of the actors who stole 90% of the movie.

  • “Unwelcomed” was beauuuuuuuutiful eye-candy for mine young eyes when it was aired on CBS (on thier “Tom & Jerry” network show in the 60s…. for many years!! Its score is only parrallel to its color, timing, and gorgeous backgrounds! I adore the film!

    “Punchy” I had NEVER seen….and what a great reat THAT was!! As UNcharacteristic as the F & the C look in all their UPA-ness, still a great little film! Man-oh-man…that mustache musta been one bitch to animate!!

  • Bill Cross

    I agreed with everything Michael Sporn wrote. I have always felt “Jungle Book” was an overpraised film that marked the beginning of Disney’s long slide into the animation abyss that was not reversed until “The Great Mouse Detective.”

    And that Grim Natwick Boop drawing was delightful.

  • Chuck R.

    After watching Jungle Book this weekend for the first time in over a decade, I wondered if it was just me. Sporn is right. The movie is about a young boy living in a death trap with two reluctant friends who are trying against all odds to get him to safety. The film could have packed in a lot of song and dance while still maintaining that sense of gravity and danger. Walt didn’t even go for it. I always appreciated Jones’ (imperfect) shadowy version for its brooding atmosphere and themes of loyalty and betrayal. I can only wonder what that 30-minute special would have been like given Disney’s budget and talent pool.

    I’m glad there are bloggers pointing out that today’s generation of filmmakers are getting a lot of things right. There’s been more than a handful of animated films over the past decade or two that hold up very well against the Disney classics.

  • droosan

    That early Betty Boop drawing is indeed incredible! But I have to ‘raise an eyebrow’ at the Fleischer’s decision to have Betty Boop sing “Dangerous Nan McGrew” in this cartoon .. since that was a fairly popular song sung by Helen Kane (who, of course, would later sue the Fleischers over Betty’s resemblence to herself .. it seems this particular appearance might have been prime ammunition for her case!)

  • Kevin Wollenweber

    “UNWELCOME GUEST” appearing here only makes me wish all the harder that the ultimate GOLDEN COLLECTION series of MGM cartoons would start appearing. I have to second Uncle Wayne’s assessment of that cartoon, and I was lucky enough to have physically seen a color print of that cartoon in the same place that Wayne did, on WCBS-TV on a golden Saturday morning, and I so much want to hear this restored on a DVD collection because of that incredible score–and even a sly reference to RED HOT RIDING HOOD as the name of the comic book that Barney Bear is reading over breakfast. Sure would be even nicer if that cartoon was actually a series of panels in some comic book somewhere, eh?