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Eye Candy From The UPA “Jolly Frolics” DVDs

I watched all the UPA theatrical shorts back when I was writing Cartoon Modern, but seeing them restored on TCM’s new 3-DVD “Jolly Frolics” set has been an eye-opening experience. If there was ever any doubt about how progressive the studio was graphically, this set will dispel such notions. Immediately after UPA, the floodgates of animation design opened–by the mid-1950s, all varieties of graphic styles were being explored in TV advertising and industrial films, and soon after, European animation studios like Zagreb Film were out-UPAing UPA. The studio’s dominance lasted but only a short period, but UPA’s influence was lasting. It played a key role in pushing animation out of its cocoon, thus allowing it to evolve into the rich and diverse art form that it is today.

The director whose reputation will benefit most from this collection is Robert ‘Bobe’ Cannon. While his stories tend to be formulaic and thematically repetitive, often times it seemed like he was the only director at UPA who knew how to put together a coherent film. (A good deal of that credit also belongs to his close collaborator T. Hee, who wrote most of Cannon’s films.)

More than the stories though, it’s the way that Cannon animated characters, which looks even more refreshing today in light of all the generic Flash and After Effects animation. In Cannon’s work, the way a character moves is never separate from its design. Discovering a visually inventive way to animate a character from point A to point B is Cannon’s greatest strength. The two most famous films in the Cannon canon are Gerald McBoing Boing and Madeline, but his later efforts, especially Fudget’s Budget, Christopher Crumpet’s Playmate and The Jaywalker–all looking better than ever on this set–display remarkable confidence as a director.

Below is some random visual eye candy from the “Jolly Frolics” shorts. We’ll be giving away a couple copies of the set this weekend so check back.

  • Andrew Blunsden

    Is this set likely to get a UK release? Cannot find out by searching online.

  • This set is a dream come true. It’s instantly become a prize of my collection.

  • MadRat

    What’s the picture of the girl sitting in the lake with the burnt umbrella from?

    • Adam Abraham

      “The Miner’s Daughter” (1950), directed by Robert “Bobe” Cannon.

      • MadRat

        Wow, you’re good.

  • A giveaway! (Gets down on knees, assumes supplicating posture)
    Great images, too!

  • Gerry

    And that great print of “The Man on the Flying Trapeze” is a revelation!

  • Anthony D.

    Question; will the post-53 Magoo shorts be in original full screen for the Magoo set (the cinemascope shorts being the only obvious exception)?

  • William

    This makes the apparently eternal backorder from the TCM store even more anguishing.

  • bobkurtz

    i was so lucky to have t.hee as a mentor and writing partner. and to have had bobe cannon as a close friend.two creative giants!!! and i am still learning from them.

    • Not very many readers of Cartoon Brew can make that claim, Bob. You were indeed lucky!

  • top cat james

    Giveaways! And I ordered my copy last night!

    BTW,it’s now avaliable on Amazon (through Movies Unlimited).

    • I hope Movies Unlimited is faster than TCM, my copy has been back-ordered for more than 2 weeks. I want it NOW!

  • I love a good 50’s laboratory.

  • Samjoe

    After doing some reading of the book, “When Magoo Flew”.
    Yes it was quite a company,progressive,inventive,avant-garde and
    destined for faliure. And while reading the book, I couldn’t help draw a parrael to Pixar. It will be interesting to see, if the hits stop coming and they start producing the same thing over and over again, or what happens for a effort for stability.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      That is an interesting thought I kinda had too on that matter.

  • Walla Walla

    Just got an e-mail stating Amazon will no longer be selling the upcoming Magoo DVD set. Apparently they are notifying all of those like me who pre-ordered the moment it was announced. Normally that poses no problem but THIS time, several months passed and then we get this e-mail that says Amazon is bailing on the deal. Here’s the text of Amazon’s curious missive:


    Due to a lack of availability, we will not be able to obtain the following item(s) from your order:


    We’ve canceled the item(s) and apologize for the inconvenience. We must also apologize for the length of time it has taken us to reach this conclusion.

    If you are still interested in purchasing this item, it may be available from other sellers. Please visit the detail page for this item below:


    If you took advantage of a promotional offer when placing this order, this cancellation may affect your order’s eligibility for that offer. If this is the case, please contact customer service:


    For more details about the status of this order, please visit the “Your Account” page:



    Customer Service Department

    So, anyone at Cartoon Brew know what’s going on with the inventory of the upcoming Magoo DVD set?

  • Was anyone else’s Booklet insert incorrectly assembled? The third leaf on mine is a repeat of the front page/back page, and I’m missing four pages of information.