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UPA’s “The Sailor And The Seagull” (1949)

The complete output of animation produced by UPA may never be definitively collected, as they produced a large quantity of material for the Army and the Navy; commercial, educational and industrial films for various clients; and interstitial bits and pieces – many of which are unaccounted for and some still undocumented.

I’m happy to report that we can cross this one off the “endangered species” list. Earlier this year The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) painstakingly cleaned and digitally restored this rarely seen UPA Navy re-enlistment film from 1949. The restored film made its debut last month at the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) conference in Beijing, China.

The Sailor and the Seagull is a fascinating little film. The lead character, “McGinty”, is a cross between the Navy’s Mr. Hook and UPA’s future character Pete Hothead. He is voiced by John T. Smith. Daws Butler is the Seagull, an classic old-school wise guy. It’s a pretty traditional looking picture until about 3:20 when an Arabian Nights fantasy sequence (predating the Magoo feature by ten years) turns it briefly into a stylized feast of scantily clad ladies and drunken debauchery!

There are no production credits, but I think its safe to assume that the direction is by John Hubley, the girl animation is by Pat Matthews and the music composed by Del Castillo. I welcome educated guesses as to who might have animated what – or any corrections to the above.

(Thanks, Florian Schmidlechner)