The Shooting of Dan McGrew

Jerry has posted a super-rare gem on YouTube: the 1965 short The Shooting of Dan McGrew directed by Ed Graham, Jr. I was so excited about seeing the film online that I asked him to let me post about it. When I first encountered this short about five years ago, the thing that popped out to me was the striking background color design of Walt Peregoy, who is most famously the color stylist of 101 Dalmatians. Unfortunately, this copy on YouTube doesn’t do justice to his color work and gives only a vague taste of what an actual print looks like.

The film was created in the spirit of earlier UPA shorts like The Unicorn in the Garden and The Tell-Tale Heart which adapted classic pieces of literature to the animation medium. In this case, the inspiration came from Robert Service’s poem of the same name.

In addition to Peregoy’s contributions, the film also has character designs by George Cannata, Jr. and background layout by UPA veteran Bob Dranko. The animation was directed by another younger design-oriented animator, George Singer, and the primary animators were Golden Age veterans Manny Gould and Amby Paliwoda. Also worth noting: the music is credited to jazz great George Shearing. This is his only animation score as far as I’m aware.

The Sixties was an interesting time for theatrical shorts in the US. As studio animation was dying out, many of the major studios offered independently-produced one-shots like this one, which was released by Universal. There are plenty of other Sixties one-shots that are currently owned by major studios and deserve to be made available to animation fans. These include two films by John and Faith Hubley that are owned by Paramount–A Windy Day and Oscar-winning Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature–as well as Ernie Pintoff’s Oscar-winning The Critic, Ken Mundie’s The Door, Format Films’ Icarus Montgolfier Wright, and Chuck Menville and Len Janson’s Stop Look and Listen and Blaze Glory.


  • http://gavinscartoons.blogspot.com Gavin Freitas

    Thanks for sharing this. I love the character designs…

  • http://www.natashahelton.blogspot.com Natasha Helton

    Wow, thanks for sharing that! The color schemes are amazing!

  • http://educatedmetalhead.blogspot.com/ DanO

    if you add : &fmt=18
    to the end of all youtube addresses, you will see a higher quality stream.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    The narrators are credited as Ernie Banks, “and another poetry fan.” Banks was a shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, and it sounds like his contribution was limited to providing the unsteady voice of the Stranger.

    The main narrator is almost certainly Walter Brennan. He was starring in “The Real McCoys” at the time. I’d guess some kind of contractual stipulation prevented them from using his name in the credits.

    Service’s poem sure was an odd choice for a cartoon adaptation in 1965, after Tex Avery definitively parodied the same material – not once but twice.

  • http://mymedicatedlife.blogspot.com/ Bitter Animator

    My granddad used to recite this poem to me when I was a kid. I had forgotten all about that until now and never knew there was a cartoon version. This is great, thanks for posting it.

  • http://wskibski.blogspot.com/ Wildah

    Wonderful short. Thanks for posting this.

  • Chuck R.

    The production design reminds me of Ralph Bakshi’s early films and the stylings of DePatie-Freleng. Is that possible?

    Thanks for the You Tube tip, DanO.

  • Janet Benn

    “WINDY DAY” by Faith and John Hubley has been available for several years on VHS and DVD. There is a collection of their work available on Amazon.com, and WINDY DAY is in the first volume.
    link:
    http://www.amazon.com/Hubley-Collection-1-Bronson-Picket/dp/B00001U0OH/ref=pd_sim_d_1

    I also highly recommend another DVD volume: ART AND JAZZ IN ANIMATION, that contains oscar winning shorts voiced by Dizzy Gillespie, his music and Benny Carter’s, along with many others.
    Link:
    http://www.amazon.com/Art-Jazz-Animation-Cosmic-Eye/dp/B00000I20B/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_3

  • http://www.jjsedelmaier.com J.J. Sedelmaier

    Narrated by “poetry fan” Ernie Banks ?! Clue me in – who’s Ernie Banks ?! being from Chicago, the only Ernie Banks i know played first base for the Cubs. . .

  • pspector

    FYI – This is the same Ed Graham whose short-lived studio, Ed Graham Prods., produced the Linus the Lionhearted Show from the same era — sponsored by Post Cereal and later yanked by the FCC for too closely promoting the product within the show. Previous to the studio he was a successful NY advertising man, and the executive offices were in NY.

    George Singer and some of the other names on the cartoon are from the LA studio — Lew Irwin was the production head there. I’d wager that with the quality of those guys in LA, by the time the boards and animation and everything else was finished, he had little direction to do but stick his name on there. (on occasion Graham would farm-out some light work in NY, often if he could get it done more cheaply.)

    I wonder if this was an attempt at submission for an Academy nomination. Anyone happen to know the animated shorts that were nominated that year, even if they weren’t selected for nomination?

  • bnicolucci

    This is why I come to Cartoon Brew every day. I had never heard of this short before and am so glad it was posted here for all of us to see. Loved everything about it. Keep posting gems like this Jerry and Amid!

  • Tom Minton

    Lew Irwin told me in the late 1970′s that he only missed one day of work in his entire career up to that point, due to having his appendix removed. I don’t know why he didn’t arrange to have the surgery right on site.

  • http://www.cartoonsteve.com Steve

    Speaking of jazzy 60′s animation, does anyone know how to view the original Fat Albert NBC special from 1969? The title is “Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert”, a mix of live action and animation scored by Herbie Hancock. Haven’t seen it since I was a kid and no sign of it on video or online.

    Heres more info by animator Floyd Norman: http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/floyd_norman/archive/2004/12/13/1422.aspx

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    I wonder why they used George Shearing? His style is awfully soft for a subject like this. The animator is gamely trying to make the action of playing the piano spunky, but the track isn’t giving him much to work with.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Being reminded of noticing “Windy Day” appearing in a few Hubley Studio compilation tapes in the past, so perhaps Paramount doesn’t have a tight hold on it if they let them release it themselves (noticed both studios have shared copyright in the film’s credits). Noticed a vid of it is up on Google Video anyway so anyone might as well check it out if they do.

    I personally think it would be nice if more of these could find a release suitable on DVD right now but I wonder if the studios find it less important if there isn’t wide an interest in that sort of thing (perhaps being too few, there’s not enough ‘meat’ to do much with them outside of reputable collections catered to such independent works). Best they could do is try to stick ‘em in with a regular movie they might release relating to the subject matter of said short.

  • http://www.octop.com Aleksandar Vujovic

    This short is totally awesome and it’s part of the reason I went into animation.

    Why isn’t more UPA on dvds yet??? They’re a far better influence than Hanna-Barbera, which just evolved into John K. and his offspring.

  • bob kurtz

    thanks amid.i worked for ed graham jr as a designer and shared most of the character design work with george cannata jr except on this film. i had left the company by then. i had forgot how much i had enjoyed that film when it came out.

    bob dranko,george cannata, and walt peregoy are truly amazing talents. i really enjoyed the time i had working with them.and george singer was a character.

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    Never heard of or saw this before, it’s got a lot of nice stuff in it. Thanks for posting. I really hate watching animation on YouTube, it would be very cool to see the actual film, at least on a decent video transfer.

    That last batch of titles would make a sensational DVD.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    Here’s Tex Avery’s great take off of the same Robert Service poem… The Shooting of Dan McGoo.

  • greg m

    Man, nothing better than the ‘takes’ in an Avery short!!

  • http://fieldofcandidates.blogspot.com/ Bill Field

    Maybe Bob Kurtz knows the answer to this, but Ed Jr.’s studio was around quite a while AFTER The Linus Show He continued to be responsible for Post Cereal Ads, as well as some work for CTW- primarily for the Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact, if I remember right. Mr. Kurtz your design work for all 3 segments of the George of the Jungle, to me, are the best and most memorable from the whole of Saturday Morning history- my love of cartoons began there at age 4, and it was also the 1st color cartoon I saw on our very first color TV, the vibrant pallete has been etched into my own style and colorsense, Thank you, Bob, and folks like Ed Jr., for blazing an original and creative trail of “breadcrumbs” for the rest of us to follow.

  • Christopher Cook

    I remember “The Critic.” A pastiche of shapes, narrated by Mel Brooks. Ernie Pintoff was recruited by United Artists to write the screenplay for “Yellow Submarine,” but his version was rejected.

    The “Dan McGrew” short here is terrific.

  • V.E.G.

    Never heard of it!