<em>The Stubborn Cowboy</em> (1967) <em>The Stubborn Cowboy</em> (1967)

The Stubborn Cowboy (1967)

When Shamus Culhane took over the creative controls of the Paramount Animation Studio in 1966, he clearly understood the opportunity he had in front of him. As head of a small animation studio, he was charged with producing a slate of cartoons for the dying theatrical shorts market. But unlike Warner Bros. who had The Road Runner and Daffy Duck, or Universal with Woody Woodpecker and DePatie Freleng’s Pink Panther, Culhane’s studio had no established characters. This handicap gave him the chance to try some original ideas, and he knew it.

Possibly the best of the shorts he produced there was My Daddy The Astronaut (1966), but the idea of a kid narrating a cartoon drawn in a child’s scrawl wasn’t new. UPA had done it (The Family Circus, Baby Boogie), Porky Pig (Porky’s Preview) and Popeye (Cartoons Ain’t Human) tried it, even Paramount under the previous creative director Howard Post did it – adapting Jack Mendelsohn’s comic strip Jacky’s Diary in several shorts.

My Daddy The Astronaut, according to Culhane’s autobiography (Talking Animals and Other People), was a success with audiences and was supposedly booked with first run engagements of 2001: a Space Odyssey. Culhane decided to do a series of cartoons based on the same kid drawn concept. In his book he says they were all popular, but in my opinion the two sequels, The Stuck-Up Wolf and The Stubborn Cowboy are not as clever as the original.

As far as I know The Stubborn Cowboy never played on TV. Nickelodeon didn’t run it due to the use of now-considered-negative stereotypes of native Americans (aka Indians), references to drinking, gun violence and a parody of a cigarette commercial. Culhane wrote it and Chuck Harriton directed it. Al Eugster animated the whole film from Gil Miret designs. Listen for a gag-reference to veteran Paramount animator William Pattingill. It’s cute and rare – and worth a look: