A snake oil salesman tries to sell the American people happiness in exchange for their freedom while one man stands up against him. Sound familiar?
Make Mine Freedom is a 1948 American animated anti-communist propaganda cartoon created by John Sutherland Productions for the Extension Department of Harding College. Financed with a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the cartoon was the first in a series of pro-free enterprise films produced by Sutherland for Harding. The cartoon depicts a satire of perceived life under collectivist ideology.
The Band Concert is an animated short film produced in 3-strip Technicolor by Walt Disney Productions and released by United Artists. It was the 73rd Mickey Mouse short film to be released, and the second of that year. The Band Concert was the first Mickey Mouse film produced in color.
The Band Concert was directed by Wilfred Jackson and featured adapted music by Leigh Harline. The only speaking character in the film is Donald Duck who is performed by voice actor Clarence Nash. The film remains one of the most highly acclaimed of the Disney shorts. The story is about a small music band conducted by Mickey Mouse which struggles through a distraction-filled public performance.
Although The Band Concert did not receive any Academy Award nominations, it has nonetheless become one of the most highly acclaimed Disney short films.
“None of the dozens of works produced in America at the same time in all the other arts can stand comparison with this one.”
Gilbert Seldes, Esquire Magazine
The Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini was such a fan of The Band Concert that he saw it six times in the theater and later invited Walt Disney to his home in Italy.
“one of the best cartoons ever made anywhere… There are nuances of expression in Mickey’s character throughout this film that had seldom been explored in earlier shorts. The pacing is also entirely different from the standard Mickey Mouse comedies of the early thirties. Instead of trying to pack in a thousand gags a minute, The Band Concert takes its time and builds to a crescendo.”
Solid Serenade is a 1946 one-reel animated cartoon and is the 26th Tom and Jerry short, produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on August 31, 1946 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. It was produced by Fred Quimby, directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, and the musical supervision was by Scott Bradley. Ed Barge, Michael Lah, and Kenneth Muse animated it. Excerpts of this cartoon are seen in three other Tom and Jerry shorts: Jerry’s Diary, Smitten Kitten, and Smarty Cat, the latter instance with altered audio and an added scene of Tom whistling.
Animation historian Michael Barrier wrote that Tom’s appearance stabilized by the time of Solid Serenade, giving him a more streamlined and less inconsistent look. Jerry, whose appearance was already economical, only became cuter, according to Barrier. Describing music director Scott Bradley’s work, academic Daniel Ira Goldmark called Solid Serenade “an excellent overview of Bradley’s techniques”, as it uses both popular songs and an original score.
Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby is a 1944 Louis Jordan song, released as the B-side of a single with “G.I. Jive”. “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” reached #1 on the US folk/country charts. The song appeared in the Tom and Jerry cartoon Solid Serenade and sung by Ira Woods as Tom Cat on the bass.
Louis Thomas Jordan was an American saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and bandleader who was popular from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as “The King of the Jukebox”, he earned his highest profile towards the end of the swing era. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an “early influence” in 1987.
To Spring is a 1936 animated musical short produced by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising for the MGM cartoon studio’s Happy Harmonies series. Although the production credit goes to Harman and Ising, this short was actually the first cartoon to be directed by the future cartoon giant William Hanna, along with animator Paul Fennell.
The title is a play on words used to represent the season of spring and action the gnomes must take to wake up and get to work. This cartoon uses the bold and vibrant colors synonymous with springtime, and is an excellent example of the Technicolor process that was very popular at the time.
Animal Farm was written by George Orwell in 1945. It is an allegorical novella, first published in England. The book tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy.
Animation director J. J. Sedelmaier writes, “It’s interesting to see how different Bugs’ character is in this film, from, say, the cool and calm Bugs in Rabbit Seasoning (1952). He’s much more the Groucho Marx type in this short; in fact, I doubt you’ll find another cartoon in which he does the Groucho walk more than here. The other unique aspect that has always grabbed me about this particular cartoon is the design of the monster. Where do his hands and arms go when we don’t see them? Why the sneakers? It’s this sort of stuff that reminds me why I love good cartoons: You don’t care about this stuff. You just enjoy it.”
Story by Tedd Pierce
Music by Carl Stalling
Animated by Ben Washam, Ken Harris, Basil Davidovich, and Lloyd Vaughan
After and elderly toymaker closes his novelty shop at night and heads home, all the toys come to life — including jumping beans, piggy banks, and matchsticks — and have fun until he comes back in the morning. Caricatures of the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and the Dionne Quintuplets are portrayed throughout this animated masterpiece.
Color Rhapsody was a series of usually one-shot animated cartoon shorts produced by Charles Mintz for Columbia Pictures. They were launched in 1934, following the phenomenal success of Walt Disney’s Technicolor Silly Symphonies. Because of Disney’s exclusive rights to the full three strip Technicolor process, Color Rhapsody cartoons were produced in the older two-tone Technicolor process until 1935, when Disney’s exclusive contract expired.
The Color Rhapsody series is most notable for introducing the characters of The Fox and the Crow in the 1941 short The Fox and the Grapes. Two Color Rhapsody shorts, Holiday Land (1934) and The Little Match Girl (1937), were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject.
The Reluctant Dragon is a 1941 American film produced by Walt Disney, directed by Alfred Werker, and released by RKO Radio Pictures on June 20, 1941. Essentially a tour of the then-new Walt Disney Studios facility in Burbank, California, the film stars radio comedian Robert Benchley and many Disney staffers such as Ward Kimball, Fred Moore, Norman Ferguson, Clarence Nash, and Walt Disney, all as themselves.
The first twenty minutes of the film are in black-and-white, and the remainder is in Technicolor. Most of the film is live-action, with four short animated segments inserted into the running time: a black-and-white segment featuring Casey Junior from Dumbo; and three Technicolor cartoons: Baby Weems, Goofy’s How to Ride a Horse, and the extended-length short The Reluctant Dragon, based upon Kenneth Grahame’s book of the same name. The total length of all animated parts is 40 minutes.
The film was released in the middle of the Disney animators’ strike of 1941. Strikers picketed the film’s premiere with signs that attacked Disney for unfair business practices, low pay, lack of recognition, and favoritism. At one theater, sympathizers paraded down the street wearing a “dragon costume bearing the legend ‘The Reluctant Disney'”.
Some critics and audiences were put off by the fact that the film was not a new Disney animated feature in the vein of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Pinocchio, but essentially a collection of four short cartoons and various live-action vignettes. On the other hand, Photoplay said it was “one of the cleverest ideas to pop into that fertile mind of Walt Disney and results in this rare combination of a Cook’s tour of the Disney studio, a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Mickey Mousedom and two of Disney’s latest cartoon features… Cleverly thought out and executed.”
Porky Pig is an animated character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He was the first character created by the studio to draw audiences based on his star power, and the animators created many critically acclaimed shorts featuring the character. Even after he was supplanted by later characters, Porky continued to be popular with moviegoers and, more importantly, the Warners directors, who recast him in numerous everyman and sidekick roles.
He is known for his signature line at the end of many shorts, “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!” And he is the oldest continuing Looney Tunes character.
Porky’s most distinctive trait is a severe stutter, for which he sometimes compensates by replacing his words; for example, “What’s going on?” might become “What’s guh-guh-guh-guh—…what’s happening?” Porky’s age varied widely in the series; originally conceived as an innocent seven-year-old piglet, Porky was more frequently cast as an adult, often being cast as the competent straight man in the series in later years. In the ending of many Looney Tunes cartoons, Porky Pig bursts through a bass drum head, and his attempt to close the show with “The End” becomes “Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th… That’s all, folks!” Porky Pig would appear in 153 cartoons in the Golden age of American animation.
One Froggy Evening is a 1955 American Technicolor animated musical short film written by Michael Maltese and directed by Chuck Jones, with musical direction by Milt Franklyn. The short, partly inspired by a 1944 Cary Grant film entitled Once Upon a Time involving a dancing caterpillar in a small box, marks the debut of Michigan J. Frog. This popular short contained a wide variety of musical entertainment, with songs ranging from “Hello! Ma Baby” and “I’m Just Wild About Harry”, two Tin Pan Alley classics, to “Largo al Factotum”, Figaro’s aria from the opera Il Barbiere di Siviglia. The short was released on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), 1955 as part of Warner Bros.’ Merrie Melodies series of cartoons.
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, in the PBS Chuck Jones biographical documentary Extremes & Inbetweens: A Life in Animation, called One Froggy Evening “the Citizen Kane of animated shorts”. In 1994, it was voted No. 5 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. In 2003, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”, and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
It Hopped One Night: A Look at “One Froggy Evening”
The Fleischer Superman cartoons are a series of seventeen animated short films released in Technicolor by Paramount Pictures and based upon the comic book character Superman, making them his first animated appearance.
They were originally produced by Fleischer Studios, who completed the initial short and eight further cartoons in 1941 and 1942. Production was assumed in May 1942 by Famous Studios, a successor company to Fleischer, who produced eight more cartoons in 1942 and 1943. Superman was the final animated series intitiated by Fleischer Studios, before Famous Studios officially took over production.
Although all entries are in the public domain, ancillary rights such as merchandising contract rights, as well as the original 35mm master elements, are owned today by Warner Bros. Entertainment. Warner has owned Superman publisher DC Comics since 1969.
Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor is a two-reel animated cartoon short subject in the Popeye Color Feature series, produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on November 27, 1936 by Paramount Pictures. It was produced by Max Fleischer for Fleischer Studios, Inc. and directed by Dave Fleischer, with the title song by Sammy Timberg. The voices of Popeye and J. Wellington Wimpy are performed by Jack Mercer, with additional voices by Mae Questel as Olive Oyl, and Gus Wickie as Sindbad the Sailor.
This short was the first of the three Popeye Color Specials, which were, at over sixteen minutes each, and were billed as “A Popeye Feature.” Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor was nominated for the 1936 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons, but lost to Walt Disney’s Silly SymphonyThe Country Cousin. Footage from this short was later used in the 1952 Famous Studios Popeye cartoon Big Bad Sindbad, in which Popeye relates the story of his encounter with Sindbad to his 3 nephews.
Producer and special effects artist, Ray Harryhausen stated in his Fantasy Film Scrapbook that Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor was a major influence on his production of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor has been deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 1994, the film was voted #17 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field, making it the highest ranked Fleischer Studios cartoon in the book.
Poor Cinderella is a 1934 Fleischer Studio animated short film featuring Betty Boop. The first entry in the Color Classics series, Poor Cinderella was Fleischer Studio’s first color film, and the only appearance of Betty Boop in color during the Fleischer era.
The short was made in the two-strip Cinecolor process, because Walt Disney had exclusive rights to the new 3-strip Technicolor process from 1932 to 1935. (The remaining Color Classics from 1934 and 1935 were made in two-color Technicolor.) Betty’s hair was colored red to take advantage of this. The short also used Fleischer Studio’s Rotograph process, in order to provide some scenes with additional depth of field. Along with many of the other Color Classics, Poor Cinderella is today in the public domain and can be freely downloaded from the Internet Archive, among other locations.
Rudy Vallee appears in caricature, singing the title song during the ball sequence.
Flowers and Trees is a 1932 Silly Symphonies cartoon produced by Walt Disney, directed by Burt Gillett, and released to theatres by United Artists on July 30, 1932. It was the first commercially released film to be produced in the full-color three-strip Technicolor process after several years of two-color Technicolor films. The film was a commercial and critical success, winning the first Academy Award for Animated Short Subjects.