Animated by Ub Iwerks, Fred Kopietz, and Tony Pabian
Backgrounds by Fred Kopietz
Fiddlesticks is a 1930 Celebrity Producitons theatrical cartoon short directed and animated by Ub Iwerks, in his first cartoon since he departed from Walt Disney’s studio. The short features Iwerks’ character Flip the Frog. It is the first complete sound cartoon to be photographed in color.
Fiddlesticks was the first film in the Flip the Frog series. The sound system was Powers Cinephone, the same system used for Disney’s Steamboat Willie in 1928.
The unnamed mouse in the cartoon bears a striking resemblance to Mortimer Mouse, the original concept behind Mickey Mouse, both of whom were first animated by Ub Iwerks.
The Ugly Duckling is the titular protagonist of Disney’s 1939 Silly Symphonies short film of the same name. Actually a cygnet (a baby swan), his egg somehow found its way into the nest of a duck family who mistook him for one of their own, and hatched him, only to immediately reject him for not looking the way a duckling should.
Hawaiian Holiday is a 1937 American animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon stars an ensemble cast of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, and Goofy while vacationing in Hawaii. The film was directed by Ben Sharpsteen, produced by John Sutherland and features the voices of Walt Disney as Mickey, Marcellite Garner as Minnie, Clarence Nash as Donald, and Pinto Colvig as Goofy and Pluto. It was Disney’s first film to be released by RKO, ending a five-year distributing partnership with United Artists.
Flip was created by Ub Iwerks, animator for the Walt Disney Studios and a personal friend of Walt Disney in 1930, at the Iwerks Studios. After a series of disputes between the two, Iwerks left Disney and went on to accept an offer from Pat Powers to open a cartoon studio of his own and receive a salary of $300 a week, an offer that Disney was unable to match at the time. Iwerks was to produce new cartoons under Powers’ Celebrity Pictures auspices and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The first series he was to produce was to feature a character called Tony the Frog, but Iwerks disliked the name and it was subsequently changed to Flip.
Iwerks’ studio quickly began accumulating new talent, such as animators Fred Kopietz, Irv Spence, Grim Natwick, and Chuck Jones. After the first two cartoons, the appearance of Flip the Frog gradually became less froglike. This was done under the encouragement of MGM, who thought that the series would sell better if the character were more humanized. Flip’s major redesign is attributed to Grim Natwick, who made a name for himself at Fleischer Studios with the creation of Betty Boop. Natwick also had a hand in changing Flip’s girlfriend. In earlier films, she was consistently a cat, but Natwick made Flip’s new girlfriend, Fifi, a human who shared distinct similarities with Betty.
The frog’s personality also began to develop. As the series progressed, Flip became more of a down-and-out, Chaplin-esque character who always found himself in everyday conflicts surrounding the poverty-stricken atmosphere of the Great Depression. Owing to the influx of New York City animators to Iwerks’s studio, the shorts became increasingly risqué.
The character eventually wore out his welcome at MGM. His final short was Soda Squirt, released in 1933. Subsequently, Iwerks replaced the series with a new one starring an imaginative liar named Willie Whopper. Flip became largely forgotten by the public in the ensuing years. However, the character would make a small comeback when animation enthusiasts and historians began digging up the old Iwerks shorts.
Dinner Time was one of the first publicly shown sound-on-film cartoons and premiered in New York City in August 1928, three months before Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie, which premiered on November 18th, 1928. However, Dinner Time was unsuccessful and Disney’s film would go on to be widely touted as the first synchronized sound cartoon.
Dinner Time is an American animated short cartoon produced by Van Beuren Studios. The musical score was composed by Josiah Zuro. The film is part of a series entitled Aesop’s Fables and features the Paul Terry creation Farmer Al Falfa who works as a butcher, fending off a group of pesky dogs.
This is a partial remake of the 1924 Koko animated short, The Cure. It’s also Koko’s last theatrical appearance.
Max Fleischer deployed a number of techniques in the service of his anarchic cinematic vision, among them rotoscoping, which he patented in 1917; integrating live action shots; and using still photographs as animation backgrounds to create the illusion of cartoon characters inhabiting a real-world space, as in the opening scene of the astounding Betty Boop short Ha! Ha! Ha! (1934). The most technologically ornate item in Fleischer’s toolbox was the setback camera.
The setback camera is often confused with Disney’s multiplane camera. Both systems evolved somewhat contemporaneously, and both create the illusion of dimensional depth, but functionally they have little in common. The setback rig consists of a forced-perspective, miniature set mounted on a turntable, serving as background to the cel art held in a vertical glass platen, and a horizontal animation camera. The turntable is rotated incrementally behind the cels, creating the effect of a “tracking shot” — the 2D animated character, in a side-view walk cycle, traverses a realistically proportioned (but still recognizably Fleischeresque) 3D environment which moves perspectivally across the background.
The Big Bad Wolf is an animated short released on April 13, 1934 by United Artists, produced by Walt Disney, and directed by Burt Gillett as part of the Silly Symphony series. Acting partly as a sequel to the wildly successful adaptation of The Three Little Pigs of the previous year (maintaining the title characters as well as the villain), this film also acts as an adaptation of the fairy-tale Little Red Riding Hood, with the Big Bad Wolf from 1933’s Three Little Pigs acting as the adversary to Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother.
Hungry Hobos is a silent animated short released by Universal Studios in 1928. The short features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Peg Leg Pete as the title characters.
Having been lost since before World War II, the short was rediscovered in 2011 in the Huntley Film Archives, and was later purchased by the Walt Disney Company. It was then restored and re-debuted at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2012 as part of a special animation shorts program presented by leading film historian and restoration expert Serge Bromberg. The restored version was officially released as a bonus feature in the release of the Walt Disney Signature Collection edition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray.
The history of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is that he was created by Walt Disney but had the rights of the character swept out from under his feet by producer Charles Mintz. However, never being one to give up easily, Disney went back to the drawing board and with help from animator Ub Iwerks created the ever-beloved cartoon character Mickey Mouse, which later became Disney’s signature character and helped him finally gain the recognition he had been after all along.
Destino is an animated short film released in 2003 by Walt Disney. Destino is unique in that its production originally began in 1945, 58 years before its eventual completion. The project was originally a collaboration between Walt Disney and Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, and features music written by Mexican songwriter Armando Domínguez and performed by Mexican singer Dora Luz. It was included in the Animation Show of Shows in 2003.
The short was intended to be one of the segments for the proposed but never completed third Fantasia film.
Destino was storyboarded by Disney studio artist John Hench and artist Salvador Dalí for eight months in late 1945 and 1946. However, production ceased not long after. Walt Disney Studios was plagued by many financial woes in the World War II era. Hench compiled a short animation test of about 17 seconds in the hopes of rekindling Disney’s interest in the project, but the production was no longer deemed financially viable and put on indefinite hiatus.
In 1999, Walt Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney, while working on Fantasia 2000, unearthed the dormant project and decided to bring it back to life. Bette Midler’s host sequence for The Steadfast Tin Soldier also makes mention of Destino. Disney Studios France, the company’s small Parisian production department, was brought on board to complete the project. The short was produced by Baker Bloodworth and directed by French animator Dominique Monfréy in his first directorial role. A team of approximately 25 animators deciphered Dalí and Hench’s cryptic storyboards (with a little help from the journals of Dalí’s wife, Gala Dalí and guidance from Hench himself), and finished Destino‘s production. The end result is mostly traditional animation, including Hench’s original footage, but it also contains some computer animation.
The Jungle Book is a 1967 American animated musical comedy film produced by Walt Disney Productions. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book of the same name, it is the 19th Disney animated feature film. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. The plot follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, as his friends Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear try to convince him to leave the jungle before the evil tiger Shere Khan arrives.
The early versions of both the screenplay and the soundtrack followed Kipling’s work more closely, with a dramatic, dark, and sinister tone which Disney did not want in his family film, leading to writer Bill Peet and songwriter Terry Gilkyson being replaced. The casting employed famous actors and musicians Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders, and Louis Prima, as well as Disney regulars such as Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O’Malley, Verna Felton, and the director’s son Bruce Reitherman as Mowgli.
The Jungle Book was released on October 18, 1967, to positive reception, with acclaim for its soundtrack, featuring five songs by the Sherman Brothers and one by Gilkyson, The Bare Necessities. The film initially became Disney’s second-highest-grossing animated film in the United States and Canada, and was also successful during its re-releases.
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.
Walt Disney’s adaptation of The Little House is based on a 1942 book written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton who is quoted as saying, “The Little House was based on our own little house which we moved from the street into a field of daisies with apple trees growing around.”
Burton denied it was a critique of urban sprawl, but instead wished to convey the passage of time to younger readers. Being a very visually driven book, many times Burton changed the amount of text to fit the illustration:
“If the page is well drawn and finely designed, the child reader will acquire a sense of good design which will lead to an appreciation of beauty and the development of good taste. Primitive man thought in pictures, not in words, and this visual conception is far more fundamental than its sophisticated translation into verbal modes of thought.”
Pinto Colvig, most known as the voice of Goofy, provides the voice of the gingerbread man. Vaudeville was dying out by the time The Cookie Carnival made its debut, but audiences would have been familiar with each of the acts represented by the different cookies.
When Miss Bonbon is being outfitted, she transitions from her cookie-like shape into a more humanoid-appearance. This might make her another early example of visually realistic human characters in Disney shorts, and even a precursor to the Snow White look in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
According to Film Superlist: 1894-1939, this cartoon entered the Public Domain in 1963 as its copyright was not renewed.
The film follows Mickey Mouse trapped in a haunted house and forced to play music. It was directed by Walt Disney, who also provided the voice of Mickey. Ub Iwerks was the primary animator and Carl Stalling wrote the original music.
The Haunted House borrowed animation from Disney’s first Silly Symphony, The Skeleton Dance, which was released earlier in 1929. The Haunted House was Mickey’s first cartoon with a horror theme and led the way to later films such as The Gorilla Mystery (1930), The Mad Doctor (1933), Lonesome Ghosts (1937), and Runaway Brain (1995).
Hey! Give me a listen, you corpses of cheer. Least less of you who still got an ear, I’ll tell ‘ya a story, make your skeleton cry, of our own judiciously lovely corpse bride. Die, die we all pass away, but don’t wear a frown ‘cuz it’s really okay. You might try n’ hide, and you might try n’ pray, but we all end up the remains of the day.
Die die die yeah yeah, die die die.
Well! Our girl is a beauty known for miles around. A mysterious stranger came into town. He was plenty good lookin’ but down on his cash, and our poor little baby she fell hard and fast, when her daddy said no, she just couldn’t cope, so our lovers came up with a plan to elope.
Die, die we all pass away, but don’t wear a frown ‘cuz it’s really okay. You might try n’ hide, and you might try n’ pray, but we all end up the remains of the day.
Die die die yeah yeah, die die die yeah yeah die die die yeah yeah die die die yeah yeah
Yeah, so they conjured up a plan to meet late at night, they told not a soul kept the whole thing tight. Now her mother’s wedding dress fit like a glove, you don’t need much when you’re really in love. Except for a few things or so I’m told, like the family jewels and a satchel of gold. Then next to the graveyard by the old oak tree, on a dark foggy night at a quarter to three, she was ready to go, but where was he?
(And then?) She waited (And then?) There in the shadows, was it a man? (And then?) Her little heart beat sooo loud! (And THEN?) And then baby, everything went black.
Now when she opened her eyes, she was dead as dust, her jewels were missin’ and her heart was bust, so she made a vow lyin’ under that tree that she’d wait for her true love to come set her free. Always waitin’ for someone to ask for her hand, when outta the blue comes this groovy young man, who vows forever, to be by her side, and that’s the story of our own, corpse bride
Die, die we all pass away, but don’t wear a frown ‘cuz it’s really okay. You might try n’ hide, and you might try n’ pray, but we all end up the remains of the day.
The origins for The Skeleton Dance can be traced to mid-1928, when Walt Disney was on his way to New York to arrange a distribution deal for his new Mickey Mouse cartoons and to record the soundtrack for his first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie. During a stopover in Kansas City, Disney paid a visit to his old acquaintance Carl Stalling, then an organist at the Isis Theatre, to compose scores for his first two Mickey shorts, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho. While there, Stalling proposed to Disney a series of “musical novelty” cartoons combining music and animation, which would become the genesis for the Silly Symphony series, and pitched an idea about skeletons dancing in a graveyard. Stalling would eventually join Disney’s studio as staff composer. Animation on The Skeleton Dance began in January 1929, with Ub Iwerks animating the majority of the film in almost six weeks.