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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Plight of the Bumblebee

Today's cartoon is an interesting one to me. I know over the years, Disney's been bound to trash several ideas over the years, like Fantasia sequels during Walt's life time. Before I found this one, I never thought that they would toss out a Mickey Mouse cartoon. (Kind of ironic, when you think about it.) The weirdest part of it is that the animation is 95% complete. A few years ago someone on YouTube found a pencil test of said cartoon and news of the short spread across animation forums like the influenza.

Anyway, it's called Plight of the Bumblebee and was originally directed by Jack Kinney, hands down the best shorts director at Disney.(He mostly handled the Goofy series as well as two Donald Duck cartoons I know of like my favorite one, Duck Pimples.) The story is that Mickey finds a bee named Hector singing bebop (get it?) but sporadically hits an operatic note. Mickey offers to be Hector's manager and he signs Hector a contract. However, he finds out that the insect has a weakness for flowers because whenever he drinks from one, he instantly gets drunk. (I admit, that idea is pretty funny.) So Mickey finds a way around it and Hector becomes a successful singer with his help.

What do I think of it? Well, I think it's very entertaining and would have loved to see it finished. Coming from Kinney's crew, it's top notch over most of the shorts at the time and is far better than anything Mickey appeared in after Mickey and the Beanstalk. There's wonderful, lively animation by John Sibley and Fred Moore (he designed the current Mickey look and I'm sure got dibs on animating in every one of his 40's and 50's shorts. )  Sibley called it the best Mickey short ever and claimed it was shelved because he and Moore looked it over and felt it had an awkward length to it. Kind of an odd way to go really...

Who knows? My hope is that maybe John Lassenter or someone at Disney sees this and gets the idea to try and make this short see the light at last. I can see it happen.

With his talent and my brains, we'll hit the TOPS!!
I posted the cartoon's pencil test on my Facebook account and so far haven't gotten any guff from it. Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Oily Bird

I have mixed feelings on the Harveytoons distributed by Paramount studios. On one side, they do have entertaining animation in them and, to be honest, can be kind of fun to watch. On the other hand, and this was the biggest fault, they weren't that original or novel. They ranged from okay to WTF. I also think they had a lot of trouble finding a target audience. My argument is that most of them (which I think was about 70%. I'm just guessing here.) are mild, child-friendly, and aren't really that funny, like with the Casper and Little Audrey series. Then you have Baby Huey and Herman and Katnip (my personal favorites from this group) that were made for movie-going adults in mind and can be really funny.

Today's short is one of the cartoons from the latter argument from 1954 directed by Izzy Sparber. I do love the music and the animation of the little worm when his eyes open in rhythm to the snake-charming music.

There is one thing that bothers me though... the whole thing is about an earthworm in a derby trying to foil his enemy, a brown early bird.

Gee... sound f'n familiar?

Oh, and as if the bird didn't look familiar!

At least they know how to take influence from the good animators (to be polite). The problem is that Harveytoons like this one didn't do it too well.