Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Animation of the 60's!

I'm going to be more focused this time around on an era I adore for who knows why.

Here's a good collection of animated shorts from the 1960's that still feels so relevant to me today (even if the rest of the world moved on). Including a little more dialog to set-up these pieces with my usual anecdotes.

Outside the usual Television and movie fare of the day, you had a few of these small-time works that may have seen limited distribution someplace like film fests, movie theaters and so-on. One of the few animators to break away from the advertising world momentarily to put out some twisted works of his own was British animator Bob Godfrey. This piece cleverly mocks the ad world while inspiring future guys like Terry Gilliam with it's novel approach to cut-out animation.

Another British gent of mentionable importance (no not Richard Williams, sorry guys)is Yellow Submarine director George Dunning. Beginning his career with the National Film Board of Canada in the 1940's, he moved to the London to start up what was to be the London office of UPA but after a falling out with the main studio renamed it TeeVee Cartoons, Ltd. (or "TVC" for short), which would go on to produce TV commercials, specials, movies and the likes for decades to come (not to mention the Beatles cartoon show). In "The Apple", a man's desire for a single apple takes on many obstacles in his task (plus Dick Williams was involved in this one)...

Staying in England just a bit more, there's the studios of Halas & Batchelor, who continued on it's merrily way after producing the country's first animated feature film a decade before (Animal Farm). The 1960's would see more influences from the artistic and experimental field as they approached some interesting topics and other silly pursuits in comedy as we will see in these following shorts..

When Warner Brothers wasn't making the usual Looney Tunes in the 60's, stuff like this got made which I felt best utilized what the studio was capable of by the end of the decade.

When taking over the nearly finished Paramount Cartoon Studio (a.k.a. "Famous Studios"), animation director Shamus Culhane tried to take the studio in a new direction it didn't think to take or willing to go with beyond a few staffers who sided with Culhane's intentions of trying to replicate what Gene Deitch did with Terrytoons before in the 50's. Out of a couple years' worth of work are these humble gems...

Not to outdo Disney, but one guy there did make a pretty tripped out film himself, all hail Ward Kimball and his bird flick!

When not entertaining Americans with such films as Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs and more, Mel Brooks lends his creative talents to this Oscar-winning short film from director Ernest Pintoff, "The Critic" from 1963.

No posts about 60's animation out to be complete without a mention for John and Faith Hubley, whose work throughout this decade was quite varied and unique.

Some Odds and Ends (because I know it would take more than a single post to get this all in!


Tohoscope said...

I got through the British animation, and I'm only a third of the way through this post.

I like how you put the British shorts in historical context. It really gives these a sense of the changing landscape of animation in the 60s. The older studios giving over to new ones, established animators leaving the big studios and starting their own. It must have been an exciting time.

Just like today.

Chris Sobieniak said...

Certainly the 1960's was a turning point. In the case of the US, we saw the end of the Hollywood studio system and the rise of the smaller cottage industry players and independents making their way in TV, advertising or personal film projects that may have seen exposure somewhere in the world.

Though I didn't cover that here as well, there's also the rise in animation in Europe, especially in the Eastern Bloc countries that saw an interest in more diverse and 'adult' forms of the art form than what could be considered a kiddie medium as we saw it. It was certainly the end of the Golden Age for us, but the start for theirs.

In the end, it all comes down to educating yourself on these things. One of those massive books I read up on this was Giannalberto Bendazzi's "CARTOONS: One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation". Took me months just getting it all read!

Tohoscope said...

One more book I need to add to my library of animation books.

Chris Sobieniak said...

There's a few things I could say about the author of the book, as he is obvious more concern with he artistry and experimentation of the art form and his views of American animation of the TV era is either negative or not something he felt like talking about. I don't remember what his views of 'anime' where, but I think he mentioned a few guys like Miyazaki in the book (probably Tezuka too but it's been years since I've read it). He usually covers animation as it evolved and mutated in a number of countries, some I didn't even knew had animation at all.