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Monday, January 22, 2018

Full of Fun and Fancy Free....

The inside cover of my Fun and Fancy Free draft has this index:
How time flies, especially when you are busy! In less than a month, my old mentor Børge Ring will be 97. A few years ago he wrote an intro for me for the upcoming draft of Prod. 2057, Fun and Fancy Free, which comprises of Prod. 2043, Mickey and the Beanstalk and Prod. 2048, Bongo, though not in that order in the film. In his intro, Børge specifically addresses the first part of the film, Bongo.
I translated his text to English as close to his original as I could, incl. punctuation, and I hope it passes muster. Here goes:

A bricked-in circus artist.

"Fun and Fancy Free" is generally considered a substandard Disney movie. "A rather thrown-together construction."
Try, just for fun, to imagine removing all of the construction except for BONGO. What do you have left?????????????????..................

You have a treasure chest filled with some of Walt's very best animation committed by some of his very best animators at the apex of their careers.
The film is SO VERY reminiscent of the wonderful shorts of the 30's, and it's filled with animation highlights.
To name a few examples:

Marc Davis delivers a whole Davis minute (58 seconds) of an optimistic BONGO preparing for his first night in raw nature without the protection of a circus tent.
Marc wanted most of all to animate things that would make theatergoers laugh, like his opening scene in "The Wind in the Willows." But ever since BAMBI he has often had to draw animatable princesses with distinguished appearance because he was good at it.

Ward Kimball presents us with a long festive dramatic sequence in which Bongo duels with Lumpjaw for the favor of Lulubelle. (Lumpjaw is animated as caricature of Bambi-director David Hand).

Milt Kahl offers a Corps de Ballet of clumsy bears dancing a pasteurized mating dance in the primeval forest.

Freddie Moore charms (and impresses) with his animation of Bongo's and Lulubelle's first meeting and beginning courtship.

Art Babbitt tells us (as virtuously as in 'The Country Cousin") of Bongo's life as traveling circus artist in chains and about his flight into freedom in Survival Forest.
Later in the film he animates a courtship fantasy on Bongo and Lulubelle. Since all other bears in the film are big doofuses, Babbitt chose to play B and L as two small children.
Bongo lets Lulubelle ride his unicycle while gallantly holding her hand. But the contraption runs amok with her on it.
Bongos saves her with circus virtuosity, rotating, childish and loving.
That part of the scene is the nicest animation of small children I have ever seen. Nowhere is there a single unauthentic note.

Hans (Perk) and I were sharing a meal in Amsterdam in the sunshine with Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston and their wives Jeanette and Marie. During desert, I said:
"Ollie, I have a recurring daydream"

"So what are you dreaming?"

"I dream of owning the animation draft of "Bongo the Circus Bear"

Ollie sent a glance to the Van Gogh Museum and two seagulls. Then he said:
"If you will make do with "Bongo" and not ask for "Mickey and the Beanstalk" also, I'll go over to the studio and copy it for you while it is still possible"

27 mornings later I found the draft on my door mat.

Børge Ring

PS. BONGO is directed by my versatile pen-pal Jack Kinney. Some time after "The Band Concert" (where Kinney animated Horace Horsecollar), Walt took him off animation and into the story department because he kept getting bonuses for submitted ideas accepted. As a jazz drummer, Jack Kinney was on familiar terms with music.

[Of course, Børge's Bongo draft went up in smoke when his house burned to the ground in 2013. Over the following days I will share my copy here on my blog. But first the inserts and Mickey and the Beanstalk, of course, for we are going to do this in draft order!]



Anonymous Christian Svenningsen says...

Er Bongo den eneste film Art Babbitt har
arbejdet på efter Disney-strejken, inden
han forlod Disney studiet?

Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:12:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Zartok-35 says...

Welcome back Hans! I'll be following the coming posts with great anticipation!

Monday, January 22, 2018 at 4:52:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Thanks, Zartok-35 - I'll be looking forward to your insightful comments!

Christian asked: "Was Bongo the only film Art Babbitt worked on after the Disney strike, before he left the Disney studio?" After the strike, few people wanted to work with Babbitt. But even just looking at IMDb, you find his name on several later films, like How to Play Football and Bootle Beetle.

Also, don't be fooled by the "late" date of Fun and Fancy Free: e.g. Mickey and the Beanstalk was in the works well before the strike, so Babbitt's animation may have predated that strike! Check Jake Friedman's Babbitt Blog, it is FULL of interesting material!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2:12:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Steven Hartley says...

It's great to see you back Hans, and with a treat for all!

I had the pleasure of seeing the "Fun and Fancy Free" draft last summer in my LA visit, and it's great to have another trip through memory lane.

According to Dave Smith, Babbitt isn't credited for any scenes in the "How to Play Baseball" draft; but his post-strike animation includes, "The Flying Jalopy (Lundy, 1943)", "Foul Hunting (Hannah, 1947)", "Bootle Beetle (Hannah, 1947)", and of course: Bongo! I can't remember the name of the production off-hand, but according to JB Kaufman - he also worked on a production that got shelved.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 7:31:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Thanks, Steven,
According to Jake's site, that unreleased film is Fiesta of Flowers (1946). Jake links it to JB's book South of the Border with Disney. (Note that Jake has How to Play Football in the filmography on his blog...)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 8:02:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

By the way, this European has found that in the USA, Football and Baseball are two different sports, both of which have world championships, which is, of course, curious for sports that don't have a lot of following in the rest of the world ;-)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 8:05:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Steven Hartley says...

A short while ago, I was reading through a 22-page overview by the National Relations Labour Board of Babbitt's tribunal against Walt Disney Productions in 1942 - challenging his November 1941 layoff...

In Jack Kinney's testimony, he recalled Babbitt re-animating a few scenes of Goofy done by John Sibley, after his reinstatement from the strike. What the production was, I'm not sure of. Although, Babbitt was working on "Flying Jalopy" around that time -- but he was working on very minor scenes that could've been done in the capable hands of lesser animators or assistants. Perhaps the Goofy short became a late '42 or 1943 release? In shorts like "Baggage Buster" and "Art of Self Defense", Babbitt drew Goofy five-fingered, an his work showed a strong reliance of live-action (much to the annoyance of Walt). I haven't been able to detect any of those traits in the post-strike Goofy shorts. (Even Babbitt's buzzard in "Jalopy" has a slight resemblance to the Goof).

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 8:31:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Tyler Jewell says...

So, Hans, could I just look at Bongo drafts after Mickey and the Beanstalk? I love Bongo the Circus Bear. :)

Friday, January 26, 2018 at 10:33:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Tyler, since in the draft Bongo follows Mickey and the Beanstalk, the answer to your question is yes! After Mickey there'll be Bongo!

Friday, January 26, 2018 at 11:08:00 PM PST  

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