Please note: if an earlier link doesn't work, it may have changed following an update! Check the Category Labels in the side-bar on the right! There you can find animator drafts for sixteen complete Disney features and eighty-six shorts,
as well as Action Analysis Classes and many other vintage animation documents!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Well Deserved Praise

On November 17th, a day shy of Mr. Mouse's 80th birthday, the Sherman Brothers, Richard and Robert, were endowed the National Medal of the Arts at the White House.

Of course you know the Shermans, for they wrote most of Disney's songs of the 60s, during the entire period from Sword in the Stone to Aristocats, including Mary Poppins, which won them Academy Awards. They were also prolific outside of Disney, including writing the hit She's Sixteen (She's Beautiful and She's Mine). Currently they have Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang shows around the country.

Here they receive the highest national honor in the field of the Arts.

If you are wondering, President Bush tells Richard "You boys really deserve this!" and to Robert he says "I'm glad you could make it!"

Yesterday night we had a little get-together that included our dear friend Richard Sherman, who asked in advance if we would be interested in seeing the medal. Would we indeed! So here are a few pictures I took last night.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Prod. UM-11, Mickey's Mellerdrama

Known as Mickey's Mellerdrammer, this short directed by Wilfred "Jaxon" Jackson was released on 03/18/33. Though not all the scenes were assigned on this draft, we do find as animators: Paul Fennell, Ham Luske, Les Clark, Frenchy de Trémaudan, Chuck Couch, Eddy Donnelly, Bill Roberts, Johnny Cannon, Gerry Geronimi, Tom Palmer, Fred Moore, Marvin Woodward, Ben Sharpsteen, Roy "Big Mooseketeer" Williams, Harry Reeves and Ed Love. Interestingly, this draft mentions a whole slew of changes to be done, from new camera movements to new action and additions to the backgrounds.

In the words of my old mentor Børge Ring: Mickey's Mellerdrama is one of Walt Disney's alltime best. It must have cost a lot in all departments. The atmosphere of backstage amateur-theater is tops. The animation is 10 years ahead of 1933. it is controlled and fine-tuned like in his later features. I bet it went wildly over budget."

It can be found, with disclaimer by Leonard Maltin, on the Treasures DVD: Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2, disc 2...
Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving! I was pleasantly surprised that this blog surpassed the 100,000 hits!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Prod. UM-21 - Mickey Shanghied

To further celebrate Mickey's birthday, I thought it fitting to show another animation draft for one of his earlier achievements.
Released on 1/13/34 as Shanghaied, and directed by Burt Gillett, most all of the first part of this short was animated by Norm Ferguson, with scenes by Cy Young (effects), Dick Lundy, Johnnie Cannon, Roy Williams, Hardie Gramatky, Ed Love, Ben Sharpsteen and "Jerry," whom I suspect to be Gerry Geronimi. Five of the scenes have no assignments...

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Happy 80th, Mr. Mouse!

This is the day you were officially born, at the Colony Theater in New York, where for thirteen days you shared the screen with the talkie Gang War.
At the Colony (thanks!)Review (thanks!)

You were conceived in dire straights, some say on a train trip from New York to Los Angeles that started March 13th, 1928, others mention that you first saw the light in meetings between Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks late March early April. We know that Ub animated your first film Plane Crazy by himself in record time in late April in a back room at the small Hyperion Avenue studio, while it was inked and painted in Walt's Lyric Ave garage and then previewed that May 15th.

Then Ub, with Les Clark and Johnnie Cannon, animated The Gallopin' Gaucho in June and early July, after which they animated your big break-through Steamboat Willie. The now famous session where your first scenes were previewed by projecting them through the studio's rear window onto a sheet while the crew made noises to fit the actions may well have been on July 29th - the first time you convinced anyone that you really could speak. Late August the picture was finished without sound: Walt got to New York on September 4th, had the sound recorded first on September 15th - which was a disaster - then again on September 30th, for which a new click-track system was devised, about which you can read more elsewhere on this blog. Anyway, this movie was finally booked into the Colony by Harry Reichenbach for five hundred dollars for two weeks and the rest is history. And why everyone was celebrating your birthday on September 28th (in 1936 even!), I may never know!
Ilustrado 1936Today's Cinema 1936

When Walt said it all started with a mouse, he wasn't kidding. Yes, since 1922 there have been Laugh-O-grams, a Song-O-reel, and lots of Alices and Oswalds, but only after your success as a talkie star on November 18th 1928, did the real growth of the studio that Walt and Roy Disney founded on October 16th 1923, begin. Therefor I take my metaphorical hat off to you, Mr. Mouse, and wish you a happy 80th birthday, and many more!

Here we see Walt with a whole mountain of Mickeys (note the one on the right with tiny pupils and teeth!), and an early article from Liberty magazine, January 1933, which recounts the history, only five years after the fateful date...
Walt and MickeysLiberty Jan 14th, 1933
Thanks to Mike Barrier for the info in his great book The Animated Man, and for the top clippings I blatantly swiped from his blog!
I normally do not like to do this, but I could not find more appropriate images. (Another nice version of the review is here!)

I'm back from Walt Disney World and the Caribbean, back from the Danish Film Expo in Hollywood (and lots of meetings), and back from a minor voluntary evacuation due to the so-called "Orange County Freeway Complex Fire," so expect to see more material here soon!