Some Classic Animation

by John Holbo on September 5, 2009

YouTube provides:

John [and Faith!] Hubley’s 1959, Academy Award-Winning “Moonbird”. I don’t know much about it, except that they obviously constructed an ingenious and charming piece of animation on top of an audio recording of their two young sons, talking and singing.

Here’s a surprisingly progressive, “Brotherhood of Man” (part 1, part 2) educational cartoon from 1946, directed by Robert Cannon. (Scripted by Ring Lardner [jr.!], apparently.)

And another Hubley. “Soothing, instant money” – a classic Bank of America ad. Ironically, I take it this was done just a few years after Hubley was blacklisted for refusing to testify to the House Committee on Un-American Activities. So he had been forced to leave UPA and take work making commercials.

Hubley and Cannon, if you don’t know, are probably best known for their work together at UPA on such classics as “Gerald McBoingBoing” and “Mr. Magoo”.

Here’s a fun, if somewhat uncertainly-sourced story about how Hubley and co-creator Millard Kaufman invented Magoo, from Wikipedia:

The Magoo character was originally conceived as a mean-spirited McCarthy-like reactionary whose mumbling would include as much outrageous misanthropic ranting as the animators could get away with. Kaufman had actually been blacklisted, and Magoo was a form of protest. Hubley was an ex-communist who had participated in the 1941 [Disney] strike. Both he and Kaufman had participated in the blacklist front and perhaps due to the risk of coming under more scrutiny with a hit character, John Hubley, who had created Magoo, handed the series completely over to creative director, Pete Burness. Under Burness, Magoo would win two Oscars for the studio with When Magoo Flew (1955) and Magoo’s Puddle Jumper (1956). Burness scrubbed Magoo of his politicized mean-ness and left only a few strange unempathic comments that made him appear senile or somewhat mad. This however was not entirely out of line with the way McCarthy came to be perceived over that same era.