UPA’s Gerald McBoing Boing

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About three months ago, inspired by screenshots posted at Amid Amidi’s eye-opening Cartoon Modern blog, I ordered the brand new DVD of UPA’s Gerald McBoing Boing. It features four of the finest-looking animated shorts ever produced, back from a time when the whole idea of limited animation was considered an artistic vision, rather than a cheap and easy way to increase productivity.

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From a ’50s design standpoint, these cartoons are astonishing. Director Robert “Bobe” Cannon had a very Tati-esque sense of environment and mise-en-scène that makes every frame a joy to behold. McBoing Boing‘s use of minimal shapes, jazzy movements and shifting color schemes, coupled with its sheer unwillingness to conform to the laws of reality (perspective, gravity, naturalistic detail, any logic at all) made it a radical departure from the painstaking realism that Walt Disney championed at the time.

No wonder, since UPA was founded by John Hubley–a former-Disney animator who, along with a number of others who left Disney after the animators’ strike in 1941, felt that the medium of animation had been forced down a narrow path by simply trying to imitate reality. Anyone of you who’s ever read my article on “the plausibles” will know how much I believe this observation applies to cinema in general.

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I’m not sure how many of you have childhood memories of characters like Gerald or Christopher Crumpet, but the work of UPA is hardly known in Europe. Overshadowed as it currently is by the immensely popular cartoon libraries of Disney, Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera and MGM, one can only hope that the rest of these forgotten gems will find their way on a DVD collection soon.

In the meantime, some of UPA’s best shorts can be found on YouTube. For your convenience, I collected some of them on one page. Let’s start with a taste of Gerald McBoing Boing right here:

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4 Responses to UPA’s Gerald McBoing Boing

  1. Brian says:

    Great post! The only UPA films I saw as a youth were the Mr. Magoos and the Tell-Tale Heart, but I got to see a number of them on a program at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley not so long ago. Not as frequent a visitor to Cartoon Modern as I ought to be, I was totally unaware of this DVD. I’m glad to know these films are now available as something more than extras for the Hellboy Special Edition.

    And nice to see you’ve got a blog, Peet! I’ve been a fan of you “plausibles” article for a while now.

  2. Peet says:

    That’s very nice to hear, Brian! Thanks for visiting and dropping a note. You’ve got quite an impressive blog yourself. It’s easy to feel intimidated by the amount of different titles you cover there!

  3. [...] If the first three shorts are any indication, we’re up for something really special here! Ever wondered how an independent, adult short from the guys at Disney and Pixar would look like? Just take a peek at the color board below. Boys Night Out by Teddy Newton and Bert Klein feels like sexual education with Gerald McBoing Boing. [...]

  4. bubble shooter game…

    [...]UPA’s Gerald McBoing Boing « Lost in Negative Space[...]…

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