Published at: Feb. 6, 2008, 8:41 p.m. CST by headgeek
Hey folks, Harry here... A lot of folks ask me over and over and over again about my favorite films of all time. It's an old question - it seems if you write about film - it's the question that rules your life. That and, "What's the best movie out to see right now?" - There's nothing wrong with the questions - or any question, but today I received a one-sheet that I bought this past week and in talking to a friend online - when I sent him the image of WOODLAND CAFE - a Silly Symphony cartoon from 1937 - he wasn't familiar - so I looked it up on YouTube and realized... there's a ton of cartoons online and I decided to see if my favorites were up. These are all non-character based cartoons - meaning you won't be seeing Betty Boop, Popeye, Donald Duck, Daffy Duck or any of the familiar characters of the major studio cartoons. These are my obscure favorites. In most cases - I own these in 16mm and have watched them an incalculable number of times. And I figured, if I was going to do that - that I'd share those cartoons with you. So here we go...
BALLOON LAND (1935) Ub Iwerks ComiColor
The Pincushion Man is just amazing - and a world where rubber trees are the basis for life - then the resulting lifeforms are just primed for warping animated glee. LOVE IT!
ANTS IN THE PLANTS (1940) Max Fleischer Color Classics
This cartoon has some of the oddest vocalizations ever - with these first two cartoons - you can see what led to my love of Godzilla films - the idea of something unstoppable threatening a weaker citizenry. I love the Ants' little song, "Make em cry uncle!" Love this...
FRESH VEGETABLE MYSTERY (1939) Max Fleischer Color Classics
Whoever came up with the idea of potatoes as drunken Irish cops - I just love it. The animation is gorgeous - but I love animated tales where things that can't come to life, come to life - it's high carb fun!
SKELETON FROLIC (1937) Ub Iwerks for Columbia - A Color Rhapsody
I love Ub's original SKELETON DANCE that he did for Silly Symphony and Walt Disney - but this very seldom seen SKELETON FROLIC is so much fun. The colors... the Technicolor is just so vibrant and strange. I love it.
THE TELL-TALE HEART (1953) UPA Production (Narrated by James Mason)
I discovered this cartoon when i was buying a collection of 16mm shorts from a fella - he described it to me as being an old High School Educational film telling of Edgar Allan Poe's THE TELL-TALE HEART. Well, I like Poe - so I risked $5 on it. But what I discovered I had was an unbelievably brilliant UPA cartoon that was conceived for 3D - but their budget got cut - but the voice work by James Mason is just shattering. Unhinged. Love this.
LITTLE BUCK CHEESER (1937) Harman-Ising
I saw this as a very little kid - and it's just stayed with me. I love the idea of a little kid mouse looking up at the moon, having heard it was made of Cheese - having read a thrown away edition of the funnies and deciding to build a rocketship. It's sweet and animated so well. Reminds me of being a kid and dreaming of all the ludicrous things we dream of as kids.
CLOSED MONDAYS (1974) Directed by Will Vinton / Bob Gardiner
I love going to art museums - and I've been to many of the best museums in the world - but no matter where in the world I am - I think about this animated film by Will Vinton. To dream of the painting moving, changing, transforming. A great animated film.
TULIPS SHALL GROW (1942) Madcap Models - George Pal
One of the great Puppetoons from George Pal - Produced as the fear of WWII and the Nazis was everywhere. George made this to express how he felt about the German war machine and what it was doing to his native lands. Great.
PEACE ON EARTH (1939) MGM - directed by Hugh Harman
The idea of the forest animals telling stories about the legend of "Man" - chilling. One of the greatest cartoons of all time.
MUSIC LAND (1935) Walt Disney Silly Symphony
I love the idea of this cartoon. Made in 1935 - when Symphonic music was being assaulted by the popularity of Jazz... it's a theme that continues to today - and throughout the generations that always disagree about the "new" music. The animation is beautiful and the music is dreamy. I love this.
If you like this article - maybe I'll do more of these types of things. To me, I love doing this sort of thing - and the ability to share some of my passion for these little seen gems... it's a joy. Hope you enjoyed it!