UPA Jolly Frolics disc 1 (1949-1952)

Robin Hoodlum (1949, John Hubley)

“I rob from the rich and I give to the poor. I never give a thing to the middle class.”

I guess the UPA revolution started late – this seems like a typical WB/Disney-style character cartoon full of decent jokes (the newly-appointed sheriff Crow and prince john always haggling over payment and due dates) and tired ones (the English sure enjoy teatime). Interesting that Robin is portrayed as a fox, some 25 years before the Disney feature. He’s also kind of terrible with a bow and arrow, another unusual choice. The first UPA short to be oscar-nominated, beaten by Hanna-Barbera’s The Little Orphan.

Nobody helping Robin because it is teatime:

The Magic Fluke (1949, John Hubley)

Good one, story of a a conductor Fox who dumps his one-man-band Crow partner for the big time, until crow gets well-intentioned revenge by getting his ex-buddy a magic wand as conductor’s baton.

Exceptional-looking, and they saved time and effort by having the crow narrate via thoughts sans lipsync. Predates Tex Avery’s great Magical Maestro by a couple years.

Horn section becomes rabbits:

Ragtime Bear (1949, John Hubley)

This one introduced the world to the blind, gruesome-looking Mr. Magoo and his accident-prone son Waldo, who dies early in a hiking accident. A bluegrass-fan bear masquerades as the son (we learn that banjos basically play themselves) while one-joke Magoo quickly wears out the blindness gimmick. Characters talk over each other Popeye-style. But wait, Waldo lives, only to get immediately shotgun-blasted by his father, who attempts revival via vase-of-water in the face. Weird movie.

Bearskin rug in the line of fire:

Punchy de Leon (1950, John Hubley)

Another rival Fox/Crow cartoon, voyaging to Florida in 1503 seeking the (coin-operated) fountain of youth for a vain king of Spain. I enjoy the rivalry thing, and it’s a step up from Ragtime Bear no matter how you look at it, but no real good gags in this one. I’m starting to notice the abstract backdrops that Leonard Maltin told me to look out for.

Flash as the fountain water restores the king:

The Miner’s Daughter (1950, Robert Cannon)

Ol’ prospector and homely daughter have no luck mining gold, then Harvard man turns up next door with fancy modern techniques and strikes it rich. Miner’s daughter lures him over with the smell of Boston baked beans, and they get happily, wealthily married. Dialogue is sung but their mouths don’t move. The instrumental variations on My Darling Clementine are nice, but no decent gags except for Harvard man’s fully-furnished inflatable house and its umbrella-punctured demise.

Harvard man refusing to save the distressed maiden:

Giddyap (1950, Art Babbitt)

Sad horse-drawn ice delivery cart is getting beaten by modern motorized ice delivery cars. Flashback: their horse Jack “the Hoofer” used to be a famous dancer before the movies came along and ruined showbusiness. Cart driver’s daughter gets an idea: put the horse on television (which recently came along and ruined the movies). Happy ending: ice delivery guy now uses a helicopter to beat the car. Implications: embrace changing technology to help your business succeed, and one day we’ll all drive helicopters.

Tapdancing horse vs. period picture:

The Popcorn Story (1950, Art Babbitt)

Nebraska-set story of Wilbur Shucks, who invented popcorn but instead of eating it tried to harness its explosive power to fuel a rube goldberg shoeshine machine, narrated by the town fancypants as he dedicates a statue in Wilbur’s honor.

The Family Circus (1951, Art Babbitt)

Patsy is jealous that the new baby gets all daddy’s attention, so she destroys daddy’s stuff, injures him and torments the cat. Finally daddy gets a clue and decides love is the answer. Dream sequence saved a few bucks using childlike drawings and 2fps animation.

Gerald McBoing Boing (1951, Robert Cannon)

Seen this a few times before, a great one.

Georgie and the Dragon (1951, Robert Cannon)

More actioney than the others. Georgie brings home a baby dragon which grows huge in a matter of minutes while he tries to hide it from his strict father. Meanwhile the movie beats its Scottish setting over the viewer’s head constantly.

The Wonder Gloves (1951, Robert Cannon)

Good one – no dialogue except in the framing story of a guy telling his nephew about the time he discovered magic boxing gloves and accidentally went from boxing gym janitor to world champion.

The Oompahs (1952, Robert Cannon)

Generation-gap music story, big band vs. jazz, as personified by a family of horns.

Rooty Toot Toot (1952, John Hubley)

Musical courtroom drama based on the classic song Frankie and Johnny. J has been shot to death in a bar – the bartender and another girl testify they were nearby and that his girlfriend F killed him in a jealous rage. Defense lawyer tells a tale of poor lovely innocent F, and J’s accidental suicide. Jury acquits, F sees her suitor/lawyer dancing with the girl from the bar and shoots him dead in court. Wow.

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