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Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Gene Deitch "Munro"



The winner of the 1960 Oscar for Best Animated Short, Munro, is as fresh as anything produced in animation today. It is a snappy satire on military life in which a four year old is accidentally drafted into the army, passing his medical because the staff doctors were too busy posing for photographs with a drafted celebrity. No-one takes a blind bit of notice of his youth, the military operating in a strictly unintelligent, mechanical way, protocol not personal. The doctor is typical. Sick of sick leave dodgers he paces up and down his waiting room where the lines of men (and boy) await his tender care:
"Everybody's faking, everybody's faking, everybody's faking. You! What's wrong with you?"
"I'm only four."
"How long you been feeling this way?"
"I'm only four."
"Open your mouth, we'll soon fix this."
Czech animators worked on the production: Zdenek Smetana, Mirek Kačena, Milan Klikar, Jindřich Barta and Věra Kudrnová. I am a very great fan of Czech animation and the whole movie progresses swimmingly if in conventional form for its six minutes. However it is the sharply written script from celebrated cartoonist and playwright Jules Ralph Feiffer, and the sardonic tones of the late Howard Morris as narrator that really scores. Some of the other voices seem a family concern with Seth Deitch (as Munro), Marie Deitch and Jules Feiffer himself. Whether it be general, barrack soldiers, sergeant or chaplain, the characterisation is just peach.

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