Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Robert Cannon "Gerald McBoing-Boing" (1950)

Writing about The Cat Piano I had something at the back of my mind that just failed to come out. It was the narrative poems of Dr Seuss and in particular, Gerald McBoing-Boing, the winner of the 1950 Academy Award for Best Animated Short. A remarkably good film, it is the story of young Gerald McCloy who only speaks in sound effects. Baffling doctors, school and parents alike the young lad seems well adjusted, peculiarity not withstanding, until renamed by teasing children as Gerald McBoing-Boing. In desperation he decides to leave home but there is always a place for someone of such talents. For the age, the pared down backgrounds and caricature rather than fulsome characters (so called "limited animation" - there is an excellent Wikipedia article on the subject) were novel though judging it today the design is most eye-catching. Personally I find some of the rapid fire rhyming narration a tad cloying and the humour is of the persistent kind rather than the whole-hearted laugh. However, watching the boy read his radio script, a stream of sound effects emanating from his lips, discarded sheets mounting beneath the microphone, is to marvel at director Robert Cannon’s skill in leaving well alone, allowing the situation to develop. Marvin Miller narrates with a briskness and assured delivery that is the so typical of the time, a feeling intensified by Gail Kubik's often urgent soundtrack. (He also composed a longer, concert version of the piece to accompany Dr Seuss' narrated text.) United Productions of America (UPA) made three other shorts in the series and there was a television series. I note that John Hubley was producer and supervising director.


Elizabeth Hobbs said...

thank you especially for this post. There's a terrible version of Gerald McBoing Boing on children's television at the moment, I hadn't realised it came from a brilliant original!

socialspidvid said...

Thanks for this post, it sure is very artistic and interesting