A few months ago (February) I did a few posts on UPA. I was looking through Time magazines archives to see if they had an interview in which Walt Disney apparently outs many of the UPA animators, many of whom used to work for Disney, as Communists. I was reading in a biography of Walt that he did make such comments to Time in the 1950s, but could not find the interview on the Time website. Instead I found an article on UPA’s Gerald McBoing Boing and perhaps the first signs of critics abandoning Disney’s product for UPA’s films.
Monday, Feb. 05, 1951
Walt Disney did not father the animated cartoon, but he has been its outstanding foster parent. Disney’s child, however, seemed no brighter or more grown-up in 1950’s Cinderella than in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Last week a different kind of movie cartoon was being turned out by a one time Disney hand named Stephen Bosustow and his bustling United Productions of America.
For five years Bosustow’s U.P.A. has been trying to break away from such familiar Disneyisms as animal slapstick for its own sake, careful airbrushing to give figures the illusion of three dimensions, painstaking imitation of live movement. In their latest short, already delighting moviegoers at Manhattan’s Paris Theater, the U.P.A. craftsmen make a clean break.
Gerald McBoing-Boing tells a funny story about a small boy whose efforts to talk produce only such sound effects as “Boing! Boing!” Everything about the film is simple but highly stylized: bold line drawings, understated motion, striking color and airy design in the spirit of modern poster art, caricatured movements and backgrounds as well as figures.
Producer Bosustow (rhymes with adjust so), 39, who spent seven years with Disney, has built his outfit from six employees to a company of 75, with a $500,000-a-year business and a modern studio in Burbank, Calif. Since Columbia began releasing his cartoons two years ago at the rate of one a month, bookings have almost doubled.
U.P.A.’s plans call for full-length treatment of a collection of James Thurber stories (half live, half animation), Ben Jonson’s Volpone, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Meanwhile, half the company’s shorts will feature a nearsighted bumbler named Mr. Magoo. Little Gerald’s talents are too specialized for many other stories, but in its own way, his “Boing!” may prove as resounding as the first peep out of Mickey Mouse.
I wonder whatever happened to the planned versions of Ben Jonson’s Volpone, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas as they were again mentioned in another interview with Bosustow two and a half years later but it seems nothing ever became of them.