Walt Disney lost the battle but won the war, though he got help from his opponent.
The middle of 1951 saw Disney battle in court with Lou Bunin over Alice in Wonderland. Both came up with animated feature films based on Lewis Carroll’s character—Disney in cartoon form, Bunin with puppets. Disney tried to block the release of Bunin’s film, but the courts turned him down. Both went into the market place at the same time. Disney had a bigger name, Disney had a bigger publicity machine, Bunin had a quickly-released film with inconsistent colour.
Variety reviewed both films. It didn’t give a ringing endorsement to either. The Daily (Hollywood) and Weekly (New York) editions had different reviews for the Disney feature. We’ll only publish one of them below in our roundup of cartoon news from the second half of 1951.
One of the interesting things in leaving through the paper was the notes about voice actors at MGM. Stan Freberg recorded soundtracks and Keith Scott confirms Freberg can be heard in “Posse Cat” and “Hic-Cup Pup,” both released in 1954. More interesting is the mention of “Bird Brained Bird Dog.” It was directed by Dick Lundy, who had been filling in for Tex Avery. Avery returned by July, but the Variety story was published in October. Either Lundy stuck around for a bit, or he had timed a cartoon and left MGM before the voice track was recorded which would be the opposite way of doing things.
The Jam Handy Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was originally made in 1948. But the popular song that was the title of the cartoon was added in a 1951 re-dubbing which, apparently, was aimed at a theatrical release.
Mark Newgarden informs me that UPA’s “Man on the Land” was written by Bill Scott. The version of the cartoon I’ve seen only has UPA credited.
July 2, 1951
Alice In Wonderland
RKO RELEASE of Walt Disney production. Production supervision, Ben Sharpsteen; directors, Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jaxon; directing animators, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, Erie Larson, John Lounsbery, Ollie Johnson, Wolfgang Reitherman, Mare Davis, Les Clark, Norm Ferguaon; story, adapted from Lewis Carroll's "The Adventures of Alice In Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass," Winston Hibler, Bill Peel, Joe Rinaldi, Bill Cottrell, Joe Grant, Del Connell, Ted Sears, Erdman Penner, Milt Banta, Dick Kelsey, Diak Huemer, Tom Oreb, John Walbridge; color and styling, Mary Blair, John Heneh, Ken Anderson, Claude Coats, Don Da Gradi; layout, Mac Stewart, Tom Codrick, Charles Phillippi, A. Kendall O'Connor, Hugh Hennesy, Don Griffith, Thor Putnam, Lance Nolley; backgrounds, Ray Huffine, Art Riley, Dick Anthony, Ralph Hulett, Brice Mack, Thelma Witmer; character animators, Hal King, Judge Whitaker, Hal Ambro, Bill Justice, Phil Duncan, Bob Carlson, Don Lusk, Cliff Nordberg, Harvey Toombs, Fred Moore, Marvin Woodward, Hugh Fraser, Charles Nichols; effects animators, Josh Meador, Dun MacManus, George Rowley, Blaine Gibson; musical score, Oliver Wallace; songs, Bob Hilliard, Sammy Fain, Don Raye, Gene De Paul, Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Al Hoffman; orchestration, Joseph Dubin; vocal arrangements, Jud Conlon.
CAST—(Voices) Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn, Sterling Holloway, Jerry Colonna, Verna Felton, Pat O’Malley, Bill Thompson, Heather Angel, Joseph Kearns, Larry Grey, Queenie Leonard, Dink Trout, Doris Lloyd, James MacDonald, The Mellomen, Don Barclay.
TRADESHOWN at the Academy Awards Theatre, West Hollywood, Calif., June 28, 1951. Running time: 74 mins.
Walt Disney and Lewis Carroll come together with a natural affinity in putting "Alice In Wonderland" on film. The Disney cartoon technique makes the nonsense of Carroll's tomes come to life with an engaging charm and chimerical beauty. The boxofnee outlook is particularly strong, despite the fact that the reaction to the film will be mixed. Adult reception will be divided, but youngsters of any age will take to it.
Causing the mixed reaction will be the absence of any real heart or warmth, a Disney trade mark, in the mad characters. The stories did not have these two values and neither does the picture. However, it is still an ace piece of entertainment in the best Disney manner and gives him another top credit. Some of the Carroll characters have been dropped in the adaptation of the nonsense to film, but the deletions will not be mis[s]ed.
Alice is charmingly portrayed vocally by young Kathryn Beaumont. Her voice enchantingly projects the adventures of Alice as she strolls through a dream world peopled by such oddities as the Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn), the March Hare (Jerry Colonna), the Caterpillar (Richard Haydn), the Cheshire Cat (Sterling Holloway), the White Rabbit (Bill Thompson), the Tweedle Twins (Pat O'Malley), and the Queen of Hearts (Vema Felton). Each voice shows casting care.
A number of the scenes stand out, sharpened by imaginative artistry of water colors, voices, song and comedy. Haydn's Caterpillar with the smoke-ring alphabet song is sock, as are the "All In the Golden Afternoon" song of the live flowers, the Mad Hatter-March Hare party and song, “A Very Merry Un-Birthday,” the tomfoolery of the Walrus-Carpenter sequence with the oysters, the croquet game that enlivens the business with the "off-with-his-head" Queen of Hearts, and Alice's ballad, "In a World of My Own."
The Disney technicians each has done a splendid job of getting the best from Car[r]oll's flight into fantasy, working under the production supervision of Ben Sharpsteen. The colors pulse and glow with a postcard beauty as photographed in Technicolor. Oliver Wallace gave the picture a fine musical score and the excellent songs were defied by Bob Hilliard, Sammy Fain, Don Raye, Gene De Paul, Mack David, Jerry Livingston and Al Hoffman. The ballads listen well and the musical-nonsense pieces have humor. Joseph Dubin did the slick orchestrations and Jud Conlon the vocal arrangements.
July 4, 1951
Sam Cobean, 34, cartoonist of The New Yorker Magazine," was killed in an auto accident July 2 in Watkins Glen, N. Y. Cobean worked for the Walt Disney Studios in Hollywood and other pic companies until he joined the Army Signal Corps in World War II. While in service he started sending cartoons to The New Yorker and later became one of the mag's leading artists.
Surviving are his wife and son.
July 11, 1951
Disney N.Y. Suit Seeks Restraint On Puppet ‘Alice’
Dispute involving the two different "Alice in Wonderland" productions was placed before the U. S. District Court in N. Y. this week, with Walt Disney, as plaintiff, charging his version represents a $4,125,000 investment which would be jeopardized by concurrent release of the Lou Bunin European-made adaptation. Latter, Disney asserted, is "inferior," and was severely rapped by the critics when shown in Paris some time ago.
Defendants in the action are Souvaine Selective Films, distributor of the Bunin pic, and Harry Brandt, whose N. Y. circuit includes the Mayfair, where it is set to open in competition with the Disney cartoon feature at the nearby Criterion in late summer. Disney's co-plaintiff is his distrib, RKO.
Souvaine, the complaint charges, is bent on getting its film in release in principal cities across the country at a time either immediately preceding or simultaneous with the exhibition of Disney's "Alice." This would result in much public confusion and "irreparable damage" to the Hollywood film-maker, it's claimed. The Bunin puppet production, if allowed to go unrestrained, would reap benefits from the heavy advertising and publicity buildup given Disney's pic, it's further said.
Claim No Infringement
While not claiming any copyright infringement, the complaint reports Disney in 1945 announced he had placed "Alice" on his production sked, for release in 1950 or 1951. Bunin made his announcement on lensing "Alice" a year later, and completed the production in Paris in 1948, it was alleged.
Disney suit said that when Eagle Lion had the Bunin picture in 1950 it offered to sell distribution rights to Disney for only $16,000. Disney nixed the proposal.
In any event, Disney wants Bunin's puppet feature barred from exhibition for at least 18 months, as long as it bears the present title or any adaptation or modification. He also asked the court to permit distribution, after the initial 18-month period, only on condition that the defendants place upon the film and all advertising copy this identification: "A release of Souvaine Selective Films and produced in France by Lou Bunin Productions, Inc., having no connection with the Walt Disney production of the same title." Another condition was that Souvaine include in each exhibition contract a guarantee that the exhib will not advertise the Bunin pic unless the explanation is prominently displayed.
Disney states his production was completed in the spring of ‘51 at a total cost of $2,963,496. Release prints mean an outlay of $200,000. Disney says he has already made commitments for ads costing $600,000, and it's "anticipated" Disney and RKO jointly will incur additional ad expenses of $325,000.
Souvaine and Brandt are to show cause by July 10 why a temporary injunction should not be issued against the exhibition of the Bunin version of "Alice."
In an unqualified denial of the Walt Disney-RKO charges of unfair competition, William C. MacMillen, Jr., board chairman of Souvaine Selective, said the outfit will refuse to yield to the Disney demands on title change or release of Bunin's "Alice" at a later date.
He stated Souvaine is equally as anxious as Disney to have the two pix distinguished from each other. In line with this, he related that Souvaine's long-since prepared ad copy identified the puppet feature as a Lou Bunin production in type as large as the pic's title.
MacMillen said Souvaine is willing to do anything "reasonable" but this must be short of a title change or change in release time. "We have a fine picture and we understand Disney also has a fine one," he declared. "We shall let the public decide."
July 12, 1951
NY Court Nixes Disney Plea, Okays Bunin's 'Alice' For B'way
New York, July 11.—Walt Disney Productions and RKO lost the first round today in their suit to restrain Souvaine Selective Films from releasing Lou Bunin's live-action puppet version of "Alice in Wonderland" until the Disney cartoon feature of "Alice" finishes major playdates.
Federal Judge Alexander Holtzoff denied the plaintiffs' temporary injunction, thus paving the way for dual preem of Bunin's version at the Mayfair and Trans-Lux 52nd Street theatres on July 26 as originally scheduled. Disney's "Alice" opens at the Criterion Aug. 1.
Following arguments by the litigants' attorneys, Judge Holtzoff said: "It seems to the court that the plaintiff does not acquire any right to exclude others from producing or showing rival portrayals of 'Alice in Wonderland.' Anyone," he added, "has the legal right to make a film based on the Lewis Carroll book."
Disney's attorneys argued that Disney had acquired property rights to the classic through expenditure of large sums on production and advertising. However, in the decision direct from the bench, Holtzoff held that "competition should be encouraged rather than suppressed," adding that he was unable to find where Disney had equitable rights which would merit an injunction against the defendants.
In bringing the action two weeks ago, Disney charged his version represents a $4,125,000 investment which would be jeopardized by the concurrent release of the Bunin Aim. Defendants, in addition to distrib Souvaine, are Harry Brandt and Picto Corp., representing the Mayfair and Trans-Lux Theatres.
Disney reps claim that Brandt made the deal for the Bunin version for his houses after he had been turned down for run of Disney's "Alice" at the Mayfair. Latter had Broadway first run on Disney's last cartoon feature, "Cinderella."
July 19, 1951
‘ALICE’ WAR EXTENDING ACROSS U.S.
New York, July 18.—Competition between two versions of "Alice in Wonderland" is expected to hit white heat here, with disclosure that the two films will open on Broadway virtually day-and-date. Circuit head Harry Brandt has decided to book Lou Bunin's live-action puppet version made in France in three theatres—opening simultaneously July 26 at the Mayfair, Trans-Lux 72nd St., and Midtown.
In direct answer to that move, the Walt Disney office has set its cartoon version for preem at the Criterion July 28, moving up from original date of Aug. 1 thus giving the Bunin film a two-day start.
RKO, meanwhile, is rushing to get as many dates as possible lined up for the Disney production in order to beat the Bunin version in the key cities. Sales manager Robert Mochrie revealed that about 260 theatres in the U.S. and Canada have set owning dates for the Disney film coming August.
In contrast, it is reported that Souvaine Selective Pictures, distrib of Bunin's "Alice," currently has a limited number of prints of its picture to shoot onto the market, and it will take several weeks at least to obtain processing on sufficient quantity to compare with the 400-odd which Disney already has in the RKO exchanges.
July 26, 1951
Telecomics, Inc., producers of animation comic features for video, has changed name to Illustrate, Inc.
July 30, 1951
Using Animations In Four Poster'
Stanley Kramer will utilize animated paintings in "Four Poster," slated for fall production with Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer starred under direction of Irving Reis.
Eight animations will be produced for Kramer by John Hubley, veepee of United Prods, of America.
August 1, 1951
Bowl's Dough Woes Hypos MGM Cartoon
As result of extensive nationwide publicity given current financial troubles of the Hollywood Bowl, Fred Quimby, Metro cartoon producer, reports marked upsurge of repeat bookings for the one-reel cartoon, "Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl."
Alice In Wonderland
SOUVAINE SLECTIVE PICTURES RELEASE of a Lou Bunin production. Producer, Lou Bunin; Director, Dallas Hower; Screenplay, Henry Myers, Albert Lewin, Edward Elisen, from story by Lewis Carroll; music, Royal Philharmonic Orch.
CAST—Stars Carol Marsh. Features Stephen Murray, Pamela Brown, Felix Aylmer, Ernest Milton, David Read, Raymond Bussieres, Elizabeth Henson, Joan Dale.
PREVIEWED at Brandt's Mayfalr, Trans-Lux 72nd and Midtown theatres, NY, July 26, 1951. Running time: 83 mins
Viewing two versions of "Alice In Wonderland" in a single week leads to only one conclusion: The Lewis Carroll classic would better be left between the covers of a book. Its fragile, satirical humor seems hardly satisfactory material for a film.
Lou Bunin's version, a combination of puppets and live action, now going into release concurrently with Walt Disney's all-cartoon entry (reviewed in DAILY VARIETY July 2), is in some respects better and in some worse than the Disney.
Sidestepping the propriety of simultaneous release, the Bunin picture will undoubtedly profit by the publicity generated by Disney and by the inevitable controversy and discussion caused by the concurrent distribution. On the other hand, it will suffer in that, faced with a choice of two "Alices," the average patron will almost naturally be tempted by the name he knows—Disney—and can hardly be expected to want to see a second version after viewing first.
Net result is mild b.o. prospects for the Bunin pic. The film per se is not attraction enough to become a "must" to any sizeable segment of filmgoers, whether adults or children, "Alice" fans or just someone looking for a casual evening's entertainment.
It is loaded with technical faults, but more basically it suffers from exactly the same defects as the version made by De-Witt C. Wheeler for the Nonpareil Feature Film Co. back in 1915, Paramount's version in 1933 and the current Disney version.
Those defects are (a) lack of a story line or continuity in the book itself to tie "Alice's" adventures together and maintain interest and (b) the apparent inability of "materializing" on film the delightful fantasy that Carroll was able to weave in words.
Although Carroll's "Alice" and "Through the Looking Glass" are children's stories that are not primarily for children, Disney has profited by taking a much more juvenile approach. He pretty much forgets the satire involved and makes a frank appeal for the moppets, which at least assures that trade.
Bunin's conception is much more intellectual and sophisticated. That would give it considerable added interest for adults were the producer able to carry through adequately.
What Bunin has cleverly conceived is a prolog in live action showing Carroll (his right name was Charles Dodgson) in his real-life role of mathematics professor at Oxford. He made up his fantasies to tell to the children of other faculty members there.
The "Wonderland" story immediately followed a tea at the university for Queen Victoria and her consort. By showing the live action of the queen, college officials and faculty and then following it at once by "Alice's" adventures after falling down the rabbit hole, similarity between the people Carroll was satirizing and the animals of his topsy-turvy land immediately becomes clear. It gives the Aim meaning.
Unfortunately, Bunin wasn't able to carry through technically. His concept is correct of "Alice" being a real girl, instead of a puppet or drawing. But the puppet animals, while in general following the famed John Tenniel drawings, are crude and frequently lacking in charm. And the stylized backgrounds—or lack of backgrounds—make it look 1'ke Bunin was primarily con-cemed with saving money on art.
And the Ansco color is utterly fantastic. When it's good, it's beautifully realistic. But its quality is never the same over two feet of film. It either fades or radically changes color values with maddening rapidity and effect. Likewise, sound is muffled, making it frequently almost imposible to get the delightful Carroll rhyming or dialog.
Cutting is utterly devoid of fades and dissolves, making transitions between scenes often inexplicable and confusing. Souvaine, which is distributing in the U.S., has attempted to remedy this somewhat via re-editing by Leo Hurwitz, who gets screen credit for "completing the production."
Carol Marsh as "Alice" is attractive, but is obviously no child, which is disturbing. Other members of the cast in the live-action prolog provide the voices for the animals that later represent them. These include Pamela Brown as the queen; Felix Aylmer as the college dean, Alice's father, who becomes the Cheshire Cat, and Ernest Milton, the pedantic vice-chancellor, who becomes the White Rabbit. Stephen Murray plays Carroll, does some commentary in the "Wonderland" portion and voices the Knave of Hearts. Acting in the prolog is unfortunately stilted.
Bunin has stuck more closely to the Carroll original than Disney, using only words and phrases lifted from the book. This includes a couple songs, sung with mediocre results by Alice in a piping voice.
Pic was made in England and France, mostly in the latter. Bunin, an American, was invited to do it by the French government, which provided most of the financing through the subsidized Union Generale Cinematografique. Ansco color setup and the stop-motion animation processing equipment Bunin used were installed in Paris by the Germans when they occupied the city and were taken over by the French after the war.
Although four years old, pic has never been released anywhere previously because the color was so bad. It was brought to its present barely passable state recently via heavy expenditure and technical manipulation by Pathe Laboratories, NY, with which Souvaine has an indirect tieup.
August 6, 1951
Walter Lantz Moving Info TV Cartoon Prod'n
Walter Lantz is setting his sights for television shorts production, to augment his regular annual program of six "Woody Woodpecker" cartoons for UI release. Starting late next month, producer will tee off several series of animated commercial spots, which will mark his advent in new medium after having been a theatrical cartoon producer for more than 30 years.
Lantz will close down his studio Aug. 17 for a month's vacation. He usually closes down two weeks only, but due to fact that personnel completed season's output for UI ahead of schedule he's passing on this time to his staff. Studio, now being modernized, is being enlarged to accommodate forthcoming video activity.
August 8, 1951
RUDOLPH'S NOSE WILL BE RED IN TECHNICOLOR
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," standout Christmas click for the past two years, is moving into another area of exploitation via a Technicolor film short titled after the song. One-reeler is slated to wind up this week at the Jam Handy studios in Detroit, with Max Fleischer getting the animation credits.
Pic is being produced via a tie-in between Jam Handy and Johnny Marks, composer and publisher of "Rudolph" through his firm, St. Nicholas Music. Pic will be released through an indie outlet beginning in September and is seen as a further hypo to the tune's- disk sales, which went over 1,000,000 on Gene Autry's Columbia Records version in 1949 and 1950.
Harry Wilson, member of Columbia U.'s music faculty, did the choral arrangement for the cartoon.
August 20, 1951
TV Proving Bonanza To H'wood Animators
Increased use of cartoons and animations for TV commercials has created a field day for top animators. Screen Cartoonists Guild reports that employment of its members is higher than a year ago, when many switched over to the video field.
Commercial studios turning out the animated spots have been competing for services of the cartoonists, resulting in many getting hefty increase over salaries received in regular cartoon field.
August 23, 1951
The King's Men were signed yesterday by UI for vocal back-grounds for a new series of one-reel Cartoon Melodies.
UPA Negotiating Screen Gem Tieup For Commercials
United Productions of America is negotiating a deal with Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures subsidiary, for formation of subsidiary company to be known as Screen Gems of UPA, which will handle animated clips for TV commercials to be made in the east.
UPA's activities have been restricted in the past to the Coast, while Screen Gems has been making line action commercial clips and nontheatrical advertising films in NY. Under the combo, UPA would send cartoon animators to NY to handle the animated clips for quick submission to advertisers and agencies.
August 29, 1951
Dewar, Boyd Acquire Control of Illustrate
Don Dewar and Jack Boyd have purchased the interest of their partner, Dick Moores, in Illustrate, Inc., Dewar, prexy of the company, said yesterday.
He added Moores, one of the founders of the company, ankled because of ill health. Boyd will take over Moores' work in the TV film animation company.
September 11, 1951
Stan Freberg reported to Metro yesterday to do the voices for three "Tom and Jerry" cartoons.
September 12, 1951
Disney Reissuing Snow White' In '52
New York, Sept. 11.—Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" will be reissued in the U. S. next year. Film, already in reissue in France and Belgium, is running about 70% of "Cinderella's" current business in those countries.
"Snow White," first released in 1937, is counted as Disney's most successful feature. Also, it was the first feature-length cartoon from the company.
Oil industry will make a discreet pitch to theatres for exhibition of its new Technicolor cartoon, "Man On the Land." Pic, made by United Productions of America ("Gerald McBoing Boing"), was previewed for the press in New York Monday (10). The 16-minute short was produced under supervision of Film Counselors, Inc., N. Y.
Fairly entertaining and with the plug well buried, Oil Industry Information Committee hopes for fair theatrical representation, as well as normal 16m release. Robert Flaherty's "Louisiana Story," financed by Standard Oil, was given regular theatrical release (with exhibs charged for it), while OIIC's previous two films, "24 Hours of Progress" and "The Last 10 Feet," played some 600 houses on a for-free basis.
September 13, 1951
Concert pianist Jakob Gimpel, member of MGM symph orch, has been signed by Fred Quimby to play the Johann Strauss music for a new Metro cartoon, "Johann Mouse."
September 17, 1951
Walter Lantz Studio Reopening Today
Walter Lantz studios reopen today after a four-week vacation, with pay, for all personnel. Producer is planing back from Honolulu via Navy plane, after having been Navy's guest last week on California-Hawaii shakedown cruise of new flat-top, Antietam.
Lantz will immediately start his second series of six "Woody Woodpecker" cartoons for UI's 1951-52 season.
September 18, 1951
Annual Animation Art Festival of United Production of America begins Friday.
September 21, 1951
Sutherland Plug Ax Orders Up 100% To $1,500,000 For Yr.
Largest commercial film maker on the Coast, company this year will turn out excess of $1,500,000 in commercial and institutional product, Sutherland yesterday said. This is double the business handled last year.
To accommodate expanding pro-gram, company in January will open a selling and writing organization in Chicago; firm already has offices in NY. Films, both animated and live-action, are produced at Sutherland studios here.
Sutherland currently is active on total of six subjects, including a 45-min. live-action film for J. C Penney, a 30-min. live-action industrial for National Carbon Co.; 45-min. live-action feature to be filmed in Costa Rica for United Fruit Co.
Among animation subjects in work is a short for NY Stock Exchange dramatizing the function of the big board.
September 26, 1951
Latest Title Race Revolving Around Homer's 'Odyssey'
Hollywood appears to have discovered the classics. American Pictures Corp., RKO indie unit, last week followed Cecil DeMille and Metro in staking out a claim to Homer's "Odyssey."
In all, there are seven claimants to priority on the property. Metro, DeMille and American have all registered their interest with the Motion Picture Assn. of America in the past month. Which actually has first call on the classic will probably depend on which can give indication he really has a script in work and has serious intention of producing a pic. Technically, an indie, Otto Klement, would appear to have the edge, since he registered "The Odyssey" title Sept. 13, 1949. Others who have registered that label or "Homer's Odyssey" are Sam X. Abarbanel, Jan. 12, 1950; United Productions of America (cartoon makers), April 22,1960; David O. Selznick, July 3, 1950; DeMille, Aug. 20, 1951, and Metro, Aug. 27, 1951.
American Pictures also has registered "Homer's Ulysses," "Homer's Iliad," "Ulysses" and "Ulysses and Penelope."
September 27, 1951
See Disney's ‘Alice’ Grossing 15 Times As Much As Bunin's
New York, Sept. 26.—Although Walt Disney's "Alice In Wonderland" is not hitting grosses originally anticipated, and will not reach the $4,300,000 domestic gross tabbed by the producer's "Cinderella" last year, it will nevertheless be well up in list of top-grossers for 1951, with around $8,000,000 indicated. Cartoon feature has played more than 2,500 bookings to date.
In contrast, Lou Bunin's French-made live action-puppet version of "Alice," rushed into release simultaneously with the Disney feature, has been generally weak, forcing its distrib, Souvaine Selective Pictures, to accept low booking terms. On the basis of 100 datings so far the Bunin venture is not likely to hit more than $200,000 gross.
Disney, however, hit a jackpot of about $75,000 in rentals this summer on "Fantasia," which was routed into 300 drive-ins on promotional idea of "Concert Under the Stars." Picture could have played more ozoners, but operators balked at the Disney terms of single feature on A percentage terms. However, producer figures the plan can be pushed for greater returns and wider playdates next season. "Fantasia," however, is still in the red some $625,000 on original production cost of $2,250,000 when made in 1940.
October 2, 1951
On Air Waves
Colleen Collins, radio actress, will do femme voices in a Metro cartoon, "Little Johnny Jet."
October 4, 1951
United Productions of America, which fathered "Gerald McBoing-Boing" last year for Oscar acclaim, is doing animated cartoon sequence for "The Girl Next Door," at 20th-Fox.
October 12, 1951
Paul Frees will be voice of Barney Bear in Metro cartoon "Bird Brained Bird Dog."
November 7, 1951
British Cartoon 'Farm' Set By L. de Rochemont With Frozen 'Boundaries' Coin
Deal made last week by Louis de Rochemont for production in England of a feature-length animated film based on George Orwell's "The Animal Farm" will be financed with frozen pounds earned by the producer's "Lost Boundaries," De Rochemont anticipates also buying up additional frozen coin from U. S. distribs for the joint production with Halas and Batchelor Cartoon Films, Ltd., of London.
John Halas, of the British firm, Is now in New York conferring with de Rochemont and Lothar Wolff, de Rochemont's aide, on final details for the film, which is slated to begin rolling as soon as Halas returns to London. Halas is also lining up American artists to Join his European staff. "Animal Farm" will be the British outfit's first full-length theatrical cartoon.
Work on project was begun last March when Orwell's widow, now Mrs. Sonia Blair, gave an option to de Rochemont with proviso that she would have okay on script to assure preservation of spirit and intent of Orwell's social satire.
RD-DR Corp., the de Rochemont company, declined to name amount turned over for book's rights, nor would it disclose budget appropriated for the production. With production beginning almost immediately, the feature is expected to be ready for release by mid-1953.
John Reed, a former Disneyite who has been doing some work for the J. Arthur Rank organization, heads the American art delegation now in London.
November 9, 1951
Cartoonists To Huddle On Move To IATSE
Open meeting of pen-and-inkers in cartoon studios has been called for 7:30 p.m. Monday night at the Troupers Club for a discussion on the pros and cons of current IATSE move to bring cartoonists under the Alliance wing.
Meeting was set up by an IA-minded committee from the Metro, Disney, Warners and Lantz cartoon units. Roy M. Brewer, IATSE Hollywood representative, will speak on advantages of cartoonists joining the IA, while it is expected William Littlejohn, business agent for the Screen Cartoonists Guild, will speak on keeping group's present independent status.
November 12, 1951
Just For Variety
A leak in the dyke? Metro has registered the cartoon title, "TV of Tomorrow."
November 14, 1951
150G Yule TV Program Using Disney Cartoons
Johnson & Johnson (Band-Aids) has closed a deal with Walt Disney for an hour cartoon show to be telecast on Christmas Day. Disney cartoon characters will be used. Program will cost in excess of $150,000. Coca-Cola last Yule time sponsored a similar show built around Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.
Understood whichever network can clear the most stations will carry the show. Bob Hussey, of the Young & Rubicam Agency, is acting as liaison between J&J and the Disney Studio.
J. G. Lindstrom of UN film, communications section conferred yesterday with Fred Quimby, head of Metro shorts department, on new cartoon, "Peace On Earth."
November 20, 1951
Disney Prod’n Upbeat Puts Lot On 6-Day Wk.
Walt Disney Studios this week installs a six-day work week, stepping up from the five-day week schedule which has been in effect for a number of years.
Upbeat is necessary due to increased production pace on Disney's next all-cartoon feature, "Peter Pan," in addition to the large program of shorts and other product being turned out. Swing from a 40 to 48-hour week will provide production employes with increased pay for the extra time under union contracts.
November 23, 1951
Disney Yule Program Will Ride CBS-TV
Walt Disney Christmas show for Johnson & Johnson will be carried by CBS television network.
Most of the footage will be devoted to Disney cartoon characters, with an added feature being a preview of Disney's upcoming cartoon feature, "Peter Pan." Kathryn Beaumont will be hostess of the Yule party and in the live action will be seen Bobby Driscoll, Hans Conried, Bill Thompson and Don Barclay. Robert Florey directs and Bill Walsh produces. Paul Smith composes the musical score.
Technicolor Cuts Prices
Technicolor will reduce its prices, effective Dec. 1, 1951, to an amount which will save film industry an estimated $775,000 annually, based upon volume of business for first 11 months of current year, prexy Dr. Herbert T. Kalmus announced over holiday....
Under the new scale, price of 35m motion picture release prints will be slashed 15/100ths of a cent per foot, from the list now of 5.48 cents per foot to a new base price of 5.33 cents. Price reductions are entirely voluntary, Kalmus pointed out, and are not required by customer contracts.
This cut in Technicolor prices is made possible by elimination of Government's excise tax on raw film, which went into effect Nov. 1, 1951, and company's absorbing slightly more than half of increased labor cost, color exec stated....
New prices will apply to every form of Technicolor product, exec said, including shorts, cartoons, industrial and all other types of film.
November 27, 1951
Cartoonists Vote In January For Bargaining Rep
Mail ballots for an election to determine whether the IATSE or Screen Cartoonists Guild will be the bargaining rep for cartoonists will be sent out Jan. 10 and returns will be counted by the NLRB at 8 p.m. Jan. 21. Eligibles will be pen-and-inkers on payrolls of Disney, Warners, Lantz, Metro and United Productions, week of Nov. 1924.
Date for balloting was set yesterday at an NLRB huddle with Roy M. Brewer and Zeal Fairbanks representing IATSE and William Littlejohn repping the Screen Cartoonists Guild. Date was made firm with exception that Littlejohn reserved the right to confer with the SCG exec board.
Election is on a multiple-unit basis, covering cartoon plants that are members of the Screen Cartoonists Association.
December 3, 1951
George Bosustow [sic], president of United Productions—cartoon organization which created "Gerald McBoing-Boing" among others—will be named "Hollywood's man of the year" by Holiday magazine, at awards luncheon to be held at Dave Chasen's Friday.
December 5, 1951
Pic on Rita-Aly Safari Woos Col Completion Coin, Distrib Setup
Deal on Columbia distribution and financing for completion of a documentary starring Rita Hayworth is being talked on the Coast. Pic, titled "Safari So Good," was shot by Jackson Leighter while accompanying Miss Hayworth and her estranged husband, Aly Kahn, on a four-month hunting trek into the African veldt earlier this year. ...
Leighter figures it will require about $75,000 to finish the film as he plans. That calls for the Harman-Ising studios in Hollywood to provide color cartoon sequences around the live action to insert a sort of story line into the pic. This would be somewhat similar to the technique Walt Disney used on "Saludos Amigos," with which Leighter was associated as Coast rep for the U. S. Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (Rockefeller Committee).
December 12, 1951
Gordon Sheehan has joined the Chi Sarra office as animation director.
December 13, 1951
FOR ITS EXPENDITURE of $250,000 for an hour network video Christmas show featuring the Walt Disney cartoon characters, Johnson & Johnson will devote less time to institutional advertising than any hour show in TV history. Firm name will be mentioned only three times and leadoff will be only that J & J dedicates the program to doctors, nurses, internes and druggists. The entire commercial content will not exceed one minute. Johnson & Johnson paid $150,000 to Disney for the program, which comprises 18 minutes of newly produced film and the rest clips from Disney cartoons. Time and facilities will run around $25,000 and added to this will be agency commission and publicity-promotion.
December 21, 1951
Disney Foundation Will Aid Charities
Walt Disney Foundation has been formed as a corporation by the cartoon producer, as both an educational and charitable organization. Visual education, a subject in which the producer has been interested for years, will be given particular accent in the Foundation's activities.
Board of trustees will be set up upon return from Europe of Roy Disney, prexy of Disney Productions, over the weekend. It's expected that Disney will make a yearly contribution to the organization. Amount also will be set when the two Disneys and Gunther Lessing, veepee and general counsel of DP, meet.
December 24, 1951
Fairbanks Buys Back 260 Vidpix From NBC
Telepix producer Jerry Fairbanks is paying NBC about $200,000 for all rights to more than 260 video films which his company has made for the net.
Deal returns to the producer all product made for the web, and gives him a huge stockpile which he is making available immediately to local and regional sponsors.
Included in transaction were 195 "Crusader Rabbit" animation programs, 26 "Public Prosecutor" shows, 86 "Going Places With Uncle George" and 18 "Jackson and Jill" half-hour comedies. Return of the properties gives Fairbanks a total of more than 500 films.
December 26, 1951
'Bert Turtle' Cartoon As CD Guide to Kids
Film, titled "Duck and Cover," was produced by Archer Productions, Inc., a New York outfit, in cooperation with the FCDA and the National Education Assn. Film, which runs 10 minutes, is skedded to be released this month, and will be distribbed by Castle Films Division of United World Films, Inc.
Cartoon character is also featured in a 16-page booklet. Transcribed radio program, featuring "Bert," also is being distributed to state civil defense directors.
Columbia rushed through an eight-minute Technicolor short, "Rooty Toot Toot," to qualify for Academy Award consideration this year, offering it last Thursday (20), along with "Death of a Salesman" at the Victoria, N. Y. Work, based on the folk song, "Frankie and Johnny," is a rollicking ballad in ballet form, its story dealing with Frankie's trial for shooting the cheating Johnny. Story is told through flashbacks by Nellie Bly, a bartender, and Frankie’s defense attorney. Singing and terping combine with unusual background art work (some of it surrealist in nature) for a sock cartoon job, full of wit and humor, Phil Moore wrote a new arrangement of the "Frankie and Johnny" music, with Annette Warren recording the vocals. John Hubley scripted and directed, with ballerina Olga Lunick outlining the choreography for Hubley and animator Art Babbitt.
December 27, 1951
Cartoonists Ballots Must Be In Jan. 20
NLRB ballots for designate of bargaining agent by film cartoonists will be mailed out Jan. 10, returnable within 10 days. Vote will be for Screen Cartoonists Guild, IATSE or no union.
December 31, 1951
Heck Allen, on Metro cartoon story staff, has his fourth Western novel, "Wolf-Eye—The Bad One," on the stands, under by-line of Will Henry.