Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Transitioning in the Unicorn in the Garden

Characters remain stationary while the background changes in the UPA cartoon Unicorn in the Garden (released 1953). Psychiatrist I. Ego doesn’t move as he’s transported from his office into the home of an evil wife done in by her scheme to have her mild-mannered husband committed to an insane asylum.

The Oscar-winning short Gerald McBoing-Boing did the same sort of thing. It also used colour for mood. This cartoon does the same. The interior of the house is dominated by the psychopathic wife. It is dark. But toward the end of the cartoon, when the husband enters, the home suddenly become bright. Why? Because the wife is in a straight-jacket about to meet the fate she schemed to give her husband.

The meek guy suddenly smiles at the end. He’s rid of his abuser. And there’s another transition from indoors to outdoors.

Bill Hurtz directed the short with animation credited to Phil Monroe, Rudy Larriva and Tom McDonald.


  1. It was based in a tale written and drawn by James Thurber.

  2. Man: "Darling! I saw an unicorn! And it was eating the flowers of the garden!"
    Wife: "Unicorn is a myth from Greece."
    Man: "Darling! I saw the unicorn eating the flowers!"
    Wife: "I think you're nuts!"

    These are the phrases which outstand this short.

  3. "That's all I wanted to know", said the psychiatrist. "Take her away. I'm sorry, sir, but your wife is as crazy as a jaybird". So, they took her away, cursing and screaming, and shut her up in an institution. The husband lived happily ever after.
    MORAL: Don't count your boobies until they are hatched.

  4. That last transition always seemed a little odd noticing the Booby in the background at first is bigger until the man dissolves out of the scene (I'm sure that was a limitation of having already zoomed in on the guy then pulling the camera back out for the remainder of the shot, but it's a minor gaffe).

    I also love the transitions in another UPA cartoon "Madeline", the way the girls have to sometimes move from one position to another when the transition takes place.

  5. In a Buster Keaton film (I think it was "Seven Chances"), there is a scene where Buster gets into his car, there is a dissolve, and Buster has arrived at his destination, though the car remains in the same position onscreen.