Saturday, 24 November 2018

O'Gulliver

The Hanna-Barbera studio wasn’t only spending 1967 plying kids with Squiddly Diddley and the Impossibles. It was making cartoons that kids never saw. Nor were they supposed to.

The studio had set up an industrial unit several years earlier, making films for businesses and corporations. One of its industrial cartoons that year was for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and entitled The Incredible Voyage of Mark O’Gulliver.

Its message of “let business police themselves/less government oversight” was something you would have found in an animated short by John Sutherland Productions in the late ’40s and early ’50s. In a way, this is a Sutherland cartoon, as John’s brother Ross was employed by Hanna-Barbera overseeing its industrial operations. Some of H-B’s other industrial pictures at the time were Another Language (AT&T), Wings of Tomorrow (Boeing), the acclaimed Time For Decision (American Cancer Society) and Advertising 1967, starring Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble and a disembodied woman’s hand pushing Busch beer.

The industry-friendly Business Screen Magazine, in its June 1967 edition, profiled O’Gulliver, with the drawings below.
A Humorous Parable on the Problem of BIG Government
U. S. Chamber of Commerce Pictures a Congressman's Visit to "Animalia"

THE Government of the United States is the biggest entity in the country today. It is the biggest employer. Biggest borrower. Biggest lender. It is the biggest landowner, the biggest tenant. It is the greatest single customer of this country's industrial production. It is the biggest in almost everything — and it is getting bigger all the time.
Starting with these ominous facts, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, in association with Hanna-Barbera Studios, has produced an immensely amusing, but highly-significant film. The film's story takes the form of a humorous parable, in which a mythical U.S. Congressman. Mark O'Gulliver, becomes shipwrecked on a remote Pacific isle — among a community of hilarious animals whose society, unfortunately, is all too similar to our own. For in trying to find his way back to civilization, Mark O'Gulliver encounters all the frustrations, the obstacles, indeed, the paralysis which results from stuffy bureaucracy.
Serious Note Beneath a Light Approach
The 25-minute color film, an animated cartoon titled The Incredible Voyage of Mark O'Gulliver, is most entertaining. The animation is superb and the animal-characters are delightful. But, for all its humor and wit, the film poses some ominous questions about Big Government. As originally conceived, our society was to embrace a range of interests so vast that no one interest or branch of government could become the dominant power. This concept was embodied in our system of checks and balances, as everyone knows.
But times have changed. and the composition of government has changed also. The administrative tasks of government have become so immense that a gigantic bureaucracy has grown up within the past fifty years.
Now, a bureaucracy possesses certain features which automatically make it a hazard. First of all, a bureaucracy is hierarchy — a pyramid of authority, with power transferred from the pinnacle down toward the broader base. Second, all activities are governed by fixed, written rules. And finally people are hired to perform certain specialized functions which are impersonal and supposed to lie outside the political realm. All of this leads to inflexibility.
The hazards of this kind of organization are vividly portrayed in the film. We see, for instance, how government by the true legislative process has become eroded with government by bureaucratic fiat. And the film illustrates other pitfalls inherent in big government: decision-making reduced to thoughtless routine; the self-perpetuation of bureaucratic inertia.
Where to Obtain a Print of This Film
The film may be used by local chambers of commerce, business groups, trade associations, schools, unions, church and civic groups interested in public affairs. It has been cleared for television showings.
Prints and full information may be had from the Audio-Visual Department of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, 1615 H St.. N. W.. Washington. D. C. 20006.



If you’re curious about what the film looked like, you can view it below at the 6:44. Carl Urbano, one of the original Tom and Jerry animators for Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna in 1940, is the director. Art Scott, whose career took him to Disney, his own studio and Bob Clampett’s Snowball before arriving at Hanna-Barbera, wrote the film, while UPA veteran Bob Dranko is the designer. Interestingly, the studio didn’t get Ted Nichols or Hoyt Curtin to write the score. It was put in the hands of Dean Elliott, who was writing music for the Chuck Jones’ Tom and Jerrys.

There are no voice credits, but you’ll recognise Don Messick, Allen Melvin, Hal Smith and John Stephenson, who does a poetic not-quite sing-speak at the end.

I should warn you someone has spliced in unrelated films throughout this version. You can see and hear Joy Hodges sing “Daddy” which should be familiar to lovers of cartoons.

6 comments:

  1. What a fascinating cartoon! And as a blue collar worker myself, I can definitely relate to being tied up with "Green Hemp".

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  2. You mentioned Dean Elliott. I wish you'd do a piece on him, because I'm curious as to how he ever landed a career as a cartoon music composer. I rate his scores for Chuck Jones and DePatie-Freleng as among the worst ever.

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    1. There was a Dean Elliott who led an orchestra during the 1950s New York live era of TV and arranged for acts in Vegas; I'm sure it's the same guy, judging by a story in Boxoffice when the Phantom Tollbooth came out. The first Elliott cartoon credit I've spotted is "Magoo's Puddle Jumper." He recorded some exotica in the late '50s.
      He was represented for a time by Charles Stern, who repped June Foray, Paul Frees and other cartoon voice people.
      Oh, and his orchestra backed a 1947 radio show starring Mel Torme which featured Janet Waldo in his cast.

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  3. Did Dranko the Dragster do designs for LINUS THE LIONHEARTED? A lot of those animal designs look like characters from that series...

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    1. Scott, I've seen George Cannata, Jr.'s name on Linus as being credited with character models. Dranko has a layout credit, though.

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  4. i wonder what other Industrial films did Hanna-Babera make besides these ones being mentioned here in this blog post.

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