Saturday, 2 October 2021

The Dragon Slayer

The industrial cartoons from John Sutherland Productions were never nominated for Oscars, even though some appeared in theatres. Perhaps Academy rules stated that only entertainment cartoons were eligible.

Yet the Sutherland shorts did win honours at various festivals. An example is The Dragon Slayer, a short designed by Du Pont to explain its security plan to company employees. It was honoured at the tenth Edinburgh Festival in 1956.

Only a handful of Sutherland’s output is on-line for viewing. I imagine reels of these industrial films are turning to vinegar somewhere in storage. This cartoon doesn’t appear to be on-line. The humans look similar to ones in other Sutherland cartoons around this time, such as It's Everybody's Business (1954)

Business Screen magazine of March 1956 ran a profile of the cartoon with some frames from it.

Showing Workers Facts on Security
E. I. du Pont de Nemours Sponsors "The Dragon Slayer" to Show Range of Employee Benefits in Palatable, Entertaining Picture
Sponsor: E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
Title: The Dragon Slayer, 19 min, color, produced by John Sutherland Productions, Inc.

■ Du Pont's new film on the company s industrial relations plans is a fascinating allegory based on the security available to all employees through the nine various plans for disability wages, accident and health insurance, hospital-surgical coverage contributory and non-contributory group life insurance, payroll allotment insurance, vacation, pension and thrift.
Sir Evans, a knight of old, goes forth to battle the menacing dragons. Only through the protection of armor made for him by his trusty squire, D.I.R.P. can he slay the dragons without being singed by their fiery blasts.
But knights in legends aren't the only ones to fear dragons. Most of us, like Ed Blevins, hero of this tale, have the modern-day dragons of insecurity to reckon with. But Ed, like Sir Evans, also has the protection of D.I.R.P., in this case the Du Pont Industrial Relations Plans, which are outstanding examples of how a company helps its employees help themselves.
The Dragon Slayer is an animated cartoon in Technicolor. It succeeds in telling the D.I.R.P. story, and at the same time provides a good deal of entertainment. Particularly attractive are scenes in which the backgrounds are painted on tapestry material, a fine setting for dragon slaying.
Du Pont will show the film to all employees and their families.

The British Film Institute site states that Bill Melendez directed the short with Marvin Miller providing narration. I don’t recollect who the other artists were at Sutherland then. Maurice Noble might still have been doing layouts. I can’t help but wonder if “Sir Evans” is named for Osmond Evans, an animator with Melendez at UPA.

If a dub of this short is hidden away on the internet, please let me know as I’d really like to see it.

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