A Cavalcade of Short Subject Reviews Part 23: 1958-1963
See the previous installment here: http://fan.tcm.com/_A-Cavalcade-of-Short-Subject-Reviews-Part-22-1953-1957/blog/5094160/66470.html
Tossing some more vintage reviews from back issues of BoxOffice Magazine, all found here: http://www.boxofficemagazine.com/the_vault#crumbs_nav
April 7, 1958: Trees and Jamaica Daddy (UPA-Columbia, Lew Keller)
(Released December 1957) First of UPA's new Ham and Hattie series, this presents a little girl playing with a mechanical bird and cat against a background of trees. The drawings are cleverly childlike. Then, in a second section, Hamilton Ham and his players render the calypso song, "De Family Tree," as the cartoon family characters increase in number.
December 17, 1958 (release date): Grand Canyon (Walt Disney, James Algar; camera: Ernst A. Heiniger)
(Synopsis listed in two 1960 issues) Completely musical with no dialog or narration. Ferde Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite," conducted by Frederick Stork, is played as scene shots of the Canyon ore shown, along with its wildlife. (Cinema-Scope)
November 9, 1959 (released date): The Boy Who Owned a Melephant (Gayle-Swimmer-Anthony-Universal-International)
(Synopsis listed in two 1960 issues) The whimsical tale of a boy who wanted a live elephant as a pet, so his mother "gives" him the elephant m the zoo. His pride of ownership is resented by his playmates, but he soon learns to share and accepts them as equal owners. Narrated by Tallulah Bankhead.
December 1959 (release date): Moonbird (Storyboard, John & Faith Hubley)
(Synopsis listed in 3-7-61 issue) Two small tots attempt to capture a bird in their garden by digging a hole and baiting the bird with food. Tiring of watching them, the bird finally walks right into the house with them.
April 25, 1960: Wonders of Ontario (Columbia, completed and previewed in 1956)
Good. The latest in this popular series offers fine views in Eastman color of this historic and colorful area of Canada with the plus features of commentary by George Jessel and vocals by Bill Hayes, who handled the same chores for the preceding films showing Manhattan, New Orleans, Washington and Puerto Rico. Among the wonders visited are Toronto, the Canadian National
Exhibition, Martyrs' Shrine and Niagara Palls. Produced and directed by Harry Foster.
May 9, 1960: Ageless Artistry (Universal-Inernational)
Beautiful color photography by Edward Lambert shares with the subject matter the appeal of this fine short about the influence of Benvenuto Cellini on present-day handcrafting of fine metals and ceramics in Italy. Lending themselves especially to camera work in color are the scenes of workers on art objects while American tourists stand by. There ore also effective shots of the home of Savonarola, Sorrento, Amalfi, Venice and, inevitably, the leaning tower of Pisa. Thomas Mead produced and Richard Wright directed.
September 26, 1960: The Big A (Sports Illustrated-Paramount, Leslie Winik)
Very good. The highly competitive sport of horseracing is excitingly shown in this second subject in the new Paramount Eastman Color series produced by Leslie Winik in association with Sports Illustrated magazine. It covers the activities of the thoroughbred sport from the breeding farms in Kentuckyto the victory of Hail to Reason, two-year-old of the 1960 season, at Aqueduct. Racing fans will find it fascinating and others will find it colorful and fascinating. The aspect ratio is 2:55-1. The title, of course, refers to Aqueduct, just beginning its second year of existence
and huge and modern in every respect.
October 19, 1960: Day of the Painter (Little Films-Kingsley International)
Filmed by Little Movies, in Eastman Color, this is a delightfully different short which is a clever satire on abstract art and will be appreciated by the masses, as well as patrons in the class houses. The picture, which is almost part of a "New Wave" of filmmaking, was written and directed by Robert Prunier Davis, with Duard Guise Slattery heading production and Ezra Reuben
Baker, serving as producer and leading man —that of a painter who splashes various colored paints over a huge canvas. He then cuts up the canvas into small squares and sells one of them to a Museum of Modern Art curator who flies in for the occasion. The painter then tosses the other squares into the water. The original musical score, composed and performed by Eddy Manson, includes the quacking of a brood of ducks. This rates nomination for next year's Academy Awards.
November 28, 1960: The Interview (Pintoff-Crossbow)
Winner of an award at the recent Cork Film Festival, this cartoon short from the drawing board of Ernest Pintoff, who produced and directed, is based on a recorded interview with a cool cat jazzter and a square (meaning average human being) and is thus best suited to the art spots, where class patrons will find if amusing—most regular moviegoers might find it meaningless. Basically, this is a personality study with the jazzter depicted as a stammering, inarticulate modern youth
February 6, 1961: A Bowl of Cherries (George Edgar-Kingsley International)
(24 minutes) Good—in the art houses. An off-beat novelty for the class or art spots, this George Edgar production, written and directed by William Kronick, was entirely filmed in New York's Greenwich Village and is obviously a showcase for a group of off-Broadway actors including Elmorie Wendel, featured in the current musical "Little Mary Sunshine." Photographed at 16 frames per second in the style of the old Mack Sennett silent comedies, the picture has title cards, a jazzy musical score and much grimacing by all the players, representing Village beatniks or artists. A satire on modern abstract art there are many chuckles for sophisticates even if it will seem long-drawn-out to the ordinary moviegoer.
May 1, 1961: Rooftops of New York (McCarty-Rush-Gaffney)
(Live-Action Short, 10 Minutes) True-to-life and thoroughly amusing this color short filmed entirely in Manhattan by Robert McCorty and Lockwood Rush will make an entertaining adjunct to any film program. Because it shows New Yorkers basking in the sun, making love and doing ordinary household chores on Manhattan rooftops in the summer, it will especially delight the natives of the greatest city in the world. The players are attractive newcomers, particularly Susan Wagner as the Girl in Red. An original jazz score written by Joseph Liebman is performed by Lionel Hampton, a big name in the music world.
January 29, 1962: Katie’s Lot (Thalia Films-Edward Schreiber)
An ideal short subject for art houses, "Katie's Lot" might be equally accepted in regular theatres. Parents who have teenagers will be especially amused over the problems, frustrations and dreams of the central character, portrayed here by Jenny Hecht, daughter of Ben Hecht, the well-known author. The film, photographed in excellent color by Torben Johnke, examines the bittersweet dilemma of a young girl as she bridges the gap between tomboy tendencies and her first party dress. She lives in an adolescent world of fantasy in which she imagines she is both a pet horse and the rider until she reluctantly has to release the imaginary horse and start to live in a world of realism. The picture was based on actual incidents in the life of the producer's daughter, with her tomboyhood, her secret admiration for a neighbor boy and her party dress which she wears on her first date to attend a party. In addition to the simple story, a plus value is the colorful autumn foliage of suburbia. The picture was produced independently by Edward Schreiber, who also wrote the screenplay. Nicholas Webster directed. Stu Phillips composed the background music. Also in the cast are Diana Collins, George Linjeris and P. Barney Goodman.
December 24, 1962: The Shoes (Union Films, Ernest Pintoff)
(live-action comedy, 25 minutes) Written, directed and produced by Ernest Pintoff, who created the animated shorts, "The Violinist" and "The Interview," in 1961, this tragi-comic featurette has a Chaplin-esque quality, especially as regards the portrayal of Buddy Hackett, who enacts his role mainly in pantomime. This is ideal fare for the art houses, where it rates marquee billing. Hackett, who is currently featured in both "The Music Man" and "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm," plays a lonely New Yorker who covets a pair of black-and-white shoes. Except for stealing the shoes and having a dance with a girl in a neighborhood bar, practically nothing else happens but Hackett's touching performance is a standout. The background shots of familiar Manhattan locations are excellent.
February 25, 1963: The John Glenn Story (William Hendricks-Warner Bros.)
The many-times told story of the John Glenn flight still contains new elements of excitement and Interest when seen in this color short from actual footage combined -with documentary shots of Glenn's home town. This is entertaining and interesting and contains many of the thrills which you couldn't catch on a small television screen at home. The commentary by Jack Webb, skillful editing, and a fine production by William L. Hendricks, writer and producer on the show, which was personally supervised by Jack L. Warner, makes this featurette into a socko film. Alert exhibitors will give this a big play as a prelude to the next orbital flight soon to start. While it isn't generally accepted that a short subject can help business, the topical nature of this story can bring out the American Legion, civic groups and others on a patriotic theme.
April 1, 1963 (post Oscar reviews): Icarus Montgolfier Wright (Format Films-United Artists, Jules Engel)
A most unusual dramatic documentary-type short this has striking animation by Joe Magnam, resembling oil paintings, startling color work and haunting music accompanying narration dealing with man's conquest of space. Produced by Jules Engel and written by Ray Bradbury, this is good enough to rate marquee and lobby mention but care must be taken not to call it a cartoon although it has a nomination for the 1962 Academy Award in the short subject category, The title refers to Icarus the youth of Greek mythology, who flew so high that the sun melted his wax wings; Montgolfier, the French brothers who invented the hot air ball in 1783 and the Wright Bros., who made the first successful flight in a mechanically propelled machine in 1903.
A Symposium on Popular Song(s) (Walt Disney, Bill Justice)
One of Walt Disney's rare new cartoons, this song-filled featurette emanates from Walt Disney’s
“Wonderful World of Color" on NBC-TV with the Professor wig von Drake, Donald Duck’s eccentric uncle, making his screen debut. In addition to being entertaining, this Technicolor short is semi-educational in that it traces the trends in popular music from the ragtime of the early 1900s to today’s Twist. Included are movable paper cutouts, Betty Boopie Doop singing “Charleston Charlie”, Rah Rah Rudy singing with his megaphone, Crosby Crooner singing “I’m Blue For You” and, finally, “Rock, Rumble and Roar”. Written and styled by Xavler Atenclo and directed by Bill Justice.