A scene from PAUL BUNYAN, directed by Les Clark for Buena Vista Pictures.

Paul Bunyan (1958, Les Clark)

The beginning of Paul Bunyan is cute. It’s little Paul Bunyan (though a giant) growing up in Maine. Very cute. The song, which later becomes annoying, is well-used. Director Clark’s direction is pretty good throughout, though once Paul’s enormous ox, Babe, enters the picture, Clark loses control of the perspective.

But that slip isn’t the interesting part about Bunyan. No, it’s the middle section. The cartoon explains how Paul and Babe are responsible for the North American landscape (not billions of years of tectonic shifts). If one were a conspiracy theorist, he or she could use Bunyan as a case of popular entertainment indoctrinating children to be unquestioning morons.

The final part, featuring Paul versus evil city folk, continues that thread.

Thurl Ravenscroft gives a lousy performance as Paul, which–in addition to the willful stupidity–drags down the cartoon.

And the animation’s never on par with Clark’s direction.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Les Clark; written by Lance Nolley and Ted Berman; animated by George Goepper, Jerry Hathcock, Ken Hultgren, Fred Kopietz, George Nicholas, Jack Parr, John Sibley and Robert W. Youngquist; music by George Bruns; produced by Walt Disney; released by Buena Vista Pictures.

Starring Thurl Ravenscroft (Paul Bunyan), Parley Baer (Chris Crosshaul) and Dal McKennon (Cal McNab).

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One thought on “Paul Bunyan (1958, Les Clark)”

  1. Walt Disney didn’t get where he got by reaching up towards sophistication; he brought culture down to his and every other country bumpkin’s level.

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