Tag Archives: Charles A. Nichols

The Saga of Windwagon Smith (1961, Charles A. Nichols)

There’s nothing good about The Saga of Windwagon Smith. The best thing about it is the extended opening titles, which eat up some of the runtime and lessen the cartoon’s awfulness.

The animation happily plays at the nexus of lazy, incompetent and bad. Director Nichols–who cowrote–at least could’ve come up with an interesting visualization for his dumb story.

Instead, he relies on singing narration. It, and the dialogue, all rhymes. Except they’re bad rhymes, which makes one wonder how much time anyone spent on Windwagon. It’s like they wrote the dialogue first and the couplet at some later point.

Rex Allen is equally obnoxious as the protagonist and narrator.

The most striking thing about the cartoon, however, is the rampant racism. There are multiple Native American jokes, a Chinese one, but it also mocks the Kansas townspeople as moronic rednecks.

Windwagon‘s a dreadful way to spend twelve minutes.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Charles A. Nichols; written by Lance Nolley and Nichols; animated by Julius Svendsen and Art Stevens; music by George Bruns; production designer, Ernie Nordli; produced by Walt Disney; released by Buena Vista Releasing Company.

Starring Rex Allen (Windwagon Smith) and J. Pat O’Malley (Mayor Crum); narrated by Allen.


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Food for Feudin’ (1950, Charles A. Nichols)

Food for Feudin’ has some really strong animation, but also some weak. There’s a great sequence where Chip and Dale crawl into these gardening gloves and confuse the heck out of Pluto. During that sequence, the animation is spectacular. Earlier, when the chipmunks are gathering nuts… not so spectacular.

The cartoon isn’t particularly charming during that first sequence. Once the gloves come on, however, things get a lot better. It’s too bad Nichols forgets the landscape and moves Pluto’s doghouse from offscreen right to offscreen left. It sends the cartoon out on a technical weak note.

Some of the problem is the reliance on the chipmunks at the beginning. Dale’s dumb but Chip’s a bit of a jerk and a bully. They’re not fun to spend time with in Feudin’. Pluto’s growing presence helps.

So Food for Feudin’ is basically half a good cartoon; that glove sequence is really memorable.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Charles A. Nichols; written by Milt Schaffer and Dick Kinney; animated by George Kreisl, George Nicholas and Judge Whitaker; music by Paul J. Smith; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Pinto Colvig (Pluto), Dessie Flynn (Dale) and James MacDonald (Chip).


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Grand Canyonscope (1954, Charles A. Nichols)

In Grand Canyonscope, Donald Duck is the typical disrespectful, annoying American tourist. What’s funny about the cartoon is how–in 1954–it was one in every bunch of tourists… whereas now it’s the inverse.

The cartoon’s in CinemaScope and director Nichols uses the width to mixed effect. There are some great iconic frames of the Grand Canyon, which eventually gets destroyed, but the action in those frames doesn’t need to be CinemaScope.

After Doanld’s initial acts of casual disrespect, things get much worse. But it’s not Donald’s fault. It’s dimwit Ranger Woodlore, yet Canyonscope blames Donald for all the destruction.

Since Nichols’s CinemaScope direction is so flash in the pan, there’s really nothing to recommend the cartoon. It has no comedic gags, except a great sight gag of small planetoid Woodlore on a mule, just chases through the imagery.

Still, there’s good voice work from Clarence Nash and Bill Thompson.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Charles A. Nichols; written by Milt Schaffer and Nick George; animated by John Sibley and Julius Svendsen; music by Oliver Wallace; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Clarence Nash (Donald Duck) and Bill Thompson (Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore).


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