Tag Archives: Clyde Geronimi

Susie the Little Blue Coupe (1952, Clyde Geronimi)

Bill Peet, who came up with the story for Susie the Little Blue Coupe and co-wrote the final script, must have thought American kids didn’t have enough depressing classic Russian literature in their lives. It’s a seriously disturbed, if fantastic, cartoon.

Susie tells the story of a happy little car named, you guessed it, Susie. Some guy buys her and she lives a happy life, or so she thinks… because it turns out the guy doesn’t do maintenance until its too late and then abandons her.

She suffers in a used car lot, then ends up in the possession of a small-time drunk. She suffers even worse in his care before the climax–a junkyard.

Director Geronimi showcases the suffering, one upping it every time.

The animation’s great, the pacing’s great, it’s just a disquieting cartoon. Geronimi and Peet introduce a lovable character only to make her suffer.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Clyde Geronimi; screenplay by Bill Peet and Don DaGradi, based on a story by Peet; animated by Bob Carlson, Ollie Johnston, Hal King and Cliff Nordberg; music by Paul J. Smith; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Stan Freberg (Junkyard owner); narrated by Sterling Holloway.


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The Story of Anyburg U.S.A. (1957, Clyde Geronimi)

The Story of Anyburg U.S.A. is an odd one. A small town decides to sue cars–personified here as cute, the windshields as big eyes–for all the auto accidents.

Sadly, Anyburg opens with a lot more energy–the narrator goes on and on about homicides on the highway and such and it doesn’t seem Disney at all.

A lengthy courtroom sequence, with some really bad rhyming dialogue, takes up the rest of the cartoon. As the prosecutor brings up witless witnesses, Anyburg‘s point is clear–people are responsible, not the cars.

Well, duh.

But were Americans in the fifties really willing to take responsibility for themselves? Anyburg makes it seem possible, if not probable.

The animation is fantastic–the courtroom scene’s dynamic, as are the car sequences–but it’s hard to get enthusiastic about the cartoon. Geronimi doesn’t bring any entertainment to the public service announcement.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Clyde Geronimi; written by Dick Huemer; animated by Bob Carlson, George Kreisl and John Sibley; music by Joseph Dubin; produced by Walt Disney; released by Buena Vista Film Distribution Co.

Starring Hans Conried (Prosecutor), Thurl Ravenscroft (Cyrus P. Sliderule) and Bill Thompson (Defense Attorney).


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Lady and the Tramp (1955, Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske)

Lady and the Tramp was Disney’s first CinemaScope film. Amusingly, though an academy ratio version was produced at the same time, the modern home video unit created a pan and scan version for DVD, instead of just using that full frame version. Nice of them. We watched the CinemaScope version this time (the fiancée occasionally informs me we’re having Disney festivals). Though Disney’s finest visual achievement, Sleeping Beauty, was a few years later, Lady and the Tramp in CinemaScope is a breaking of the motion picture. The modern visual language of cinema grew from these films, owing everything to these early widescreen Disney pictures. Film–even with special effects–simply couldn’t do what Lady and the Tramp does… there’s no worry about focus in the frame, no worry camera movements… it’s incredibly free. Of course, as special effects and cameras have become able to duplicate Tramp’s achievements, no one has used them as well.

Unfortunately, the other inspiration from these Disney films is the damn set-piece. In Lady and the Tramp, it’s the songs. There’s an incredibly useless song in the middle of an incredibly useless scene (Lady in the pound), one only used to bring in the song. Without the scene, the film would move smoother… all it does is bring in new characters. These CinemaScope Disney films inspired George Lucas quite a bit and he one-ups Walt on these superfluous characters–Lucas made action figures out of them after all. That scene, along with the ending, foul up the otherwise pleasant experience. The ending, however, owes a lot more to old Hollywood–with the romantic leads taking backseat to the eccentric supporting casts.

Before that first, fiancée-induced Disney film festival in 2003, I never thought I’d see these films again (I saw them, of course, as a child, undoubtedly at the wrong aspect ratio). Today, after recently sitting through history get a big dis in grad school, I’m even more appreciative of acknowledging their influence than usual. I tend to just say Sleeping Beauty and let that film be it, but there’s something magical about Lady and the Tramp. It’s not supposed to be real life–a quality live action film had lost by the 1950s (it’s never recovered from the loss)–and Lady and the Tramp is better for that condition. It’s an utterly commercial venture, but it’s still filled with pleasing awe… Whether its creators were excited about making the film (I’m not sure when Walt Disney had fully drained the life from his employees), it certainly seems as though they were and it carries over to the viewer.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske; screenplay by Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright and Don DaGradi, based on a story by Ward Greene; edited by Donald Halliday; music by Oliver Wallace; released by Walt Disney Pictures.

Starring Peggy Lee (Darling), Barbara Luddy (Lady), Larry Roberts (Tramp), Bill Thompson (Jock), Bill Baucom (Trusty), Stan Freberg (Beaver) and Verna Felton (Aunt Sarah).


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