Tag Archives: George Bruns

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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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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