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Annabelle doesn't get out much these days...
|Hegemony Cricket |
There's some really, amazingly nice work in this terrible overall thing by a genuine animation legend/poe-worthy asshole who also directed Roger Rabbit's animation.
Uncredited: Grim Natwick, known for most of the trippiest visuals in the old Fleischer cartoons (any time Cab Calloway danced, basically). He was in his eighties at the time, but he dutifully trotted out to work on this garbage. Williams would go pick him up out of the nursing home, give him a few scenes to work on, and he'd go to work for free.
Being in a comfortable, upper middle-class desk position with access to medical care, a generous retirement pension, intellectual satisfaction, and an employer who notably frowned on employees smoking, drinking and using drugs on the job, in a geographic location with minimal deletorious weather effects, tends to lead to a long life. Being thrown into the signal corps during the bloodiest war of the 20th century by aspect of your industry being needed to make propaganda films also probably helped.
It's ironic that Walt was so against his own employees smoking and drinking, when if you take the Walt's office tour at Disneyland, the first thing you notice is FREAKING ENORMOUS ash try and whiskey service prominent in the room. Babbitt was also the only employee who dared to grow a mustache, asserting his own masculinity against Walt's, which didn't help.
Also, in the case of many of them, they converted to Mormonism later in life, and many of them were involved in local government and fraternal organizations, so they were mostly a lot of very active, Type A personality War Generation busybodies inclined to live a long time anyway.
I know two animators who actively avoided employment at Disney in the 80s/90s because those old men refused to die, which prevented any real opportunities for advancement.
That same group of fogies kept Tim Burton locked in the very real basement for over a decade.
Hey! This was a childhood favorite of mine!
Some pretty fascinating background info on this trainwreck:
'There’s one last thing I want to mention but it’s so insane I felt the need to give it its own paragraph. So, this movie was financed by the Bobbs-Merrill Company, which was the publishing arm of International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT). ITT wanted to put out a children’s movie as a PR move to make themselves look better after they were implicated as CIA collaborators in the 1973 Chilean coup d'état. Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure was financed by people who were complicit in the death of President Salvador Allende and the rise of the tyrant Pinochet. That is a strong contender for the strangest sentence I have ever typed. So, really, this movie was cursed before it was ever even made.'
Art Babbitt was a key animator to this. He was an extremely left leaning animator at Disney, is credited with creating Goofy, and made the mistake of positioning himself with his own cult of personality within the Disney organization. He was also a rather attractive lady's man, and highly charismatic. These qualities outraged Walt Disney, and when he rebuilt his studio following the success of Snow White, Walt built an executive lunchroom that looked over the common lunchroom, and Babbitt was notably forbidden from eating there.
Seeing an opportunity, Babbitt moved to unionize the studio utilizing this obvious inclusion of elitism that outraged the rank and file. This instigated the Cartoonist Strike of 1941. This resulted in Walt having a nervous breakdown, hiring ex-Capone thugs to drive twenty-something artists out to the desert and threaten them with machine guns, tack hard to the right, and eventually Roy Disney convinced him to shuffle off to South America to make the Three Caballero movies, and resolved the strike.
Walt pretty much ceased his involvement in the animation side of the studio from that point, and made it his job to destroy the career of Art Babbitt, who he singlemindedly obsessed over as ruining his studio. This eventually resulted in Babbitt being declared a Communist to McCarthy and being blacklisted. Anybody aligned with Babbitt personally was quietly removed from the studio, including a young Bill Melendez, who directed the Peanuts Christmas specials and worked clear through to the first season of The Simpsons.
This movie is a graveyard of old hands. Williams being given control to animate Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny together outraged the Disney family and was a source of rift with the Eisner administration clear until he was removed a decade ago. Rumor has it that Williams' involvement with the Roger Rabbit property is so personal to the Disney family that the main reason Toontown is being ripped out of Disneyland for Star Wars Land is that quibble alone. Probably not true, because Roger Rabbit is kind of a dated property at this point, but that's the rumor.
I have a disease called “knowing too much about pre-1950 animation history”.
I thought it was because it rhymed with 'Coontown'?
But seriously though, that is some serious histiry that I would never have otherwise known about. Thanks CD!
If you want your mind blown, watch Chinatown and Who Framed Roger Rabbit back to back. They’re identical movies, plot-wise.
Also, Independence Day and Mars Attacks.
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