Dr. Scratch – My Favourite Shorts

Dr. Scratch (Paul Thomas of Tiger Trax Animation) gives us his top-ten short film choice.

1. UBU — Geoff Dunbar
My lords, ladies and gentlemen, this is my
favourite short, till I make one better that is. (tee! hee!)
Until then, enjoy the rampaging Mr & Mrs UBU, who wallow in some brilliant animation, with some very hard characters, designed with splashes of ink and paint. There is some naughty language too!!! Very vivid, very colourful, controversial, it’s all there.
They even showed this film on a lecture while I was at Art College, because it was weird!
Well done Geoff, I’ll buy you a pint one day.

Paul Thomas with a cartoon cut out of Scratch.

2. Gerald McBoing Boing — U.P.A.
Boing! eek! hoot! ow! honk!, you see he doesn’t speak words, he goes Boing Boing instead. This Dr Seuss story was crafted onto 35mm in 1957, won an Oscar and became U.P.A’s all time hero!
The lads created here (and here) a masterpiece of stylised characters, woven with coloured moods! Yum! Yum!
McBoing Boing was an innovation in animation. It triggered new invention, a new direction. And as Gerald would no doubt have said, Bleep! honk! hoot! Boing! Boing!

3. Christopher Crumpet — U.P.A.
Do you turn into a chicken when you want a rocket ship? Well in this U.P.A. classic, young Christopher does.
Robert Cannon directed this short (and all my favourite U.P.A’s). Using chalk board designs, characters flow in and out into a harmony of white lines.
The interesting thing in this short is how young ‘Crumpets’ parents take for granted their son’s foul play!! (foul play, geddit?) Oh well!!!!

4. The Great Toy Robbery — Derek Lamb
Meanwhile back at the ranch, I don’t half laugh when I see this film. That Derek Lamb must be as potty as I am!
Well pardners, this here film’s about a hero (a cross between Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger and a Wet Blanket!) who wanders into town, only to find some outlaws have pinched Father Christmas’ sack of toys. (They were hard men in them days)
Derek’s film contains some clean cut characters, pretty basic animation and soundtrack, but it s a winner!
Old ‘Roy Ranger Wet Blanket’, steals the show. He really is a ding-bat!, but comes up saving the day. You never know pardners. I might get me an 8mm print in my old Christmas stocking one year… yahoo!!!

5. Café Bar — Alison De Vere
I find it hard to tell you why I like this film, it just works, it’s funny, moving and very colourful. So readers, Brilliant! I hope, will sum it up!

6. Great — Bob Godfrey
Deep down in Soho, lurks a man who likes cricket, trains and a pint of lager. That man be the only and one, Bob Godfrey. I know Bob (brag! brag!)… he is a naughty lad isn’t he, and he put together cut-outs, live action, music, noises, sailors, women et al, and delivered a tribute to ‘Isambard Kingdom Brunel’…. Great!
It’s an orgy (the film) of colour, sound, image and naughty bits and I bet you’ve all seen it on C4!! So I won’t bully you with more praise, except that Bob won an Oscar and whilst telling me about it, said, “Paul…. the only thing an Oscar is good for is !*!*?”. I wonder if you can guess what it was?

7. Steamboat Willie — Walt Disney
Walt was good at firsts and he produced the first cartoon talkie. As a very young Mr —Mickey Mouse smashes, bashes and crashes every thing in sight. To a musical ding-dong he crash, bang, walloped his way into movie history.
I can sense the excitement as Walt and his friends squeaked, whistled and God knows what to make the marriage of sound and vision. We take it all for granted now, but in them there silent days, to hear anything was pure wonder.
Mickey was great as a young lad. I feel Walt cleaned him up a bit too slick in the end. So this short remains my favourite. He’s pure raw mouse!!

8. The Skeleton Dance — Walt Disney
If you’ve got skeletons like this in your cupboard then I’d hate to be your next door neighbour!
Ub Iwerks takes the stage, with pencil in hand, to bring life to the dead in this classic Disney short.
The first Silly Symphony chose dancing skeletons to combine sound and vision, opening new doors for the wonderful world of animation. I can just see Walt cavorting in a graveyard in the dead of night, picking up the vibes and relaying them to a very inspired Ub sketching, whilst sitting on a tombstone.
This symphony of dancing bones was, remember, the first step towards the mighty Fantasia.
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones…

9. Duck Amuck — Warner Bros.
Only Bugs Bunny could have the front to do this. He animated Daffy Duck in this
Warner short… “how despicable! ! ! !“
Old Chuck and his friends let rip with this one, as Daffy is wound up, bound up, plunged, splattered, squashed, stretched and often de-beaked!!! (The poor Duck!)
In a 10 or so minute carnival of Colour & Madness, it’s the Duck’s greatest solo performance.
What more must a duck do to win an Oscar?

10. Little Rural Riding Hood – M.G.M.
We begin with the wonderful world of Uncle Tex Avery, my fave loony animator, one of the few to make the impossible, hysterical!
Tex is in full flight with some of the fastest and craziest scenes ever seen.
Preston Blair performs like a genius with his pencil in the full glory of the sexy ‘Red’. Since the 1940’s, she’s been stirring-up the ‘Wolf in that Wolf. The poor guy’s bashed himself silly over the years and still lived to tell the tale.
I enjoy the laughter this short brings. It was made to be funny, and it is, AW0000!!

Printed in Animator Issue 19 (Summer 1987)

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