In the Fifties, United Productions of America (U.P.A.) had enjoyed a spectacular success with their new style of animation, typified by the Gerald McBoing Boing shorts. The style was distinctly reminiscent of work done at Larkins and 11 & B, nevertheless, U.P.A. richly deserved the accolades. Flushed with success they decided to open a branch in London. No sooner had they set-up operations and made tentative contact with the market, than the parent company, reeling under a series of major setbacks, abruptly closed the U.K. studio.
Fortunately for us, George Dunning was among the group newly arrived in England, and he stayed on to form TV. Cartoons Ltd. in the summer of 1957, working exclusively on TV commercials. After animating the major part of a cartoon ‘Beatles’ series which tan on ABC-TV from 1965 to 1968, TVC were asked to make a Beatles feature cartoon entitled THE YELLOW SUBMARINE. They completed the picture in 11 months for a very modest budget, releasing in 1967/68.
Remarkably, since Britain was the home of the Beatles and the first country to stagger before the hysterical wave of Beatlemania, the film was not an immediate success; in fact, it was taken off before its allotted time. On the other hand, America gave it a rapturous reception, and declared that 52% of the U.S. population saw the film. David Robinson of the Financial Times drew attention to “…the exhaustions and repetitions of the last half hour or so of the film”. This final sequence was revised and partly remade and the new version screened at the 1968 Cambridge Animation Festival.
The honour and credit for organising the Festival must go to an amiable and persuasive young man, Richard (Dick) Arnall. Dick held the passionate belief that public awareness of British animation needed a sharp shake. In 1965, through the good offices of the Cambridge Film Society, in conjunction with Cambridge Animation Group, he presented the first British Animation Festival. The publicity design for the occasion was handled by Alan Kitching, the same Alan Kitching now associated with the development of the software computer programme called ANTICS. The following year, Dick expanded his original idea and organised the first Cambridge Animation Festival, with the wider intention of making the event an international annual celebration and critical examination of the year’s work. In this he succeeded brilliantly!
Printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 9 (Summer 1984)