Friday, December 08, 2006

Fleischer Studios' Two Feature Films

Two feature-length animations with whimsical characters and advanced animation techniques by the Fleischers deserve mention, although the Fleischers are better-remembered for their shorts than for their only two features:

(1) Gulliver's Travels (1939), an animated musical adaptation of Jonathan Swift's 1726 classic literary satire about war. The Fleischers, who were in direct competition with Disney, released this inferior attempt - it was the second American feature-length animated film ever, following (and patterned) after Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). (See below) The film was a two-time Academy Awards nominee: for Victor Young's Best Original Score, and for Best Song: Faithful Forever.

(2) the expensive, Technicolored Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941), advertised as the screen's first full-length musical comedy cartoon. (It was originally named after Frank Capra's earlier feature Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), and also given an alternate title: Hoppity Goes to Town.) Due to the film's financial failure, it was the last cartoon feature that Max and Dave released.

As a final footnote, Fleischer Studios, after restructuring as Famous Studios by Paramount, also produced cartoons based on Harvey Comics characters, including over two dozen Little Lulu (Moppet) cartoons in the 40s, and over 50 Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons that stretched into the 1950s (Casper made his debut in Izzy Sparber's cartoon short The Friendly Ghost (1945)).

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