Saturday, May 12, 2007
This is a delightful short written by Jules Feiffer and directed by Gene Deitch. Feiffer worked in animation in the 1950s at Terrytoons and it's a sad commentary on the state of the business then that they let him get away. Who knows if things would be any different today?
Besides his weekly comic strip, Feiffer also went on to write novels (Harry the Rat With Women), plays (Little Murders), movies (Carnal Knowledge) and children's books (The Man in the Ceiling). The film accurately mirrors Feiffer's expressive drawing style.
This film was also a turning point in the life of Gene Deitch. His desire to make it led him to producer Bill Snyder, who promised Deitch funding if Deitch would go to Prague and oversee another of Snyder's projects. Deitch ended up staying in Prague, where he lives and works to this day.
This film is very much in the UPA mold. Deitch worked at UPA, so it's not surprising that he found the story attractive or that he embraced Feiffer's design style. Like many UPA films, it relies on a narrator and satire more than it creates believable characters. However, the film is charming and the satire still works; the bureaucratic mindset hasn't changed much in the intervening years. Here is Stephen Colbert's "truthiness" years before he invented the term.