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.


Michael Sporn said...

Feiffer told me that he never got to see the Oscar that this film won for Snyder. I did. It sat very large on Snyder's desk so that anyone in his office would have had to look past it to see into Snyder's eyes. It was hilarious.
The film's one of Gene Deitch's best works.


One of my all time favourite films.
My experience with this was during the days of getting your aniamtion from the local public library on 16mm film. I was working at the library, we organized screening s of everything for the public and lots of anaimtion. A strong memory is the library stakk walking around the building, saying, "I'm only four!"
Deserves to be seen on something better than grainy old youtube.