Monthly Archives: December 2012

Thunderbirds Creator Gerry Anderson Dead at 83

Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson, the creator of such British marionette-animated hit shows as Thunderbirds, Stingray and Joe 90, died peacefully in his sleep at noon Wednesday, son Jamie announced on his own Web site. He was 83.

Anderson had Alzheimer’s since 2010. Having already decided with his family on a care home for himself near Oxfordshire, England earlier this year, he moved in there in October.

“Gerry was diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago, and his condition worsened quite dramatically over the past six months,” Jamie Anderson wrote.

Gerry Anderson’s most famous series — science-fiction series Thunderbirds, about a space rescue squad — ran from 1965 to 1966. It had two movie spin-offs, Thunderbirds are Go (1966) and Thunderbird Six (1967).

His other animated series included Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-68) and Terrahawks (1983-84). There were also unreleased projects, such as the series The Investigator (1972) and Space Police Star Laws (1986).

As well, the resident of Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire created UFO, Space: 1999, Supercar and Fireball XL5.

“I think a light has gone out in the universe,” said actor Brian Blessed, who worked with Anderson on such shows as The Day After Tomorrow and Space 1999, told BBC News:

“He had a great sense of humor,” he told British Broadcasting Corporation News. “He wasn’t childish but childlike, and he had a tremendous love of the universe and astronomy and scientists. He got their latest theories, which he would expand on. He was always galvanized and full of energy.”

Comedian Eddie Izzard wrote on Twitter: “What great creation Thunderbirds was, as it fuelled the imagination of a generation.” Added TV host Jonathan Ross wrote: “For men of my age, his work made childhood an incredible place to be.”

Anderson was born Gerald Alexander Abrahams in London’s Bloomsbury district on April 14, 1929. He started studying fibrous plastering, but it gave him dermatitis and he had to stop.

For a while, he did photographic portraits. Anderson also worked at Gainsborough Films and as an air traffic controller.

With friends, he founded AP Films. But with few commissions, he jumped at the chance of making the puppet series The Adventures of Twizzle in 1956.

Then came his career high point, Thunderbirds, which aired on Britain’s ITV.

Filmed on Slough Trading Estate in Berkshire, the series told of emergency service International Rescue, operated by the Tracy family. It was often aided by Lady Penelope (voiced by Gerry Anderson’s wife Sylvia) and Parker, her butler. The Andersons had used Fireball XL5 and Stingray to perfect their “supermarionation” technique.

“Thunderbirds are go!” was the show’s catchphrase.

In June this year, Anderson talked about getting dementia.

“I don’t think I realized at all,” he said on BBC Berkshire. “It was my wife Mary who began to notice that I would do something quite daft like putting the kettle in the sink and waiting for it to boil.”

Until very recently, Anderson remained interested and involved in the film industry, keen to revisit some of his earlier successes using the latest technology available. His last producer credit came in 2005 on New Captain Scarlet, a CGI-animated reimagining of his 1967 Supermarionation series, which premiered on ITV. Most recently, he worked as a consultant on a Hollywood remake of his 1969 series UFO, directed by Matthew Gratzner.

He was “a quiet, unassuming but determined man,” said Nick Williams, chairman of Fanderson, the official Gerry Anderson fan club.

“His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works,” he said. “Gerry’s legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world.”

He also worked as a celebrity ambassador for The Alzheimer’s Society, helping to raise awareness of the disease and much-needed funds for the society.

Harry Oakes, the cinematographer for Thunderbirds and several other Anderson series, died December 11 this year.

Gerry Anderson was married to Betty Wrightman from 1952 until their divorce in 1960. That year, he married Sylvia Thamm; they divorced in 1980. In 1981, he married Mary Robins.

Besides his wife and son Jamie, he is survived by three children from former marriages, Joy, Linda and Gerry Junior.

Fanderson will pay a full tribute to Gerry Anderson in FAB 74, due next March.

Donations in his memory to the Alzheimer’s Society were requested via www.justgiving.com/RememberingGerryAnderson.

Cartoon of the Day: The Dot And The Line

The Dot And The Line

The Dot And The Line

Chuck Jones made a lot of memorable films. But the best may not have starred a Rabbit, a fleet-footed desert bird, or a martian, or even the Grinch… it may have only featured a couple simple geometric shapes. Released on the last day of 1965, The Dot And The Line won an Academy Award for best short film with it’s simple yet timeless story.

A love story in which the line has unrequited love for the dot; she only has eyes for the squiggle. He overcomes his straight-laced life, and the dot sees him for what he truly is. The moral? To the vector belong the spoils. The dot has an evil laugh and goes around doing bad things. It misbehaves quite a bit, but it shows colors, shapes, and a smily face which mouths off to the narrator. The first 30 seconds of the cartoon take place in an art room with easels.

Chuck Jones would animate two books by author Norton Juster; this, and 1970′s The Phantom Tollbooth.

This and 1967′s The Bear That Wasn’t were MGM’s only non-Tom and Jerry animation after 1958.

Cartoon of the Day: Bungled Bungalow

Bungled Bungalow

Bungled Bungalow

An early Mr. Magoo cartoon, Bungled Bungalow was only the third theatrical cartoon in the series. Produced at UPA, this short was directed by Pete Burness. Bungled Bungalow first came out fifty-two years ago today.

The nearsighted Mr. Magoo unknowingly takes on a gang of house thieves.

You can watch this hilarious film today at BCDB…

Cartoon of the Day: The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart

Today’s CotD is one from the dark side- an animated retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Produced by UPA Productions and released in 1953, this short was nominated for an Academy Award.

A dark adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story about a man who is haunted by the beating heart of the man whom he has murdered.

This film was originally to have been released in 3-D, but was never produced as such.

This was the first cartoon to be X-rated (adults only) in Great Britain under the British Board of Film Censors classification system; the first British cartoon to be so rated was “A Short Vision.”

In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Cartoon of the Day: Barney Bear’s Victory Garden

Barney Bear's Victory Garden

Barney Bear’s Victory Garden

Barney Bear’s Victory Garden is a cartoon from the World War Two era, when every studio and all their output was part of the war effort. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were the rising stars at MGM, but Hugh Harmon and Rudolf Ising were still there, although no longer working with each other. This short was directed by Rudolf Ising.

Barney unsuccessfully attempts to keep a mole out of his victory garden.

You can see this short today online at the BCDB!

Cartoon of the Day: Rabbit Hood

Rabbit Hood

Rabbit Hood

The day before Christmas, and all through BCDB, not a creature was stirring because they were all watching Rabbit Hood. You wouldn’t think a whole lot of good cartoons were released on December 24th, but you would be wrong… Rabbit Hood is just one of them!

Sherwood Forest is studded with “No Poaching” signs- “Not even an egg!” Bunny tries to swipe a carrot from the king’s carrot patch, but is caught crimson-fisted by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Just then, a goofy Little John announces, “Don’t you worry, never fear, Robin Hood will soon be here!” Robin doesn’t appear (the film’s running gag), so Bugs announces, “Lo, the king approacheth!”

As the sheriff bows for the king, Bugs bops him and runs. The sheriff chases Bugs around the king’s Royal Ground, where the rabbit imitates a real estate salesman and sells the sheriff the land. The flim-flam works so well that the sheriff is building the second story of a house before he finally gets wise. The sheriff corners Bugs, who comically introduces Little John to him. Next, Bugs pretends that the king is coming; this time, he disguises himself as His Highness and bestows knighthood on the sheriff.

Bobbing him with his staff with each word, Bugs declares the sheriff “Sir Loin of Beef, Earl of Cloves, Baron of Munchausen, Milk of Magnesia, Quarter of Ten.” The groggy sheriff sings “London Bridge” as he falls into a freshly-baked layer cake. Little John finally introduces Robin Hood: a live-action shot of Errol Flynn, causing an astonished Bugs to shrug and say, “Eh, it couldn’t be him!”

Contains actual footage of Errol Flynn as Robin Hood from the 1938 film “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” Flynn’s price for using his image was reportedly only a copy of this cartoon for his collection.

Released exactly one day before retired WB cartoon producer Leon Schlesinger died of viral infection at the age of 65.

Songs include: “London Bridge is Falling Down” (Unknown-arr. Carl Stalling), Performed by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Cartoon of the Day: Good Will To Men

Good Will To Men

Good Will To Men

A classic Christmas film, Good Will To Men was an Academy Award nominee for MGM in 1956.

A group of young mice is in the ruins of a church, practicing singing for an upcoming service. After singing an adulterated version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” the mice wonder about the last line, “Good will to men.” One of them asks the chorus master, an old mouse, “What are men?”

The old mouse explains that they all killed each other off by building bigger and more destructive weapons, first guns, then missiles, then bombs. At the end of the fighting, clouds are seen, implying that nuclear weapons were used by each side.

The old mouse shows the boys some rules to live by that men seem to have forgotten. He is reading from a Bible.

This film was a remake of “Peace On Earth” (1939).

Bron Studios Steps Up To Produce CG Sole Mates

Sole Mates

Sole Mates

Vancouver-based Bron Studios announced Tuesday that it is making its first CG-animated feature film, Sole Mates.

Set to begin production next year, the movie is an “animated journey of love, lost and found, with comedic charm and universal themes set in a familiar world from a new point of view.” Bron Studios will team up with Hidden Empire Film Group on the project.

Sole Mates is based on an original concept by Deon Taylor (Chain Letter).

Bron managing director Aaron L. Gilbert will be one of the producers, joining Taylor and Ahmet Zappa (The Odd Life of Timothy Green).

Taylor has produced, directed and written several other projects, including The Hustle (Charlie Murphy) and the drama Supremacy, with Danny Glover.

Haowei Hu’s Seasons Wins at London Film Awards

Seasons

Seasons

Seasons,” directed by Haowei Hu of the United States, was named Best Animated Film on Sunday at the London Film Awards.

Seasons is a surreal motion graphics animation based on the changing seasons. Beginning with spring, the richly hued illustrations in this work come alive as they transform in color and rhythmic tempo to reveal the full seasonal spectrum.

The London Film Awards is London’s premiere film awards body, which celebrates and awards the work of independent film’s best and brightest contemporary filmmakers and screenwriters spanning the globe. The Official Jury selected one exclusive Gold Lion Award Winner for each official competition category, the awards’ highest and most esteemed honors.

A full list of the 2012 winners can be found at the competition’s official site, www.londonfilmawards.com.

“Our 2012 competition marks an incredible year for the London Film Awards. LFA received submissions representing some of the world’s most talented filmmakers,” said awards executive director Joey Paulos.

“After careful consideration, we have distilled the very best of this year’s entries,” said Joey Paulos, Executive Director of the London Film Awards. “We are honored to celebrate the talent and commitment of each of these accomplished artists.”

The Grand Jury Prize was presented to Beauty and the Breast, directed by Liliana Komorowska of Canada. She also won the award for Best First-Time Director. A first-time documentary filmmaker offers a compelling insight into the devastating reality of breast cancer, as seen through the eyes of several female patients helping demystify the deadly disease while painting poignant and often humorous intimate.

The Special Jury Prize was presented to Womble, directed by Robert Pirouet of the United Kingdom. Years have passed and what’s changed? Jim Labey sits waiting in the corridor of his old school waiting for a job interview. The problem? The other side of the desk is Piers Mourant, an old classmate of Jim’s… and Pier’s remembers everything!

The Best Feature Film was presented to Pechorin, directed by Roman Khrushch of Russia. It’s based on the Russian classic Mikhail Lermontov novel The Hero of Our Time. All events shown as they are reflected in the mind of the dying hero as a series of irrevocable mistakes and interpreted anew: it is either reconsideration or repentance.

Cartoon of the Week: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

Disney is quoted as saying, “It all started with a mouse.” Disney was always inventing, always trying new things, pushing the animation envelope. Today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, and while it was not the first animated feature film, or even the first in full color… it was certainly the first commercially successful animated feature film, and it’s legacy is still being felt today.

In her effort to be “fairest in the land,” a jealous and evil queen attempts to be rid of her beautiful stepdaughter, Snow White. Frightened and scared, Snow takes refuge in the forest cottage of the seven dwarfs. The queen, disguised by magic as an old peddler woman, tempts Snow White with a poisoned apple, which puts her into an enchanted sleep until the spell can be broken by love’s first kiss.

The first animated feature film to be nominated for an Academy Award.

In 1989, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs was the first cartoon to be added by the Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board to the National Film Registry (it was the registry’s inaugural year).

In England the film was deemed too scary for children and no one under 14 could go and see it by themselves.

This film was released to video in the United States in 1994 (beginning its “Masterpiece Collection” line) and in 2001 (a DVD of this film was also released that year).