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).