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Added by Andy Goulding on 4 Mar 2017 11:44
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100 Greatest Animated Shorts

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People who added this item 162 Average listal rating (113 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
Winsor McCay's ‘Gertie the Dinosaur’ remains one of the most famous animated shorts of all time. Often wrongly credited as being the first animated film, McCay’s film does make a convincing claim to creating the first cartoon star. In her canine like capering and interplay with McCay’s master of ceremonies, Gertie far surpasses all other attempts at characterisation that went before her. From Reynaud’s stiff painted figures and Blackton’s chalk outlines to Starewicz’s spindly insects, no-one had quite mastered instilling recognisable traits into animated creations. McCay’s mosquito from his previous short ‘How a Mosquito Operates’ came closest but Gertie takes things a step further. Here was a creation with whom audiences could identify and sympathise and it made her all the more entertaining.

McCay took his Gertie show on the road and it perhaps loses some of its impact when seen by modern audiences, as we are deprived of the experience of seeing the real-life McCay interact with his animated creation, tossing her a pumpkin or riding on her back. But ‘Gertie the Dinosaur’ remains one of the crown jewels of animation, paving the way for animated personalities. Gertie starred in only one more short, ‘Gertie on Tour’, the majority of which is now lost, but this debut performance alone cemented her place in animation history.
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People who added this item 168 Average listal rating (117 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
Disney’s Silly Symphonys are a phenomenally important series of animated shorts in which music is prominently used alongside sychronised images. Walt used the series to experiment with and develop the art of animation, leading to some of the most beautiful moments in the medium’s history, as well as many series which imitated the song based slogan from other cartoon studios, such as Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies and Happy Harmonies.

The first Silly Symphony is still one of the very best. Animated by the legendary Ub Iwerks, ‘The Skeleton Dance’ goes one step further than the previous year’s ‘Steamboat Willie’, flawlessly synchronising sound and music with a full, mesmerising and charming dance routine. Many cartoons of this era chose a morbid or ghoulish theme, often being set in graveyards, castles and haunted houses, but ‘The Skeleton Dance’ offsets its graveyard setting with a joyous sense of fun which makes the ghoulishness all the more delicious. Another classic landmark from a studio that was building up a head of steam and quickly surpassing the achievements of the animation pioneers who inspired it.
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People who added this item 31 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7
When Disney finally realised his ambitious classic music film ‘Fantasia’, one of the highlights was the climactic section based on ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ and it remains one of the film’s best loved sequences. Fewer people know, however, that it was preceded by another animated take on this composition by Russian animator Alexandre Alexieffe and his wife Claire Parker, which is even more remarkable. Alexieffe and Parker invented the technique of pinscreen animation, in which tiny movable pins make up the images on screen. With this unique, creepy technique they crafted a jaw-dropping film which still feels modern when viewed today.

Given his interest in animation, it seems unlikely that Disney was not influenced by ‘Night on Bald Mountain’, just as ‘Opus I’ probably had some bearing on ‘Fantasia’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’ section. But ‘Night on Bald Mountain’s likely influence goes deeper than that. In its incredible depiction of one night in which people, animals and objects battle against an intense storm, I glimpse a clear influence on Disney’s classic short ‘The Old Mill’, in which the studio experimented with non-narrative, non-character driven animation. Alexeieffe and Parker’s early masterpiece predates that film by four years and remains an unshakably powerful piece of animation which deserves to be more widely known than it is.
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People who added this item 59 Average listal rating (40 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.4
Although its credited director is Dave Fleischer, ‘Snow White’ is widely acknowledged as the masterwork of animator Roland Crandall, who was allowed to animate this jaw-dropping short in its entirety as a reward for his loyal service to Fleischer Studios. Handed this golden opportunity, Crandall excelled himself, creating not only the best Betty Boop cartoon but the best Fleischer cartoon and one of the greatest animated shorts of all time.

As the second in the trilogy of Betty Boop cartoons made in collaboration with Cab Calloway, who provides this cartoon’s exceptional musical interlude with his brilliant ‘St. James Infirmary Blues’, ‘Snow White’ easily distiguishes itself as by far the greatest of those three wonderful shorts. The plot is not much to speak of, starting as a straight retelling on the Snow White story up until the point where the huntsman (or huntsmen in this case, portrayed as they are by Koko and Bimbo) take Snow White into the woods to kill her. At this point ‘Snow White’ breaks its leash and takes things in its own direction, with a burst of surreal shapeshifting action and the coolest musical moment in a cartoon ever, as Koko sings and dances to Calloway’s music. It’s extraordinarily imaginative even for a Fleischer short and the fact that Crandall animated it all himself lends ‘Snow White’ a consistent focus to its anarchic goings-on. A landmark that still hasn’t quite found the acclaim it deserves, ‘Snow White’ is undoubtedly one of the greatest animated shorts in this list of 100.
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People who added this item 45 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.8
The Mascot (1933)
By the time he made ‘The Mascot’, Ladislas Starevich was already working on his masterful, pioneering feature length animation ‘The Tale of the Fox’ but that didn’t stop him from also making his masterpiece of short animation too. ‘The Mascot’ is probably Starevich’s most famous film, championed by the likes of Terry Gilliam, who listed it in his top ten animated shorts of all time. It’s further evidence of the importance of this underappreciated talent, whose films show such remarkable diversity of mood and style.

Mixing animation with live action, ‘The Mascot’ features many shifts of mood across its 25 minutes. Starting as a sentimental tale of a mother trying to do the best by her daughter, it then becomes an adventure of a batch of toys who are sold but escape en route to their new home, then a tale of the titular Mascot dog as he tries to find an orange for the little girl, and finally a surrealist nightmare as Satan himself arrives, along with a cornucopia of bizarre demons. This portion of the film, in which the dog’s former friends and Satan’s army of creatures all try and steal the orange, is the film’s best and most exquisitely animated sequence. It also sees the film become significantly darker and more brutal, with Satanic knife-play, a delicate ballerina cast to the wall and battling a sex-crazed monkey and a vicious mauling by a cat to name but a few of the violent images on offer. It all builds up into an unforgettable masterpiece of charming but troubling puppet animation which deserves its status as a cult favourite.
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People who added this item 89 Average listal rating (64 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8
Mickey Mouse had kept audiences laughing consistently for seven years without having to make the change from black and white to colour. But when that inevitable shift finally came, it happened with a suitably monumental cartoon. ‘The Band Concert’ is not only Mickey’s greatest cartoon but is recognised as one of the great masterpieces of animation. It packs so much into its nine minutes that it feels almost like a twenty minute special, even as the priceless antics simultaneously make it fly by like a three minute trailer. The premise is simple: Mickey, as conductor, attempts to guide his band through a public performance of ‘The William Tell Overture’. However, there are numerous distractions including a bee, a tornado and a scene-stealing duck!

From this modest premise comes an animation epic. Both hilarious and beautiful, ‘The Band Concert’ weaves together its threads expertly, thanks to the deft touch of director Wilfred Jackson. At this early stage in his career, Donald Duck was clearly meant for stardom and he upstages his co-stars with a mixture of his trademark impish sense of humour and explosive temper. The music in ‘The Band Concert’ is ingeniously used throughout, complementing and mirroring the on-screen action (the tornado arrives during the ‘Storm’ segment of the overture). Donald’s attempts to hijack the performance into a rendition of ‘Turkey in the Straw’ draws on the similarities in the two musical pieces to seamlessly shift from one to the other repeatedly. The whole plot and each individual element is so perfectly worked out and executed that the film never hits a bum note even as Mickey struggles to get his band to hit the right ones. ‘The Band Concert’ is undoubtedly one of the greatest animated films ever made, of whatever length. ‘Steamboat Willie’ may still be Mickey’s most iconic short but ‘The Band Concert’ is undoubtedly his greatest.
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The first of three full colour Popeye specials, which ran at three times the length of an average cartoon and received top billing in several cinemas, ‘Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor’ is one of the greatest animated shorts of all time. The Popeye shorts were often packed with adventure but the extra running time coupled with the wonderful Technicolor (not to mention the prominent use of the Fleischer 3D Tabletop technique)allowed the Fleischers to create something truly epic, exciting, engaging, beautiful and, of course, funny. Always adept at creating weird and wonderful worlds, the island on which this short takes place is one of the Fleischers’ greatest and most atmospheric creations. As well as exciting action and great comedy (Wimpy has a superb running gag in which he pursues a duck with a meat grinder throughout the whole picture), ‘Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor’ also features a memorable song in which the self-aggrandising Sindbad declares himself to be ‘the most remarkable, extraordinary fellow’ and which I can still remember singing with my brothers as a child. One of my favourite cartoons of all time, ‘Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor’ is a monumental classic and only makes one wonder why the Fleischers never embarked on a full-length Popeye feature.
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People who added this item 96 Average listal rating (60 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8
The Old Mill (1937)
One of the very last Silly Symphonies, Disney’s ‘The Old Mill’ is also one of the most beautiful pieces of animation of all time. By this stage, with their first full length feature in the pipeline, the studio had begun primarily using the Silly Symphonies as a testing ground for animation techniques. Far from harming the series, this actually resulted in the cartoons becoming even more breathtaking. The lack of narrative here is refreshing and all but unnoticeable amidst the groundbreaking examples of realistic animal behaviour and weather effects. This also marked Disney’s first use of the multiplane camera. All these elements were important in making ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ the classic it is but in developing the techniques Disney created another, shorter classic first. ‘The Old Mill’ still looks astonishing today and is clearly a crucial stepping stone in Disney’s growing sophistication.
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People who added this item 57 Average listal rating (52 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.8
Bob Clampett’s famous black and white classic ‘Porky in Wackyland’ is a glorious glimpse into the mad mind of Clampett allowed to run riot. His trademark energy and ability to stuff a cartoon full to the brim with content are both apparent from the outset as a newsboy invades the cartoon’s credits to inform us that Porky Pig is attempting to capture the last Dodo bird. Porky tracks the bird to Wackyland and from the moment his plane begins to tiptoe across the border of Wackyland all bets are off! We are treated to a feast of bizarre, logic defying gags as we are introduced to the inhabitants of Wackyland through a long panning shot which contains literally dozens of jokes. These wild, quickfire gags give way to the main plot after a couple of minutes and so begins one of the greatest cartoon chases of all time as Porky tries in vain to capture the nutty Dodo who constantly defies logic in order to evade and humiliate him. ‘Porky in Wackyland’ is an extremely influential and exceptionally bonkers cartoon that will appeal to anyone with a love of the surreal and the anarchic. It was later pointlessly remade in colour by Friz Freleng as “Dough for the Dodo”, an emasculated take on the original which lacked the essential ingredient: Clampett himself.
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People who added this item 179 Average listal rating (117 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7
One of the most remarkable propagandist cartoons ever made, ‘Der Fuehrer’s Face’ casts Donald Duck as a Nazi(!), albeit a reluctant one, bullied by his Hitler worshipping superiors into constantly manning a production line churning out gun-shells. The unbelievably bold choice of actually casting Donald in the role of a Nazi in order to make fun of the enemy still amazes viewers today, although because of its wartime content the short is rarely seen by those who do not seek it out. Oliver Wallace’s theme tune, which became a raspberry-blowing hit for Spike Jones and His City Slickers before the cartoon was even released, plays a major part in the short, uniting the two styles of cartoon that made up all of that year’s Oscar nominees, namely wartime propaganda and musical comic relief. Of those shorts, ‘Der Fuehrer’s Face’ clearly was, and still is, the most devastatingly powerful in its savagely satirical approach to humour which ought to silence any ill-informed critic who writes off Disney as nothing but honey-dripping sweetness and light. In Donald, Disney finally had a hit character whose personality allowed them to make films of such visceral humour.
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People who added this item 7 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
Goonland (1938)
While the Betty Boop series was quietly dying, Fleischer studios other major series was flourishing. With the success of the colour specials, the Popeye series was growing more ambitious and cinematic all the time. This is clear in ‘Goonland’, one of the greatest Popeye cartoons and one of the greatest Flesicher cartoons of all. ‘Goonland’ marks the film debut of Popeye’s father Poopdeck Pappy and also the only theatrical appearance of the Goons, a strange and frightening race of creatures. Both these characters, as with most of the characters in the Fleischer Popeyes, were original creations of E.C. Segar whose comic strip ‘Thimble Theatre’ originally introduced Popeye. The Goons were especially influential, not only inspiring Spike Milligan’s seminal radio comedy of the same name but also in introducing the word ‘Goon’ to the English language.

‘Goonland’ itself is a masterpiece beyond its animated firsts. Popeye’s adventures here seem to cinematically exceed the short running time. The story is beautifully told, with Jack Mercer’s brilliant mutterings as both Popeye and Pappy surpassing his other always brilliant performances. The Goons are wonderfully brought to life, especially in a scene where Popeye mimics their Neanderthal movements. It’s a surprise that these vivid characters never came back in a theatrical cartoon, although the comic strip creation Alice the Goon was memorably used as Olive Oyl’s fellow army cadet in a series of TV shorts for ‘The All New Popeye Hour’.

‘Goonland’ is also fondly remembered for its memorable climax in which Popeye and Pappy are saved from the Goons when the film itself breaks, causing their enemies to fall off the screen, before a live action hand repairs the celluloid with a safety pin. It’s a wonderful little flourish from a studio that were especially adept at combining animation and live action from the earliest days of the medium’s inception.
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People who added this item 20 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
Although more attention tends to be heaped on ‘Educational for Death’ as an atypical and horrific piece of Disney propaganda, the brilliant ‘Chicken Little’ is much more jaw-droppingly unexpected and unforgettable. Using the old fable of the title character and his belief that the sky was falling down, ‘Chicken Little’ moulds that (equally unforgiving) story into a wartime context. The villain, who emerges graphically victorious, is a fox who reads passages from a book marked ‘Psychology’ but which are actually taken directly from ‘Mein Kampf’. The characters and action are largely comic but when we reach the climax of the film it turns shockingly grim, even as Disney stays true to the original story. The final image of the main characters’ wishbones as a wartime cemetery while the pot-bellied fox tells the shocked narrator not to believe everything he reads, is at once the most blackly comic moment in the Disney library and one of the most gutsy and effective endings to an animated short in living memory.
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People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 7.4
Puss n' Booty (1943)
Frank Tashlin’s ‘Puss ‘n’ Booty’ is perhaps the great underrated director’s most perfect cartoon. The last black and white Looney Tune, ‘Puss ‘n’ Booty’ opens with a fairly standard setup that you might expect to see in a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon. What separates it from that repetitive series is this cartoon’s refusal to just cut straight to the easy gags. Instead, ‘Puss ‘n’ Booty’ is very much a character piece and dedicates a good portion of its running time to sequences which would have been summarised in a couple of shots in a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon. After Rudolf the cat has hiccupped feathers, thereby letting the audience know what has happened, Tashlin refuses to leave it at that and cut to the main story, instead initiating a tremendous bit of character comedy as Rudolf pretends to be devastated and searches everywhere for his missing “friend”. The following sequence is even more masterful as Rudolf anxiously awaits the delivery of a new canary, pacing backwards and forwards on the garden wall and frantically waving down every passing vehicle.

This long build up to the arrival of the cartoon’s second main character would have been reason enough to hail ‘Puss ‘n’ Booty’ as a masterpiece but Tashlin sustains the brilliance. Instead of resorting to a series of spot gags as Rudolf tries to eat the canary, Tashlin keeps the emphasis on character and the jokes themselves are conspicuously kept low-key so that we can continue to focus on the character’s priceless reactions. There’s an air of real threat that is absent in the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons, as the canary battles for his life. These scenes are also spectacular, particularly the beautifully directed night-time shots. It all culminates in one of the best and strangest final gags in cartoon history. Despite initially appearing to be just another cat and bird cartoon, ‘Puss ‘n’ Booty’ quickly establishes itself as something very different. It’s a genuine triumph, an unsung classic that I still consider one of the most perfect films of animation’s golden age.
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People who added this item 34 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8
Mouse Trouble (1944)
'Mouse Trouble’ is my favourite of the many, many masterful Tom & Jerry cartoons. It has an incredibly simple premise in which Tom buys a book to get advice on how to catch Jerry. The result, however, is the most devastatingly funny and unbelievably violent cartoon of the whole series. Most of the Tom and Jerry Oscar winners had some kind of special theme or quirk to mark them out as unusual and Oscar-worthy. ‘Yankee Doodle Mouse’ had its wartime theme, ‘The Two Mouseketeers’ and ‘Johann Mouse’ their high-culture reference points, ‘The Little Orphan’ its Thanksgiving setting and ‘The Cat Concerto’ its impeccable musical timing. But ‘Mouse Trouble’ seemingly won the Oscar just for being the flat-out funniest cartoon of the year, which is as it should be.

‘Mouse Trouble’ unfolds in the mould of a spot-gag cartoon but with a more cohesive structure that pulls the whole thing together as more than just a series of jokes. Notable sequences include a scene in which Jerry receives a surprise package which contains Tom, and before opening it he makes triply sure it is safe by inserting several knitting needles and then sawing it in half. Although we don’t see Tom’s reactions (we hear some though), this is one of the most painful scenes of cartoon violence ever drawn, as we feel the knitting needles bend and resist but eventually squish their way in. Also notable is a scene where, having been assured a cornered mouse never fights, a battered and bruised Tom emerges and mournfully intones ‘DON’T YOU BELIEVE IT’. This gag, a reference to a radio show catchphrase of the time, has taken on a life beyond its dated reference point, and remains a disturbingly odd childhood memory for many children of my generation.

If ‘Mouse Trouble’ occasionally resorts to the odd predictable joke, it always puts a twist on it. In one scene Tom accidentally blasts the hair off his scalp. In any other cartoon the hair would have been back in the next scene but, in one of ‘Mouse Trouble’s most brilliant conceits, Tom wears a bright orange wig for the rest of the runtime. This continuity is extended to another joke in which Tom swallows a talking female-mouse doll and spends the rest of the cartoon intermittently hiccupping and spouting the high-pitched catchphrase ‘Come up and see me sometime’. ‘Mouse Trouble’s final blow is the logical conclusion to such an unforgivingly violent cartoon, as Tom’s final attempt to catch Jerry actually kills him. The final image is of Tom ascending to Heaven, still wearing his wig and hiccupping his catchphrase. To me, ‘Mouse Trouble’ is the quintessential Tom & Jerry cartoon and I can think of few higher compliments I could bestow upon it.
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People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.3
Of all the attempts to create an animated star character, Tex Avery’s Screwy Squirrel was probably one of the least likely to succeed. In this cruel sociopathic squirrel, Avery created one of the Hollywood cartoon’s most hateful protagonists. In doing so he also turned the Hollywood cartoon on its head and launched a character whose cult status was destined to be celebrated by a select few in decades to come. I am one of those few.

Like Bruce Springsteen pressured into writing ‘Dancing in the Dark’, Tex Avery was under pressure from MGM to give them a star character. Avery resented this interference and ultimately claimed to detest Screwy Squirrel. This is understandable given what the rascally rodent must have represented to him. And yet, in his subversive compliance with MGM’s wishes Avery created one of his greatest and most underrated cartoons. ‘Screwball Squirrel’ is a masterpiece in which Avery infuses the standard chase film with lots of unexpected embellishments. The first and most famous of these is the opening, in which the film appears to be a Disney-esque semi-realistic picture starring a cloyingly cute squirrel named Sammy. Baulking at the very thought of this, Screwy proceeds to take Sammy behind a tree and beat the snot out of him. Many other studios had taken good-natured pot-shots at Disney but this one goes for the jugular, effectively egging on audiences to celebrate their narrow escape from Disney treacle in favour of the violent hilarity to come.

From this fantastic opening ‘Screwball Squirrel’ just gets better and better. Each joke seems designed to wrong-foot someone, with one sequence in which the film seems to stick being designed specifically to annoy projectionists (something Avery would do even more hilariously in ‘Magical Maestro’ some years later). With his annoying laugh and unmotivated anarchy, Screwy is an unsettling presence and his ability to seemingly do anything, from conjuring a streetcar out of thin air to lifting up the corner of the frame to peep at the next scene, makes him even more disturbing. The ending, in which Avery piles on three unexpected moments back to back, does justice to this enigmatically wonderful cartoon. Screwy Squirrel would go on to star in just four more cartoons before Avery, in keeping with the series brutal nature, killed him off in the final cartoon of the series ‘Lonesome Lenny’.
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People who added this item 49 Average listal rating (42 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.9
One of the great classics of animation, Bob Clampett’s ‘The Great Piggy Bank Robbery’ is one of the best cartoons ever made and the perfect starting point for anyone interested in Clampett’s work. Daffy Duck eagerly awaits the arrival of his new Dick Tracy comic but while reading it he accidentally knocks himself out and dreams that he is Duck Twacy, investigating the theft of his piggy bank. Working from a terrific script by Warren Foster, Clampett injects his trademark wild energy and bizarre execution of gags to make ‘The Great Piggy Bank Robbery’ spellbindingly energetic and unforgettably eerie. The moment when Daffy finds himself face to face with a roomful of oddball villains is a tour de force with astonishing moment after astonishing moment. It culminates in the breathtaking scene in which Daffy machine guns them all to death and they topple towards the camera one by one into a big pile. There are plenty of other incredible moments to look out for, including Daffy being rubbed out, tracking footprints across the ceiling and separating up his own body parts to escape from a huddle of bad guys. ‘The Great Piggy Bank Robbery’ is almost as much of a one-duck show as Chuck Jones’s ‘Duck Amuck’, allowing Daffy to do all the talking as he tracks down and eludes the criminals. Mel Blanc does a wonderful job as Daffy babbles away to the audience. Being a huge Daffy Duck fan, ‘The Great Piggy Bank Robbery’ was obviously going to be one of my all-time favourites and it vies with ‘Duck Amuck’ for the position of my very favourite of all time. It is unequivocally Bob Clampett’s greatest masterpiece.
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People who added this item 44 Average listal rating (32 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Tex Avery’s ‘King-Size Canary’ is considered one of the greatest cartoons ever made and one of Avery’s crowning glories. The plot is simple: a chase between a cat, mouse, canary and dog plays out but with each of them drinking from a bottle of Jumbo-Gro plant formula and ballooning in size. What starts as a household battle spreads across the city, then the country and finally the whole globe. The final image is both hilarious and inevitable. ‘King-Size Canary’ is the perfect example of Avery’s knack for taking a gag to its logical extreme, and here he does that across the course of an entire cartoon, while obviously slotting in many other gags along the way. ‘King-Sized Canary’ has even been seen as an allegory for the escalating Cold War, although it is enough to appreciate it as one of the most finely crafted cartoon masterpieces of the 40s.
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People who added this item 98 Average listal rating (74 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8.2
Friz Freleng’s ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ is a good cartoon that will forever live in the shadow of MGM’s Oscar winning Tom and Jerry short ‘The Cat Concerto’. Released the same year and strikingly similar right down to using the same piece of music (Liszt’s second Hungarian Rhapsody), ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ and ‘The Cat Concerto’ caused a battle between Warner Bros. and MGM in which each studio accused the other of plagiarism. Although it was never resolved with any certainty, it seems far more likely that ‘The Cat Concerto’ came first. The idea of Tom’s concert being sabotaged by Jerry from inside his piano seems perfectly natural but Bugs vs. a completely new mouse character in the same situation reeks of theft! Whatever the true case, ‘The Cat Concerto’ is clearly the superior cartoon and makes ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ seem like a cheap imitation by comparison. I do enjoy ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ but more often than not it just makes me yearn to be watching ‘The Cat Concerto’ and this odd relationship I have with ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ has pretty much overwhelmed any other feelings I might have about the cartoon.

‘The Cat Concerto’ itself is a masterpiece of animation and probably the most acclaimed of the masterful Tom and Jerry series, winning the duo their fourth Academy Award. Beautifully marrying music with image, perfect comedy timing with high-culture accompaniment, it’s testament to the continued ambition of Hanna and Barbera for their star players and stands as one of the greatest cartoons of Hollywood animation’s Golden Age.
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.2
For the most part I have admired the work of George Pal more than I have enjoyed it. His famed Puppetoons were regular Oscar nominees but, while the animation and the puppets themselves are great, I’ve often found the storytelling sluggish and unengaging. But this is far from the case with the absolutely lovely ‘Tubby the Tuba’, Pal’s masterpiece. Based on the song by Paul Tripp and George Kleinsinger about a tuba who finds his voice, this musical short is a beautifully adapted charmer with a strong message and a great set of musical instrument characters. The short stood out from the pack of Oscar nominees for its year but unfortunately lost to the far less imaginative ‘Tweetie Pie’.
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People who added this item 33 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.8
When thinking of the hilarious MGM cartoons of Tex Avery, ‘Bad Luck Blackie’ is perhaps the first to come to mind by virtue of its ingenious premise and how much laughter Avery squeezes out of this relatively simple starting point. The idea of having a tortured small character being able to summon a larger character at will had been explored previously, notably in the excellent Tom and Jerry cartoon ‘The Bodyguard’, to which ‘Bad Luck Blackie’ owes an undoubted debt. But, as was often the case, Avery perfected the formula by adding an extra twist, in this case the bad luck superstition which metes out evermore unlikely and excessive punishments. Avery has a keen awareness that, to capitalise on the premise, the gags must escalate, and they do, with the climactic scenes having to pull back in order to make room for the sheer size of the falling objects. Not only among the funniest cartoons ever made, ‘Bad Luck Blackie’ is among the funniest films of all time in any medium.
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People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.5
By the time of ‘Begone Dull Care’ Norman McLaren had established himself as an abstract animator worthy of being mentioned alongside the great pioneers who inspired him. With ‘Begone Dull Care’, McLaren and Canadian animator Evelyn Lambert made an abstract masterpiece which does as great a job as I’ve ever seen of capturing pieces of music visually. Painting, drawing, etching and scratching directly onto film stock, McLaren and Lambert created something akin to synaesthesia captured on screen and this 8 minute film remains a jaw-dropping experience, expanding on the likably lively ‘Boogie-Doodle’s immaculate synchronisation to create an animated film for the ages.
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People who added this item 42 Average listal rating (32 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.1
'Gerald McBoing-Boing’ is a classic cartoon based on a Dr. Seuss story and told in verse. The title character is a little boy who speaks in noises instead of words. With its blank beige backdrops and storybook-style character designs, ‘Gerald McBoing-Boing’ saw UPA proudly flaunting their purposefully reductive approach and it proves that, far from diminishing effect, the UPA house style can work wonders. Just watch the atmospheric scene where Gerald tries to board a train. A well deserved winner of the Best Animated Short Oscar, ‘Gerald McBoing-Boing’ remains not only the best-loved of all UPA shorts but also one of the best-loved and most critically acclaimed short animations of all time.
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People who added this item 21 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.7
UPA’s ‘Rooty Toot Toot’ was their most stylised cartoon yet. Based on the ballad ‘Frankie and Johnny’, ‘Rooty Toot Toot’ is a courtroom drama in verse. The script is good but the animation is the clincher, filling the scenario with a unique energy that could only come from UPA. With daring character design and radical use of colour (dull greys and browns dominate, often set against themselves but also juxtaposed with vibrant reds), ‘Rooty Toot Toot’ is an astonishing masterpiece which continued to thrust UPA into the critical spotlight.
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People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.9
Among the many classics of the animation medium that Tex Avery created, ‘Magical Maestro’ might well be my favourite. Once it has quickly set up its situation (a rejected magician replaces the conductor to take his revenge on an opera singer using his wand for a baton), ‘Magical Maestro’ limits itself to just the image of a singing dog on a stage, with the onslaught of laughs coming from the numerous transformation he undergoes. The gags here are inventive, unexpected (aside from a few of the era’s typical racial stereotypes) and hilarious. One joke in particular is unique to Tex Avery’s cartoons. Knowing that hairs often got caught in film projectors if they were loaded wrongly, Avery adds in an artificial hair for several frames. After leaving it there just long enough to drive the projectionist crazy, Avery has the main character pluck it out himself and toss it aside. It’s my favourite joke in a cartoon full of contenders.
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People who added this item 62 Average listal rating (53 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8.1
Chuck Jones’s ‘Feed the Kitty’ is one of the undisputed classics of animation. It runs the gamut of moods from sweet to horrifying, hilarious to tear-jerking. The short made such an impression on director Joe Dante that he regularly pays tribute to it in his full length features. Starring a soft-hearted bulldog named Marc Anthony and a doe-eyed kitten named Pussyfoot, ‘Feed the Kitty’ forsakes the usual anarchic mayhem of Warner Bros. cartoons for a disarmingly heartwarming tale of one dog’s adoration for a cat. Jones knows better than to revisit the Disney-esquire cuteness of his dull early work and neatly sidesteps this by mixing the sweetness with plenty of laughs and an extremely dark sequence in which Marc Anthony thinks Pussyfoot has been chopped up and baked to death! ‘Feed the Kitty’ subverts the usual setup for cartoons in which a big character causes chaos while trying to catch and eat a little character by making the motive for the chaotic antics the big character’s desire to protect the little character. Marc Anthony goes to extreme lengths to hide Pussyfoot’s presence from the owner he is sure will eject the kitten from the house. In doing so, Marc Anthony undoubtedly steals the cartoon. Cute and accurately kitten-like as Pussyfoot is, he is basically a prop. Marc Anthony, on the other hand, became world famous for his performance in this cartoon by virtue of his plethora of amazing facial expressions. Much has been made of the facial expressions Jones coaxes out of his characters and ‘Feed the Kitty’ is the prime example of his genius with a reaction. Marc Anthony snaps instantaneously from ferocious to confused to adoring to desperate to stern to relieved etc. The saggy, bloodshot look of total devastation that he adopts when he believes Pussyfoot has been killed is the most jaw-dropping element of ‘Feed the Kitty’. It is so heart-wrenchingly accurate in its depiction of a soul who has lost all hope that it is simultaneously unbearably sad and hilarious in its extremity. It’s unlike any expression you’ve seen in a cartoon before and writer Mike Maltese pushes this grim gag one step further when he has Marc Anthony take the freshly baked effigy of his beloved pet and place it lovingly on his back. Of course, this deeply sad material is also very, very funny because the audience is in on the joke and knows that Pussyfoot is OK and we are rewarded with a happy ending. The cartoon ends on a quiet note instead of the usual crash of an anvil or straight to camera wisecrack, further highlighting what an unusual piece of work ‘Feed the Kitty’ is. Jones used Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot in several other shorts but never to such incredible effect as in this classic treasure of a film.
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People who added this item 70 Average listal rating (44 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.9
Neighbours (1952)
‘Neighbours’ is a classic anti-war film by Norman McLaren which uses the rare technique of Pixilation. Pixilation is a process in which live actors are used as stop-motion objects to disorienting and creepy effect. McLaren’s pacifist short portrays the escalating war between two neighbours over ownership of a flower. In the process of this war the pair destroy themselves and everything around them. One particularly controversial scene in which they kill each other’s wives and children, was originally removed from the film but reinstated when the film became popular again during the Vietnam war. Hard-hitting in its directness and unsettling in its eerie animation techniques, this classic short oddly won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. While it has often been argued as to whether it actually qualifies as animation or not, the satirical drama of ‘Neighbours’ is no more documentary than the Antipodean soap that shares its name!
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People who added this item 102 Average listal rating (82 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.4
Chuck Jones’s ‘Rabbit Seasoning’, the second in the much beloved hunting trilogy, is often considered to be the best of the three. While I find it almost impossible to choose between this trio of fantastic cartoons, I would have to concede that ‘Rabbit Seasoning’ is the most finely honed script. Here, the emphasis is placed on language as Bugs and Daffy run through a series of complex dialogues in the grand tradition of Abbot and Costello’s ‘Who’s on next’ routine. As a long term Daffy fan, I have always been delighted by the hunting trilogy because it is consistently Daffy who gets all the best lines (the famous “Pronoun trouble” being one of the all time classics) and does most of the work. Bugs plays the role of cool manipulator while Elmer, as always, is the befuddled dupe. Part of what makes the hunting trilogy so much fun is that Daffy and Elmer pose so little threat to Bugs that he is basically just kicking back and having some easy laughs. Elmer falls into every trap that is laid for him but it is poor old Daffy who comes off worst, being shot in the face again and again, his beak ending up in more and more ridiculous positions. It all builds to the inevitable climactic declaration “You’re despicable”. As intricate an example of Chuck Jones’s impeccable timing as you’ll come across, ‘Rabbit Seasoning’ is a true classic.
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People who added this item 211 Average listal rating (154 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.6
Duck Amuck (1953)
Where to begin with ‘Duck Amuck’? I guess I should begin by stating that not only is Daffy Duck my favourite cartoon character of all time but that I genuinely consider him to be one of the greatest comedians of all time, alive or animated. No matter which animator was drawing him, scriptwriter was writing for him or director was directing him, Daffy always elicits a positive reaction from me whether the cartoon in question is decent or not. In the case of ‘Duck Amuck’, “decent” is the understatement of the century! It’s a miraculous achievement which I never tire of seeing.

In ‘Duck Amuck’, Daffy battles with an unseen animator who deconstructs the film around him. Pencils, brushes and erasers intrude on Daffy’s world, changing the scenery and even the appearance of Daffy himself and Jones also introduces jokes involving sound, colour and camera positions. It’s an incredible premise which expands on earlier experiments with similar concepts like the Fleischer Brother’s ‘Out of the Inkwell’. The best part for Daffy fans like myself is that ‘Duck Amuck (until its final few seconds) is an entirely one-personality cartoon. It hinges on Daffy’s beautifully scripted monologue which makes the most of the characters distinctive turn of phrase and manic energy. Only Daffy could pull off a solo cartoon like this (as confirmed by ‘Rabbit Rampage’, an unsuccessful attempt to remake ‘Duck Amuck’ with Bugs Bunny in the central role). There’s plenty to please fans of most Daffy personas here. Although the greedy and selfish side of the little black duck is absent (making him all the more likable and therefore rendering the cartoon even more deliciously sadistic), his prominent ego is apparent from the opening frame and the manic energy of his early incarnation is quickly drawn upon as he becomes more and more frantic about the crumbling of his world. It’s a true tour de force.

I don’t think I have ever come across anyone who has a bad word to say about ‘Duck Amuck’. It is quite simply one of the most perfect cartoons ever made, perhaps the most perfect. It’s confirmation, if any was needed, of the genius of Chuck Jones and the comedic superiority of Daffy Duck over any of his animated associates.
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Chuck Jones’s ‘Duck Dodgers in the 24th ½ Century’ has always been the most popular of his Daffy and Porky genre spoofs and it isn’t hard to see why. Aside from a cracking script by Michael Maltese, ‘Duck Dodgers…’ is one of the most handsome Warner Bros. cartoons ever made. While almost every second of an average Warner cartoon is dedicated to either gags or story development, ‘Duck Dodgers…’ features moments of visual brilliance that relate to neither. Most memorable is the giant eyeball that watches Daffy as he walks beneath it, an image which has no real comic value but is just beautiful to look at. Once the intrepid duo reach Planet X, however, the cartoon is all about brilliant jokes, my favourite of which is the Acme disintegrating pistol (“Well, whadda you know, it disintegrated”). The extremely on-form Porky’s final deadpan address to camera is also classic. In one of his few appearance which nevertheless afforded him star status, Marvin the Martian proves an amusing adversary for Daffy. He doesn’t get as much chance to shine as in the cartoons that pitted him against Bugs since Porky and Daffy steal all the best moments but he is still a memorable villain whose well documented ineptitude proves more than a match for Daffy’s inadequate heroics. ‘Duck Dodgers in the 24th ½ Century’ is an undoubted classic which can count among its fans George Lucas, who selected it to be shown before the cinema screenings of his re-released ‘Star Wars’.
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People who added this item 79 Average listal rating (46 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
An adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story, UPA’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ was the first X-rated cartoon. It captures the subtly horrific atmosphere of Poe’s narrative with a characteristically dramatic narration from James Mason but it is the innovative, minimal animation that really makes ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ an unforgettable classic. Combining the sparest of movements with intermittent, unsettling darkness, there is a moment in 'The Tell-Tale Heart' in which a sudden burst of light and sound provokes a genuine moment of prickle-handed terror. There have been many Poe film adaptations which have captured his work to varying degrees of success. UPA's animated take on one of his most famous tales manages to tap into both the true horror of the storyline and also the disturbing sense of the weird that lingers long with the viewer after the full extent of the terrible deeds have been revealed.
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People who added this item 126 Average listal rating (110 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.5
What is there to say about Chuck Jones’s ‘One Froggy Evening’ that hasn’t been said already, not just one of the greatest cartoons ever made but one of the best things to ever happen anywhere ever! ‘One Froggy Evening’ is often called “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of animated shorts”. That level of artistic worth is not an exaggeration. Everything, absolutely everything, is perfect about ‘One Froggy Evening’. For one, the timing is astonishing. Jones tells the story (from a uniquely brilliant script by Michael Maltese, the author of many of the greatest cartoon scripts of all time) completely silent apart from the singing of the frog, who bursts into song at precisely the most hilarious moments possible.

Aside from being side-splittingly funny, ‘One Froggy Evening’ also works on a deeper level as a profound parable about greed. Presented with this wondrous singing frog, the demolition worker’s immediate and only impulse is to use it to make money. To his ever-growing frustration, the frog will only sing in his presence. Despite his obsession with money, the demolition worker is extremely sympathetic and the audience shares in his pain even as they howl with laughter at his misfortune. The cartoon ends with another poor sap about to make the same mistakes, showing that no matter how much we progress as a society, greed is a constant in human beings.

Aside from all this, there’s the wonderful animation and the glorious soundtrack. From the moment the frog leaps out of the box, his back foot slipping a couple of times, he is one of the great animated creations. His ability to snap from spellbindingly charismatic showman to the most uninspiring and ordinary croaker you’ve ever seen is both hilarious and impeccably achieved. The demolition worker, meanwhile, goes through a wonderful range of Chuck Jones’s trademark expressions. The music is great throughout, with a virtuoso performance from singer Bill Roberts who sings a range of classic Tin Pan Alley songs, a snatch of opera and, best of all, a cracking original composition by Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese themselves. Called ‘The Michigan Rag’, the song is not only the best and catchiest in the whole cartoon, it also provided a name for the frog character when, overwhelmed by the popularity of the film and inundated with requests for the character’s name, Jones dubbed him Michigan J. Frog. Despite this popularity, Jones wisely refused to use Michigan in any other cartoons, ensuring ‘One Froggy Evening’ remains a true one-off and one of the greatest strokes of genius animation has ever seen.
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People who added this item 7 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.6
Chuck Jones's 'Ready, Set, Zoom', the sixth Road Runner cartoon, had the mammoth task of following 'Stop, Look and Hasten', one of the best cartoons of the series. Jones and his regular Road Runner writer Michael Maltese more than rose to the challenge and, if anything, 'Ready, Set, Zoom' is even better than its classic predecessor. A startlingly handsome and extremely funny short, 'Ready, Set, Zoom' opens with the unusual sight of a stationary Road Runner. From here, it continues to confound audience expectations with the most unpredictable set of jokes yet. When we do arrive at a gag with an obvious outcome (the enormous weight), Jones opts to trust our instincts as an audience and not even bother showing us the Coyote's inevitable clobbering, instead simply allowing a squashed creature to waddle past the screen after an off-screen clang! The facial expressions of the Coyote are priceless throughout 'Ready, Set, Zoom', from the glorious evil grin as he formulates his first plan to the look of horror in the final unexpected twist. The best sequence, however, is the extended scene in which a glue-drenched Coyote attempts to rid himself of a sticky stick of dynamite. Everyone knows what's going to happen. Effectively, the gag has already ended the moment the glue covers the Coyote. Yet Jones wrings out every last laugh from the situation, playing on our sympathies as we hope that just maybe this time he'll be spared and our wicked sides as we savour his desperation to evade the inevitable Ka-boom! It's a glorious sequence in a glorious cartoon which makes a convincing case for being the absolute best of the series.
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People who added this item 212 Average listal rating (162 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
'What's Opera, Doc?' is undoubtedly one of the high points in animation history. An ingenious double parody of both Wagner's "Ring" cycle and the standard Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd cartoon as epitomized by Tex Avery's 'A Wild Hare'. It's instantly apparent from the opening moments that 'What's Opera, Doc?' is an extraordinarily beautiful cartoon. What also becomes quickly apparent is that 'What's Opera, Doc?' is far less crammed with traditional Warner Bros. gags than the average short. The luscious look and stunning vocal work and music is far more important than gags here and so, instead of joke after joke, we get lengthy operatic routines including the longest and most emotionally charged drag act Bugs has ever done.

It's all still very funny but 'What's Opera, Doc?' has so much more to offer. Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan (as Bugs and Elmer respectively) give the performances of their careers, summoning up genuine emotion from their astonishing work. The pair had been working on Bugs and Elmer cartoons for years by this point and had the characters and their relationship down to a tee but they exert themselves even harder here and the result is an explosive chemistry that provides 'What's Opera, Doc?' with its emotional core. This is key in making the jaw-droppingly tragic ending even more effective as we see the murdered Bugs lying vulnerable beneath a weeping flower. The glorious final wisecrack alleviates some of the sadness but not so much that it spoils the mood. You come away from watching 'What's Opera, Doc?' with a real sense of melancholy alongside the invigorating swell of having seen something truly brilliant.

It's unsurprising to learn that Jones swapped round his schedule, finishing other cartoons more quickly in order to give this masterful cartoon the extra attention it deserves. What is perhaps more surprising is the fact that 'What's Opera, Doc?' went virtually unrecognised in its time, not even being nominated for an Oscar in a year that Robert McKimson's Speedy Gonzalez picture 'Tabasco Road' was! (Incidentally, Friz Freleng's great Sylvester and Tweety short 'Birds Anonymous' won the Oscar). Thankfully, 'What's Opera, Doc?' has been retrospectively re-evaluated and has since been hailed as the classic it so blatantly is. Today, it is perhaps the most famous Warner Bros. cartoon of them all.
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The lavish, beautiful 'The Truth About Mother Goose' is Disney at its best. After experimenting with a more stripped down style inspired by UPA in recent years, Disney were back to what they did best with this fifteen minute featurette which delves into the history of three nursery rhymes. Particularly impressive is the closing section, which focuses on 'London Bridge is Falling Down'. Look out for the fantastic moment in which an artist painting the bridge accidentally paints real fire onto his canvas. In an animation industry that was becoming more experimental, Disney's return to this sort of classic material seemed almost brave and the results are stunning.
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One of my favourite shorts by animation legend Bob Godfrey, this early animation by the great man is a hysterically funny satire on advertising in which a crude, cut-out animation of an announcer (voiced by ex-Goon Michael Bentine) guides viewers through the exciting new product, The Do-It Yourself Cartoon Kit, which allows amateur animators to make cartoons in their own home. As he outlines the contents of the kit, they constantly change and become more ridiculous and excessive, as does the price, the method of order and the address you have to write to. The animation technique seems like an obvious influence on Terry Gilliam's animations for 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' and the style of humour seems like it may have influenced the Pythons themselves. It's a very British absurdist short that I've loved since I first saw it.
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People who added this item 26 Average listal rating (20 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
The Critic (1963)
With experimental, abstract or limited animation dominating theatrical bill in the early 60s, Ernest Pintoff's 'The Critic' was a beautifully timed satire. Written and performed by Mel Brooks, 'The Critic' is an abstract display of random moving shapes, the sort of arty cartoon that was appearing before many films of the day. However, we also get a voiceover from Brooks as a baffled 71 year old man who cannot make head nor tail of what's happening or why he has to sit through this to get to the main feature. His rantings are hilarious but the true genius of this 4 minute piece is how it manages to please everyone. Fans of the new animation style could laugh at Brooks' satire of those who didn't get it while those who detested the new style could agree whole-heartedly with the old man's complaints. 'The Critic' still works today since most people are familiar with this sort of arty cartoon, which means it hasn't dated and is still funny. In its historical context, however, 'The Critic' is absolute dynamite.
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People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 6.8
Labyrinth (1963)
'Labyrinth is Polish director Jan Lenica's masterpiece of satirical foreboding and comic grotesquery. Lenica had made several films previous to this (often collaborating with Walerian Borowczyk) but in 'Labyrinth' all the best elements of these previous works come together to make a truly great and unforgettable film. Lenica draws on influences from Greek mythology, Aldous Huxley, Franz Kafka and George Orwell to create a terrifying urban nightmare. At first the city of labyrinth seems appealing to the winged hero and he cheerfully discards his wings, satisfied that he has found a better life. But the attractive architecture turns out to be just a façade, behind which lurk evil creatures and victims who are more than happy to remain in that role. The hero is chased, threatened, kidnapped and scrutinized before his final attempt at escape. The world of 'Labyrinth' is beautifully realised with Lenica's trademark cut-out animation and the nightmare is brought to life with vivid energy and layers of symbolism.
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People who added this item 575 Average listal rating (406 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.4
'A Charlie Brown Christmas' is one of the most beloved animated shorts of all time and a staple of US TV schedules. While the 'Peanuts' characters are popular in the UK, for some reason this Christmas special has never been given much airtime, unlike in America where it is an annual tradition. The first of a very successful string of 'Peanuts' TV shorts which spanned decades (and also spawned four feature length films), 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' sets up the template for the series, with the distinctive phonetically-read dialogue by its child voice stars, its deadpan, melancholy tone and the brilliantly captured slapstick antics of Snoopy. Charles M. Schulz's original source material transfers perfectly to the screen (Schulz wrote the screenplay) and is perfectly directed by Bill Melendez, who directed the bulk of the 'Peanuts' shorts as well as providing the sounds for Snoopy. The package is topped off by Vince Guaraldi's exquisite jazz score, including such memorable tracks as 'O Tannenbaum', 'Christmas Time is Here' and the immortal 'Linus and Lucy', which would become the piece of music most associated with the 'Peanuts' television specials.
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MGM's 'The Dot and the Line' (subtitled 'A Romance in Lower Mathematics'), directed by the ever reliable Chuck Jones, was based on a book by Norton Juster, who wrote the novel that most influenced me as a child, the wonderful 'Phantom Tollbooth' (Jones also made a feature length cartoon based on that book). If you removed the narration from 'The Dot and the Line' it would look like one of those abstract floating shape cartoons that Mel Brooks spoofed in 'The Critic' a couple of years previously. But, with Juster's storyline wonderfully narrated by Robert Morley, it becomes a deeply human story of love and self discovery. From it initial premise of a line that is perceived as too rigid and straight to be of any interest to a dot, to it's brilliant final pun that comes as a result of the line demonstrating that it can do more than just be long and straight, 'The Dot and the Line' is a clever, warm and funny delight.
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People who added this item 61 Average listal rating (36 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8
The Hand (1965)
Many artists dream of their final film being their definitive statement but Czech animator Jiri Trnka is one of the few who achieved this feat. Trnka's final film before his death, 'The Hand', is undoubtedly the man's masterpiece in a career that took in many great shorts and feature films. Trnka's immediately recognisable style of fixed-expression puppets who convey everything through their incredibly expressive movements suits this allegory of government repression perfectly. The story is told impeccably across its 18 minutes and emerges as one of the most powerful symbolic anti-establishment statements ever put on film. Amazingly, 'The Hand' slipped by uncensored on its original release but after Trnka's death several years later the Soviet-controlled government of Czechoslovakia banned the film, a ban that went unlifted for over two decades. Seen today, 'The Hand' is still as powerful and sadly relevant as ever and remains one of the greatest animated shorts of all time, receiving much well-deserved acclaim and providing a perfect finale for the career of one of animation's most original talents.
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People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 7.1
Up to this point, Bruno Bozzetto's Mr. Rossi shorts had been gently satirical gag-based cartoons following the adventures of everyman Mr. Rossi in a series of everyday activities. 'Mister Rossi Buys a Car', probably the best of this fantastic series, marks the moment when the Rossi shorts start to take a turn for the dark. Beginning in the usual gag-heavy mould as Mr. Rossi observes how everyone but him has an automobile and decides to purchase one, 'Mister Rossi Buys a Car' changes significantly once he hits the road. Running into pretty much every little irritation a motorist could dread, Rossi's reaction is to become a psychotic maniac determined to destroy everything and everyone in his path. A prophetic look a road rage decades before the term was coined, 'Mister Rossi Buys a Car' is a superb satire that keeps the laughs coming but also establishes a second act switch in which it becomes deeply troubling as well. The short ends with Rossi reduced to a shell of a man, psychologically broken and attempting to drive a hospital bed like a car while he is observed by hordes of curious doctors. Amazingly, the Rossi shorts would continue to plumb even darker depths after this, before the feature length films Bozzetto made with the character introduced dialogue and a talking dog sidekick and retooled Rossi as primarily a children's entertainment. For those, like myself, who grew up with that Rossi, 'Mister Rossi Buys a Car' is a shocking discovery!
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After years of limited animation Oscar nominees, it was the return of Disney at its best that deservedly bagged 1968's Oscar. 'Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day' is a gorgeous featurette that, these days, is most often seen combined with the other two Winnie the Pooh shorts of the era. '...Blustery Day' is easily the best of the three. A.A. Milne's characters are beautifully brought to life against an ingenious storybook background. The 25 minute running time is packed with event and invention, including a surreal dream sequence that recalls the famous Pink Elephants sequence from 'Dumbo'. With all the other big animation studios of the golden age having run out of steam and/or folded up, Disney proved with 'Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day' why they would continue to be a dominant animation force.
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Windy Day (1968)
John and Faith Hubley's wonderful 'Windy Day', like their previous Oscar winner 'Moonbird', takes as its soundtrack the tape-recorded conversations of the Hubley's children, this time their daughters, as they play in the garden. 'Windy Day' is the most successful of these style shorts the Hubley's had yet made. The girl's conversation is adorable and never threatens to become boring, the recording is clearer than in 'Moonbird' and the animation is even more attractive and inventive. It's an absolutely disarming short that, if you'll pardon the pun, blew me away.
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People who added this item 32 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7
Walking (1968)
Would-be legendary cult animator Ryan Larkin's 'Walking' takes the simplest of premises: 5 minutes of people walking. The result is phenomenal. Larkin has really captured the subtle differences in how people walk and created a beautiful montage of human figures sweeping, plodding and striding across the screen to a peaceful musical score. For those who demand a plot, 'Walking' will be a bore but for fans of animation techniques and the beauty of the visual image, 'Walking' is a little masterpiece.
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People who added this item 19 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.7
Not only is 'A Christmas Carol' one of my favourite stories of all time but Richard Williams' stunning animated adaptation is my favourite version, even beating out the great Alistair Sim live-action version. Sim, always the definitive Scrooge, reprises his role here in voice-over but he is upstaged (possibly for the only time in his glorious career) by the eye-popping animation style. This is a move away from the limited animation style if ever there was one. A stunning mix of pans and zooms with artwork based on 19th century engraved illustrations, 'A Christmas Carol' is a true masterwork.
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People who added this item 19 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.4
In contrast with the focus on realistic movement in his Oscar nominated 'Walking', Ryan Larkin's 'Street Musique' offers us a series of surreal images. The figures in 'Street Musique' shapeshift and morph from the crudest of child-like drawings to realistic figures; from single colour sketches to vibrant, full-colour representations. Inspired by a meeting with a group of street musicians, Larkin has here created a joyous masterpiece which revels in movement, colour and sound. The upbeat soundtrack perfectly compliments the images on screen which present a series of short, sumptuous sequences that showcase Larkin's fluid animation style. Across its 8 minutes, 'Street Musique' captivates so completely that the viewer feels almost cleansed and refreshed after watching.
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People who added this item 244 Average listal rating (136 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.3
With 'Hedgehog in the Fog' Yuriy Norshteyn made his first masterpiece and one of the most enduring short animations of all time. On paper, the plot sounds similar to other stories in which characters become lost in the woods, such as 'The Wind in the Willows', but 'Hedgehog in the Fog' takes a far less narratively clean-cut approach than that. As the little hedgehog begins to perceive threats all around him in the dense fog he becomes more and more troubled until he eventually resigns himself to death as he floats along a river. An encounter with an unseen stranger helps him survive, while crossing paths with a large white horse who stands higher than the fog can reach has a profound effect on him. At the end of 'Hedgehog in the Fog', the main character finds safety but is clearly deeply changed forever by his experiences. There are many meanings that viewers can project onto 'Hedgehog in the Fog' and it can also be enjoyed as merely a journey through a spooky forest, although the deeper resonance of the white horse will probably register with even the youngest child. Norshteyn's character design and animation is absolutely perfect for the material and the suggestion of the fog and the forest surroundings are wonderfully immersive. Made more alluring by its very otherness, 'Hedgehog in the Fog' is an animation never to be forgotten once seen and which has the power to deeply move everyone from adults to the youngest of children.
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People who added this item 7 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Bob Godfrey's 'Great' is an animated biopic of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It not only introduced me to the history of this amazing man, it also introduced me to the animation of Bob Godfrey, whose work I've come to love. 6 great musical numbers are set to various different types of animation which builds up into a condensed but informative biography of Brunel. Songs range from celebrations of Brunel's work to songs about the things he didn't invent (among them the violin, heroin and Golden Shred!) and an ode to his "bloody great big top hat". Shot through with Godfrey's prominent, very British and sometimes gleefully crude sense of humour, 'Great' is a cracking cartoon that I've loved since the first time I saw it. The Academy agreed, awarding it the Animated Short Oscar for its year.
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People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.9
Made in collaboration with the Doonesbury comic strip creator Garry Trudeau, Faith and John Hubley's 'A Doonesbury Special'is filled with the wit and warmth that characterises the work of everyone involved. Bringing Trudeau's popular characters to life, 'A Doonesbury Special' is an impeccably scripted look back at the civil rights movement and idealism of the 60s from a 70s perspective. Funny, intelligent, touching and wonderfully animated, 'A Doonesbury Special' was also the last short that John Hubley worked on before his death. A well deserved Academy Award would have been a fitting end to an important animators illustrious career but sadly it was given to the feeble short 'The Sand Castle' instead.
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Anatoly Petrov's stunning 'Firing Range' (aka 'Polygon') is a short of enormous power and jaw-dropping visuals. Animated using a technique known as Photographica which uses multiple celluloid layers, 'Firing Range' looks unbelievably ahead of its time. The realistic human characters and settings make it almost impossible to believe this was a 1977 short and not made later with CGI effects. Petrov does not waste these astonishing visuals on a weak story, instead packing a dark anti-war action sci-fi plot into just 10 minutes. The story was based on a short story by Sever Gansovsky, who also collaborated on the script. To say more about the plot would be to ruin the experience of watching the film and once you have you'll find it difficult to believe that this masterpiece is not better known.
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Having spent 3 years of my life compiling a chronological list of 1001 Animated Shorts You Must See, I decided to create a highlights list for those who might be interested in the subject but overwhelmed by 1001 films to trawl through. So here are my choices for the 100 greatest animated shorts ever made. As a starting point for getting into this oft overlooked genre, I hope the list will prove suitably diverse and informative.

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