The most important cartoonist and animator in the early days of the Disney studio was Ub Iwerks, the “hand behind the mouse.” The TCM Festival this week in Hollywood will honor Iwerks with a retrospective program featuring recent restorations of Iwerks’ greatest and rarely seen shorts, including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Hungry Hobos (1928), Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie (1928) and the first “Silly Symphony” short The Skeleton Dance (1929). Newly restored prints of Flip The Frog and Willie Whopper cartoons will screen, along with selections from the ComiColor and Color Rhapsodies series. Following the screening, Beck will do a Q&A with Iwerks grand daughter – a distinguished filmmaker in her own right – Leslie Iwerks.
Beyond The Mouse: The 1930s Cartoons of Ub Iwerks will take place at 9am Friday morning, April 7th at the Chinese 6 Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Separate admission tickets are available for this program. Curated and presented by animation historian Jerry Beck – with films provided by Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures and Thunderbean Animation (Steve Stanchfield) – a listing of the films to be shown is below.
Iwerks and Walt Disney first met as teens in Kansas City forming a powerful collaboration and friendship. Iwerks was the artistic heart of the company developed by Disney in the ’20s serving as head animator and Disney’s chief character designer and co-creator of Mickey Mouse. Iwerks moved on to MGM to experiment with color on the first Flip the Frog cartoon Fiddlesticks (1931), and also with Willie Whopper in the pre-code short Hell’s Fire (1934). His elaborate mid-30s “ComiColor” series included Jack and the Beanstalk (1933) and Balloon Land (1935). Iwerks concluded his solo career at Columbia Pictures with their “Color Rhapsodies” cartoons including Merry Mannequins (1937), an art deco masterpiece paying tribute to the Fred and Ginger musicals of the era.
HUNGRY HOBOS (1928, Oswald Rabbit)
STEAMBOAT WILLIE (1928, Mickey Mouse)
THE SKELETON DANCE (1929, Silly Symphony)
FIDDLESTICKS (1931, Flip The Frog)
MOVIE MAD (1931, Flip The Frog)
CAVEMAN (1934, Willie Whopper)
HELL’S FIRE (1934, Willie Whopper)
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK (1933, ComiColor)
BALLOON LAND (1935, ComiColor)
MERRY MANNEQUINS (1937, Color Rhapsody)
Disney historian J.B. Kaufman has just posted a significant article about the first Flip The Frog cartoon, Fiddlesticks (1931), on his blog. We urge you to check it out.
For more info on the TCM Festival – Click Here.
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