by Rob Boylan
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be an animator. My career path hit a little snag when I came to the painful realization that I draw about as well as Roger Rabbit remembers his lines, but I've always had that wish in the back of my head to be able to make a drawing come to life, to create magic.
I'm going to irrationally assume you all have the same wish swimming in the backs of your heads, and so also assume you'll all be tuning in for TCM's Rare Animation marathon this Sunday which begins at 8pm with Max Fleischer’s feature version of Gulliver’s Travels and continues through the 1:15am showing of The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
The night will be hosted by the always-great Robert Osborne, and animation expert and professor Jerry Beck, who often writes for the exceptional animation site Cartoon Brew.
Beck's plea is a little more authoritative than my own, so I'll leave you with his words:
Classic animated films have no outlet in today’s media. Those of us of a certain age may recall seeing classic cartoons in movie theaters. Many of us grew up watching the entire history of Hollywood cartoons on television. Today, except for a few random showings at a festival, museum or repertory theatre, you’d be lucky to find Tom & Jerry or Looney Tunes buried within a block of kidvid. Look even harder and you might find Mr. Magoo and the Fox & Crow (but you gotta look realhard).
The six hour spotlight on classic animation coming this weekend is a test. Will TCM’s traditional viewers respect and understand these are classic films? I’m betting they will. As far as I’m concerned, animated shorts and features – especially those produced for theatrical showing – from 1906 to umm, let’s say 1970 – are “classic film”. They are not “old kids fodder” – which is how they are perceived by their parent companies. They do not get the proper respect they deserve. The TCM broadcast is a rare opportunity for the medium; a great place to expose more people to the art, entertainment and legacy of animation.
I want to see TCM do this again. In fact, I’d like to see a regular place for vintage animation on the channel. Because TCM doesn’t read ratings, the only way they monitor feedback from their viewers is by response on their forum pages – or in written letters. I guess I’m urging you to send them a note, drop them a line; let TCM know you appreciate the telecast of these rare animation gems – and you’d like to see more.