The Story of Anyburg U.S.A. (1957) Poster

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A Message On Auto Sanity From Walt Disney
Ron Oliver9 September 2002
A Walt Disney Cartoon.

A modern metropolis puts automobiles on trial for highway homicide.

THE STORY OF ANYBURG U. S. A. is Disney's humorous reminder that it is the human behind the wheel who is to blame for motor mayhem. Hans Conried steals the show with his ripe performance as the voice of the Prosecutor. Movie mavens should also recognize Bill Thompson as the voice of the Defense Attorney & Thurl Ravenscroft performing the voice of Cyrus P. Sliderule, the auto safety expert.

Walt Disney (1901-1966) was always intrigued by drawings. As a lad in Marceline, Missouri, he sketched farm animals on scraps of paper; later, as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War, he drew figures on the sides of his vehicle. Back in Kansas City, along with artist Ub Iwerks, Walt developed a primitive animation studio that provided animated commercials and tiny cartoons for the local movie theaters. Always the innovator, his ALICE IN CARTOONLAND series broke ground in placing a live figure in a cartoon universe. Business reversals sent Disney & Iwerks to Hollywood in 1923, where Walt's older brother Roy became his lifelong business manager & counselor. When a mildly successful series with Oswald The Lucky Rabbit was snatched away by the distributor, the character of Mickey Mouse sprung into Walt's imagination, ensuring Disney's immortality. The happy arrival of sound technology made Mickey's screen debut, STEAMBOAT WILLIE (1928), a tremendous audience success with its use of synchronized music. The SILLY SYMPHONIES soon appeared, and Walt's growing crew of marvelously talented animators were quickly conquering new territory with full color, illusions of depth and radical advancements in personality development, an arena in which Walt's genius was unbeatable. Mickey's feisty, naughty behavior had captured millions of fans, but he was soon to be joined by other animated companions: temperamental Donald Duck, intellectually-challenged Goofy and energetic Pluto. All this was in preparation for Walt's grandest dream - feature length animated films. Against a blizzard of doomsayers, Walt persevered and over the next decades delighted children of all ages with the adventures of Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi, Peter Pan and Mr. Toad. Walt never forgot that his fortunes were all started by a mouse, or that simplicity of message and lots of hard work always pay off.
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Pretty decent, though Disney have done better educational shorts
TheLittleSongbird21 April 2016
'The Story of Anyburg USA' is not a bad short, but at the same time Disney have done a much better job entertaining and teaching in shorts such as 'Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom', 'Melody' and the Goofy 'How to...' series (to name a few).

As ever the animation is very good, the more stylised look not looking cheap at all. The colours are vibrant and there is some good attention to detail in the backgrounds. Some inventive and clever visuals can be seen at especially the beginning, likewise with the characters' expressions and reactions. The music score is lively, beautifully orchestrated and cleverly synced with the action, it adds to everything going on in the animation and action so well, the best parts enhancing them.

It has its fair share of amusing moments, particularly in the first half, one really has to love the energy of the beginning and the pre-courtroom section does contain writing and narration that makes its point but also manages to be funny as well. 'The Story of Anyburg USA' is hardly dull, with a story that intrigues though it is at times odd. The courtroom sections that dominate much of the cartoon do entertain still, though that was mostly down to Hans Conreid's voice work and the animation. The vocal talent is top notch, Bill Thompson and Thurl Ravenscroft have immediately distinctive voices and do their usual fine work but it's Hans Conreid's gleefully delicious scenery chewing that steals the show and helps make 'The Story of Anyburg USA' memorable.

Against all this, the preachy complaint is understandable. The story does intrigue, but while a child are likely to learn a lot from this if they were learning the dangers of driving some older viewers are going to find that 'The Story of Anyburg USA' doesn't teach an awful lot that they don't already know. It was painfully obvious to me but that didn't stop me from finding entertainment value in it. The main point that 'The Story of Anyburg USA' makes (that humans are responsible not the cars) is clear and there is a lot of truth and importance to it. At the same time it is not delivered in the most subtle of ways, in fact particularly towards the end it is laid on too thick.

While most of the writing is fun and entertaining, there is admittedly some rather bad rhyming that induces groans in alternative to chuckles. The start is very energetic, but the latter half of the cartoon lacks that extra bit of zip as a result of more of a focus on educating the viewer.

In conclusion, pretty decent though Disney have done better educational shorts and better shorts overall as well. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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MartinHafer14 August 2012
In the 1950s, an insidious evil crept into American movie theaters--the educational Disney cartoon!! Up until the 50s, Disney shorts were fun, but some nut thought making educational films was a good direction for the studio. was NOT!

The film is a fantasy piece about a town that is sick of traffic deaths. So, they decide to literally put the car on trial. The prosecutor (who is wonderfully voiced by Hans Conreid) tries his best to get the car convicted and it doesn't look good. Can the mild mannered defense attorney stop this rush to judgment?

While parts of "The Story of Anyburg, USA" are mildly amusing, it's painfully obvious that the short film is educational. It's a very preachy film about the importance of driving safely and responsibly--and this film and the Goofy film on safe driving were frequently used in driver's ed classes over the years to reinforce this. But who wants to go to the theater or turn on their TV to watch an educational cartoon about road manners?! The final portion is particularly nauseating and is about as subtle as a nudist at a Baptist picnic.
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