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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.
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. No...it 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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