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BY THE TIME of its release, the 'Star' of this feature length animated movie 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS (UPA/Columbia Pictures, 1959) MR. MAGOO, had been around for about 10 years or so. Having been highly successful in his own series of short subjects, it was decided by the production company, United Productions of America (UPA for short), to try testing the waters of Feature Animation with their nearsighted star.
THIS WAS A BOLD move on their part; as animation beyond one or two reels, with a very few exceptions, had been the exclusive domain of Mr. Walt Disney & Company. Whereas cartoon shorts were always in demand by exhibitors, they were rather inexpensive and often free as thrown in as a bonus along with the booking and rental of particular pictures.
WITH FEATURE ANIMATION production, it is expected that it should be the attraction. Living up to such responsibility is an awesome task and it does appear that 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS was at best, only partially successful.
CONCERNING OUR VIEW of this movie, we can draw our impressions from seeing its original release. As a 13 year old in the 8th Grade at St. Theodore School, the screening was at the old and now defunct Ogden Theatre at 63rd Street and Marshfield, right here in Chicago. Of course we've seen it since and even had a video copy.
THE FORMAT CALLED for taking the nearsighted & stubborn Rutgers University Grad, Quincy Magoo and transport him back to Arabia of over 1,000 years ago. His name was 'Arabianized' to Abdul Azziz Magoo; which seemed to be fair and fitting. There were a few other problems with the production that may well have worked against any critical acclaim as well as Box Office $ucce$$.
THE STORY, WHICH was familiar enough with the public, featured a romantic subplot and many musical numbers. The animation and artwork was strictly in accordance with that made so famous by UPA in their shorts. This is not to imply that it was TV-type limited animation, for it was not. We are not comparing it to the TV MAGOO Shorts. UPA's DICK TRACY SHOW or CLUTCH CARGO (the very pits of the animated cartoon).
ALTHOUGH THIS PRODUCTION may well have fallen a trifle short of expectations, it did spawn that WHAT'S NEW MAGOO TV Series and Special TV Movies such as UNCLE SAM MAGOO, MAGOO'S Christmas CAROL & Others.
BURIED DEEPLY IN the credits is the name of Bill Scott; listed as Dialect Director. This veteran of UPA would partner up with Jay Ward and produce ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, HOPPITY HOOPER and DUDLEY DO-RIGHT; as well as the highly successful Silent Movie send-up, FRACTURED FLICKERS.
INCICENTALLY, IT WAS Mr. Scott who provided voices for Dudley Do Right, Mr. Peabody and for Bullwinkle, himself!
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