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The Bear That Wasn't (1967)

A bear wakes out of hibernation in the middle of a human society that blindly refuses to recognize him as an animal.


(story "The Bear That Wasn't"), (additional story)



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Complete credited cast:
Paul Frees ...
Narrator (voice)


The Bear That Wasn't is a ten minute animated short about a bear that settles down for his long winter nap. While he is asleep the progress of man continues. He wakes up to find himself in the middle of an industrial complex. He then gets confused by the foreman as a worker and is told to work. To this he responds, "but I'm not a man, I'm a Bear." He is taken to each of his successive bosses, who try to convince him that he is just a very hairy man that needs a shave... Written by <kendel@livenet.net>

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Release Date:

31 December 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bjørn eller ikke bjørn  »

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Did You Know?


This was MGM's last theatrical animated short. MGM's animation focused on television after this title was released. See more »

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User Reviews

Severely over-rated
20 February 2008 | by (a pretty good weekend in Dallas) – See all my reviews

This is an interesting short from the WB gang, since it's message-driven. (See other comments below for plot descriptions from the fawning fans.) Frees' voice work is nice, and the characteristic Chuck Jones facial expressions on the bear are endearing, as usual... but "interesting" is about as far as I can go in praise of this 'toon.

With a sledgehammer's subtlety, the message is made clear about one-quarter of the way into this short. After that it's repeated... and repeated... and repeated. And then, a full minute in the middle is spent rehashing what you just watched while the theme song (from the opening credits) plays... yet again. Some of the animation here is done beautifully, like the birds; while other parts are strange and utterly unnecessary, like the bizarre floor-arrows. There are very few characters, none of which have any real characterization; and what little conflict there is (necessary to ANY story) simply vanishes about halfway. The predictable ending comes with almost zero difficulty, plot-wise, and has me completely puzzled as to why a story so simplistic had to be ten minutes long?

I'm a big big fan of classic WB and H&B animation, and I thought at first I was about to be exposed to a hidden gem; but it's pretty understandable why I've never heard of this short. I can only assume that it appeals to young children and the memories of those who saw it when they were very young. It probably deserves a 2-vote when compared to everything else Jones et al did, and a 6-vote when compared to other animation... so, on average, 4 out of 10.

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