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I'm just glad to know that this thing really existed, and I wasn't just imagining things at the age of seven!! I'd love for this to go to home video; it's an imaginative and totally skewered animated documentary which seems to borrow a lot of its style from the animated MONTY PYTHON. The bird who narrates is continually bandaged and casted, and even the 60's NBC peacock arrives in a 2-second cameo to sneeze his feathers completely off!!
Winging into action, our feathered host leads us on a short
flight into the world of all things avian. After learning about
vital impact - yet sad history - of our little flying friends, we
left with the inescapable conclusion that IT'S TOUGH TO BE
This delightful Disney cartoon, winner of the 1969 Oscar for Best Animated Short, is great fun. It is most enjoyable to see the antique film clips & to be reminded of the old birdie tunes. But beyond the laughs are some important elements dealing with bird biology & preservation.
Ward Kimball, authentic genius, master animator & one of Walt's Nine Old Men, co-authored & directed this short, infusing it with his unique brand of quirky humor. Movie mavens will spot him as the bird watcher holding the tape recorder. Richard Bakalyan does a fine job as the narrator with attitude; that's Ruth Buzzi hilariously warbling `When The Buzzards Return To Hinckley Ridge.' Give yourself a golden goose egg if you can spot Donald Duck.
This is one of Disney's better efforts (which is quite a compliment!) This shows up occasionally on The Ink and Paint Club, but I think that Disney (and the public) would be well-served if this and some of their other shorts were released in a compilation. This is an excellent example of combining animation with live-action to create at one and the same time a cartoon and a documentary about birds that is informative and entertaining for adults and children. In fact, I have noticed more than a few cartoons that should be in-print that aren't, many of them Disney, but others as well. Highly recommended.
This film won the Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1970. It was up
against EN MARCHANT and OF MEN AND DEMONS. I saw EN MARCHANT and didn't
particularly love it but cannot locate a copy of OF MEN AND DEMONS--so
I cannot say how this particular film matches up with IT'S TOUGH TO BE
As far as IT'S TOUGH TO BE A BIRD goes, it's the sort of film Disney loved to make in the 1960s. Instead of continuing with the wonderful character cartoons of the 30s, 40s and 50s, the 1960s saw a decrease in Disney's output of shorts and many of the ones they did make were very educational--the very sort of cartoons that most kids hated. We wanted to see Mickey, Donald and a non-educational Goofy! I remember on Sunday nights tuning in to "The Wonderful World of Disney"--hoping they'd show some of these wonderful older films but mostly the studio gave us films like this, True Life Adventures and "wacky" live action films. Egad, I hated these films!
Now that I am a lot older, I don't hate IT'S TOUGH TO BE A BIRD like I used to, but I still think it's drier than dust through most of this all-too-educational film. The history of birds and human interactions with them is nice enough, but I wanted to see more bonking on the head and violence (in other words, a real cartoon!). I must admit that for 1969 the animation is relatively good--in fact, much better than the typical low frame-rate product of Hanna-Barbera and the like--though still noticeably less well animated than the classic Disney, MGM and Looney Tunes films. The problem isn't so much with the animation but with all the live action footage and the pretty limp final couple minutes. This ending is supposed to be kooky, but to me it just seemed kind of forced.
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