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Following the strike at Disney in the early 1940s, some of the staff
left and formed UPA, later best known for Mr. Magoo. UPA got itself a
contract with Columbia and started out. They didn't have the budgets
that Disney lavished on his shorts, so they made a virtue of necessity,
going for minimalist animation and details.
Here we see, in this Private Snafu short from 1945 -- yes, that's Mel Blanc doing his Private Snafu voice -- the UPA house style emerge: the whole thing starts with silhouette-like animation in a half-reel cartoon about the physiological effects of fear. The effect, for the period, is startling. Although this is not a noteworthy cartoon on its own merits, it is revolutionary in its technique for the period.
During WWII, the US government financed a series of Private Snafu
cartoons. Using a wonderful sense of humor, they were able to convey
important messages to the troops--and the films were not shown to the
general public. You can tell this in a few of the films, as the humor
is a bit more adult than you could have gotten away with in theaters.
Today, you can find these shorts on DVD as well as for free downloads
I just finished watching an amazingly unfunny and dull Snafu cartoon--"A Few Quick Facts: Inflation". And, since this film also begins with "A Few Quick Fact", I had very low expectations. Sadly, I was right. While you briefly see Private Snafu, there is no humor and it's a very dull film about the flight or fright reflex. That, combined with splashy UPA-style graphics, make this one a hard one to recommend. Pretty dull and un-Snafu-like.
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