The Mid-Fifties UPA
Profiling three cartoons from 1954 through 1956.
Welcome once again to the Animation Obsessive newsletter! Today, we’re going back to the middle of the 20th century — to the UPA revolution.
In past issues, we’ve written about UPA’s gigantic impact on animation. This American studio remade the medium — arguably no animator since has totally evaded its influence. In Animation: A World History, historian Giannalberto Bendazzi wrote:
Without exaggeration, it can be inferred that the very idea of animation as an art form, in the United States as well as in other countries, became commonplace with UPA. Entertainment animation left the exclusive realm of comedy and became the foundation for graphic and pictorial research as well as for diverse styles, themes and “genres.” In short, it became a medium for the greatest freedom of expression.
Here’s the thing, though. Barring exceptions like Rooty Toot Toot, most of the UPA films that swept the world in the mid-century are all but unknown today. This is particularly true of UPA’s mid-1950s output — when it was at the height of its fame.
So, in this issue, we’re giving three of these rarely-seen classics a look. UPA released them in 1954, 1955 and 1956, but they’re still brilliant now. We hope you’ll enjoy!