Articles on Animation &Hubley 24 Feb 2010 09:30 am

Finian’s Rainbow

I worried over how to exhibit this article. The PRINT pages were beautifully layed out, but they don’t offer the easiest, most legible design for the web. Hence, I’ve decided to post it twice. Today, I just post the original as jpegs. I’ll follow up by separating the images and posting them larger with web type. That’ll come tomorrow.

- A treasure of an article. John Canemaker wrote an article for the March/April 1993 edition of Print magazine an article about Finian’s Rainbow. This was an animated feature well under way in 1953 to be directed by John Hubley. It was to be an adaptation of the successful Broadway musical by Burton Lane and E.Y. Harburg. The film about racism twsted into a story fantasy story about love and leprachauns would have been the first official adult film done by a team of brilliant animation artists. The soundtrack would have featured songs sung by Frank SInatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson and Jim Backus.

I remember hearing stories about animation in production at the Bill Tytla studio, with Tytla animating on it. In Hollywood, Art Babbitt and Bill Littlejohn were animating, with Paul Julian, Aurelius Battaglia and Gregorio Prestipino art directing. Maurice Binder had assembled a LEICA reel.

McCarthy and HUAC investigation brought the entire project down and set back the history of animation some 30 years.

John Canemaker’s given me permission to post this article and given this is the memorial of John Hubley’s death, I thought it appropriate to celebrate the artist.

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18 Responses to “Finian’s Rainbow”

  1. on 24 Feb 2010 at 11:30 am 1.Janice said …

    While it would have been nice to see Finian’s in animation, I have to say the jazz renditions of the songs are not terribly good, nor fitting. I’ve had them for a long time, and also the Reprise recordings done by many of the same singers. Great renditions, but these performances tend to steal attention away from the story and the characters and play FAR better as stand along jazz renditions than as part of a film story. I’ve got a stack of art from the film as well. It would have been nice to see these on the screen, but with more traditional renditions of the songs to provide contrast.

  2. on 24 Feb 2010 at 12:09 pm 2.Brian said …

    Hey Michael,
    Is the Leica reel around anywhere? Has anyone seen it?
    Janice, please post your art from the film!!
    Battaglia is one of my favorites.

  3. on 24 Feb 2010 at 1:05 pm 3.Michael said …

    Of course, Janice, if you do have art from the film and would like to post it, I’d be glad to offer up my blog and/or scanning work to do it for you. Material from this film is rare.

  4. on 24 Feb 2010 at 3:09 pm 4.Bill said …

    What a treat!

  5. on 24 Feb 2010 at 5:03 pm 5.Mark said …

    Thank you for this great post. I feel naive for not knowing as much animation history as I would like, but now I’m glad to have learned about the would-be classic, Finian’s Rainbow.

    Thank you again for this post and for this entire blog! It’s very inspiring.

  6. on 24 Feb 2010 at 6:44 pm 6.Eric Noble said …

    This is amazing. I would have loved to have seen this as an actual film. Damn you, Joe McCarthy. That is some beautiful artwork.

  7. on 24 Feb 2010 at 8:54 pm 7.Joel Brinkerhoff said …

    I’ve heard about this ill fated production since I was a child and could never find anything about it.
    Thanks for shedding some light on this piece of history that has taken on legendary proportions in the animation field. I’ve seen the Coppola/Astaire film and thought it pretty strange. It makes me wonder what the Hubley film really would have been like. The McCarthy years ruined so many lives.

  8. on 25 Feb 2010 at 12:45 am 8.Eric Noble said …

    You know, Buzz (the judge’s henchman) looks a lot like Jimmy Cagney. Was that the intentions. I love the use of caricature here. To me, this film looks like it would have played heavily to animation’s strengths. Thank you very much Mr. Sporn for posting these.

  9. on 25 Feb 2010 at 1:21 am 9.Michael said …

    Actually, to me Buzz looks like J. Edgar Hoover.

  10. on 25 Feb 2010 at 11:37 pm 10.Eric Noble said …

    “Actually, to me Buzz looks like J. Edgar Hoover.”

    Really, maybe in the eyes. Buzz looks a lot like an older Jimmy Cagney.

  11. on 13 Mar 2010 at 7:57 am 11.Marzia said …

    Hi! I am a relative of Aurelius Battaglia and I live in Sicily. I love his artworks. Do yuou have more news about Finian’s rainbow? Thank you!

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