- This is the fourth part of the animated segments from the live feature, The Four Poster, with animated segments from UPA directed by John Hubley with animation directed by Art Babbitt and design supervised by Paul Julian.
As I wrote with each of the past posts, the film is an adaptation of the play by Jan de Hartog which takes place wholly in one room – the bedroom – around a fourposter bed. We see scenes wherein the couple marries young and grows old together. The only time we stray from the room, in the film, we do it via the enormously creative UPA animation. The film starred real husband and wife, Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer.
This sequence represents an attempt for the couple to come together again after a difficult period. They take a vacation to Paris, France.
Cut to an anchor being lifted.
The final sequence begins with the couple elderly and close.
It becomes obvious that she dies as we move to him writing at his desk.
It seems obvious to me, after all the time I’ve recently spent studying the UPA œuvre, that there were a lot of forward thinking individuals who were quite adept at creating modern designs, quite like new textiles or illustrations. However, it would seem to me that only a small few were actually artists. John Hubley and Paul Julian were certainly in this latter character. Hubley was incapable of drawing a cartoon, and Julian was painting his backgrounds in the same, serious style as his own Art. Together, they were brilliant. It’s only unfortunate that they didn’t have the assist of animation by Bobe Cannon. He is one who took the animator’s job to a higher order. We’d have to wait a decade to see Hubley and Cannon together, but, by then, Julian wasn’t available to them, and Hubley painted his own Backgrounds. See Adventures of an * or Tender Game, and try to see one of the stunning, newly reconstructed prints from MoMA.