Gerald McBoing-Boing is an animated short film produced by United Productions of America (UPA) and given wide release by Columbia Pictures on November 2, 1950. The winner of the 1950 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, Gerald McBoing-Boing is the story of a little boy who speaks through sound effects instead of spoken words.
It was adapted by Phil Eastman and Bill Scott from a story by Dr. Seuss, directed by Robert Cannon, and produced by John Hubley. In 1994, it was voted #9 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. In 1995, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Original recording, UPA film and sequels
Dr. Seuss's story had originally appeared on a children's record in 1950, scored by Gail Kubik, issued by Capitol Records, and read by radio personality Harold Peary.
This film was the first successful theatrical cartoon produced by UPA, after their initial experiments with a short series of cartoons featuring Columbia Pictures stalwarts The Fox and the Crow. It was an artistic attempt to break away from the strict realism in animation that had been developed and perfected by Walt Disney. While Disney's animation methods produced lush and awe-inspiring images, it was felt that realism in the medium of animation was a limiting factor. Cartoons did not have to obey the rules of the real world (as the short films of Tex Avery and their cartoon physics proved), and so UPA experimented with a non-realistic style that depicted caricatures rather than lifelike representations.
This was a major step in the development of limited animation—though despite the abuse of the form that would arise in the future because of cost-cutting, Gerald McBoing-Boing was meant as an artistic exercise rather than merely a way of producing cheap cartoons.
The story describes one Gerald McCloy, who at the age of 2 years old begins "talking" in the form of sound effects, his first word being the titular "boing boing." His panicked father calls the doctor, who informs him that there's nothing he can do about it. As the boy grows up, he picks up more sounds and is able to make communicative gestures, but is still incapable of uttering a single word of the English language. Despite this, he is admitted to a general public school, where he is chided by his peers and given the derogatory name "Gerald McBoing-Boing." After startling, and angering, his father, he decides to run away and hop a train to an unknown location. However, just before he catches the train, a talent scout from the NBC Radio Network (as identified by the NBC chimes) discovers him. He is then hired as NBC's foley artist, performing shows for a division of the company labeled "XYZ" on the microphones, and becomes very famous, with the last scene showing him riding with his parents in a very expensive automobile among throngs of fans.
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