Sunday, May 28, 2006
Right: Frank Thomas by Frank Thomas, courtesy Bob Foster. Animator Frank Thomas has the deserved reputation as one of the greatest Disney animators who ever drew breath. (That was certainly true on The Fox and the Hound, where Frank built scenes of the young title characters meeting from non-storyboarded voice tracks. All of them overflowed with character and life) ... Frank was also known as "the velvet needle," the master of the subtle put-down and damn-with-faint-praise ripost. But I've got to tell you, in the time I worked with him, I never saw any of that. Frank was always friendly and supportive, quick with a smile or self-deprecating remark. I never saw a glint of the legendary Thomas needle. Except once. I was coming out of a third-floor screening room after watching Dumbo (under instructions from Woolie Reitherman, as I remember). Frank was walking toward me down the hall. He smiled when he saw me, and asked what I'd been watching. "Dumbo", I said. "Woolie wanted me to look at it. Man, it's a great movie." Frank's smile got wider. "There's a mistake in every scene." I nodded blankly. Said "Oh." Frank walked on down the hall. Six months later, I was interviewing Ward Kimball at his San Gabriel house and mentioned my brief exchange with Frank about Dumbo and his "mistake" comment. "It seemed kind of strange to me," I said. "Why do you think Frank would say say something like that?" Ward beamed at me from behind his big round glasses. "Because Frank didn't work on it."
Posted by Steve Hulett at 1:03 AM