Friday, August 28, 2015

Wartime Geisel

The work of Dr. Seuss while he was on detached duty, away from being Dr. Seuss.

... [Theodore] Geisel had published his first children’s book as Dr. Seuss — “And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street’’ — in 1937, but it was his work as a political cartoonist for a left-wing New York tabloid newspaper called PM that led to his being recruited by Capra, chairman of the Army’s motion picture unit, to head its animation department.

“He [Capra] had used animation in his ‘Why We Fight’ series to get GIs to listen to lectures about politics,’’ said film historian Mark Harris, whose excellent book “Five Came Back’’ inspired the TCM series. ...

Army Capt. Geisel scripted a series of raunchy adult cartoons designed strictly for military audiences. ....

These shorts have tell-tale signs of the Warner Bros. animation crew's busy hands all over them. But of course, there were a lot of animators in the army, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Disney's seasoned warriors, being two of them.

As TCM host Ben Mankiewicz says: "They were made to entertain adult males while they were being warned about things like gonorrhea."

Turner Classic Movies will be screening lots of these shorts in coming weeks. And of course they're always available for your viewing pleasure on the ubiquitous YouTube.


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