The Shadows Move – the 1930s

Almost concurrent with the setting up of Anglia Films a Daily Express newspaper strip cartoonist named Roland Davies thought it would be a good idea to produce a cartoon film series featuring his character ‘Steve the Horse’. In 1936 he opened a studio, enlisted the aid of fledgling artists from the Ipswich School of Art, and later took on a young Ronnie Giles! Their general lack of expertise and the drawback of using black and white film stock when everyone else had turned to colour, contributed to their failure after six films had been released. As both Dyer and Nettlefold had found to their cost, rental charges were too low and too slow in returning.

Hector Hoppin and Anthony Gross had made a highly successful cartoon in France titled JOIE DE VIVRE. Korda saw it and was vastly impressed. He brought the two men to England to work on H.G. Wells “Things to Come”, but they were under utilized. So they suggested they should make a cartoon film. Korda agreed, and they set up a unit to make FOXHUNT. Among the artists were Spud Murphy and Ronnie Giles. It was a one-off production, clever and creditable. Maybe it was because some of the debts accrued by THINGS TO COME found their way onto the FOXHUNT balance sheet. Whatever the true occurrence, cost proved too much for Korda, who did not repeat the experiment.

Hoppin returned to France and a year or so later wrote to Gross announcing he had money and plans for a feature length cartoon based on Jules Verne’s ROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS. By the time the two men had assembled a company to make it the war-lords were making life very uncomfortable in Europe and it was discontinued when only a few minutes were in the can.

Papageno by Lotte Reiniger.

Lotte Reiniger came to England in 1934 and joined the G.P.O. Film Unit. She specialised in silhouette films with figures and designs created by freehand scissor cutting. Working in Berlin in the early twenties, with her husband Carl Koch, she made the first full length animated film in the history
of the cinema.

Adventures of Prince Achmet.

THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMET made between 1923 and 1926 is based on a story from the Arabian Nights. In 1934 Lotte Reiniger made THE STOLEN HEART, the story of a wizard in a small German town and in 1935 PAPAGENO based on Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’ and GALATHEA about a statue that comes to life.

Lotte Reiniger animating cut-outs

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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 5 (Summer 1983)