My Top Ten animated films

Godfrey Jones tells us about his favourite animated films plus a few pet hates.

I enjoyed the article by Paul Thomas about his top ten shorts in (in Animator issue 19). May I give you my ten favourites? Two are on Paul’s list. However, I’ll start at the beginning.

1. Little Nemo – Windsor McCay.
An amazing, imaginative piece of animation – no story, just the instruction “watch us
move”; and so we do. The first “real” animated film, and still the best.

2. Comicalamities (Felix the Cat) – Otto Mesmer.
I could have chosen dozens of others – they are all magic – beautifully simple, they are entirely visual and do not need sound.

3. The Skeleton Dance – Walt Disney.
I haven’t seen it for years (I’m looking for a 16mm copy) but it still sticks in the mind.

4. Thru the Mirror – Walt Disney.
A Mickey Mouse short (not to be confused with the later Alice in Wonderland – Walt, how could you!). A marvellous sequence when Mickey fights an army of playing cards with a fountain pen.

5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Walt Disney.
A masterpiece of American art, to rank with Citizen Kane, Porgy and Bess, paintings by Pollock. A real film “experience” which engages all our emotions. I still get a thrill from those beautiful watercolour backgrounds: remember that first shot of the dwarfs cottage and all the animals rushing through the forest – and all lovely, lush, schmaltzy music. My favourite feature film of all time – I’ve seen it at least five times and I’ll see it again when it comes round. Never surpassed.

6. Ubu – Geoff Dunbar.
Noisy, abrasive, raucous, original and funny. A new departure for a short film.

7. Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons – Robert Breer.
I went to a one-day workshop given by Robert Breer in Cardiff; I’d never seen his films before. It was a knockout – a day that totally changed my ideas about what animation can do (or be): and a really nice man who gave me a lot of valuable advice.

8. The Snowman – T.V.C.
Charming, without being sentimental. Beautifully drawn. A gem.

9. Broken-Down Film – Osamu Tesuka.
One of the funniest cartoons I’ve seen.

10. The Yellow Submarine – George Dunning.
Mind and eye-boggling (and I like the Beatles).

To counter-balance this fulsome eulogy may I also enumerate my pet hates and prejudices?

1. Anything by Tex Avery (particularly those Red Riding Hood! Wolf shorts). Ugh, those horrible, nasal, aggressive voices; the lip-smacking, obscene vulgarity of it all. They should be banned from television.

2. Post 1930’s Micky Mouse – when he was drowned in blandness – Mr Nice Guy, with that silly eunuch’s voice… “Hey, Pludo, hey, you nordy boy you, hey, hey, cud it out!” Yuk.

3. Those endless films made in Eastern Europe by someone with a name like Sgryn Nygrogh, with triangular little men who rush from side to side of the screen, hitting each other and shouting. They are usually Award-winning, which makes it worse.

4. The first animated film I made (called “Seeds”). Pretentious and boring, I blush when I think about it. Fortunately it only lasts one minute and hardly anyone’s seen it. Cringe!

Printed in Animator Issue 20 (Autumn 1987)