John Hubley - Writer




Animator. Nationality: American. Born: Marinette, Wisconsin, 21 May 1914. Education: Attended the Art Center, Los Angeles. Military Srvice: 1943–45—worked on training films for United States Air Force. Family: Married the editor Faith Elliot, 1955. Career: 1935–41—worked as assistant animator, Walt Disney; 1941–43—worked for Screen Gems unit of Columbia; 1946–52—animation director, United Productions of America (UPA); initiated TV series Dusty of the Circus ; 1954—formed Storyboard Productions, and Hubley Studio, 1965: later television work includes credits designs, specials, and series including Sesame Street and Everybody Rides the Carousel . Awards: Academy Awards for Moonbird , 1959; The Hole , 1962; Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature , 1966. Died: 23 February 1977.


Films as Director:

1940

Old Blackout Joe (co); The Dumbconscious Mind (co); King Midas, Junior (co)

1943

The Vitamin G-Man (co); Prof. Small and Mr. Tall (co); He Can't Make It Stick (co)

1944

Position Firing (co); Operation of the K-13 Gunsight (co)

1945

Tuesday in November (Berry) (animation sequences)

1946

Flat Hatting

1947

Human Growth (Lerner) (animation sequences)

1948

Robin Hoodlum ; The Magic Fluke

1949

Mr. Magoo ; The Ragtime Bear ; Punchy De Leon

1950

Spellbound Hound ; Trouble Indemnity ; Barefaced Flatfoot

1951

Fuddy Duddy Buddy ; Rooty Toot Toot

1952

The Four Poster (Reis) (animation sequences)

1957

The Adventures of * ; Date with Dizzy

1958

The Tender Game ; Harlem Wednesday

1959

Moonbird

1960

Children of the Sun

1961

Of Stars and Men

1962

The Hole ; Horses and Their Ancestors ; Man and His Tools

1964

The Hat

1966

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature ; Urbanissimo ; The Year of the Horse (Sunasky) (animation sequences)

1967

The Cruise

1968

Zuckerkandl! ; Windy Day

1969

Of Men and Demons

1970

Eggs

1973

Cockaboody ; Upkeep

1974

Voyage to Next

1975

People, People, People



Other Films:

1940

"The Rite of Spring" sequence of Fantasia (Grant and Sharpsteen) (co); Pinocchio (Sharpsteen and Luske) (co-art-d)

1942

Bambi (Hand) (co-art-d)

1944

Hell-Bent for Election (Jones) (co-sc, uncredited)

1946

Brotherhood of Man (Cannon) (co-sc + des)

1951

M (Losey) (co-des); Georgie and the Dragon (Cannon) (co-sc + des); Grizzly Golfer (Burness) (pr); Sloppy Jalopy (Burness) (pr)

1953

Heritage (Moore) (sc)

1968

Uptight (Dassin) (title des)



Publications

By HUBLEY: articles—

With Zachary Schwartz, "Animation Learns a New Language," in Hollywood Quarterly , July 1946.

With others, " Brotherhood of Man ; a Script," in Hollywood Quarterly , July 1946.


On HUBLEY: articles—

Korty, J., "Of Stars and Men," in Film Quarterly , (Berkeley, California), vol. 15, no. 4, 1962.

Martin, A., in Cinéma (Paris), no. 98, 1965.

Image et Son (Paris), July 1967.

Archibald, Lewis, in Film Library Quarterly (New York), Spring 1970.

Cinéma (Paris), January 1975.

National Film Theatre booklet (London), November 1976.

Millimeter (New York), February 1977.

Ecran (Paris), May 1977.

Lenburg, Jeff, in The Great Cartoon Directors , London, 1983.

Roudevitch, Michel, in Cinémaction (Courbevoie), April 1989.

Lane, B.K., "Animation That Reaches Realms Beyond Disney," in New York Times , 4 April 1993.

Kim, D.D., "The Hubley Film Festival," in Village Voice (New York), 13 April 1993.

Dauphin, G., "'The Hubley Studio: A Home for Animation'," in Village Voice (New York), 23 December 1997.


* * *


John Hubley, a remarkable animator by any standards, is noted not only for creating a new and important image in the animated film, but also for being the basic influence on a whole new genre in world animation. Having studied at the Los Angeles Art Center, Hubley joined the Disney studio as assistant director, tracing and painting the backgrounds, and soon progressing to layouts on Disney's first full-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs . He was then promoted to full art director (or layout man) and worked on the "Earth Settling" segment from "The Rite of Spring" sequence and painting backgrounds for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence in Fantasia .

In 1942 Hubley left Disney to work under the legendary Dave Fleischer at Columbia's Screen Gems, where he co-directed a number of short cartoons with the animator Paul Sommer. These show the early roots of the Hubley influence through the use of crisp, sharp lines with bold, bright colors in the background as well as in the characters.

During the Second World War years, while Hubley was making training films in the Air Corps, a group of Disney drop-outs and refugees were forming their own company, United Productions of America, and had started producing sponsored cartoons. Hell-Bent for Election was the big turning point in many ways. This 16-minute short was made for the 1944 Roosevelt presidential campaign mostly by moonlighting animators, so dedicated to the cause that they made it for free. The graphic design and bright coloring were light years away from what cinema audiences were used to, and the film was to set the standard which other studios would try to match. Hubley was hired as UPA's creative head, and when the producer Stephen Bosustow bought UPA outright from his original partners, Hubley joined him as studio boss. When a contract was signed with Columbia to make a series of theatrical entertainment cartoons, Hubley came into his element, and created his most popular character, a near-sighted old grouch who saw only what he wanted to see, Mister Magoo.

Hubley left UPA in 1952 and formed Storyboard Productions. It specialized in television commercials, though Hubley (and his wife Faith, now his partner) intended to make at least one serious film a year. The first was The Adventures of * , commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum. Since the film concerns the need by the old for the vision of the young, the style is that of the crayon drawings of a child, double-exposed over rendered backgrounds. The success of The Adventures of * was phenomenal, and was followed by experiments with water color on wax, spraying cells, and many other techniques exploring the Hubley's own artistry. The Hubley cartoons are not only intended to entertain, but often to make a serious point, be it about pollution, over-population, world peace, or the atomic bomb. They are always refreshing.

The final years of Hubley's creative life were taken up with initiating the feature Watership Down . Although he was fired by the producer and all his work scrapped, the prologue looks decidedly Hubley-esque and more than a cut above the rest of the film. He was storyboarding a 26-minute TV special of Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury when he died while undergoing heart surgery. His wife Faith completed it, and has been carrying on the good work ever since.

—Graham Webb

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