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The Animated Shorts of UPA (1940s-1960s)

by  |  December 21st, 2010  |  Animation

When most people speak about American animation, you certainly will hear about Walt Disney’s indisputable contribution to the art form. And no doubt you will also hear about Warner Bros. and the amazing Looney Tunes legacy. And while history has, for the most part, brought these two studios to the foreground. There were other greats among them – Fleischer Studios, for one, who brought us Betty Boop and Popeye. And UPA, who’s distinct style and bold story-telling pushed the boundaries of animation during their heyday and influenced many modern animators.

UPA is an American animation studio spawned in the early 1940s from out of the Walt Disney animators’ strike. Many of the Disney animation team came on board the new studio in pursuit of more artistic expression and experimentation they felt was lacking in Disney and Warner Brothers animations. UPA, which stands for United Productions of America, is perhaps best known for producing the Mr. Magoo series.

The following is just a sampling of the theatrical shorts UPA produced within the 1940s and 1960s while under contract with Columbia Pictures. Many nominated for Academy Awards with a few earning the honor. (See complete list)

The Tell-Tale Heart (1953)

The classic Edgar Allen Poe story, brilliantly narrated by James Mason. This film is probably my personal favorite from UPA. It’s stunning visuals create an atmosphere and sophistication that borders on fine art. Elements of the backgrounds invoke something out of a Picasso painting.

Gerald McBoing Boing (1951)

Based on a story by Dr. Seuss, this animated short used bold graphic design and geometric shapes to tell the story of a boy who spoke only in sound effects. Directed by Robert Cannon, it won the 1950 Academy Award for Best Animated Short.

The Unicorn In The Garden (1953)

Funny James Thurber story about married life in which a henpecked man desperately tries to tell his wife about the extraordinary creature in the garden. The short was directed by William Hurtz who also worked on The Bullwinkle Show and George of the Jungle.

Complete list of UPA Theatrical Shorts released by Columbia Pictures

Robin Hoodlum (Academy Award Nominee)

The Magic Fluke (Academy Award Nominee)
Ragtime Bear

Punchy DeLeon
Spellbound Hound
The Miner’s Daughter
Trouble Indemnity (Academy Award Nominee)
The Popcorn Story
Bungled Bungalow

Gerald McBoing Boing (Academy Award Winner)
The Family Circus
Barefaced Flatfoot
Georgie and the Dragon
Fuddy Duddy Buddy
Wonder Gloves
Grizzly Golfer

The Oompahs
Sloppy Jalopy
Rooty Toot Toot (Academy Award Nominee)
The Dog Snatcher
Willie the Kid
Pink and Blue Blues (Academy Award Nominee)
Pete Hothead
Hotsy Footsy
Madeline (Academy Award Nominee)
Captains Outrageous

Little Boy with a Big Horn
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Safety Spin
Christopher Crumpet (Academy Award Nominee)
The Gerald McBoing Boing Symphony
Howdy Doody and His Magic Hat
Magoo’s Masterpiece
The Unicorn in the Garden
Magoo Slept Here
The Tell-Tale Heart (Academy Award Nominee)

Bringing Up Mother
Magoo Goes Skiing
The Man on the Flying Trapeze
Fudget’s Budget
Kangaroo Courting
How Now Boing Boing
Destination Magoo
Pump Trouble

When Magoo Flew (Academy Award Winner)
Spare the Child
Four Wheels and No Brake
Magoo’s Check-Up
Baby Boogie
Magoo’s Express
Madcap Magoo
Christopher Crumpet’s Playmate
Stage Door Magoo
Rise of Duton Lang
Magoo Makes News

Gerald McBoing Boing on Planet Moo (Academy Award Nominee)
Magoo’s Canine Mutiny
Magoo Goes West
Calling Dr. Magoo
The Jaywalker (Academy Award Nominee)
Magoo Beats the Heat
Magoo’s Puddle Jumper (Academy Award Winner)
Trailblazer Magoo
Magoo’s Problem Child
Meet Mother Magoo

Magoo Goes Overboard
Matador Magoo
Magoo Breaks Par
Magoo’s Glorious Fourth
Magoo’s Masquerade
Magoo Saves the Bank
Rockhound Magoo
Magoo’s Moose Hunt
Magoo’s Private War

Trees and Jamaica Daddy (Academy Award Nominee)
Sailing and the Village Band
Magoo’s Young Manhood
Scoutmaster Magoo
The Explosive Mr. Magoo
Magoo’s Three-Point Landing
Magoo’s Cruise
Love Comes to Magoo
Spring and Saganaki
Gumshoe Magoo

Bwana Magoo
Picnics Are Fun and Dino’s Serenade
Magoo’s Homecoming
Merry Minstrel Magoo
Magoo’s Lodge Brother
Terror Faces Magoo

Keith Link


Keith Link is co-founder of Sessionville; And in no particular order: Human; Artist; Designer; Developer; Guitarist.

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