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Toonhound presents...






  Short British Films &  TV Specials  

David Hand/GB Animation's Musical Paintbox

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  Musical Paintbox
(1948 - 1950)
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producers:  GB Animation
   animation:  cel animation
            films:  10 x 8 mins


 The "Musical Paintbox" films took us on a witty musical tour of Britain, introducing
     us to the quaint and eccentric population, local folk tales, odd superstitions and
     customs. Beginning with a look at life on the River Thames, the ten films visited
     Wales, Yorkshire, Scotland, Somerset, Ireland, Cornwall, Canterbury and
     Devon, before concluding with a look at life in London Town.

     The films were conceived and produced by Disney legend David Hand and his 
     GB Animation studio. Hand had come to England after a lengthy employment with
     Disney, where he had worked as Walt's right hand man on "Snow White" and
     "Bambi". J Arthur Rank had backed Hand's vision for a British animation studio to
     rival its American counterpart, and thus Gaumont-British -  otherwise known as
     GB Animation - moved in to Moor Hall, in Cookham-on-Thames with high hopes
     for the future.

     Hand divided his team to work on two concurrent film series, one headed by
     Burt Felstead, and the other marshalled by Henry Stringer. Felstead's
     team brought us nine Animaland films, with traditional cartoon stars including
     Ginger Nutt, Corny Crow and Zimmy Lion. These very much followed the spirit
     of Disney (some might even same "copied"). It was an obvious direction to
     take, given that David Hand had helped develop that whole Disney styling in
     the first place...

     Stringer's team, meanwhile, were asked to open this "Musical Paintbox".
     These films featured a mixture of artwork, and limited animation, accompanying
     the narration and music. They were more adventurous, with abstract design,
     great backgrounds, and playful charactures. The paintbox was first opened
     with a look at a subject close to home. "The Thames" introduced the Vicar
     of Bray and his troublesome Ghost, and bad King John. The films that
     followed included a few more familair faces. In "A Fantasy on Ireland"
     we had animated potatoes and leprechauns. The "Sketches of Scotland" film
     included Robert the Bruce's spider, and kilted Scotty Dogs. Ghostly Penzance
     Pirates popped up in the Cornish film, and pin-striped businessmen abounded
     in the London fantasy.

     Alas, GB Animation closed its studio doors in 1950. Since then, the "Animaland"
     films have been restored and released on DVD for us to view. But the "Musical
     Paintbox" selection remains unseen for a fair few years...

    » According to Bob Egby, that "potty" fellow Michael Bentine was part of
       the writing team on these films. Bob names several other associates
       in his fabulous page of memories, and those names have helped to flesh
       out the series credits below.

» Nick Spargo was another GB Animation talent. Nick went on to work for
       Halas & Batchelor, before inviting us into Doyley Woods with Willo the Wisp.


    Pictures from the Paintbox

     Title Card for Yorkshire Ditty   Yorkshire Ditty    

     St Neot and the Old Woman   The Bull from the Magic Lantern Show in Yorkshire Ditty

    Characters from the Magic Lantern Show in Yorkshire Ditty     A ghostly Cornish Smuggler

    The Musical Paintbox films

     Here are the years, titles and running times, as identified
     by the BBFC...

    1948 - The Thames (8mins 53secs)

    1948 - Wales (8mins 5secs)
    1949 - Yorkshire Ditty (8mins 43secs)
    1949 - Sketches of Scotland (9mins 9 secs)

    1949 - Somerset (8mins 9secs)
    1949 - A Fantasy on Ireland (8mins 11secs)

    1949 - Cornwall (7mins 47secs)

    1949 - Canterbury Road (8mins 19secs)

    1950 - Devon Whey (7mins 59secs)

    1950 - A Fantasy on London Life (7mins 51secs)


     GB Animation on DVD

     UK DVD
                No "Musical Paintbox" here, but all nine "Animaland" films
                have been restored for your viewing pleasure....

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     a David Hand Musical Paintbox cartoon

    producer:         David Hand
    director:           Henry G Stringer (Yorkshire / London / Devon
                           Scotland / Ireland / Wales /Thames)
                           Pat Griffin (Cornwall, Somerset)
Brian O'Hanlon (Canterbury) 
    music:              Henry Reed
    writers:            Antony Benton (Cornwall / Ireland)
                           Nicholas Spargo (Scotland / Somerset / Wales)
                           Ralph Wright (Thames / Yorkshire /Wales)
                           Pete Griffiths (Somerset)
                           R.A.G. Clark (Thames)
Michael Bentine            
    animators:       John Woodward, John Worseley, Pat Griffin,
                           Pete Griffiths, Nicholas Spargo, Deryck Foster,
                           Peter Jay, Brian O'Hanlon, Waclaw Machan,
                           Andre Amstutz, Ralph Wright, Harry Hargeaves
     b'grounds:       Bettina Hansford
     trace & paint:   Ricca McGibbon, Shirley Clemens, Penny Vickery
     camera:           Charlie Pithers
     sound:             Stuart Crombie


      On the web

David Hand Productions

      The offical site for info on all the GB Animation films...

      Bob Egby
      A fantastic page of memories here, from Bob, recalling his days
      as a messenger boy at GB Animation...

      index »   animaland »

© GB Animation / David Hand Productions / F2006