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.
Spargo was another GB Animation talent. Nick went on to work for
Halas & Batchelor, before
inviting us into Doyley Woods with Willo
Pictures from the Paintbox
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)
Animation on DVD
"Musical Paintbox" here, but all nine "Animaland"
been restored for your viewing pleasure....
David Hand Musical Paintbox cartoon
Henry G Stringer (Yorkshire / London / Devon
Scotland / Ireland / Wales /Thames)
Pat Griffin (Cornwall, Somerset)
Benton (Cornwall / Ireland)
Spargo (Scotland / Somerset / Wales)
Ralph Wright (Thames / Yorkshire /Wales)
Pete Griffiths (Somerset)
Woodward, John Worseley, Pat Griffin,
Pete Griffiths, Nicholas Spargo,
Peter Jay, Brian O'Hanlon, Waclaw
Andre Amstutz, Ralph Wright, Harry
trace & paint: Ricca
McGibbon, Shirley Clemens, Penny Vickery
The offical site for info on all
the GB Animation films...
A fantastic page of memories here,
from Bob, recalling his days
as a messenger boy at GB Animation...