Thursday, March 21, 2019

Willie the Giant

Mickey and the Beanstalk is a short film that really stands the test of time. It was released in 1947 as a part of the feature Fun and Fancy Free.
The film's "villain", Willie the giant, was principally animated by John Lounsbery with help from Hugh Fraser. Some time ago, before a number a Disney animation books were published, and before any access to animation drafts (which list animator's names along with their scenes), many people believed that Willie was a Ward Kimball creation. It was an educated guess, since the animation is fluid, broad at times and inventive (Willie's anti-climactic sneeze). All characteristics of vintage Kimball animation.
But it is Lounsbery who wound up borrowing from Bill Tytla's giant in The Brave Little Taylor, the classic short from 1938. Willie is a simplified version of Tytla's massive but intricately drawn villain.
Lounsbery's giant is lighter, fluffier with an emphasis on comedy. Willie's voice actor Billy Gilbert contributed a whole lot to the character's development. His dialogue readings are rich in personality,
a giant who is funny, not too smart but utterly likable in the end.

I love these story sketches, perhaps by J.P. Miller.

A few stills from Mickey and the Beanstalk, featuring Mickey and Willie.