Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Bear That Wasn't 1967

Based on a best selling children's book from 1946, this film has the distinction of being the last animated short ever produced at MGM. It wasn't, however, the last animated project there - that was the feature film The Phantom Tollbooth.  Penned by Frank Tashlin, a former colleague of Chuck Jones who was in charge of the animated unit at MGM at the time, it tells the story of a bear who wakes from hibernation to find a factory built above his cave. He's mistaken for a "silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat" and is told so by a progression of higher-ups at the factory and by other bears who are in the zoo until he believes it. He spends the year working at the factory until its time to hibernate again, when he realizes that no matter what they all tell him, he really is a bear. The animation is very stylish with great graphic elements, a real extension of Jones' style. The story is cute, but lacks the bite and sophistication of other animated shorts. Tashlin was reportedly unhappy with the finished product, for a number of reasons, most notably the fact that the bear has a cigarette in several scenes, which seems to prove the nay-sayers true. In any case, it's a charming short, and worth seeing.

As with many shorts it's difficult to find this on DVD or on TV because it's not long enough to be noted in listings or to warrant its own DVD release. It can, however, be found on the compilation Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3. It's also available online in several places. The version above is on DailyMotion, uploaded by bluebird111.

Obscurity factor: 4 (available on DVD, on YouTube/DailyMotion, aired occasionally on TV)


  1. I can't believe I've never seen this charming short. Some of the background art makes me wonder if he was working at the Felix Populi factory. :-) Thanks for sharing, Ben.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! It's really stylish, isn't it?