Thursday, 19 August 2010

Ward Kimball on Snow White

Who animation historians has never heard of Ward Kimball, if you haven't then how could you?!
I admire Ward Kimball's work. No, I'm not joking, I really like his work he does on the features and shorts, and when I see a film with Kimball credited as "Animation Supervisor" or "Animator", I always know that his animation is going to be good!! As we all know that Ward Kimball is really famous for his funny, zany, unique style of animation and did many of the crazy characters and funny animation of the films!! Why, he animated Crows in Dumbo, Dum & Dee, the Mad Hatter and March Hare in Alice in Wonderland, and who wouldn't forget his animation on Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio, or even the song title of the same name to The Three Caballeros. He truly is a legend, and I'm not just saying that, I mean it. He's probably my favourite out of the Nine Old Men. In fact, sooner or later I might make a list of my favourite out of them: favourite to least.
(Photo of Ward Kimball with his gorilla glove)
(Ward Kimball working on Pecos Bill around '47 or '48 - love the photograph!)
Now, we all know that he animated back in the 1930's, and he first recieved screen-credit as an animator on Snow White and at the time; I didn't really know what animation he did: I thought that he might have done some dwarves scenes or some stuff! But, when I was watching a documentary about Walt Disney called "Walt - The Man Behind the Myth" which is available on YouTube, Ward Kimball told briefly about his work on Snow White about him working on a Soup sequence (which was written in the film drafts), and spent "eight months on it", and of course, the sequence was deleted! And it devastated Ward Kimball and Ward was just about to leave the Disney Studio and if he left (who'd had animated Jiminy?? Who'd had topped Kimball with the same style?) Well, Walt persuaded him to stay and said that he could animate the vultures in Snow White, and the vultures were the only surviving Ward Kimball animation in Snow White.
(Vultures by Ward Kimball - a Kimball style here!)
However, Ward Kimball was long credited for the Soup sequence and before I ever heard of the film drafts...I thought that Ward even animated Snow White the girl but when I learnt more about animation and Ward himself, I'd known that someone did Snow White. But, as Hans Perk posted the draft and I first saw them before I had a Blog account, and I saw the Soup sequence, and Ward Kimball did quite a bit of animation on this sequence but he only did like half the sequence, and the rest of the stuff like Dopey accidentally swallowing his spoon was done by Bill Roberts and Snow White was done by Grim Natwick, with some other animators doing dwarves as well.
The vultures only appeared in 6 scenes in the Snow White draft, and it makes sense that he deserved a screen-credit because of his HARD work in the film; because he had two sequences that were deleted in the picture: The soup sequence and the Lodge Meeting sequence, and also since 6 scenes wasn't a lot...notice that Al Eugster is only credited for 2 scenes in the final film and yet he recieved a screen credit!!
I remember looking at the Soup sequence, and Walt Disney felt that the film was stealing the plot, and ofcourse it wasn't really part of the story (neither was the Washing up sequence - but it was worth to keep it - it was fun!), and its available on YouTube, and it was presented on Walt Disney's television shows in the 1950's, and when I looked at it. I sort of understood why the sequence was removed. I have a few of reasons why: After the Soup sequence; it was the RIGHT time to get back to the Witch in her castle, it was slowing down the film, the audiences would be put off by the sound of slurping soup and what had that got to go with the story?? Although, Dopey's gags with the soap in his mouth (from the Tub Washing sequence where Dopey swallowed the soap by mistake) and when Dopey swallows his spoon, he manages to get the spoon out and the soap as well; which was a continuation of the gag! But I think Walt had a point with removing, and I its clearly understandable why Kimball was upset with the sequence being removed from the picture: its on YouTube. (Click here)
No wonder why Ward Kimball was upset, because when he got the vultures - those creatures hardly gave him a chance to do what he was best at, and those birds hardly did any acting or action, and just flying, grinning and staring! Poor Ward, but hey he did the right thing when he decided to stay at Disney's, because he'd seen much of his work later on in the film and there was nobody at Disney who could have a style like Ward (well...maybe Cliff Nordberg).


Eric Noble said...

Wonderful post. One of my favorite scenes of his was of Jiminy Cricket in the pool hall in Pinocchio. I thought it was just fantastic. Not only was it funny, but it had lots of character and personality. He is wonderful. I love the work he did on Pecos Bill. Pecos Bill definitely has a Kimball look to him.

From what I've read, he and Milt Kahl had a serious rivalry with Kimball. Kahl was jealous of Ward getting all of the juicy characters, while he had to animate the princesses and such. I think Kimball could have animated those kind of characters Kahl did, but Ward had no interest in those assignments!!

Ward Kimball is an inspiration to all aspiring artists and animators. God Bless Him.

Steven Hartley said...

Yes, I know that Milt Kahl was always stuck with the princes, but Milt had to put up with it because that's what he was basically good at, and Ward Kimball was best at animating comedy characters and fun scenes, but that's Ward, and I'd wish I was Ward Kimball, because I'd love being stuck with the funny parts.

Also, Milt Kahl did do some Pecos Bill scenes as well as animating Sue (Bill's girlfriend).

Steven Hartley said...

To tell you, I'm not much of a great-fan of Milt Kahl even though he does realy good careful works on the Princes and that, but my favourite Kahl animation is probably him animating Sweet Sue in Pecos Bill or him animating Pinocchio, More or less...he's a great draftsman, but on one of the Pinocchio mosaics (See Sequence 11, Scene 20), thats one of the fewest Milt Kahl scenes I dislike, too chubby and stretchy, but my favourite animatuon Milt did on Pinocchio he did was probably when Pino smokes that cigar and is wasted! Goodness, I need to write a Milt Kahl article!!

My favourite Ward Kimball animation is either him animating Jiminy Cricket, Pecos Bill or the Indian Chief in Peter Pan!