All this thinking about Fred Moore lately has me hopped up to do two things: rewatch as much of his animation as possible, and look again at the few behind-the-scenes glimpses we're lucky enough to have available of him and his coworkers, mainly from "The Reluctant Dragon", which I put on last night. I'd forgotten that the titles were as charming as the best parts of that compilation feature. Here's the title card for the animation credits:
The caricatures are surely by T.Hee(who's credited on story). The accompanying signatures are the artists' own. This looks like nothing so much as a college yearbook, and with the lilting, wacky "Reluctant Dragon" theme playing over it, is a very appealing lead-in to the film proper.
There's always been a lot of accepted wisdom that Walt Disney promoted himself as the guy who did it all--including, supposedly, all the animation--the "drawing". While quite a few clueless reporters and feature writers seemed to have some vague idea that Walt was somehow responsible (in the holding a a pencil sense) for all of the Disney Studio's animation(and of course as boss and instigator of every project, he was), it's interesting to note that long before cartoonists and animators got much individual recognition, this title card is a heck of a graceful presentation. Could it have been partly motivated by Walt's gratitude for all these men, who worked through the strike when this film was released?
Both Fred Moore and Ward Kimball appear--unnamed--as themselves in "Dragon". Originally(as per the drafts)Fred had actual lines and a bit more screen time--why that was cut, if it ever existed in a release print, is unknown--it was a brief enough exchange, with (if I remember correctly) Fred explaining a bit about the Moviola machine he's working with, before all three--Kimball, Robert Benchley, and Fred--watch "How To Ride A Horse" on the moviola. The cutting of this business results in a rather bad edit, with an abruptness that doesn't exist elsewhere in this fairly slick film. It also seems--I'd have to run it again--that the shots of them gathered around the moviola both before and after the Goofy cartoon are exactly the same! But it was late, and I might have been too punchy to notice a difference.
What a kick this must have been, to show this film to their families--not many people have home movies of themselves at work in Technicolor.
Benchley sneaks into the animator's room; Ward is about to notice him and, in closeup, upon seeing famed humorist Robert Benchley(he of the Algonquin Round Table--crouching down in front of him)drawls the priceless line: "Weeeelll...what goes on, pal?"
a cropped shot--Benchley was at left of frame--of Kimball and Moore again, at the end of their sequence; they're looking offscreen as a transition, hearing Norm Ferguson panting away as "Pluto". Fred's doing his best Dick Powell impression here.