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Book Review: Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol
01-08-2011, 11:08 AM,
Book Review: Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol
By Darrell Van Citters
Oxberry Press (2009)
128 pages
ISBN: 978-0-692-00155-4
Availability: Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | JP)

The near-sighted Mr. Magoo was UPA’s star performer from the 40s to the 60s, winning them several awards, including an Oscar. Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol was the first animated prime time Christmas special which paved the way for other classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas and the various Rankin/Bass specials. This book serves as the only book solely devoted to United Productions of America (UPA), one of the most neglected studios from the Golden Age of Animation.

Author Darrell Van Citters has done incredible research into the making of this half-hour cartoon. From conception to completion, Van Citters outlines its history with short bios on all the major players involved, including producer Lee Orgel, director Abe Levitow, songwriters Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, and voice actors Jim Backus, Paul Frees, and many others.

Each page is loaded with black and white photos of the cast and crew at work, and full color illustrations, beautifully reproduced as if they were just painted yesterday. There are concept drawings, layouts, rough animation, production stills and storyboards, all done in that classic “50’s modern” style that set UPA apart from the other studios of that era.

This book is fascinating and beautiful. I recommend it to anyone who loves animation art from the 50s and 60s.