Andrea/Duck Dodgers here. I friendly welcome every fan of animation at my blog. The goal is to support the love and rediscovery of Classic Theatrical Cartoons from the Golden Age of Animation, keeping meanwhile an eye on Golden Age "Funny Animals" Comics as well as on modern animated productions! Every SUPPRESSED ethnic caricature to be sometimes presented here is just for HISTORICAL and EDUCATIONAL purpose and NOT to offend anyone. Stay Tooned and Enjoy the place !

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Greatest Man in Siam

"The Greatest Man in Siam" (03/27/1944) is another Swing Symphony cartoon directed by Shamus Culhane. It's very much a companion cartoon to "Abou Ben Boogie", released six months later. Both cartoons share many similar characteristics: exotic location, very stylized and modern backgrounds for that period, interesting design and use of color, and some amazing animation, courtesy of Pat Matthews and Emery Hawkins.

Pat Matthews is again a real star of this cartoon, animating the incredible dance scene that is every bit as good and energetic as the one from "Abou Ben Boogie". In fact, these two cartoons share some brief bits of animation.
Pat Matthews is a real enigma to me. He appeared at Lantz studio in 1943, and this is his first animation credit! After leaving Lantz in 1948, Matthews joined UPA and stayed there for the next six years. I wasn't able to trace any further credits afterwards, and he seems to have vanished from the animation world completely. Does anybody have any biographical info on him? It's amazing that an animator responsible for such stellar work remains almost completely unknown and rarely mentioned.

The smartest man (?) in Siam:

A very curious shape in the background. Shameless Culhane :)

This is the richest man in Siam:

And this is the fastest man in Siam:

And finally...

... the hottest man in Siam. Of course, he gets the girl :)

This scene is particularly interesting, with the numerous moving characters in foreground, middle, and the background. A scene like this is rarely attempted in animation, and it's amazing that it works so well, and doesn't look confusing.

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Blogger Bill Robinson said...

HOLY CRAP! Why have I never seen or heard of this cartoon before?! And how do I see it now?? Pleaaaase post this so everyone can enjoy it. The poses! The colors! Beautiful!

5:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never taken notice that one of the doors was shaped like a penis. Also, the fastest man looks exactly like Abou Ben Boogie.

The one thing that I liked about this cartoon was the layouts. Everything was nicely composed, but never confusing or awkward. This cartoon must have been the Lantz Studio’s crowning achievement, along with Abou.

Oh, and did you enjoy my Iwerks post?

8:20 pm

Blogger Scott said...

It's on the new Woody Woodpecker DVD set that came out... Disc 2, I believe.

8:48 pm

Blogger Hammerson said...

>> Oh, and did you enjoy my Iwerks post? <<

Yes, it's superb! I will soon make a post about a rare Iwerks cartoon, and I'll put the link to your article. You did a great job (as always).

1:19 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

where do you get these cartoons? they are loovely!!!

7:46 am

Blogger Thad said...

Love this one, but Grim Natwick didn't do any animation on "Siam" - he wasn't at the studio yet. (I don't see anything sloppy enough in this short to be Grim's work anyway.)

2:10 am

Blogger Hammerson said...

>> Love this one, but Grim Natwick didn't do any animation on "Siam" - he wasn't at the studio yet.<<

Thanks! I corrected the article.

8:12 am

Blogger Hammerson said...

>> where do you get these cartoons? they are loovely!!!<<

Thanks for the comment. Well, these cartoons are rarely (if ever) shown on TV nowadays, but fortunately, many of them have been released on DVD. Another source are the old VHS tapes and laserdiscs, old TV recordings, trades with other cartoon fans, etc.

8:16 am

Anonymous Steve64TN said...

Hi, I had this cartoon when I was a child back in the 50s/60s. Mine was a black and white version but I clearly remember how good the music was! I was not aware that the original print was in color. I would LOVE to have a copy of this for memories sake.

1:32 am


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