Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Bear That Wasn't:

This is an old article pending revision.

The Bear That Wasn't is a story that was written by Frank Tashlin. Frank Tashlin wrote it in 1946, and he co-produced a cartoon short 21 years later. In the early days (years... actually more like a decade), Frank Tashlin was a director for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. He returned to animation to make his story into a cartoon. The Bear That Wasn't cartoon would be produced by MGM and it would be the last animated theatrical release from that production company. This was quite common with theatrical production companies canceling cartoon shorts because of the transition to Saturday Morning Cartoons, prime time features, and educational specials all on television.

The story is about a bear that sees that Autumn is here and Winter will soon arrive. It is time for the bear to get ready to hibernate. He goes into sleep, and then wakes up and is thrilled for Spring to have arrived. Unfortunately for the poor bear, a very large factory has been built right on top of his cave and he stumbles in the middle of one of the rooms of the factory and is extremely shocked. He is soon spotted by a foreman, who thinks he is an employee and orders him to get back to work. As the bear explains that he doesn't really work there and it is impossible for him to work in a factory because he is a bear. The foreman does not believe him and dismisses his appearance as "a silly man who needs a shave and is wearing a fur coat". The foreman's superiors also think the same thing. He is persistent that he is a bear. Nobody believes him and he is accidentally hired and forced to work in the factory. After about a year of working there (or the next time that he is able to notice the next Arctic Cold Front and the migrating animals and the leaves falling to the ground), he wants to hibernate, and then doesn't go into a cave. Almost frozen, he gives up the fact that everybody thinks he is a bear and goes into a cave to hibernate anyways.

If you take this story literally, If you were in the bear's position, you might appreciate the fact that you found yourself a job so incredibly easily. You now work for a company that does not seem to check its own records to verify employment, and instead of firing you for disagreeing with them, you are taken through the hierarchy of the corporation that demands that you work for them. Now that you find yourself working for this strange factory, the only thing left to worry about is how much you get paid, especially for the pain and suffering that you endure because you are a bear, nobody believes that you are a bear, and you have to work anyways.

The story follows the strange saying "If it looks like a duck and sounds a duck, then it must be a duck", or something like that. It is slightly modified as "If it is a bear, but it is neither in a zoo nor is it inside a cave or anyplace in the forest and is in fact inside a factory, then it is not a bear at all and is instead a procrastinating employee in a disguise to try to get out of a day's work."

Chuck Jones co-produced and directed this cartoon. He and his team are at their best in this cartoon with the casual and smooth appearance of the cartoon and its music, as well as the space-age pop fusion jazz disco music or whatever you'd like to call it. It is filled with flowers scrolling by to add this feeling. If you are becoming confused, the only way to understand better is to watch it. It also has an enormous amount of abstract animation and backgrounds such as the use of red arrows. The foreman's name badge is talking (which creates the paradox of an infinite number of foremen inside name badges), the falling leaves seem to attack the bear, each person on the next floor has an extra singing secretary and when the arrive at the top floor there is a chorus of singing secretaries, the steam shovels are literally munching on trees, the factory's construction seems to be completed within a month, what the bear's actual work assignment is remains unclear, and the workers have a coffee break of only a few seconds in which they crowd a room and begin smoking.

Theme Song:

The Bear That Wasn't,

Wasn't A Bear At All,

The Bear That Wasn't,

Wasn't A Bear At All!!,

He's A Silly Man,

Who Needs A Shave,

And Wears A Fur Coat,

Haven't You Heard About The Bear That Wasn't,

Wasn't A Bear At All?

The ending had something similar which is:

The Bear That Wasn't,

The Bear That Wasn't,


It also sounds like the people that sang this song are also the voices of the singing secretaries. It is not necessary to post these lyrics because they are a stretched out and repetitive "Come In." greetings.

This cartoon's availability is featured in a Looney Tunes DVD. It has also surfaced online several times. And it also has been seen on television, usually on "The Chuck Jones Show". It is a well remembered story adaptation which is something that Chuck Jones does quite well. Sadly, Chuck Jones never produced any series. There are several series such as books written by Rudyard Kipling such as the genuine "Mowgli's Brothers", "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", and "The White Seal", all of them are parts of books written by Rudyard Kipling and called "Stores From ‘The Jungle Books'". Another unfinished series is of books written by George Selden. He only adapted a few of the books and seems to have created a sequel himself. And of course, he produced 3 (2 full cartoons, and ½ of 2 other cartoons) of Ted Giesel's stories. Some of them were made exclusively for television and were compiled from other books (The Hoober-Bloob Highway was derived from Fox In Socks). He did not produce The Hoober-Bloob Highway, and this is one series of several that he started but did not finish. The only thing that he did do that was close enough to a series was taking over Tom And Jerry but that was cancelled when MGM theatrical animation shut down. Afterwards HB took it again and later Filmation. And then HB, etc. And once again, just like any of these other incomplete series, Chuck Jones also didn't do anything else with this one either!! Frank Tashlin wrote two other books.

They are: "The Possum That Didn't" and "The World That Isn't".

Paul Frees reads the story as well as provides the voices. The music of this cartoon and many other Chuck Jones cartoons was arranged by Dean Elliott. Like Chuck Jones, Dean Elliott also seems to have some of his best work on the adaptation of The Bear That Wasn't. Unfortunately, Frank Tashlin did not do anything else as he died in 1972 at the age of 59.

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