Dizzy Gillespie Worries About Nuclear & Environmental Disaster in Vintage Animated Films

Dizzy Gille­spie was one of the best jazz trum­pet play­ers of all time. His vir­tu­osic play­ing, along with his tricked out trum­pet and his freak­ish­ly elas­tic cheeks, turned him into a musi­cal icon of the 20th cen­tu­ry. But did you know that he lent his voice to an Oscar-win­ning movie?

The Hole (1962), which you can see above, is an exper­i­men­tal ani­mat­ed short about two con­struc­tion work­ers engaged in an increas­ing­ly intense con­ver­sa­tion about free will and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an acci­den­tal nuclear war. Gille­spie impro­vised the dia­logue oppo­site actor George Matthews, a giant of a man who was most famous for play­ing movie thugs. The style of the ani­ma­tion is loose, blotchy and rough – in oth­er words, about as un-Dis­ney as can be.

And that was by design. John Hub­ley, who direct­ed the movie along with his wife Faith Hub­ley, got his start in ani­ma­tion by work­ing on some of Disney’s most famous ear­ly films includ­ing Snow White and the Sev­en Dwarves, Bam­bi and Fan­ta­sia, but he found that his artis­tic ambi­tions lay beyond Uncle Walt’s vision. After the war, he helped found the Unit­ed Pro­duc­tions of Amer­i­ca and even cre­at­ed its most suc­cess­ful char­ac­ter – Mr. Magoo — only to be forced out of the com­pa­ny dur­ing the Red Scare.

After mar­ry­ing Faith in 1955, Hub­ley found­ed Sto­ry­board Stu­dios to make visu­al­ly adven­tur­ous, social­ly mind­ed ani­mat­ed movies. (Fun fact: John and Faith Hubley’s daugh­ter Geor­gia grew up to be the drum­mer for the indie band Yo La Ten­go.) The Hole (1962) proved to be very suc­cess­ful for the stu­dio; it won an Acad­e­my Award for Best Ani­mat­ed Short and in 2013, it was select­ed for the Unit­ed States Nation­al Film Reg­istry by the Library of Con­gress as being “cul­tur­al­ly, his­tor­i­cal­ly, or aes­thet­i­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant.”

Gille­spie and the Hub­leys con­tin­ued to col­lab­o­rate in two oth­er movies The Hat, which co starred Dud­ley Moore, and the supreme­ly groovy Voy­age to Next (1974). In that lat­ter film, above, Dizzy and Mau­reen Sta­ple­ton play Father Time and Moth­er Nature respec­tive­ly. They watch in won­der, con­cern and even­tu­al­ly alarm as human­i­ty evolves from com­mu­nal vil­lagers to greedy nation­al­ists on the brink self-anni­hi­la­tion.

You can find both films list­ed in the Ani­ma­tion sec­tion of our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds and NPR

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dizzy Gille­spie Runs for US Pres­i­dent, 1964. Promis­es to Make Miles Davis Head of the CIA

Char­lie Park­er Plays with Dizzy Gille­spie in Only Footage Cap­tur­ing the “Bird” in True Live Per­for­mance

Char­lie Park­er Plays with Jazz Greats Cole­man Hawkins, Bud­dy Rich, Lester Young & Ella Fitzger­ald (1950)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

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