Watch the Funky, Oscar-Winning Animated Film Featuring the Music of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (1966)

The first part of this 1966 Oscar win­ning ani­mat­ed short is so utter­ly charm­ing, I’m sur­prised it has­n’t spawned a con­tem­po­rary remake. The theme—a brave lit­tle flea going up against greedy devel­op­ers who are trans­form­ing his rus­tic home­land into a high rise vaca­tion par­adise for cig­ar-chomp­ing high rollers and their stacked molls—sounds like the sort of thing that might appeal to Dream­works.

Of course, we’d need to flesh out the char­ac­ters if we’re shoot­ing for fea­ture length. Give that sham­bling don­key and plump-bot­tomed hen some wise­crack­ing atti­tude, and maybe some mir­rored shades. I’m think­ing some­thing in the Chris Rock/Whoopie Goldberg/Nathan Lane-type vein. Get a kid to voice the flea. Does­n’t mat­ter who, as long as he’s relat­able and bland. Who’s that kid with the hair?

Obvi­ous­ly, we’re talk­ing 3D CGI. If we thought we could sell the kid­dies on a retro 20th-cen­tu­ry vibe, we’d bring in Wes Ander­son or Tim Bur­ton. They’re sort of into that creepy stop motion  deal, right?

Speak­ing of retro, we could maybe hang onto a bit of the “Span­ish Flea” thing out of respect and because of the char­ac­ter being a flea and all. I’m think­ing maybe a hip hop remix as the cred­its roll? Find out if that kid with the hair raps. I for­get what he’s famous for…


The orig­i­nal is absolute­ly per­fect as is, funky and fun­ny, with loads of loose‑y goose‑y per­son­al­i­ty. Like the Herb Alpert and the Tijua­na Brass sound that dri­ves it, it’s both kid-friend­ly and a bit adult. (If that gyrat­ing chang­ing cabana puts you in mind of the Dat­ing Game, it’s like­ly more than the “Span­ish Flea”/“Bachelor’s Theme” con­nec­tion. Sure­ly I was not the only child view­er tan­ta­lized by the thought of what might hap­pen when the win­ning bach­e­lor and bach­e­lorette flew off togeth­er to take their shared vaca­tion-prize.)

The oth­er half of the short, a riff on “Tijua­na Taxi,” anoth­er hit from Alpert’s 1965 album, Going Places, is pret­ty great too.

Pro­duced by leg­endary ani­ma­tor John Hub­ley and his wife, Faith, this lit­tle two-for-the-price-of-one gem fea­tures con­tri­bu­tions by some of the peri­od’s oth­er greats: Ger­ard Bald­win, Phil Dun­can, Emery Hawkins, Bar­rie Nel­son, Rod Scrib­n­er, and Ed Smith. If it leaves you with a taste for more, have a look at the Hub­leys’ work for Dizzy Gille­spie, which we fea­tured last week.

A Herb Alpert and the Tijua­na Brass Dou­ble Fea­ture won the Acad­e­my Award for Best Ani­mat­ed Short Film in 1966. You can find it in our col­lec­tion of 675 Free Online Movies, plus our col­lec­tion of 35 Free Oscar Win­ning Films Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

Father and Daugh­ter: An Oscar-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Short Film

Saul Bass’ Oscar-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Short Pon­ders Why Man Cre­ates

Ayun Hal­l­i­day was also trans­fixed by the pruri­ence of Match Game 74. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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