Shinbone Alley


1h 23m 1971

Brief Synopsis

A newspaperman jumps in the river to drown himself. He reappears as a cockroach, who finds he can still type by jumping up and down on the keys of a typewriter. He is in love with Mehitabel, the office cat. He writes poetry to her, and tries to keep her on the straight and narrow. Big Bill the Alley tom cat is Mehit's heart-throb, and Archy's nemesis. She has kittens, and archy declares war in a George Herriman sequence.

Film Details

Also Known As
Archy and Mehitabel
MPAA Rating
Genre
Adaptation
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Apr 1971
Premiere Information
Premiere at Atlanta Film Festival: 26 Jun 1970; New York opening: 7 Apr 1971
Production Company
Fine Arts Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical play Shinbone Alley by Joe Darion and Mel Brooks (New York, 13 Apr 1957), which was based on characters created by Don Marquis for his column "The Sun Dial" in the New York Evening Sun (New York, 1916--1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

In New York City, a poet commits suicide by jumping off a bridge, and to his dismay, is reincarnated as a cockroach named Archy. Realizing that as a cockroach, he is acquainted with all the little insects and animals that he never knew before, Archy feel comfortable with his life in Shinbone Alley, his new neighborhood. A philosophical fellow, Archy concludes that he has been "transmigrated" into a cockroach and that he used to be a poet who felt like a cockroach, and now is a cockroach who feels like a poet. After entering a newspaper office one night, Archy begins to type a message on the typewriter by jumping from key to key, which amuses his insect friends. Because he is unable to work the shift key, his missive is entirely in lowercase letters, but his words reflect the observations of a deep thinker. He asks the reporter who uses the typewriter by day to put paper in the typewriter every night and leave apple peelings for him to eat, offering in exchange to type exclusive stories about his back alley world. For his efforts, Archy says, he needs neither credit nor salary, but only the right to create his "immortal poetry." An important alliance is thus formed, the first in newspaper history, between the cockroach and the reporter, as Archy writes about the city from its underside. One of the stories he writes about is that of a sexy cat, Mehitabel, whose heart has been broken a thousand times, and who insists she is the reincarnation of Cleopatra. Archy writes that, despite her hard life, she continues to sing and dance " toujours gai ." Sometimes Archy worries that she is too exuberant and should find a job as a well-bred house cat, but Mehitabel finds his morality annoying. When two tomcats, led by a feline named Big Bill, return to Shinbone Alley after being away on the prowl, Bill and Mehitabel resume their once-broken affair. Mehitabel claims she is in love, but Archy thinks she has a predilection for tomcats. For his interfering, Archy is flicked away by the randy couple. While worrying about Mehitabel, Archy pours out his heart in his writings and reports on his brief acquaintance with a moth who fried himself on a lightbulb in order to see the secret heart of a flame. When the abusive Bill breaks up with Mehitabel, she returns to Shinbone Alley the worse for wear, engendering the gossip of the neighborhood felines. Archy tries to reason with Mehitabel, saying that her morals are the "lowest, loosest and limpest," but she counters that she has never claimed to have any. Although Mehitabel reports that she left Bill, Archy doubts that she has ever left a tomcat. When she argues that she left her lover Ralph, Archy reminds her that the cat was dead at the time. Despite her anger, Mehitabel eventually admits that she treats Archy badly, but, in the end, he is always right. She says that although he is an ugly bug and she a glamorous and irresistible cat, they are both "flotsam and jetsam on the sea of life." Archy almost has her convinced to get a job as a house cat, when Tyrone T. Tattersall, an old and frayed-looking impresario cat, comes to the alley and offers to make Mehitabel a star. Although Archy warns that Tattersall is a phony, Mehitabel goes with him, leaving Archy behind. Feeling rejected and suicidal, Archy is almost run over by a car. He writes a letter to his "boss," the reporter, and says goodbye to his friends, Freddy the rat and Harry the tarantula. He then jumps off the window ledge, but flutters safely to the ground. His friends try to help by knocking an ink bottle over on him as he again jumps over the ledge, but, again, the wind gently drops Archy to safety. When he tries to spray himself with pesticide, he accidentally kills George the fly. At a billiards parlor, Archy chases balls in the hope of being crushed, until the players see him and sweep him into a trash can. There he encounters Bill, who starts to bully him, but when Archy begs to be killed, the cat refuses to cooperate. When Bill wonders aloud what has Archy so depressed, the cockroach explains that Mehitabel went off with Tattersall. Meanwhile, Tattersall has taken Mehitabel to a theater to train her in Method acting. Tattersall begins to mistreat Mehitabel, and as Archy and Bill secretly watch, the impresario reminisces about better actors while coaching Mehitabel in Romeo and Juliet . When she performs her lines as a burlesque routine, he is troubled by her amateurish performance and longs to get away from her. He orders her out, but she sends him away instead and then allows Bill to seduce her. Kicked away when he tries to remind Mehitabel about Bill's previous rejections, Archy tries to deny his feelings for her. In a dream, he fantasizes that he starts an insect revolution by declaring war on the human race, delivering rousing speeches to recruit the bugs by reminding them how they have been persecuted. Later, when Mehitabel inevitably returns to Shinbone Alley, she has a litter of kittens. She tries to drown them during a thunderstorm, but, with Archy's unwanted help, saves them. As the north wind blows, Mehitabel reluctantly agrees that it is winter, and following Archy's advice, takes a job as a respectable house cat in a high-rent district. Archy is at first pleased with himself for making Mehitabel respectable and continues to write stories, one of which concerns a lightning bug he meets. However, Mehitabel's life of ease is not to her taste, and although she submits to being fawned over and petted, she longs to claw the furniture. Annoyed that everyone goes to bed at nine o'clock, she struggles to keep her kittens out of trouble. On the pretext of writing a story about life in high society, Archy slips in through the keyhole, but Mehitabel tells him that cockroaches are not allowed in the house, as they are "too middle-class." Before leaving tearfully, he reminds her that he is a cockroach cum laude and has relatives in Buckingham Palace, prompting Mehitabel, for the first time, to feel remorse for hurting another's feelings. Outside in the cold, Archy gets drunk on the dregs of a whisky bottle and considers picking a fight with Bill, but becomes frightened by his own shadow. Stumbling along, he enters a bordello of ladybugs, who try to rob him, but who are disappointed to find that all he has in his pockets are poems about Mehitabel. When he awakens, Bill is there, complaining that Archy has turned Mehitabel into a "pussycat." Admitting that he ruined Mehitabel by taking away her pride, Archy decides that cockroaches should not play with destiny. Archy is longing for the way it used to be, when, to his surprise, Mehitabel, preferring her old life, returns and is welcomed by all the stray cats of Shinbone Alley. Philosophically, Archy says that he cannot blame her for being what she has to be and, glad that she is his friend, admits that she is "just plain wonderful."

Crew

James L. Aicholtz

Re-rec Supervisor

Randy Akers

Assistant anim

Frank Andrina

Animation

Alvaro Arce

Layouts and backgrounds

O. B. Barkley

Assistant anim

Tom Baron

Layouts and backgrounds

Bob Bemiller

Animation

Ted Bemiller

Camera

James Bernardi

Layouts and backgrounds

James Bernardi

Production Design

Gene Borghi

Camera

Bob Bransford

Animation

John Bruno

Assistant anim

Wally Bullock

Camera

Bruce Bushman

Layout

Brad Case

Animation

Rudy Cataldi

Animation

Cornelius Cole

Production Design

Sam Cornell

Layouts and backgrounds

Sam Cornell

Production Design

Constance Crawley

Ink and paint

Selby Daley

Animation

Joe Darion

Composer

Joe Darion

Screenwriter

Christine Decker

Prod Coordinator

Larry Desot

Assistant Editor

Barbara Detiege

Assistant anim

David Detiege

Supervisor Director

David Detiege

Associate Producer

David Detiege

Anim story cont

David Detiege

Production Design

Jules Engel

Production Design

Preston M. Fleet

Producer

Preston M. Fleet

Presented By

Marsha Gertenbach

Layouts and backgrounds

Frank Gonzales

Animation

Fred Grable

Animation

Brian Hart

Assistant anim

Jim Hiltz

Animation

Sam Horta

Music Editor

George Ideinsinger

Conductor

Pat Ieraci

Transfer eng

Greg Iversen

Assistant anim

Jennifer Jackson

Assistant anim

Gerard Kane

Assistant anim

Mark Kausler

Assistant anim

Richard Kinney

Anim story cont

George Kleinsinger

Composer

George Kleinsinger

Music

Maurice Kukovsky

Animation

Warner Leighton

Editing

Gary Lund

Layouts and backgrounds

Gary Lund

Production Design

Shelly Manne

Featuring, on drums

Virginia Mccolley

Anim checking

Hank Mcgill

Recording Engineer

Marty Murphy

Anim story cont

Barrie Nelson

Animation

Margaret Nichols

Layouts and backgrounds

Ed Nofziger

Layouts and backgrounds

Rosemary O'connor

Layouts and backgrounds

Frank Onaitis

Animation

Tony Pabian

Assistant anim

Amby Paliwoda

Animation

Spencer Peel

Animation

Margaret Raymond

Checking

Eddie Rehberg

Animation

Gil Rugg

Animation

Jim Rutherford

Assistant anim

Mike Sanger

Assistant anim

Ken Southworth

Animation

John Sparey

Animation

Bob Tyler

Assistant anim

Carson Van Osten

Addl backgrounds

Carson Van Osten

Assistant anim

Russ Von Neida

Animation

George Waiss

Animation

James T. Walker

Assistant anim

Angele Wilson

Final checking

Deborah Wilson

Assistant anim

John David Wilson

Executive Producer

John David Wilson

Presented By

John [david] Wilson

Production Design

John [david] Wilson

Anim story cont

Emanuel L. Wolf

Presented By

Bob Zamboni

Assistant anim

Lou Zukor

Assistant anim

Morrie Zukor

Assistant anim

Film Details

Also Known As
Archy and Mehitabel
MPAA Rating
Genre
Adaptation
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Apr 1971
Premiere Information
Premiere at Atlanta Film Festival: 26 Jun 1970; New York opening: 7 Apr 1971
Production Company
Fine Arts Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical play Shinbone Alley by Joe Darion and Mel Brooks (New York, 13 Apr 1957), which was based on characters created by Don Marquis for his column "The Sun Dial" in the New York Evening Sun (New York, 1916--1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Articles

Shinbone Alley - SHINBONE ALLEY on DVD - Based on a Play Derived from Don Marquis' Famous Newspaper Articles Called "archy and mehitabel"


Barely a footnote in animated feature history, shinbone alley has an excellent cultural pedigree but doesn't wear too well as an entertainment. It's based on a play derived from Don Marquis' famous newspaper articles called "archy and mehitabel." Archy is a cockroach with poetic ambitions, and since he types by leaping from key to key on the typewriter, he can't produce capital letters -- hence the lower-case main title. The genesis of shinbone alley includes Mel Brooks as a writer/adaptor, but this musical cartoon version presented no challenge to Disney fare in 1971. Eddie Bracken and Carol Channing contribute their distinctive voices.

Synopsis: Archy (voiced by Eddie Bracken) is traumatized by the fact that he's a newspaper writer unaccountably transformed into a cockroach. But he continues to write and carries on an obsessive campaign to reform Mehitabel (voice of Carol Channing), a sexy alley cat who refuses to reform her flighty and promiscuous ways. Archy rails and sermonizes, but Mehitabel is happy to be seduced by tomcat Big Bill (voice of Alan Reed). Then she's given illusions of grandeur by a pompous actor-cat, Tyrone T. Tattersall (voice John Carradine).

"archy and mehitabel" was once part of the core curriculum in High School creative writing classes. Daily Sun writer Don Marquis scored a big hit in 1916 when he pretended that his column was written by a cockroach named Archy. The insect philosopher attempted to influence the backsliding behavior of Mehitabel, an unrepentant she-cat popular with the alley tabbys. When the columns were anthologized in book form, famous cartoonist George Herriman (Krazy Kat) provided illustrations in his unmistakable impromptu style.

In 1954 composer George Kleinsinger and Joe Darion turned "archy and mehitabel" into a not particularly successful stage musical starring Eartha Kitt. At the same time, they released a concept record album based on the musical with the voices of Eddie Bracken and Carol Channing. Two years later the show was further adapted with writing input from Mel Brooks and re-titled shinbone alley.

In 1969 production began on this 'animated Broadway musical' version by the Fine Arts Films studio of New York. Director John David Wilson had worked as an animator on Peter Pan and other Disney films in the 1950s, and his independent style was later seen on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. Wilson's most visible work is the title sequence for the 1978 musical Grease.

The animated musical shinbone alley may interest fans of Broadway history and the film's stars, but it's simply not very good. The character design is unexciting and derivative and the dominant bluish-black backgrounds aren't very imaginative either. Little four-armed Archy looks and moves like a generic character from a Public Service spot, and the sketchy animation just looks cheap. Mehitabel at least fits the amusing voice of Carol Channing (always pleasant to listen to) but she keeps reminding us of the Judy Garland animated cat character in 1962's Gay Purr-ee, itself no milestone in animation history.

For a few minutes the film's blah style is replaced with an animated imitation of those ancient George Herriman illustrations. For just that section, the characters are more expressive and the picture takes on a more arresting look.

Animated movies can be liberating in ways that live-action cannot, but for most of its running time shinbone alley remains a literal transposition of a Broadway show. The characters stand around, declare their feelings and then dance and strut while singing the many songs, none of which is particularly memorable. Archy sings of his misery and Mehitabel of her 'free spirit' while waving and gesticulating in place, as if on a stage. The idea of cartoons imitating stage shows is the least charming feature of Disney's 90s animation boom, and a trend also felt in lesser efforts such as Don Bluth's The Pebble and the Penguin. Who wants to see animated characters doing vaudeville routines?

shinbone alley received good reviews as a family film -- even Judith Crist praised it -- but it's highly questionable children's fare. It starts almost like Kafka's Metamorphosis. After a noisy tirade Archy drops his dismay at being transformed into a cockroach and suddenly becomes enraptured with Mehitabel. That's a good example of the way various Don Marquis ideas have been stitched together without a real continuity. Literary critics did complain about Archy's unrequited love affair with Mehitabel. In the original articles the cockroach is merely a disapproving observer of the she-cat's racy lifestyle. Here, Archy behaves like an amorous Jiminy Cricket. The aloof and amoral Mehitabel has become a sexpot tramp, forever winking the one eye peeking out from under her fur, strutting about and giving the come-on to every cat in the alley.

Despite Archy's whining, Mehitabel wanders off for a fling with Big Bill, a blowhard Alpha Male Tomcat. With familiar vocal talent Alan Reed at the microphone, we might think that Bill is really Fred Flintstone in a cat costume. When the passion fades Mehitabel is cornered by Tyrone, an affected acting impresario who promises her fame and fortune but is really after a free meal. Shakesperian ham John Carradine provides the voice for Tyrone and his attempt to teach the ditzy feline how to read Romeo and Juliet is amusing for a few lines. Mehitabel mangles the Bard's words and keeps asking if she's a star yet. In the end, Archy arranges a place for Mehitabel in a respectable household with guaranteed meals. She finds the decent life boring and returns to her dirty but exciting alley. Archy welcomes her back for a musical finale.

Family Circle magazine called shinbone alley "A joy for the whole family." The movie opens with the implication that Archy turned into a roach because he committed suicide, but doesn't elaborate on that disturbing idea. The morbid theme returns later in a song about a moth driven to kill himself by flying too close to a flame. Mehitabel eventually has a litter of illegitimate kittens and expresses no interest in motherhood. In fact, she makes sarcastic remarks about drowning the whole litter. Don Marquis used his fantasy to comment on the morality of poverty, but shinbone alley presents this odd and morbid content as if it were another disposable joke for youngsters. A good analogy might be if Porgy and Bess were turned into a cartoon starring the Archie characters. Because they don't mix with the mediocrity of generic cartoon-making, the original literary meanings are lost.

Image's DVD of shinbone alley is presented in an okay but unimpressive flat transfer. The original film may be slightly cropped; some credits are crowded during the opening titles. The picture has occasional dirt but is intact and colorful; the encoding does not appears to damage the sketchy character style. For an extra, the disc offers a short subject about animation taped at the Fine Arts Film studios. While students mill about a storyboard room, the lecturer explains animation basics and then shows cels and drawings from John David Wilson's shinbone alley, Stanley, The Ugly Duckling and his main titles for Grease.

For more information about shinbone alley, visit Image Entertainment. To order Shinbone Alley, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson
Shinbone Alley - Shinbone Alley On Dvd - Based On A Play Derived From Don Marquis' Famous Newspaper Articles Called "archy And Mehitabel"

Shinbone Alley - SHINBONE ALLEY on DVD - Based on a Play Derived from Don Marquis' Famous Newspaper Articles Called "archy and mehitabel"

Barely a footnote in animated feature history, shinbone alley has an excellent cultural pedigree but doesn't wear too well as an entertainment. It's based on a play derived from Don Marquis' famous newspaper articles called "archy and mehitabel." Archy is a cockroach with poetic ambitions, and since he types by leaping from key to key on the typewriter, he can't produce capital letters -- hence the lower-case main title. The genesis of shinbone alley includes Mel Brooks as a writer/adaptor, but this musical cartoon version presented no challenge to Disney fare in 1971. Eddie Bracken and Carol Channing contribute their distinctive voices. Synopsis: Archy (voiced by Eddie Bracken) is traumatized by the fact that he's a newspaper writer unaccountably transformed into a cockroach. But he continues to write and carries on an obsessive campaign to reform Mehitabel (voice of Carol Channing), a sexy alley cat who refuses to reform her flighty and promiscuous ways. Archy rails and sermonizes, but Mehitabel is happy to be seduced by tomcat Big Bill (voice of Alan Reed). Then she's given illusions of grandeur by a pompous actor-cat, Tyrone T. Tattersall (voice John Carradine). "archy and mehitabel" was once part of the core curriculum in High School creative writing classes. Daily Sun writer Don Marquis scored a big hit in 1916 when he pretended that his column was written by a cockroach named Archy. The insect philosopher attempted to influence the backsliding behavior of Mehitabel, an unrepentant she-cat popular with the alley tabbys. When the columns were anthologized in book form, famous cartoonist George Herriman (Krazy Kat) provided illustrations in his unmistakable impromptu style. In 1954 composer George Kleinsinger and Joe Darion turned "archy and mehitabel" into a not particularly successful stage musical starring Eartha Kitt. At the same time, they released a concept record album based on the musical with the voices of Eddie Bracken and Carol Channing. Two years later the show was further adapted with writing input from Mel Brooks and re-titled shinbone alley. In 1969 production began on this 'animated Broadway musical' version by the Fine Arts Films studio of New York. Director John David Wilson had worked as an animator on Peter Pan and other Disney films in the 1950s, and his independent style was later seen on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. Wilson's most visible work is the title sequence for the 1978 musical Grease. The animated musical shinbone alley may interest fans of Broadway history and the film's stars, but it's simply not very good. The character design is unexciting and derivative and the dominant bluish-black backgrounds aren't very imaginative either. Little four-armed Archy looks and moves like a generic character from a Public Service spot, and the sketchy animation just looks cheap. Mehitabel at least fits the amusing voice of Carol Channing (always pleasant to listen to) but she keeps reminding us of the Judy Garland animated cat character in 1962's Gay Purr-ee, itself no milestone in animation history. For a few minutes the film's blah style is replaced with an animated imitation of those ancient George Herriman illustrations. For just that section, the characters are more expressive and the picture takes on a more arresting look. Animated movies can be liberating in ways that live-action cannot, but for most of its running time shinbone alley remains a literal transposition of a Broadway show. The characters stand around, declare their feelings and then dance and strut while singing the many songs, none of which is particularly memorable. Archy sings of his misery and Mehitabel of her 'free spirit' while waving and gesticulating in place, as if on a stage. The idea of cartoons imitating stage shows is the least charming feature of Disney's 90s animation boom, and a trend also felt in lesser efforts such as Don Bluth's The Pebble and the Penguin. Who wants to see animated characters doing vaudeville routines? shinbone alley received good reviews as a family film -- even Judith Crist praised it -- but it's highly questionable children's fare. It starts almost like Kafka's Metamorphosis. After a noisy tirade Archy drops his dismay at being transformed into a cockroach and suddenly becomes enraptured with Mehitabel. That's a good example of the way various Don Marquis ideas have been stitched together without a real continuity. Literary critics did complain about Archy's unrequited love affair with Mehitabel. In the original articles the cockroach is merely a disapproving observer of the she-cat's racy lifestyle. Here, Archy behaves like an amorous Jiminy Cricket. The aloof and amoral Mehitabel has become a sexpot tramp, forever winking the one eye peeking out from under her fur, strutting about and giving the come-on to every cat in the alley. Despite Archy's whining, Mehitabel wanders off for a fling with Big Bill, a blowhard Alpha Male Tomcat. With familiar vocal talent Alan Reed at the microphone, we might think that Bill is really Fred Flintstone in a cat costume. When the passion fades Mehitabel is cornered by Tyrone, an affected acting impresario who promises her fame and fortune but is really after a free meal. Shakesperian ham John Carradine provides the voice for Tyrone and his attempt to teach the ditzy feline how to read Romeo and Juliet is amusing for a few lines. Mehitabel mangles the Bard's words and keeps asking if she's a star yet. In the end, Archy arranges a place for Mehitabel in a respectable household with guaranteed meals. She finds the decent life boring and returns to her dirty but exciting alley. Archy welcomes her back for a musical finale. Family Circle magazine called shinbone alley "A joy for the whole family." The movie opens with the implication that Archy turned into a roach because he committed suicide, but doesn't elaborate on that disturbing idea. The morbid theme returns later in a song about a moth driven to kill himself by flying too close to a flame. Mehitabel eventually has a litter of illegitimate kittens and expresses no interest in motherhood. In fact, she makes sarcastic remarks about drowning the whole litter. Don Marquis used his fantasy to comment on the morality of poverty, but shinbone alley presents this odd and morbid content as if it were another disposable joke for youngsters. A good analogy might be if Porgy and Bess were turned into a cartoon starring the Archie characters. Because they don't mix with the mediocrity of generic cartoon-making, the original literary meanings are lost. Image's DVD of shinbone alley is presented in an okay but unimpressive flat transfer. The original film may be slightly cropped; some credits are crowded during the opening titles. The picture has occasional dirt but is intact and colorful; the encoding does not appears to damage the sketchy character style. For an extra, the disc offers a short subject about animation taped at the Fine Arts Film studios. While students mill about a storyboard room, the lecturer explains animation basics and then shows cels and drawings from John David Wilson's shinbone alley, Stanley, The Ugly Duckling and his main titles for Grease. For more information about shinbone alley, visit Image Entertainment. To order Shinbone Alley, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of the film was Archy and Mehitabel. Joe Darion's opening onscreen credit reads: "screenplay and lyrics by joe darion." David Detiege's opening onscreen credit reads: "associate producer and supervising director: david detierge." Actors Hal Smith, Joan Gerber, Ken Sansom, Sal Delano and The Jackie Ward Singers are credited onscreen "as the alley cats." Although a copyright statement appears onscreen, Fine Arts Films, Inc. did not register the film until October 9, 1985 under the number PA-268-259. After the closing credits, a written statement reads: "-30-," a journalism symbol sometimes referred to as a "30 dash," that denotes the end of the story.
       The film's onscreen literary source credit reads: "from the 'archy and mehitabel' stories by don marquis." The character "Archy" was created by Don Marquis (1878-1937) in 1916 for his column "The Sun Dial" in the New York Evening Sun (later renamed The Sun). Marquis also published his writings featuring Archy, who referred to Marquis as "boss," in the New York Herald-Tribune and Collier's until 1930. As explained in the film, Marquis wrote that Archy reported to him by typing, but because he was a cockroach, he could not operate the shift key to capitalize letters. As an homage to the column, all of the film's credits were presented in lowercase. Using Archy as an alter ego, Marquis wrote humorous news commentary, poetry and short sketches, while parodying free-verse poetry and making light of spiritualism, both of which were in vogue at the time. Mehitabel, the amoral alley cat, also appeared in the first column featuring Archy, but in Marquis' original works, Archy was critical of the cat and not suffering from an unrequited love. Several collections of Marquis' writings were published in book form beginning with archy and mehitabel in 1927. Later books featuring the characters were illustrated by cartoonist George Herriman, who also created the Krazy Kat comic strip.
       In 1954, Joe Darion and George Kleinsinger wrote dialogue sketches and songs based on Marquis' columns and in that year singers Jonathan Anderson and Mignon Dunn performed them in New York in a musical titled Archy and Mehitabel. In the mid-1950s, Carol Channing and Eddie Bracken produced an album, archy and mehitabel: a back-alley opera, which included actor David Wayne in a spoken-word performance, echos of archy. In 1956, Darion and Kleinsinger reworked their musical with the help of comedian Mel Brooks, adding Archy's infatuation with Mehitabel and renaming the show Shinbone Alley. Presented as a full-scale Broadway musical in April 1957, the production featured Bracken in a reprisal of his role as Archy and actress Eartha Kitt as Mehitabel. Although the show ran for only forty-nine performances, the songs from the musicals became part of Channing's and Kitt's standard repertoires. In 1960, Shinbone Alley was produced for live television, starring Bracken and Tammy Grimes.
       As early as 1956, according to notes for the film in the catalog for the 1978 Filmex festival, British producer-director-production designer John David Wilson was interested in bringing Marquis' characters to a feature film. Wilson began his career working for J. Arthur Rank in 1946 and, in 1950, came to the United States, where he was soon working for Walt Disney. He created his own company, Fine Arts Films, in 1954. A January 1969 Daily Variety article announced that Fine Arts would be making an animated version of archy and mehitabel that would contain a live-action sequence before the opening credits. Most of the actors who performed voice-over for the final film were already cast, among them, Channing and Bracken [misspelled in the article as Bradan]. The article also stated that Ed Sullivan, who was reported to have co-written the script with Wilson, would be the voice of the "narrator." However, neither Sullivan nor Wilson is credited onscreen for the script and the contribution of Sullivan, who did not perform in the film, has not been determined. A January 1969 Film-TV Daily news item reported that Howard Morris was cast, but it is unlikely that he performed in the film. Alan Reed, Sr., who portrayed "Bill" in the movie, was well known for giving voice to "Fred Flintstone" in the animated television series The Flintstones.
       According to a May 1969 Los Angeles Times article, Wilson first dubbed and pre-scored the soundtrack before the animators created the characters, and then transferred the eight-track to 35mm film, which was contrary to the usual method of adding the soundtrack after the animation was completed. In an April 1969 Daily Variety news item, Wilson explained that he attached a 60-cycle synch pulse at the edge of the eight-track to avoid slippage during the transfer. According to the May 1969 Los Angeles Times article, the animation crew admitted they were partially influenced by Yellow Submarine (see below), the 1968 animated film featuring psychedelic animation and Beatles music. As noted in the Evening Tribune (San Diego, CA), the backgrounds in different segments of Shinbone Alley were drawn in varied artistic styles to create different moods. For example, the ladybugs sequence was drawn in a 1960s pop art style and the sequence depicting Mehitabel's attempts at a domestic life as a housecat was drawn in a surreal style. The drawings of the characters remained constant throughout regardless of the style of the background, except in Archy's dream sequence, which was created with a technique used by Herriman in the Archy books. As noted in press releases, one of the goals of the film was to restore animated films to "an adult level of artistic achievement."
       Shinbone Alley had its premiere at the Atlanta International Film Festival, where it won the grand prize, the Golden Phoenix award. A June 1985 Variety article stated that Video Gems obtained a temporary injunction against Fine Arts Films and the video company Scimitar, charging them with distributing videocassette copies in violation of Video Gems's exclusive contract. The federal court judge issued a writ of seizure allowing Video Gems to take possession of all the Shinbone Alley tapes held by the two companies.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1971

Released in United States 1978

Released in United States 1971

Released in United States 1978 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Programs - Painted Movies) April 13 - May 7, 1978.)