Men and Demons

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The title notwithstanding, John Hubley shared the “film by” credit with his wife Faith on most of his groundbreaking animated shorts, among the first to draw inspiration from jazz, abstract expressionist painting, and home movies. Their cartoons from the 1950s and 60s still feel bracingly alive, the ever-shifting backdrops and character design suggesting both improvised jazz and child’s play. Indeed two of the most famous shorts in the program, Moonbird (1959) and Windy Day (1968), feature improvised dialogue by the Hubleys’ children, and most of the others feature music by such major jazz artists as Oscar Peterson, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, and Quincy Jones. In The Hat (1964), one of the best pieces collected here, Dudley Moore and Dizzy Gillepsie provide both musical and vocal improvisation, playing two enemy soldiers who find themselves in a philosophical bull session.