CLOSE
Original image

11 Things You Should Know About Rocky & Bullwinkle

Original image

Fifty years ago this week, the world was introduced to Rocket "Rocky" J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. An animated television series called Rocky and His Friends debuted on ABC at 5:30 pm on November 19, 1959. In 1961, the show moved to NBC, where it was renamed The Bullwinkle Show and ran until 1964. IGN calls The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show—the collective name for the two series—the 11th best animated series ever, but in my mind it's second only to The Simpsons (the first 8 seasons anyway).  To celebrate the moose and squirrel's half-century of existence, here are 11  things you should know about the show and characters.

1. The show was created by producer Jay Ward and cartoonist Alex Anderson, who had worked together on the Crusader Rabbit series. Their initial vision was a show called The Frostbite Falls Revue about a group of animals running a TV station, but the project never got beyond the proposal stage. The next attempt at a new series began with the pilot Rocky the Flying Squirrel. General Mills came on as a sponsor and Rocky and His Friends was born.

2. Instead of hiring animators when production of Rocky and His Friends got rolling, Ward convinced some friends at Dancer, Fitzgerald, & Sample, an advertising agency that had General Mills as a client, to buy the Mexican animation studio Gamma Productions so he could outsource the animation. The plan saved money and the Mexican studio churned work out quickly, but quality was an issue. In early episodes of the show, it's not uncommon to see characters' facial hair, costumes and skin tone change color.

3. Bullwinkle is named after Jay Ward's friend Clarence Bullwinkel, a Berkeley landlord and owner of an Oakland Chevrolet dealership.

4. The name of the time machine featured in "Peabody's Improbable History" is sometimes incorrectly written out as the "Way Back Machine," but the correct name is the WABAC machine, a play on early computers like UNIVAC,

5. Rocky and Bullwinkle live in the town of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. The population of Frostbite Falls is variously given as 23, 48, 29, 31.5 and 4001 over the course of the series.

6. Bullwinkle is originally from the state is Moosylvania, a small island in the Lake of the Woods, and is actually its governor. The ownership of the state is the subject of dispute between the United States and Canada, with each country claiming it belongs to the other. As a publicity stunt, Ward and Bill Scott, the show's head writer and voice of Bullwinkle, bought a small island on a Minnesota lake, named it Moosylvania and started a national tour and petition drive to campaign for Moosylvania's statehood. After visiting 50 cities and collecting signatures, they went to Washington to present President Kennedy with their petition. At the White House gate they declared, "We're here to see President Kennedy. We want statehood for Moosylvania." They were escorted from the property at gunpoint and didn't learn until days later that they had shown up during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. On the show, Rocky and Bullwinkle had much better luck getting their petition delivered.

bullwinkle7. Rocky and Bullwinkle share the middle initial "J," but their middle names are never revealed. Matt Groening gave the three male members of the Simpson family "“- Bartholomew J., Homer J. and Abraham J. "“- the same initial as a tribute to Rocky and Bullwinkle.


8. There's really no difference between Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show. When the show moved to NBC in 1961, the network simply wanted it retitled and the new series continued where Rocky and His Friends, left off. Many of the syndicated packages, as well as the official DVD release, contained cartoons from both original network series.


9. The features of Fearless Leader, the dictator of Pottsylvania (who was known to carry the entire Pottsylvanian treasury on his person at all times), were inspired by World War II anti-Nazi propaganda posters.

10. Pottsylvanian spy Boris Badenov—whose surname is a play on 16th-century Russian Tsar Boris Godunov—was revealed in an advertisement as an active member of Local 12 of the Villains, Thieves, and Scoundrels Union.

11. Aside from their gift for puns, Rocky and Bullwinkle each had talents that served them well in their adventures. Rocky, a flying squirrel, could glide, hover and carry objects through the air. He honed these skills at the Cedar Yorpantz Flying School. Bullwinkle possessed superhuman strength, referred to as his "mighty moose muscle," and the ability to remember every single thing he ever ate.

twitterbanner.jpg

August-Top9

tshirtsubad_static-11.jpg

Original image
IFC Films
arrow
entertainment
10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
Original image
IFC Films

In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

Original image
Bruce Weaver / Stringer / Getty Images
arrow
Space
NASA Is Posting Hundreds of Retro Flight Research Videos on YouTube
Original image
Bruce Weaver / Stringer / Getty Images

If you’re interested in taking a tour through NASA history, head over to the YouTube page of the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, in southern California. According to Motherboard, the agency is in the middle of posting hundreds of rare aircraft videos dating back to the 1940s.

In an effort to open more of its archives to the public, NASA plans to upload 500 historic films to YouTube over the next few months. More than 300 videos have been published so far, and they range from footage of a D-558 Skystreak jet being assembled in 1947 to a clip of the first test flight of an inflatable-winged plane in 2001. Other highlights include the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final flight over Los Angeles and a controlled crash of a Boeing 720 jet.

The research footage was available to the public prior to the mass upload, but viewers had to go through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection on the research center’s website to see them. The current catalogue on YouTube is much easier to browse through, with clear playlist categories like supersonic aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. You can get a taste of what to expect from the page in the sample videos below.

[h/t Motherboard]

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios