Froggie Went A' Courtin'

Frank Gladstone

When Oz and I lived in Wichita for a short time in '83, we started getting phone calls from friends and family members, saying that they had seen a cartoon on Nickelodeon and Cinemax about a frog and a mouse, and that Oz's name was all over the credits. We remembered visiting Frank Gladstone at his studio in Miami in '78 and Frank's having told us that the animation short, "Froggie Went A' Courtin'" on which they'd collaborated had won a regional emmy. At the time, Oz was amused, but now we were amazed that it was showing up on TV! We caught it perhaps a half dozen times and only once or twice from the beginning. We had lost touch with Frank, but the last time we'd seen him, he didn't have a copy himself from which to make us a copy.

Since then, Frank Gladstone has worked for Warner Brothers and Disney in their animation departments. He is currently with Dreamworks in Los Angeles. I have recently been in touch with Frank, and he graciously provided me with a copy of this delightful animation. He also gave me the following background information about the film in his own words:

"Froggie Went A' Courtin'" was made with an Independent Filmmaker's Grant from the American Film Institute. It was originally to be a short film based on a joke I liked to tell entitled "The Loud Mouthed Frog", but just a couple of days before recording the voices for that story, I discovered that someone had already done an animated short based on the same joke.

Since the famous animation director, Chuck Jones, had been on the AFI grant committee, I called him to see what I should do. He advised me to use the characters I had already created and find another story. The AFI agreed with the idea and with the grant still in hand, I changed the original frog from a girl to a boy, added a little mouse and wrote new lyrics to this very old song all in one afternoon!

I actually do not remember who suggested I contact Oz, but he already knew this old folk standard and said he could easily arrange it for his group of musicians. He was willing to work within my miniscule budget and even helped me find the original recording studio (a place called Roosterbark as I recall). We recorded one afternoon. Oz did the frog/narrator voice, a young singer named Marcie voiced the mouse and my brother Steve did the preacher. Oz hired all the musicians and everybody worked for peanuts. I think it took all of two or three hours to lay down and mix all of the tracks. I remember being absolutely ecstatic with the results and went to work on the animation right away. (On this kind of project, the music and the lyrics have to be recorded ahead of the animation.) It actually took me just about nine months to finish the artwork and complete the film.

"Froggie" not only won a regional Emmy for best children's film, it also was selected for the 1977 New York Film Festival where it opened for Jonathan Demme's first feature, "Citizen's Band" (also called "Handle With Care"). The original purpose of the AFI grant was to provide independent filmmakers with the funds to complete a project which would help promote their careers. In my case, "Froggie" did just that, helping me find clients and projects that truly re-launched my little animation company. I continued as an independent producer/director for a dozen years after I finished the film and then went on to work for Disney, Warner Bros.and now DreamWorks. On occasion, I still screen "Froggie". It never ceases to please an audience (which more often than not picks up the beat and claps along to the music) and remains as one of the genuine high points of my most satisfying career. I must tell you, I was really pleased to hear that Oz liked working on the project too.

"Froggie Went A' Courtin'" was a tribute to the animation of the 30's and 40's. At that time, I was influenced by work from the Fleischer Studios (which was, coincidently, for a few years in Miami).

Frank Gladstone

The musicians for "Froggie Went A' Courtin'"
were members of a band called "Spooner Summit."

Oz Bach, Jonas Goldstein, Dana Keller, Ned Frields, Kevin Hurley