Harryhausen’s Tortoise on TCM

Cable outlet Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is airing Ray Harryhausen’s recently completed short The Tortoise and the Hare tonight as part of its weekend-long tribute to the legendary stop-motion animator responsible for some of the greatest special effects films of all time.

Tortoise and the Hare was started 50 years ago. Harryhausen had intended it to be the sixth and final installment in his fairy tale series that included yarns like King Midas and Little Red Riding Hood. He had only shot three minutes of animation on the Aesop fable before he abandoned it to work with his mentor, King Kong animator Willis O’Brien, on the feature Mighty Joe Young.

Over the past two years, Los Angeles-based stop-motion animators Seamus Walsh and Mark Caballero and helped Harryhausen complete the film under their production banner, Screen Novelties. “When we first saw a few snippets of the footage from Tortoise, we were were bummed out that this great unseen Harryhausen footage may never see the light of day. We knew the only way it would ever get seen was if the film was finished,” Walsh tells Anmation Magazine Online. Caballero adds, “We’re very proud to have been able to help Ray complete his vision and get this charming footage out into the world.”

TCM’s tribute kicks off tonight at 9:15 p.m. with the superb documentary The Harryhausen Chronicles, narrated by Leonard Nimoy. Immediately following is the television world premiere of Tortoise, which won ASIFA Hollywood’s Annie Award for Best Short of 2002.

Throughout the weekend, the cabler will broadcast the Harryhausen classics Mighty Joe Young, Mysterious Island, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, 20 Million Miles To Earth, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans.