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Western Animation / Madeline (1952)

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Madeline is a 1952 animated short film directed by Robert Cannon, produced by UPA.

It is an adaptation of Madeline, the first book in the highly successful series by Ludwig Bemelmans. This very faithful adaptation introduces Miss Clavel, the teacher of a boarding school for little girls, and her happy little students. Madeline is the most fearless one of the bunch, and the most individualistic, the girl who isn't afraid of mice or the tiger in the zoo and who likes to play jokes on the teacher. But one day, she gets a bad stomachache!

Not to be confused with Madeline, the television series based on the Madeline books.


  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The little girls' yellow dresses and hats are now red and rather than being a redhead, Madeline's hair is brown, like that of all the other girls.
  • Balloonacy: Madeline is lifted into the air by a single children's balloon, which results in Miss Clavel having to call the police and the fire department to get her down. After they do so, Miss Clavel has to keep her hands on Madeline's head so she doesn't float away again.
  • Book Ends: The short begins with a description of the children's daily rituals, breaking bread at dinner, brushing their teeth, and going to bed. The same rituals appear again near the end of the film, except instead of being chipper and jovial, the girls are glum and angry, jealous of how well Madeline was treated in the hospital.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Madeline's school appears to be right next to the Eiffel Tower, and the girls walk by Notre Dame cathedral to boot.
  • The End: The signature tag line of the Madeline books, when Miss Clavel turns the lights off in the girls' dormitory.
    "She turned out the light and closed the door. And that's all there is, there isn't any more."
  • The Film of the Book: A near-verbatim rendering of the book Madeline set to UPA's signature animated style.
  • The Gadfly: Madeline is described as always knowing how to frighten Miss Clavel, with the wording of the narration implying that she does so to amuse herself.
  • Limited Animation: Limited Animation later grew to be associated with all the cheap, crappy TV cartoons of The Dark Age of Animation but UPA cartoons like this one showed how it could be used as a distinctive style. All the backgrounds are simple watercolors on plain screens. When the twelve little girls are out walking their legs are the only thing that moves. Their faces are literal smiley faces. It strongly resembles the full-color portions of the book and works.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Madeline is the bravest girl in the boarding school, playing with stray mice, teasing a ferocious tiger at the zoo, and dancing along the edge of a bridge. One night, she suddenly wakes up crying and in intense pain, which leads to the film's most dramatic moment when the doctor rushes in to diagnose the problem and hurry her over to the hospital for surgery when it turns out to be a Ruptured Appendix.
  • One-Gender School: Madeline goes to a boarding school that boards twelve little girls and is run by Miss Clavel.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The book Madeline, which is read as narration in the short, rhymed every line.
  • Ruptured Appendix: Madeline suddenly comes down with appendicitis in the middle of the night and has to be rushed to the ER to get it removed. When the other girls visit her and see not only all the toys and candy she got during her recovery, but also the scar on her abdomen, they all get jealous and want theirs removed too.
  • Thick-Line Animation: The cartoon imitates the stylized ink-and-watercolor sketchwork of the original book, including bold outlines for characters and objects.