If you're reading a blog post about short cartoons, you almost certainly know who Chuck Jones is. He directed dozens of the funniest and most famous Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, not to mention a couple of very well-regarded Dr. Seuss adaptations.
It's also quite likely that you know who Frank Tashlin is. He too was an animation director at Warner Brothers, for two separate stints in the late 1930s and early 1940s. After he left he moved into live-action, where he had a long and successful career directing films starring the likes of Tony Randall, Jerry Lewis, and Bob Hope.
But the visual style is pure Jones - it hardly resembles the book. Jones's figures grew most distinct over the course of his career. By 1967, they had become instantly recognizable. One look at the bear and you know instantly that this is from the same man who, just the previous year, had reshaped Dr. Seuss's Grinch in his own image.
Maurice Noble, whose backgrounds are so striking that he receives a co-director credit on the cartoon. I've always been especially impressed with the way that Noble makes the corporation settings seem just as vast as the outdoor ones. This really seems like a place where the bear could get lost and never escape.
The cartoon is also hilarious, albeit in a very different way from the fast-and-frantic cartoons the two gentlemen had made at WB. This is a very low-key, almost wistful cartoon, with most of the laughs coming from details (the image of a cigarette hanging out of the bear's mouth) or the repetition of the phrase "You are not a bear. You are a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat," which gets funnier to me every single time it's said. It's a far cry from "Duck Amuck" or "Porky Pig's Feat."
"The Bear That Wasn't" is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, both of which are a lot prettier than this YouTube video.