Chilly Willy's best cartoons were perfect examples of how a potentially one-joke character and concept could end up actually being a perfect mix of the cute and the funny with a lot of colour and good comic timing to go with it.
'Polar Fright' like the previous 1966 cartoons is another "nowhere near Chilly Willy's best" cartoon. Although Paul J Smith does have a good deal of not too good at best cartoons, the worst of them very bad, not all his cartoons are bad. Also this is the man who was responsible for the cartoon that introduced us to Chilly Willy, which was a great one. Chilly is not partnered with Smedley this time, instead a polar bear and an Eskimo and one does miss Smedley even when trying to judge Chilly's other supporting characters on their own merits without comparison.
Let's start with the good things. Chilly doesn't talk or make sounds as much as the previous two or so cartoons, a good thing because he is better as a silent character where gestures and expressions speak louder than words. He hasn't lost his irresistible cuteness, charm and fun, and is less toned down here than in 'South Pole Pals' and shows off his clever outwitting side much more.
He works well with Maxie the polar bear in his debut cartoon, they have a lovely friendship and one can see why Chilly would want to protect Maxie. Maxie doesn't have the most interesting of personalities but he's likable and amusing enough. A few of the colours are vibrant, Walter Greene's scoring is lively and characterful at times and there are some very amusing and well timed gags here.
Animation however is simplistic and looks very carelessly drawn and detailed, time and budget constraints show clearly here. The story is barely existent, and what there is very obvious and not quite varied enough.
The pacing tends to be a little too hectic. Didn't care for the Eskimo character, he's little more than just the obligatory conflict and doesn't have a personality that interests, entertains or threatens, he's just...there. There are times where Greene's scoring could have added more to the action, it can be a little too free and discordant.
In conclusion, worth a one-time watch but for a Chilly Willy cartoon it's pretty average again like the previous two 1966 cartoons. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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