"The Greatest Man in Siam" (03/27/1944) is another Swing Symphony cartoon directed by Shamus Culhane. It's very much a companion cartoon to "Abou Ben Boogie", released six months later. Both cartoons share many similar characteristics: exotic location, very stylized and modern backgrounds for that period, interesting design and use of color, and some amazing animation, courtesy of Pat Matthews and Emery Hawkins.
Pat Matthews is again a real star of this cartoon, animating the incredible dance scene that is every bit as good and energetic as the one from "Abou Ben Boogie". In fact, these two cartoons share some brief bits of animation.
Pat Matthews is a real enigma to me. He appeared at Lantz studio in 1943, and this is his first animation credit! After leaving Lantz in 1948, Matthews joined UPA and stayed there for the next six years. I wasn't able to trace any further credits afterwards, and he seems to have vanished from the animation world completely. Does anybody have any biographical info on him? It's amazing that an animator responsible for such stellar work remains almost completely unknown and rarely mentioned.
The smartest man (?) in Siam:
A very curious shape in the background. Shameless Culhane :)
This is the richest man in Siam:
And this is the fastest man in Siam:
... the hottest man in Siam. Of course, he gets the girl :)
This scene is particularly interesting, with the numerous moving characters in foreground, middle, and the background. A scene like this is rarely attempted in animation, and it's amazing that it works so well, and doesn't look confusing.