Special effects and animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen remains best known for his still amazing skeleton swordfight sequences in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts, but he originally made his bones (sorry) on his own, animating fairy tales and nursery rhymes on discarded surplus film.
Ray decided he would make his own short films. Using some out of date 16mm colour Kodachrome stock he had acquired, and with the help of his father and mother, he shot a series of nursery rhymes that included Little Miss Muffet, Old Mother Hubbard, The Queen of Hearts and Humpty Dumpty.
When he had completed all of these stories he lumped them all together under the title The Mother Goose Stories (1946), which he distributed to schools with great success.
He returned to the theme in the 1950s, around the time that he began to break in to the feature productions that would soon make him famous.
Ray returned to shorts with an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood, which he called The Story of Little Red Riding Hood (1950). Using the same methods as he used with The Mother Goose Stories the film proved another success with schools and so Ray set out to make what has since become known as the Fairy Tale series, although in fact not all were fairy tales. The series included The Story of Hansel and Gretel (1951), The Story of Rapunzel (1952) and The Story of King Midas (1953), the last of which was completed after his first feature film project.
It couldn’t be more clear from watching these that this was the work Harryhausen was meant to be doing. Though his only significant commercial animation work prior to the Mother Goose tales had been assisting George Pal on some Puppetoons shorts, his own films are expertly done, and stand up well to any animation of the era.
For more Ray Harryhausen on DM, see here and here. The 2011 documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is available for viewing by Netflix streaming subscribers. I strongly recommend seeing it.