Wednesday, 27 July 2011

4. Hold Anything (1930)

Warner cartoon no. 3.
Release date: October 1930.
Directors: Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Starring: Rochelle Hudson (Honey) and Johnny Murray (Bosko).
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Norm Blackburn.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

Today's review is (of course) on Hold Anything as I'm going through this chronologically. It's the third short of the series, and it's title is a parody of an early "talkie" film called Hold Everything which is now considered a lost film. It mainly features Bosko and Honey at a construction site with singing and dancing.

The short starts off with a close up of Bosko who appears to be a worker at a construction site in a city, he appears to be drilling with his riveter and erecting beams, as part of his job. Bosko also has a couple of mice that do the job for him which is brick laying. He's playing with the tools as musical instruments - and even plunking strings of ropes, and using his riveter as a drum beat, in which it starts off the mice dancing on the bricks.

As Bosko starts off his musical beat, his group of mice workers - somehow start off dancing with their footsteps. As they step down the bricks, their feet get longer, and then as they step up the side of the bricks, their feet get shorter again. When I was watching this, I noticed that the mice are very Mickey Mouse looking - I wonder if Harman-Ising ever got sued against that, or that Walt Disney never noticed.

Just as Bosko is playing around with a saw, as one of the mouse lands in it. Unaware of safety, Bosko plays with the saw with the mouse, and it slides the mouse along with the saw sounds as the music rhythm. Until, aah - his head is cut off. That's kind of gruesome for that to appear in a cartoon, isn't it? But, I guess that's just the 1930's what else could've been done.

Just as the mouse had it's head cut off, he tries to run for his head to catch it, while Bosko is still playing with his saw, until the mouse's head finally lands back into his body. Meanwhile, as a rivet-eating goat is eating some food out of a barrell, the mouse falls off the saw, and then Happy Landing - lands into the goat's stomach. Until, the mouse opens the door and walks out.

Notice as how the goat gets annoyed that he thinks a piece of food went out of his stomach - or how did the mouse get into his belly. The mouse tips his mouse ears off to greet him. Huh, the mouse ears later became famous for Mickey Mouse ear caps.

As Bosko is high up on the beams, he demands them to load up the beam to him, and the way he does that - is that the goat's tail helps lift up the weight of the beam. The gag where the mouse turns the goat's tail around over and over, is a gag that's used very often in Harman-Ising cartoons in this era. In the next cartoons ready to be reviewed, you'll find that there are a lot of those gags that used the tail-turning gag often.

As the beam rises higher, and Bosko the riveter is going up on a different level, he spots Honey by a window in her apartment, and she's using a typewriter (I have no idea what she's using it for - writing perhaps?) and Bosko gets her attention, and then Honey writes a note to Bosko on a piece of paper, "Gee, you're swell!"

So, in the meantime - Bosko skips work for a while, and enters through Honey's window and types musical notes on Honey's typewriter - and they start to sing and boogie on Bosko's written piece. So, as Bosko is typing on Honey's typewriter as if it was a piano or keyboards. While Honey is boogieing on the sides of the windows, and shaking. There is an unappealing look on Honey's face that makes me think she looks rather ape-looking and unattractive. I know that in the 1930's, animators would get away with a lot of things, but ever since I first saw this cartoon a long time ago - it has always put me off, since then.

As the goat is still holding on to the beam with the ropes attached to him, he notices a tank full with hot air - and mistakes it with food, and as he walks off (the ropes come loose), and he chews parts of the whistle, mistaking it as food, he also smells the hot air, and as he bites the engine, a lot of helium is inside the goat's body and he goes up floating like a balloon. I quite like that shot, where he floats up - some very neat timing there.

Just as the goat is flying up by, Bosko notices the goat, that now looks like a hot air balloon. He steps out the window and plays with the goat like a bagpipe, that keeps Honey entertained. The gag itself doesn't work - because for one thing, the music doesn't even sound like a Scottish bagpipe at all, and it flaws in its way. Although I suppose that the directors had to stick with the music because they had to make animated shorts into musical hits.

So, as Bosko continues to play the goat as a bagpipe, he lets go all the air and helium that sends the goat to the ground as if a balloon had been popped, and as Bosko falls down, he holds the cow's utter, and milks splats on his face. Now, that is a clever gag, and quite entertaining.

As Bosko falls down to the ground, he lands into a neat layer of bricks - ouch. As he crashes, Bosko's body multiples into smaller Boskos and he starts dancing, while the bricks are being pressed like piano keyboards. Bosko's multiples squeeze back in and that's all folks.

My own views on that cartoon? Well, I felt that the short was a hit-and-miss type. There are parts of the cartoon that work, and there are parts that don't. For example, the goat floated up as helium actually works and the udder gag, worked very well. The scenes of the goat's tail loading up the beam did work fine, but the gag does get tiring when it's used too often.

Truly, this cartoon doesn't actually have story climaxes here (even though there are some of them in other Bosko shorts), but the early Bosko shorts are just singing and dancing - and there's no major story, except the theme is on music - and the location is at a construction site. Usually, there's nothing major to brag on about it.

[2014 update: It's another music-themed Bosko cartoon where this time it takes place at a construction site. Construction played an instrumental part during the Great Depression, and it seems fitting for the time period to have the cartoon centered in the area. It's mostly consistent from the previous Bosko cartoons, but what do you expect: that's the entire purpose of the Bosko and the other Harman-Ising cartoons they made in that era, to feature in popular music and feature whatever setting or scenario pleased them, to add atmosphere to the songs.

The miniature mice soldiers at the start of the short are also parallel to the early Mickey Mouse short, When the Cat's Away, but it's kept subtle. The surrealistic gags with the goat are still comically amusing and satisfying to this day. Bosko creating musical notes from the ropes of the beam, and stepping down them like steps is beautifully bizarre and inventive. Perhaps I was tad too amateurish in expressing my views on the decapitation of the mouse's head in the saw scene. Admittedly, the scene is a little unsettling, but it has all the goods that you'd expect from animation in that era, such as the saw waving, that it makes the overall scene enjoyable, even if a little disturbing. Overall, it's a passable short for when it was made, though a little consistent when watching the Bosko cartoons together.]

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