Sunday, 31 July 2011

7. Big Man From the North (1931)

Sorry for no posting yesterday, and it's already been about three days since I last posted a review. I'm able to post another one, but I'm afraid that after that I can't post for about two weeks - until August 13th. Sorry, folks - it's my two week holiday abroad on a cruise. In the meantime, here's Big Man from the North.

Warner cartoons no. 6.
Release date: January 1931.
Directors: Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Starring: Johnny Murray (Bosko).
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Robert Edmunds.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

In my opinion, I think the stories of Bosko in 1931 start to kick him well, while it was just singing and dancing, and Bosko becomes more of that type of character. Of course, it doesn't start kicking immedtimmediately that Bosko was a better character, I'll and see the developments whilst reviewing the cartoons. So, enjoy the next reviews in the next 1931 cartoons.

The short starts off with a snowstorm and there is a hut in the middle of the woods signed "Mounted Police", which shows that there are mountain polices up there. So, in this short Bosko is described as a "mountie" - and it looks like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the northern part of Canada, which isn't really explained in the short, but it could be anymore around the north in this short (Alaska, perhaps?).

The sheriff is waiting in his hut for his deputy Bosko to return, and in such a snowstorm, Bosko finally arrives - and both the Sheriff and Bosko try to make a real effort in trying to close the door, while a big dust of snow is storming through, and the force makes it harder for the two to try and keep the door shut. Bosko tries his effort to hold onto the Sheriff and not let go and hit himself in the wall, while the Sheriff is trying to close the door. As Bosko tries not to let go, the force is strong and the sheriff's pants loosen and Bosko holds on and falls off and hits the wall.

As the sheriff finally manages to close the door properly, with a block over it to prevent the door from falling down. The wind still blows strongly and the ups and down parts of the door wobble. In the meantime, the Sheriff asks for his trousers back and Bosko handles them back to the Sheriff who seems busy and stressed.

The sheriff makes an important announcement that he's looking for a man who's seem in this mugshot poster. Bosko seems quite frightened with the idea that the man is scary looking in the poster. The sheriff assigns Bosko on the job to find "his man", and Bosko who is unsure of the idea but ends up doing it anyway as part of his job. So, it meant that Bosko had to make another big effort to go through the door from that strong snowstorm.

There are two huskies and a puppy waiting outside for Bosko to begin his mission finding that criminal who the sheriff wants in his "wanted" poster. So, Bosko starts of his mission in the snow.

So, Bosko makes a bit of a journey with the huskies during the snowstorm. In long shot views, we see that Bosko and the huskies are going through very deep mountains and usually going down and then back up. The gag in that the bodies of the dogs or Bosko don't go down the hills, and only their legs get longer, and then back to normal size - it's also another recurring gag. During the journey, Bosko and the huskies crash into a hut which appears to be a bar. The huskies and puppy somehow crash into each other and are stuck together, and then they walk off, and the huskies are still stuck together and are like sausage dogs. It seems to be that by the time Bosko reaches the bar, the snowstorm has stopped already.

Whilst Bosko is about to enter in the bar, he notices a "wanted" sign with the same picture of the criminal that the sheriff wants. Bosko has a feeling that the criminal could very well be in the bar and breaks inside in the bar through the saloon doors with two pistols pointing, and notices that the bar is just ordinary and that Honey is an entertainer there - and no crime is involved in there at the moment, so Bosko puts the pistols back to his pockets. Since Bosko thinks the coast is clear and that the entertainment is distracting his job, he jumps onto the table and performs with Honey. He also plays the piano and when he swings his fingers up and down the entire keyboards, they fly up and fall back to it's place one at a time - some very tidy timing.

In the meantime, once Bosko is having fun in the bar - the mug that Bosko was supposed to be looking for, enters the bar and tries to start off a massacre at the saloon and shoots around the building, and everyone hides in the bar. As he sits down at the counter, Bosko turns around from the piano and walks up to the sheriff with his pistol, and just as he is pointing it. He shoots the gun, and the cork comes out - Bosko has brought in a novelty gun by mistake. Just as the mug is about his get his gun out, Bosko spits at the light and that causes a blackout. I suppose Bosko did that because during a blackout, Bosko would have a slighter chance of not dying because the mug cannot see him in the dark.

As the lights go back on, the mug is still looking out for Bosko - and Bosko gets a gun out with bullets fully loaded and manages to shoot it at his bottom. So, in vengeance - the mug gets his knife out and tries to stab Bosko which makes situations even more violent.

This comes to a very disturbing shot, in which Bosko grabs the knife off the mug and sticks it in his bottom and the mug scream. The shot is disturbing in a way because it's sort of similar to anal probe, but with a knife - and I have no idea if this was censored on television - or if it was ever even on television in the past before. Even though it wasn't included in the documentary Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons - probably the list was too numerous to mention.

So, Bosko now manages to shoot the mug with his shotgun, and the bullets surround the thug, and he ends up naked and no fur on him whatsoever. As the crowd look at him, he steps out of the bar humiliated. The crowd cheer on Bosko and the the short finished. Wait a minute, didn't Bosko forget to arrest the mug as he walks out the bar - what if he did another crime elsewhere, and that's all folks.

All in all, the short wasn't too bad. It's a story type short, and not much singing and dancing there, and there are climatic stuff in that short that prevents from the short from being boring. I still feel that the knife up in anal situation is inappropriate for younger viewers, and I'm quite curious if this was ever censored at all?

Stay tuned for more.


  1. If I remember correctly, Jon Cooke has a Censored page for Looney Tunes cartoons, and that "knife" gag showed up as something edited on Nickelodeon. Keep in mind this was before the Hayes Office went into effect, so it wasn't "morally" wrong...yet...

  2. This kind of "everyman" persona for Bosko is what is missing in the MGM shorts, although they (the MGM cartoons featuring Bosko) have their moments, too but more as spectacle). Harman seems to like situations featuring characters struggling against severe winds or weather. You'd see similar blustery situations near the beginning of the MGM Bosko cartoon, "THE OLD HOUSE", including one memorable scene with little Honey being blown so severely that she doubles over, with her skirt blowing up over her head.