Thursday, 1 September 2011

23. Red-Headed Baby (1931)

The cartoon short of the Looney Tunes series to be released in 1931, yet I still have so much reviews to go through. It's probably the first official Merrie Melodies cartoon that's has "one-shot" characters, while we've seen three Foxy appearances, and two Piggy appearances.

Warner cartoon no. 22.
Release date: December 26, 1931.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Carmen "Max" Maxwell.
Musical Score by: Frank Marsales.

The short starts off with a human who looks like Santa Claus in his shack in the North Pole finishing off a red-headed doll, by adjusting the legs inside the body. The clock strikes (the clock looks like it's 1am to me), Santa yawns, so he decides to go to bed. He brings out his candle holder, as soon as he gets to his bedroom door; he blows out the candle from his shack and it's very dark, so he goes to bed. Huh, interestingly enough, but isn't this the first time that we've seen a human character in all the Warner cartoons produced so far?

As soon as the lights are you, and Santa is off to sleep; the toys will play ;-). So, the red-headed dolly comes to life from the table, she approaches to a radio, and she turns the speakers up. The noise from the radio is all blurry, so the dolly adjusts it and the sound is better. The entire workshop with toys come to life, and start to dance to the music being played on the radio. She starts to sing the title tune, somehow I don't like her design on the dolly, her facial expressions are unappealing.

Toy soldier Napoleon and his soldiers march along, Napoleon spots the red-headed doll, and it comes love at first sight. They start to the sing the title song in duet, and Napoleon sings the verse, "Oh red-headed baby, be mine". Suddenly, a jack-in-the-box pops out and sings a verse, Napoleon brings out his novelty gun; in which he shoots the cork out that hits the jack-in-the-box and he falls back into his box. Everyone cheers at the singing duets, with confetti flying around, but those "see/hear/speak-no-evil" monkeys on the shelve don't appreciate their music. 

 Meanwhile, there is a HUGE tarantula who lives on top of the ceiling, who sings the song "Red-headed baby, you're going to be mine," and ends with a smug laugh. The spider lowers himself down the ceiling by twisting one of his legs to get down. While the dolly and Napoleon are dancing along greatly, Napoleon spots a silhouette-looking spider, he defends the doll by sticking his sword out in front of the tarantula threatening to blade him, if he dared to steal her.

The spider and Napoleon go into a dueling-match called "sword-fighting", the spider is fighting with Napoleon with a bigger sword than his, that's not fair on Napoleon. Napoleon sneaks under the spider's legs, and stabs him in the bottom, and it causes the spider to shriek (it was reused in Big Man from the North but I still assume it was censored). There is even camera point of view in two shots, one shot featuring Napoleon looking at the spider while fighting, and then the next shot showing from the spider's point of view of Napoleon fighting him.

Napoleon and the spider continue to fight with sword, but Napoleon discovers a jack-in-the-box right in front of him, he uses his sword to open it, Jack zooms out and bashes the spider in the face! Napoleon is then hit by a building block, that crushes him. The red headed dolly comes up to Napoleon panicking, and worrying about him. She cries, "Napoleon, Oh Napoleon! Speak to me, speak to me!" She EVEN breaks the fourth wall, by shouting "Is there a doctor in the audience?" Which is common in a lot of cartoons, so it's obviously not unusual to appear in this cartoon.

The dolly continues to try and wake up Napoleon, since he's knocked out. Meanwhile, the spider crawls up on the doll secretly without her noticing, the spider laughs possessively and he kidnaps her! The dolly's screams wake up Napoleon, he's now conscious and he runs after the spider to get the doll back to him. He comments on the spider, "Why that dirty scoundrel!" Napoleon is all flat like a balloon, and he crawls up to a steamer to fill his body up with air to get him back on feet - it worked.

The spider is still grabbing onto the red-headed doll, he boards a toy train set, and the spider is on the roofs of the set, with the doll screaming. Napoleon hops on board on a type of car, and drives after them. He falls out of his car, and he notices a cannon with a rope attached to it, he starts to whirl his rope, and grabs the spider in the neck, but the rope is attached to the cannon, which turns into a ride with Napoleon who is riding it.

The spider gets knocked out of the tunnel from the train set, and he ends up hanging onto a balloon. A candle bit touches the spider in the buttocks. Napoleon loads a cannon with a cork that flies out, bursts the balloon, and the spider falls down as if he's going to crash. MAY DAY!

 All the toys start to cheer and celebrate, Napoleon pulls the binds open and we see the doll, and two backup singers who look like Bosko and Honey. There is a whole musical finale at the end, with all the toys dancing, Napoleon singing, and even Santa in his bed is shaking to the music. Those backup singers with the dolly, just put me off because of just how similar they look compared to Bosko and Honey. The only difference are the costumes and the curls sticking out.

 The cartoon ends with Santa stepping out of his bedroom door, shouts "Yipee!" - and that's all folks.

This wasn't a too bad cartoon to watch, and also not a great cartoon to watch. The Bosko cartoons in 1932 (in my opinion become better), but after watching them in 1933, I got bored and desperately wanted to move to Buddy. It seems that Harman-Ising had a lot of cartoons where villains steal the hero's loved ones. I've noticed that in a lot of their shorts, and even some Buddy ones. That's the 1931 cartoons finished, and I'm now onto the 1932 cartoons to watch.


  1. Steven, this is a terrific new blog! You've got a lot of work ahead of you if you're going to review every cartoon, but I wish you luck with it.

    I'm a fan of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. I guess it will be a while before you get to their work, but I will keep reading as you work through the cartoons.

  2. Thanks Phil, this will probably take me months until I get to Tex Avery, and about a year to Chuck Jones, but I'll get there - eventually.