Saturday, 3 September 2011

25. Pagan Moon (1932)

Warner cartoon no. 24.
Release date: January 23, 1932.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Director: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Cast unknown.
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Norm Blackburn.
Musical Score by: Frank Marsales.

The short starts off in an island (probably Hawaii), there is a tropical boy playing his ukulele and singing the title song. He also has a girlfriend who appears to be topless and hula-dancing. There is a moon in the background that rises, that shows rippling water from the shining moon. There are two other tropical men who are playing the guitar in the background, as backup. Soon, the island boy starts to play music with his mouth like a kazoo.

There are animals who live in the island, that join in the music beat, looks like an early animated short of "The Jungle Book" ;-) Oh wait, that would be Congo Jazz. There is a monkey who is sitting on top of a palm tree, using bones as drumsticks and bashing coconuts like the drums. Soon, the monkey bashes in what he thought looked like a coconut, but it's revealed to be a gorilla's head. The gorilla appears to be a parent who shouts at the monkey, the monkey moans "Aw nuts!" he bashes the gorilla on the head, and collapses.

Meanwhile there is a reuse from Congo Jazz where there is a palm tree that is dancing creepily, the animation is the same, but the backgrounds is different (according to ToonZone). There is a group of family birds, who are also dancing to the music on their tree. A little bird runs away inside a can to take a dump inside the cans, but an acorn falls off a branch above, and hits the top part of the can. This scares the little bird, and the little bird instead runs off and hides in the birds nest. This was particularly reused from The Booze Hangs High, with the ducks dancing, and the little duck steps off to go to the toilet.

The island boy skips along with his ukulele, and then he jumps into what appears to be a rock, but instead it's an aligator that opens his jaws. The boy jumps out back onto land, with his ukulele that lands onto the crocodile's mouth, and the aligator swallows it, while the boy tries to get it out. On the first couple of tries, the boy waves his hand to the aligator's mouth, while the crocodile uses his mouth as a threat. He pulls out a stick from the ground, and uses it to wave at the croc's mouth, so the stick is propped inside the crocodile's mouth, the boy runs in and grabs his ukulele back.

The boy continues to skip along, he also leaps on rocks through rivers, and on the last rock he steps on a turtle. The turtle runs along, and the boy is standing on the shell. The turtle halts and bucks the boy into the water, and the turtle walks away by taking his shell off, and rowing.

The boy laughs, so he continues to step through the rocks, and it leads him to a rowing boat in which his girlfriend is in. The hula half-naked girl is singing, while the boy is playing his ukulele, he bounces the ukulele with his bottom, until the ukulele lands into the water, and falls under the sea. The boy swims underwater, to find his ukulele, underwater he sees a lot of fishes swimming. While the boy is swimming underwater, there is a huge fish that swims past, and the boy hides in a cave. The fish looks inside to see if there is anything under there, but instead he blows bubbles at the audience. Aw, c'mon - they reused this from Bosko at the Zoo, and considering that this was this short was released AFTER Bosko at the Zoo.

 There are two fishes playing leap-frog on the piano (reused also from Bosko at the Zoo but with piano animation), the boy swims under, he thinks he sees a rock that he could use to sit down and play the piano. But the "rock" turns out to be a "six-legged octopus" which means a type of octopus used in Harman-Ising cartoons. The octopus is quite aggressive towards the boy, but instead he plays the piano in a jazzy form, and also spitting tobacco at the highest keynote. The octopus starts to join into the music as well, by dancing.

Eventually, the boy is joined in by trumpet-playing fishes who are by a shipwreck, and even two pairs of tapping feet dance to the rhythm at a sunken ship. There is a trombone player, who appears to be playing and steering the steering wheel, with a fish walking on the wheel while it's being steered, until he lands inside the trombone.

After the boy has finished his musical tune, he starts to play the piano himself solo. He plays the piano in a more dramatic tune, with "Da-Da-Daas", but I don't know the name of the tune itself. All the other fishes enjoy his musical performance.

There's one thing that I've noticed in this cartoon: the Boy is a human, and he's underwater. It seems that he's been underwater for several minutes, and yet he's not even drowning at all, that IS a mistake made by Harman-Ising.

All the fishes swim away in fear, but the boy doesn't know yet why they swam. The boy turns around and it appears to be some huge piranha, the boy runs away and it involves a chase sequence. The boy runs into a pipe that's underwater, he blows into it to form a bubble and he runs inside the pipe to go inside the bubble so that he can get back on air, and that the piranha won't get him. Maybe he blew the bubble to get back on air either to avoid the piranha, or to get back oxygen if he's finally lost it. 

The boy is floating in the air inside the bubble, and there appears to be a bird flying by, and pops the bubble. As he pops the bubble, the burst appears to be very powerful that all of the bird's feathers fall out. No, Mr. Bird, you can't put it on as a jacket because you're on AIR! The boy is falling on air, and the girl is on her rowing boat. She pots the boy and paddles along, to find a pelican flying by, and she jumps onto the pelican to safe the boy with his beak. The boy lands safely in the pelican's beak; the boy and the girl are both happy to reunite - and that's all folks!

When I saw that cartoon the first time about a month ago, I didn't to be paying too much attention to it, and it seemed alright, but watching it twice again, made me realize that this cartoon was a "cheater" by Harman-Ising because of many reuses they put in this cartoon, and reuses always put me off, when they are bad, or don't even suit. I'm obviously aware of the Great Depression, but I don't think there should be too many reuses. Also, what I just noticed while watching it was that the boy appears to survive on water for a very long time, and I don't think that's very, very possible at all - unless he's got very, very strong lungs.

Harman-Ising would later create a cartoon that was so much reuses that Warner Bros. had to ask them to remake it again with less reuses, that cartoon would be Bosko and Honey which was unreleased.


  1. Maybe it's me, but the boy in that film looks like Steven Universe.

  2. I had seen this cartoon years and years ago, not realizing that it was created by the same gentleman who would eventually go on to open up the possibilities of full and spectacular animation for MGM with the HAPPY HARMONIES series and then as part of the larger staff within MGM's in-house studio. Although the characters in this cartoon are fish, they remind me of the protagonists in the later series within the HAPPY HARMONIES banner which had come to be known as the Bosko trilogy, right down to the octopus thumping on the piano, even though the music that he's playing is not jazz. Perhaps it could also be the backdrop for this cartoon which, if I remember correctly, had a few portholes, which were also seen in the backdrop of "LI'L OL' BOSKO AND THE PIRATES", and in the MGM cartoon, there was a Fats Waller caricature "thumping" on the piano as well singing the oft-repeated song about "gramma's cookies".