Sunday, 4 September 2011

27. Freddy the Freshman (1932)

Warner cartoon no. 26.
Release date: February 20, 1932.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Cast unknown.
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Paul Smith.
Musical Score by: Frank Marsales.

This one is a popular Harman-Ising cartoon, but it's one that I'm not very keen on - much like the other cartoons.

The short starts off with Freddy's car driving down (the title cards from the car), and a lot of high school folks are on different sides of the road, they all seem to worship Freddy, who is a freshman at high school. Freddy is driving down the road to his school, and according to a YouTube video here, it mentions the lyrics that Freddy is singing, "Rah! Rah! Ra-cha-cha! That's our college yell / Baggy pants, crazy dance. It's Freddy, can't you tell?" Freddy also honks his horn at the back of the car, and he bangs on the engine at the front. His engine almost explodes, that ends up extended before the car goes back to it's normal shape.

Meanwhile, at high school; Freddy's sweetheart who is unnamed is having a dance at the school halls, with all the other high-school animals joining in. There appears to be a little bird conducting music with these dogs as the orchestra. The bird is also conducting their vocal chords by lowering the volume and raising their voices. We also appear to see these two cow couples dancing that look like Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar, who are part of the Disney regime, I wonder if Harman-Ising bought the rights to use them, or if Disney even sued them because they reused a lot of Disney.

Freddy the Freshman continues to drive along the road until there is a stone, that knocks him out into the sky, with his car broken into pieces and they all go back into pieces with Freddy landing back in his car. Freddy enters inside the hall to greet his supporters "Hi-ho everybody, hi-ho!", and he's welcomed by so many of his friends and admirers. I have to admit; I find it very strange that he's a freshman and yet he's one of the most popular students in school, unless he's a very popular outcast - I don't know.

Oh wait, he doesn't sound like an outcast to me, because he's walking around the hall with his "people" standing on sides to let him walk past, he also seems very boastful and cocky by shouting "Who gets all the girlies chasing him around"?, his crowd chant "Freddy the Freshman!" - wow, since he's a freshman he's all cocky and hard?? Does this make him cool, that he wears raccoons as coats? We learn about the immodest Freddy that he plays the ukulele and saxophone. Goodness, I really don't like that Freddy much only because he sounds very cocky.

Freddie's sweetheart even comments, that all the "pretty babies won't leave him alone" - I know she's referring them as girls, but "babies" makes he think that Freddy "touched" little children. There appears to be a jock standing by Freddie's girl who tries to get her interested by saying that he played for so many American football teams like Harvard or Yale, a little mouse comes out of a spittoon and sings "Freddie the Freshman, the precious kid in town!" Freddie stand up to himself in front of a jock who is his opponent, and challenges a rugby game with him, and thinks he will defeat him. The jock takes his remark as "raspberries".

There is a heading on the screen titled "The Game", in which Freddy and his small team try and defeat the tough, jocks. There are bands playing for the opening, and also cats sitting on a fence, chewing sweets. There appears to be some cheerleaders dancing in a long-shot, why not have a close up of it, or otherwise I'll have to get Daffy Duck from Duck Amuck to shout "A close up you jerk! A CLOSE-UP!" There is a dog referee who pulls the trigger for the game to start, but it's a novelty gun with a mouse blowing a whistle.

The game starts off with the ball being kicked right at the camera, and that shows the game starting. The ball is still in the air, with a pig player trying to catch the ball, but the ball lands inside his stomach, and bounces at different directions in his stomach - the gag is similar and even same sound effects from Battling Bosko - a better cartoon. Freddy manages to kick the ball out of his stomach, by kicking him in the bottom.

Freddy receives help from his defender, who is a dachshund who helps block the players from the other team from trying to get the ball off Freddy, the dachshund forms a "V" shape, until he gets his whole body twisted around a tree. Of course, as I'm British - I know almost nothing about American football except it's sort of similar to a game popular here called Rugby, but with different rules. We call "football" in what Americans call them "soccer", that's our football. If I get the position names wrong, like the defender, correct me. It appears to be that Freddy being the captain, he's trying to get the ostrich with the ball to move, I don't know - I don't know how American football works.

While the football game and antics continue, there are three crows that are also sitting on a fence, and there appears to be a rooster who seems to be stereotyped as a homosexual. With the way the rooster moves his body, and voice attitude, by shouting "Goody, goody, goody! Hold the line!" I'm not surprised to see this, as this was before the Production Code of 1934, but I still think it wasn't suitable. I wonder if Harman-Ising were homophobic.

 As Freddie has got the ball, with all his rivalry team chasing after him, Freddie builds a type of hamster-cage made out of a front yard fence, and he uses it to knock out his rivals trying to grab the ball off him. Hey, wouldn't that be cheating? He also lands onto a pile of clean laundry from the washing line, and he slides up to the very end of the washing line until he places his ball at the goal, so Freddie wins the game - and that's all folks!

 This cartoon is one that I didn't particularly enjoy at all, mostly because of the character Freddie himself, and he wasn't very well developed in terms of character peronality. He's a freshman, and he seems to be one of the most popular boys at school, considering he's a freshman. I find it hard to believe that he scores most of the girls when actually from the designs he looks very "geeky", and not very tough, like the other jocks. He's a cocky character with worshipers who admire him.


  1. You can't apply today's sensibilities to 80 year old film. There are three Jewish birds in the cartoon. That doesn't mean anyone's anti-Semitic.

    No one thinks Justin Bieber is singing about a child in diapers when he sings "Baby." I don't know why anyone would think about children in the song lyrics here.

    It's a little pointless trying to apply real-life sports rules when you have a clothesline in the middle of the field. It's not like this is a documentary.

    The horse, mouse, cat, cow are fairly generic designs that go back to the '20s. Cartoons studios started weaning themselves away from them in a few years.

    It's too bad the screen grabs are so muddy.

    I liked the opening effect with the credits driving away. And Harman and Ising seem to have loved things coming at the camera.. a football this time.

    Whoever does Freddy is the same guy who does Foxy in "One More Time", the mouse in "It's Got Me Again" and a bunch of other cartoons.

    There are a couple of radio references. Rudy Vallee's "heigh ho" and Tony Wons' "Are you listenin'?" find their way into the story.

  2. I like many of the gags -- the raccoon coat and the duck touchdown gag in particular. As for the score, it's incredible -- Frank Marlases at his very best. I recall watching this short when I was a kid and loving it.

  3. Yowp: I know that the word "Baby" is another reference to a girl, as I mentioned that, but what I said was mostly sarcasm. About the Jewish birds, I didn't spot that. But I didn't live back in the 1930's, so I don't know too much about how the conditions for people worked. As for the "muddy" framegrabs, I print screened them from a YouTube video and it was only one with good-enough quality, even if it means poor quality.

    Tom: Glad you liked the short, I thought some of the gags were "alight" but I won't argue on someone else's taste. I thought some of the music at the beginning was quite good, but that's about it for me.

  4. :) Good one, Yowp! Steven, there were some real odd uses of Jewish expressions and voices that yeilded things like two those Native Americans who pursued Bugs and Porky ["A Feather in his Hare", with Bugs, and "Nothing But The Tooth", with Porky], with a nasal Indian who was a typical "Jewish character" of the era. I don't live in the 1930s but I know a lot of the gags.

    However, S/Hartley, since you are undert 20-30, I can let it slide by. A lot of the gags ARE pretty obscure, admittedly..I was surprised to ehar that nasal voiced characters were intended to be Jewish. Our family has Jewish friends who sound or talk nothing like those chracters.

    This song became an iconic WB cartoon song, appearing in "Bone Sweet Bone", "Rah Rah Rooster", and in countless others.Best line, "the Freshest kid in town"! LOL.

    Steve J.Carras