Sunday, 18 September 2011

33. It's Got Me Again! (1932)

On a Sunday, it's time that I'm going to be reviewing a Warner Bros. cartoon that was the first to be nominated for an Academy Award, but will it be good once I'm going to review it - let's wait and see...

Warner cartoon no. 34.
Release date: May 14, 1932.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Cast unknown.
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Thomas McKimson.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

This is the first animation credit to Thomas McKimson in which he later became a layout artist for Bob Clampett, and his two other brothers Charles and Robert were animators; one of whom would pursue a career in directing.

 The short starts off with a scrawny, little mouse who peeps out of a mouse hole, and beside him is a mousetrap. The mouse continues to creep through, until he spots something scary off-screen, and he runs off with his tail caught on the mousetrap, and the mouse starts to scream. As the clock strikes 3am, the mouse grabs the cheese off the mousetrap and gobs it in his mouth, that bounces on the bottom of his stomach. The mouse starts to creep through different instruments (xylophone, trombone, drum, etc.) and he swings onto a gramophone, in which he starts to play music.

Music starts playing and the mouse invites all the mice out of their mice holes to join into the party, and even an elderly mouse that wants to join in the dancing, but little mice keep on running through his legs, in which the elderly mouse spins. The mice climb down the tables by landing on a chordian, that pushes down so the mice can step off. While the music is playing and the mice are singing to the title song, it appears to be that "when the cat's away, the mice will play".

There is this complicating gag of a mouse that's stuck in a recorder as a metronome, and so he's flung off: he lands on a double-bass, then onto a horn, then on a fiddle, and lands on a clarinet in which multiples come out of the clarinet holes which is reused multiples from Hold Anything. The multiplied-mice start off by jumping on top of a drum in which starts off a rhythm. Another pair of multiplied-mice start off on top of a flute, and start to play the American theme to The Girl I Left Behind Me. A group of mice start to dance, and the dance is all reused from Hold Anything. I admit that the reuses don't put me off too much, but it fits well as it fits with the "mice will play" story.
One of the mice trips from a pin on top of the ceiling, and lands on a spittoon that causes a group of mice to laugh at the poor mouse. The mouse starts to play the tuba, and then walks towards a window. By the window is a huge cat that's outside (and it's raining - notice the raindrop animation in the background), and the cat is hungry for the mice, the mouse doesn't even notice that the cat is standing just outside the window. I like the design of the cat there, he looks very menacing and scary.

Meanwhile, there is some rattling going on in the piano, there is a mouse that chucks a smaller mouse out of the piano, and lands on the keyboards. They seem to have a duel on the piano boards, and according to this on a YouTube video, "this is a spoof of the Apache Dance", Of course; I don't know what the dance specifically means, but I guess that it was a good spoof for it's time. I love the music timing there, when the mouse steps back with the piano keyboards being pressed, and music notes are playing - which makes nice music.

 Meanwhile, the cat that was by the window just a moment ago, is now on top of the roof, and watches the mice on the skylight. The cat watches the mice, and then thinks of a plan. The cat climbs on top of a chimney, and slides down. I must say that the music for the cat scenes are just incredible. It gives you the feeling of horror for the mice, like when you see the mice dancing - the music is cheerful; but as the cat arrives - it's dark music and you know that it means danger.

The cat crawls up to the mice that are dancing, but as soon as a cuckoo-clock strikes, all the mice turn around and run away. Which means that the cat will have to chase after them. The cat chases after the mouse, by turning upwards and downwards, and the mouse stands by a mousetrap, and it snaps as it makes a turning point.

The mouse is cornered, and the cat blocks the mouse. The mouse is all frightened, and starts to beg for the other mice to help him out, and get rid of the cat. The mouse even cries, "MAMMY", in which it was Al Jolson's famous quote. I really like those shots of the mouse's point of view of the cat, he looks very menacing and is determined to eat that mouse alive.

The mouse preying though reminds me of a scene similar to a cartoon produced by Ising in 1940 called Puss Gets the Boot (known to be the first Tom and Jerry), but that cartoon wasn't made until 8 years, and I wonder if Ising re-used his ideas into that, even though Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera were the directors.

The mice finally start their revenge towards the cat, by shooting drum sticks like a bow & arrow, and the drumstick hits on the cat's bum and screams. I must say, that piece of animation of the drumsticks hitting the cat's bottom really has some weight into it, it really looks as though it does hurt, and that's a good thing. The mice continue to be shooting their drumsticks from harp-strings, but then that animation doesn't look like it hurts. The scene where the mice use a blow torch to burn the cat's bottom might be funny, but the scene where the cat gets knocked out by hitting a bass drum, is funnier. The mice start to shoot pins from a phonograph, and the cat finally jumps out of a window into the distance, the other mice celebrate - and that's all folks!

I must say that this was actually a pretty, pretty good cartoon - one of Harman-Ising's best efforts in that era I have to say. This is when I think that they were really trying. They used a great theme for a cat-and-mouse. The musical score by Frank Marsales is just wonderful, and usually I find his music very repetitive and bland, but his score is just great; he really captured the story into his score. The gags between a cat and mouse had potential, and this cartoon may not be equivalent to a Tom and Jerry cartoon, but it was certainly good for it's time. As it was made in 1932, this cartoon has been nominated for an Academy Award, and I feel it deserved a nomination, even though Disney's Flowers and Trees won it.

1 comment:

  1. An Apache Dance, is a highly stylized dance that was at one time popular as night club entertainment. It is usually described as a "violent discussion" between a pimp and a prostitute, although it could be between an abusive husband and his wife. The name comes from turn of the 20th century Parisian street gangs who were referred to as "Apaches" because of the savagery of the hoodlums.