Wednesday, 26 October 2011
47. Three's a Crowd (1932)
Release date: December 12, 1932.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Larry Martin.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.
This is the first Warner cartoon in which it evolves book illustrated characters coming to life for the night, as it followed on in shorts like Have You Got Any Castles? (Frank Tashlin, 1938) and Book Revue (Bob Clampett, 1946).
Alice tunes onto the radio going through different choices, but none of them suit her picks, but then she dances to the title song, Three's a Crowd. Do I hear some Rudy Vallee in the radio singing? You see some characters from Robinson Crusoe pop up humming to the music. We see that Rip Van Winkle is sleeping in the book titled with the same name, and he is dancing to the music. Perhaps, he's woken up early as he's slept for 700 years in the book.
We then see a Cleopatra sequence with the her doing a dance with the music. I must say I just find the dance very spooky to me and weird movements. The animation is very nice and subtle, but the dance movements just put me off because it just looks really weird. I wonder if Bob McKimson did an uncredited role as he was a great draftsmanship - could he have done this particular scene; if not - Rollin Hamilton??
I must say that having the book characters casted in this short is just fantastic. Mr. Hyde is just the perfect choice as the villain to steal the girl, as Alice is great for the main role. In fact, it's sort of a skeleton of the Alice in Wonderland story as she wonders through different book - except she's not looking for a White Rabbit, and wanting to turn on a radio. There is no Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, White Rabbit or Queen of Hearts. The story here is very well done, and it's great to see some familiar characters from literature pop up.
Meanwhile, Cleopatra characters start to help out in persecuting Mr. Hyde by holding onto a pipe and burning Mr. Hyde's rear end. Robin Hood helps out by shooting matchsticks with his bow. Now that gag, I just simply love. His bow doesn't just come in handy with arrows, but matchsticks for characters in book illustratrion sized works very well as well. I must say, I think Rudolf Ising was at his best here.
Great cartoon. Just a great cartoon. It's very creative and I think it was the best cartoon made by Harman-Ising at that point. The story was very creative, and the choices of characters was well-thought. It was certainly better than the other cartoons they were producing in terms of story and character development. There isn't even a reused gag in there, which makes the cartoon even more rich itself. Even though, I complained about the character design of Alice and the dance movements for Cleopatra, but that's separate - that's animation standard. The animation quality is still the same as the other Harman-Ising - I'm afraid. But the way the animation looks doesn't matter, the story really does and the characters too. I think it was Harman-Ising's most creative and inventive work at their time at Warner Bros. You have to agree, the short inspired guys in a new generation to make more of those cartoons like Book Revue and Have You Got Any Castles.