Saturday, 5 November 2011

52. Bosko in Person (1933)

Warner cartoon no. 51.
Release date: February 11, 1933.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Directed by: Hugh Harman and Friz Freleng.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Johnny Murray (Bosko).
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Bob McKimson.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

The short starts off with the curtains reading "Bosko in Person" and they rise slowly, following a asbestos curtain that suddenly burns, in which we see Bosko performing a vaudeville show of him playing the piano. Bosko is playing the tune to Whistle and Blow Your Tunes Away which was the Looney Tunes opening song introduction at the time. He welcomes the audience by saying, "Howdy folks!"

Honey then slowly enters the stage by dancing with her feet and clicking her fingers. They both start to greet one another by singing. They do a very complicating dance routine, in which they use their feet and hands to do it. It is a very entertaining dance routine, and I like how something different finally came up. I would imagine that scene would've been complicating to animate, I bet.

Honey gasps, "Gee Bosko, you're swell", in which Bosko steps in the centre of the stage as he is going to perform a song about his love for Honey. He also does some weird poses as he is holding onto a note for a while, while he is singing about his love for Honey. She then steps back onto the centre of the stage in which they run off to the corner of the stage where they are hiding behind the curtains, as their act was over and the audience applaud.

Bosko enters the scene again as he sits on his stool to play some jolly music on the piano. While Bosko is playing some tunes, and watching Bosko playing may seem boring to watch, but as he swings his glove out of his hand: his glove rolls down the keyboard which makes the sound of running the piano keyboards down (later a Carl Stalling trademark).

The glove is animate, and his glove lands on Bosko's knee. Bosko starts another piece of entertainment by telling his glove, "Well, what can you do?" and asks his audience to do a sketch or any piece of entertainment for the audience. The glove is rather reluctant to do anything at first, until the glove finally gives in and blushes as Bosko suggests to recite the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb. The glove talks in a squeaky, violin voice which is a suitable choice for a glove. The glove finishes reciting the poem and jumps back onto Bosko's glove as he plays more tunes on the piano. 

 Bosko steps off his piano, as he is looking directly at his audience while tapping on his left foot. His body is being controlled as he is moving right, until he finally looses control and falls to the ground causing his audience to laugh. Bosko then walks back on the stage as he hurt his back by mistake, to redo the tap dance scene again, as he humiliated himself in front of his audience. Bosko continues to do the tap dancing part again but he does the same mistake again - he falls down on stage. I think Bob McKimson had involvements in those scenes, as the animation is very subtle, and it was released at a point when McKimson was in a car accident and became a better draftsman.

Honey then enters the stage and she does her bit of entertainment by doing an impression of Aunt Jemima who was an African woman stereotype back then. Honey is stereotyping with the dance movements, and even the voice, too. After her performance of Aunt Jemima, she then pulls on an impression of Greta Garbo, as you can tell from her moody face, straight hair, and big shoes and the attitude. The Greta Garbo parody movements are incredible animation, but the voices are just not right for Honey - I wonder who did the impresisons of Aunt Jemima, but certainly not Greta Garbo as it's voiced by a man.

Bosko then enters the stage, with an immediate impression of Maurice Chevalier, with his lower lip sticking out, and the walking movement. Bosko sings a song that Bosko was playing earlier on the piano, with the Chevalier impression. The next part of what Bosko does is he blows a balloon, and places it on his nose with an impression of Jimmy Durante, which is just hilarious. As Bosko is playing the piano (what Durante does), Bosko says a one-liner which is just priceless, "I know I'm not good-looking folks, but that's one opinion against a million." The audience appear to be booing at Durante, in which Bosko puts on a huff-and-puff temper for Jimmy and bellows "I'm mortified!"

The audience respond to the impression and applaud for the brilliant performance by Bosko (even Honey applauded). The animation here of the celebrity impressions are just incredible movement and caricature. I would imagine that Bob McKimson would've definitely had some involvement in the Maurice Chevalier and Jimmy Durante impressions, as it's very gracious animation.

Bosko then asks his audience in his Durante accent, "Is everybody happy?" and starts to play the trumpet in a very jazzy way with such awesome movement. He starts to tap his feet on the drums, acting mental and playing the clarinet with his top hat on. Bosko continues to be playing through all the other instruments until he finally looses his balance while he is tilting, and hits the drum and cracks a hole, All the other instruments that were up in the air fall down into where it was, and Bosko comes up in his Jimmy Durante face stating "Am I mortified?" His audience clap for a very entertaining part.

Bosko steps out of the drum, and asks his audience "Is everybody happy?", and he carries a drum with Franklin D. Roosevelt holding a pint of beer, (who at the time was just to be elected as President of the United States in March 1933). It seems that Bosko was supporting for Roosevelt to be president, and Honey runs to the stage waving the American flag which is a note to tell the audience to vote for Roosevelt - and that's all folks.

Wow! What a wonderful cartoon that was, it had so much appeal in the animation. The animation was just marvellous to look at, all the animators on that cartoon were top-notch on that short. There are exciting dance routines going on and a very entertaining vaudeville show it certainly was. I think that this is one of the greatest Bosko shorts, and this was the best cartoon of 1933 for the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies series.

You know what? I think that the reason why the cartoon was so great was that it was all thanks to Friz Freleng, who directed the dance routines and the vaudeville business. See, it was great for Harman-Ising to hire Friz Freleng as a director because they couldn't turn in much great stuff - only mediocre. Bob McKimson contributed to great animation (as well as other animators), and Frank Marsales' score was a delight. Freleng probably went over-budget there with a great cartoon, and it shows of how much of a "perfectionist" he was here. Unfortunately, his directing years from 1934-1938 were downhill, due to the budgets, but Freleng became an extraodinary director by 1940, when he arrived back at Warner Bros. from MGM.


  1. In reality, four animator worked on it - Bob McKimson, Rollin Hamilton, Max Maxwell and Robert Stokes. I can made the mosaic of it, based on my own internet researchers and guesses, if you want it.

  2. A couple of bits of period history. When playing the clarinet in the top hat, Bosko is in fact doing an impression of Ted Lewis, an American bandleader and clarinet player of the 1920s and '30. Lewis was known for coming out on stage and saying "Is everybody happy?"

    Ass far as the FDR bit goes, Roosevelt was elected in November 1932, and was inaugurated as president in March 1933. This was changed to the current January for the 1940 election. Part of FDR's campaign was a promise to legalize the sale of beer, which had been banned since 1920 under the Volstead Act and the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution which banned the sale of alcohol. The 21st Amendment, which would legalize the sale of all alcoholic beverages was not ratified until December 1933. If anything Bosko is celebrating the legalization of Beer which happened in March 1933.

  3. Actually, Bosko was voiced by Carmen Maxwell, who did his stereotypical African voice of Bosko, in Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid and Sinkin in the Bathtub. He later made a higher pitched voice for Bosko because Leon S. thought that it will offend African- Americans. Johnny Murray did Bosko's voice in Bosko's Picture Show (That dirty fuck!). I don't know who did Honey's voice, but I'm going to guess Bernice Hansen did her voice in this cartoon. Rochelle Huston did Honey's voice in only one cartoon, Sinkin in the Bathtub (the first ever Bosko cartoon, not counting the 1929 pilot, Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid)

  4. This is my favorite Bosko cartoon and It's an underrated gem