Sunday, 6 November 2011

53. Young and Healthy (1933)

Warner cartoon no. 52.
Release date: March 4, 1933.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown.
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Larry Martin.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

The short starts off with a portrait hanging on a Wall of a fountain, with a palace at the view. We see a pair of squires walking down the royal stairs blowing their trumpets as the king is walking down the stairs. Another pair of squires, are rolling down the carpets by using their legs (the little squire looses control of its legs, and spins!). Then we see a dachshund walking down sweeping the carpets that may be dusty. Then we see another man throwing flowers over the stairs. Then, (how many men walking down the stairs are there going to be??), we then see knights walking down with a small squire holding on to the crown sitting on a cushion.

We then truck in to finally see the fat, pompous king. The crowd cheer on the king, but the king doesn't appreciate his people cheering on him, as he's a very grumpy king. I really like that walk-cycle for the king, as he moves one one leg in front, and then places his other leg to the other - it really gives that king personality and character.

The king then walks to his throne chair (as he walks quite slowly to his throne chair). He then sits down rather bored and depressed of ruling a kingdom. He then asks his soldiers standing to "scram", and sits down on his chair. Since no one was in the room looking, he decides to fall asleep in his chair. It seems that middle-aged has finally got to him. What a character that King is - it's great to see some personality going on, I think Harman-Ising were great with King characters, like the pig king in The Queen Was in the Parlor.

The queen then walks into the throne room who is a rather ugly-looking middle-aged queen, who has a very long train around her. She is singing the title song, Young and Healthy as she claims that she is that. At the end of her very long train is an old man in a wheelchair holding on to the end of the train, also singing the title song, as he claims he's "young and healthy", but appears to be right as he stands up and does a dance, and has a lot of energy - for an old person. 

The king is woken up from his sleep, and then he hits a jack-in-the-box in which a Jimmy Durante face pops up, which entertains the King as he does a very loud and broad laugh. The queen then stops at a group of soldiers, and she asks if "is his Majesty ready for the ball," in which the soldiers spread "the ball" from man to man. Jimmy Durante in the box spreads the last word "the ball" to the King, but the King doesn't care for balls and refuses to do so.

The queen then tries to wake up the King, as she is singing to him, and mutters "Time flies" to him. The King reponses by singing Let's Put Out the Lights and Go to Sleep. Jimmy comes out of the box and says to the Queen, "Let's put out the lights and go to sleep", in which the Queen responds by smacking him.  Jimmy comes out of the box shouting his phrase "I'm mortified, Am I mortified?" and then dies. The King walks off wailing at his broken Jimmy Durante-in-a-box, and he walks to the balcony bawling.

The King couldn't believe his eyes, when he finds a group of young children playing and having fun with their lives. The King chants "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!", and he wants to go down there and play with the children himself. The King then feels young, as he decides to go down and join them - by sliding down the stairs. There is an honest personality of the King here, as he wishes to be young again, and the children playing outside have made him feel young again to go play outside.I suppose that mid-life crisis for the King is finished for him.

The King is now sliding down the stairs in a very happy mood. The children find him sliding down, and they run to fetch a barrel of water in there, so that the King can get a happy landing. The King has been sliding down the bannister of the stairs for a long time, and one of the kids take off a railing, in which the King slides down uncomfortably and lands onto the tub of water. All the kids laugh with amusement, and the King laughs with them as well - as he brings his children with him as well. The King sings the title song, as he is feeling rather "young and healthy" himself.

The queen steps out at the balcony tapping her foot, looking at the King but becomes astonished when she finds him playing with children. One of the kids grab her dress and they run around like in a Merry-go-Round style. Her dress starts to spin around from the children, until it falls completely down and we see the Queen's long pair of underwear, and she runs off screaming at the camera.

The King looks at the Queen mortified and he roars with laughter, but the little kids run under his legs, that causes him to trip and fall down the stairs. The kids are inside the palace mucking around inside the house. The King continues to fall down the stairs as he lands inside a fountain, and blows water out of his mouth, like a mountain. We then pull back with the portrait of the King inside the fountain - and that's all folks.

I must say that this was indeed a great cartoon, with great characters and even a plot. The music was very good, and the King certainly had a lot of personality. Of course, many of the Merrie Melodies cartoons were just nothing special and they were just singing-and-dancing, but those cartoons weren't just singing and dancing and they really did fit the story well. One of the best written Merrie Melodies cartoon AT ITS TIME.


  1. I think you mean "bawling." "Balling" is, well, this is a family blog.
    'Young and Healthy' comes from the Warners musical '42nd Street', which also brought the world the iconic songs 'We're in the Money', 'Lullaby of Broadway', 'I Only Have Eyes For You' and 'Shuffle Off to Buffalo' and a few lesser ones (like this one) that made it into cartoons.

  2. Thanks Yowp, I've corrected the spelling.

    42nd Street was a big musical film at the time, and it's recognizable enough to be in a book I own called "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die!"

  3. One of the best, most famous cartoons of all time!

  4. The MERRIE MELODIES cartoons were indeed out to utilize the Warner Brothers music library at the time, just as the Busby Berkeley musicals were doing, sometimes as elaborately, sometimes just to add comedy to the way Hollywood sees spectacle. This cartoon is a good entry in the MERRIE MELODIES series and displays how often the Warner Brothers popular songs were used with witty lyric changes. Later entries would display this as well with sometimes suggestive and almost risque lyric changes. Those elements were what made the LOONEY TUNES and MERRIE MELODIES a lot of fun and stand apart from what other studios were doing.