Sunday, 13 November 2011

57. Wake Up the Gypsy in Me (1933)

Warner cartoon no. 56.
Release date: May 13, 1933.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown.
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Larry Silverman.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

 I first saw this cartoon when I was about 10 years old, when it used to be on YouTube for a very long time, I quit liked that cartoon - and now I'm going to be reviewing it.

The cartoon starts off in Russia, and we see some Russian dancers in a gypsy village. There is a Russian dancer doing the Cossack, and there are Russian bands that are playing in the village. It seems that this takes place before the Russian Revolution back in 1918, and Russia was known back then (when the cartoon was created) it was known as the USSR. The band conductor tips his Russian hat and it is revealed to be s Paul Whiteman caricature. The dancers continue to dance until the Cossack dancer dances RIGHT at the camera.

There are a group of Russian guys that are holding their mugs with beer singing the song, The Song of the Volga Boatmen which is a very well-known Russian song, and it's very good. The song was later reused as a Gremlins song in Russian Rhapsody. The guys then guzzle down the beer in their throat and they gurgle to the Russian song. We then see a group of men that are pulling a rope with the music rhythm to Volga Boatmen and the animation timing is very good. The rope that they were pulling, that they struggled was a dog at the end chewing the rope - which is a funny gag, since a group of tough men are trying to challenge a puppy.

We then see a Russian singer who is playing pan-pipes, and behind him is another man who is shorter, and then another man (shorter), and the last comes behind his back (shortest). Both those men all line up together (smallest to tallest) and they are singing the title song, Wake Up the Gypsy in Me. As soon as a dog comes onto the stage, a dog comes up and barks in which their Russian hats are revealed as cats hissing that scare the dog away.

We then see a gypsy come out oh her caravan, and she has a tambourine that she is playing with. All the Russians are dancing to the music. But then a bit further away from the dancers, we see a mysterious man who is wearing a jacket which is very tall. The mysterious person steps outside the palace and he opens his jacket and reveals four pairs of bombs, and on top of the bombs are eyes drawn with a Russian hat on top. He then enters the palace.

We then get a shot of a sign that reads, Rice Puddin' - the Mad Monk and Rice Puddin (who actually is based on Grigori Rasputin who was a Russian monk at the time) seems to be a monk of the Russian village, who is mad - as it said on the title card. Rice Puddin' is sitting at his desk and we has some jigsaw pieces scrambles over the table, and his puzzle is only half done. He then picks up a chunky jigsaw piece and realizes that it's too big to even fit into the pieces, so he cheats by sitting off parts of the piece by using a pair of scissors in which he fits the piece into the puzzle perfectly and evily laughs. The monk here has personality, and we can even tell on how "evil" he really is and also a "cheater" as he cheats on his jigsaw puzzles.

Meanwhile, the person carrying the bombs in his jacket enters the palace, but notices that there is a guard standing in the hallway. The person carrying the bombs, hides behind the wall, and enters the hallway by disguising the bombs a pair of boobs and walks past disguised as a woman walking to distract the guard. The plan worked.

Rice Puddin' continues to cheat at his jigsaw puzzle game as he finds another piece that won't even fit into the puzzle, and the monk throws it to the ground in a rather frustrated attitude. He finds a picture of a King tied to the wall (King of Russia??) and he cuts his face and places it at the back end of the donkey which fits perfectly, and laughs since he is meant to be a "jackass". He then grabs out a pair of binoculars to look at the village people, and mutters "Bah! the fools", and he is watching his people mainly dancing and singing, and he spots a gypsy dancing with her tambourine.

The monk then orders one of his guards to go and get the gypsy girl and bring her to him. The monk then takes out a cigar from one of his chests and the guard walks off. Rice Puddin places the cigar in his mouth and brings out a lighter in one of his pockets, in which a mouse comes out of the lighter with a matchstick and lights his cigar. Somehow, he doesn't really remind me of a monk - as he reminds me of a leader of the village, who doesn't like his people.

The guard then walks in holding onto the gypsy girl. The monk then presses a button in which there is a trap floor that causes the guard to fall. The monk then says "Give old maestro big kiss, eh?" which scares the young girl and ignores him by shouting "Pooh pooh.

The gypsy panics out of the window and she calls for the villagers for "help!". She starts to run away from the window, as the monk's hand grabs her, and she runs down the hallway until she is cornered. Rice Puddin' is about to grab the girl until he sees out the window an angry mob trying to seize him. The monk turns to the audience, "Holy mackerel - an evolution!" There you go, the start of the Russian Revolution - since Rice Puddin' is meant to be Rasputin who was part of the Revolution in 1917.

 Rice Puddin' (Rasputin) runs out of his palace and lands onto a horse that rides along fast. All the group of crowds are catching up to him and are running at his speed. One of the Russians place a bomb on his pants, and Rice Puddin' then pulls his horse's tail that causes him to fly with his ears like a helicopter. He laughs until he finds a bomb that was placed to his pants, which explodes and then we see Rice Puddin's reaction after the explosion - and that's all folks.

Well, this has been a while since I saw this as a child, but it all has been very interesting to watch again. It showed a good part of history, which was probably the very start of the Russian Revolution. Of course, I've never studied about that in my school, and I vaguely know the concept. I don't think it started off with a monk trying to capture a gypsy, but I understood the whole concept when I read the book Animal Farm a few years back, when it was based on animals. Overall, I quite enjoyed this cartoon and it was interesting to watch.


  1. Actually, Rasputin was killed in december 1916, before Revolution of 1917.

  2. Thanks Sanek, I knew you would get something like that correct. However, I got the year wrong from Wikipedia, and someone must've fiddled with the date.

  3. Just asking: who was Larry Silverman? He's not credited for any other Harman-Ising cartoons.