Sunday, 4 December 2011

66. Bosko's Picture Show (1933)

We now reach the "final" Harman-Ising as well as the last Bosko cartoon - but it isn't the last as he did make more appearances later on at MGM in the Happy Harmonies series.

Warner cartoon no. 65.
Release date: August 26, 1933.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Director: Hugh Harman, Friz Freleng.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, and Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Johnny Murray (Bosko).
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Carmen "Max" Maxwell.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

The cartoon begins, outside the theater and we see that Bosko's name is in lights that does read Bosko's Picture Show. Inside the theater we see the stage, in which the Asbestos curtain opens, followed by a tatty curtain, and then a gate that opens separately, and we see the screen. A piece of paper enters the screen that reads, Presenting BOSKO at the Console of the mighty FURTILIZER Organ. The centre light approaches, and then Bosko rises at the stage through a door that lifts up to the floor where everybody can see him, he shouts to his audiences, "Howdy folks!".

He then chants to his audience "Let's sing", so Bosko begins by playing on his organ to the song Were in the Money and as he is singing (it doesn't sound like Murray to me, but I think it was someone else). He sings his verse of that song, and then he encourages his audience to have their turn. The audience then sing the song, and the lyrics are even printed onto the screen, and even shows the words being highlighted for every word they sang in timing. I do wonder if there had been some enthusiastic people singing to the song when it first aired? Bosko even finishes with him pulling firmly onto some chains, and even a type of "chain" that has the sound of a toilet flushing.

Bosko then releases the curtain in which the screen is now showing a newsreel. The newsreel is called Out-of-Tone News with the motto at the bottom Sees all - hears all - smells all. We see the logo with a person flying on his plane around the planet Earth. One of the main news in this newsreel is in Geneva, Switzerland - and it's about "World figures gather at peace conference", and it turns out that in this conference they are having some physical conflict in there from the country leaders, which is meant to be part of the joke.

Another newsreel takes place in Malibu, California with the headline "Sunkist Bathing Beauties enjoy California sunshine". The gag is that the reel shows a snowy beach in California, and there is a lanky woman dressed in a bathing suit, and she runs away from a huge tide that comes along, and it almost swamps up the entire beach, but the tides then come back, she returns to dip her foot inside a puddle before almost being run over by a wave.

Another newsreel shows the headline that says, Jack Dumpsey is training for his come-back at boxing, and as you can see - he is a retired boxer, who looks very frail and crooked. While he is training, he already is holding onto a walking stick, and there is an audience of animals all cheering on him.

Another reel takes place in Epsom Salts, England - where there is a dog "race classic". Epsom Salts? The joke is that they are using the town Epsom, as a spoof for "Epsom salts" which is actually "magnesium sulfate". But, Epsom do races there - especially famous for horse racing. We see the shot of all the other dogs running on the track, and behind the dogs is a dog (that looks like Bruno) that is sniffing. The Bruno-like dog then runs off from what he sees behind - the Marx Brothers are running on the track with their nets and they are dog catchers.

The next newsreel shows a "famous screen lover" on vacation in Germany. The "famous screen lover" term is of course, a famous movie star. It turns out that it is Jimmy Durante who is being chased by Adolf Hitler and Hitler is chasing him with a meat cleaver, and Durante is running away shouting "Am I mortified?" Of course, this would've been a very funny joke at the time - and I understand the gag. This short was released in August 1933, and back on January 30, (about seven months earlier) Hitler had been elected as Chancellor of Germany - and of course from the beginning, a lot of people knew about his hatred on the Jews. So, Hitler is assuming that Durante is Jewish (because of the big nose) and starts to chase him, when actually Durante was a Roman Catholic. Of course, this would be extremely politically incorrect today - but it's not making Harman-Ising or even Freleng anti-Semetic at all! The newsreel ends, with a shot (meant to be live-action) of a camera man rolling the film with a meat grinder and holding onto a sausage. The ending motto reads, "It squeaks for itself". Overall, the "Out-of-Tone" news was a spoof of Fox's Movietone News that also used the actual slogans, while the slogans were spoofed in this cartoon.

After the audience clap, Bosko announces, "This is only the beginning folks, only the beginning" and that was a Ted Lewis quote. Bosko then waves his hand, to show the next film to be shown, and good news is that it's a Laurel and Hardy short called "Spite of Everything". The short begins as we see Laurel and Hardy skipping through minding their own business, and they see somebody's back window with a fresh baked pie lying on the windowsill. Laurel points if he should, and Hardy nods. Laurel then grabs the pie, but Hardy snatches the pie off Laurel. They both start snatching it off each other, as an argument. Laurel then grabs the pie and drops it on top of Hardy's head, as he is now covered with pie. Laurel acts all innocent, and then Hardy gets his comeback by hitting him on the head with a pot, with the short ending with Laurel whining.

The audience all clap at the Laurel and Hardy short film, with Bosko's claim, "Is everybody happy?" another Ted Lewis quote. Bosko then starts to roll the film, as we now reach a feature film, that is brought to you by TNT pictures. The spoof shows the distributor (TNT) is an obvious reference to the MGM company, even with the trademark that shows the lion, who was the mascot for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer company. The TNT lion then tries to roar at the audience, but covers' its mouth before even trying - which I find a good way to spoof a classic MGM trademark. The name of the feature is called, He Done Her Dirt (and How!), and we see a shot of Honey (who is the lead actress) riding on her bike, with the Marx Brothers behind her singing the song Daisy Bell. Bosko who is playing the sweet, says "Ain't she sweet?"

Then, we see a title card that comes up reading "Dirty Dalton (The Cur!)", and we see a shot of Dirty Dalton who is creeping up on Honey. Bosko turns to the audience, and here it is folks: he says the lines that we all know, "The dirty fuck!". Of course, in my copy from the Golden Collection, Volume 6 the line was cleaned up and it sounded like Bosko says "That dirty fox!", and originally (or in the uncut version) Bosko definitely says "The dirty fuck!" Wow, this is something that cartoons would never dare use, and this is definitely Pre-Code. Some say, that Harman-Ising deliberately used that line as a farewell to Leon Schlesinger, and his associates at Warner Bros. as they had a budget dispute. But seriously, they really thought they were going to get away with that??

Dirty Dalton who is on his bicycle (that creeps secretly and sneakily) and Dalton sings the verse, "and you'll be sweet, upon the seat...", and then hides behind a very narrow tree. As Honey is cycling along, she is captured by Dirty Dalton behind the tree. She then cries for help, but Dirty Dalton ends up with Honey and jumps on one of the boxcars. It leaves Honey in double trouble, as Dalton is trying to grab her, and the boxcar is riding out of nowhere (oddly enough, for no reason). She shouts if there is a boy scout in the audience, but Bosko then shouts out "I'll save you!" Seriously Bosko, this is only a film! Bosko runs to the stage, where he sees Dirty Dalton, and he shouts "Stop! You cur!", and he jumps onto the screen through Dalton's face. Bosko pops out of the screen, and both him and Honey smile with glee - and that's all folks. It's all folks, for Bosko.

Well, folks - this is the end for Bosko; and that's all for the Harman-Ising cartoons. This cartoon (I felt) was a good way to end the era, as we saw some entertaining reels from Bosko, and it was a nice change that we didn't get to see Bosko very much, as he probably would've bored us with his singing and dancing. This cartoon deserves to be a triumphant in it's way, but I thought it was quite controversial - including the "dirty fuck" part, and also the Hitler chasing Jimmy Durante part.

I've got to say, that since I've not reviewed all of the entire Harman-Ising cartoons - I've certainly learned a lot from them, and even analyzed on what I've seen. The 1930 Bosko cartoons meant nothing, and it was just only "singing and dancing", but by 1931, there were some story that was reaching for the Bosko cartoons (but all of the singing and dancing routines still had to be shown). The singing-and-dancing routines were toned down in Bosko cartoons, when the Merrie Melodies series was launched, and they were going to do the singing-and-dancing shorts anyway, and it would've given Harman-Ising a more creative mind with just doing the one-shots.

The Bosko cartoons in 1932 (in my opinion) were at a very good streak (as well as some Merrie Melodies cartoons), and even some 1933s were doing well. Although, I think that most of their productions were just the same for me. I reviewed them all, and always gave them the same views on them, which was "mediocre at best", since their synopsis were mostly the same. I also learnt that in 1931, that they started to re-use some gags in there from their earlier productions in the 1930-1931 season. By, 1932 it was clear that just about almost every single cartoon they created featured re-used animation (with only some not reused). But I learnt that it wasn't their fault because they were subcontractors, and they couldn't go over-budget, and they were forced to reuse materials in order to keep the budgets low. 

I noticed a lot of better character development in Bosko by mid-1931, and he certainly improved onto 1932, and 1933, before that in 1930 - he was just nothing but a singer. The animation quality had certainly changed, as I noticed in 1933, that the production budgets seemed to go higher, with higher quality animation. I guess that Harman-Ising wanted their cartoons to go into colour, and was the result of why they left, because they were sick of those musicals they were creating. They had to use a lot of falsetto singing in which I found extremely annoying (especially in 1932) but I didn't hear much falsetto in 1933 - from the Merrie Melodies. I personally found that Harman-Ising did copy some of their work. If you don't believe me, then look at Congo Jazz - the shot of Bosko's body completely loose is just similar to what was seen in Steamboat Willie. The skeeleton dance in Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land is just like Disney's The Skeleton Dance, as well as Bosko's falsetto voice is a comparison to Mickey Mouse's voice. Basically, the cartoons were just like the early Disney cartoons (from 1928-1932), until they improved a lot, but nothing much ever changed in the Harman-Ising productions.

Well, as it is now - a farewell to Bosko, but I know that we are coming onto a new start - Buddy, and Leon Schlesinger Productions, so: bye-bye Bosko.

Bring on - Buddy.


  1. Is Bosko gone because he said the "f*ck"?

  2. No, Bosko made his last appearance here because Harman-Ising (the creators) had an argument with Leon Schlesinger (the producer) over the budgets, and then both Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising left the Studio and took the character with him, and their other characters (as well as the staff). Bosko stayed on the screen for a few years later at MGM, until he was finally wiped off.

  3. This is one of my favorite Bosko cartoons ever. By any chance, will you also review the MGM Bosko cartoons?

  4. Actually, Bosko said That dirty fuck in the Golden Collection. The subtitles say "That dirty fox". The Golden Collection has the uncut version. On Nickelodeon, Bosko said, "That dirty cur"

  5. Where can I find the full version of this short that includes the Hitler scene? The only copy I've find has cut it out

    1. You can find the full version on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, volume 6, disc 3. It has Hitler chasing Durante, and definitely sounds like "You dirty fuck!"

  6. Of course Friz Freleng wasn't anti-Semitic-- he was Jewish. I can't speak for Harman and Ising, though....