Saturday, 10 December 2011

68. I've Got to Sing a Torch Song (1933)

Warner cartoon no. 67.
Release date: September 30, 1933.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Director: Tom Palmer.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown.
Animation: Jack King.
Musical Score: Bernard Brown and Norman Spencer.

Well, today's cartoon is the 2nd and final cartoon to be directed by Tom Palmer (thank god!), and I think this is even worse than Buddy's Day Out. But, let's run it through:

Our cartoon begins, with a variety of hands tuning in to multiple parts of radios, and on what channels they want to listen to. The hands are very cartoony-looking hands - but works (Tom Palmer seemed to use the style of not making his animation realistic). We begin with a radio inside a family household where there is a family listening to a fitness program on the radio, and they are exercising, my moving their arms up and down touching the ground. The little girl looks topless when she is exercising - was that an animation error, or one of them sexual innuendos.

The man on the radio keeps on repeating "One, two. Breathe deeply" over and over again, and never moves on to what the next exercise scheme would be - what kind of exercise program is this - done by amateurs? Well, the cartoon was created by amateurs. A man in a different house is listening to the same program, and is working out, and we see him and it looks like he is pulling with a gym machine forward and backward, the camera reveals to us, a fat lady wearing a girdle that the man is pulling. Another man working out shows him rocking cradles on each hand with twins - the cradle on his left reads "Topsy and Eva", and the other on the right reads "Mike and Ike". Mike and Ike? Did this cartoon inspire the names to be made into popular candy?

More shots of random people listening to the same program is being shown such as an-entrepreneur pulling some type of tickets out of a booth, Mussolini on a rocking horse machine (the legs look dead). The last shot shows a frail old man that looks like George Bernard Shaw who is doing some boxing by using a globe to practice, but it turns out that the globe wins by hitting him on the head, and is knocked out. At first, I thought the joke was meant to relate Charles Atlas into it, but since a globe isn't an atlas, then I assume it isn't - if it is - then it would be a bad joke.

After a view of the households listening to the same radio programs, we see a broadcast station with it's satellite floating. We see a shot of a man sleeping with the label on his desk "Early Bird Hour", and there is a radio beside him with a gramophone repeating over and over, "One, two - breathe deeply."

We then see a kooky Ed Wynn impression who rides on a horse stick and blowing whistles announces to his audience, "When you hear the gong it will be 8 o'clock, whether you like it or not." Then we get a shot of a clock shop that shows the time is exactly 8 o'clock, with the clocks forming faces saying "You're telling us!". The voice of Ed Wynn performed here is a very bad impression, and as I British guy like me - I am not amused!

The next part we see is of a private room that belongs to Bing Crosby - and for some reason he's called Cros Binsby, and I think that it's just a pathetic spoof name, and not even funny - what's the punchline? Anyway, Bing (or Cros) is singing inside a bathtub and is completely covered in foam - very strange to me. We then see a shot of these ladies who appear to be in a university dormitory (I could tell from the "Hale" sign in the background which is spoofed as "Yale"). Some of the girls in there are only dressed wearing bras and skirts which I find unsettling in a cartoon - even though this counts as Pre-Code, but I still have no idea what was on Tom Palmer's mind.

 We see the next shot of an old lady (that looks as lanky as Olive Oyl) and is sitting her radio (probably pretending that she is embracing to Bing Crosby). Bing Crosby in the bathtub then turns on one of the shower taps, in which the shower spout washes off the foam and we reveal Bing Crosby. I really dislike the movement of the animation here, he doesn't move his arms very well at all, and his arms move as though his arms are disjointed or something - looks like those animators need help from Don Graham ;-). The next shot that's seen shows a report coming from (this that meant to be Clark Gable?) who reads "See your dentist twice a day. Brush your teeth twice a year!", and his false teeth drops out - well Gable did in fact have false teeth, but I don't think that would be well-known back in it's time.

The next shot to be shown is these pair of feet that are dancing, but it's revealed to be James Cagney and Joan Blondell with shoes on their hands and they are performing some act. Of course, both of them used to be pair in a lot of films back in that era. He whacks Joan in the face, "I don't like you, baby. Trade them up, that's me," and Joan gets up and whacks James in the slipper - well, no "ding" sound effect there. James Cagney then gets back up and holds up a gun asking "Who did that?" We hear gunfire coming out from Ed Wynn in his radio show still saying it's 8 o'clock.

The next part, shows Ben Bernie (who we've heard before with his impressions used in Harman-Ising cartoons), and he says; "This is the old maestro and all the lads, Yowsa!", and we see Bernie (who was known as the Old Maestro), who is conducting music and we hear music - but only coming out of a record player. The facial expressions of Bernie is very bad, and the animation is not at all top-notch. We see these images of the Earth orbiting, with different smaller Earths orbiting, too (is this meant to be a reference or something) besides, the orbiting animation isn't very realistic. I believe we see the orbiting animation because we're taking a look at different parts of the country listening to radio, but it's all confusing - it feels like that Tom Palmer got his parts of the story all mixed up in the wrong place, there is practically no coherence of the story at all. We then see the next shot of Shanghai, China in which there is a cart labelled "Shanghai Police" with a slave carrying the cart. The police are listening to some Chinese programs on the radio. Then, we see a shot in Africa, where there is an African tribe listening to a cookery program on how to cook humans? It turns out that the people in the boiling pot are Bert Wheeler and Robert Woosley.

We then view to the Arctic, where we see an Eskimo sitting on a block of ice floating in the arctic sea, and is ice-fishing. He is listening to some jazz music with a radio with him, and signal on the block so he can hear. The Eskimo then catches something with his rod, and it turns out to be a whale. Oh my god, that is a horribly drawn whale there, who the hell designed this - nursery children? The whale then eats the entire ice-block with the Eskimo fleeing by diving into the icy water, with that damn whale dancing, YIKES! My goodness, this makes me cringe when I see that damn whale, I hate the drawing of it, and the animation - couldn't they even draw in that place? I mean, COME ON, I've seen better whales drawn in Disney's Pinocchio and if you compare it - it's a completely high standard to a crappy-ass whale in THIS short.

The next shot we see appears to be in some Arabian region, where there is a Sultan smoking from his hookah, and is un-entertained by a belly dancer, and snake charm music being played in the background. Oh my god, this is even worse animation, and I'm talking about the belly dancer. Look at her arms, they look AWFUL, very disjointed, and rubbery! They might as well have rotoscoped it if they couldn't animate it properly. The dancer even looks very ugly, and what are hell is she wearing that's placed on her breast with no straps? Ugh. The sultan exclaims with a "Bah!" as he was not even entertained, and instead turns onto the radio to listen to Amos n' Andy which he is entertained by. Somehow, that part seems similar enough in The Queen Was in the Parlor.

We see that orbiting animation again of the Earths, and we appear to be back Stateside, of Ben Bernie who opens up a violin case, and inside the case is a bunch of food and also a bottle of champagne. He exclaims, "Good ol' Alma Malta". As he is about to pour is, it turns out that there is hardly any in there, except one drop. Meanwhile, Ed Wynn enters the scene holding onto a mallet, and declares "When you hear the sound of the gong, it will be 8 o'clock", and uses the hammer to hit the strength tester, in which he hits the gong. Okay, I know that Ed Wynn is meant to be a very crazy comedian, but I didn't think in this short he was meant to be a spastic shouting "8 o'clock" all the time.

We see a view of a piano and I think it's meant to be the Boswell Sisters who are singing the title song, I've Got to Sing a Torch Song. The next shot shows a burglar inside a bank, with a torch flame, and opening a bank vault, he sings the verse; "I've got to sing a torch song : I've gotta have the dough : When I crack the box I'll grab the jack : and then I'll blow" which means he'll steal the money and leave. Inside the vault shows a police officer who was hiding in there who is pointing the gun and shouts "Don't swing and run I got you, son. I'm putting you away!" The next shows the burglar behind bars, and declares "crime will never pay". I personally thought that this worked well, and I have to admit this is the ONLY part of the short which I actually "don't mind" - I repeat, "don't mind". We see the next shot of these miners underground working on a jigsaw puzzle, and as one of the miners gets a puzzle piece correct, they both shake hands.

Alas, with the three screengrabs of the three celebrities above (Greta Garbo, Zasu Pitts and Mae West) - this is probably the WORST of the WORST of this short. I can't bear looking at it, and when I see it; it makes my "nipples tingle with fear!" Goodness, when I look at that Greta Garbo singing the title song, all I want to do is scream. The animation is so bad, the drawing, the draftsmanship is just very poor. I really dislike the voice for Greta, and her arms are very poorly drawn. The next shot shows Zasu Pitts singing a verse, but her hands are moving very weirdly, and not in control of themselves. We then see Mae West singing a verse, and she sounds like some dumb blonde, and the voice is very bad. The animation doesn't seem too terrible on her, but her boobs are animated in a very wonky way, in which I find very unappealing (and no, I don't think it's even distracting - since that's probably what the animator had in mind).

However, the animation of Greta Garbo is probably the worst part, and it's really hard to imagine that these Disney guys like Jack King and Tom Palmer would really turn out such horrible works, and as though that they didn't have any good guys working on their productions. Greta Garbo looks very ugly, and what was the animators thinking overall in this cartoon? It looks like as though the animators were practicing blind drawing or something (or even blind animating). The voices of Greta is very pathetic and the celebrities. I mean, I don't see how ANYBODY could find THIS entertaining, it's not - it's really not - it's just torture and agony. Maw West even says a line in the song "Why don't you come up sometime?" which is one of her impressions. We see the next shot of a random shot of the Statue of Liberty and does a Jimmy Durante impression "Ha-cha-cha-cha-cha, etc.". We then see the next shot of Greta Garbo, Zasu Pitts and Mae West together playing different instruments each, and I find this extremely weird, and when I saw this I was like "What the hell?" it even looks freaky.

Ed Wynn turns up once again, this time with a cannonball and acting rather ignorant than wacky. He shouts "Last call for 8 o'clock", and this time pulls the cannon, but it explodes which causes Ed Wynn flying out of nowhere, and crashes into another house. We crashes into another house and lands on a bed, in which there is a female version of Ed Wynn, with children Ed Wynn like. They all howl at Ed Wynn, in which he ends the cartoon chuckling - and that's all folks (wait, not quite)...

The cartoon officially ends with the Merrie Melodies card showing, and Greta Garbo is standing at the right centre shouting "That's all, folks!" OH MY GOODNESS, this is even worse than the animation of her singing. She barely looks human, the arms are very poorly drawn, there is hardly any lip-sync in the dialogue. Plus, her voice sounds horrible - it sounds like some middle-aged woman trying to do a horrible impression of Garbo. Okay, the animator of that was either some 5-year old, someone with drawing difficulties, or somebody animating blindfolded.

My output of this cartoon? Terrible. Abysmal. Garbage. Pure crap. Horrendous. The list goes on. The animation was extremely best, and almost at the lowest standards it can be - about 90% of that animation was just awful to look at. The story was not even coherent at all, and it seems that Tom Palmer just added random parts of the radio sequences into it in story conferences. I get the idea that this is about folks around the world tuning into the radio - but, this is just a bad story, it's some story that some kid in school would've came up in the last minute. The celebrity impressions were also the bad part (almost the worst part), the impressions were pathetic, weak and not even funny. I know that the Greta Garbo in the "That's All Folks" part was meant to be a joke, because she wants to be alone - but believe me, when you look at that horrible animation, you won't be laughing. 

You think that this cartoon had low quality animation and horrible voice acting because of the Great Depression? Don't give me that, even Warner Bros. wouldn't ACCEPT this cartoon (inc. 'Buddy's Day Out') and was ordered to be reworked by Friz Freleng, and the result of Tom Palmer being fired by Leon Schlesinger, which saved his ass from the studio closing. Watching this cartoon was pure torture, and I hope that this could be burned, and such a shame this is part of cartoon history! Well, I'm glad this is the final cartoon to be directed by Tom Palmer (thank you ever so much Leon for firing him), and at least hopefully - the cartoons will be a little bit better than Tom's. Excellent news that Tom Palmer is now gone, and those pain in the ass cartoons he's made. Now that the review is finished, I need some time to relax and calm down after reviewing such hard work.


  1. OMG, what a terrible cartoon!We need to present this as a horror cartoon for all next generations, it was as a bas as possible! Damn you, Tom Palmer!

    I notice the scene with frail old man. This man was George Bernard Shaw, but it was also can be the inside joke("to Shaw"), related to Mel Shaw, one of artists who gone with H-I.

    P.S. And don't forget to use mosaic in your next review!

  2. Sure, I'll post the mosaic (but seperate post).

    Yes, since I wrote this review - I hope people will be aware that this cartoon is certainly bad.

  3. If you all say this was terrible, how come this appeared on the sixth Golden Collection DVD set anyway?

  4. Has a certain quality to it. Not worth the harangue it received from this kid