Sunday, 18 December 2011

72. Buddy the Gob (1934)

Title card courtesy of Dave Mackey.
Warner cartoon no. 71.
Release date: January 13, 1934.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Isadore "Friz" Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Jack Carr (Buddy) and Bernice Hansen (Chinese girl).
Animation: Jack King and Ben Clopton.
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.

This was Friz Freleng's first directorial credit (and first time he solely directed) - but a very slow start to Friz before he became a very great director who found his style of directing much, much later on. Also, the first review of the 1934 year. I should point out that throughout this review, that the only copy on the Internet has a timer on it, and at times the screen looks extremely fuzzy - unfortunately. So, this will have to do. Even the title card looks bad, that I have to borrow it.

Our carton begins with an army of battleships sailing the seas, they are sailing through very choppy waves, there are these whistles that are making whistling sounds as well as cannons. Meanwhile, inside the ship is Buddy who is actually an American sailor in this navy ship (gob is a slang for a sailor), and he is inside doing some laundry by scrubbing a pair of long underwear. The long underwear then rinses itself off like a dog shaking after jumping onto a lake/river/beach/bath, etc. Buddy then hands the underwear a towel and dries off with a towel. Okay, if it's like a dog, then why need to dry with a towel - dogs can't do that.

Buddy looks out of his window and he sees a view of China, and he shouts "Oh boy, China!", and he runs out onto deck, then jumps down on to a lifeboat to sail to the shores of China. Boy that lifeboat sure is rubbery - unless this a "collapsible" lifeboat (not the long that does collapse). We take a look at what appears to be Chinatown in China (don't know why I had to say that). But the Chinese town looks very busy from what we see. There is this Chinese woman carrying a water carrying stick in which they hold of quartet of babies (two on one side, and two the other).

Buddy then stands around the corner of the street where he sees a poster, but there is also a man who is reading a Chinese poster and ends up stretching to read the writing which is done in bottom corners. Okay, I know that is a joke about Chinese writing - but for someone to watch that today would think that's racist, but who would ever have thought of that back in the time?

Buddy is then reading the poster and he is stumped because he cannot understand the writing at all, but SOMEHOW THE WRITING IS TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH? What?! EXPLAIN, how will something like that work - I mean how does a poster with foreign writing just translate in English? How did this just, is this some type of digital poster that can translate English or something. I mean even Buddy can understand it when it's translated (unless he thought of it), but c'mon that part doesn't even make sense! Anyhow, the poster says it's a celebration of a 150th anniversary of a dragon and one of the Chinese girls is going to be sacrificed by the dragon, we even get a close up that reads A Beautiful Girl Will be Sacrificed to the Dragon which I guess is one of Freleng's efforts with those camera shots, but it feels as though he's presenting it to us that the audience are stupid and wants us to get the picture - I ain't saying it's true, but it feels that way.

Buddy then goes to the show and he tries to jump up through a big crowd but he can't see the parade in the streets. Buddy looks at a different direction for a different idea, as he sees these Chinese people lined up from height, and he stands on them like going up the stairs, and then jumps into the front row of the crowd. We then see the band leader who is leading the parade of the dragon, and he shakes his belly moving upwards and downwards. Another part we see is these group of mice standing on a snare drum with two Chinese guys standing on it.

We then see more paraders coming by and even those who are band members who play some tunes on the piano. We see a drum player who is playing cymbals on little children's Conical Chinese hats and the inside of their hats played like a different type of percussion, okay - now that joke is just politically incorrect, even though it was just meant to be a gag. Then we see a parade of those wearing these type of masks, and it appears to be one of them wearing a Jimmy Durante. Okay, this Jimmy Durante gags are never going to end - those gags have been used for YEARS, I tell you.

We then see the beautiful Chinese girl who is inside a cage but is bursting into tears, as she doesn't want to be sacrificed. She cries for someone in the crowd to save her, and Buddy is very willing to do so - as he is a very emotional person to a female. Huh, I looks like Jack King did that scene of Buddy saying "I'll save you!" as he was known for his hat takes. As for the entire sequence, in this copy that I watched; this sequence was very blurry and fuzzy that it blocked much of what was on the screen, but I did my best to see what was on the screen.

The cage is then taken inside a palace, and Buddy runs up the stairs to try and save the girl, but he's too late to make it through since the doors close too soon. Buddy then bangs on the doors loudly that causes one of the guards to toss him away with a spear. Buddy is attached to a spear that hits a wall, but his pants is torn off the spear, and then he hears screaming from the girl coming up from the upstairs window. Buddy tries to come up with a neat plan, by pole vaulting with a spear but fails to do so, which wobbles and he hits a gate.

Buddy then takes off an entrance gate, and he uses the spears as a bow and arrow, in which the spears turn into steps where he will be able to go up the stairs - okay, good thinking crew. You've come up with a good plan on how Buddy would go up there, no matter how cartoony the gag might be.

Meanwhile in prison, the girl is tied up in a chain, and a guard locks up the chain on her foot with a padlock, and swallows the key, and closes the door. She is very scared when in that cell opposite her, is the fire breathing dragon where she will be sacrificed. Buddy enters the scene, but he realizes that she is locked up in a chain. Buddy has an idea, in which he locks on the cellar door, and carries a barrel in which the man walks in and Buddy traps him inside the barrel. Buddy then kicks the man in the buttocks in which the key comes out (Of course, Buddy saw him swallow the key from the window - does it show enough coherence?).

Buddy then unlocks the padlock and the Chinese girl is now set free. They are both glad, but they are both in danger (even Buddy) as the cage of the dragon has been set free. Both of them jump from the window sill, with the girl jumping to the cart safely, and Buddy is about to jump, but instead a fire-breathing dragon fires at Buddy's ass.

Buddy and the Chinese girl then escape in a cart with a Chinese slave riding them (just wondering, but did they really had Chinese guys riding cartwheels?) Anyway, due to them leaving, this annoys much of the public who want to see the girl sacrificed, and they up chasing after them. As the man riding the cart is running away fastly, he ends up bumping into rocks in which the cart ends up in different positions, which the gag doesn't work, as though the character riding it lacks so much weight itself. In this part, there are these very blurry shots that come back again.

The Chinese guy continues to run fast, until he finally bumps into another rock and trips. He then moves in a position like a horse, and he is stereotyped like a horse, and oh my - that is just wrong, racist joke - but was that meant to be the intention - no.

Buddy and the Chinese girl then get off the guy, and they cross a bridge, but Buddy uses a knife to cut off the first half with the planks falling off one at a time, and NO - it doesn't work that way. Why did Buddy do that, I mean he should've crossed the bridge fully, and then cut off the other edge - use your thoughts writers! The locals are then very angry that they have won this battle, but an angered man then throws a spear. Buddy and the Chinese girl both laugh but duck behind the spear. But the spear then realizes that the spear went the wrong direction and stabs Buddy in the butt. Okay, now this time Friz Freleng is using impossible ways to make Buddy hurt - inanimate gags ruined it. So, Buddy screamed as he was stabbed in the buttocks, falls down and that's all folks.

From what I've heard, that cartoon did in fact get people pissed off from several religious institutions, but I think that this cartoon was mostly politically incorrect at times, and the Chinese stereotypes weren't funny, but weak. This cartoon just did the impossible things that just don't work - it's not natural and creepy, such as that poster that translated in English, I mean - who would ever DO THAT? The Chinese girl is cutely designed, I must say - but the other characters are just bland as they would appear in this era.

Of course, you shouldn't forget that this cartoon was Friz Freleng's first cartoon where he was the director (on his own). Yes, his first cartoon (Buddy the Gob) wasn't even a good start to Freleng's career and pratically his first few years as a director weren't even good at all, and he didn't even turn in any worth watching cartoons AT ALL. But we all should know that everyone in the business had to start somewhere, Friz had to start off with just working on one-shot Merrie Melodies which proved to be failures, but he contributed to the creation of Porky Pig in I Haven't Got a Hat. Also, I think that when he returned to Warner Bros. from MGM in 1939, he was a better director by then, and continued to be for many, many years. So, we will be watching Freleng's start, and we will be getting higher and higher up those stairs - gradually.


  1. I think the original "inspiration", if you want to call it that, was the song that plays through the entire cartoon, "Shanghai Lil", a song that appeared as a lavish production number in the film, "FOOTLIGHT PARADE". Yes, there are politically incorrect images of Asians throughout the cartoon, but it should have been included as part of "FOOTLIGHT PARADE" merely because the song appears in that film, and the cartoon is a capsule of the times in which it was created. If seen out of context, the cartoon could offend that much sharper, but it is a sign of its times.

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