Monday, 19 December 2011

73. Pettin' in the Park (1934)

Warner cartoon no. 72.
Release date: January 27, 1934.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Bernard Brown.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown.
Animation: Jack King and Bob Clampett.
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.

Bob Clampett's first screen credit at Warner Bros. where he's credited as an animator, but I imagine from at the time it was made (late 1933) that he must've only been 20 years old as an animator. A lot of people say that the supervision by Bernard Brown isn't him and that it was Frank Tashlin who directed it, but is there any evidence at all is Brown directed it or not, I mean in Hollywood Cartoons Mike Barrier writes that Brown directed two cartoons.

Our cartoon begins at a City Park, where it appears to be springtime, and also the birds are being "twitterpated" - Whoops! Too early to reference Bambi. There is a bird up in a tree who is trying to snuggle to a female bird, but shoves him away - blushing. He then picks out a flower from a tree and pulls the petals off the flower which means (she loves him!). They both kiss each other. There are these two woodpeckers, with one of then drilling holes on the tree with his beak that forms a love heart, which both woodpeckers kiss each other.

We then see these shots of thisp polcieman and a maid sitting in a bench at the park, where they appear to be ready for a romantic setting. The birds up in the tree are singing the title song, Pettin in the Park. The maid is too shy to snuggle up with the cop (Well, cops can be brutal - y'know). The cop even sings to her why is she too shy, and it seems to turn into some fued, with the baby even complaining that he's been waiting for a long time and "why don't they get started?" suggesting that to snuggle enough already. More singing comes from the birds up the tree, and some gargoyle in a water fountain that gargles. The maid blushes with these spastic colours that keep on flashing on her face.

We then see a penguin chasing after a flittering butterfly, and tries to snap at it, but trips instead. The penguin then sees the butterfly located on the maid's bottom, and nips it. She squeals in time, when I see her jump out of that bench = Jesus, what horrible timing - Frank Tashlin couldn't have done something as bad as that. The maid then slaps the policeman on the face and then over the bench. The maid walks away with her baby in his pram, the baby blows a raspberry at the cop by blowing bubbles into his milk bottle. Jokes on the policeman, as the maid thought he was sexually harrassing himself, or trying to get in trouble with the law - which was a misunderstanding.

The maid then takes her pram with her and, there is a young handsome man (wouldn't say handsome through cartoon design), but soophisticated if you would call it. He greets the maid, in which she has her attention on him. She steps into the car, and the man turns on the radio that sings Pettin' in the Park. From the time this was in production, radio in car was very brand new back then, and was rarely seen in cars, even though we get them a lot today easily. Both the new couple peck each other on the lips, which turns out to be love at first sight.

We get more singing coming from the birds that are in love such as owls, an ostrich in his cage dunking his hand under the sand and pops out. The police officer who is still confused stands up and walks in some protested attitude singing the song, with a bird folowing him. We walks to the car and about to ask the guy that he had the maid first, but got punched by the man and the car drove away. WHAT? The policeman let him get away with that - that's called assault there, you can't let them get away with the law?! Whatever, let's just get this through.

A bird then walks to the centre of the park, and playing its beak like a trumpet coronation sound - and we see these group of birds. Just one question, but where did all these birds come from? I know that hey have owls (why are owls awake at that time of day?), bluebirds, and -- an ostrich in a cage? But seriously, where did the penguins, pelicans, etc. come from - what are they in cages too? Why are they loose?? None of this is even sense to me!!

They are reading the poster that reads, ANNUAL WATER CARNIVAL DRIVING AND SWIMMING CONTEST - OPEN TO ALL CONTESTANTS. And what? Did it specifically mean birds too? There is then a kooky parrot up in a tree who appears to be the host of this tournament for all contestants - We get a few birds that are jumping off diving boards, either because they're warming up or something. One of the birds then lands on a rubbish bin, but actually - that's not a funny gag - WHERE DID THAT BIN COME FROM? They used different scenery immediately, what happened? Did the lake have a drout or something, and then came back? Explain, movie director, explain! I really am unsure but I have a feeling that Bob Clampett worked on that parrot, as it seems to be kooky.

The face begins with all the birds swimming, once the cannon has been launched, by a penguin who jumped from the very top of a flag pole. The race seems to be going well so far, as there is no cheating going on. Wait a minute, the first half of the short featured lovely dovely stuff, and now it's just a tournament. Aw man, I wanted to be the sentiment stuff. The ostrich of the race appears to be running from under water, since they have long necks. We see these chicken in the race that are kayaking, a goose with (for some reason) incredibly long legs riding on a bicycle.

Meanwhile, the parrot and the penguin decide that they want to join in the race but they're going to do that by cheating. Such as using a bathtub as a speedboat so that they can outfast the other swimmers. Their plan has worked, but even more than that - they've distracted the birds in the race, such as the chickens kayaking and they are caught in a log from looking. The goose with very long legs then tries to speed up in the races, but fails to do so and ends up almost drowning underwater, but instead - the bubbles come up and the goose is caught inside the bubble with shorter legs and is cycling.

The parrot and the penguin then use the pumper to pump faster away from an incoming pelican, who is gobbling up the fish that comes out from the water. The pelican then accidentally swallows a clock, in which his beak starts moving sideways. The ostrich seems to run at a slow speed (comparing that ostriches can run at roughly 60mph). Anyway, the ostrich is then caught at a draw that was tossed in the lake in the past. Therefore, it struggles to go any further. The bathtub then surpasses the fast swimming swans but they end up stuck in a very muddy area. The parrot steps out, with the penguin pumping the mud to the swans that blocks them from winning the race, in which a boot, birdhouse and girdle is on top of each swan's head seperately.

 The swans are then chasing after the penguin (I'm surprised that the park is so empty). The penguin then goes through a spinning (thing?) that I say the name of the item, but both the swans crows in, in which the wheel spins and they lose their hair and are completely naked. The penguin has won the race, then giggles to the audience - and that's all folks.

There is two seperate plots that goes through here, they're better off not being in one short. No wonder that an unexperienced artist like Bernard Brown directed that short. There were many parts in that short that compeltely didn't make sense to me, but especially those birds. To be honest, the contest scenes were screwed up, and I much preferred to see the love scenes at the beginning and to hold it throughout the short. But no, it didn't. BTW, have you noticed that ever since I've Got to Sing a Torch Song that animator Jack King has been credited on EVERY SHORT and still is?? How long will this last, and why was he credited on every short - was he like the top animator there or something?


  1. Bernie Brown wasn't an "unexperienced artist" or even an inexperienced artist. He was no artist. He was a sound man. There's no way he would know how do the basic things an animation director has to do. It may be that after the usual story conference/gag pitching session, he simply left things up to King, who was the head animator (see M. Barrier's book) and about to become a director, to handle.

  2. It's can be a nice short, but I don't like two seperate plots. I notice the nice water effects here.

  3. Yowp: Your theory appears to be correct, I wouldn't know why Leon Schlesinger or the board of screen credits would just credit any old person as director (even though they say Frank Tashlin worked on it), I guess it sounds right. I wonder if Jack King had some directing expierences before being fully-fledged since he animated on every short from "I've Got to Sing a Torch Song" up to "Buddy's Garage".

    Sanek: I suppose it's alright if the seperate plots were two seperate cartoons. I don't really care about the water effects.

  4. As I've said about other 1930's cartoons coming out of Warner Brothers during this period titled after popular songs, I think the spectacle with the birds and the song being sung amid different "necking" and petting situations is paying homage to the elaborate Busby Berkeley musicals of the period, some of which are mini-movies in themselves. Also, I find that some terrific 1930's cartoons at Warner Brothers and some of the lesser studios purposely had thin plots, preferring instead to just throw interesting gags in there. It all added to the surreal quality of these cartoons and, to my mind, made them better.