Tuesday, 27 December 2011

78. Those Were Wonderful Days (1934)

Hiya readers, I've kept this blog quiet for a few days as I was going to be celebrating Christmas, but since it's over for another year - I'll resume posting these reviews.

Warner cartoon no. 77.
Release date: April 28, 1934.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Bernard Brown.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown.
Animation: Paul Smith and Don Williams.
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.

The animation shows Paul Smith and Don Williams...Oh my god, no Jack King! Yes, after reviews that credits with Jack King and another animator, finally there is someone that isn't him!! Yes, thank you Leon Schlesinger for promoting him.

Our cartoon begins with these man in the bar and they're dressed in an old fashion why, as we see some nostalgia song being sung. This takes place at the end of the nineteenth century, before the 20th century came. They seem the title song Those Were Wonderful Days and they all spit on spittoons for the rhythm. It appears that this song was written for the animator's parents sentiments, because this cartoon was made during the Great Depression, and this cartoon would've been made for this purpose. We see a "Lillian Bussle" poster that sings with the title "Gazelle".

We then see some shots of a bartender who makes some rhythm with his cash register, and I wonder if Chuck Jones would've done that animation since his characters back then were rubbery and balloonie. More inanimate objects from a piano and mugs sing, and we see a portrait of "Kilrain and Sullivan" and they are Jake Kilrain and John Sullivan that are dancing. Both are professional boxers of their time (but earlier than 1898) and their fight took place in 1889, but before the days of boxing gloves.

Meanwhile he see this guy who's wearing a dandy costume enters the scene, and there is a table with the sign that reads "Free Lunch", and the villain then steals the whole table cloth of lunch layed on that table. Why not? It says it's free on the sign, and it's not as though that there is a complex gag to that - if it is, then (coughing) bad joke. What the guy does is that there is a fat lady outside who has a huge bonnet hat, where he eats his food there by walking. Why does he need to do that, why couldn't he just grab a chair inside there and eat it. Use your thoughts, director! We see another gag where it takes place in a barber shop and the barer sands his blade, and then cuts off the tiny piece of hair that's on the customer. I was told that Bob Clampett's trademark in animating he gave his characters bald heads, and I wonder if he animated that?

The next part we see is a group of policeman that are strolling around the street, and they are reading a poster. There is a weird and strange dance where they use their beating stick to hit their cop hats for some xylophone pattern -- alright?? The poster reads Gala Picnic and Celebration at the Fair Grounds - July 4th 1898. Ironically this takes place on Independence Day, but is this is what the celebration is all about? Please, animated short - you're making this confusing to me.

The next scene shows the event - July 4, 1898. Gee, was that really such an event that day? I'll have to check Wikipedia (browsing). Nope! There are a few men who are lining up for some "Free Beer" - okay, what's with all this "Free" stuff? I know it's Independence Day but is this the theme of this cartoon? One of the guys takes the gutter out of the barrel, and sucks almost all the beer left and turns obese.

We then see a type of diving contest on who does the best-skilled diving, it says so in the sign "Fancy Diving Contest" - okay, it says fancy; not feat. We see a man who starts to dive but he hits his head on the diving board and falls into the water. We see a lanky lady who dives off, but then floats to the pond very slowly and carefully. The other diver in this contest jumps off the board but with his clothes flying off, but as he dives down his clothes are then placed back on because of the air. Well, to tell you the truth the contestant's diving isn't even fancy looking or impressive.

We get to see some couples that are with each other on playground, with the girl on the swing while the guy just sits down snoring. Another couple to be found is when the couple are on the seesaw and they seem to be pretty happy with each other. But then, just then we see the evil villain who has a big nose creep sneakily on to look at the girl. As he tiptoes the tree follows him so he can hide behind it, what so legs can walk now? He lights a dynamite and throws it at the seesaw in which obviously causes an explosion so that the "guy" is flown off, but the girl flies to the villain's arms and steals her.

I hate having to feel like a weirdo putting this up but:

Anyway, the villain (who has the girl) escapes in a hot-air balloon in which he cuts off the rope so that the guy wouldn't try to stop him. The bloke then tries to get his back at him by jumping onto a cannon in which he lights it. The cannon explodes that causes the man to jump up to the hot air balloon. The villain climbs up to the very top of the balloon - Okay, why climb up? You're obviously risking your life, why couldn't he find a cannonball and place it on the cannon for the balloon to burst, and speaking of which - why am I talking about cannons - we've past that part! Notice how that the tough guy has weird lips, is it lipstick? A kiss mark from the girl? Is he meant to be a both? Gay? So many questions pop onto my face. I noticed in his hairy chest when the cannon is loaded that his hairy chest looks like a flowered shape - okay, did he go through puberty in a condition of a flowered shaped hairy chest?

Anyway they both try to fight each other off the balloon, but the man falls off first and somehow bounces back up the balloon after grabbing onto the tip of the flag pole and then back up. The nasty villain then cuts off the ropes of the hot air balloon in which he's trying to kill her by making her fall. Goddammit, can't he not make his mind up? My goodness what a complete douche - he grabbed the girl, and what next he just goes along and kills her - goodness me villains are SO indecisive and thoughtless.

The giant helium-aired balloon (well used to be) is then falling from the sky slowly with the tough handsome guy and the villain chasing each other with the balloon rolling. Gee, doesn't that balloon look like a hand grenade to you. The girl is still falling, but lands in a hoop where she falls slowly and slightly safely. The chasing is still going on in the balloon but the tough guy punches him off the balloon and is left dangling. The tough man gets out a match and strike it. He lights it at the top off the balloon - and oh my god he's forming it into a type of hand grenade - I knew it, the type of words I wrote and then evidently became true. The tough man steals the villain's cape and flies down safely where he greets with his love one. The balloon explodes.

They reach to the bottom of the ground, in which the villain lands on the strength tester. The tough guy grabs out a hammer to whack him on the head. Much to the shock of the woman, she grabs out ANOTHER sledgehammer and whacks the hero on the head, and instead goes for the villain. Did you see that? I mean I'm blaming the girl in this picture, she'd rather go for that mustached-lunatic rather than the hero who saved her life. I know this is meant to be a joke to spoof on the shorts sequences where the hero ALWAYS wins, but it just doesn't EVEN work at all here. Not at all. So anyway, the woman gives the villain a kiss, where they laugh together - and that's all folks.

I feel this cartoon was made as a purpose to describe the good old days which was the 19th century. Well, it wasn't so "good old days" if you lived in England since the poverty children had to clean chimneys and many were poor. Since this cartoon was made in the Great Depression, it feels a safe bet that this was the overall purpose of this cartoon made. But I haven't seem any character animation and design that was so bland, so boring - and the animators didn't even put any effort into this. There is no point of even analyzing this cartoon, it's so dull, so bad, so sloppy, it's just pure tedious. I think I could be dying from boredom, but I need a rest from that to recover from a pain in the ass cartoon! The ending part completely didn't make sense to me, and at least it's a change for the villain to win the hero of this picture, that's the only positive part I'll say. Bernard Brown was just no artist himself, and that's where he got this awful dull designs from. Watching this cartoon doesn't give me any sentiment about "the good old days" it's just like a day to the hospital.


  1. Bernard Brown was a sound editor by profession. I gather he was put in charge "supervising" because a director had left, but I don't really know for sure. In the late '70's or early '80's Toronto classic film and cartoon buff Reg Hartt arranged for Mr. Brown to come to Toronto from Los Angeles to speak about his work on films, and cartoons. I really regret that I didn't attend. I heard it was very interesting though. ...Greg D.

  2. Hi there Greg (Duffell), it's great to see you pop by at my my blog - and thanks for telling me this info on Bernard Brown. I believe he was sound effects man from the early Harman-Ising days and up until 1935/1936 before Treg Brown came.

    P.S. Hope you're having a Happy New Year!!

    1. I emailed Mike Barrier about this once and here's what he said...

      "I interviewed Brown in 1973, with Bob Clampett present, and later pursued this question with Clampett, who was a very young animator at the Schlesinger studio when those cartoons were made. Brown did not direct through drawings, as Chuck Jones did; rather, he "supervised" through his knowledge of music and film: "I had the mechanical end of it, too, knowing frames and tempos, and all of this, which worked in beautifully. I could do dialogue easily, because I could read it off the film." Clampett remembered Brown's handing out scenes to the animators with instructions on how the scenes should be handled."