Saturday, 7 January 2012

85. Buddy's Circus (1934)

Warner cartoon no. 84.
Release date: August 25, 1934.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Jack King.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast: Jack Carr (Buddy).
Animation: Bob McKimson and Ben Clopton.
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.

Our cartoon begins with Buddy and a couple of animals up in a hot-air balloon with the banner reading Buddy's Circus in big letters. The animation of the hot-air balloon looks very inflatable. Buddy brings out a telescope. He looks through a sign in a close-up position that reads Buddy's Circus Will Arrive at 2.00 PM. Buddy then takes a look at his watch and watches that the time is seconds from 2.00. As it is 2.00; Buddy pulls out some pegs from the hot-air balloon and throws them to the ground where they're bundled up neatly - it's rather too late to be making a tent right now - there'd be audiences walking by saying "Where's the circus tents?!". There is then an octopus that slides down and clamps the pegs down with a hammer doing the job of a roustabout.

The hot-air balloon lands at the top of the pegs and then it immediately forms into a circus tent. There are some folks setting up some props outside and then one of the circus barkers calls them into the circus where crowds of folks dash inside. I must say that Jack King really does have some imagination for his cartoons - and Chuck Jones said that he had no imagination; although I guess that he received support for the cartoons he directed.

The circus show has already begun and Buddy is already in his ringmaster outfit performing a show. He appears to be performing some type of "instruments" by playing around with elephants. He uses xylophone sticks to play the xylophone by using elephant tusks. You can see the sign for yourself that says Professor Buddy and His Musical Elephants. The next part he does in his "20 tons of tunes" is that he pulls the elephant's tails in which their trunks play some type of musical woodwind sounds coming out - and the tune there is pretty good, and the gags are entertaining itself.

Buddy steps right up on stage and announces to his audience: "Hi, Hi howdy folks. Step right this way. First, the Ubangi boys are going to dance this way." Buddy brings the show over to the Ubangi twins that belong in the "Darkest Africa" and one of them does a type of dance, while the other twin plays the drums on his head and the xylophone around his type of skirt - ending the performance with a tap on the twin's teeth from the drumstick. The next act that Buddy introduces is: Oscar the Ubangi phone "He Plays a Mouthful". Oscar then opens up his huge mouth in which he places a record in his mouth and uses his tongue as a gramophone. Is it me or is it that this act meant to be a "black-stereotyping show"?

Buddy presents another act in which it the performer's name is Elastiko - the India-Rubber Man. He moves very rubbery and moves really well. The timing is done extremely well - and it's a safe guess maybe Bob McKimson had some involvement in the  timing of that scene. The designs of the "India-Rubber Man" doesn't even look very Indian to me at all - and instead looks more like a black stereotype - but I guess that the director wanted to keep things simple, and not too stereotypical or complex. This act was re-used from an earlier Harman-Ising short I Love a Parade. The next act to be shown is Asbesto - the Human Stove who cracks two eggs inside his mouth. He then walks to the X-Ray and we see inside there is a pan sizzling with two scrambled eggs being cooked. Mmm eggs. His heart is ticking slightly, and as he steps out of the X-Ray - he rumbles slightly and then burps. That's the end of the acts feating stereotypes.

Buddy then acts as a host who gets people to step into a act, and appears to be very popular to the crowd. The arena is getting crowded with people sitting with benches. Buddy is the bandleader of this arena - with a kangaroo standing behind him playing the trombone and a baby joey pops out of the patch playing the trumpet. There are tricks being played so far such as a clown lying down facing the ceiling of the tent smoking a cigar - and the smoke forms into rings that the lions jump over. At least that is a clever gag than just looking at the "usual" rings, and instead it's rings created from cigars.

Another act that is being performed shows an aerobic who has a gap between his teeth and he places a hook between it. There is a man standing behind the pole that pulls the rope upwards as the aerobic is being lifted. It must be very painful for that to happen and it seems to be "impossible" - or is it?! The man who is still being lifted is really tired out, and then his whole false teeth fall out of his mouth and he falls down. Yep, even an animated cartoon has proven that it is physically difficult.

Meanwhile, there is a baby who is sitting at the audience who appears to be eating a packet of Cracker Jacks (popular for the circuses back then). The baby accidentally drops the packet, and starts to climb down the whole seat stool. As the baby is down on the ground - it starts to look for the popcorn, which is lying down in the elephants section. The Cracker Jacks is then sucked up by an elephant's trunk just like a hoover sucking it by force. The elephant's trunk also sucks up the baby, in which the elephants bounces the baby for fun.

There is an act that is still going on where it involves aerobics - swinging around - with the crowds looking from left to right - one of them licks the person's ice cream as part of the gag; plus the cone itself and then his thumb. Okay, but the gag really had to go that far? It was only funny when he licked the ice-cream, we didn't have to see anymore. There is then a line of elephants walking into the arena where the baby is holding onto an elephant's ear. The elephants perform a dance sequence and the baby copies the same movements as the elephants do - rather cunning for a baby.

A trapeze swinger who is still performing some movements accidentally causes the rings to break and fall down, in which the child is sitting on a see-saw but as soon as the trapeze artists lands on it - the child catapults - and then lands onto the trapeze artist's legs. It starts to make the whole performance go worrying for the child and for the performers. As there's these folks balancing on a wire, they form a tower - but they get knocked out by one of the artists. One of the aerobic folks lands on a trombone, and gets reaction movements from the ticklish vibrations. The mother in the audience of the child then notices the child in the audience, and shouts "Junior", Mmm - no name, eh? How can we tell if this is a boy or a girl, or not?!

One of the aerobic performers then crashes onto a drum, in which to Buddy's surprise sees that the whole trapeze act is going awry. Buddy then climbs on top of the pole to try and stop the disaster going on, the mother follows him to rescue her child. Buddy grabs out a rope and grabs the baby tight, but then bounces from the hammock and then Buddy, the mother & her child are holding onto the trapeze artist (who is covered in dots since his costume was pulled down). Buddy and the mother then land on a bike by balancing on wire and all the gags are too complex to explain whilst they're trying to rescue the child.

Buddy, the mother and the baby then fly out of the tent - in which they cause to rip the roof of it. They slide down the giraffe's neck and as they slide down all the spots on the giraffe's neck falls off it's skin. Now that is a very funny gag, and it even works very well too. It reminds me of what Tex Avery probably would've done in his earlier cartoons. See, Jack King certainly is slowly improving the cartoons - by showing slightly better gags - but there's still blandness in the characters and animation, though. The mother still screams "Junior, junior - where are you?" still not revealing the name. Buddy goes around trying to look for her child, but the mother goes off weeping with tears thinking the baby is missing. Buddy tries to comfort the mother, and encourages her to blow her nose which makes a horn-honking sound - hah.

A hippo that lives in his cage then pops out and opens his mouth and there's where the baby child is found. The mother is therefore all happy and amazed to see her baby is still alive, and gladly receives it back. Buddy, the mother and the baby then hold each other's hands around in a circle - and they hop around happily - and that's all folks.

Good thing that this cartoon is fully restored and remastered (that's included in the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 6. which I have - I've got all 6 volumes) and I wish to see more Buddy cartoons to be restored - so that I don't have to review them in horrible TV quality, or VHS tapes that have blurs all over it or even an annoying, baby timer in the middle of it - I'm glad at least one 1934 cartoon here has been restored, and I've finally gotten to understand it well. This was Jack King's 2nd cartoon he was credited as a director, and again - he's done a pretty fine job here. 1934 seems to be slightly better since King has arrived, but no further changes come to Freleng, unfortunately - not for another few years. There were some good gags in here (the giraffe one in particular) characters and stories still rather bland, but this worked worked as a whole pretty well. The reuse sequence of the Indian rubber man didn't bother me too much which was from I Love a Parade as I almost forgotten that cartoon. I guess that Tex Avery wasn't the director who just improved the gags - since Jack King did contribute, but not at the level of Tex Avery, of course. 


  1. There's a strange error at the start. When Buddy grabs for the tent-pitching equipment beside him in the balloon basket, he repeatedly reaches right through the sea lion next to him, with the cutoff for Buddy's arms reflecting only the edge of the basket.
    I can only imagine there was some alternate cel sequence in which the seal moved aside, but the cameraman forgot to film it.
    Then again, no amount of errors can make this bland cartoon much worse than it is.

  2. You've made an error in the credits...

  3. David G (ramapith): Thanks for noticing the errors - and you're right that it doesn't really make a difference for a bland cartoon.

    Anonymous: Thanks for noticing that I accidentally wrote "Frank Marsales" for the Musical Score and not Norman Spencer. I make that mistake sometimes because when I reviewed nothing but Harman-Isings, Frank's name appeared up and I was so used to it - and it may not be too easy for me. I've fixed the error.

  4. Don't you use cartoons info from IMDB, Steven? Just curious...

  5. Sanek: for trying to find out the cast for the shorts - yes (even though it might not be reliable). But for the crew, I tend to stick to the credits, but maybe add uncredited animators that I would know who'd work on.