Friday, 13 January 2012

88. The Girl at the Ironing Board (1934)

Warner cartoon no. 87.
Release date: September 15, 1934.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown.
Animation: Frank Tipper and Sandy Walker.
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.

Considering that today is Friday the 13th - let's hope I won't go through any "horrors" of watching it.

Our cartoon begins starting at the Laundry store - oh; what a suitable place to start it - I'd imagine it would be tedious inside. There is already singing going on in the backgrounds singing the title song The Girl at the Ironing Board. Inside the laundry store are these ladies ironing some dresses; they then sweep the iron. Hang on a minute - from the animation I saw with my eyes - did they just touch that bit of iron - don't they know how dangerous and painful it is to touch it - or is it just poor animation. We then see these middle-aged ladies scrubbing long pieces of underwear with a washboard and tub will of soapy water. Another gag to be seen is a lady who is pulling out a long piece of underwear that is extremely fat - but she unbuttons the pants flap in which mountains of water fall out.

The next part we see is a long sheet that's covering the screen but parts of the layouts is seen and we think that we see a pair of feet (with socks on) that looks like they're actually dancing - but as the sheet is removed it turns out to be these ladies with their socks on their hands performing the technique. The gag appears to be influenced and reused from I've Got to Sing a Torch Song - what?! Friz Freleng was influenced with that crap?

We then see the next shot that appears to be in a factory that makes clothes. One of whom appears to be trimming a type of sheet that makes sleeves in the "Collar Sharpening Dept." The next part we see the "Button Breaking Dept." where we see this fat man who is hammering buttons off shirts - what's the purpose? Well I guess it's because it's called a button breaking department. As the clock strikes 5 o'clock - the raven in the NRA poster - hang on a minute? Is this the NRA or a clothes making factory or what?! The raven in the poster then blows a whistle as a signal that work is over. Some ladies in the laundry shop then use their time cards for when they're leaving and sets it to when they will go to work.

The next part we see is a title card that reads: AND THEN - (K)NIGHT FELL. We see a shot of a statue of a knight who falls off his statue and onto the ground. Hahah! Now that is a really funny gag - probably the funniest gag I've seen so far in any of those Harman-Ising cartoons. It even has the humor that Friz Freleng would add into his later and even more better cartoons. Oh my goodness, and it even works! Y'know what, I have a healthy feeling that this cartoon is going to be fine, after all.

We then see a rather handsome-looking man deliver his clothes into the laundry shoot, and then a woman enters the scene to deliver her laundry into the shoot. It immediately then becomes "love at first sight" for them as they wander off. Inside the laundry room the parcels unwrap themselves in which the laundry clothes come to life - and they're both from the opposite sex and immediately fall in love. So what, that was about two minutes of nothing then at the beginning? This is the part when the real story starts, and instead the beginning showed folks doing their laundry - did they do this to lengthen the short - or just wait to use that great "(k)night fell" gag to come up?!

Anyway, they both go into song where they are singing about each other (who'd want to hear a "popular song" about laundry?!) The clothes (that move like a human) then sing about their love - while the female piece of clothing suggests that he's "quite a flirt". The female then suggests that he should "come up and see him sometime" as the male clothing admires her figure, and all sorts.

The "clothing couple" then enter the other laundry room where they are greeted by other parts of clothing. We see these washing gloves hanging on a washing line playing the piano. We then see a long pair of underwear stand on some piece of iron as though he's wearing them as shoes and he's skating through the ironing board, which does seem quite good to animate, and animating with just clotheslines must've been a bit hard to animate back then - and actually, the animation isn't bad to look at. I wonder if they must animated through model sheets - or if they were drawn with human body parts but they were cleaned-up with only the clothes showing. It's a dumb guess - but only a thought.

We then see the couple clothesline that do a very dull waltz together that it's so boring and it's completely not worth clapping to while the other clotheslines are clapping to it. The next part shows these long pieces of underwear that then perform some type of vaudeville act. They then walk to these barrels flipped over and they use their pants flap to pat them on the barrel for rhythm. Now that is even more entertaining to watch than the couple dancing - at least there's something I'm enjoying here.

We then see another pair of long underwear (x2) and there's also a junior-sized one. They act like parents and live the junior long underwear a diaper change. They all then peg themselves back together in the wash line and that was a rather random gag - in my opinion. More vaudeville dancing continues from those two pair of long underwear. Meanwhile there is a rather evil-looking fellow who delivers his laundry through the shoot. The parcel then unfolds with it's uniform coming to life (notice the mustache there, too). He looks like he's bad news.

The long piece of underwear then opens the door to find the clothing couple dancing with each other. He unloosens the male clothing's belt in which he runs out of the screen with embarrassment. The female then tries to tell him off "Oh you nasty thing" and tries to smack him - but why? He HAS NO HEAD. The evil clothesline then steals the female and then--- (Nope, I'm not going to say it, I'm too tired of having to say the same 3 words over and over again - and you know what I mean).

The female clothing then starts to scream for "Help" just typically and the villain jumps onto the ironing board and then starts to ride it like a horse. The male clothing then straps his belt back on and starts to chase after his girlfriend again. They both then both hit the pole in which the villain feels rather weary. There is then a fight going on physically between the villain and the male. My goodness, this cartoon is just getting worse and worse - looks like "Friday the 13th" really has come to haunt me with all this repetitive fighting.

The villain clothing then trips onto a bucket of soap water, but is kicked back in there by the male clothing. But instead he is punched again as he starts to fly at another bucket, but instead it "closes". As the male clothing starts to lock it up in some type of vault - whatever it's called. The lady then walks to the man to admire him in a "My hero" attitude. The villain then steps out rather confused, but is pushed back into the barrel again - and that's all folks.

Well, I now feel haunted by this rather bland, worthless piece of animation and it's one of those cartoons that I'm going to forget completely once it's published. I can't believe that Friday the 13th really has come to haunt me. I ought to be more careful next time when reviewing an awful cartoon. The designs were just bland (though probably difficult) and it seems that the directors were just going to come up with every single idea of using every object for a new feature - but again; I guess he was just trying to repeat Harman-Ising's footsteps only because it worked when they did it - but it doesn't work when Friz did it - in my opinion. It simply can't be because of small budgets, right? Well, I must admit the animation at times was in fact pretty good and there were some highlights in that short such as the vaudeville dancing pair of underwear, the clothing skating with iron shoes and also the "(k)night fell" gag. I admit that I did quite like that very much - so there is still a chance for some improvement; slow improvement.

Look at what I wrote earlier on: 
Y'know what, I have a healthy feeling that this cartoon is going to be fine, after all.

What a loser. ;-)


  1. I love hoe stereotyped the Snidely Whiplash-esque bad guy is. You'll notice the moustache on his outfit is a scarf.

  2. I think that the "Button Breaking Department" is a gag based on the tendency of clothes to come back from these commercial laundries with broken buttons. In other words the laundry must have a department that is entirely devoted to breaking buttons on clothes.

    The NRA reference in this cartoon deals with the National Recovery Act, which was part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The program was intended to set basic standards in various industries, such as stable prices and minimum wages. There are a lot of complicated aspects to the program but for our purposes the most important aspect is that most businesses participated in the program and signified it by posting a card or poster featuring the program's symbol, a blue Eagle (not a Raven) clutching a gear in one talon and lightning bolts in the other.

  3. It's fascinating to see these interim period Merrie Melodies turn up on YouTube. KRON-TV, San Francisco, played this and "The Miller's Daughter" incessantly in the early 1960's. I find the early MM - Lady Play Your Mandolin, You Don't Know What You're Doin' - a lot more enjoyable than the 1934-1935 efforts, albeit no less repetitive.

  4. The Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies were certainly more fun and better than the 1934-1935s indeed!!

    P.S. Forgot about Brent and Zartok-35, thanks guys for the info.

  5. Damn...I know that it's rather bland cartoon, but I watched WB film "Dames"(1934) with that song, and after that I watched that cartoon...I really like the song and cartoon, and for me, personally, it's one of the nicest Schlesinger's cartoons before Tex arrived...