Sunday, 15 January 2012

90. Shake Your Powder Puff (1934)

Warner cartoon no. 89.
Release date: September 29, 1934.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown.
Animation: Bob McKimson and Bob Clampett.
Music: Bernard Brown.

The cartoon begins with a barn with animals enterting it that has Broadway lights reading: BIG SHOW TONIGHT. Everybody else is in the audience sitting down waiting for the show to begin. You can hear the sounds of the orchestra tuning. As the orchestra have finished tuning - a pig then plays the trumpet to welcome the orchestra conductor. The orchestra conductor steps out of a slip-door piano (oddly enough for some reason). He walks to the stage sophisticated and the audience applaud for his appearance.

All of the audience who are about to watch him then start to hush the audience so that they can hear the music. The conductor is rather distracted with those "shush" sounds, and turns around rather annoyed. He taps his conducting stick so that everyone has his full attention. They play the quiet, peaceful William Tell Overture. Everyone else is playing rather peacefully and it's all going well. The animation is rather pleasant to look (even though not subtle). Maybe Bob McKimson did those opening scenes? Okay, but I'm going to be doing these "games" on "I bet McKimson did that" - anyone want to join in?

The turtle starts to bang his shell like a drum. The conductor then starts to conduct rather more fiercely by playing Poet and Pleasant Overture.The conductor starts to jump up and down numerous times for the beats, but the planks on the stool break apart and he falls. After that very entertaining and very good gag, we see more fun gags such as a duck quacking the music - and the mice playing on the xylophone. Some cymbals then crash on the drums. The next fun part we see is a sleepy audience who jumps at each beat in the overture. What really fine and worthy gags displayed here.

In fact, this is even before The Band Concert. The conductor then finishes the last part of the music with serious conducting. After the audience applaud for that part (it REALLY goes deserve it), the orchestra leader bows to the audience. He looks at the orchestra as he still hears orchestra playing, but then they stop meekly. The audience still clap - I think that shot of the audience clapping was reused in Into Your Dance - will wouldn't be released until 1935.

The "Asbestos" sign then rises and we then see another part of show which these three bunnies singing the title song Shake Your Powder Puff. We see those bunnies "shaking their powder puff" and the song is in fact pretty good. We see the behind-the-scenes crew moving some type of scenery for a sea effect. We then see these ducks in a tub - as they are pretending to sail in it which makes it look real. I know that I get really frustrated with "abundances of singing and dancing" but I actually really do not mind this part of the cartoon overall. It's pretty fun. The ducks then sing their line for the title song, then they walk off with the bunny ladies and the curtains close.

The next show which is about to be shown is these two goats who look like their dressed as lumberjacks - it's hard to tell when looking at poor TV quality. Considering that they have a bit of weed sticking out of their mouths - rednecks perhaps? Anyway, they do a rather funny dance - which is sort of ridiculous at the same time - but I guess that the characters they're stereotyping is meant to be for fun - or it still works well at the same time. I'm really glad to see that there are some really fun "singing and dancing" to go along and it appeared that they had some fresh inspiration and ideas here - while the other shorts where they sing and dance are rather dull with no fresh ideas in their mind.

All of the audience applaud at their performance, but there is a rather drunk looking dog that "boos" at the performance who is also holding a bottle of alcohol. While he's still booing at the audience, the usher of the show then throws him out of the barn for his unnecessary behaviour. He storms back into the barn - but then we see nothing on the screen but gets kicked out, which is still mere entertainment.

After being kicked out, there is another performance inside being played which are these pigs also singing Shake Your Powder Puff and the gag of this show is meant to show these three pig singers and both have different heights and range themselves in a number of size (shortest to tallest). Meanwhile, the dog tries to disguise himself by calling himself "Jones" but he's still get kicked out of the audience, that proves the usher is not a fool.

The dog then spots a bellows and stuffs pepper in it to try and make the usher sneeze so that he can get back inside - I assume. Nope, he doesn't - what he is actually doing is that he is climbing on top of the barn - and looks through the window on the roof. He see a lovely point-of-view shot of the chickens that are dancing. Instead, the drunken dog wants to cause trouble. He then pumps the bellows in which pepper sprays and lands at the spiritual audience. The audience are then about to sneeze and they do, blowing off all the feathers onto the naked chicken. See, this is some really fine stuff in this cartoons - Friz Freleng (again) make a really good cartoon to watch. I can see a turning point on some of his cartoons (even though it's possible that it could be just luck).

The dog up that window then does the funny chuckle - see Friz has gave him some character; so there really is some effort in this cartoon. The dog falls down that window and lands onto the stage. The audience are angered by his shenanigans and they start to toss fruit, vegetables and other foods to the dog. The asbestos curtain has to be drawn down to block the dog from being attacked again. The curtain rises again - with the dog shouting out Ted Lewis' line "Is everybody happy" ending with a tomato splat on his face - and that's all folks.

I must say that this is really good entertainment, I like this much more than The Miller's Daughter - I don't really have a genuine problem with this cartoon at all. There were some very fun gags to look at, character personalities - I like the orchestra leader a lot. The drunken dog was also pretty entertaining too. I thought the opening was presented out probably the best - I love the gags used for the Poets and Pleasant Overture. Of course, the story may have changed completely when the drunken dog just "booed" but it halts the amount of singing and dancing that presents this cartoon a very good balance. So yes, Bravo to this cartoon. I'm glad that something really good has turned in the 1934 reviews. Don't agree with me - no need to argue. I like this cartoon so end of review.


  1. I can just see the wheels turning in Friz's mind. He's got to use one of those Warners songs but he's crying out to do something else. So he came up with the whole classical music theme that he'd come back to in cartoons time after time.
    It's a shame he didn't have stronger gags. You're in trouble when your climax gag is sneezing feathers off chickens. About all Friz can do is get smiles in this one. The stepping out of the piano was at least imaginative.
    The goats are in typical farmer get-up, chewing on grass.
    The "Jones boys" bit must be lost to the ages. I don't get it.

  2. Friz is showing an improvement and he'll get better at directing as time went on. He would even introduce a certain pig a year later.


  4. A very good cartoon and the title song is very catchy!