Wednesday, 18 January 2012

91. Rhythm in the Bow (1934)

Warner cartoon no. 90.
Release date: October 20, 1934.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Ben Hardaway.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown.
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Ben Clopton.

Instead of Friz Freleng who directs all the Merrie Melodies - Ben Hardaway appears to cover briefly. Hang on - he hadn't directed since Buddy of the Apes which was already released about five months earlier, what happened to him? Different production order?! This is the last Merrie Melodies to be in black-and-white and then it turns into color permanently. Looney Tunes would have to wait until 1942's The Hep Cat.

Our cartoon begins with a couple of hobos who spend their lives living in the train. One of them is pretending as though he's riding in a racing car - steering the wheel and touching the horn - but it's revealed that it's a pretend as he's on top of a box car with a duck quacking on top of the steering wheel. The "515" steam train is steaming very fast - and there is a tramp who lives under the train - who is sharpening his knife with the wheels - and it's showing the life of a homeless person. The tramp also gets to do some cooking.

We see many of these weird gags of what the homeless do on the trains. One of them has a string attached to a bucket and tosses it into a river to fill up some water, and then pulls it back up the train. He uses the bucket of water to clean his face. After finishing off his face; he then starts to bring out a violin and bow to play some sweet violin music - actually, I wouldn't say "sweet" would be the word - not sure what to describe his violin music.

The hobos then start to go into song as they are going to sing the title song Rhythm in the Bow. We see this tramp who is sitting on a sidecar by the train that also is singing the song - why is he on the side car for? Couldn't he not climb those steps to join the rest of the hobos? Whistles are then being blown on the train, and there's another hobo skating on the tracks (wonder why he isn't electrocuted) as standing on rails is dangerous. We see more of these homeless people who are still singing and they pop their heads out of pipes. The smoke from the steam train then covers their faces, and then revealed as black faces. Ahh, racist tendencies. ;-)

Meanwhile there appears to be a man (can't tell if he works in the train or is another tramp) but he jumps into a box car and kicks out a homeless person for playing the violin. He is then kicked out of the box car and lands into a small pond where ducks were happily seated. Much of the water is then splashed out - but a little bit is remained for the ducks to swim in. The tramp then walks out of the pond and walks out of that part of countryside. He sees some birds on the tree that is singing happily. He continues to walk down the path singing merrily. WOW! This cartoon is so boring to watch and review - and I really don't feel like reviewing the rest of it. I'm off.


Well, it turns out that as I've tried to run out that door, I've been dragged back in by the locals who are demanding me to finish this review! Aw nuts!

Anyway, back to the review. There is a dog by the gate who is barking at the tramp as he is halted. The tramp with the violin then plays some music.Why? I don't know - maybe to quieten down the dog or something. The tramp's violin playing doesn't seem to tone the dog down, so he thinks of another idea to play some sad, devastating music. It makes the dog cry and howl. My, that timing and syncing of the dog crying is just awful. Although the animation is pretty good. The tramp then slams the gate in which the dog's neck is stuck - so that he can continue playing the music he loves to play. Now, that is just cruel to do that to the dog - sure it may be grizzly but it doesn't deserve to be suffocating.

The tramp then approaches a type of village for homeless people in which it's crammed with homeless people. There is a local singing the song Singing in the Bathtub. There is more tramps to be seen; such as one who appears to be sleeping and doing hitchhiking movements. I'm completely lost of those gags - and even in the signs they're barely show the entire sign - and it's just pointless. Although there is a "Free Library" sign which is visible, and there's a fly that flies into the scene trying to pull the tramp's toes - but his other foot flicks the fly away.

The whole part appears to be a tramp's paradise for the homeless person as he slides down the railing and bounces onto the homeless people's stomachs one at a time. Well, finally this cartoon is starting to get moving as it's been tedious so far. He sits by a the lake, and appears to be relaxing his feet by unrolling the back parts like unrolling a can of sardines. He dips his feet into the river and starts to play some lively music that he did in the boxcar earlier on. All the other tramps start to sing the song he's singing - whatever the song is called. There is these tramps that are doing singing and dancing. Oh come on, even if they caricatured Charlie Chaplin to do the dancing for this cartoon then it would've probably been a bit more entertaining. But, I don't mind saying that their dance routine isn't so bad, I guess.

The dog's neck is still stuck on the gate and there is a thought bubble that pops out with the hobo playing the violin. The dog manages to break the gate open - but bumps into a tree. The dog then starts on the run to find that hobo. The dog goes around trying to sniff the tracks for the homeless person (again, with that thought bubble coming up - I've no problem with the bubble). The dog reaches the edge of the cliff but then jumps down in a river and starts to swim like a human would swim. Why? Dogs don't swim like that - they do a doggy swim - it's just creepy and unnatural if they swim the human way. The dog then reaches that fishing pier and growls at the homeless - uh oh, trouble - so then a chase starts.

The dog starts to chase the poor tramp around and then on top of the high railways. They then pause to see an incoming steam train - and it turns out to be the SAME steam train from earlier on - how did the tramp arrive there in such speed? It IS a steam train - it has a "515" number on it - and if it's meant to be a reuse of a different train - then it's presented badly. They both start to turn around from the tracks, but the dog's leash is caught on the rails in which it starts to yelp for help. The tramp wants to save the dog's life so he gives up his violin, kisses it and tosses it away. The tramp grabs out a knife and cuts out the rope - they both jump down the river when the train passes by. The dog returns the tramp's violin in which he's happy - they both become friends, the dog licks his face - and that's all folks.

This cartoon was just nothing but boredom to me, and yes - Ben Hardaway directed some very bad cartoons from that period (1934-1935), but he did come back later to direct some better cartoons and was great for writing Woody Woodpecker cartoons. This cartoon had such boring animation, character designs and the story itself. I know that an audience wouldn't mind watching it considering they probably wouldn't have to analyze - but this is painful for ME. Well, since this is the last black-and-white Merrie Melody - good riddance. Although I know that color will bring some appeal at least - but I won't immediately change the stories.

1 comment:

  1. Hardaway would rework the premise five years later for 1939's "Hobo Gadget Band", with Pinto Colvig voicing the lead bum. Not a great cartoon, but definitely better than this one.