Saturday, 11 February 2012

107. Into Your Dance (1935)

Warner cartoon no. 106.
Release date: June 8, 1935.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast: Joe Dougherty (Stuttering dog) and Ted Pierce (Poetry reciter).
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Cal Dalton and Ben Clopton.

Some sources say that Ted Pierce was the poet fighter in this cartoon; but I don't know if that's true until Keith Scott confirmed it to me that Pierce did do the voice. He was already at the studio at the time as well. Joe Dougherty gets a stuttering job before able to do Porky again once Buddy is knocked out of the Looney Tunes and banished forever.

 The cartoon begins with a riverboat that is sailing through a river (Mmm; similar to Steamboat Willie or Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land) with those funnels moving upwards and downwards. The riverboat then travels through a waterfall and we can still see that smoke is still pumping out; with the whistle making a noise but hear bubbly sounds coming out from the river - which is a good gag to see. They sail out of the riverboat and then reach to the dock where there is a crowd of people cheering on the riverboat. Mmm, notice how the crowd at the dock is reused animation from Buddy's Lost World and it was ironically the most recent cartoon of that time released but probably different from production order.

As Captain Benny has already docked his riverboat; there is a group of black-face singers are singing the title song (which is called), Go Into Your Dance. The song is actually pretty good and I like their feet tapping that they do while they are standing and singing. While they were singing; the captain was giving tickets for those who were going to see his boat-show. We then get a shot to see a group of locals (animals) who are gathering around and are sitting down on their seats. I like the sounds of the orchestra tuning up their instruments in which would often be heard in concertos or shows.

Meanwhile Captain Benny (who has a peg on his left leg) then enters the scene and tips his captain hat to the audience. He narrates his introduction to the show: "Folks, we have with us tonight the world's most popular orchestra leader. Take it away". He waves his hand to the pig conductor and also the orchestra leader who jumps into the stage. He proudly shows his charisma to the audience; but then gets tomatoes being thrown on him and causes him to run off-stage. So, I thought this pig conductor was the world's most popular - and instead he gets tomatoes splattered on him. The pig then walks into the stage for the second time but still gets tomatoes splattered on him.

The pig orchestra leader then walks onto the stage in which he disguises himself with a black beard on his face; this isn't meant to be a Jewish stereotype at all - just wearing a fake beard? The pig orchestra leader then walks to the conductor box and begins his show. He starts off by playing a good introduction to the Light Calvalry Overture and he is playing the notes pretty accurately and the music playing is all going well. I quite like the hand moments of the conductor. He occasionally gets interrupted by a sloppy trombone player.

We then start to view shots of the orchestra members playing their musical instruments. But the orchestra leader then starts to hammer a bell a couple of times - probably because someone in the orchestra isn't playing the right notes right. The pig orchestra then starts to turn the page over; and we hear a different new piece that is faster and chirpier than the "Light Calvalry" one.  I think they're still playing the same piece but with a different attitude to the music playing. They're playing it at a pretty minimum speed where it's just normal. One of the dog members of the orchestra then comes up with a rotten trick by sticking a electric socket into the conductor's pigtails in which the pig is almost electrocuted and starts to fasten up the music.

The following scenes are very funny to look at; the timing is a little bit faster as well as the music. They're playing a really speedy version of William Tell Overture. They're playing William Tell REALLY fast; and it really does work well; and Friz used the speedier version of William Tell in his later cartoons like (Ballot-Box Bunny). There is a tortoise playing the xylophone in the background and tries to keep up in a very fast speed. Even the violinists play violently to order the timing accurately. I wonder if you being a member of the orchestra playing music from Stravinsky's music or THIS fast version of William Tell is harder.

As all of the orchestra members have finally given up and are tired; the pig orchstra is still out of control by conducting really fast until he is bashed on the head with an attitude of "Alright, already". All of the members of the orchestra really liked the pig's orchestra piece; and maybe THAT'S why he's popular - with that electric socket to help his recognition. Captain Benny then enters the scene in which he declares to his audience by doing a Ted Lewis impression, "It's only the beginning folks, only the beginning". The Captain then announces "Amateur Night".

The curtains then rise as the "Amateur Night" part is about to begin. There is a cow who has a piece of paper as she is going to sing the lyrics to Shadow Song (Ombres Iegeres). The singing is in fact pretty bad, but I wonder if this is Elvia Allman doing the singing since she's often cast to do the cow voices (even in Disney shorts, and on I Haven't Got a Hat). The captain, of course, doesn't like the singing at all and he bangs the bell numerous times. The cow is still singing so badly that she gets yanked out by a cane. At least; I like Caption Benny in this short since he knows talent - unlike the other shorts where the judges just like any horrible singer. I like the gag when the cow is yanked out of the scene and also yanked off her clothes; and then they get yanked out; too.

 The tough looking guy then walks into the scene to recite poetry and also moves in some gay attitude - which is sort of gay stereotyping. This is the part where Ted Pierce played the tough looking guy reciting poetry - the voice is similar. As the guy is reciting a poem (although I don't what it is he's reciting). He is demonstrating some wind - in which a gust of snow flies into the scene onto his face to create a scenery for "Amateur Night". He seems to be reciting a poem about a "little birdie" but through a search engine - I couldn't find any results.

As he says the "little birdie has started to fly", he demonstrates the wings movement - in which a plane sound is heard in the background. As the Captain has finally had enough of that poem; he rings the bell in which the tough guy thinks he's inside a boxing arena and is ready to try and pick out a fight; but then a novelty boxing glove extends to the stage and punches him - and it's a good gag here. He is then yanked out by a cane. However the audience still liked it and they clapped at it.

Captain Benny is tapping his feet and looks at the next person - who is a stuttering dog and shouts "Next!". The dog whispers something to the Captain's ear as some part of the trick but the stuttering dog knows the Captain won't like his talent so the dog hides the bell under his pants at the rear end so the captain won't know - hopefully. The stuttering dog is stuttering the title song Go Into Your Dance in which all the audience react in a bad way; but the dog is still doing it - and boy Dougherty's voice sure is painful to listen to - and even the singer is painful to look at - what a cretin.

Dougherty's singing voice may be painful to listen to but it's part of the gag and probably the only time where it would work well in this cartoon. But it still is unpleasant to listen to it - well; it's supposed to be. Captain Benny sure can't stand the stuttering dog's voice so then he is immediately about to whack the bell but notices that it is missing. Meanwhile we then have to listen to the singing dog again which is going to want to make the audience leave any minute - but it is a funny set-up for this cartoon.

The stuttering dog then finally finishes the song of Into Your Dance but then he opens his eyes fully to find that the entire audience have left the showboat; and this leaves the captain really angry. The captain puffs his pipe worried but then turns around to find out that the dog stutterer is still there and for scaring the entire audience away. Captain Benny grabs out a paddle in which he is about to smack the stuttering dog with. As the Captain is chasing after the stutterer; he smacks the dog in the rear end and we hear the sounds of the bell; which is pretty funny to listen to. The Captain smacks the dog in the rear end into the distance - and that's all folks.

This was a pretty fun cartoon overall and I imagine that Friz Freleng was probably trying to make better pictures but I wonder if Ted Pierce pitched in gags and ideas for this cartoon and probably made this cartoon have really fine moments. I liked the sequences with the pig orchestra playing extremely past while electrocuted; and of course the stuttering dog. I also quite like the scenes of the Captain yanking out the contestants with a cane; which was pretty funny. Overall this was a pretty decent cartoon for 1935 and at least we see some slow improvement coming. Annoying part is that 2-strip Technicolor stays on the Merrie Melodies program throughout a lot of 1935 - at least.


  1. Again I liked this cartoon the electricfied Porky pig ( he could be Porky) was the best..good animation of speed..

  2. Maybe looks like Porky Pig - but there is no stutter to dignify that and it isn't really his official appearance.

  3. Wasn't this close to the time Pierce took over the writing dept. from Armstrong?
    The moustached pig is meant to emulate Paul Whiteman.

  4. Although Avery hasn't arrived at the studio yet, this really is the first Warners cartoon with some gags that live up to Tex's credo of "What would the audience least expect?" in order to get a laugh. Friz would follow that up with the end gags from "The Lady In Red", so you've got to think that Tedd Pierce's addition definitely was a step up for the story department, even if it wasn't as drastic a change as when Avery was given his own unit.

  5. Why does the showboat's stage curtain have "ASBESTOS" written on it?
    Theaters used to have asbestos fire curtains, but why did the animators go to the trouble of writing it on the curtain?
    Was this a gag? Wikipedia reports that it was about this time, 1935, that concerns about asbestos' effects on health were rising rapidly. So, could the gag be making fun of ignorance of the time depicted, 1850's, when stern wheel riverboats were popular?