Wednesday, 15 February 2012

111. The Merry Old Soul (1935)

Warner cartoon no. 110.
Release date: August 17, 1935.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Bernice Hansen (Babies/Lambs/Bo Beep) and Billy Bletcher (Old King Cole).
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Riley Thomson.

Interesting for Riley Thomson to end up in Warners since he would later go to Disney around 1935/1936 and work on Snow White, Fantasia and those horrible Mickey Mouse cartoons. Well folks; I'm reviewing this. This is a horrible one that I can't stand. I couldn't believe that in about the last 5 or 6 cartoons or so; the Warner Bros. cartoons were starting to get better; but now it's back to this crap. If you think I'm wrong - I'll review it right away. I hope that this was just a one-off bad cartoon for Friz.

Our cartoon begins which I assume was a book cover of The Merry Old Soul that opens and we see a picture of church but we truck into the picture in which we hear church bells ring. Just looking at the book cover; it's pretty cool to have their own names printed on hardcover. It appears to be springtime and all of the village locals are gathering around to look at the church.  There are these three squires (whatever they are) with one of them (the tall guy) at the end holding the violin and small fat squire holding a violin bow. They are singing about that Old King Cole has married the Woman in the Shoe and that they'll celebrate the event.

The next part then seems to show Bo Beep and her sheep dancing. They sing that the whole town down will cooperate - probably with Old King Cole's absent. What really bugs me are those sheep. Their dancing really pisses me off; it's very annoying. The timing really doesn't match at all; and the sheep looks ugly. I can't even bare to look at it again. The squires then go back into the song singing the same verse "Old King Cole was a Merry Old Soul who's marrying the Woman in the Shoe". We then go to the Spoon, Dish and Humpty Dumpty sing a verse. So, it turns out that it's a bunch of nursery rhyme characters in this story; what the hell is it - "Nursery Rhyme Land"? One question is; was this cartoon made for pre-school kids? I can't imagine an adult sitting down in the audience listening to the song and wanting to go out and buy a vinyl record of it.

The church doors open in which Old King Cole and the Lady in the Shoe step out as they are already married. "Here Comes the Bride" is played in the backgrounds - Duh. The Lady in the Shoe looks rather elderly from my view - okay. Is it me or is Old King Cole meant to resemble Oliver Hardy. Old King Cole then stand by the coach and lets the Lady in the Shoe in? The King then shakes his hands to the crowd as confetti flies around the scene. Suddenly a group of crowd start to throw shoes at the poor king just because he married a lady in the shoe which they think is odd - and it is odd. But come on; what did the King do to deserve THAT - weddings aren't supposed to be like that.

The King steps into the coach blocking from being hit by anymore shoes but he picks up a pair that he fancies and the coach leaves. I guess that was the gag - picking up the shoes. It turns out their coach is being controlled by a horse inside the front part of a car; inside the coach that has coach wheels. OKAY that just makes the design too complex. The horse then takes the Old Lady from the Shoe's home where she and Old King Cole arrive. Well, the shoe doesn't look too bad to live in - but I imagine that it smells really bad - of foot odor.

Old King Cole and the Lady in the Shoe then enter her home - and also Old King Cole's new home. She giggles and blushes once a baby comes out from an ironing board shouts "Daddy". More babies then start to come out from the stove who also shout "Daddy". Well; have they instantly got a love for the father and yet the mother gets to be ignored? More babies then start to come out in Bernice Hansen's annoying "Daddy" voices such as in cookie jars. Even babies come out from grandfather clocks. Oh great; now there's going to  be a mass of them. All the babies start to crowd to Old King Cole calling him "Daddy" and it seems that the mother is completely ignored. Poor King.

One question that really does pop into my head and I'm not sure if you think that - but HOW did they even get so many babies. And no, don't give me this rubbish like "Oh Mr. Stork came down and gave too many babies". Nope, it isn't that - I mean; it's crazy that they have so many babies; what happened? Could Old King Cole not control himself when he would stay over the Lady in the Shoe's house?! There has to be a similar enough theory to that. Old King Cole then starts to notice a bunch of kids going out of chest of draws and all follow King Cole. As he is about to open the door into a closet; more babies come out. Oh god - THIS IS TORTURE; not only for him but for ME watching it. I mean; I know that mothers tend to look after babies a lot and that the King is somehow the "mother" of them but shouldn't the Lady have her share as well?! Well; the nursery rhyme does say that the Old Woman in the Shoe had so many children that we'd probably expect to see it happen - but instead it just suffers for the Old King Cole.

The next sequence then focuses on the same three squires who are standing by the window of the Woman in the Shoe's home and they keep on singing that same verse and rhythm: Old King Cole was a Merry Old Soul has married the Woman in the Shoe. Do you have no idea how annoying that song is? It's unappealing. Old King Cole is therefore inside the house scrubbing (probably some babies) and giving them a bath. Oh, don't drown the kids.

It turns out that Old King Cole was probably expecting a easy married life with the Lady in the Shoe but it's proven to be a nightmare. He's getting angered by the singing of the three squires who are still singing us the story. Old King Cole then closes the window and pulls down the window blind and that's pretty much the end of the squires in this cartoon. It turns out that Old King Cole is in fact scrubbing babies inside the tub.

 Old King Cole puts the babies inside some assembly line tub in which there are machines that help look after the babies. Okay; I guess that it is a clever way of putting it but still a lot of work for Old King Cole. The showers wash the babies from the suds and foam on their heads. There are machines that also help rub their faces in which they also do the same by cleaning their ears; and combing their hairs. Okay; I know that the assembly line part seems to be clever to look after the babies but aren't there going to be any gags included. The whole assembly line regime for babies in this cartoon is similar to the one in Shuffle Off to Buffalo.

As the babies have finished being bathed; Old King Cole then picks up the babies in which they are being rinsed by a roller towel that is the King's job to do. It must be a hard job for the King since he has to do it at appropriate speed. The next part of the babies then shows then all dried and giggly. The King has to run along to the next part in which he powders the babies. What?! What about all the other babies that probably need rinsing and from behind; it's virtually impossible to look after THAT many babies with a assembly line with only one person controlling it.

Old King Cole then walks up to the next part of the assembly line (well; it's basically the end of the assembly line) where whenever the babies reach the end - Old King Cole reaches to the balloons pile and ties a balloon around each baby and somehow they'll end up somewhere accurately. Is this even scientifically possible? My goodness; how LONG has this assembly line sequence lasted for one minute? It's SO boring; and yet there is even no gags; this is like a waste of film. Old King Cole then takes them to ANOTHER part of the assembly line. WHAT?! Okay, the other assembly line just sucked and was boring and do we need another?!  Each time the baby arrives at the other assembly line; the balloon pops. So it is guaranteed that it will always pop in THAT position? Come to think of it; with this really dull assembly line sequence what did the script look like? Guess what; I have the original script with me; here's what it contains: a bunch of words. No gags. Pointless crap.

Old King Cole grabs out a paper towel for each baby and turns them into a nappy (diaper whatever you want to call it) around the baby's private parts. As the balloon pops for the baby to land on the table; are you sure that it doesn't even HURT the baby because that is quite a fall and babies are pretty delicate; where's the realism in this?! The next part of the assembly line is when the babies land on a baby-grow by jumping onto the washing lines; and somehow the timing works well. The babies then drop onto each cradle with their names on it. WOW! That assembly line sequence was like really two minutes; and yet there was hardly a gag in it at all; very, very dull and what the point of a too-long sequence with hardly any gags. Another thing; WHERE'S THE MOTHER (The Lady in the Shoe)?? Why isn't she helping out; I mean what's happened; is he in the hospital or something giving birth to EVEN more kids - how many is she GOING to need??

Old King Cole, obviously very tired and exhausted from the hard work of looking after babies then has to do the last part of the day looking after the children. Old King Cole is trying his best to put the babies to sleep by giving them a lullabye and using a machine to cradle all the babies as he is trying to do some sewing I imagine; what so now he HAS to do all the work? Is this meant to be the joke; the father doing the housework when it's often the mothers? Old King Cole then starts to creep away once the babies have gone to sleep. The babies then wake up and start to cry as they watch him leave. Okay; I don't know if that's meant to be deliberate or even actually crying. Need. Better. Character Animation.

Old King Cole then starts to run back to the machine and starts to rock the babies to sleep by lullabying Rock-A-Bye Baby again. Old King Cole then starts to creep back to the sofa in which he falls to bed. Notice how that in the cradles the babys have funny names like "Meeni" "Minie" "Moe", which is poking fun of the game "Eeny Meeney Miney Mo". There are even more of these ridiculous pun names for the babies but the "Eeny Meeney Miney Mo" names were in fact pretty funny; so I'll give that a highlight.

 The babies then start to wake up and creep onto Old King Cole; and it looks like that they are going to give his night a living hell. They start to go over to the machine and play about with the paddle - because babies like to play around with anything - you know; their behaviour. All of the babies start to fly around out of the cradles and then all the babies start to fall down onto Old King Cole's lap or where he is and start to cry loudly. Mmm, weren't there EVEN more babies since there's only about 8 babies in there. 8 isn't so bad but it's still a lot. Old King Cole finally can't take it anymore that he starts to cry. I find the scene of Old King Cole really unsettling to look at - and that's all folks.

Overall this cartoon was in fact horrible; this is definitely worse than the last few cartoons I reviewed. The whole song sung by the squires is very annoying but catchy in a bad way. I really hate those annoying baby sheep that dance like spastics. The scenes with Old King Cole and the babies are just unsettling for me to watch; and I know that they're The Lady in the Shoe's babies but surely the King MUST'VE had some involvement there, though. There is so much incoherence in this cartoon that my brain can't function so well - those babies and the Lady in the Shoe; I'm probably not going to be able to think so well for ages now. The assembly line sequence was in fact a pretty clever way but did it REALLY have to be so long and gag free? What's the point of showing it - it's so DULL. I noticed that some of the babies in the assembly lines have no hair and some have hair; what were some older than others? Where does it all make sense?! Well; I'm so glad that I've reviewed this cartoon and this is definitely ONE OF THE WORST I've reviewed; if not - I'll par it to Tom Palmer's cartoons. Well; watching this cartoon makes me beg for Tex Avery to come. Now that's finished - I don't ever have to watch it again.


  1. I just realized that this cartoon and 'Good Night Elmer' have one giant thing in common: they cry after being exasperated for an entire plot. Their cries equal the pain of the viewer. The original print find on YouTube was quite nice though.

  2. Mmm, I never realized that. Thanks. Although I guess the one in "Good Night Elmer" is SLIGHTLY more settling for me to look at since I hate looking at fat kings wailing. But they're both bad cartoons, though.