Friday, 17 February 2012

113. The Lady In Red (1935)

Warner cartoon no. 112.
Release date: September 7, 1935.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown.
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.
Animation: Bob McKimson and Ben Clopton.

The Lady in Red - it's one of the musical pieces that Carl Stalling would use to score his cartoons to show a lady dressed in red.

Our cartoon begins with a Spanish street and we go closer to the door of a cafe but it turns out the cafe is "closed" as the owner of the cafe (named Manuel) has "gone to the bullfight". The cafe inside is very empty and rather messy. The next shot turns out that the street is some boxes or kitchen equipment altogether a kitchen table which is a city of cockroaches. I like the idea on how that there are cereal boxes that are like building blocks that is organized probably to form roads. There is a cockroach policeman who is using a whisk as traffic lights for the other cockroaches to cross.

Meanwhile there is a group of cockroaches that then cross into a teapot that is what they call - a ferry. They have their own propeller and it seems that the sink is their sink and they want to cross the other part of the sink - makes sense to me?? The other shots that we are seeing are basically what cockroaches would be doing in their kitchen table city: one would grab a doughnut to eat and dip it into tea. Another cockroach is placing a cookie by a grinder. A group of cockroaches then grab a piece of bread and the first part shows these cockroaches that drill a hole into the bread. They then place a hot-dog inside it by using a special type of crane to push the hot-dog in and the cockroach then takes the bread with hot-dog inside a mouse-hole which is his feast.

We then move on to a sport sequence which shows a cockroach in which he grabs out an olive and uses the olive as a bowling ball. The olive then knocks down what looks like tiny pieces of turnips that are meant to be bowling pins. I like the gag that shows the cockroach placing the ball through the celery which is meant to resemble where you collect a bowling ball. Then we move on to the tennis part where two cockroach players place a cheese grater in the middle to be the net and already have a bat and peas to be the tennis ball. They keep hitting the ball frequently and it's all done in one go where they don't want to drop the ball.

The group of cockroaches with their papers to mark the scores I guess keep turning their heads to see the tennis ball go side-by-side. As the tennis ball hits the ground the cockroach player can't quite make it but uses a spoon to catapult the ball back in which he is saved from the other scoring a point. The cockroach then starts to try and hit the tennis ball (more like pea) but it lands inside a teapot and shoots back at the player in which he trips. At least we saw some fun and imaginary sequences like the sports stuff and the food. This cartoon isn't so bad after all. Definitely better than; let's say The Merry Old Soul.

The next sequence seems to show a cockroach with a spoon and is standing on a cream mug in the sink.It looks like to me that it's resembling canals in Venice but if this is a Spanish city - one thing; do Spain even HAVE canals? The bug then reaches the end of the sink and walks to a cupboard but the sign reads Roach's Nite Club. Inside the club there are these group of cockroaches that are dancing with a band playing. We see a cockroach band that are playing a variety of "instruments" that they use to play such as a pipe to play a saxophone, or even matchsticks were used to play drums, or a matchstick with a fork that looks like it's playing a double bass. Or, to play the flute.

We then cut to the next part of the entertainment which is a cockroach that is caricatured by Rudy Vallee. My goodness, Warner Bros. cartoons sure loved to caricature Rudy Vallee; even back from the very old Harman-Ising days when they made Crosby, Columbo and Vallee and we are still expecting more from him soon. It's not that I have anything against him but I find the caricatures in the Warner Bros. cartoons a little annoying. Rudy Vallee cockroach is singing the song Sweet Music and is it me or does he often sing it in these cartoons.

The cockroach orchestra are conducting Rudy Vallee's music for him in which we see other cockroaches that make chime sounds with spoons with wine glasses. There is a small glass cup in which a cockroach waiter places a cake cup on top of it, and already attracts a customer. A group of cockroaches are swinging of cups hanging onto hooks admiring Rudy Vallee's singing. All of the cockroaches then clap as Rudy Vallee has finished his singing, and now next time is something which I hope will be even MORE entertaining: cockroaches wearing sombreros.

The Mexican-sombrero wearing cockroaches then start to go into song singing the title song The Lady in Red. At least their dancing routines are pretty good where they step one side wearing a different sombrero as they are left in the air. Must be extremely hard to do that in real life - but only works in the animated world. As they are singing "The Lady in Red" we view to a dressing room where there is a Spanish cockroach lady who is wearing her bra and blouse and powdering her face. She then walks to put on her red dress. The Mexican singing cockroaches still sing their song and it's pretty beautiful animation. Hey, Bob McKimson animated on that - maybe it could be him. Since Bob was the top draftsman of the studio at the time; it could be easy to tell his scenes when we look at animation that looks like something he would tackle.

The Lady in Red then walks into the scene with her beautiful looks and the spotlight shines upon her. She walks into the scene where she is posing in her red dress.Well, do I suppose that Spanish girls in particular are pretty stunning when they do these dances - and I'm NOT referring to cockroaches as they are pretty ugly. The cockroach in the red dress also appears to be a flirt from what I'm looking since she can make a male cockroach faint passionately. The next gag which I find random as it doesn't belong to the song sequence; in my opinion but it works is some cockroach that grabs out some ham and since it's red - the false teeth is meant to be the bull I presume.

The Mexican dancers have then finished their song - and yet they don't get the applause for it since they did better than that Rudy Vallee cockroach in my opinion. The next sequence we see is a parrot inside it's cage and starts to squawk fiercely with it's wings flapping out - and I admit the parrot does sort of look a little creepy looking to me but fine animation though; in my honest opinion. The bad news is that the parrot manages to break out of the cage and flies to the kitchen table where the parrot is after the two cockroaches on the kitchen table.

The parrot then flies at the table in which two cockroaches turn around and get a jump as they see giant parrot that is probably the scariest thing they've ever seen. The cockroaches then continue to run away from the parrot that is squawking after them and they hide under some kettle as it looks like. A cockroach pops out of a spout in which he blows a raspberry at the parrot that angers it. The parrot then thinks of an idea by turning on the fire to burn the cockroaches. Okay, but when that parrot turned on the fire; that makes me think of the parrot was "very creepy". No wonder that's why I hate birds.

The cockroaches then start to spit up from the tea at the very top of the kettle with these funny little sound effects. The parrot then starts to laugh with a squawky laugh. See, even the parrot's laugh freaks me out. There is something wrong with that cartoon parrot - they seemed to make it too creepy, well; too creepy for ME at least.

The parrot then starts to look inside the cupboard where the night club is held and the Lady in the red dress is still dancing. While the lady cockroach dancer was still dancing but the parrot then starts to nibble at her red dress in which she is screaming - yes we know those three simple words; "screaming for help". There is a male cockroach member at the club who hears the senorita cockroach screaming and he tries to stop the parrot himself - if he's able to. The parrot has still got the female cockroach as the male cockroach still chases after the parrot. The parrot is standing on a stove in which it grabs the female cockroach with its claws until the male cockroach turns on the gas which the parrot has it's feathers at the back in flames.

The cockroach is therefore in flames and starts to fly up in the air with the plane sounds heard in the background. The lady in the red dress and the male cockroach watch the parrot hit the ground as it squawks around with flames (even that kind of scares me a little). The parrot then starts to fly out of the window into the distance. The lady cockroach then thanks the male cockroach in a "my hero" attitude. The cartoon ends with the parrot's flames flying around with the smoke reading "The End" - and that's all folks.

Well this cartoon was in fact a pretty good take and yet another bizarre idea of using "Spanish cockroaches" as the stars; as it seems Friz Freleng at the time tried to come up with different objects or animals to be the main characters of the stories - as though he felt it would work for the one-shot Merrie Melodies. The parrot was kind of too creepy in my opinion - animation and design wise, as well as the squawking. I quite liked the design of the senorita cockroach in the red dress as she did have quite an appealing design. Well, the cartoon wasn't as great as Friz's other improving cartoons but definitely better than Friz's previous cartoon. The brighter side is that the cartoon will get better since Buddy is already gone and Tex Avery is soon enough from what seemed like a "very long traffic jam" since Tom Palmer in production on Buddy's Day Out or I've Got to Sing a Torch Song.

1 comment:

  1. Can't believe you wrote about this! I was looking for this chapter since last week and I was loosing my mind, 'cause I didn't know how to search it, till I found your blog!!! Thanks for sharing this!!!