Monday, 20 February 2012

115. Hollywood Capers (1935)

 featuring Beans.
Warner cartoon no. 114.
Release date: September 14, 1935.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Jack King.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Bernice Hansen (Little Kitty), Tommy Bond (Beans) and Billy Bletcher (Studio Guard).
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Charles "Chuck" Jones.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

I'd say this is probably the first appearance to show Beans and the rest of his gang in this Looney Tune, while they already appeared in a Merry Melody just earlier this year. Jack King basically directed ALL of the Beans, and his gang cartoons (excl. Porky) except on Gold Diggers of '49 by Tex. Ooh, we're very close to reaching Tex.

Our cartoon begins with Hollywood; of course at Warmer Brothers Studio. A studio that had been parodied before in Buddy's Theatre. The studio appears to be bust and crewmen doing their jobs. We see a man about to enter the studio that is a caricature of W.C. Fields. The studio guard of the entrance then greets Fields, "Good morning, Mr. Seal, good morning."

The W.C. Fields guy then starts to place his walking stick by the guards' wrist. The actor then gives him a cigar; and brings out another walking stick for the guard in which he uses the stick like a snooker club but pulls the tobacco end off; and takes his cigar with him. Now that is a rather random gag but it would be humorous of the time since the guard thinks he's going to get a cigar but the actor is just using the guard to place his equipments by.

Beans then enters the scene in which he is riding his car that appears to have an explosive engine inside it with the steering wheel stretching and Beans is spinning around and the hubcaps appear to be out of place. The timing of the animation is pretty good.

As Beans is about to enter the Warmer Bros. Studios entrance for the celebrities. The guard then stops Beans as Beans halts his car with a bouncy stop. The guard (probably Bletcher doing the voice) asks "Who do you think YOU are?", Beans replies and I believe it's a new catchphrase for him; "Beans is the name. One of the Boston Beans". That catchphrase doesn't mean anything it's just playing around with the word "beans". Sources and also Jerry Beck confirms that Tommy Bond but it seems rather improbable to me since the voice is similar in A Cartoonist's Nightmare but who knows? The guard then starts to push Beans' car out of the way until it rides up a tree with the engine exploding. Beans is  stuck on a tree with is suspenders caught on a branch and Beans keeps on bumping onto the car horn with his rear end numerous times - which is a humorous gag. The gag idea was later used by Friz Freleng in You Ought to Be in Pictures.

The next celebrities enter the studio such as Charlie Chaplin in his walking automobile. The guard allows them inside and also greets Oliver Hardy and greets "Morning, Mr. Hardy". Of course; this idea of the gag was definitely reused in You Ought to Be in Pictures but the sequence was much funnier in that 1940 cartoon.

Mr. Hardy enters the studio but the disguised is taken off as Beans used it for his disguise to go into the studio - by using a dummy and balloons for his "Plan B". I wonder if Chuck Jones did that scene of Beans releasing the dummy to the sky as Beans looks like Porky from the  early Avery shorts in 1936 like in The Blow Out - it's the facial looks of Beans that I'm talking about. Beans then enters a studio building where there would be filming going on inside.

Oliver Owl is the director of a film inside a sound stage is walking up and down repeatedly probably worrying about production problems or budgets. Could be anything. There is a puppy that is also copying his movements (definitely not Ham or Ex) but is the cameraman. He accidentally bumps into Oliver Owl but Oliver points at the cameraman back to his work as he wants him to role the film. As filming is about to begin Oliver Owl orders everyone in the stage to be "quiet" as all directors and behind-the-scenes crew do when shooting a scene. There is a brief appearance of Porky Pig who "shushes" the audience to be quiet and yes, I will count that as a cameo appearance of Porky since this is basically the gang in this cartoon. We see more gags stir up that tell the audience to be quiet (even Beans' shadow as he is behind the settings). Oliver Owl then shouts "Camera!" as the filming is about to proceed.

There is a piano stool that runs into the scene to stand by the piano. Even the inanimate objects are doing the work. A turtle then approaches the scene to sit down on the piano. Hang on; I've seen that turtle in a brief scene in I Haven't Got a Hat where he is banging his shell for Porky's "Midnight Revere" speech. Could he be only a very minor character of the Beans gang or was it just a coincidence for him to turn up? The filming finally begins as Oliver Owl shouts "Action!"

Little Kitty is the star of the film as it appears to
be and her performance is to sing a song to us. Oh brother. Little Kitty is singing the song Sweet Flossie Farmer and the cameraman uses the stilts to run for a close-up; a technique gag. Evidently; this is another example for Bernice Hansen's voices of the 1930s. Joe Campana told me that she was a child around this time; but then some sources say she was an adult that did child voices. Anyone who can help me with Hansen's date of birth info for proof?

We pan to the next scenes of these men in a bar (different location) and they are continuing Little Kitty's song. Beans is standing on top of the light beam stands on top of the ceiling watching the film being rolled. The turtle playing the piano also gets a part to sing the song. Oh, for a while I thought that turtle was just going to play piano music in the background for a musical score but is just acting. Incoherence.

A bartender is playing his musical notes by using a cash register to be the keyboards. If I'm not mistaken this is probably Chuck Jones animation as his animation was often pretty rubbery looking and it was used in his Clampett Porky cartoons, and I've seen that style before in Buddy's Beer Garden and it's GOT to be the same animator - it's also similar to his animation in A Cartoonist's Nightmare. The turtle is definitely having fun by playing two pianos at one go. The next scene shows the bartender squirting drinks out of the machines and it's reused animation from Buddy's Beer Garden. Beans then accidentally falls down in which he tries to climb himself back up by using the ropes but the ropes aren't attached to anything.

The actor who is acting with Little Kitty brings out his arms but finds out that Beans lands onto the actor's arms which is unfortunate acting timing. Oliver Owl looks  over and does a double-take (no hat take, considering he isn't wearing a hat but a glasses take). Oliver Owl walks over to Beans rather annoyed but Beans gets his chance to say his pointless catchphrase "Beans is the name. One of the Boston Beans".

Oliver Owl then starts to grab Beans and chucks him out of the scene. Similar in You Ought to Be in Pictures when Henry Binder throws Porky out of the stage set - in a way. Beans is tossed out of the scene mainly landing on a lot of light beams. Beans the cat then lands into another scenery that is taking place (a model covered under the sheets).

Beans starts to look over the sheets which turns out to be a model of Frankenstein. Beans is frightened of the model and walks back but accidentally turns on the machines in which Frankenstein comes to life with the electric sockets bringing him to life. The animation of Frankenstein is just brilliant animation to look at and even the electric sockets are amazing to see.

Frankenstein then starts to step out of the table and walk through the walls (although the timing for walking through the wall isn't so great animation in my opinion).

The cameraman then makes a big surprise as he sees Frankenstein crashing through the doors but then gets a fright as he sees a closeup of Frankenstein eating up the camera and the cameraman exits the scene. As Frankenstein robot is eating the film camera; he then starts to spit out the gadgets and nuts; as well as film tape out of his mouth with bullet sounds being heard. Frankenstein then notices that the nut for his mouth is missing so digs inside his mouth to attach it back on. A nice little gag.

Frankenstein then walks onto the next part as
Little Kitty starts to make a double-take (Jack King's hat take) and then runs off. Frankenstein then looks over at the mirror in which he starts to make faces on it for fun. The Frankenstein mirror reflection then whacks the real Frankenstein out of the way and into the wall. Okay, but that gag came out of nowhere. Notice in the posters of the bar that there is a poster that reads "Hurricane Hardaway" that is a reference to director Ben Hardaway of course; but he was gone by then. I wonder if Hardaway was just leaving as this cartoon was in production?

Frankenstein then lands into a tub of water but then manages himself out of the tub. A funny gag pops up with a fountain coming out of his head with his hair being sprayed out. Frankenstein then starts to squirt the water out of his mechanical self. The animation of the mechanic squirting out the water has got some pretty careful timing and moves very well. Beans the cat then notices Frankenstein and has a plan to hopefully try and stop him.

Beans grabs out a long stick near the fan as he is planning to get Frankenstein good I imagine. Beans whacks Frankenstein with the metal pole but it appears that he is so tough that the pole twists around its body. Frankenstein then starts to use his strength in which the pole starts to explode and he is set free. Beans is in danger now. Big time. Beans starts to try and run away but is grabbed by Frankenstein who is holding onto his suspenders.

Beans is knocked out of the scene as he goes flying through and crashing onto doors and crashes onto more doors. Beans then lands on a wind machine in which it's another one of his plans which he assumes is going to work. I think the character personality of Beans shows that he's full of plans.

The wind machine is turned on but Frankenstein is still walking through trying to be so strong but doesn't realise that Beans is behind the wind machine and is pushing it. The animation movement is handled really well.
Frankenstein then starts to walk closer to the wind machine until Frankenstein finally enters inside that machine but is broken and smashed into many pieces as he does step inside. All of the pieces come out of nowhere. The next part then shows what Frankenstein's body looks like. The body has his head inside it but the arms are in the different positions and it feels like as though Frankenstein is being punching himself. Notice that there is a hamster inside his cage running around. This continues to happen to Frankenstein and....
...that's all folks!

Overall comments: The animation in that cartoon was very good and including that Frankenstein robot but the story itself was just mediocre and kind of got bland scenes in here. The filming scenes weren't very special and Beans' catchphrase isn't even great at all - it just doesn't make much sense to me. It's just playing on the word "beans" as I mentioned earlier. This is ANOTHER cartoon which is set at a studio and it's the 2nd cartoon in a row, and ironically both cartoons star Beans. Beans here is the star of this short again - but Oliver Owl does have a fair role in this short as well as Little Kitty. No Ham and Ex here and only Porky makes a cameo. Frankenstein was used in this cartoon since everyone back in the early 30s went crazy about the film and it was a huge hit; and probably the pinnacle of Boris Karloff's career. Not a terrible cartoon but not what I would watch and admire. Well, with this black-and-white Looney Tune finished (and we need to get through a Merry Melody) Tex Avery would've finally arrived at the studios and get ready for his arrival.


  1. The "Boston Beans" gag is something that Americans of the period, and even today would get immediately. The city of Boston is known for baked beans made with molasses to the point where Boston had (and still has) the nickname of "Beantown." In addition by introducing himself as "one of the Boston Beans" is mimicking the tendency of many wealthy people (the "old money" types) who introduced themselves by including their family's home city to differentiate themselves from other wealthy people with the same name or worse, from poor people with the same name. In short, by introducing himself as one of the "Boston Beans" our hero is putting on airs (that he probably doesn't deserve) and trying to impress people.

  2. Bob Clampett said Hansen was a woman who was able to do a little girl voice. I'll take his word for it. It's pretty evident listening to her that she's no child.
    Hardaway didn't leave the studio until the start of 1940. He was demoted to writing when Avery came and then ended up directing again a couple of years later.
    Tommy Turtle was supposed to be part of Schlesinger's "Our Gang"-inspired group, but it's evident the characters were being played with as some were in adulthood or adolescence here.

  3. Thanks Brent for the information. You know about dated info more than I do. Although I did type "Boston Beans" on a Google search engine but very little information popped up; and I didn't know what else to do.