Saturday, 3 March 2012

122. I Wanna Play House (1936)

Warner cartoon no. 121.
Release date: January 11, 1936.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Bernice Hansen (Little Bears).
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.
Animation: Cal Dalton and Sandy Walker.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

The first WB cartoon to use the famous concentric rings in which it is the trademark of the WB cartoons; and would be used until 1964 in many, many cartoons. At least it shows an improvement on the designs for the titles; with those fancy rings.

 Our cartoon begins with a sleeping bear that is snoring taking an afternoon nap. We PAN to the right to see these group of bear cubs that are playing with each other frolicking around. The scene where they scatter around on the ground rolling has some pretty bad inbetweening - I have to say.

As they are playing; the black cub then starts to punch at the brown cub's face in which the brown cub begins to chase after the brown cub. The black cub then runs away from the brown cub but encounters a turtle as though he's never seen one before. The cub then starts to follow the turtle. Notice how the turtle walking is just a cycle but it's full animation as he turns his around to the cub. The cycle of the turtle is okay.

 The bear cub is sniffing the back part of the turtle to get the scent but what the cub gets instead is the turtle's head turning around the rear end and bites the cub in the nose. The cub runs off screaming loudly as the turtle walks off in the animation cycle.

The bear cub is crying after being bitten on the nose. The brown cub then laughs at the black cub's misfortune in which angers the black cub. The black cub then starts to retaliate by attempting to throw a rock at the cub but the brown cub dodges. The rock ends up hitting the parent of the cubs - I'd say it's their mother; even though the grunting sounds like a father; but the mother mammal often have the responsibility of looking after the children. The mother cub then starts to walk up to her cubs trying to figure out who threw the rock at her.

 Both cubs don't want to take the blame and then both blame one another both pointing at each other. We all know that it was the black cub's fault - if only this was some type of children's pantomime where an audience member would shout "He did it!".

Since the mother doesn't know who did it and both cubs are blaming each other - she starts to spit  out of his mouth and onto her hands. She grounds her fist to her hand where the spit will land; and will assume who's got the blame. Now that is not a fair way of doing that. The spit lands in the position of the brown cub in which he is given a smack in the rear end. The black cub then starts to creep out of the scene trying not to get involved in this situation. The black cub then runs off to hide by a tree. The brown cub is feeling the pain from his rear end in which he rubs it. He also walks to the tree where the black cub is standing.

 The two cubs then meet together again but the black cub then tries to bury the hatchet as he suggests, "Why don't you and I play hide and go seek?" The brown cub then agrees to play in which the brown cub is counting and the black cub is hiding. I don't know if the dialogue scenes are still Hansen but I know the brown cub counting is definitely her.

The cub then starts to run off as the cub is counting. I do wonder how much the cub will count up to since it hasn't been direct to how long?
 The cub then starts to run off pretty far in which he reaches the edge of the cliff where there is a gypsy cart at the bottom. The cub slides down the tree but also hits the branches. The cub is now on the ground and the starts to enter the gypsy caravan.

The cub is pleased to see that there is a lot of food prepared on the table as well as comfy bunk beds. This feels like a paradise for the bear cub. Meanwhile the brown bear cub is still counting and ends up counting past "500" by counting the numbers chronologically "501...502...503...504".
 The black bear cub is on the kitchen table preparing a feast for him by stuffing sandwiches with some meat, cheese, etc. The sandwich becomes very tall (after the bear places on olive on top). The bear then adjusts the sandwich to squeeze it downwards for normal size.

The bear is still eating his sandwich until he finds a bottle of cider and probably mistakes it for a drink that is non-alcoholic. The bear then starts to feel very weary and dizzy afterwards in which he almost passes out.
 Meanwhile the brown bear cub is still counting continuously (this time counting "15'010 ... 15'011 ... 15'012", now that is a pretty funny scene. The counting rate is just exaggeration but it shows some charm and probably amazing for a cub to count so high. Of course; you'd tend to count to at least "20-30" in Hide and seek; but I like how it is still counting in it's thousands.

Back in the cart; the black cub is clearly drunk as he hiccups. The cub giggles every-time he hiccups. We get a pretty decent point-of-view shot of the cub's view of the cart which shows the room being very wobbly and dizzy. One of those great point-of-view shots of a drunken person's eyesight. The cub hiccups again and it turns into laughter.

 Back at the same old tree; the brown bear cub is still counting this time up to one million. Okay; now the joke is just getting old - GET ON WITH IT. The brown cub then finishes counting at "1'000'002"; which is a very weird number to end counting in Hide and Seek. Did HE just set the counting time to that; or just waited until the black cub shouted "Ready?" or something. It isn't clear to me because when he turns around rather cross; and I don't know if it's the latter I said.

The black bear cub places a hat on top of his head but hiccups with the hat landing on his tail. The drunken pig is therefore singing the song (probably I've Got to Sing a Song Because I'm Gay but I'm not too sure). The song finishes with an interrupted tomato splat on the black cub that was caused by the brown cub.

The brown cub and black cub then meet each other again as they give each other dirty looks. They both then start to fight one another by punching. As they are both still fighting one of the cubs accidentally turns on a switch in which the clamps of the wheel is released from the cart and then begins a dangerous rides.  Now that's a sequence that we haven't seen since the Harman-Ising cartoons.

The gypsy cart is therefore rolling down the hill which the two cubs are in peril. They look out the window and they both don't know what to do.

They both then try to turn around the cart as they are on the road on top of a mountain. They turn the cart for the cart to skid like a car as they are reaching a turning point. They both can't bare the look on the fact that they are in danger and are at risk of being killed.

I do quite like the animation for the cart driving down the mountain but it moves like a cart and trailers don't do that. The next scene is a reused idea from old Harman-Ising productions where the cart is sliding through the trees; with it's wheels extending to show the legs - I guess.

The cubs inside the cart are running around in panic as to what is doing to happen. They both see the switch in which they decide to stop it in which the cart skids. The cart then starts to skid until the wheels fly out left with no wheels at all.

The skidding then ends when the cart crashes into a tree. The two cubs then step out of the cart with plates, cups and other items falling down crashing onto the brown cub in which he feels rather weary.
The mother bear then starts to notice the cubs in which she was looking for them all along. The mother then sniffs the bottle of cider and then recognises the smell of alcohol. The mother is very annoyed when she sees the brown cub walking very weary but takes it as a misunderstanding since the brown cub does look like she's walking drunk.

Ah-ha; it seems that he overall theme in this cartoon is "blame"; and the black cub gets away with mischief a lot just like when he threw that stone or when he was drunk.

The mother cub then starts to spank the brown cub in which it appears to yell like a monkey for some reason. The black bear looks at the spanking and realises that this is the penalty for misbehaving. The black bear then starts to walk out of the scene pretending not to have had any involvement in it whatsoever.

The black cub is still walking out of the way pretending to act all innocent and all. The mother bear has finished with the child; but the brown bear's behaviour has turned aggressive since he picks up a rock and throws it at the black cub. The black cub then feels the smack of being hit by the rock and hits the ground looking back at how had hit him?

Overall comments: Interesting theme throughout the short since the blame is passed on the innocent. The two cubs are as bad as each other; but the black cub is probably the most mischievous. The sequence of the black cub acting all drunk was pretty entertaining; as well as the brown cub counting for a very long time and counting too much; until it got to the point were the joke was boring. This cartoon wasn't particularly special that probably only had a few moments. Goes to show that Freleng hasn't been immediately influenced yet by Avery; although Avery had only just started so that's a fair comparison. Not a special cartoon; pretty forgettable and that's all I'm going I have to say about the cartoon.


  1. Looking at the frame, I assumed the song was going to be "My Green Fedora" again from the short of the same name the year before. (It's even the same hat as well as the same bouncy step.) But that's going to be reused in "Toy Town Hall" a few month later...

  2. This had a lot of the animals in peril standby Friz would reuse in his next cartoon, "The Cat Came Back" [sewer pipe]..the That's all folks! had the "Sunday Go to Meetin' time"[onme of the 12 banned shorts]/"I Love to Singa" speedy graphic. The "Gay" song is actually the titel song but rewritten, or so says Internet Movie Database. The grown up bear when one of the baby bears throws the rock at him/her growls Ouch in Bletcher's voice..[?]Steve J.Carras, USA

  3. BTW That song seems to be "You took advantage of me", for whatever that's worth. :)

  4. There is a rumor that the original print of this cartoon was lost or destroyed after the Dubbed Version was created. That DV print first appeared on The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, Vol. 5 laserdisc set.