Sunday, 4 March 2012

123. Alpine Antics (1936)

Warner cartoon no. 122.
Release date: January 18, 1936.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Jack King.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Billy Bletcher (Bully) and Bernice Hansen (Little Kitty).
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Riley Thompson and Jack Carr.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

Our cartoon begins in the Alps where it is all snow that is beautiful. There is an off-screen vocal group singing in the rhythm of She Was an Acrobat's Daughter but the parody song is called She Was an Ice Skater's Daughter. There is a cow skater who is skating in the middle of the frozen lake. If you think about it - I wonder if King got the cow idea from Clarabelle Cow by Disney? They certainly resemble each other via character design.

The cow is performing us some tricks on the ice rink in which she uses her tail to spin around the frozen lake. The animation of the cow dancing on the frozen lake is pretty good animation. It turns out the the off-screen chorus singers were a group of snowmen that are singing and dancing. The weird part is when the snowmen have legs to move - won't they wobble?! They appear to be ignorant since they walk past a campfire (why would there be a campfire in the snow? To keep people warm I guess?) The snowmen the sing off the last part of the song in which they melt in time.

There is a dog creature that is all wrapped up in a warm, furry coat. He snuggles up his face under the coat to keep warm. He appears to be keeping warm by a steaming teapot to try and keep his hands up as he is in fact shivering.

The teapot then starts to boil which shows that it's ready. The dog then carries the teapot with him to a cracked part of the frozen lake where it is a small pond.The dog pours the steaming water into the lake in which he takes off his coat to dive as though he's relaxing in a hot-tub or something. As the dog dives; he is covered inside an ice cube in which the water has proved not to be warm enough with just a small boiling teapot. Hah; no wonder there was a "Danger" sign next to it.

There are a group of cows that appear to he wearing a pair of ice skates with 3 skating shoes in one - there is also a little pup that skates beneath their legs. The music in the background is still "Acrobat's Daughter" and the animation of the skaters is good animation.

 We see some shots of more skaters dancing such as a turtle that is dancing in ice skates. You can see the reflection of the turtle underneath the ice in which the reflection comes to life. The reflection turtle then seems to notice that he's under the ice in which the turtle does a hat-take because of that gag.

Meanwhile Beans and Little Kitty are sitting on a sledge riding but Beans skids the sledge as he notices a notice poster that is hanging on a shed. Beans then approaches the poster as he wants to read what's going on in the Alps? The poster reads:

NOTICE Annual SKI-RACE Starts 1PM TODAY. $100,000,000 in Prizes or a Cool $2.00 cash to the winner!
Of course; $100'000'000 was a mega a lot of money back then (and how would those sponsoring the competition even afford that money)? You'd probably be thinking since this is set in the Alps and yet they're using American dollars. I'd say it's suitable to use it since we don't  want to complicate things further by telling us they're real currency at the time with the currency symbol.

Beans turns over to Little Kitty and tells her, "Big race today, Kitty". He walks to pick up his skiing board and declares "Oh boy. Watch me win this race". We then PAN onto the bully of the Alps walks up to Beans and Little Kitty. The bully looks like Peg Legged Pete here (Disney). Boy; I wonder if King was influenced with Disney characters for this short since he's clearly used some.

The bully then approaches Beans as he slides him off the ski board and flicks him out of the way. The bully then breaks the ski boards in half by snapping it. The bully shouts "Ha!" and then walks off. Beans now has a competitive, arrogant bully to deal with. Beans is very annoyed of the bully in which he really wants to pound him as he demonstrates on how to do it. He tells Little Kitty, "I'll show that big stiff!" Beans removes the sledge off the board in which he starts to use them as skii boards.

The race is to begin and Beans arrives at the start line on time. Beans just happens to be standing next to the bully who broke his ski boards earlier on. Beans then chuckles nervously. The bully then grabs out a firework since he's most likely got a trick for Beans. The bully then pulls Beans' hat down as he struggles to put his hat back up (it must be really tight then).

The bully then places the firework in Beans' ski board in which he tightens the firework with a watch so it won't  fly off. The bully then strikes a match in which Beans goes off..ZOOM!

Beans goes flying over the place as he zooms around an empty shed - crashing the roofs occasionally. That scene is pretty amazing and in such speed. It's only roughly three seconds when back then it would take longer and the timing would've been slower and unfunny. Beans hits the ground feeling rather weary.

Beans then gets back onto his feet in which as the bully laughs at his humiliated incident. The turtle  on top of a tree then starts to begin the race with is gun but as he blasts - the turtle's shell starts to spin around numerous times. The race then begins in which all the other contestants start the race but the dog delays itself as he's riding on some type of bike to go through the snow that does take effort to go through.The turtle's shell continues to spin but lands on the snow before the turtle's legs, arms and heads pop out as he is rather dizzy. Well; turtle gags are fun - no question.

Beans then starts to begin the race but the bully is already in the lead ahead of Beans.

There are other competitors that are in the race; such as the dog cycling; and (probably) a cameo appearance of Porky Pig riding on a rocking horse with snow flying on his face from the competitor in front of him. There are all kinds of strange competitors that are using a raft (plus a bellows for wind resistance), and also a duck riding a dachshund. Beans is skiing down the hill but does try to be careful. The bully looks back at to see Beans and laughs at him. The bully then slides down a hill which goes pretty fast (I like the animation of the background going forward even though it's just a cycle). The bully then skiis off the edge of the cliff and lands safely in a parachute.

The bully then skiis down to a tree to hide in. We know that he's probably "too competitive" and doesn't like losing. He has another trick up his sleeve. He finds a way of cheating by grabbing out a piece of rope and ties it to a ski pole. After that the bully then the bully aims his pole to another tree as he throws it like a spear. It causes trouble for the contestant as he trips over and lands backwards in the snow; still peddling. The next contestant is the pig on a rocking horse.

The bully continues to prank on many of the contestants as they still trip over the rope and a funny gag shows with three pigs landing on thick snow but their pig tails made bell sounds. The bully then sees Beans skiing through and laughs to think that he is going to be next.

Beans skiis past but only lands on the pole in which the ski pole is unattached to the tree and the ropes swirl around the bully leaving him tied up. It was a fine gag; but it's still one of the "impossible things" in which it doesn't work too well but it can be accepted. The bully gets angered as he steams up; his body builds up as the ropes snap - now that does work; as cartoons use it all the time except the timing is slow.

 The bully then starts to pick up the pace as he tries to overtake Beans' position. Beans is jumping from one cliff to another but his ski boards land on the edge of the cliff leaving him wobbling; and stuck. Probably the first cartoon to use one of Treg Brown's "boing" Jew's harp effect.

Beans is still stuck in the position as the bully has now overtaken his position. Luck comes by as a duck and a dachshund are still in the race; and they slide down the cliff and back up. Beans is no longer stuck on the cliff as the dachshund forms a loop with the duck running inside; like a hamster.

The duck and dachshund are close to overtaking the bully's position in which the bully blocks then from trying to past. The dachshund then changes standing position to trip the bully out of the way. Now the duck and dachshund are leading - until they crash into the tree with the dachshund standing in the wrong position; with the dog all tied to the tree. Beans overtakes the bully by sliding past his knocked down ski boards. The bully stands back up in which there is a sequence of Beans going over lumpy hills that leads him flying and the bully overtaking.

The bully is still overtaking Beans; and Beans doing his attempt as well. They are eventually both standing on each other (with the bully standing on Beans' head). They almost crash into a house but the bully skiis on top of the roof while Beans just goes through. Huh; no crash - was the door just open? The bully then trips on a branch but spins the branch around. Then; it spins back leaving him flying and overtaking Beans again.

The crowd are still cheering on the winning contestant to win but the bully finds itself hitting on thin ice in which the ice block turns over with Beans skiing past it and finally wins the race. The bully's head pops out of the ice underwater in which Beans trips and lands onto thin ice. It turned out that the bully had that last trick up his sleeve despite losing.

Overall comments: Beans has been used pretty often in the cartoons (well; he is the leader of the Beans gang - of course). There were some fine gags in this cartoon that did work and deserved to be accepted. Of course; this cartoon feels like watching a Mickey Mouse cartoon made from around 1932-1934 with the influences that show Peg Legged Pete; or Clarabelle Cow. Jack King must've had influence somewhere. I really like the use of sound effects here that appears to be used more often in this cartoon that worked well; well done Treg Brown. The animation was pretty good in this cartoon; particularly the beginning with the skaters. The speed is starting to improve; although the timing is still slow on the skiing race sequence. I thought it showed improvement of when Beans has the rocket in his ski board. Little Kitty has a minor role in this cartoon (as well as others); and hasn't had her own cartoon yet - but probably doesn't need one.


  1. "Little Kitty doesn't make an appearance"

    But, but, I thought you said "Beans turns over to Little Kitty"...

  2. #OldestCartoonBoomerangUSAHasShownInALongTime