Sunday, 18 March 2012

131. Let it Be Me (1936)

Warner cartoon no. 130.
Release date: May 9, 1936.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger
Starring: Bernice Hansen (Emily).
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.
Animation: Bob McKimson and Don Williams.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Syponsis: Craze over caricatured Bing Crosby rooster steals chicken's girl to stay in the city.

Bernard Brown's last musical score credit for this cartoon; as Norman Spencer takes over briefly; did he die suddenly after that. I knew that he had something to do with alcoholism but some say he left or died in '36 - which is right?

Our cartoon begins with a radio station where the signal is strong. As we PAN down to see the radio station we find a group of hens (chicks) standing outside the radio station. Bing Crosby is heard singing in which they're flattered as he sings the song I Wanna Woo. The "singer" was in fact a Bing Crosby rooster in which he's singing on the microphones as all the chicks are listening to him on the radio very flattered of this singing. I guess that at the time there was a huge craze of famous crooner Bing Crosby back then in which it is shown in this short.

There are a group of hens at home listening to Bing sing tenderly on the radio as they all crowd around. There is a chick that runs into the room to listen to him. The chicks push the chick out of the way as though she's hogging up the radio - what's the difference it's not like as though it's television (even though TV sets for home didn't exist in those days).

There is a hen inside her hen house sitting on her nest in which she's got a picture of Mr. Bingo who is the name of the character of the Bing Crosby chicken. Watching this cartoon; I imagine that Frank Tashlin must have had some influence over this or could be a coincidence in Swooner Crooner which is a better cartoon.

The hen is admiring the picture of Mr. Bingo by hugging it until her mate enters the hen house in which she hides the picture away from him. The chicken then starts to grow jealous. Don't be jell, be reem. As she is trying to hide the picture away from the chicken by hiding it with her hands - the chicken is very suspicious and nosy. The hen starts to giggle but then hears the sounds of Bing Crosby singing on the radio and switches it off. Bernice Hansen does the giggles of the hen until the hen finds that she was looking at a picture of Mr. Bingo in which he stomps it on the floor and walks off. The hen then starts to weap in tears after the picture got stomped on (well; it's not ripped so it's still in a fine condition).

Mr. Bingo then continues to sing in his radio station to the rest of the ballard. I do wonder why Bing Crosby was caricatured in cartoons as a rooster? The song has finished at Mr. Bingo exits the radio station to be greeted by a number of his "chick fans" who were the same chicks standing outside that radio station at the beginning of the cartoon.

Mr. Bingo walks out in a sophisticated pose greeting to them "Good morning, girls" as he raises his hat to them. They all giggle at him with admiration. What tarts. Mr. Bingo then walks out in his nice walk cycle until he throws his rosette from his suit to one of a lucky lady. The "lucky lady" would be difficult to decide since the joke is that they fight over the rosette from Mr. Bingo which could get to the result of it being damaged if the fighting continues.

Meanwhile back at the countryside is a local chicken farmer that wears dungarees and a straw hat walking down holding onto some flowers for his girlfriend (or wife) I would imagine. The chicken then walks home in which he knocks on the door in which his girlfriend, Emily looks at the chicken as he blushes, "I brought you some posies, Emily" he says. He replies with a "Thank you". Very shy to probably ask her out although they are probably dating; but I don't know and I don't need to go into such analysis over that.

Mr. Bingo's car is driving down the countryside as he's probably enjoying the beauty side of it while I imagine that he would live in the city streets; perhaps. He honks his car with a type of horn that even has some rhythm to it.

As the chicken is about to tell Emily something (maybe on a date - or whatnot) but then Emily hears the sounds of Mr. Bingo's car as she then sees him. She shouts "Oh, it's Mr. Bingo". Mr. Bingo's car then starts to drive past Emily and the chicken until he skids past the house and spots her in which she becomes a matter of interest to him.

Mr. Bingo raises his hat as he says "Good mornin' my pretty lady". Emily is rather shy as she covers her face blushing with the giggles as she also admires him. Mr. Bingo then looks up and down at her physique in which he is impressed with her looks (but for a human just sitting down at the audience watching the cartoon - who would?). I like the point of view shot of Mr. Bingo looking up and down at Emily's physique although I'm not going to complain if she has breasts because hens HAVE breasts but just not in the shape of a human.

The boyfriend who probably could've had his chance with her unless Mr. Bingo wasn't in the way with her. He starts to turn green with envy. It's a pretty good colorful effect presented here that shows us we know he's clearly jealous and envious. The chicken kicking the dirt on the ground is another example of personality wise animation. Could this be one of them "Bob McKimson possible scenes?".

Mr. Bingo opens the door of his car and offers Emily a ride around the city in which she accepts. The car then leaves which leaves the chicken left out and alone because Mr. Bingo has managed to "score a chick" easily. ;-) - you can makes puns out of these.

The next sequence focuse on some decent confetti animation as balloons are rising as it appears to be that Emily is having the night of a lifetime. Mr. Bingo and Emily are at a rather snappy restaurant in the city where they are seated athe corner section of the city restaurant.

Mr. Bingo then passes Emily a bottle of red wine and offers her a glass in which she rejects (How come? Is she teetotal or something or just too drunk?) Mr. Bingo then continues to woo her with his "boo-boo-bo-boo" sounds in which she giggles while Mr. Bingo is acting all flirty. She replies with "Oh Bingo", in which he gives her a glass of wine as she originally rejected from. She takes a drink but suddenly gets to the point of choking as though it's the most horrid wine she's ever tasted or something. Nothing to do with Teetotalism but probably just doesn't like wine, I guess. Then what DOES she like to DRINK?

There is then an entertainment singer hen in the city. Gee, it appears to be a world or another dimension where only chickens and hens are like us humans. Okay; I know I'm probably thinking too much of Who Killed Cock Robin but that hen singer isn't meant to be a Mae West caricature at all - isn't it?

Mr. Bingo then starts to loose interest in Emily in which he is more interested in the club singer. The singer acts all flirtatious around him as she reaches the table where he is sitting at. If only Freleng made wild takes in this short (or if Avery worked on it) then it would be more entertaining.

Emily then starts to get rather cross in which she is flirting with the singer in which she drags his sleeve to try and move elsewhere. Mr. Bingo then asks her to scram by using body language with his arm. She starts to cry loudly since he doesn't love her anymore.

Mr. Bingo then brings out a waiter to toss out Emily in which he does so as he is taken out of the nightclub hotel. She starts to pick herself up since she has got a footprint stuck on her rear end that clearly tells us she was booted out of the hotel. She walks away from the hotel, sobbing.

A title card then dissolves into the screen with the words moving on the story Time Staggers On it reads. Emily is seen in the middle of the streets in the city rather homeless and freezing as there is a blizzard blowing around the city.

This is some pretty serious scenes here as she has nowhere to stay. Instead she's in the middle of the streets trying to sell violets as she barks it out to try and attract any customers but none it works. Floristry has clearly been a failure for her.
Meanwhile back at home the rooster who loved Emily from earlier on in the cartoon is walking up and down the house and looking at the picture of Emily he has rather saddened that she's relocated to the city.

The radio then starts to play Mr. Bingo's music on the radio to the same song that was played at the end of the cartoon. The rooster finally cannot take another minute of listening to Mr. Bingo's music as he gives up his own radio and smashes it onto the floor. I like that little gag at the end where Mr. Bingo does his "boom-boom-boom" sounds in which the radio is making the reaction beat sounds but then it dies down until the radio has finally broken. The rooster then plans to go out and find Emily himself to win her; and bring her back home. As he opens the door; the blizzard is almost blowing him away as he keeps on opening doors as he almost crashes by - which is some type of cartoon humor but very slow and unfunny comic timing presented.

The rooster then starts to march out of the house as he already appears to have been in the city in about a matter of seconds. Already in this head he's thinking about getting revenge on Mr. Bingo on whatever he had done to Emily and plans on strangling him - which is of course a dark thought to have; and definitely a lot of hatred.

Over at the radio startion where Mr. Bingo is singing his song; the chicken storms into the "Poultry Broadcasting" station. He then see some off-screen violence going on inside the station as we know that Mr. Bingo has been beaten up. The chicken (who is unnamed throughout this cartoon as I know of) then walks out of the station since he done his part of the job.

The chicken is then standing on the pavements of the empty street that has nothing but snow lying on top of it. The chicken has no hope  of finding his girl Emily that he's always loved.

It doesn't happen until a spark of luck just arrived as he turned around the edge of a building where Emily is found shivering in the streets trying to sell violets. As she shouts "Violets" - the chicken then turns around and shouts "Emily!" with amazement as they both reunite, as she replies with "Am I so glad to see ya? Don't you ever leave me again!" WHAT?! She left HIM; so why did she say that; and saying that were THEY already a couple by then or what? This is just doing my head in; as I can no longer care if they're already going out, married or not.

The next sequence then focuses that Emily and the chicken are now a family as they've raised baby chicks. The father is sitting down on his armchair reading a book by the toasty fire while Emily is doing the knitting also by the fireplace. Life is very settled for them with the baby chicks.

It  becomes settled until the piano sounds from one of their chucks is singing the tune to one of Mr. Bingo's songs from the Poultry Broadcasting station on  top of piano keyboards. The father throws a book at the chick to cut off the racket as the annoying singing has finally ended which is a funny gag to end the cartoon to show they're anti-Mr. Bingo citizens.

Overall comments:  This was an average cartoon in my opinion and I didn't find it particularly exciting and this certainly isn't The Swooner Crooner where it was funnier and even popular with fans. The animation in some parts of it was in fact pretty good. The relationship between the chicken and Emily confused me enough because I wasn't sure if he was going to ask her out or if they were already going out. I like how that he males dislike the influence of Mr. Bingo from the craze of the hens - when this probably used to happen to Bing Crosby. I admit the character designs of the Emily hen has some appeal to it; even though this isn't something out of a 1940's character design. The effect of the green skinned color on the chicken character is a good use of mood by jealousy.


  1. Ironically, Freleng and the real Bing would team up in 1969 for DePatie-Freleng's Three Bears special with Bing's daughter by that time Mary Frances "I Shot J.R.on Dallas" Crosby, with Paul Winchell as the grumpy Mr.Bobcat. Of course bing became a longtime institution by then..[Papa Bear as Jones directed him the in the 1940s would be what Bing's rival Sinatra would be fabled for being, in addition to being the nect crooner-tough 'n' rough.] Bernice Hansen not only voices Emily but all chicks [all sounding like SHirley Temple.]Steve C., California

  2. Although animation books cite "Bingo Crosbyana" as the cartoon that got Bing's dander up and let to a letter to the Schlesinger studio from his lawyers, this one's actually rougher on him -- he's a coward in the other picture, but here its inferred he had the nightclub staff toss Emily out in the cold to freeze to death. Crosby fared much better in the cartoons from the studio's other units, before and after these two were made.

    (Aside from his axe to grind with ladies' man der Bingle -- a trait we'd see from Friz 20-plus years later with Elvis -- Freleng also apparently wasn't too fond of the also very self-confident 1930s St. Louis Cardinals "Gas House Gang" baseball team. They'd get theirs twice from Friz, in "Boulevardier from the Bronx" and a decade later in "Baseball Bugs".)

  3. Apparently Bing Crosby sued over both "Bingo Crosbyana" and this one. Understandable I think since both cartoons portray him as a serial seducer while he had been married since 1930 to his first wife Dixie Lee. How happy the marriage really was is at best questionable - at the time of her death Dixie Lee was an alcoholic.

  4. Very interesting stories. I heard when Crosby spoke to Frank Tashlin in the '50s about how he hated being caricatured in "Swooner Crooner" and Frank laughed "Not only did I design it but I animated it".