Saturday, 24 March 2012

134. Bingo Crosbyana (1936)

Warner cartoon no. 133.
Release date: May 30, 1936.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Billy Bletcher (Spider).
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Cal Dalton and Sandy Walker.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Flies dominate the kitchen for the night eating food; while the males get jealous of swooned females over Bing Crosby before a spider arrives to attack the females.

This is the cartoon that apparently Bing Crosby filed for lawsuit to sue Leon Schlesinger because he disliked the way he was caricatured in this short as a fly. Friz seemed to have had Bing Crosby on his mind in 1936 when he also made the caricatured Crosby in Let It Be Me which is more insulting than this short - although I think he sued Schlesinger for BOTH shorts. Crosby seemed to have disliked being caricatured as animals in shorts as he disliked the way he was caricatured in "Swooner Crooner".

Our cartoon begins with a kitchen table where it's laid out with a cloth and a plate of spaghetti in the middle of the table. Two bugs approach to the table as they fly in. They both find both ends of a spaghetti as they suck it into their stomachs as the amount of spaghetti shortens. After that; they're down to one last piece of spaghetti left in which they crash their heads into each other. Mmm; I wouldn't mind having some spaghetti right now in fact.

Another group of flies then grab out a piece of macaroni from the cupboard as they find an orange fruit. They use the macaroni as a straw to suck the juicy parts inside their bodies but since their bodies are small - they turn fat from the food before they need to digest. Eating gags here are being presented in this short but at least I can say it makes the cartoon charming overall; since Freleng has his own humor of gags although so far this just feels like one of his 1935 shorts.

There are two bugs that are playing sports with one bug using a safety pin and tooth picks for a bow and arrow and the other bug with a garden pea on top of his head. The bug starts to lose focus on his ability in which his eyes start to turn weary. The point of view shot of the bug with a pea on top of his head turns all blurry which is a good effect.

The bug starts to lose his patience in which he almost shoots with the tooth pick not aiming at the pea in which the bug runs off with the bug rather confused. The bug returns with a huge pumpkin on his head rather convinced he won't get jabbed by the tooth pick but the bug loses focus and accidentally shoots it at the bug in which he flies out of the scene. Now that is a rather funny gag since he thinks he will aim at the pumpkin easily. The fly has it's wings stuck to the wall; luckily it wasn't his stomach or any parts of the body. Some rather neat effects on the blur shown here; although watching this cartoon again it feels like another remake of The Lady in Red but instead it just shows bugs, and no civilization, Spanish cockroaches or even a parrot.

We view to a group of teapots on top of a pantry where teapots are stored there are a group of female bugs that are swooned by the silhouetted bug of Bing Crosby. All of the ladies are admiring his singing. There is a lady bug in some type of box of matches attached to a wall or something but gets dragged inside by the mother who thinks of Crosby as a bad influence I imagine. The mother bug then pours a cup of water all over the Crosby bug. Maybe that's what probably got the real Bing Crosby insulted by. I wouldn't understand why Bing would be insulted by the flattery here since it doesn't seem harmful at all; at least before the mother approaches the scene.

The women bugs are then singing the title song I imagine (although I'm not too sure of the song they are singing) in which there is a male bug standing by a water bottle trying to get attention from the bugs as well as a few other bugs.

The Bing Crosby bug is in a part of which I guess you can call - the dressing area. The Bing Crosby bug then places a Mexican hat on top of him and grabs out some perfume spray to spray on his face. He walks off in a pose to woo the women again. The character design is appealing but it doesn't look like Bing Crosby that much although maybe it's the modest attitude I guess.

The Bing Crosby bug then walks up to the lady bugs in which he swings his hat around his body in a greeting pose. All of the girls then start to giggle with admiration as the Crosby bug starts to go into song as he picks his guitar up. Although I must say; why does the guitar he has only got one string?! Did he keep on tuning the guitar wrongly in which the strings broke?

The Bring Crosby fly then starts to go into song as he sings the title song Bingo Crosbyana. I really dislike on why the guitar only has one string; and HOW are you going to get rhythm to the song he's playing with only one string? The lady bugs are also singing with Bing Crosby bug as well that sing the title song along with him as well.

After the song has completed the Bing Crosby bug then starts to demonstrate on what he can do (to probably woo the ladies even more I guess). He says; "You ain't seen nothin' yet" as he throws his guitar inside a pot as he is about to prepare himself. He runs down the table in which he starts to fly with his wings out like an airplane.

The Bing Crosby fly then flies down the table in which he flies through the holes of the cheese that is laid out on the table. Wouldn't it have been more impressive if the fly could even eat the cheese rather than flying through the holes as it's just boring to look at?

The Bingo Crosby bug then flies past the men bugs on top of the table as they duck their heads. The boyfriend bugs then step back up as they shake their fists with jealousy and rage. As a cuckoo comes out of a clock; it jumps with fright as the Bing Crosby bug flies past it removing all of the feathers.

The Crosby fly then flies down an armchair in which it grabs out a pin from a pin cushion. All of the children bugs look past the bug with amazement as though it's something incredible that they have seen; although I don't know what the fuss is about. The Crosby fly even zooms past the children with the shorts they're wearing fall down as they cover themselves with embarrassment.

As the fly has the buttons by the thread; he lights a match on an attached metal match box in which he starts to write in smoke. He writes up in the air "How'm I doin'" until he flies down the table with a bumpy stop. The animation timing of the bumpy stop is pretty impressive to look at. At the fly has finished the lady bugs all go up to him admiringly as he is the man of the hour (well; he could be the man of the hour forever).

All of the ladies go up to him as he's won the hearts of them. The male bugs then look at each other enviously in which they crowd together to think of a plan. As Bing Crosby looks at the ladies; he picks one in which he chooses to dance with. The dance sequence then begins with Bing Crosby bug and the woman bug dance to the title song sung by an off-screen chorus.

This is certainly some dance routine that is being shown so I can't imagine it being boring at all. It's lively and at least the off-screen chorus show some spirit here. The movement is done pretty well but I wonder if any live-action was used for the animators here or if this was all done by scratch?

Meanwhile there is a  bug that is itching but then uses a match box to scratch it's behind but at least there is some clever ideas used for the bug to go into rhythm while scratching. A good idea but it doesn't  make the rhythm vey catchy or appealing to me; the dance is more appealing to look at.

The female lady singers are still going into song while the Bing Crosby bug and the lucky woman bug are still dancing to the spiritual song. After the song has finished - all of the ladies appaer to be very satisfied - but not the men bugs who are groaning with jealousy.

Meanwhile up in the shelf by the ceiling lives a spider who looks pretty evil and the type of spider that would eat bugs and flies. The spider then starts to slide down the spider web in which he plans to kidnap the lady bug. The spider then starts to approach until the lady screams.

The Bing Crosby bug then turns around in which he starts to turn yellow with fright - only the colors change - nothing really expressive animation wise. The spider then starts to try and kidnap the lady bug but fails to do so in which he keeps on trying to grab her with his arms and hands. Is it he or is the animation of the spider there just really sloppy when you look at the movement and it's very unrealistic with unrelated poses. The lady bug then starts to run off in which the chase sequence begins as it appears to be Friz Freleng is back to his old formula that he loved to use back in 1934.

The females then start to run off in which the spider is attempting to chase after them. The animation again in this part is also sloppy animation since the arm movements are juts bad posing with lots of volume changing. I wish that  there were better assistant work shown here. This reminds me of very early 1930s Disney work from the Silly Symphonies that had sloppy animation like "King Neptune" except probably not as bad if you look at the mermaid fight.

The girls then start to hide in a piece of wax paper so that the spider won't be able to get through. The Bing Crosby bug then steps out of the teacup in which he steps inside the wax paper but only to be pushing the women bugs out because of not much room. Which means that the ladies are in trouble since Bing Crosby bug is acting all cowardly - probably why the real Bing Crosby didn't like it.

The spider then starts to plop his head inside the wax paper and as for the male bugs it's up to them to save the day. The boyfriends then start to grab out a type of kitchen utensil with an electric whisk at the end of it.

One of the bugs hold onto the reel in which the whisk spins around as the spider gets the horrible feeling of it on his behind which even looks painful as it's presented. The spider then steps out with an aching behind until he spots a bug in which he starts to chase after him since he was part of the whisk scenario.

The bug then starts to run to a champaigne bottle in which he lets go of the cork with the spider landing onto an electric socket. The bug turns on the switch in which the electric socket goes off with the spider acting all spasticated with the socket flying around. The timing is okay; but this is not even as impressive as Hitler being electrocuted from the socket in "Russian Rhapsody".

The spider then starts to land after the electrocution from the socket but his luck runs out since he lands onto a piece of flypaper on the table which means he's stuck and has no chance of escaping. At least that was a wise idea to have the spider trapped by a piece of flypaper since he now has no chance of escaping and at least the women are impressed with what's happening.

The Bingo Crosby bug then steps out of the wax paper rollup to look outside to see what has happened since he missed the scene. What a cowardly act he performed - and would have no chance of scoring with the ladies again.

The Bing Crosby bug then walks over standing on a spoon looking at the spider stuck on flypaper. The Bing Crosby says in an arrogant tone, "Well we certainly got him this time" in which the male bug has had enough of him and stands on the edge end of the spoon catapulting him in which he lands onto a cup of tea. I wonder if THAT also annoyed Bing Crosby when he saw that cartoon? The Bing Crosby bug looks over rather confused at to what had happened.

Overall comments: I would understand why maybe Bing Crosby would've hated his appearance on "Let it Be Me" but this cartoon isn't even as harmful as the earlier short. I guess Crosby hated it because of the modesty of the character in here and considering that he's only popular with the lady bugs and disliked by the males; and Bing didn't want to be thought that way. I don't know if this was true but I'm only going to say that this is a theory. This short appears to steal ideas from Friz's earlier cartoons like the Let it Be Me idea of the swooned females; or the bug concept in "Let it Be Me". The animation was good on some parts but sloppy on the other with the spider chasing after the female being one. I should point out that the backgrounds for this cartoon were done from photography by the studio in which the reason why the backgrounds rather real looking; thanks Carl Howard for the information.


  1. I remember seeing this cartoon for the first time, back in the days when Ted Turner's superstation in Atlanta pretty much had the monopoly on the Warner Brothers cartoons, and even before I knew that Crosby had launched a suit about it I could totally understand WHY he would be incensed as to the content of the cartoon. There's no real attempt at caricature in the cartoon except in the singing, and even that is a bit of a reach. The only thing that Friz is really using is his name, and he's associating that name with a character who is a womanizing braggart who turns out to be a coward. And he's doing that without any real indication that those characteristics are part of Crosby's real character. Caricatures are one thing - they'd always show Clark Gable with big ears or Greta Garbo with big feet - but attributing traits that aren't publicly known about someone to a cartoon character (even if they were widely known) was very close to libel. Friz definitely crossed the line with this one.

    1. I still think "Let It Be Me" was crueler. Yeah, the ending to this wad insulting, but it was mostly innocuous prior to that.

  2. I guess Friz also crossed the line since he used Bgin Crosby caricatures in his cartoon twice in a row.