Sunday, 8 April 2012

146. Boulevardier From the Bronx (1936)

Warner cartoon no. 145.
Release date: October 10, 1936.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Bernice Hansell (Emily).
Animation: Paul Smith and Cal Dalton.
Musical Score: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

This is the first 'Merrie Melody' cartoon to use the famous 'Merrily We Roll Along' which would continue to be it's theme until 1964 and even the theme to Blue Ribbon reissues.

The cartoon begins with posters and banners all out in display as they reads; "BASEBALL TO-DAY EXHIBITION GAME - CHICAGO GIANTS vs. HICKSVILLE. DIZZY DAN WILL PITCH FOR THE GIANTS". Dizzy Dan must be a top notch player which means he must pitch or he'll "dizzy" people - just a thought. I guess the Dizzy Dan name is a parody to baseball player Dizzy Dean.

There is an orchestra band that is playing outside the Hicksville train station with a small sign reading "Welcome Dizzy Dan". The train then arrives at the platform of the train station. The train is found to still be moving as it stops further away from the train station. All of the other civilians then think of an idea as they move the train station further up as they push it.

All of the fans then start to cheer on their favourite fan that they admire "Dizzy Dan" from Bronx, New York. The rooster player Dizzy Dan then starts to moves out to the back part of the steam train. All of the fans then start to admire him outside cheering him on.

The chick girl (who we have seen in the cartoon Let it Be Me known as Emily) then starts to admire Dizzy Dan while on the platform dreamily remarking "Isn't he handsome?" as she goes into the giggles. Her boyfriend (I imagine) with the baseball bat looks at Dizzy Dan rather enviously as he replies with an "Arr". Looks like this is another repeated storyline from 'Let it Be Me' but instead it involves baseball; but the chick isn't going to be the major part of the story but seems to be willing to beat him in the game.

Dizzy Dan then starts to turn around as he shows off the back part of his baseball uniform with a glossy sign reading The Great Dizzy Dan that even has flashing lights. Now that's certainly a sign of arrogance.

Dizzy Dan then tells the band, "Okay Maestro, strike up the band" - in which of course "Maestro" is a Ben Bernie word he would use. The band then starts to play while Dizzy Dan is going into words about how he is the "Boulevardier from the Bronx" as he bounces his baseball and bragging on about skillful he is. A drummer then bangs on the drum with the letters "Hicksville Band" as the drummer bangs on the drum with the letters flying out. He then appears to go on about his standards with the "birds" as the chick is still admiring Dizzy Dan. Okay; but that Dizzy Dan certainly needs to lower his standards with the chicks. The crowd then cheer on Dizzy Dan after his speech about himself and certainly HAS A LOT to say about himself.

On the day of the match as it begins; there is a red flag that is waving from wind. There is a guy with the red microphone that announces "For today's game; Giants vs. Hicksville. Pitching for Hickville; Claude". Claude the rooster then starts to cheer as his name was announced but the Hicksville fans boo at him; Wow; I didn't know that fans at a stadium would often do that. Looks like a different attitude there.

The announcer then calls "Pitching for the Giants; Dizzy Dan!" The crowd goes wild as Dizzy Dan walks into the arena and it's funny how he's resting his arm on a cushion with someone holding it as though he's resting it and using the energy to pitch. The game then starts to begin as the microphone guy shouts "Play ball!". Everyone else then starts to get into their positions as they're on different teams with the Chicago Giants fielding and the Hicksville team are batting.

The turtle player for the Giants is the backstop player but is talking in a very fast voice as the pig player for the Chicago's is the first to bat. Dizzy Dan then tells the Chicago Giant players that are pitching, "You can all go in boys; I don't need you. I'll stride 'em all out" which shows that he can be able to beat the Hicksville players and knock them all off while the Giant fielders won't even need to bother fielding.

Dizzy Dan then starts to begin the game as he uses incredible speed to throw the ball at the Hicksville players and it causes a "strike one" on the Hicksville player (remember that Hicksville have uniform that is a greenish look to it) since the turtle grabs it but hits a wall after the baseball produces incredible force. Dizzy Dan then starts to show off with his pitching skills while he is clucking loudly.

The turtle player then starts to take out his baseball glove as his hand is throbbing. The turtle dips his hand into a bucket of water where it steams out to cool the pain. The turtle then starts to throw the ball back as Dizzy Dan aims it at a position where the baseball aims just to his hand and grabs it with no struggle.

The turtle encourages Dizzy Dan to continue defeating the Hicksville players as there is already a "strike one". Dizzy Dan then starts to make a "spin" with his pitching movement until he spins his arm very fast and lets it go. The turtle manages to grab it again - and also hitting the wall by force which means it's a "strike two" for the player. On the next strike; the pig player is still trying to bat through Dizzy Dan's powerful aims towards the backstop turtle. This time the turtle uses a stovepipe for it to shoot out in which the three strikes are up and the pig player is out of the game. It causes Dizzy Dan to cluck again with sheer arrogance.

In the next sequence; the Chicago Giants have already scored 11 innings that tells us that Dizzy Dan has managed to score 11 players from Hicksville out of the game as they were defeated by Dizzy Dan's unfair pitching. Hicksville hasn't even scored any innings since they haven't batted yet.

It's now the Hicksville's team to field while Claude the rooster is pitching for Chicago Giants. I don't know baseball very well since I'm no American and parts of this game confuses so forgive me if I make any errors while reviewing it. From what I'm seeing - Claude is aiming very fast as well as the dachshund Chicago Giants player misses the first ball as he complains "Hey be careful!" Claude the pitcher then starts to throw the ball as the Giant batsman has managed to take a hit - which will show some defeat for the poor Hicksville team since they haven't got a chance.

The pitcher Claude then starts to run around the centre of the pitch shouting "I got it, I got it, I got it" as he is trying to grab the ball with his glove on time but instead the gag appears to be a bunch of baseball balls land on the ground that tells us that he definitely won't get the player out.

The sausage dog is winning the game as he's making a home run as he uses his own long body to stretch from one base to the other which I guess is pretty clever. The sausage dog has given the Chicago Giants a home run as Claude was just standing there like a tool as though it's his natural skill. Claude the rooster is annoyed once again since it's a win to the Chicago Giants. Meanwhile Dizzy Dan is seen flirting with the chick girl (could it even be Emily - I would doubt it) who is giggling while Dizzy Dan is rubbing his cheek. Dizzy Dan then walks to the baseline as he has his bat to the ground as though he's too good for the show. Let's hope that he will end just like Casey in 'Casey at the Bat' where he was a bad player but a good baseball personality to the ladies.

Claude the pitcher is then starting to throw the ball to him as Dizzy Dan just lets that get past him not worrying at all as he's just standing there. The umpire shouts "Strike one; strike two". The chick is sitting in the stadium rather worried about Dizzy Dan.

Chick: Oooh, you better hit it.
Dizzy Dan: That's alright, I only need one ball.

He certainly does need that one ball but as he whacks the ball with his bat; Claude manages to catch it but the force is pushing him back which becomes a disadvantage of Dizzy Dan which means he's out. Those speed-lines of Claude throwing the ball with his arm is some pretty cool effects. Unfortunately - the bad luck's on Claude as the baseball accidentally lets go of his hand since Dizzy Dan is still able to run without worrying. The lady chick then starts to beg for Dizzy Dan to run.

Chick: Run, run.
Dizzy Dan: I've got lots of time.

Claude hears about the news as he starts to throw the ball to the first base but in the aerial shot Dizzy Dan already gives a home-run in about a second. I like the arc animation of the baseball coming from out of the camera and to the players trying to catch it. The last fielder catches the call but the umpire declares him as "safe". The rooster then starts to cluck at the pig player with arrogance again.

With only one inning left from the Chicago Giants; while Hicksville got more and 2 outs. It's now Hicksville's turn to bat. The commentator then announces that Claude is at the bat as Hicksville are still performing rather poorly in their baseball game and them batting is their last hope for them to win.

Dizzy Dan who is pitching for the team then shouts "I'll strike ya out and go home". Dizzy Dan then starts to spin his arm around as he throws the ball but it's a strike one for Claude but the force even almost blows his feathers off. Friz Freleng is definitely showing some weight and realism with his timing, and even the animators too.

The umpire shouts "Strike one!". Dizzy Dan turns to the audience shouting "Now I'll you my slow-ball". He starts to move his arms around very slowly and carefully. There is some good movement of Dizzy Dan slowly moving the ball which is a good use of timing consisted here. I wonder if that was actually animated like that or they used the camera to film the shots of Dizzy Dan spinning the arm slowly in slow-motion. The baseball then starts to shoot very slowly; too. What's weird to me is that it doesn't hit the ground when it's very slow and yet it does feel rather unrealistic to me in it's ways.

The ball then starts to approach to Claude as he furiously swings his bat trying to whack it - but unfortunately misses. The umpire shouts "Strike two". Dizzy Dan then clucks again with arrogance. Boy; if that was me being Claude and Dizzy Dan clucking at me that way - I'd probably murder him any second.

The slow-ball was proved to fail Claude; but Claude starts to take it seriously as he hold his grip on the bat. Dizzy Dan then starts to spin his ball around again using the usual technique as he lets it loose. The ball is then whacked by Claude as he's successfully hit the ball which comes much to a surprise to Dizzy Dan as he could lose the match.

Claude is obviously very tired from gaming but as he sees the ball is still flying in the air he makes a fun for it. The commentator with the microphone in the studio then shouts "It looks like a home run. It IS a home run".

The final score on the scoreboard then adds up to the final which is 3 points to Chicago Giants and 4 points to Hicksville which tells us that Chicago Giants have lost the match (in probably recorded history). I wonder how THAT worked out (unless there was a draw in the match before) but Claude making the team win. Everyone is throwing their hats at Claude for a very victorious match. Claude then starts to wave at the audience extending his thanks. Dizzy Dan then walks into the scene and Claude gets him back by revenge by clucking arrogantly at him which was what Dan was doing all through the baseball match.

Overall comments: This cartoon was basically a type of take-off of St. Louis' Cardinal's ace: Dizzy Deans which explains the reference to his name as Dizzy Dan. Warner Bros. have made some 'baseball' shorts before as well as many other studios (my favourite 'baseball' cartoon has to be Disney's "Casey at the Bat"). The Dizzy Dan was a good character personality type as he was simply arrogant and cocky with his personality and physique. I sure hate people who are like that and do deserve to get defeated. The animation techniques seems to be a difference. He's made no improvement or change with character designs on the characters but the techniques here seem to show a more polished look towards speed-lines and also the look of Dizzy Dan spinning the ball in slow-motion. While the writing the review - it took me a long time to figure out which teams Claude and Dizzy Dan were in; it does become clear but not clear when watching it the first time although that's just me since I don't know much about baseball but I gave it my best shot with my knowledge in the review.


  1. We're to the point now in Warner cartoon history that some gags are strong enough on their on so that they can be reworked and improved with better animation in the future (Friz would used the 'catcher slammed against the backstop' gag twice more, including in 1946's "Baseball Bugs", one of the best-ever sports-themed cartoons).

    The new opening title logo and the tighter concentric circles must have looked as ugly to Leon or J.L. as they do to anyone watching the cartoon today, since the studio quickly went back to the early-1936 circles and title card logo (which survived into the 1940s on some of the lobby card art). They wouldn't make the same mistake again when they did the art deco-ish redesign for the 1937-38 season.

  2. Just one bit of baseball explanation. In baseball, "innings" are the divisions within the game. Usually the visiting team bats first. When three of their players are out - struck out, tagged out, out by catching a ball on the fly, or forced out (that's something that takes a bit more explanation than I feel like giving right now) - the home team bats and the visiting team goes out in the field. When the home team has three of their players out that is a full inning. The score board records the number of runs scored in each inning. Thus in the screencap you gave us, the Giants scored one run in the first inning, and one run in the second. Presumably at some point either Hicksville scored three runs in previous innings or (and in terms of dramatic structure this might make sense) there might have been Hicksville runners on each of the three bases. Claude's home run would have scored the other three players as well as himself, meaning that Hicksville would have scored four runs in the ninth (last) inning, and since they were the home team and it was the last inning Hicksville would win.

  3. Love this cartoon but did you notice the error in scoring. The scoreboard says the score is two to nothing. The wienie dog gets a home run, followed by Dizzy who also scores. This would made the score 4 to 0 and tied at the end. I did not notice this for years.

  4. The announce states that Dizzy walks three men just to get at Claude so the bases are loaded for a grand slam.

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