Monday, 30 July 2012

178. Dog Daze (1937)

Warner cartoon no. 177.
Release date: September 18, 1937.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Police Dog, Spitz, Russian Wolf Hounds, Prairie Dog), Billy Bletcher (St. Bernard) and Berneice Hansell (Bull Terrier Puppy).
Animation: Bob McKimson and A.C. Gamer.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Antics and events all happen in a dog show.


The carton begins with an exterior shot outside a theatre with the big words reading "Dog Show"; the plot already says it all - it's going to be about a dog show. We find that there are celebrity caricatures with their dogs walking down which would of course entertain the audience featuring their stars. One of the stars that pops up first I believe looks like Edward G. Robinson who is walking his bulldog. William Powell is then seen walking his dog, Asta famous in the 'Thin Man' series - so that is a dated reference for you.

The Powell character then starts to tie Asta to the pole; and during that scene there he ties Asta to the pole. There appears to be a lost footage assuming that he is lifting his leg on the light pole for a pee but it would've been quite mild for Hays Office as it would've been cut. After viewing some of the celebrities then the crowd start to enter the dog show theatre. Inside the dog show;  we find that a fat lady's behind walks down the aisle to find a theatre seat. A funny, charming gag turns up when the large lady is trying to get seated into one of the seats but finds that those already seated then slide out of their seats and then a whole group of bald-headed men bundle to the ground after being pushed off.

After that sequence with the theatre rooms; we find a row of dogs in the waiting room waiting for the dog show, barking excitedly. A more line up of gags then turn up which features a "bird dog" - of course bird dogs are dogs that belong to hunters to retrieve birds; but the gag here features a dog inside a canary cage whistling like a canary.

We find an Irish setter dog (even labelled below to identify the dog) that is resting but we find out that he is laying eggs. The eggs then hatch as it therefore forms puppies. Okay; but I don't quite fully understand the joke of the gag; I guess that is a "setter" which is a plural for "sitter" referencing as though hens sit down on their eggs and then the pups are hatched; that's what I think. Although I would've found it funnier if it had involved an Irish joke in it but probably wouldn't be redeemed as appropriate. The next scene features a curtain drawn; in which a guy appears to shout "Rainbow (?) through the mountain!!" it sounds a lot like a dated gag in which a "police" dog is seen wearing mountie uniform howling loudly. Another gag that appears again features on a Spitz dog as it's labelled under.

We find that the Spitz dog is chewing tobacco and then spits it in a spittoon. Of course the breed of that dog is a play-on word as the dog spits. We PAN along afterwards with the curtains opening to a St Bernard dog. The St. Bernard dog then starts to howl. The label below reads that is a "booze hound". Of course a boozehound means a person who drinks heavily; and we find that the St Bernard dog is howling while intoxicated. We find that the dog hiccups while howling. The timing on the hiccup shows some nice squash-and-stretch and quick timing. The Bernard dog then continues hiccuping and then giggles with glee.

The next gag we see that is another play-on word is a "hot dog" which is pretty obvious but it doesn't make it much of a gag since it really is a hot dog. Unless it could've changed to show a dog that is really boiling up or looks hot - I'm not too sure.

After watching a series of gags that have turned up; we then focus on the audience again who are sitting down to watch the show. A spotlight beam is then faced on a stage on the 'Asbestos' curtain. The ad on the curtain reads DOG BISCUITS LIKE MOTHER WESTO MAKE BARKER BAKERY which is another pun-gag with 'barker' added into it.

Other little ads are by the backgrounds also pun-like posters that focus on dogs. I noticed that they feature 'K-9' (canine) and that would later be the name of the green dog belonging to Marvin Martian. The beam then moves upwards to find a display reading COME UP AND SEE OUR ITCHINGS CANINE ART CALLERIES. The beam then shoots on to the next ad on the right, ARE YOU IN THE DOG HOUSE? GET A NEW LEASH ON LIFE SUPPLY CO. After the beam focuses on some posters that may not be humorous in today's standard; the first act of the dog show being introduced is 'The Scotties' which it focuses on the talents of Scottish terrier dogs. The Scottie dogs then perform the Highland Fling dance. The dance is rather short but spiritual and even some entertainment watching Scottie dogs doing a Scottish dance.

A man's hand then appears in which he swaps the sign from the Scottie dogs to the Russian Wolf Hounds - which will be the next act performing. Two Russian wolf hounds then walk onto the stage as each are wearing a Ushanka. They turn to the audience as we find that they are very two-dimensional looking dogs indeed. They then start to begin performing the Hopak (Russian dance) in front of their audience. Watching the animation of the dancing Russian dogs is rather fun to look at.

The funny part is that the Ushankas' their wearing turns out to be dogs in disguise (doubt it's the Scottie dogs) they then conclude by finishing off the Hopak and all the dogs dash off the stage. They back run and out again before the curtains close. After the Russian dogs performing; the next card to be swapped that reads "Dog Eats Dog" and the audience get the first interpretation that two dogs might each other but of course; it's much more cleaner than that; and more charming. It is very short; it features a dog holding onto a hot-dog; eats it and then the curtains close. It might seem very boring to watch but at least it gives us that conned feeling of two dogs eating each other but it ends with a dog eating a hot dog; simple as that but quite clever though.

After that simple act; the next title card is already displayed (I guess cheaper not to have it animated this time of every card swap). The title card reads "Little Man You've Had a Busy Day". That is of course another dated reference; but I know that the title is actually a popular song written back in the 1930s. We think that it might be a group of dogs going to go in a singing and dancing routine; but we find that a dog is all puffed out and panting from running I reckon; then the windows close.

The next sequence with the title card being swapped focuses on "Prairie dogs" which is of course rather funny since they're not from any breed of dogs at all or are they even dogs at all. They're rodents from where you get mostly in North America (Utah and Mexico, I think). The prairie dogs are seen in their sombreros; singing the song My Little Buckaroo. The beavers are seen in a point-of-view shot but the animation of that is rather conservative. With three of those prairie dogs singing at the same time, one of them is playing the guitar and they look rather western from my view.

The St. Bernard dog (from who we saw earlier in the cartoon) listens to the singing being heard in which he starts to howl still drunk. There appears to be a weird camera cut featuring the dog howling in-between. As the hound is still howling rather loudly; a man's hand pops into the scene to cover the dog's house with a muzzle stopping the St. Bernard from singing or howling.

The St. Bernard realises that he has his own mouth caught inside the muzzle as he tries to use his own paws to try and pull his face off, but struggles. The muzzle hits back on his face as he falls back and lands inside a chest. He then pops out of the chest a couple of seconds later with his four hands caught on roller-skates; and some reason they happened to attached onto his legs and arms without what probably appeared to be was no effort. The St. Bernard caught on the roller skates then starts to trip and fall. The prairie dogs continue to sing but in the song they sing they howl just like what the St. Bernard did - which I imagine got some laughs for a audience watching it in the 1930s. The song then concludes after we hear those rodents howling as the conclusion to the song.

The St Bernard is still caught on the roller-skates and ends up skating his way through the stage just shortly after the rodents have finished their song. The St Bernard then reaches the other exit of the stage still on roller skates. Of course; the St Bernard has a bucket of barrel tied to a collar around his neck then starts to hit the floor as the Bernard dog is rolling across the backstage and then crashes to a wall.

There appears to be a rather odd film cut after the wall crashes; in which the St Bernard is flat from the ground. The St Bernard then has to try and put in the effort again of trying to stand up. This then starts to follow on into a sequence where St. Bernard is struggling to keep himself standing up and keeps falling down each attempt. This would be a lot of work for the character animator who has to make the St. Bernard think of ways on how to stand up and to come up with solutions. The St. Bernard falls again but then starts to get rather annoyed bashing his own legs to the ground and drumming his fingers. Somehow the St. Bernard dog reminds me of the cast being influenced from the characteristics of Pluto.

In the next sequence we find that there is a timid little bull terrier peeping over to take a look but is too nervous to enter. The scared bull terrier is being pushed inside by a crewman but the scared bull terrier dashes back only to be pushed in again. We then find that the bull terrier is in fact reciting the nursery rhyme 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'. This little scene where the bull terrier is tossed inside by the man, and reciting the poem is a recycled idea that was featured two years ago by Freleng in I Haven't Got a Hat when Little Kitty recites the poem.

As the bull terrier is still narrating the poem; the terrier then shouts "Aww, this is silly!" a book is then tossed on top of the bull terrier's head and he continues to recite. The timing of the book being tossed at the book has its pacing too slow and feels like molasses. If that is in fact Hansell doing the voice of the Bull terrier then at least this is her doing a fine job and it doesn't sound as degrading as her other work where it just sounds very childish.

Meanwhile as the poem is being recited by the bull terrier; the St Bernard is still showing some struggle in being able to move with roller coasters caught on his feet; and of course we don't know exactly how it was caught in their. The St Bernard  then starts to slide down giving a rather scared take as it is about to crash into another chest that reads "Flea Circus". There are then a group of fleas that fly out which will then result in some chaos at the dog show.

As the bull terrier is still reciting the poem; there is a flea flying all over the terrier which causes him to be distracted whilst reciting. The terrier shows some nerves as the terrier's eyes start to rotate a full 360 degrees; since at one point we don't see his pupils and then after a while we do. Without noticing the flea has already ended up inside the bull terrier; which causes him to itch whilst he is reciting the poem and starts to panic more. The dog then starts to scratch his behind on the stage floor in which a flea has already dominated his flesh. The bull terrier, still yelping then concludes the poem by walking near the stage that once he's finished he immediately exists with the asbestos curtains lowering.

After the St Bernard appears to have gone through a type of coma from hitting the wall; he then wakes up but discovers that there are a group of fleas drunk from the barrel of ale. The fleas then start to crowd together they conclude the cartoon singing in such a high-pitch voice in which they sing in a drunk way like what the St Bernard did earlier on the cartoon. They also hiccup while they sing the song. The fleas continue to sing in their very high pitch notes until they slowly drift and land to the grounds.

Overall comments: I'd say that this is one of Friz Freleng's take on trying to do spot-gag type cartoons; as we find that earlier on in the cartoon there is a lot of use in play-on words and gags featuring the breeds of dogs. Although the cartoon is rather short for a 1930s cartoon of the time but it does feel like as though there were cuts through the cartoon. The characters in this cartoon did have some fine personality like the drunken St Bernard who drunk throughout the cartoon and ended up causing some trouble at the dog show. Character personality of the bull terrier was of course a reused idea when reciting a poem but indeed it is worth some entertainment watching.

The animation I feel, or the timing by Friz Freleng shows some slow pacing particularly the scenes where it features the book being tossed at the terrier; it really felt unrealistic. Overall; I don't really think much about this cartoon as it wasn't a particularly special Freleng cartoon but at least I found some of the gags particularly at the beginning at least enjoyable. Somehow, I do feel that the St Bernard dog has a resemblance to the personality of Disney's Pluto and at least that's what the other studios were aping their styles back then - but it feels like it was featured here.

7 comments:

  1. The "Rain blow thru the mountain" bit is a reference to "Renfrew of the Mounties", a popular book and radio series of the '30s about a singing Mountie, which was why the police dog was wearing a RCMP uniform.

    The "Little Man You've Had a Busy Day" pup is worn out fron peeing on all the telephone poles. Yep, its our old friend, the ubiquitous WB dog whiz gag-and twice in the same cartoon!

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  2. The first celebrity caricature in the cartoon is actually humorist and author Irvin S. Cobb.

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  3. Those Russian wolf hounds were dancing to a passage from Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No. 5" which re-occurred throughout another Friz Freleng-directed Merrie Melodies cartoon, 1943's "Pigs in a Polka."

    Also, when the St. Bernard dog trips into the box, that suitcase reads "JOHNSON SKATING ACT" which is a reference to Johnny Johnson.

    ~Ben

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  4. Does anyone know the name of the episode that has a dog show with a Doberman pincher that pinches his owner Doberman and a spitz that spits

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  5. I have a EU Print of this cartoon. It's a 2x2 recording.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. ANOTHER CORRECTION: The Barker Bakery ad reads: "DOG BISCUITS - LIKE MOTHER USED TO MAKE."

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