Tuesday, 31 July 2012
179. I Wanna Be a Sailor (1937)
Release date: September 25, 1937.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Elvia Allman (Mama Parrot) (?), Mel Blanc (Duckling), Billy Bletcher (Father Parrot), Berneice Hansell (Patricia Parrot, Patrick Parrot ?) and Robert Winkler (Peter Parrot).
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: A baby parrot wishes to be a sailor like his drunk father; and tries to follow an adventure at sea.
This is the first cartoon where we don't know fully on who the animator in the screen credits could be. We don't know if this is the first cartoon to change the credits for one animator and one story man; or the last cartoon where the screen credits credit two animators. Of course; judging by the last cartoon Sid Sutherland and Elmer Wait got screen credit; in the next Tex cartoon (Little Red Walking Hood) Irv Spence gets screen credit. It's likely the animator credits could read Paul Smith and Virgil Ross; but because this would be proned as guessing - I'm not going to put that up as the credited animators as we don't know for sure. Considering that this cartoon fell into the public domain because it wasn't copyrighted properly when it was first released; it was released as a Blue Ribbon in 1949; so the copyright catalog would fail to list its animators - and even for the public domain cartoons in Blue Ribbon released; presumably. If anybody knows any helpful information or knows the original titles - could you please ask me? I'd be obliged by your help.
I wonder who claimed that Bob Clampett was the animator of that short; he was directing by that point. If Clampett said anywhere that he animated on that short or a document, or animator draft that lists Clampett as an animator then I won't go against that.
After the first parrot managed to succeed; the mother compliments and encourages him, 'You're doing fine Patrick. The mother then moves on to the daughter parrot of the family, 'Now Patricia, now I'll make you try it'. The daughter of the parrot family is slower when trying to learn to say it and hesitates it in one of Berniece Hansell's typical child voices. I'm not too sure if she did the voice of the son; but it's certain she provided the voice of the daughter parrot. Patricia Parrot then giggles after she's finished reciting the line. The mother compliments her again; 'That's nice honey; now Peter he a nice boy and say Polly want a cracker'. Peter Parrot is seen sulking towards the camera and is a bit of a sour egg. Peter Parrot then gets angry and annoyed as he replies, 'I don't wanna a cracker, see? I wanna be a sailor like me pa, see?' Peter Parrot then points to a picture hanging on the bird cage that features his father as a sailor. There is some pretty decent character personality coming out there which Avery was pretty good at showing to an audience; I'd say.
The mother then continues onwards in which she recites the story about Peter Parrot's father about the say she walked out on him. It then fades to a flashback to when they were living together. She asks; 'Let me tell you something, when your father and I were first married; we lived in the Canary Islands'. We find a rather nice-looking background of the Canary Island at night time and of course parrots are popular in the Canary Islands. Inside the house; we find that the mother parrot is inside with three baby parrots inside a crib and come together as triplets. The mother continued; '...then the stork brought you lovely children. Oh, I was so happy'. The mother in this flashback is giving the crying carrots their milk bottle to suck on.
The mother continues; 'But your father the rotten so-go seagull, couldn't stand being an (?) anchor in a harbour for five minutes. So he sipped the door and set sail for Hawaii'. We find that the father parrot is walking out of the door leaving his family. After the mother's bit of description; the father parrot opens the door for some correction; 'No Ma, it was Catalina!' and then closes the door. The mother is stood corrected; and mentions 'Oh yes, it was Catalina'. Now that is also rather funny since she's even being corrected through her flashback which is just crazy but funny, too. That lengthy scene from where the baby parrots are in their cribs to the PAN of Pa walking out the door; is of course Irv Spence's animation. It doesn't look too distinctive like was in that period but that's his posing and timing. The mother continues on as she sadly says; 'I used to burn a little light in the window'. We find that it is in fact exaggeration as there is a huge beam coming out of her window in order for the father to return. That is rather funny since she exaggerated there; and it turned out she used a beam to search for her father.
The mother parrot is thunderstruck that her son doesn't take her word in which she gaps, 'WHAT?!' in which she faints on the spot dangling onto the swing of the bird cage and that is a rather funny way of making a bird faint, by lying down upside down still attached though. Peter Parrot doesn't care what he is doing or where he will be going but he opens up the bird cage in which he flies down leaving to become a sailor. Peter Parrot is walking on the floor as he turns his head back and forth at the bird cage and walking as though he is a toughie. While the parrot is still talking; we find the animation is still the same but only the backgrounds change which is a rather cool background effect. The parrot is still walking in that characteristic Avery walk cycle as he turns his head again but hits a barrel. After feeling the hit; he finds that the barrel is useful to make a shop and he carries it.
Meanwhile there is a yellow duck that walks into the scene while Peter Parrot is still nailing the last piece of plank to make his ship. The yellow duckling is rather curious of that parrot's curiosity as he asks, "Heya fella, what'ya doing? What's your name? What ya building for? What ya building?' Peter Parrot is rather annoyed of the duckling who keeps constantly asking question as the parrot doesn't get a word in edgewise. Peter then closes the duckling's bill shut so he wouldn't speak. Peter Parrot then answer's the duck's question, "Well, see, I'm building a boat, see? That's I'm putting out to sea, because, because, because..' and then Peter Parrot is making a reference to what a Jewish person he passing onto childhood '...today I am a man'. That was a funny little reference here; at least for its time. The little duckling then starts to feel some excitement as he pleads to ask if he can be at sea.
Peter Parrot and the duckling then walk up on deck, and being given to join the crew - the duckling is the cleaner of the deck. Peter Parrot tells the duckling is job is to "scrub the deck, or I'll switch your feather (?) neck". Peter Parrot then walks over boasting in which he rips off a label of a skull off a poison bottle. He climbs up the crow's nest to make the sticker to be formed into a flag. We find some effects animation (probably by Gamer) of the buccaneer flag rising in which he continues to boast about going to treasure island. Irv Spence also animates those scenes where the duck is assigned to being the deck cleaner; you can tell that it is his drawing style and his way of movement through those scenes.
While Peter Parrot is sailing by steering on the ship's wheel, he looks upwards - and from his point of view shot we find a pair of dungarees floating to sail the ship. As Peter Parrot is riding; he turns to the audience in one of Avery's typical line-ups, "This picture is kinda like Mutiny on the County, don't y'think - or don't ya?" Of course; he's parodying Mutiny on the Bounty but why couldn't he not just say the actual film title; it's unlikely that Warner Bros. would get sued for using the title. Peter Parrot then grabs out some liquorice in which he grabs the liquorice and chews it with his mouth. After chewing the parrot then spits out the liquorice and it lands underwater into a spittoon. A nice little gag that would've been an idea for Tex for use - or probably anybody but certainly what Tex would've approved of back in that era. After that spit; Peter Parrot then decides to walk up the crow's nest as he holds onto the pole and climbs it up with his feet to look out; so far everything is going well for him until he spots something shocking off-screen.
Peter Parrot runs over to the duckling who is still scrubbing the deck to help do some very important duties in order to survive a storm. In a panic he shouts out to the duckling, "Well don't just stand there, do something!" as he tugs onto his bill. The duck then starts to talk very fast by complaining, "What for? I like rain. I like water, etc." he then interrupts talking as he turns to the audience appears to be speaking in a radio voice, "Ain't I the talkingest (?) little guy?" I'll go to say that I don't know that reference but anybody who knows the answer to that I'll be grateful. The duckling doesn't particularly care about the weather being shown here since and insists that it is fine. The dungarees tide to the ship that are meant to keep the ship's sailing strong isn't any good in this type of storm.
The duckling is just walking around on deck feeling the rain which is just splendid for a duck like him not for a parrot who lives at home. The storm continues to get even worse in which Peter Parrot continues to spin as he tries to pull the ship's wheel. Peter Parrot then starts to pick up an anchor and he swings it like a lasso to try and stop the ship from moving. Since the storm is so strong; that the anchor drops down but so does the aft of the ship that was attached to the anchor; so the parrot has very little luck now. The ship is will suffer from a type of collision and the duckling and the parrot won't be able to survive on the ship in that type of storm. As they dive into the stormy sea the parrot is sitting on top of the duckling crying for his mother like a helpless child.
After that bit of song when she runs after her child to the rescue. Peter Parrot is then shouting out for "Help" but as he nearly drowns; he is picked up by the duckling. Peter Parrot then goes into rhythm of shouting "Help" to the tune 'Shave and a Haircut' which is also really funny since the theme is very recognisable. The duckling then punches Peter Parrot in the face and then swims him back to shore where he is on the grass and calls the duckling "You big sissy" and swims away; the voice and the comment is also funny to me since even the duckling isn't afraid of the name.
Some of the effects animation I thought in this cartoon was what made the cartoon look rich in its ways; the lightning and storm effects were pretty good and it would've been a challenge to animate back in the 1930s but at least it's solid. Of course even the character animation in the cartoon was very decent. Even though the animator's original credits may be unknown until further notice (or if anyone owns a original copy) - I guess Blue Ribbon released aren't really as degrading; I mean at least we still got the actual cartoon itself. I like the mother parrot who has some good personality here and even shows some hatred towards the father of the family who was a drunk and comes up with funny insults. I'm thinking that the voice of her could be Elvia Allman; but maybe Martha Wentworth but I can't say for certain which is which though.