|Title card courtesy of Jerry Beck's original titles page/Big Cartoon Database.|
Release date: December 18, 1937.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: James C. Morton (Voices), Wini Shaw (Blue Dye Bottle/Morton Salt Girl) and Danny Webb (Various).
Story: Ted Pierce.
Animation: Cal Dalton.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Product characters come to life as they sing and dance.
This is the final cartoon out of the 1937 output; and altogether this year has totalled 36 cartoons; but now in the next couple of cartoons; the staff would turn out 40 or more in a year. This is a very short cartoon (well in Blue Ribbon version) it's only less than 6 minutes long; but however it's EVEN shorter in the Nickelodeon/TV airings when all the scenes with Al Jolson or black stereotypes are wiped out which makes it a very short run - only 3 minutes; pretty weird, huh?
After the torch song being sung; we then view a snake charmer inside a coffee tin as part of commercial art in which it performs a snake charming act. The snake charming music is catching the attention of a toothpaste (as it's displayed in a box called Tootsie Tooth Paste. The toothpaste tube then starts to squirt out some of the toothpaste in which it starts to move like a snake dancing to snake-charm music which is a pretty clever gag to come up when it's set in the supermarket - so I like that idea. There is another type of biscuit bin that is called 'Searchlight' in which the commercial art features a lighthouse in which we find that the searchlight is also a spotlight as it focuses on these Dutch maids in which they do a little Dutch shoe dance - although this is original animation but it feels like a similar concept from Little Dutch Plate which was released two years earlier.
The music then continues on as we view a film a box of a cigarette brand company called 'Carmel' (a reference to 'Camel') which was a well-known brand of its time; and of course they're changing the names because this is an animated cartoon and they could get sued. We find the camel in the artwork cover moving while in rhythm to the music. We then find these Scottish thistles inside a company called 'Brand Ol' Scotch' in which they step out of their own manufacturing tin as they perform the Highland fling. The animation of the Highland fling dancers was reused animation from Flowers for Madame. So the Scottish music that was played is enjoyed by everyone.
The chicks then start to take an interest on the worm that went past them until they then have a plan to try and eat it. The chicks then start to step out of their own product illustrations to chase after the worm in which it turns out to be one worm against five other chicks. The chicks then start to crowd the worm as they battle to eat it but the worm manages to escape but is still being chased at. It then starts to dash off but the chicks then chase after the worm as they crowd to it again. After crowding to the worm; one of the chicks has then managed to get the worm into their bodies; but since they are so small - the worm is still alive and is jumping about inside the chick which makes the chick bounce about. That is a rather amusing gag to show that the chick has just got served by a worm and it was executed well. The chick even starts to slide like a worm as the worm can control tiny chick's body. The chick bounces again and this time the worm has now made an escape as he runs back into the apple where he was eating it - all safe. At least the worm has managed to beat the chicks when he was only on his own but realising it was very dangerous.
The animation for that sequence was reused from Freleng's black-and-white Merrie Melody How Do I Know It's Sunday. Another boy that resides from another product is dressed in his raincoat as he steps off to join the girl holding the umbrella as he's also singing the song - and I believe that's also the same animation. After that sequence with some reused animation by Freleng; we then focus on the Al Jolson caricature who is a product of a cereal called Dream of Wheat. He then starts to show his stardom as he is singing his version of September in the Rain (the title song of this cartoon) and of course Jolson's version of the popular song is probably the most notorious. We then pan to a cereal box where it's called Aunt Emma's Pancake Flour in which she is grinning towards Al Jolson in the product. Aunt Emma - is a reference to the brand called Aunt Jemina which is a famous company that makes pancakes and the 'Dream of Wheat' is a reference to the popular brand Cream of Wheat which were popular breakfast products.
Al Jolson then starts to sing the rest of the title song which he was famous for singing. He then points to the audience his own 'Southern home' as it turns out to be a cabin where it is raining on top of the cabin but the windows feature car windscreens on them to wipe the windows which I think is a rather clever type gag but of course the cabin is another stereotype as to where blacks would live in back in the days when living in the Deep south and the name of his cabin is called 'Cabin Syrup' which appears to be another reference. Of course much of the Jolson scenes were cut from the actual cartoon - but so were the black characters in TV airings. There is another in-joke type reference where it focuses on the sun called, 'Brite Sun Cleanser' (and I think it's another dated product) and there is his own cabin standing over there as though it's a sunny day. I understand the gag but I just don't know how to explain what it means; just the fact it has a bright sun by it to demonstrate weather and that it is dry. Jolson then starts to continue his singing as he sings about 'Spring is here, etc.' Jolson then starts to give the song a conclusion as he finishes off the words to, 'September in the Rain'.
The dancing movement was pretty nice animation in my opinion; but I imagine that it would've been too difficult to animate from scratch but it looks like as though the animation there is rotoscoped. The dancing then continues as they dance over near a cigarette company where it is called 'Lucky Blows' they then stop waltzing in which they then start to get hip with their dancing to lighten up the mood and atmosphere which I find is pretty cool music and animation. They then walk over to the other side in which their dance sequence has finished. I imagine that in a television broadcast of this version; that would've been the finale of the cartoon and it would finish afterwards since the rest of the cartoon features these black characters and caricatures finishing it off before the cartoon finishes with a background view of the market and the cut version would make it a pretty pointless cartoon itself.
Gold Dust Twins which was a well known washing powder of its time. The artwork cover of course features two Negros in which they start to go into song. Meanwhile there is a biscuit baker commercial character that then shouts, 'Swing it, brother' in which he starts to swing to some music.
The drumming begins as we get to hear some cool drumming in this finale. One of the Negro characters that is in fact a caricature of Fats Waller then jumps over to a piano inside a product box called 'Piano Wax' in which he which he starts to jam to music; and yes - he's very well known for his piano skills. He then shouts to the audience, 'That's all, that's all'. Of course he's a natural pianist and the animators get to exaggerate here since he can just lean on the piano and let only his fingers do the playing and the finger movement is just solid animation. Solid. The other Negro character in the 'Gold Rush Twins' box is in fact a caricature of Louis Armstrong; and the caricature of it is pretty good - but whoever did the voice of him in this cartoon certainly did a bad impression of him. There are chickens in a sack then start to peck each other to go into rhythm. That animator there that smears is definitely a distinctive though unidentified animator for Freleng.
There are other group voices done by more black vocals in which they sing a part of a song and from a brand called 'Yea Man' in this cartoon but I don't know the reference though. The piano playing scenes here of Fats Waller I think was also reused from 'Clean Pastures' - I think the scene at least where he's playing the piano with his feet - but it is the exact same caricature that was used form the cartoon. The animation and music for this sequence I think is rather fun to look at and it is shown rather spiritual and a good way for the cartoon's finale even though being cut on TV.
The sequence then continues to go on as we find that the Louis Armstrong caricature then starts to play the trumpet - also another instrument that Louis Armstrong was famous for playing. I like that shot of the close up of Armstrong's fingers pressing the trumpet buttons was a pretty neat animated scene. I like the animation even after the shot of Armstrong even starting to boogie afterwards with his trumpet playing skills as he gets the bang of it and even shows some good charisma. After the finale is over; with the black cast finishing off the cartoon; we then start to view the supermarket in which he find that it is all quiet now; but of course we find that it's still raining outside the window - which is why it would be a 'september in the rain'.
As for the overall year output; I think that personally Tex Avery has still topped the pole if he had a best Director of the year position. I think all the directors this year have done very well. Friz Freleng has shown a lot of improvement and has made even some very charming cartoons; Frank Tashlin has got better I think where he started to tone down Porky a bit and even made some classics. I'd say I'm very close to choosing Clampett being the best director considering I think all his cartoons this year have been great but since Avery made more greater cartoons; I'd say he goes up the top. What interests me is that the year starts off (like 1936) where Avery was still directing Porky; and he was still voiced by Dougherty; and by the end of this year - Avery has stopped making Porky cartoons. 1937 is also better than the last year considering that Daffy Duck and Mel Blanc have entered as they would also pioneer Looney Tunes; as well as Clampett's first directed cartoons. In the following years; the yearly outputs will be put out quite high as they turn out 40 a year.