Saturday, 14 December 2013
311. Shop, Look and Listen (1940)
Warner cartoon no. 310.
Release date: December 21, 1940.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Blabbermouse/Mohicans/Whistler's Mother), Bill Thompson (Conductor).
Story: Dave Monahan.
Animation: Cal Dalton.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: The conductor and Blabbermouse return again, where a tour is performed at an empty department store.
Judging by the title card which features 'featuring Blabbermouse'--was the character was really intended to be a newly established character for the Warner shorts? Well, it isn't certain for sure but it was more or less likely just a temporary creation, as the character doesn't hold any merit than Porky or Bugs, or even Sniffles.
It still feels a little bit peculiar that the character would be followed up from the previous short Little Blabbermouse, which isn't a spectacular cartoon itself in which the cartoon is given a sequel. Perhaps it was a hit during the time it was released in theatres? Yowp, can you back this up with any surviving reviews from Film Daily?
It's also quite satisfying to see how the short marks the end of those annoying characters who talk continuously, which showed little purpose, and how they were apparently meant to be appealing and funny.
The short itself, is without doubt a follow up to Blabbermouse' debut short which was released earlier this year. Comparing this short to Little Blabbermouse, I'll say that Blabbermouse was superior. This cartoon is just a almost recycled plot from the short itself, except with 'Blabbermouse' it at least showed some sort of synopsis or summit, whereas with the cartoon it doesn't.
It's merely just another spot-gag short which takes place in a department store, whereas previously beforehand it took part in a chemist. A part of me wonders whether any planned future Blabbermouse shorts would have been based on different stores for each short, such as a restaurant, or a bookstore.
The whole perspective of the Blabbermouse shorts are very 1930s-oriented, with gags not being fresh, and lame deliveries and construction. The ending itself for the sequel short, ends with the same scenario and delivery from Little Blabbermouse, too. Blabbermouse, who doesn't even center the whole cartoon himself, just continuously asks infuriating questions to annoy the conductor, that he eventually snaps and gives Blabbermouse his destiny. His fate is, during the modern inventions sequence, he gets pulled off the cart, and ends up wrapped in a Xmas present, with a stamp slammed to his mouth reading 'Do Not Open 'Till Xmas'. The delivery is at least more charming and delivered better than the previous short, considering the short was released around Christmas time. Also, notice how the finishing dialogue for Blabbermouse is almost similar to the preceding short, where he threatens the conductor to summon his father, being a police officer.
The opening sequence I guess was added longer to add some extra time, and I guess to at least try and create some suspense and wonder, even though there isn't much to be curious about.
She then comes to life, whistling to She'll Be Comin' Around The Mountains. At first, you would expect the gag to have had a very weak outcome, or something you would expect out a Tex Avery spot-gag, but thanks to Freleng...the gag then develops further, with some decent comic timing.
The mother then remarks, 'You ought to hear my son, he's a whistler, too'. The mother then impersonates his son, as she stomps her foot and claps broadly. The timing, as well as the extra setup works out with satisfaction, with a touch of Freleng's subtle genius.
Another amusing though subtle visual delivery appears following on where we view an infamous sculpture known as The Thinker. The Thinker is indeed, thinking and pondering to himself, with some of Blanc's distinctive murmurs. As he thinks, it turns out the Thinker is reading his Tax Income Report from 1939, or is it 1940? I guess that was a clean-up error, as indicated on paper, as well as the layout shot. Freleng even pays homage to one of Tex's gags that he uses for his spot-gags...though not one of his more charming gags. The Hunter painting indicates the dog is pointing at a direction with a eager face and is dragging the hunter to the direction. It turns out the direction is pointed at the Lonesome Pine, which shows even Freleng has gone as far as to make a dog-innuendo gag.
Another sequence, which shows a tad bit of weakness, but it more or less was reused from the Freleng short: Sweet Sioux; is the Last of the Mohicans painting. The gag itself is a little tame and unoriginal, but Freleng's comic timing had improved to better taste three years previously, that the smack is a tad more funnier.
The mechanical robots playing poker, are portrayed as very human, that they even would cheat in a game.
Due to the cheat, one of the mechanical robots shoots the robot, which is a hilarious setup; in terms of delivery and Friz's timing. It portrays very well as a close up, as well as unexpected tension that goes into the sequence.
Another great little sequence which is great to watch visually would be the modern invention sequence where the booths are seen wrapping up Christmas presents. This is a great advantage for Treg Brown who has created some very groundbreaking sound effects for the wrapping sequence, that they show a very technical and comical charm to it. You can hear the sound with better and more memorable cartoons like Baby Bottleneck, during the 'Powerhouse' sequence. So, towards the end of the cartoon, the machines come to better use where they grab hold of Blabbermouse, and wrap him around as a Xmas present, as well as placing the stamp on his mouth so he'd stubble to speak, and that's the last we ever see of Blabbermouse.
To conclude the review, Shop, Look and Listen is still just a mere lame followup to Little Blabbermouse, and it's as smile as that. Though both cartoons have the same construction and theme, though you'd probably ask how could I compare both cartoons? Well, Little Blabbermouse stood out to me for two great sequences, which included the song sequences which combined some great popular songs with the items, as well as a chase sequence with the cat, whereas with this cartoon there is no climax or much thought put together. You could hardly call the mechanicals to be the climax of the film, except they only come to good use when they shut the character's yap. Still, it's a good cartoon to an extend, as it would involve the end of Blabbermouse, and not having to endure annoying, unappealing chatterbox characters.
Well, this now marks the end of reviewing the year 1940: which HAS taken an awful long time to get through, and eventually...I have made it. Overall: this has been a groundbreaking year for the studio: meaning the birth of Bugs Bunny, as well as the return of Friz Freleng. The humour has improved a great deal, the timing is getting faster and the gags funnier, and we'll see what 1941 has to offer when the blog next reviews it...