Sunday, 14 August 2011

10. Dumb Patrol (1931)

Warner cartoon no. 9.
Release date: May 1931.
Directors: Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Starring: Johnny Murray (Bosko).
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Carmen "Max" Maxwell.
Musical Score by: Frank Marsales.

In this title card "Dumb Patrol", it starts off when the opening cards for the shorts are usually pitch black, but there is some shooting going on, and maybe the title card was meant to be a blackout. From what we see, there appears to be a war going on, and even bombs being thrown right at the screen with explosions, and the letters of the title cards fall out of the scene. I must say that this must have been an achievement back in 1931, since that there were very few animation backgrounds with title credits on front, and while there was animation going on.

From what we see, it appears to be set at either around World War One, and back then it was known as "The Great War", and since this cartoon was made before World War Two, the locations and backgrounds are quite World War One looking, and we see more of that.

While there is some dangerous bombing going around, Bosko is on the grounds and he appears to be a pilot who is squirting oil to his airplane to get ready and fight, and in the meantime he is whistling to Get Happy and that tune would later become the first Merrie Melodies introduction song, long before the famous Merrily We Go Along. As he is happily oiling his plane, there are huge explosions that keep hitting the ground, and every bomb hitting the ground, Bosko reacts to each of them.

While all the shooting is going on, the main character doing all the shooting is a gorilla on an RAF plane, and appears to be the antagonist in this short.

Another one of those crazy gags that I manage to spot, is where there is a strange gag where Bosko blows the airplane's nose with the propeller, as the plane comes to life for a brief bit. It seems that the gag is meant to be that Bosko is cleaning up the propeller, and doing that by blowing its' nose to make it clear. It's another typical Harman-Ising gag. Not as crazy as that hot dog, not in a long chalk.

While the enemy pilot is still up in the air shooting out of his machine gun, he spots Bosko and his airplane by looking down, and so he drops a bomb where Bosko and his plane is located, and then the spot they were standing explodes, with soil and parts of earth covering the whole screen and leaving Bosko and the plane in a crater, due to the bomb explosion. Bosko, is furious of what his enemy and vows revenge on shooting him back.

It always seems interesting that the effects animation done here (and other Harman-Ising shorts) would be done by character animators, and yet some of the effects are not very bad at all (even though they are very cartoonie), but I suppose that Warner Bros. didn't have it's own effects department and wasn't as organized as Disney was, and this was a period long before effects artists like A.C. Gamer or Harry Love turned up.

So, Bosko hops onto his plane and starts to fight with the gorilla in the air, and I noticed the gag is while the plane starts to fly up, only the wings do the job and they move forward like human arms, which I suppose is meant to be the gag. What I noticed in the flight is that the  and at first angrily starts to shoot at the gorilla, and the shot with Bosko shooting the bullets right at the screen is the enemy's point of view. The enemy on the place manages to dodge all the bullets, and even beats Bosko by uploading a huge cannon that would shoot Bosko and destroy his plane, and that would send him down.

Bosko's plane is soon destroyed with only the remaining parts inside the plane surviving, until about everything on the plane is destroyed, and so Bosko is send down to the ground. His enemy laughs, and as soon as Bosko falls down to the ground. It appears that he must have landed in France (as he speaks French to Honey), and it seems that Bosko must have been in England as a pilot in World War One, and he somehow got to France very quickly, in about a minute. I know that France and England are very near, but I wouldn't assume it took a minute. Yet again, this is only a 7-minute cartoon.

So, Bosko falls to the ground and he ends up on a happy landing, he lands onto a "bouncy" piano, and he bounces off and lands into a long pair of underwear. Now, that's what I call "happy landing". According to the website ToonZone, the scene is sort of parodied in Disney's The Gorilla Mystery (1930). The house is just about half damaged with only the front floor of the house and broken parts of the wall surviving, and Honey (when she arrives back) didn't seem too shocked when she saw it.

So, as Honey enters the door she notices Bosko on top of her underwear attached to a laundry line, and Bosko steps off and tries to speak French to her by saying "Parlez vous", and Honey can't understand what he's saying, so Bosko ends up repeating himself, until she gets his answer and says "Wee Wee (French for yes-yes)". (On the site Toon Zone, with a bit of information on Dumb Patrol, the synopsis says that Bosko says "Parlez vous" to Honey, and that is French for "Do you speak French?", of course I speak very little French, and I like to thank that site for preventing me to understand this short better).

So, Honey replies with an "ooh la la (a French way of surprisement)". So, Bosko spontaneously kisses Honey on the lips, and Honey complains to Bosko (looks like she speaks sped up), and then Honey walks off from Bosko and find him out of her league.

Bosko remarks to himself "Well, shut my mouth!" Bosko tries to lighten up the situation with Honey and play the piano, with the tunes Shuffle Your Feet or Just Roll Along. This intrigues Honey, and then they both start jamming with the piano and enjoying the entertainment. Even at times the piano seems to be dancing as well, by tapping it's legs, and the piano chair moves up. It takes a while until Honey changes her mind and joins in with Bosko to the song.

Meanwhile, the enemy is up in the air, and he spots the damaged house that Bosko and Honey are playing in. So, he drops another bomb off the plane that explodes the house. The first bomb, shows Bosko and Honey looking demented and Bosko is playing the harp, and shows that the piano is partly damaged, and as the second bomb goes off - Bosko and Honey are hurt. Bosko fumes and Honey persuades him to fight his enemy back.

So, Bosko steps outside and uses a dog to prepare his new plane, and this is using various objects: a meat grinder, a fence, a bench and a stove. He starts to get the dog ready to fly, by turning it's head around over and over (Harman-Ising gag repeated), and so he flies up in the air and prepares for battle with the enemy again, and to defeat him this time.

Bosko and his dog (the dog uses his head as a propeller), and Bosko uses his fence as bullets to shoot at the enemy's plane shoots them with a grinder. The enemy doesn't notice about Bosko behind him, and as the bullets hit the back of his plane, the plane and the enemy appear to be in pain, and the enemy growls and shoots Bosko back with his machine gun, and knowing that Bosko realizes that the stove pot is invincible, and he bends the grinder into a different shape that would pop the bullets back to the enemy to shoot him back.

As the enemy has a hard time with the bullets striking at him, he prepares for his larger cannon and plots to shoot Bosko and the dog-plane again, and so Bosko missed the cannon - but the dog accidentally swallows it, and Bosko makes a grab for the dog's tail and the cannon zips out of the dog's stomach and shoots at the enemy and turns into multiplies of tiny aircrafts. So, Bosko quirts out the tiny planes one at a time with his water gun and spits out the last remaining one and that's all folks!

This cartoon is more of a short with a story, with little singing and dancing (inc. the piano sequence), and this isn't a harmful cartoon at all and I think it shows the better developments going on in Bosko, I thought the opening with the bombing was very well done - even for it's time back in the 1930s. Bosko had character there, where he showed his frustations and hatred towards his enemy, and this is another cartoon where he first encounters Honey, and that Honey is a stranger.

The cartoon would be renamed later in the Looney Tunes series in 1964 with the same title, but with Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam starring in that short.

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