Tuesday, 16 August 2011

13. The Tree's Knees (1931)

Warner cartoon no. 12.
Release date: July 1931.
Directors: Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Starring: Johnny Murray (Bosko, Squirrel).
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Rollin Hamilton.
Musical Score by: Frank Marsales.

 The short starts off with Bosko and he appears to be a lumberjack (even though he doesn't have the uniform - but there was a short later on titled Bosko the Lumberjack). He is walking through the woods with his axe and whistling. As Bosko finds a type of tree that he's eager to cut down, the tree comes to life and tries to stop Bosko from cutting down the tree, and then a squirrel pops out and begs to Bosko, "Won't you spare that tree", and that squirrel was voiced by Johnny Murray.

As Bosko decides to spare the tree's life, he celebrates by playing the harmonica, and all the small trees all skip around in a "Merry-Go-Round" style. Bosko says his typical line for "Ain't that cute?" which was used often in these early shorts.

So, as Bosko is about to walk past, a small tree blows a raspberry at Bosko, and then Bosko is offended of what the small tree does to him, and then there is a small chase sequence between Bosko and the tree, and Bosko finally grabs the tree's bark - and then the small tree becomes naked and then he shivers, as Bosko has his type of cloak and he refuses to return it and that he finally gives in, and returns the cloak to the shivering tree. So, the tree puts back on his cloak (another Harman-Ising gag) and then he walks off ignoring Bosko, and kicks him on the shin.

So, Bosko comments to himself "Well, suck my mouth" (a line reused from Ain't Nature Grand?), and then he walks off and finds other trees to cut down for him. I admit that the gags were that have been reused and the dialogue do kind of annoy me - I'm familiar that the cartoons were made during the Great Depresion, and that money was very scarce back then, but I did read somewhere that reusing didn't actually save money, and they could really start from stratch. Even the scene where Bosko walks along to find another tree and the leaves falling down were reused from the first shot in this cartoon.

Bosko looks up to a tree with a singing bird sitting on another branch, and there is a real life tree that is rocking a nest of little baby birds, and the mother bird is humming to Rock-a-Bye Baby and I must say, that is a clever and original gag that I've seen so far in this cartoon, the branches are the arms and is cradling the nest, I is pretty much, but not hilarious.

Bosko looks up at the tree and says, "Ain't that cute?" again. I'm now going to proclaim, that is was probably Bosko's catchprase at that point.

As Bosko says that line after wards, a bird (seen off-screen at first) spits at Bosko's hat, and I suppose there is a tease-type gag where the audience thought that it was bird dropping landed on Bosko's hat and then the next shot we see is just a bird who was spitting on Bosko's head.

Now that joke is merely quite funny there, because you'd think that the bird pooped on Bosko's hat, but it was just spitting, and yet that's still kind of gross.

As Bosko ignores that bird, and then he sees a passing butterfly flying through the woods and just doing what a normal butterfly would do. So, this catches Bosko's attention and then she follows the butterfly again and then he ends up in a type of waterfall (reused backgrounds from Ain't Nature Grand?), and yet the whole butterfly part was reused in that short, too. Darn, seriously?

So, Bosko starts off a rhythm with the woods beat and with some trees lined up, and then he starts to play them like a harp.

In the meantime, there is a tree that comes to life, and he has some roots sticking out on his trunk, on his right side, and then he pulls the leaves, with create violin strings and he brings out a stick from the ground and plays it like a bow on a violin. Meanwhile, the music is starting and then there is a "weeping willow" who seems to be weeping and it's kind of scary looking watching a willow crying, it's probably the hair - and the concept of her makes her look depressed.

The tree continues to play the violin, and then also used the bow to play with it's belly. There are other animals who appear to be dancing to the tune and singing, like a pelican and they open their beaks one at a time with another pelican.

There are two mice in this part and they are playing on a see-saw with a cutting saw, and with music that actually fit the music to the saw ride. One of the mice land into a pond, from a catapult, and as soon as the mouse is dragged out of the pond, the mouse is very fat due to the amount of water that is in his body. The other mouse lets all the water out of the fat mouse's body by pulling his tail, and more the water comes out, the mouse gets thinner and back to shape.

The next shows that both mice cut a slice from the log, and it is shaped like a record casette, and so, one mouth uses the other mouse to point his nose up and place the slice of the wood on top, and then the other mouse enlarges his mouth, and they play the log like a phonograph to play music. Ok, I must say that it is a clever gag there, and they use their tales to play the record player.

The next part shows a tree that comes to life and starts to boogie, and yet even pulls down some leaves as a skirt to dance around, and yet the skirt part is what does freak me the most. Bosko continues to play with the trees as harps, and the tree continues to dance through and waving her shirt and then that's all folks.

This cartoon ... well, it was just mostly reused, and I've noticed that in their cartoons that some of them tended to be reused more in their earlier efforts, and I admit that it's probably because of production costs and they were spending too much money, but the reuses puts me off the most. The cartoon is most of just like The Tree's Knees except it has trees, not much of animals. At least the next post (the very first Merrie Melody cartoon) will probably be more interesting than the other Looney Tunes when it was just all Bosko.

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