Friday 30 September 2011

37. Bosko at the Beach (1932)

Warner cartoon no. 36.
Release date: July 23, 1932.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Directed by: Hugh Harman.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Starring: Johnny Murray (Bosko).
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Rollin Hamilton.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

The short starts off with Bosko at the beach and he appears to have a part-time job by selling hotdogs: and it's sort of similar in an earlier short Ups N'Downs but the only thing the same is the occupation he is doing. Bosko doesn't really do much in the job except bark out "hot dogs", so the director realized that nothing interesting is going to happen. In the cartwheel, there are hot dogs dancing, and coming to life; they also they skip rope with each other.

Meanwhile, there is a rather cartoon-looking octopus that dances around the beach, with seahorses dancing as well. They all dance in their own routines. There is also a repeated gag in there, of the octopus that lands on a rock in the sand, so that the seahorses grab one of the legs like a "merry-go-round" ride. Now, I'm getting sick of that repeated gag.

Bosko's dog Bruno also runs into the short and he is doing what a dog would usually do at the beach: running around, barking, sniffing for tracks, etc. Suddenly, Bruno gets a glass cut on one of his paws, and the glass must have been tiny and sharp, as we can't see it. Bosko runs away from his cart and finds Bruno yelping for help. Bosko runs over to Bruno yelping in pain, and Bosko tries to calm him down. It seems that his paw has a pin stuck on it, not broken glass. Bosko pulls the pin off Bruno's paw, and he heals from the pain. Huh, now I wonder who on earth would leave pins on the beach. Broken glass would've made sense I guess, but a pin would be more suitable to avoid blood and such.

We now see Honey who is skipping on the beach, and her pet cat Wilbur is along as well (I hope he doesn't cause trouble this time). Honey is wearing her bathing suit on, and bathing cap. Wilbur seems to be struggling with the tides coming in, and almost drowns as Honey doesn't notice him. Is it just me or does Honey look fat in her swimsuit.

Honey goes to a spot and picks up a ukulele from a property and starts to play a song. Wilbur decides to go off to the high waves off-screen, but Honey warns him "Be careful, Wilbur". It appears to be that off-screen Wilbur is body surfing through the huge waves. So, it seems that Honey is a ukulele theft by playing one that could have belonged to someone - so it's "finder's keepers" to her then?

As Bosko is waking through with his hot-dog cart, he notices Honey playing the ukulele inside an umbrella in silhouette, Bosko goes in excitement "Oh boy!" Honey suddenly notices Bosko doing his job, and asks him to wait there as she goes into a hut to get changed. She gets changed through the hut with clothesline coming through with her skirt, pants and bra coming in. She steps outside (wit no bra on), and starts to walk outside the beach area, and asks Bosko to come along. They start to play the song Ain't We Got Fun?

Meanwhile as they are playing the song, Bruno keeps on coming into the scene to play, but Bosko keeps on throwing the stick to get Bruno's attention to the stick and not towards Bosko and Honey. The next part, Bruno returns with a log, so Bosko throws the log away so he can catch it. Bruno comes by next with an even larger log, but it lands on a picnic setup, and a jar lands onto Bosko's head. This is another moment in which dogs ruin the show for the characters, but Bruno is just behaving like a dog.

Wilbur continues to be body surfing through the waves, until a big wave comes in this time, which causes Wilbur to run away from a tide, but he's then washed up from the ocean, and ends in the sea shouting for help. Well, so far Wilbur hasn't seem to have done anything spoilt in this cartoon so far, but it's still grateful to save someone's life from drowning.

Bosko hears the cry for help, and he immediately runs to the sea to help rescue Wilbur. Bosko attempts to dive through a huge wave, but instead it leaves him at the dry land swimming. He swims through big, curvy waves that are very dangerous, and especially dangerous for poor Wilbur. As the waves get higher, and Bosko is swimming, the wave suddenly falls flat, that causes Bosko to land on a belly flop, I don't think that's even possible at all in terms of gravity. But he doesn't care about the pain, he's just trying to save Wilbur and he the hero of this picture. A fun gag is in which Bosko swims through huge, curvy waves under the water, before swimming back into a normal level. Wilbur is still screaming for help, and asks someone in the audience who could help him.

Bruno realizes that Bosko is in trouble too, with the waves. So he decides to make a plan to save both Bosko and Wilbur. I've noticed that in shots at Bruno barking at the waves, the waves don't seem very choppy at all, but when Bosko is swimming after Wilbur, the waves are dangerous. However, the waves were very choppy as Wilbur was body surfing.

Bruno grabs a fan from a shop, so he starts to attach the plug of the fan into a log, in which the fan starts to speed up Bruno into safety to save Bosko and Wilbur. I know that it's especially impossible for that to happen (as there is nowhere to plug it into), but whatever: Bosko and Wilbur are in trouble and at least "Cartoonland" can give them many chances by doing the "impossible things".

 Bruno realizes that he's not getting enough speed on the log, and then he makes the fan go faster, by placing the fan on the sea that makes the log move like a speedboat. There are huge waves that keep on separating Bosko and Wilbur. But Bruno comes in just in time, to rescue Bosko and Wilbur, that really makes Bruno the hero of this picture - and that's all folks.

As for me about this cartoon, well: I think it's best to say it was mediocre at best. The gags in there were pretty straightforward and obvious, they followed the same routine in this cartoon as usual such as: Bosko and Honey having a dance sequence in the middle of the picture, and always a climax sequence. The waves were quite exciting in this short, as there are huge waves which make the short more exciting to watch. Overall, this cartoon isn't one of the best to watch, but it wasn't terrible to watch.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

"Powerhouse" - Raymond Scott

Today (as I'm during the week and no reviews to be posted til Friday), but I feel that I ought to share a song that I've always liked a lot, and also used in a lot of Looney Tunes cartoons - Raymond Scott's Powerhouse. Powerhouse was first written in 1937, and it's best known to have been played in many cartoons.

This is a very good music video in which it shows Raymond Scott and his band that play Powerhouse. The song has been used in many Looney Tunes particularly in the cartoon Baby Bottleneck in which it's played during the assembly line, which is the most famous cartoon that has the song used. The music has also been briefly heard in cartoons like Falling Hare, Porky's Pig Feat, and even on Duck Dodgers and the 24 1/2 Century.

(Here is Baby Bottleneck - you'll hear some Powerhouse in there).

The song has also been played in shows like Ren & Stimpy, Animaniacs, and The Simpsons. I don't know about you lot, but I find this piece of music very inspiring and fascinating.

Sunday 25 September 2011

36. The Queen Was in the Parlor (1932)

Warner cartoon no. 35.
Release date: July 9, 1932.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Cast unknown.
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Paul Smith.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

The setting shows a medieval castle in the distance. We get a better look at the castle (only the drawbridge) which is lowered on top of a moat, then there is a gate that opens, and another door that opens - which shows you that the castle is in full protection, then a squire comes in to play the trumpet in honor of the king entering the castle. From our point of view, we see a fat, pompus king that's crossing the bridge, he appears to be riding some type of horse or donkey, but I wonder how can he handle that weight. It's like that story when King Henry VIII became too fat for riding horses.

Inside the quad, we see that it's Old King Cole, but as a pig. The horse appears to be controlling the weight alright (boy, he sure has a strong back). The horse then bucks off the king, but slides the king through his body, and pats his ears on the bottom playing the rhythm to an old traditional royal theme. The town quire are standing in the corner of the castle shouting "Long live the king!" as an admiration to the king.

The king exclaims to his knights, "But where's the Queen", so the knights pass on the message, knight-after-knight whispering "The Queen", until we see a Jewish knight saying "The queen", which is meant to be a funny gag back in the 1930's. But, (as I learnt) it doesn't make Harman-Ising Anti-Semetic. The king's squires realize and shout "Oh, the queen!", and then the title song The Queen Was in the Parlor is been sung. As the title song is been sung, there is a dog in a knight suit (while as the drawbridge of his kennel is lowered), he barks out as well. The dog struggles to scratch, as he's wearing a metal knight suit, so he uses a powder that cures itches, in which the fleas escape. The gag itself, is not actually bad at all - it works. I also really like how the King is walking down the path, I love that fat-walk that was produced and animated, it gives the character some personality.

We then see the Queen in the parlor room sitting on the throne, and the princess (who also appears to be in the Goopy cartoons and in Freddy the Freshman) who is building a knight armour suit. It appears to be that in the room, that they build armour suits for knights. The king steps in the room, and also "takes the mick" of the squire my pulling his bib. What I quite like about the king's personality here is that he's too lazy to walk to the throne chair, and he's a powerful figure that even the throne chair follows him to be sat on - that's a lot of power.

So, the King orders a jester to come and entertain him. We realize that the jester is...Goopy Geer? Oh man, I hope that Goopy won't ruin this short for me, because I was really liking this short so far, but we'll see what he has to bring. Goopy Geer steps in front of the throne and sings to Old King Cole, and mentions that he calls his crooners three names: Crosby, Columbo and Vallee. Darn it - I thought that it would be the last thing I'll hear about that song. After the song, there is a caricature of Rudy Vallee's head in a jack-in-a-box singing I Will Gather Stars Out of the Blue for You. Alright, but I'm really starting to not like Rudy Vallee's appearances here - thank you Old King Cole for hitting Rudy Vallee on the head, that leads him to fall back into the jack-in-a-box with your sceptor. The King complains, "I'd rather hear Amos N'Andy", which was a popular comedy show back in the early 1930's. I really like the King here, wonderful character development here, and that he is a powerful figure.

Goopy Geer walks down the center of the room, until he notices a table on the side of the wall, with bottles on it. The door nearby says Ye Old Chamber, so Goopy Geer is placing his ear by the door, eavesdropping. An old timer comes out and asks Goopy, "Are ya listenin'?", so Goopy smirks "Uh yeah, I'm Walter Winchell", [Winchell] was a popular American newspaper and commentator personality back in that era, and I suppose the gag revolves around him who seems to eavesdrop. There appear to be some strange beer bottles that explode, and Goopy runs out of screen exclaiming "Okay, Chicago", which was apparently a catchphrase by Winchell. So, Goopy continues to take over the screen by doing his dancing schemes, and tapping on a spittoon. There is also a cat hiding behind a mousehole, but the mouse comes out in a knight costume to charge at the cat.

I have to say, that Goopy is ruining this short for me - I was really liking this short with the King and his knights, but Goopy Geer had to come along by doing Rudy Vallee and Walter Winchell impressions, but since when did they exist in Medieval times. Although, that it's just a cartoon, but I just don't really like Goopy Geer.
There is a knight standing by the door who is also joining into the tune, but a door slams when there's a nasty villain who comes in to try and take away Goopy's performance on the screen (please do that nasty villain). The villain comes along and looks at the armour costume, he spits on it but explodes. The spit was powerful that the suit was just gone, only a mere set of bones. I don't know where the "bones" part comes from.

The villain notices the princess dancing to some funky tunes, in which the villain finds his interest, to kidnap  her. The villain hides behind the curtains while she's dancing and doesn't even notice anything. The villain quickly grabs the princess, and runs off with her.

Goopy is still dancing, but he then listens to the sounds of screaming going on. He finally encounters the villain with the princess, so the villain challenges him to a swordfight, while Goopy uses his jester stick. Goopy's stick gets caught tangled up in a column, until it loosens in which Goopy flies right into a cupboard full of plates, in which he looks like he's in a armour suit. I wonder if that inspired anything from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (think about it Dopey covered in pots and pans?).

Goopy continues to charge at the villain, but the villain is too powerful for him, as he punches Goopy off the screen, and lands on a column with a goat's head stuck on his head.

Goopy charges at the villain with the goat head on, in which the villain's suit of armour crash into pieces. The villain is wearing his pyjamas, so he mixes the suit back into pieces like shaking a smoothie, and climbs back on the suit of armour. Knowing that his suit was crashed into pieces, he runs away from Goopy Geer thinking he's a goat, and he runs off into the distance. Goopy won the battle and that's all folks!

I thought that this cartoon was rather mixed. I really liked the first half of it, there was wonderful character developments on the King, and I wish that he could've carried on the whole cartoon (unless he was too lazy to do so ;-) but Goopy Geer just ruined the cartoon for me, and I know that the staff were trying to make an entertaining character out of him, but Goopy just doesn't entertain me, in fact he annoys me - I find that he always ruins the shorts, and he's so equivalent to Goofy. However, this is the last appearance of Goopy Geer (as far as I've heard), but now there are no more characters in Merrie Melodies but one-shot cartoons, until Porky Pig makes his debut in a one-shot cartoon, but nothing happens until Daffy Duck makes some appearances in Merrie Melodies until 1938.

Saturday 24 September 2011

35. Bosko's Dog Race (1932)

Warner cartoon no. 34.
Release date: June 25, 1932.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Directed by: Hugh Harman.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Starring: Johnny Murray (Bosko).
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Norm Blackburn.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

Today's review is going to be my favourite all-time Harman-Ising cartoon made in that era from Warner Bros. you'll find out why I really like that short.

The short starts off with Bosko cooking an egg in the woods (he might be camping with Bruno), so his dog watches him flip the egg on the frying pan. As Bosko is cooking the yolk, and flipping it, he's says "Oh boy, am I hungry", in which Bruno barks in agreement. Bruno also looks at the yolk in a close-up shot, in which he licks his teeth as the yolk looks so tasty. Bruno reacts to the sizzling chemicals in which he yelps. We also hear Bosko humming to Are You from Dixie?

There is a rather peckish squirrel living up in a tree, the squirrel sniffs the lovely sizzling egg. As the egg is being flipped in mid-air, the squirrel swallows it in one gulp. Bosko and Bruno are astonished to see that theire only egg has been eaten, so Bosko brings out a shotgun and tries to shoot the squirrel as part of his revenge scheme for eating the egg.

So, there is another one of those "chase" sequences that comes along, in which Bruno chases from the squirrel through different areas of the forest. As Bosko is trying to pull the trigger, he sort of topsy-turves as he ends up back in the campfire, by landing on a frying pan which almost burns him in the rear end. They also cross a river, in which the squirrel runs through it, as Bruno runs on top of it. The squirrel lands in a log hole, in which Bruno is about to make a turn, until he slips off the log and falls into the pond.

 Bosko runs into the scene and laughs at Bruno in the water, then encourages him to be out of the pond - Bruno makes a quick dry before following Bosko. Bosko and Bruno notice an advertisement of a dog race. The sign reads $5000 Prize to Winner - Whippet Race. There is a brief bit of animation of a dog running on the poster before being back to a normal drawing. Bosko insists that Bruno will run the dog race and win it, whilst Bruno isn't very eager to run the race and doesn't feel he has the physique of a dog racer.

I quite like that little bit of animation of the dog running on the poster, and there is some good personality animation of Bruno here, and he sort of reminds me of another Disney Pluto, but the animation personality of Bruno is potential, compared to Pluto - but still a great attempt from the animators.

Bosko starts a training program for his dog outside in his backyard, but the training is very amateurish and painful for Bruno. Bosko finishes off his brutal exercise for Bruno, the next part is when he starts to give Bruno a massage, but the massage is quite rough. Meanwhile Honey pops up at the gate, she greets Bosko and asks him if he's preparing Bruno for the dog race. Bosko demonstrates that he's doing so, and Bruno tries to check out his physical towards Honey. Bruno puts on a muscly-chest look on him, but as Bosko pats him on the back, his chest lowers down and back onto his flabby stomach. Honey laughs while Bruno is embarrassed over his physical, while he tries to put on a good-shaped body.

The acting here and the animation is a delight to look at. I really like the personality animation of Bruno trying to put on a good-shaped physical body. Some great emotions, and it's amazing on how it was done quite well back in 1932, and it seems that the cartoons were made in a short amount of time. Some great stuff in there so far.

The big race has finally begun today, and there is a crowd of many people attending to see the dog race. Either folks placing bets on a dog, or to see their own pets race. There are some couples walking with their own breeds in which the owners have good racing dogs, and Bosko arrives with Bruno attached onto a leach. What I've noticed very interesting, is during the first shot with a huge noticeboard with the racers, and Bruno's name is in big letters with the number "13", I wonder if Harman-Ising used that for bad luck for Bruno?

The race starts with Honey watching the arena, as there are loudspeakers shouting "On your marks...get set...BOOM", and the speakers react to the gunshot in which is a very good gag indeed. The race is starting off with many dogs running in the race, but as Bosko and Honey are watching the dogs running by, they can't see Bruno anywhere in the crowd. To their shock, they notice Bruno sniffing at the tracks, and try to pressure him to run in the race. What I do find funny is that little Scottish terrier that's running in the race.

During the race, there are a lot of fit looking dogs that are built for racing, but Bruno is just unfit for racing, and that's why he's already tired out. Bruno starts to slow down, that even Bosko has to jump onto the tracks and make Bruno run faster, but to an even bigger shock Bruno jumps out of a fence when he spots a squirrel.

Bruno starts to chase the same squirrel from earlier, and Bruno checks in a log. On top of a tree is a beehive, in which the squirrel drops on top of Bruno's rear, with a bunch of bees stinging Bruno, that causes Bruno to run faster. Bosko runs off and ends up landing on a pile of clothes, in which Bruno follows, due to Bosko's clumsiness. All the clothes run away from the bees unattractively, in which Bruno runs away from them, with a set of underwear stuck on Bruno's face.

Lucky for Bosko's clumsiness, Bruno runs back on the track, and thanks for the bees - Bruno starts to catch up in the face. Bruno is now competing with a winning "No. 2" racing dog that was in the lead all along. I really like how Hugh Harman used his story ideas for bees that became an important part of this story.

 Bruno is now in the lead, but only at the very end of the race, until he finally reaches the finishing line (but the line bounces Bruno backwards), but the commentator announces that Bruno has won the race, in which Honey and Bruno step in the arena very proud of Bruno, but it also means that they win 5 grand - and that's all folks.

That's a reason why I really like that short very much. There is a good short story in there, but it isn't about a dog race, it's about Bruno's troubles in his physical and those bees really helped him win the race. Surely, you may have seen something similar before, but back in 1932 - they didn't always have gags like this in cartoons, so it was great for the time. The character animation was very good in it, particularly scenes featuring Bruno. What makes the cartoon great is that there is hardly any old animation reused from earlier shorts, and it's mostly just new animation. I feel that Harman-Ising have really tried there, and placed in a lot of effort, while they found the time to make a great black-and-white cartoon.

This is why the cartoon is my favorite in this Warner Bros. era (1930-1933).

Friday 23 September 2011

34. Moonlight for Two (1932)

Warner cartoon no. 33.
Release date: June 11, 1932.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Cast unknown.
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Larry Martin.
Musical Score by: Frank Marsales.

"Here, bring Goopy Geer", well folks - we've got him back on his second appearance, but this time dressed as a hillbilly.

The short starts off when we hear the traditional song that used to be played by hillbillies She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain, the background starts off with a moonlight that rises at night. We see a cabin, in which we see a gal (the same one from Freddy the Freshman) who is also humming the traditional song. It seems that she's dating Goopy Geer in here (looks like the relationship between her and Freddy didn't work out). We look at Goopy leaning onto a tree playing the harmonica, as he meets with his girl. It seems that Goopy acts in a strange way when meeting his girlfriend before saying "Howdy yall!" to her.

There is this bird that whistles up in a tree, and the timing of the bird whistling is bad, but the timing of the little birds whistling one at a time is better. The girl says, "Ain't it cute?" the often-used Harman-Ising quotation. The two of them start to sing the title song, Moonlight for Two and it kind of paces up the cartoon. The voices are the most off-putting part. Goopy's voice is so annoying that it makes me want to blow up my brains. I know that it's not the same person who does the falsetto voices for the Merrie Melodies shorts. Hang on a minute, Goopy's voice has changed from his first appearance, and it sounds more American like, and rustier voice.

They both jump onto a cart, in which they end up rolling down the hill (I'm begging for something violent and gruesome happening to them), instead they end up crashing into a log cabin, and all the logs bundle up into a neat pile, which is good animation, but terrible inbetweening. The cart then crashes into a tree, and then the pieces fall back, to transform into a wheelbarrow that Goopy rides with his girl. They cross a very light bridge, that nearly sinks them into a river, until they go back up.

Here we see the interior of a barn, in which that we see a couple of dancers coming into the arena with a square dancer, more or less "square dancing". There is also a member of the band, who is playing the fiddle, who appears to be using his bow to be stroking his toes like an instrument. There are two cattles who join in as dancing partners, and they grab their tails together in which a cat jumps over the ropes like "skip rope".

Goopy Geer and his unnamed girlfriend arrive at the entrance of the barn dance (with the cartwheel). Goopy steps at the entrance door, and notices that he's in small size, he stretches himself by pulling his ears until he's back to normal size. He steps into the barn and shouts "Howdy folks!", so now his voice has gone into a falsetto, from a rather rusty, annoying voice? Everyone greets Goopy Geer (and his girlfriend), so the two of them start a dance.

Meanwhile there is a hot stove suddenly comes to life, which is quite odd for an inanimate object to do so, but it dances which is kind of creepy - but not as creepy as the one in Sinkin' in the Bathtub. The stove suddenly picks up a whole load of coal and breathes fire out.

There is also a square-dancing pair of dogs who are dancing, the male dog grabs a bottle of moonshine, that flames up most of his body, until he shrinks into a child size. I don't know how many times I've seen a gag like that or seen it before, probably because I've seen too many reused gags, I don't know if this gag was a reuse.
There is also a type of pig that is playing the banjo, and also uses it like a spittoon to spit tobacco in, and Goopy Geer and the stove continue to dance with some gags as well as dancing.

Suddenly, something finally happens when there is a crook who comes in with a handgun, who tries to come by and pucker up Goopy's girlfriend on the lips. Goopy stands by acting so confident, by shouting "Stand back villain!" But, the "villain" starts to pull the trigger with his shotgun, in which that Goopy has two spittoons stuck on his feet, as he runs in them. Goopy starts to kick the spittoons off his face, in which it hits one of the villains and then in the face.

 Meanwhile the stove comes by to help save Goopy in trouble, by using his very hot body to let the villain scream from the burning reaction. The stove continues to keep on burning the villain in the bottom. The stove then starts to breathe fire at him, until the villain is cornered, Goopy starts to shoot out coal and fire into the villain until he runs off into the distance. Goopy and the stove shake hands and that's all folks! WAIT A MINUTE, is that all folks? Rudolf Ising blew a GREAT gag in there, as Goopy and the stove shake hands, Goopy should've reacted to the burning stove from his hand, but yet the villain gets to be burned. What a wasted gag, do you think there's a process of reanimating that scene from 80 years ago?

Overall, the cartoon was just nothing really special, it was just a typical Harman-Ising cartoon from Warner Bros. that was just singing and dancing, and just all bland animation. Personally, the only good-enough material that comes out is those Bosko cartoons by Hugh Harman, but they're still not as brilliant. This cartoon is just mediocre at best, but I'm quite sure that it's lower than mediocre.

Sunday 18 September 2011

33. It's Got Me Again! (1932)

On a Sunday, it's time that I'm going to be reviewing a Warner Bros. cartoon that was the first to be nominated for an Academy Award, but will it be good once I'm going to review it - let's wait and see...

Warner cartoon no. 34.
Release date: May 14, 1932.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Cast unknown.
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Thomas McKimson.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

This is the first animation credit to Thomas McKimson in which he later became a layout artist for Bob Clampett, and his two other brothers Charles and Robert were animators; one of whom would pursue a career in directing.

 The short starts off with a scrawny, little mouse who peeps out of a mouse hole, and beside him is a mousetrap. The mouse continues to creep through, until he spots something scary off-screen, and he runs off with his tail caught on the mousetrap, and the mouse starts to scream. As the clock strikes 3am, the mouse grabs the cheese off the mousetrap and gobs it in his mouth, that bounces on the bottom of his stomach. The mouse starts to creep through different instruments (xylophone, trombone, drum, etc.) and he swings onto a gramophone, in which he starts to play music.

Music starts playing and the mouse invites all the mice out of their mice holes to join into the party, and even an elderly mouse that wants to join in the dancing, but little mice keep on running through his legs, in which the elderly mouse spins. The mice climb down the tables by landing on a chordian, that pushes down so the mice can step off. While the music is playing and the mice are singing to the title song, it appears to be that "when the cat's away, the mice will play".

There is this complicating gag of a mouse that's stuck in a recorder as a metronome, and so he's flung off: he lands on a double-bass, then onto a horn, then on a fiddle, and lands on a clarinet in which multiples come out of the clarinet holes which is reused multiples from Hold Anything. The multiplied-mice start off by jumping on top of a drum in which starts off a rhythm. Another pair of multiplied-mice start off on top of a flute, and start to play the American theme to The Girl I Left Behind Me. A group of mice start to dance, and the dance is all reused from Hold Anything. I admit that the reuses don't put me off too much, but it fits well as it fits with the "mice will play" story.
One of the mice trips from a pin on top of the ceiling, and lands on a spittoon that causes a group of mice to laugh at the poor mouse. The mouse starts to play the tuba, and then walks towards a window. By the window is a huge cat that's outside (and it's raining - notice the raindrop animation in the background), and the cat is hungry for the mice, the mouse doesn't even notice that the cat is standing just outside the window. I like the design of the cat there, he looks very menacing and scary.

Meanwhile, there is some rattling going on in the piano, there is a mouse that chucks a smaller mouse out of the piano, and lands on the keyboards. They seem to have a duel on the piano boards, and according to this on a YouTube video, "this is a spoof of the Apache Dance", Of course; I don't know what the dance specifically means, but I guess that it was a good spoof for it's time. I love the music timing there, when the mouse steps back with the piano keyboards being pressed, and music notes are playing - which makes nice music.

 Meanwhile, the cat that was by the window just a moment ago, is now on top of the roof, and watches the mice on the skylight. The cat watches the mice, and then thinks of a plan. The cat climbs on top of a chimney, and slides down. I must say that the music for the cat scenes are just incredible. It gives you the feeling of horror for the mice, like when you see the mice dancing - the music is cheerful; but as the cat arrives - it's dark music and you know that it means danger.

The cat crawls up to the mice that are dancing, but as soon as a cuckoo-clock strikes, all the mice turn around and run away. Which means that the cat will have to chase after them. The cat chases after the mouse, by turning upwards and downwards, and the mouse stands by a mousetrap, and it snaps as it makes a turning point.

The mouse is cornered, and the cat blocks the mouse. The mouse is all frightened, and starts to beg for the other mice to help him out, and get rid of the cat. The mouse even cries, "MAMMY", in which it was Al Jolson's famous quote. I really like those shots of the mouse's point of view of the cat, he looks very menacing and is determined to eat that mouse alive.

The mouse preying though reminds me of a scene similar to a cartoon produced by Ising in 1940 called Puss Gets the Boot (known to be the first Tom and Jerry), but that cartoon wasn't made until 8 years, and I wonder if Ising re-used his ideas into that, even though Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera were the directors.

The mice finally start their revenge towards the cat, by shooting drum sticks like a bow & arrow, and the drumstick hits on the cat's bum and screams. I must say, that piece of animation of the drumsticks hitting the cat's bottom really has some weight into it, it really looks as though it does hurt, and that's a good thing. The mice continue to be shooting their drumsticks from harp-strings, but then that animation doesn't look like it hurts. The scene where the mice use a blow torch to burn the cat's bottom might be funny, but the scene where the cat gets knocked out by hitting a bass drum, is funnier. The mice start to shoot pins from a phonograph, and the cat finally jumps out of a window into the distance, the other mice celebrate - and that's all folks!

I must say that this was actually a pretty, pretty good cartoon - one of Harman-Ising's best efforts in that era I have to say. This is when I think that they were really trying. They used a great theme for a cat-and-mouse. The musical score by Frank Marsales is just wonderful, and usually I find his music very repetitive and bland, but his score is just great; he really captured the story into his score. The gags between a cat and mouse had potential, and this cartoon may not be equivalent to a Tom and Jerry cartoon, but it was certainly good for it's time. As it was made in 1932, this cartoon has been nominated for an Academy Award, and I feel it deserved a nomination, even though Disney's Flowers and Trees won it.

Saturday 17 September 2011

32. Bosko and Bruno (1932)

Warner cartoon no. 31.
Release date: April 30, 1932.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Directed by: Hugh Harman.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Starring: Johnny Murray (?)
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Paul Smith.
Musical Score by: Frank Marsales.

The short starts off with Bosko and his pet Bruno walking through the empty rail tracks, in the middle of nowhere.They appear to be tramps and Bruno is just sniffing around with him, and is sort of his companion. Bruno starts to scratch, and bites his own fur because there's a flea stuck in there. As soon as the flea is out of the fur, then walks up to the tip of the dog's tail and Bruno flicks the flea out of scene.

As Bosko and Bruno continue to be walking on the train tracks, they walk onto a railroad bridge, and they suddenly hear the sounds of steam trains - oh boy, they're in trouble. The train appears to be chasing after them (even though the camera angle looks as though it's heading straight towards them). Whilst running away from the train, they come across a handcar, in which they use it to support the speed, and to try and get away from that train. While paddling on the handcar, they come across a break on the bridge, in which they turn upside down, with the wheels of the hand car stuck on the break, before popping back up to normal back on the usual train tracks.

I have to say that the camera angles of the train tracks is just all wrong, because it should be mirrored, as if the train is chasing after them, not steaming straight towards them. Harman should have flopped those shots, to make it as though they are chasing. It just doesn't work to me.

 Whilst Bosko and Bruno are still on the handcar, the car hits a huge rock in which they fall back down into the ground, but they still runaway from the the train. Why do they continue to run on the tracks? They're back on land, why not just jump off to land, in which the train won't charge at them.

Bosko and Bruno continue to run on the train tracks (oddly enough for some reason), and then Bruno's foot gets caught on the rails, in which Bosko tries to change the switch but the switch is locked. After failed attempts to try and free Bruno, Bosko tries to pull the switch as hard as he can, but the approaching train comes in time, in which Bruno appears to be dead and Bosko turns depressed. It turns out that Bruno was hiding under the hatch in the train tracks all along to trick Bosko that he was dead. Holy hell, Bruno does this again to trick about his death, he's so "sadistic". Plus, the gag was reused from Big-Hearted Bosko.

After Bosko is furious over Bruno's trick, he throws a rock that was supposed to aim towards Bruno, but it seems that he don't see the rock from that point on. Bruno continues to bark, and Bosko continues to follow him. They enter a tunnel in which it's dark, and from the audience's point of view; we see Bosko and Bruno scared. We think that there is another train approaching, but until Bosko and Bruno run out of the tunnel and jump off the train tracks to hide in a rock (*heavy sigh* THAT took them a while to figure that out!). But, it turns out that it isn't a train and it's just a cow walking on the tracks making annoying sounds. Jeez, they panic like that over a cow??

Bosko and Bruno jump off the tracks and land in a ditch in which they see some chicken tracks, "Look Bruno" says Bosko, and then Bruno starts to sniff to find out. Bruno continues to sniff through (while Bosko walks through a log in a pond, while Bruno continues to sniff underwater), until they come across a farm with chickens.

While Bosko and Bruno are looking at the chicken clucking and minding his own business, do they plan to grab and cook the chicken? Nope, Bosko wants the chicken eggs to cook that's all (well, chicken's still nicer to eat). Bruno goes inside the chicken farm, until a chicken notices Bruno in silhouette and identifies him as a dog, so the chicken runs in panic, as Bruno chases after the chicken. It appears to be that Bruno was supposed to distract the chicken by chasing it, while Bosko tries to make a grab for one of the eggs.
As the chasing continues, the chicken gets caught in a lawn mower, in which the mower moves, with chicken feathers are coming out and sticking onto Bruno. Eventually as all the feathers are out, Bruno looks like cement because of the lawn mower with the chicken inside, and the chicken is now naked. Bruno shakes off all the muck, and Bosko joins in the chase, by boasting "Gem 'em Bruno" (what now Bosko wants to eat the chicken?), until Bosko and Bruno see a figure off-screen they turn around and scram, as Bosko shouts "Scram Bruno!"

So, Bosko and Bruno are being chased by an old timer, and I don't t know what creature he's supposed to be. The old timer vows revenge on Bosko and Bruno for trying to chase the chickens, and the farmer tries to shoot them with his shotgun. The gun gags were reused from Bosko's Fox Hunt.

 As Bosko and Bruno run for their lives, from an outraged farmer, they end up at an edge of a cliff, in which there is a train approaching. Due to lucky timing, they land on one of the boxcars, and the farmer has lost his luck in shooting them. Suddenly, the boxcar they are on is loose and they end up in a disastrous ride which was OBVIOUSLY reused from Box-Car Blues and Smile, Darn Ya, Smile! With Bosko trying to stop the boxcar from going anywhere, and Bruno screaming - they are in trouble.

The disaster for Bosko and Bruno finally finishes for them when the boxcar lands on a cow (is it the same cow from earlier in the film?), and the cow is squashed from the telephone pole, and the cow extends and walks off. Gee, does that sound familiar (Box-Car Blues)?? Bosko and Bruno look at each other in confusion - and that's all folks.

Onto my thoughts: well, the cartoon kinda flaws with the fact that there are reuses like in the beginning, like when Bruno fakes his death from Big-Hearted Bosko, and that the boxcar disaster has been reused many times. Some of the concept of this cartoon was reused from Box Car Blues like the fact that Bosko is a hobo in this short, and also the boxcar disaster. The story was a bit different there, like when Bosko is in a farm, never seen that before - maybe on The Booze Hangs High. This cartoon isn't great, but not terrible at all.