Saturday, June 12, 2010

078 The Bear That Couldn't Sleep

Title: The Bear That Couldn't Sleep
Studio: MGM
Date: 6/10/39
Credits: (A Rudolf Ising Production)
Series: Barney Bear (?)
Running time (of viewed version): 8:17

Synopsis: Barney Bear's hibernation has trouble getting rolling.

Comments: Cartoons are strong believers in the idea that bears like to sleep through the winter and that great comedy ensues in the frustration of that. The ultimate standard that would be arrived at for this (largely by Tex Avery's repeated coverage of the general idea, often outside of bears) would be someone having to keep the sleeper uninterrupted. But here we have another idea, possibly more obvious; a one man almost dialog free cartoon, where the sleeper is interrupted time after time by objects. Peeing water bottle gag. Amongst other fluid bursting gags. Like the final gag where you think a bird has pooped in his eye. The release timing seems unusual; it takes place winter to early spring, and it arrived two months late to that party. This was the first appearance of Barney Bear; he's not exactly fully formed yet. I'm not entirely convinced the title image of him would have been with the film, since he looks more like he would eventually. But maybe it was just a difference in execution between the card painter and the animators.

Horrifying poster follows:

Who ran the poster department? It doesn't look the animators, and it diesn't generally look like the people who did commercial art at the time. An editorial cartoonist maybe? Was this guy's style so recognizeable at the time that it blessed the film with its association?


  1. "I'm not entirely convinced the title image of him would have been with the film..."

    That's right; it was added for reissue.

    In the cartoons as first released, Barney Bear wasn't given the name Barney on-screen until WILD HONEY (1942). Wouldn't surprise me to find that he was named in publicity or copyright documents earlier, though I haven't done the research to find out.

    As for the Barney-sunburst intro card, I find the earliest surviving original example on THE UNWELCOME GUEST (1945):

    As can be seen, it shows an earlier character design than the more commonly seen version.

    1. yeah, just revisted this and was just thinking..this was his first, how would he get that name and sunburst (same with the first Tex Avery cartoon, and Droopy Dog's first appearance, 1943's "Dumb-Hounded", note the 1952 (MCMLII) copyright..:))

  2. Oh I love this one!!!!! They used to show this with Tom and Jerry cartoons on TV when I was a kid (because of the MGM connection). I don't think i've seen this in over 20 years. Gotta find this on you tube. Thanks!