Wednesday, August 18, 2010

109 Slap Happy Valley

Title: Slaphappy Valley (Slap Happy Valley in some sources)
Studio: Lantz
Date: 8/21/39
Director ... Alex Lovy
Story ... Vic McLeod
Music ... Frank Marsales
Animators ... George Dane, La Verne Harding
Series: Crackpot Cruise
Running time (of viewed version): 7:02

Synopsis: A narrator follows a train trip from LA to Slaphappy Valley.

Comments: That Squiggy voiced narrator again. Hiccuping train conductor is pulling the Porky gag (with I think Mel Blanc's voice), but without technically stuttering. The little guy (Punchy, apparently) also looks like an Egghead rip off. And there's a posted bill advertising the "Hotel Looney". The cartoon feels more modern (modern meaning the '40s, in this usage) than many Lantz entries for the year. It makes me think Lantz was looking at Schlesinger's output and saying "hey guys, copy this little guy's look, and Mel, can you stutter but hiccup instead of actually stuttering, and just everyone in general step it up a bit, wouldja?". It's not exactly like the WB cartoons tho; it's generally more likable than the WB output, and it looks cleaner. It's also much more likable than much of the Lantz output for the year. I think the prospector is a Fred Allen voice caricature. Garbo caricature, for vanting to be alone; she has really long high heeled shoes instead of skis... Alex Lovy's cartoons generally improved over the year (he directed enough), with a few missteps like I'm Just A Jitterbug. There's enough of a quality difference in some cartoons that I would expect someone else was sub directing some of them (or all of them, and it was actually the sub directors who were improving the cartoons; I should compare the credits at the end of the year and see who was credited on good cartoons and who on bad). I can't help but think the tiny dog and the giant luggage might have been seen and lifted by Dr. Seuss for the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (unless it only looked that way in the cartoon, in which case, substitute Chuck Jones/Maurice Noble).


  1. That "Garbo's long feet" gag was a Schlesinger staple, as are the caricatures of Ned Sparks and Edna May Oliver, the prunefaced couple on skis.

    At times your blog makes me desperate to see some of the more obscure titles. As a fan of the late-'30's Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies, this is one of those times.

  2. Ted, there's a real oddity in the US govt. copyright catalogue for 1941:

    "Fe-fi-fo-fum; from Slap-happy Valley, w Arthur Quenzer, m Paul Smith. Copyright 1 c. Mar. 31, 1941; E ump. 253424; Walt Disney productions, Burbank, Calif."

    Did Disney make a short with the same title?

    As a side note, the same catalogue reveals Darrell Calker helped arrange the score for Disney's 'Reluctant Dragon' that year. I guess it's before he went to Lantz.

  3. Paul Smith and Arthur Quezner both did music on Fun and Fancy Free; Happy Valley was the name of the place in the Mickey and the Beanstalk segment. The movie was released in 1947; a 7 can easily be transcribed or wrongly OCRed as 1. Fe fi fo fum is something giants say.
    Theory: Disney copyrighted the song before Fun and Fancy Free came out, when it may have been called Slap Happy Valley (or possibly that's just the whole name of the song), and the 1941 is just a transcription error.

  4. [Added two years late: will anyone see it?]

    Mickey and the Beanstalk was in production in 1941 as a full-length feature of its own. It was only much later cut and edited down. "Slap-happy Valley," certainly in keeping with Disney's less cheesy prewar flavor, may have been an intended title at the time.
    The song "Fe-fi-fo-fum" is still in the film as (eventually) released.

    1. So, you're of the opinion that the title "Slap-happy Valley" is somehow less cheesy than something else?
      (Also, part of the idea behind the year blogs is they're always sitting out there for people to get information about a cartoon; there's always a chance someone will see it.)

    2. "Slap-happy Valley," with its suggestion of punch-drunkenness, is less cheesy than Happy Valley, gentle home of irony-free warmth and bliss.