Thursday, September 16, 2010

120 Sioux Me

Title: Sioux Me (in double quotes on Blue Ribbon title)
Studio: Warner Bros.
Date: 9/09/39
Credits: none listed on print
Series: Merrie Melodies (Blue Ribbon retitle)
Running time (of viewed version): 8:20

Synopsis: It's dry on the rez, the dance isn't working, so the shaman turns to pills, which solve all the problem of dryness but cause other problems. A keen indictment of pharmaceutical solutions.

Comments: I think Hollywood may have assumed all American Indians were the type Californians had access to (far west and national tourist sites like around Mt. Rushmore). Similar to how Hollywood assumed everything was California based. As I understand it, rain dances came up in the shows in Western reservations; there are other rain dance cartoons too. I wonder to what extent these touristy shows of traditional activities added to the depiction of Indians in archaic garb (similar to how pre-revolutionary colonial whites are generally all depicted as Pilgrims, but brought to the present day due to it being an ongoing public face; so more like showing Germans in lederhosen and their Robin Hood hats with feathers in them during their festival; I wonder why I never thought of that before; animal skin leg coverings and hats with feathers in both those group depictions...). I think Thurl Ravenscroft may be singing. It sounds good, as most anything Thurl voices is. The pills seems familiar to me; I wonder if they were still showing this when I was a kid. The kid says "I beeeeeeetcha", which shows up in other things too, so I think it's a lift (but I may be underestimating the vocal writing for the WB cartoons based on the many many (many) things they took wholesale from others. (later than the original writing note: Michael J. Hayde mentioned in Porky's Hotel that this is from Fibber McGee and Molly.) This cartoon differs from many others, as it features threatening death with a knife instead of with a gun. The cartoon opens on a lush shot of green fruited vegetation, which fades in an effects shot to dryness, then pans across the desolation the narrator is talking about. (Note the typical establishing background pan, but gilded with effects.) Totem pole, which I believe is inappropriate for Indians in Oklahoma. But it makes for a more face based joke. The kid pulls a Tarzan and swings to the water sledge. Mel voices the turtle in this in a similar fashion to the turtle he voices in Life Begins for Andy Panda.

The non Blue Ribbon title comes from


  1. The weather pills were also used in a 1936 Porky Pig cartoon, "Porky the Rain Maker."

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  3. "I betcha" is the way Teeny ended her sentences on 'Fibber McGee and Molly.' Teeny had been off the show for a number of months into 1939 because Marion Jordan was ill.

  4. I like how they tried to recreate the type style on the blue ribbon title card. Does anyone know why there are no credits on the blue ribbon titles?

  5. Theory: that would have taken more effort and therefore cost more.

  6. re: no credits on the Blue Ribbon titles. "Columbia Favorite" reissues did the same thing. Can't recall where I read it, but the accepted explanation is that, being reissues, they didn't want to credit people no longer affiliated with the studio (i.e., under contract somewhere else). Of course, this was done at the expense of those who were still there.