Monday, September 27, 2010

124 Land of the Midnight Fun

Title: Land of the Midnight Fun
Studio: Warner Bros.
Date: 9/23/39
Fred Avery
Story by
Melvin Millar
Charles McKimson
Musical Direction
Carl W. Stalling
Series: Merrie Melodies
Running time (of viewed version): 7:59

Synopsis: Travelogue of Alaska, Tex Avery style.

Comments: Second Schlesinger release of the day. The title itself is an establishing background pan (tho the cartoon proper starts in a different locale). Background pan of the ship to a sign gag. I'm not sure, but I think the limp woo-woo of the "little ferry boat" is an orientation joke (ferry being a homophone for fairy, fairy being a homonym for homosexual). So many boat trip cartoons. Salmon is canned, but tuna is not; I think this must be a significant difference in what was in grocery stores between 1939 and now. Joke about LA expanding to really really far away. Swanee River shows up. Also Jingle Bells. "Penguins live entirely on fish"; they also don't live in Alaska. Brass Monkey Club; I should look up brass monkey in a non-Beastie Boys context (later note: there was a saying "cold enough to freeze the tail(whiskers/ears/balls/etc.) off a brass monkey" that had been in use). The eskimo nightclub bit is the clearest precursor to Tex's Red Hot Riding Hood so far this year with its pretty spotlight performance and almost rotoscoped look, tho it's skating (and like Bjork). The cartoon ends with the ship balanced on the Trylon of the New York World's Fair. There's a shot of the rest of the fairgrounds, but I think the bottom of the shot is cut off inappropriately in the viewed print. These travelogue cartoons go with the spirit of the age; it's the step to ditching not just a title character for most of a cartoon, but all characters for most of the cartoon. I don't get the timber wolf joke; he keeps yelling timber and pointing at a tree and cracking himself up, and maybe it's supposed to be funny enough just based on the name. Blatant reuse of animation in reverse (but they re-did effects like ripples to make sense, unlike some studios we could mention).

1 comment:

  1. On the 'timber' wolf gag, Avery's making fun of people who actually take something as obvious as that and say it thinking it's funny (the 'ferry' boat gag kind of falls into the same category, but that one gets a pass from Tex because calling attention to a corny gay gag after they corny gay gag would probably have brought the Hays Office down on the cartoon -- it was enough just to get the gag into the cartoon in the first place).

    Avery would continue doing gags that were corny and then commenting on their corniness within the cartoon well into his MGM years in the 1940s.