Saturday, April 24, 2010

054 Charlie Cuckoo

Title: Charlie Cuckoo
Studio: Walter Lantz
Date: 4/24/39
Director ... Elmer Perkins
Story ... Elviry Perkins
Music ... Zeke Perkins
Animators ... Hank Perkins - Si Perkins
Series: Cartune
Running time (of viewed version): 6:56

Synopsis: A wooden cuckoo quit his job in a clock, only to find the world is a hard and unforgiving place, and so returns to his former employment.

Comments: The second wooden cuckoo bird cartoon of the month. The backgrounds are a strength; human detritus and furnishings provide more interest than pastoral muck. The cuckoo's multiple personalities are a little disturbing. A woodpecker shows up; it's interesting to see what differs between this design and Woody Woodpecker's design, and it's interesting to see what is retained between the two designs. In some ways, Woody moved more towards this design as he became a bit less daffy than he was in his beginnings. I have not found an explanation for the credits, not that I've looked terribly hard. The only Google hit for Elviry Perkins other than the Lantz Encyclopedia is from a book called "It Came to Pass" by Mary Farley Sanborn, 1892, but there are is no hit for Zeke or "cuckoo" in that book, for example. From what I can tell, the 44 hour week was not federally mandated, and it seems to have not been the case for the most part at the state level either. Various people worked a 44 hour week, but with a quick look I didn't find an obvious direct reference. (It would be dangerous for a cartoon to use such a reference if factual, I would think, as the news might be pretty stale by the time the cartoon hit theaters.) Charlie gets treated more like an insect in the outside world, being seen as food by fish and frog. His design is not un-insecty, as well. It's unclear until more than a third of the way through the cartoon (when his spring filled leg is dislocated) that Charlie is a wooden cuckoo bird. Still, he wants to eat a worm and have sex with a lark. The Lantz folks don't seem able to tell the long hand from the short hand tho...

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