Monday, June 21, 2010

082 Hobo Gandget Band

Title: Hobo Gadget Band
Studio: Warner Bros.
Date: 6/17/39*
Credits: None listed on print (but Hardaway and Dalton directed)
Series: Merrie Melodies (according to Blue Ribbon title, and BoxOffice short review)
Running time (of viewed version): 7:17

Synopsis: Hobos live their lives and break into stardom, before giving it up for their inveterate hobo lifestyle.

Comments: More "land of the dogmen". I wonder if 'A Face In The Crowd' was based on the music career in this... After a pastoral pan, the cartoon breaks into music from the song that goes "nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning", and ends with California Here I Come. There was a big hobo culture that died out more or less by the end of WWII. This was probably technically after the golden age of hoboism, but it may be too early to really be the fauxbos of today who pretend at being hobos. It begins as a cartoon that takes a specific thing and explicates how that thing would live life as if it were the America of its time, like the Fleischer Stone Age cartoons (this even has a bird based alarm clock ringer), or many cartoons talking about a more recent history. The lead hobo has a Goofy accent. Maybe Pinto Colvig. The art on the cels is diverse but roundly unimpressive in specifics (but not uninteresting), tho the series of closeup reactions at the train announcements is cool. It shines a little more in the music department. There is one eyes out of head take that certainly makes me think Avery in the '40s more than Hardaway/Dalton in the '30s.

* There appears to be a discrepancy over when this cartoon was precisely released. Of Mice and Magic and Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald's Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies list the release date as June 17; other sources (including the Big Cartoon Database) list it as being released May 27. I am having trouble locating it in BoxOffice's shorts booking chart, and I kept checking until months ahead. It does appear in the BoxOffice Short Subject reviews, page 83, on July 1, 1939
along with the cartoons Nick's Coffee Pot, A Bully Romance, Lucky Pigs, the Bear That Couldn't Sleep, and the Scared Crows.
It does appear as a Blue Ribbon reissue in 1948
but that doesn't help me locate its original release very well.

Ultimately I do not know the basis for either choice. I had assumed that release date information was taken from something like BoxOffice's release data; while that may still be accurate, it does not appear that it is actually taken from BoxOffice itself, as it appears to not have this information at ay point (tho the available online issues of 1939 do not appear to all be there, so it is possible it did appear in one of the missing issues). Either date is feasible based on the BoxOffice review and the other reviews around it. It would be the latest release reviewed by one day assuming the June date, and it would be eight days after the earliest review assuming the May date.

Additionally, there might be other situations like this that I haven't noticed. So it is possible the order of cartoons are wrong in my list, and it is possible there are cartoons missing or not actually '39 cartoons present. But in the absence of better clear evidence, I think my list is as good as is available at this time.

(looking into the short to try to find the reasons for the dating led to Gene Walz's "Charlie Thorson and the Temporary Disneyfication of Warner Bros. Cartoons" in _Reading the Rabbit: Explorations in Warner Bros. Animation_, 1998:
which analyzes the cartoon, the WB cartoons at the time, and mentions Charlie Thorson designed all the characters.


  1. Colvig did do the voice here and in Jones' "Snow-Man's Land", but Mel Blanc would do the Colvig sound-alike for Clampett's "Jeepers Creepers" (my guess is being in Techicolor, the advance time was longer on the Merrie Melody shorts than on the black & white Looney Tunes, and by the time the recording session for Clampett's cartoon came around Pinto was already in Miami, since by June of '39 he's already had his first Fleischer voice work hit the screen, in "Wotta Nightmare").

  2. Story: Jack Miller
    Animation: Richard Bickenbach
    Music: Carl W. Stalling

  3. Directed by Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton. Reissued as a Blue Ribbon short on February 14, 1948.

  4. I also want to point out that this cartoon may have been the only one, at the time of its original release, to use the "WARNER BROS." name in Sans Serif-type lettering (like "Kristopher Kolumbus, Jr.") rather than the usual Serif-type lettering (bannered or not). Otherwise, the cartoon may have been "Dangerous Dan McFoo."