Wednesday, August 25, 2010

112 The Bookworm

Title: The Bookworm
Studio: MGM
Date: 8/26/39
A Hugh Harman Production
Running time (of viewed version): 7:35

Synopsis: Bad characters in books come to life, and try to capture a bookworm for a brew, until a bunch of do gooders come to the aid of the thing that is slowly eating them.

Comments: A long dry spell for MGM; the last cartoon had been on June 15. The other studios put out 31 cartoons between this and that. Shadow figures in the title card. Multiple planes of backgrounds. Again this has the feeling of a funny Disney cartoon. The crappy milquetoast worm's even wearing Mickey shorts and a Donald hat. A crossdressing raven. After the intiial Macbeth witches, there seem to be three male villains with one of the witches; a sallow scientist, a Fu Manchu type, and some sort of Rasputin/Grizzly Adams type. The cast only grows from there. I wonder if naming unusual colors like Magenta and Ultramarine Blue would have resonated more specifically with artists than the general populace. For some reason the raven is stymied by the lack of a bridge. He is not appealing to look at. Which is unfortunate as he is the lead. The worm's a bit like Linus mixed with Lucy in the first few Peanuts specials. More heroes rush in than we saw leave books (Robin Hood, Tarzan, cops, etc.).

The Books: Dracula, The Skull, Murder No. 2 .... Back to... The Dead, The CLutching Hand, Macbeth. The Raven, Who Done It, The Bogey Man, The Red Lantern, Franken(stein, presumably), Tomstone Catalogue (sic), Hound of (Hab...? Rab...?), Sore Fiend, Skull Castle, Green Corpse, Murder, Spooky Stuff, The Noose by Gad..., Dracula (London ...), 39 Steps, and Law (27G). I'm not sure if that's a general dislike of the law, a specific law numbered 27G which would have been generally relevant at the time, or an inside joke about some internal policy 27G. THen, Detective Stories, Art Studies (my first thought he should have stopped and wolf whistled or drooled or something; and then he went back to it and wolf whistled), another Detective Stories, and another, and Tarzan. An indexed book. Dore. Vol. XI (or possibly VI) of something. Horrors (Poe). Murder, Dead Men Tell No Tales. Murder in Reverse (upside down). Gabriel Over the White House. Charge of the Light Brigade (X3). Heroes of Gettysburg (blue and grey come out of it). Vol. X. Axe Murders. Another Vol. X. Boy Scouts. Ten Dead Dopes, The Bat, Skull Hill.

The original title card painting for this cartoon, pictured below, is/was for sale at Van Eaton Galleries.

1 comment:

  1. No expanded credits, but Leonard Maltin does have this one listed as being directed by Friz Freleng, during his brief stay in the Hugh Harman unit before returning to the Schlesinger studio, and it does have Friz's favorite 1930s plot theme of things coming to life (the fact that the same crow with the same Mel Blanc voice would turn up two years later in Freleng's "The Wacky Worm" over at Warners also kind of bolsters assigning directorial credit here to Friz).