Friday, December 31, 2010

Jack Benny, New Year's Eve, 1939

The picture above is from Man About Town (possibly taken on July 7, 1939).

However, we have below the New Year's show of the Jell-o Show.

158 The Curious Puppy

Title: The Curious Puppy
Studio: Warner Bros.
Date: 12/30/39
Credits: -
Series: Merrie Melodies (on a Blue Ribbon retitle)
Running time (of viewed version): 7:34

Synopsis: Puppy breaks in to amusement park, attracts attention of guard dog.

Comments: Silhouette shot. For some reason, this takes place in an amusement park instead of at the NYWF (it does seem to be Coney Island, at least). Wherever it is reopens May 31, 1940. There's a poster of a musician or graffiti on the poster that says "ZIZZ"; I'm not sure what it's a reference to. The dogs are kinda similar to the pair in Jones's earlier cartoons this year. Alternate universe where they aren't pals (or their origin story). Mirror gag; this was surely cliche by now. They had Mexican food at Coney Island, apparently. The search lights in the amusement park landscape look tasty. There seems to be an actual ad for Squirt in the cartoon (more than one, actually); someone liked it in house, I guess. (Not that I don't like; Squirt is mm mm good.) The silhouette chase in front of the lit park is great looking, as the backgrounds are overall.Big dog is really trying to kill little dog at the end, and is left with only impotent rage.

The last US theatrical cartoon of 1939 (of the mainline theatrical US shorts, tied with Mad Maestro in terms of release date, and the last one I watched of those for the year, until I find The Old Firehorse, or decide there is enough evidence to include other cartoons). Onwards.

Father Coughlin, December 31, 1939

Father Charles Coughlin was the voice of American evil in the radio days, supporting Hitler and Mussolini and generally being anti-semetic. This broadcast comes several months after he had become so out of control that he forced the hand of the government and the Catholic church to become involved, and after his support of Germany had become an embarrassment. It is unwise to forget who Coughlin was, or what he did, or how he may be reflected in his modern pink-faced halfwit descendants (not to mention the intervening halfwits, like Joe McCarthy). The cartoons above by Dr. Seuss show the response from the general time period.

My grandfather's bones lay across the street from the temple of Coughlin's hatred, the Shrine of the Little Flower. I generally give the Shrine the finger when I drive by, tho it is simply a place, as it remains a symbol of vileness, stained by Coughlin's memory.

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Breakdowns Of 1939

Here we have screens from WB's gag reel for the year, including Porky saying son of a bitch. THe cow painting is pretty nice. It can be found at
Also on LTGV v4, d4.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

157 The Mad Maestro

Title: The Mad Maestro
Studio: MGM
Date: 12/30/39
Hugh Harman
Series: -
Running time (of viewed version): 7:38

Synopsis: Misfit orchestra short.

Comments: Not the last cartoon of the year because of the M I use to identify MGM in my list comes before the W I use to identify Warner Bros. If I'd used S for Schlesinger... this still would not be last. A shadow appears in the title card. Far more cartoony than recent MGM output; the previous cartoon was the dire war film Peace on Earth and the one before that was the arty Blue Danube. This feels like a mix between a Lantz and WB cartoon (possibly because both studios later made more famous (to me at least) conducting cartoons that have some commonality with this (more than Tex Avery's MGM conducting cartoon). I'm not sure if the conductor is a dog man or a bear man (other dog men in the cartoon have more pronounced snouts). I think the hair on the harpist is meant to recall Harpo Marx. A good and generally funny cartoon. For some reason the orchestra is in the orchestra pit. In my experience, an orchestra should be on stage when they are not providing music for some other endeavor (play, opera, silent film, headlining singer, etc.). The character designs are a bit conservative in this (not for Harman's MGM cartoons at the time, but compared to the later orchestra shorts), although the bear shaped conductor here does bear a certain resemblance to Wally Walrus as conductor in the Lantz attempt. There are some smeary inbetweens that seem more advanced for the time period than I would expect. Big man small instrument, small man big instrument. There's a big reddish brown haired dog on a tuba in a group shot who looks like he could be Droopy's dad. There are at least three different tuba players. There's one shot where the conductor is rushing past the players, and they are still paintings. Very flat and bright for backgrounds at the time; odd. And again when the little guy gets blown away.

Publicity photos from the short below: