A scene from BY WORD OF MOUSE, directed by Friz Freleng for Warner Bros.

By Word of Mouse (1954, Friz Freleng)

I feel like By Word of Mouse should be better. It turns out it’s a Sylvester cartoon–not without good gags–but the concept deserves more.

A German mouse heads to the U.S. to visit a relation; free market capitalism–well, American consumerism, wows him and the two cousins find a professor (also a mouse) to explain it all. The explanations for the viewer too, of course.

But this cartoon takes place in the fifties and it’s unclear if the German mouse is from the West or East (presumably West). German just doesn’t seem the right nationality for the concept to work.

Freleng’s direction is good, the style is charming, and the economics lesson is just right for a younger audience.

Still, Word doesn’t really have an ending… Sylvester ruins the mouse’s trip and he heads back. Or maybe has other adventures, it’s unclear.

It’s likable, but completely doldrum.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Friz Freleng; written by Warren Foster; animated by Ted Bonnicksen, Gerry Chiniquy, Arthur Davis and Ben Washam; edited by Treg Brown; music by Milt Franklyn; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Sylvester / Hans / Uncle / Aunt / Elevator Operator / Mice Children).


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